(Craaaaaap!) Now do not mistake that battle music for me calling this game bad (despite the lack of any sort of ending); instead, interpret it as my frustrations at writing a blog for this. It seems a trend with the last two Lexalofle games I've beaten: they're so simplistic yet competent that any blog would wind up being a description of the gameplay mechanics followed by me saying "it's good". So you know what? I'm not doing that this time. Just read the wiki entry for it while I whip something else up.
*stifled giggling* Wait, I'm supposed to begin these things with music in parentheses. Might as well correct that. (*stifled giggling*) Now you may be wondering why I'm tittering like a madman. Well, how often do you see a game that's so utterly self-aware? If this game could speak in a language that wasn't kicks, it would probably say, "Yea, I'm the Kick Master. I kick shit. I kick the fuck out of shit. What're you gonna do about it? You wanna come at me, bro? Huh? Huh?"
This much is evident from the beginning, and I mean the beginning. The title screen shakes with silent fury, and one of the options on the menu screen is a Demo of Kicks; it is exactly what you think it is. It's a Jean-Claude Van Damme film in an NES cartridge. I wish that could explain the story, but sadly, it's far better than that. Two brothers are waging a war against...something. I don't know. In fact, all I know is that it's Greek, given that you're fighting harpies and centaurs and the like. What's important, though, is that the protagonist's brother dies and entrusts the war to his brother, for his kicking power is the only thing that can stop the evil army of evil. This is all canon. It's frightening how utterly over-the-top this game is. I can only stand in awe as it becomes exactly what you'd expect of a game called Kick Master. Oh, and the game looks and sounds amazing (certainly too amazing for the NES), but who the fuck cares about that shit? YOU'RE THE GODDAMN KICK MASTER.
Speaking of which, the kicks. There are A LOT of them in the game, even though the game only has two buttons. How does it achieve so many kicks? Fighting game complexity. Oh, and a leveling system, but mostly stuff like forward and A+B. Obviously, this takes a little skill to pull off, but more importantly, it makes you feel like a complete badass, like some Master of Kickery, if you will. But how many kicks will you actually use? About four or five. Yes, it's nice that you have so many options regarding how to greet a man with your foot, but it's also a bit sad that so few of them find a perfect balance between ease and function so as to ruin the other available kicks. Think about it: why kill a guy with a Mortal Kombat bicycle kick when a Mega Man 5 era sliding kick? Why work hard to kill that boss when you can destroy them easily with a Super Mario head stomp and a good old fashioned nut kick? Wait, you can kick a boss in the nuts until it dies? Final boss included? I RESCIND ANY SUCH CRITICISMS TOWARD THIS GAME'S KICKING.
In fact, let me rectify this error by saying that this game will make you a man. If you're already a man, it will make you a woman just so it will be able to make you a man. What? You thought being the Kick Master was going to be easy? There is no such word in the realm of the Kick Master. Everything wants you dead, and they're going to succeed. It may not look so at first, given that you're getting stronger with each kick and everything, but give it time. They're going to whittle your health down bit by bit, and you've been kicking too many hearts out of your enemies. Now you have none left, and you're running low on health because of it. And then you die a horrible death, disgracing the Kick Master name. But do you give up? If you're fine living without manhood, absolutely, but if that's true, I have to imagine you gave up long before this game. For the rest of us, though, we don't give up. We persevere, push through, avoid kicking ass when perfectly fine testicles are available, and at the end of the day, we emerge victorious. Joy is bestowed unto all, and there is nothing left to fight over.
Although if I were to complain about this game, I'd probably be doubled over in pain, what with the kicked up gut and everything. But let's rewind to before I got what was coming to me. I was probably saying something like "the levels aren't terribly exciting". A lot of them are simply straight lines with enemies blocking your path from time to time. The few unique levels in this game are vertical instead of horizontal, and....no, that's about it. It's the adversaries that do the heavy lifting for this game; not the levels. True, there's some extra magic to find in each level, but you're the Kick Master, and the only magic the Kick Master knows is how to pull a rabbit out of a hat by kicking the hat over. And that's the only magic you'll ever need, and you know why? Because you're the Kick Master. That is all.
- What were you expecting from a game called Kick Master? Well, it's exactly that.
- So many kicks! So many things to be kicked! What more could you ask for?
- Well, aside from the kicking I've been hyping up, a meatier game underneath the story premise.
OK, can somebody explain what exactly this is supposed to be? It's ripping assets from, like, nine different Fire Emblem games, and something else I can't readily identify.
Trauma Center: Second Opinion
(That's not why I chose this game.) The fact that Second Opinion is in the title is only a cute coincidence. Instead, I chose it because I was nostalgic for the launch of the Nintendo Wii or something, and this game certainly recreated that feeling. It doesn't look terribly good, it's physically exhausting and balls hard, my batteries kept running out every three operations or so...and yet, I still had one hell of a time. In fact, it's because it was balls hard that I had as good a time as I did with it.
Of course, the game is also very hard to look at. (I'll be here all week.) This much became evident when I took out the crystal clear Xenoblade Chronicles and swapped this game in, seeing a blurred out techno beat on the Wii menu. And then I actually started the game, and that trend continued unabated. Now I know that this is something everybody knows about, but it needs to be said: the bodies look all kinds of strange. Now I'm not expecting advanced skin or hair or anything like that, but why does every character look like they were doused in gasoline? Isn't that something I should know as a medical professional? And why are their organs all covered in this weird aura? Do the people of this world think lighters are shot glasses?
But to be fair, I have been limited myself to the gameplay. Maybe the story stuffs look miles better.....No, not really. It's pretty much a visual novel, and not a particularly great one. Remember how Katawa Shoujo (IE the only other visual novel I've ever played) had, like, twelve portraits for the meaningless NPC character you'd see only once? Well, here, even a main character would be lucky to get five of those things. Everybody else gets only one portrait apiece, which can make certain scenes a bit...awkward. For instance, here's a rather emotional moment conveyed with the same level of interest I had in Chocolate Castle. But still, it's surprising to think that I'd played a visual novel years before what I considered to be my first one. You know what? Let's fix that. I hereby decree that Trauma Center and Katawa Shoujo are in the same universe. In fact, Derek Stiles is just Hisao Nakai operating under an assumed alias. After all, like Hisao, Derek is well meaning but a tad naive and screws things up big time. Besides, it makes as much sense as anything in this game.
Which brings me to the story. Now you may expect me not to like the story, given previous trends in this blog, but actually, I thought it was OK. Strange, but good enough nonetheless. Although things don't start off that strange (unless you find the high number of hit and runs odd (more Katawa Shoujo proof!)). In fact, it's just Derek operating on regular cases. You meet the patient, cut them open, and get a decent short story about why their lives suck so hard. It's depressing, sure, but as I've noticed before, if you want to have a good story, it usually helps to make your audience as sad as possible. It just makes something like an arrhythmia-stricken girl all the more meorable. And then that suicide operation happens, and the story goes nine kinds of crazy. Man-made super viruses, defusing disco bombs, a bad meme reference, American cities with Japanese signage and the like. The strangest thing about this, though, is how it all works. There are messages and purpose to all that sci-fi-virus stuff. Granted, the messages are pretty heavy-handed (possibly because all the symbolism is literally capitalized for you), but there's some thought put into it, is what I'm saying.
Which brings us to the gameplay. I can talk about the story all I want, but at the end of the day, that's just window dressing for the gameplay...window. I don't know what window dressing dresses.....Anyway, what I meant to say is that the game's pretty good, and there are a few reasons behind this. First, it gets a lot out of that surgery stuff. You'll be reconstructing a person's arm, operating on twelve people at once, lasering more tumors than medicine would ever allow, and picking out A LOT of viruses. I'd call it cheating that the game invents a fictional disease to introduce gameplay variety, but even without it, Trauma Center manages to remain exciting, mainly through things not even relating to surgery. Airplanes and heart attacks and darkness and other such scary things. Granted, there's also a lot of repetition within the operations, like all the times you have to cut up a girl who cuts herself so you can prevent her body from cutting herself (because she's afflicted with the SYMBOLISM virus), but there's a very good reason for that:
This game is balls hard. Go ahead and feel your balls right now. I can guarantee you that this game is harder than they are. Admittedly, it's not all fair, as the game expects quite a bit of you. Why am I expected to perform major surgery in under five minutes? Don't most operations take place over several hours? Though to be fair, it's not like you're performing an organ transplant or something that complicated...except when you are. Obviously, I kid. A lot of the difficulty comes from good ol' fashioned "there's a lot happening on screen at once". You've removed that tumor, but blood is hemmorhaging in the kidneys! And that GUILT is wrecking havoc on the patient! And your batteries are running out again! Fuck! Another dead patient. That's the Trauma Center experience for you: death and malpractice. But do you give up? Hell no! You push through and work up a sweat (this is a Wii game; you'll literally work up a sweat) pulling out all those shards of glass or whatever at breakneck speed. And then you
fail because you broke the patient's neck succeed, and you truly feel like you succeeded at something that mattered. YOU SAVED A LIFE, DAMN IT. This is especially true of the final boss, which tries to screw you over with twenty lacerations and twelve simultaneous strains of GUILT at once...and by playing a Persona 4 Mist analog, for some reason. But you know better by now. You kick that Savato's ass and you reign supreme as the best doctor in the world. NOTHING CAN STAND IN YOUR WAY.
Oh, except for the controls, because this is an early Wii game. Now as I said last time I did this, it took a while for developers to figure out how to get Wii controls working, and, well, it certainly shows here. Now to be fair, pointing around, sewing shit up, and slicing people open work just fine. It's just that doing a lot of other things tend to be a pain in the ass. I assume you're still reading through that last link, so this will sound especially relevant: DO NOT MAKE ME ROTATE MY WII-MOTE, DEVELOPERS. It feels awkward as shit, and it never works the way you want it to (largely because of the inherent technical limitations). Still, any rotations are better than the defibrillator parts, which just don't work for reasons I never really understood, or the Healing Touch, which is just Atlus being mean. Allow me to explain. Whenever you need things to slow the hell down, you draw a star on the screen and just that happens. It's good to get you out of a pinch...provided the game actually registers the star. Sadly, about half the time, you're flailing about, hoping that time slows down. Meanwhile, your patient probably flatlined two minutes ago because why would you use a Healing Touch at full health? Worse yet, the story establishes that Derek could've chosen any shape in the world....and the dick chose a fucking star. Just...fuck. This game could've been so much better if the controls were more precise, which I guess is my way of telling you to get Under the Knife or something. It's either that or come into this knowing what you're gonna get.
- Anybody remember this? He's completely right.
- The game hammers home the idea that you are a demi-god of a doctor, and, well, you'll certainly feel it.
- Just prepare to deal with some messy controls along the way.