Pac Man World
(Am I back to covering non-obscure games again?) Damn it. It's not even like I get the benefit of covering modern games anym-Hold on, I forgot part of the title: 20th Anniversary. This is how Namco chose to celebrate Pac Man still not being old enough to drink: by bringing him into the third dimension. Yes, it makes perfect sense (even if the timing is kinda late), but if this was how Namco decided to celebrate Pac Man's 20th birthday, then this is probably how Pac Man chose to celebrate it. (I couldn't find a decent video.)
Why's that? Well, because this game essentially shoves him into a crappy Saturday morning cartoon. Or maybe he's just depressed because his family went missing. You see, a robot Pac Man captured every last friend he ever had, because...actually, I don't think it's ever explained. I'm honestly struggling to think of reasons why he'd ever want them captured. I'd say it's because Toc Man (I don't know why he has that name, either) wanted to ruin Pac Man's birthday, yet this game would make that a redundant task. But what about that Saturday morning cartoon vibe I mentioned before? How does that relate to the story? Well, given the lack of story, especially in the actual game-y parts, I can't really say (outside, of course, the "low-fi Rolie Polie Olie" look), but worry not! The actual game provides that cartoon vibe in spades. Now you may worry. I don't know why, but this type of atmosphere doesn't really work for Pac Man. I'm not sure how you'd adapt such an abstract game to something more tangible like a PS1 game (or even if you could), but this isn't really the way to do it. Why? Well, for one, the atmosphere doesn't feel very compelling. There's never anything in them to get me excited; it's just dull colors and level themes that just serve as mere decoration. It's almost like the game isn't too enthusiastic about its existence. I wonder why.
Speaking of the game, what of the rest of the game? Well, it's pretty much a mildly competent platformer. You jump, collect items, and then realize that there are, like, twenty more levels of this. OK, there's nothing inherently wrong with these concepts. Hell, it can be kinda fun to eat ghosts with your butt (more on that later), and although I hate to admit it, actually rescuing your friends from the danger of unguarded cages does add some decent length to the game. Unfortunately, that's the problem: the length. Specifically, there's no way you can carry a game this long on butt bounce alone. It simply wears out its welcome too soon, and it's not like the game develops these ideas further or introduces mechanics with some more meat to them; once you've played the first few levels, there's not much reason to continue. Though to be fair, the boss battles can often be pretty cool. Each one features a chase scene preceding it, and the bosses at least try to do something exciting. For example, the clowns force you into gladiatorial combat (they must test the meat before they deem it worthy of consumption), the space boss is pretty much a poor man's Galaga (in a good way), and the final boss tries to establish some sympathy before Pac Man eats him for literally no goddamn reason. But since these are boss battles, those moments are few and far between; the rest of the time, Pac Man World is a regular old platformer.
Of course, this isn't just a regular old platformer; it's a regular old platformer with Pac Man elements awkwardly included. Now remember how Pac Man was all about scarfing up pills while evading ghosts? Well, that's included here...kind of. Every so often, you'll stumble upon some ghosts and a switch to summon a bunch of dots, because somebody remembered that this was a Pac Man game. Then you do as Pac Man does: eat dots, ghosts, and sometimes fruit to promote a healthy diet. Sounds simple and inoffensive, right? On the face, yes. My problem with these sequences, though, is that they're about as necessary as the Toc Man thing from before. (Seriously, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Was it supposed to be Toke Man to relate to the drug theme, but censored to relate to it even more?) It's really easy to imagine this game without the mazes and ghosts and stuff, probably because they add jack shit to the game. The ghosts can sometimes heal you, sometimes, and dots serve as ammo for an attack you'll never use (probably because Pac Man's fists are so fragile that his butt is far deadlier than they'll ever be), but that's about it. The only benefit I could see in it is a score one, and to be fair, there are modes where this might actually be important. Looked at this way, it's a neat little side distraction, what with the different mazes and stuff. Then again, it's pretty hard to look at Pac Man World that way, since Pac Man World is a platformer. Not a very good platformer, but it's still a platformer.
- This: The Game.
- The Too Long for Its Own Good Game.
- Did I Mention That This is Pac Man?
Apparently, this Japanese video with English subtitles and Spanish top comments is related to Futurama, and I'm the only person who can't understand how.
Operation Logic Bomb
(OK, what the fuck?) Didn't I do this exact thing last week? Don't pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about: Alcahest. You know, that obscure SNES top down shooter with light exploration elements? That's pretty much what Operation Logic Bomb is: an ob-Alcahest. It's much shorter just to say Alcahest. Although there is one key difference between this game and Alcahest that I've completely neglected in this brief opening: I actively like Operation Logic Bomb.
Though that's not to say the games aren't different in other ways. (Just trying to think of how I could hold two separate opinions about the same game is making my eyes reel back into my head so I can try to follow the confusing mental gymnastics that ensue.) For example, while Alcahest was a medieval-ass medieval game, Operation Logic Bomb is a sci-fi ass sci-fi game. (The ass is a powerful entity; as such, it would be unwise to place stress on it.) In fact, it's a very specific sci-fi game: Half-Life. This game is Half-Life. Don't believe me? Tell me which game I'm describing: it's the future, and scientists are doing their science rituals. One day, the scientists use the wrong capra aegagrus hemoglobin, thus summoning an evil alien army bent on their destruction. (Though that's most likely because the aliens are none too pleased that this is how they're always depicted in human media. Assholes.) It's now your job to run through the facilities, shooting anything that isn't a scientist, eventually culminating in you invading an alternate dimensino to kill the alien leader. Now, I ask you again: what did I just describe?....Exactly. Hell, the games even put the same amount of emphasis on the story...albeit in different ways. You see, every now and then, you'll stumble upon a piece of wall that divulges some story. Unfortunately, none of the cutscenes have any words, so it can be somewhat confusing in areas, but I still like it. There's some room for interpretation as to what the hell's going on, lending it a unique and totally-not-lazy charm.
Actually, that last clause actually does a really good job of describing the entire game. What other shooter can you name that puts a large emphasis on exploration...besides Alcahest, of course? Hell, there aren't even levels in this game, because it's all one huge world. A stupidly linear world that can be obtuse to navigate, but a neat little world nonetheless. But what do you do in those confusing situations? Simple: shoot. SPRAY YOUR ENVIRONMENT WITH BULLETS UNTIL ONE OF THEM HITS SOMETHING THAT MOVES THE GAME FORWARD....And that's pretty much the entire basis for the game. That's all you're gonna get, along with four weapons and five enemies. So this is shaping up to be like the prev-SHUT IT. No, it's not. Why? First, because the only difference between Operation Logic Bomb and that video from before is, ironically, that the former actually makes more sense. Second, it actually manages to get a lot out of these simple concepts. Yea, you'll definitely notice the game repeating enemies, but I don't think I ever noticed it repeating scenarios, so it really knows how to keep the action going. Although part of all that may be due to the weapons in question. There's actually some strategy as to when you should use each weapon, like spread in tight situations or the laser in bouncy situations. (It's the future; bouncy situations are now a thing because everything's been invented.) I'd say that this adds a decent level of challenge, but...uh...
*breaks into a fit of laughter* Oh shit. I realize I should have been clear about that. I'm not saying that the game's a "push start to view credits" type of game. After all, you're still gonna get hit and have to dodge enemies if you want to see those credits. I'm just saying that it's a tad easier than it should be. Later weapons allow you to cheese half the enemies pretty easy, like by heating up a nearby wall until nearby things die, or using right angles to stab things in the distance. It feels really guilty doing this, too, because it's almost like Operation Logic Bomb doesn't even know about these techniques. It never caught on to my doing this, allowing me to blast through the levels relatively unscathed quite a bit of the time. But as I said before, the game can still deliver some challenge. The only exception seems to be the bosses, who happen to be really goddamn easy. I'd say that part of that is because of the whole "five enemies" thing, and to be fair, once you've seen one flying bug thing, you've literally seen them all. Then again, there are some unique boss battles in this game, and they can be pretty cool...and pretty effing easy, as I've already described. Hell, I was able to beat the final boss in a couple of minutes through liberal use of the "Gears of War" style of armed combat: hop behind cover and throw explosives at the enemy until you've saved the day. That aside, I still found this to be a pretty cool game. Play it, I guess. (Look, not every obscure game makes me angry about it not being played, OK?)
- I'd ask you to imagine if Half-Life was a 2D game, but I'm certain that this idea has already been realized in some shitty Flash production somewhere. Still, this game's like Half-Life.
- Shooting done semi-intelligently.
- A bit on the easy side, but whatever.