Mega Man Zero 4
(Wait, something's not right about this particular Mega Man game.) It....actually ends things. That's not how Mega Man's supposed to work. I guess it was caught in that awkward time between ending series after eight games (and pissing off the fans) and ending them after two or three games (and pissing off the fans). Well, regardless, it ends things in a pretty endy fashion, but with a huge twist that I'm sure none of you could possibly see coming. It doesn't piss off the fans. Shocking, right?
But before I carry on, remember my last blog? I'm asking you because I don't. What was it about? Libertarians, you say? Well, I guess to counter-balance that, I chose this game because of how Stalinist it is. It's future times and three Mega Man Zero games have already happened, and "Totally Not Dr. Wily, Honestly" Dr. Weil is ruling Neo Arcadia like Josef Stalin. Don't believe me? The guy paints his hellhole (or so we're told; we never really see Neo Arcadia, so it's hard to tell how true that is) as a paradise, suppresses any political opposition, and wants to kill any Humans (capitalized for n real reason) he sees fleeing his super awesome city. Look, trust me, it comes across as pretty Stalinist in the actual game. Anyway, it's now up to Zero to put a stop to Weil's version of communism and save the environment, apparently. Also, the Humans. Although for being the victims of this struggle, the Humans sure are goddamn assholes......Moreso than usual. The intro makes it pretty clear how the Reploid War or whatever started: Humans built Reploids (also capitalized) for slave labor, and when the Reploids want some actual rights, they're labeled Mavericks and hunted on the spot. Then the world blows up or something, and Zero has to prove to the surviving Humans that he's not an asshole, even though the Humans are the ones who spend the game whining about how much Reploids suck ass. Other than that, though, it's got a pretty good story with some somber moments and such.
Oh, and environmental messages, because...I have no idea. This came out quite a while before An Inconvenient Truth, so it's not like it's following any trends or anything. Anyway, why didn't I mention this in the previous paragraph? Because it has a larger impact on the levels than the story. Granted, it's not too big an impact, but it's still larger than what it does to the story. Here's the thing: before you actually jump into a level, you get to choose what the weather will be like (nope, no way THAT could ever contradict any environmental themes or anything). In theory, the weather will affect how the level plays out, changing certain aspects and allowing you to access different areas. While it does do that, the problem is that all areas only have two weather conditions, like, ever, and there's always one that's clearly better than the other. It's the one that the game directly tells you is better. There's one feature down the gutter. Shame, too, because the levels in this game are pretty damn cool. Nothing terribly special, but it does know how to keep the action going, and there is enough variety to keep things interesting. Throw in some challenging bosses who speak Japanese, for some reason, and you have an OK game.
But you know what makes this game awesome? You know what makes it suck that this is the end? The weapons. Dear god, the weapons in this game fucking rule. Well, except for your default ones. Strange, I know, but bear with me. You get three main weapons: a gun that you'll never ever use, a sword that's pretty cool to use, and a knuckle. DO NOT IGNORE THIS KNUCKLE LIKE I DID FOR MOST OF THE GAME. It allows you to steal weapons from enemies, and trust me, you'll want to do this whenever possible, because there are so many great weapons to kali ma from your foes. For example, a flashlight. Yes, you can kill things with a flashlight. It doesn't make sense, but it doesn't have to when you can kill your foes with light. Oh, there are other methods of killing things, but they're nowhere near as interesting. For instance, chips. They're not very good, but the weird thing is that they should be cool. They allow you to customize Zero and dress him in pretty colors; what could be wrong with that? Well, the method of actually getting those chips: you have to build them yourself....with recipes you never get and resources you'll never have enough of. Great. Although, really, that's a pretty minor issue with Mega Man Zero 4. I'd still recommend the hell out of it, especially seeing how I've done it three times before.
- What was Stalin's opinion on the environment, and why did this game make me say that?
- Some fun levels, I guess.
- Stealing weapons? Awesome! Making weapons? Terrible!
Here's a preview of the American localization of Wake-Up Club:
Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool
(As much as I love the 90s, there was one disturbing trend that I'm glad has passed.) What? Mascot platformers? Fuck you for indirectly insulting Sonic 3! Anyway, what I'm talking about is the trend of advergames. What's that? Burger King games? Well, the 90s had McDonald's games out the ass, Yo Noid, Chex Quest, Cool Spot, the second TMNT game (coupons count)...and this, the game that undermines my premise by actually being sort of OK.
But this isn't the Chester Cheetah we know today, who transitioned from a life of convincing people to suffocate those around them to a life of general weirdness, but the hip, cool Chester Cheetah. Or at least, that's what he was trying to go for; in reality, he was not only nothing like that (it's hard to be cool when your name is fucking Chester), but he was everything you hated about what the 90s considered cool, and dear god, does it come across in the game. Any time the poor bastard opens his mouth, he sounds like a cross between Rocket Power and what you think jazz musicians from the 1940s sounded like. It's painful having to hear him spout out words like "righteous" and "hip" and "aiiiaight"....which is why the developers limited his speech only to the ending. (In fact, that last one was probably just a pained burp.) The rest of the time, he stays silent as he gathers the missing parts of his motorcycle (because he's apparently too cool to carpool OH GOD, DON'T HIT ME!). But the "coolness" still manages to leak through. (I feel like I rely on this too much, but) just look at this game. It looks like a launch pad for a long forgotten cartoon. A bit too flat for my tastes, but it gets the job done. And the music....is actually bitching? What's going o-right. I'm supposed to tell you how this game is OK.
Odd, because this is the part where I also have to talk about the gameplay. Well, it's a platformer where you jump and...no, that's pretty much it. OK, there are tons of weird power-ups you can sometimes find (sunglasses that remove all the color from the levels, a guitar that...does nothing...etc.), but for the most part, it's just jumping through straightish levels. So then how is this game good? Well, it knows how to keep just enough variety to make things interesting. In fact, let's go through it level by level to prove it: up first is a straight line that sometimes has you fucking your way through sewers. Fair enough. Up next is a monkey that follows you through shitty vine physics, followed by a boat level and then some minecart bullshit. Losing interest? Good, because up next is Chester Cheetah riding a goddamn butterfly. All the while, you're beating the shit out of a poorly drawn dog who has both the parts to your motorcycle and various modes of transportation. Or perhaps it's a series of dogs; it's not very clear. Does it make any sense? Of course not! Does it need to? Not really. Trust me, you're going to welcome anything into the experience so long as it gets you away from the actual levels. Why is that?
Well, for the most part, they're pretty damn easy. What? Did you expect anything else? The levels only demand that you press right and jump, and you don't even have to press the first one too often; of course things are going to be somewhat easy. What's that? Enemies? In a video game? That cha-*bursts out into laughter* THINGS ARE STILL EASY! Here; I'll even let you in on my master strategy to destroy the enemies in this game: move slightly to the left and then jump right over them. Sure, they won't die (even if you do hit them), but they'll learn their lesson. They, like the game, will offer you no more resistance. To be fair, though, the game eventually gets challenging a couple of stages in. Enemies become harder to navigate around, platforms less forgiving, and gameplay somewhat more engaging as a result of it. Unfortunately, things go back to being easy for the end, when the game becomes a bullet heaven type of game. Speaking of endings, care to take a wager how long this game is?..............Nobody's guessing. Like, at all. Well, for all zero of you who were wondering, it's five stages. Combine that with the lack of difficulty in about 60% of the game, and you have a very short game. So basically, this game is the equivalent of shoving an entire bag of Cheetos down your throat: it won't take very long, but you'll get some mild enjoyment out of the experience. Also, it helps if you're massively stoned the entire time.
- It's like the inevitable Cheetos cartoon you know you'd never watch.
- Wow, one of the rare examples of a licensed game that's actually competent at being a game.
- Despite his testimony to the contrary, it really is easy being cheesy. No, wait, put down the pipe, we can talk this out like civi-PUT DOWN THE PIPE!