Sin & Punishment: Successors of the Earth
(OK, what the fuck, you guys?) Why's it taking me so long to put out a new blog? Well, you have Super Meat Boy to blame for that. It's a pretty hard game, and the frame rate dropping into the decimal count isn't helping things. Normally, I'd post one of my other blogs I have sitting in the line-up, but given that I've written my Meat Boy blog with my hiatus in mind, I don't have a lot of options. So until I finally beat it, I'll just do some revisits of older games or something. Up first is Sin & Punishment, otherwise known as Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Rail Shooter. Probably.
And like Neon Genesis Evangelion (probably (I should stop basing my jokes on shows I've never watched)), I have no goddamn clue what's going on at any given time. I've honestly tried paying attention to the plot, but I couldn't figure any of it out. Regardless, here's what I wrote down: it's the far off future year of 2007 and monsters are attacking Japan. Now it's up to unenthusiastic youth Saki Amamiya to save the world. Or maybe it's up to his girlfriend who looks exactly like him to do that, and he's going to destroy the world. Or both. Also, something about sharing monster blood and a talking cat and time travelling to New York or some other bullshit or something. And did I mention that all the dialogue is translated, but the subtitles remain in blurry-as-fuck Japanese? So as you can see, it's a pretty goddamn confusing story, which makes the decision to dedicate half the experience to the story as confusing as....well, as the story itself. Funny how things work out that way.
But that doesn't mean the whole story thing is bad. After all, we have the aesthetics for the story, which tend to work quite well...although that's kinda because of how ridiculous it can be. Ouch. What the hell does that mean? Well, the game doesn't look too good. I don't mean that on a technical level, though, because judging by that alone, the game would look amazing. You have some pretty good lighting going on, high resolution textures, decent face animations, and all other sorts of witchcraft that causes N64s to melt. But remember that I'm not judging this on tech alone. Art's also getting thrown into the mix, and this is where things get weird. (Presumably, talking cat things in Japan are perfectly normal.) I don't know how to put it, but the characters often look...off. They just look off. Maybe I'm in the wrong on this, but I'm not sure the characters were supposed to look thsi angsty or dumb or fucking terrifying. The voice acting gets off better...kinda. See, as I clumsily alluded to previously, the entire game is voice acted, and the quality can range from pretty damn good to not even trying. Saki seems to take the cake in the last category; the poor bastard can never seem to give a shit about anything. Not in a "mopey whiney teen" sort of way, but more like "awkward high school presentation" sort of way. Combine that with a face that most definitely is "mopey whiney teen", and you have a veritable gold mine of laughs. (Provided you can laugh, of course. I spent most of the game with the previously mentioned look on my face, even if I do that all the time anyway.)
Now to compliment the game, for a change: everything else. Everything else about the game is deserving of compliment. What's that? You want to know what the game is like? You shoot shit. That's what you do throughout the game. What more could you want out of an experience? What's that? You want MORE? Fortunately, this game anticipated your selfishness and gives you more. So much more. For example, the power-ups....OK, there aren't any. Sure, you get a sword, but it's less Radiant Silvergun and more "kill things you'd shoot anyway". But that's OK, because Sin & Punishment really shines through with its scenarios. For example, how do you follow up a game of tug of war with some Panzer Dragoon looking thing? Running in circles and shooting a cat in its smug fucking face. And then about 70% more game follows, wherein it manages to keep this pace up throughout that entire experience. How is that even possible? Never once did I stop to say, "This is getting boring" or anything like that. (Although that might be because I was using the word "confusing" instead.) Throw in some pretty awesome bosses (the final boss has you blowing up the Earth while protecting the Earth, because logic and fun never get along too well), and you have a pretty awesome experience.
An easy experience, mind you, but an awesome experience, nonetheless. How easy is it? First level: I didn't get hit once. I didn't even have to move, and I still managed to avoid bullets like a Metal Gear villain. Then the next few levels came, and sure enough, I managed to get hit sometimes, and I had to move around to avoid bullets and obstacles. Still, though, things remain easy, because the game hands out health and time bonuses like crazy. Did you beat a mini-boss? Have some more time! Shoot a random enemy? You need health! Do you exist? No? Well, here are some pity points for not existing...somehow. Actually, that's an unfair characterization, because it implies that the game has no clue what challenge is. Go ahead and play some of the little mini-game moments that break up the game proper, and you'll encounter some challenge. The problem, of course, is that this doesn't really carry over into the rest of the game. As I said, it's easy to take care of what's trying to kill you, and the game doesn't really want you dying. But you know what? This may be my fault. After all, I didn't check the menus too well (because while I don't know how skilled my Japanese is, I do know I'm absolutely terrible at reading Japanese with glaucoma), so it's possible that I accidentally played the whole thing on Press A to Win Mode. Besides, all it really needs is a stronger focus on points (perhaps by becoming an arcade game or turning combos into a per-level affair), and the challenge magically reappears. So yea, I'd still recommend this thing.
- I'd say it's like Neon Genesis Evangelion, but I'm sure that show had better voice work. Also, I've never watched the show, so I should stop making that damn comparison.
- Especially given the solid gameplay and everything.
- Easy gameplay, but still solid gameplay.
Continuing the theme of revisits, here's me revisiting the idea of SpongeBob being racist and terrible for children:
Panzer Dragoon Mini
(Nope, still haven't beaten Super Meat Boy.) I am not joking when I say that I thought I Wanna Be The Guy would give me more trouble. Anyway, our next game should have some pedigree behind it: Panzer Dragoon Mini, otherwise known as one of two Panzer Dragoon games Sega doesn't want you to know about. (I can't even find anything on the second one because that's how ignorant people are to it.) Now why doesn't Sega want you to know about this? Well, probably because it's a dull, ridiculously simplistic entry in the Panzer Dragoon series.
Speaking of Panzer Dragoon, what's it known for? Largely, as far as I can tell, story and graphics (or at least the general look of things). Guess which one this game doesn't have? Graphics? Yes, because Sega somehow managed to turn Zork into a friggin' shooter. No, it's actually the story that was left out. Oddly enough, I don't have much of a problem with that; after all, what's there to explain? Why I can choose between three completely identical dragons or why I fight the same miniboss four or five times? I'm not thinking about that stuff, mainly because I'm thinking about how the game looks. Most of the time, it's bad. The ground is just a series of crappy stripes, and while the enemies can look cool, they never get close enough to you to show off that coolness. (But more on that later.) So how does the game look good? The bosses. How did they squeeze this out of the Game Gear? OK, so there's some flicker on these guys, but keep in mind that some pretty detailed animations accompany this flicker, easily making the bosses the best part of the game.
Unfortunately, that's really all the game has, because in comes the game part. Now as I said before, Panzer Dragoon Mini is a shooter, and it's a shooter with two ways of shooting things. First is the regular shot which you'll never ever use outside boss battles. Your shots will never go where you aim, so unless you're shooting at something that occupies 80% of the screen (like a boss), it's best to rely on shooting method number two: target painting. Just hold down the shoot button, hover over targets, and release it to watch them all die. Sounds cool, right? Well, it isn't, and there are two reasons why. Now I really don't like comparing games, but this is really the best way I can illustrate my point. Look at how target painting is handled in any other Panzer Dragoon game; now here's Mini. Notice something missing? Impact. The enemies die with a small pfft as soon as you let go of the damn button, leaving you no time to enjoy killing...whatever the hell you fight. (Again, no story.) I know it sounds minor, but trust me: it really does suck a lot of the fun out of the experience.
Second, the level design just isn't that interesting. Here's the format you'll be dealing with for many of the levels: a couple of enemies come in from the left, then a couple more from the right. Repeat that a bit with those enemies, then move onto something else. True, sometimes they'll come from the top of the screen or *gasp* the corners (ARE YOU A MADMAN!?), but for the most part, it's just left and right. Does that sound exciting? If it does, then you probably passed out in a fit of excitement when you saw my banner, you boring piece of shit. For the rest of us, it's a repetitive bore. True, the game does introduce quite a few enemy designs over the course of the game, but it doesn't amount to much, since they take both the same positions as other enemies and their vulnerabilities. The only parts I genuinely looked forward to where the boss battles, but that was more because of how they looked than how they played. I don't know if the fact that it has only five levels is a good or bad thing. Yet I know for certain if this game is a good or bad thing. Care to take a guess?
- If this was the first Panzer Dragoon game, the series would be called Missile Burping/Farting/Eye-Lasering Dragon.
- Then again, it would be the ONLY Panzer Dragoon game, given the shooting and everything.
- And the overall design.