_hojo:Woody’s Roundup.04February 15, 2010
_It’s been a while since the last roundup, hasn’t it? The animals have gone batshitcrazy, running amok all over the place. It’s about time to wrangle them up. But first…have I done anything interesting in the time since the last roundup? These opening paragraphs of WR’s are the only time i ever really talk about myself on this blog…but no, nothing interesting. Well, some stuff. I started a diet. My current progress: 50 pounds and 6 inches over 3 months. Decent progress, but I’ve still got plenty more work to do. The struggle continues…I miss all the delicious snacking. Thankfully, it’s a low carb/high protein diet, so while bread and potatoes ;_; are off-limits, tasty chicken and steak and still good. And I’ve replaced things like crackers, chips and cookies with peanut butter. Seriously. And looking at the last Roundup…that happened right after my birthday. Well…Christmas happened a while back month ago. I got some sweet Powerpuff Girls on DVD and Calvin & Hobbes books. They’ve brought me great joy over the past couple months. No new games were gotten, but that’s OK. I own enough games that I haven’t beaten. I’ll be more psyched for getting new games for birthdays and Christmas when everything’s finished. Actually, I think I’ll be more psyched for being able to replay old favorites guilt-free when everything’s finished ;-D So…that’s about everything I feel like talking about for now…hey, howdy, hey, let’s round up some games, shall we? There’s a lot of ’em…
_Gitaroo Man_Ooooooooo, Gitaroo Man…at first, I saw the Koei logo on the game and thought “Shocking…the guys that made Dynasty Warriors made something good.” (note: Koei is also responsible for Yanya Caballista, which I’ll be touching upon in a future post) Then I found out that Koei only published this and iNiS, the guys behind Ouendan/EBA, developed it. Then all was right with the world. Now, I love rhythm games. If you know anything about me, you will know this much to be true. But I will say that any rhythm/music game that’s done well that doesn’t require any kind of special peripheral of any kind should be commended. And Gitaroo Man is just that. It features some of the more unique uses of the Dual Shock found on the PS2, and that’s saying something. And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like looking at notes traveling down screen, the presentation is also unique in that the game is presented in “battle” format. You play your Gitaroo in time with the music to sap your opponent’s life away. It’s just a presentation thing, but…yeah, some people are bored by plain notes traveling down screen. But a kick-ass soundtrack+no separate peripheral+do-able normal and awesome expert mode=a rather kick ass rhythm game. The length might not be worth the usual going price, but if you can manage to find one for $20 and any of this interests you, I’d say it’s worth a try.
_The Bouncer_Oh Square, you…silly billys. While not Square’s first release on the new fangled Playstation 2 game console, this was their first “major” release, and they were hyping it up mad. “Oh, look at these pretty graphix, check what the FMV masterz are doing on the next-gen hardware.” Now, think of this…think of those old, classic beat’em up games we all know and love…Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, River City Ransom…these are the most likely titles that pop into your head when you think of the genre. All of them are 2D sidescrollers, made before the 32-bit era, and in most cases, predate even the 16-bit era. So…enter the PS2, successor to the PS1, a console whose biggest beat’em up franchise was…Fighting Force. So…how about Square, a company known for making predominantly RPG’s and whose forays outside the genre, while including the occasional excellent game such as Einhander, includes games such as Bushido Blade and Ehrgeiz…how about those guys try their hands as doing what nobody else dared to do do and make a good 3D beat’em up game? Now…what part of that sounded like a good idea that was worth getting excited over? It’s like when you take a step back from the FF7 in Dirge of Cerberus to realize that it’s Square doing a 3rd person shooter. You shudder in fear. If there’s a knock at the door and you check through the peekhole and see The Bouncer outside, you freeze up and try to walk away to the far side of the house as slowly as possible, fearing it might hear you and realize that there’s somebody home and demand that you let it in and give it 15 minutes of your time. I think that’s a good description of The Bouncer. Oh, and one of the playable characters looks like a grown up Sora from Kingdom Hearts.
_F-Zero X_It’s amazing how similar this is to F-Zero GX on the ‘Cube, but just much worse it is due to how god awful the game is suited to the N64 controller. Or maybe it COULD be done on an N64 controller, it’s just that the control scheme they make you play with is god awful. It always boggled my mind how default controls schemes on the N64 were designed around the idea that everybody held it with their left hand fully grasping the middle prong. Why did they do this? I always held it with my right hand on the right side of the controller and my left hand on the left side. So…you know…the weight of the controller was evenly distributed amongst my hands? So I had easy access to the L-trigger? So I could go back and forth between the analog stick and the D-pad if needed? Because it’s comfortable? Because i’ve been holding video game controllers that way since the days of the original gray box NES? So why in fuck’s name is “Bank left” mapped to the fucking Z button, underneath the controller behind the middle prong, and not fucking L when “Bank right” is mapped to R? Just take out your N64 controller and look at it and absorb this control scheme into your mind. Tell me how this is either logical or a good idea. Fuck…other than this, F-Zero X is a fine game. Though even if it had a control scheme worth a damn, it’s wouldn’t be as good as GX. The CPU is more forgiving, but the track design and feel of the game isn’t as tight.
_Zone of the Enders_If i made this paragraph about the game as short as the game itself, and the ending came just as abruptly as it did in the game, it would already be over and it would’ve ended halfway through the word “about.” Funny that this game came from Hideo Kojima, when MGS games are all complex and long winded, where this is simplistic and short as all hell. Also funny that in a game this short, they STILL manage to fit in backtracking in the game. Also funny that for a game that’s around 4 hours long, there are scenes that seem to last 30 minutes. How is that even possible? At this point, I can’t tell if Kojima is either a great storyteller or a fucking terrible one that he can’t manage to get a point across faster or have a death scene not last an hour and involve 3 different points where the character tries to redeem themselves before dying.
_Project Justice_The Rival Schools games are a rather unique entry in Capcom’s fighting history…or really fighting game history in general. Most all fighting games are either 2D or 3D…you either move on a 2 dimensional fighting plane, or a 3 dimensional fighting plane. Now, some people like to bring up “2.5D fighters,” but you can go fuck yourself. 2.5D fighters are 2D fighters. Just because there are 3D characters models doesn’t make it any kind of hybrid. You only ever move on 2 dimensions. Mortal Kombat wasn’t 2.5D because they used mo-cap to put real peoples likenesses in the game, and real people have 3 dimensions. Moving on…aside from an extra plane of movement, one of the fundamental differences between 2D and 3D fighters was always special moves. 2D fighters, for the most part, evolved from the mold Street Fighter 2 set many moons ago, meaning hadokens and shoryukens, grapplers with 360 degree rotation moves and all that jazz. 3D fighters are mostly based on button inputs for combos, and linking said combos together. Project Justice actually about as close to a “2.5D fighter” as you can get. The graphics are full 3D, you can move around all 3 dimensions, but the fighting style is much more akin to a 2D fighter, with more reliance on special moves than standing combos. It ACTUALLY IS a 3D fighter that plays like a 2D fighter, and not a 2D fighter with 3D graphics. The only other game I’ve played that’s similar to it in this regard is the much more recent Fate/Unlimited Codes. That makes these two games and the original Rival Schools the only 3 games good enough in this particular 2D/3D hybrid genre worth mentioning. 3 games over the span of just over a decade…they’re worth trying out just for that fact alone. Project Justice is more worth trying out because there’s a crucifixion in every school’s story scene. Seriously. By the time this is over, you’ll think that being crucified is a prerequisite to graduating high school in Japan. But yeah…if you’re going to call anything a “2.5D fighter,” this is the kind of game that should get that billing.
_Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise_God dammit, Rare. You once again charmed the pants off of me with adorable pinata, but for fuck’s sake, how could you let all the glitches and bugs from the first game come back too? How could you 1) Not fix them in the original via a patch when everybody is so fucking patch happy these days and 2) Not even bother to fix them in the sequel? BLARGH! Other than that and the fact that, outside of an exploit, there’s no way to get rid of Professor Pester permanently in this game, Trouble in Paradise is superior to the original in every way. More pinata, more cute, better designed romance mini-game, more customizable features for your garden…it’s just more, more, more, everywhere, at all times. But that doesn’t excuse Rare from needing to get their shit together with the garden losing/uncontrollable pinata glitches.
_G.I.Joe: The Atlantis Factor_Wow, that’s just about the dorkiest subtitle to any anything ever. It’s so bad, this might end up being the full title to a movie sequel if it ever gets made. Anyways, the gameplay actually reminds me of the original NES TMNT game, only without the overhead stages. You take 3 Joe’s into a stage and can switch between them on the fly while going through stages…it’s the only other game I can think of like that. But otherwise, it’s not THAT similar. I mean, some of them do have ludicrously high jumps, but the enemies in this game actually seem more brutal. But you get more lives, so…it’s give and take here. And in classic NES fashion, most of the bosses are easier than the generic grunt filled stages preceding them. Awesome!
_Kirby’s Adventure_This game reminded me of Vectorman 2, in that the first time I died, I looked down at my lives and said “Holy fuck, how did I get that much?” I’ve heard a lot of people describe the Kirby games as beginner’s platformers…and that may be true. It’s not TERRIBLY difficult. But it’s not exactly “Hold right and win,” which is what I think of when I think of “beginner’s platformers.” But maybe I think too extreme. Kirby is still a winner, and all of the hidden doors and different skills available throughout the game give the game a ton of what people say is “replay value.” One of the best on the NES.
_Ristar_SEGA is easily one of the most under-appreciated developers of all time. Granted, this is in large part to them ruining their own image with a fuck ton of awful games over the past few years, but looking back at the games they used to come out with, they were not only a company that knew how to make a great game, they were also a company willing to take risks. Although I suppose taking all those risks is what ended up driving them out of the hardware market and now turning them into a company that takes no risks, crapping out 3rd rate Sonic games and plastering Sonic onto everything they do to get money of blind fans willing to buy anything with his name attached to it. Anyways…Ristar. A platforming game featuring a little star with arms and legs that jumps so high, you’d think he didn’t have knees. So what’s the catch? Stretchy arms! “Oh, what long arms you have, Ristar!” “The better to hold you with, my dear!” Everything in the game is pretty much done via grabbing. Grab ledges, grab ladders, grab poles, grab enemies, grab treasure, grab health, grab power-ups. It’s a fun twist on the platforming genre, almost like a precursor to Mischief Makers without shaking. It’s most definitely worth a play, and most definitely worth SEGA reviving, though they never will because it’s unique. At least bring him back for the upcoming kart racer…come on!
_Beyond Oasis_Here we start getting to the darker side of SEGA’s development past. It’s not that Beyond Oasis is really that bad…but it really shows off the difference in design between SEGA and Nintendo. Nintendo overall is pretty forgiving with their game design. Lots of continues or extra lives and such. A prime example would be comparing Beyond Oasis to Legend of Zelda, as Beyond Oasis is very much a Zelda-rip. In the Legend of Zelda, if you died, all unlocked doors stayed unlocked. All gained items stayed gained. It was like you simply were sent back to the beginning of the dungeon. It was annoying, but it wasn’t awful. Now let’s move over to Beyond Oasis. When you die in a dungeon in Beyond Oasis…everything resets. All keys, items, unlocked doors…reset button. Throw in jumping on moving platforms on an overhead view over pits along with all of the most annoying aspects of Zelda enemies, and you can see how much of a dick this game could be. Playing a lot of games on the Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (see: what I said earlier about plastering Sonic’s name on games) revealed just how asshole-ish SEGA was with a lot of their games. Like…Shinobi, Mean Bean Machine, Ecco, Beyond Oasis, Alien Storm, Streets of Rage 3…the design of these games are more cruel than most every 1st party Nintendo game I’ve ever played. Going back and playing them now, the contrast between the way SEGA and Nintendo designed games is very extreme.
_Whoa whoa whoa…Beyond Oasis was back in October…holy fuck. I got a lot of shit to Roundup…well then, I’ll just have to crank these out at a higher rate than I’ve been doing, eh? Until next time ;-D