Gunstar Heroes( Wow, that was over ridiculously quickly.) I know that I should expect this thing by now, given the ungodly amount of old school games I mainline, but let me give you an idea of how quickly I beat this game: it essentially took me a day to blast through this, and it took the exact same amount of time to S Rank the damn thing. That last part's because the achievements for this game are the exact opposite of Half Life 2's achievements (they're uncreative, very easy crap), even though the game surrounding them is pretty cool.
Wait, did I say cool? I meant "completely insane." But you should already know that, since everybody knows that Treasure made this game. It's set in a world made of nothing but explosions. Various colors must fight an empire of colors (evil colors, I guess) and M Bison. Yes, I know that the joke's been done more times than "Princess Peach is a selfish bitch for not jumping on the first penis to rescue her", but what else do I have when it comes to Gunstar Heroes? I already used the "make the story sound more interesting than it actually is" card, so I'm pretty fucked. Wait, I know! Let's talk about the art style. Looking at the characters alone, you might not see anything amiss, unless you have something against early 90s anime. (If that is the case, fuck you. Although I haven't watched Samurai Pizza Cats, Shin Chan is awesome, and that's enough.) You need to see it in motion, especially the bosses. There's something really surreal about how these guys animate. The really cool ones are each made of separate sprites, confusing your brain as you try to reconcile the fact that it's a bunch of separate things, but also one thing. The hit boxes don't exactly simplify things (how do you even decide that?). It doesn't help that one of the bosses that pulls this confusion is a demon clown face. Oh god...that face...that fucking face...OH GOD!!!
You know what? Let's...uh...let us never speak of that again. I'm just going to put that behind me and move on. I know: let's talk about the weapons. Why not? What's that? Melee attacks? Get the fuck out. Who the hell plays Gunstar Heroes with melee attacks? In fact, anything that isn't "gun" in this game is pretty much useless. So that means that all the guns are really useful, right? In theory, yes, they should be. After all, Gunstar Heroes allows you to mix and match between four gun types, giving you an amount of guns that I'm too lazy to calculate. How many of them will you actually use? About two, maybe. Remember those four weapons you could combine? I can only remember one of them: homing. It's pretty much the only weapon you'll use throughout the entire game. Combine it with the lightning one, and nothing will be able to stop you. Boss health will become a countdown until the end of the level. (Except for the final boss; first he's hard, then easy, then dead.) How did they not balance this weapon? OK, so it doesn't do much damage on hard, but I don't play my games on hard; I play them on normal. What balance is in that mode? "Getting caught on shit?" I can just let go of the "make things die" button and reset it to home in on things that need death. But let's assume that maybe you're not using homing anything, possibly because you're an idiot. I have good news for you, dumbass: the game's still pretty easy. You get infinite continues, somewhat generous checkpointing, and a shitload of health. You know how in most games, 100 HP is the limit? Not in Gunstar Heroes. I was able to get something like 240 health near the end of the game, and I'm pretty sure that if I was insane enough, I could have gotten 999 without a cheat device.
But who the hell plays Gunstar Heroes for the challenge? Actually, don't answer that; the thought that people wouldn't play a game for the challenge scares the hell out of me. However, let's humor that argument and give it an answer: those people are playing this game for the level design. What did you expect? It's a Treasure game. Of course it's going to do insane shit. Insane shit like that dice palace, a mine level so fast that it beat Sonic to the punch by -2 years, an OKish shmup level, a regular one...I never said that all the levels are super awesome. Two of them are fairly standard shooter stuff, by which I mean "there are so many enemies in these levels that I'm convinced that there are very disgusting Russian dolls off screen." But you won't care that these levels are so bland and generic. Why? The other levels are so amazing and cool that when you look back on this game, like, say, when you're struggling to figure out how to end a blog you're writing on it, you'll only remember the completely insane and cool levels. You'll also remember how you blasted through all those levels with a weapon that resembled a deadlier version of that snake game you'd play on extremely old Nokia cell-phones. You'll also remember how the game can get scaneliney. Man, I'm remembering a lot. Excuse me while I transform into any given JRPG protagonist and hope that the act of doing so gives me amnesia.
- THAT FUCKING FACE!!!
- The weapon mixing system would be cooler if anything other than "homing plus lightning" was useful.
- Name one other game with a dice palace. * sigh* One that doesn't suck.
I think this is why Claude doesn't have kids.
Bulk Slash ( Wait, a Saturn game?) When was the last time I actually beat a Saturn game? As far as I can tell, the last Saturn game I beat was Astal, and that was at least a year ago. Why the delay that I'm stupidly calling the Duke Nukem Forever of the blogging world? Two reasons: first, a short amount of time after Astal, I fucked things up in a way that prevented me from playing any other Saturn game, and it took me about a year to figure out which files to drag around to get certain drivers to work. Second, once you get past Panzer Dragoon and NiGHTS and just about anything Treasure made, there aren't a lot of games for the Saturn. That second part probably explains why I'm playing an obscure Japan-only mech game.
That's right: Bulk Slash is a mech game. Not that you could tell from the name; judging by that alone, you'd probably think it's some shitty Chinese pirate game that will summon the fury of Marvel's legal team, but it's not. It's about robots and anime and stuff. OK, it's more complicated than that, but all the story stuff is in Japanese, and there's no translation. All of this probably explains why I'm confused by the ending to the game, which features somebody killing themselves and some random characters getting comically married. I don't know how that works; again, the game's in Japanese. All I know is that the wedding thing is just one of many endings you get based on which navigator you have at the end of the game. That's all the navigator system adds. Wait, I forgot to explain the navigator system: in the first level, you walk up to a random woman and let them jump inside your mech body. (How does the mech move without anybody in it?) She then says things throughout the game. Want to swap her out? I only found one chance to do that in the entire game, and absolutely nothing changed. Confused, I went to GameFAQs to get word about any other potential navigators in the game. Turns out that the only one that FAQ writer found was the exact same one I found. That's a FAQ that's about as useful as the navigator system.
But I am not here to talk about bad FAQs; I am here to talk about pretty cool mech games. Of course, the game doesn't start off pretty cool. When I jumped into the first level (via the kind of level select), I had trouble figuring out which button was shoot. Part of the problem was that in systematically pressing every button possible, a bunch of weird shit happened; a larger part of the problem is that the only menu that's in Japanese is the one that lets you change the control scheme; the largest part of the problem is that depending on the context, "fire" can mean many different things. It can mean fire if you stand still, lob bombs if you kinda press forward, slash if you're right next to somebody, and something else at some other time, maybe. Oh, and there are also special weapons scattered about that you can use, if you want. Again, it takes a lot of getting used to, but once you finally adjust, the game becomes pretty damn awesome, since it's nothing but running up to things (or flying up to them, because a robot that can't fly will be laughed out of the League of Robots) and shooting them. Fine, I'll concede that many of the levels have goals other than "kill things and then kill them again to make sure that they're dead", but those levels still have a fair amount of shooting in them, so it's OK.
You know what's not OK? The difficulty. I feel like I'm repeating my Astal blog, because this game reveals its age pretty badly. For example, very few in level health refills. I used the phrase "very few" because very rarely will you find health in the levels, and a few bosses drop refills, especially near the end. Other than that, no health refills. Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if your health refilled between stages, so in that case, it's kind of a problem? How do I handle this? Health does refill between stages, but it's never even close to all the way. If you want something like that, you can try beating some of the bosses, but good luck doing that. The bosses are fairly easy (step 1: fly up to them; step 2: shove rockets into their face; step 3: win), but the real challenge comes in actually hitting these guys. I know that this sounds contradictory, but when I say that they're hard to hit, I don't mean that there's some complex pattern that requires deciphering; what I mean is that it's just hard to stay locked onto them long enough to fire at them. Wait, did I say "locked on?" There's no lock-on system! And since there's no 180 degree turn around feature, you're left with one option: slowly and clumsily turning toward the boss and hoping that you can shoot them. Did you beat the boss? Yea, I know, it took a long time. Now repeat that for six more levels, and that's Bulk Slash: an OK mech game that you've never heard of. I'd say "but what else is new" and end on a cliché, but I can't remember any other mech games I've played.
- This has to be the only game where it's really hard to control a mech. I can't think of any others.
- Of course, unlike those other games that I can't think of, this one's full of cool shooting action and stuff...
- ...that's buried beneath years of age.