just_nonplussed's forum posts

#1 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -
@Pepsiman said:

I forgot Takahashi was working on that game. I guess he gave up on the whole playground design thing or whatever it was he was up to after leaving Namco. I'll have to give it a whirl sometime.



He didn't give up on the playground. I live in the city where it's being built. It's just taken quite a long time. He showed a bunch of the designs (All insane of course) off last year at GameCity and they only began building early this year. The last time I went to the park though, all they had constructed was a new cafe. However, they also tore down the old playground that was there, and have various sections of the park 'under construction'. The cafe is how they're going to get some kind of revenue stream from the new playground. I'm guessing they are building it bit by bit. I don't know - I need to go back and check whether there is something there. I might go soon and if there is something I will try to upload a photo. 
 
Just checked his blog. Doesn't look like there's anything new at the moment. :-(  
 
I guess it's a waiting game. 
 
Glitch looks alright. I might play it, but I would prefer another Noby Noby Boy. I would prefer if it would be supported and updated with as much attention as Katamari gets.
#2 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

I read your blog last night actually. Hehe. I think I felt the same way as you did, that it was insane, but I spent most of the review restraining myself! I wanted to let people know that there is a game under there. Lol.

#3 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

 
 

 

Thought I'd write a review for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron since GB hasn't got a review up yet. Just realized that there are 2 user reviews up already, but another can't do any harm. Just wanted to get the word out on this beautiful game in case any of you missed it.    

 
-------------------------- 
 
 

'El Shaddai' is ancient Hebrew for 'the word of God'. It is a game where you play the role of a human named Enoch who was so angelic on earth that he got called up to heaven to work as a scribe for God. 
 
The dilemma that the player-character gets thrown into revolves around seven fallen angels. The story is complex/ambiguous to say the least, but the basic idea in El Shaddai is that God created the world and then 'called it a day'. The angels in heaven had other ideas though and began to get a bit creative with the paintbrush of life, descending to earth to re-create the world in their own image. Indeed, the sin appears to be that the angels formed their own identities separate from God and cut themselves off from heaven. The seven angels built a huge tower with seven floors for each angel's idea of a kind of personal heaven. During this time they mated with humans and created weird offspring that were neither divine or mortal, the Nephilim. Also, they attracted many followers on earth who worshipped the angels. 
God considered the angels' new realities as false and a sin, and threatens to flood the world if the angels do not come back to heaven. This is where Enoch comes in. Enoch, the angelic human, is tasked with bringing back the souls of the seven fallen angels and returning them to God. Of course what this means is killing their material forms.    
 
 
El Shaddai is a simple 3D brawler and also a full-on platformer. In fact, the game is very clearly divided equally between these types of gameplay. You journey through the various floors of the tower that the angels created, fighting smaller demons on the way to each angel which is the boss of each floor. The closest reference to the fighting is the original Devil May Cry, but more stripped down and minimal. There's only really one button that you use to fight with (Square or Triangle on the PS3), one mid-air attack, and one special move that is either defensive or evasive in nature. The combat can be considered 'button-mashy', but is varied through 'God's weapons' and a strong emphasis on timing. 
  
There are 3 weapons in the game; a heavy shield-like smashing weapon that is slow but strong on offense and defence, a bow that is both quite fast and fairly strong, an a strange long-range shooting weapon that is hard to describe but is fast and allows Enoch to dash about. So even though most of the time you're just tapping Square (Or the equivalent), each weapon has different animations for Enoch and feels physically different. Also, there is more detail in the timing. Instead of always tapping Square frequently, you can adjust the rhythm of button presses to have Enoch perform some balletic jump attacks that feed back into the regular combat mode. The main function of this is to break the enemies' guard though. There are times when the enemy blocks and you can't hit him, so by adjusting the timing, it can stun the enemy. 
There are a variety of enemy types that are based around each of God's weapons, and each enemy has an appearance and feeling based on a specific weapon. So you have heavy big monsters (Sheild weapon), light and floaty ones (The long-range weapon), and more regular-looking human types (The bow). Combat throughout the game consists of mixing and matching weapon types to enemies; each has a weakness. 

 
The other side of the game is the platforming. The way the combat is connected to the jumping is neat and interesting. Usually after several battles, where you’re travelling through the screen, the game transitions into a sidescrolling perspective where there are mostly no enemies. In these sections it is straight up platform game conventions and often feels very Mario-esque (There are even some tributes to various Mario conventions). There is nothing too taxing here, and it’s just as straight-forward as the combat. What is interesting though is that the emphasis on timing and special abilities links both sections of the game, the combat and the jumping. So the skills you learn in combat are directly useful in traversal sections. Also, as each weapon’s special ability has an influence on the way Enoch moves, some weapons make performing tricky jumps easier or more difficult throughout. There’s an emphasis on choice throughout, and picking which ever weapon suits you. 

The environments, the mood, and the art style are by far the most impressive things about the game. Each place that you visit is completely different and so beautifully constructed. They are not easy to describe, and combine so many strange visual effects. The graphics remind me of Killer7, Okami, Ico, Rez, and No More Heroes. It feels like a wonderful combination of those graphical milestones, plus many other non-game elements are that very original. The mood and feeling of the game reminds me a lot of Killer7 mixed with Bayonetta, but the pacing of the experience is much more orderly and simple.

The powerful orchestral scores for the game are stunning, and I have difficulty in describing it. I won’t dwell on either the story or the environments though, as those are the core of the game and the surprise of playing El Shaddai. You really have to experience it for yourself. No one can tell you about it, and trust me; there are some true ‘WTF’ moments in store. 
  

All things considered, I really enjoyed the game. At first it can feel monontous because you don't get all the weapons straight away and it takes a little time to get a feel for the flow of the experience, but once you get the timing down and understand the weapons and how to use them creatively then it's good clean fun. The combat is simple, but well-built. It's not like in Bayonetta where everything is silky smooth and you can easily interupt any move to begin a new one. A lot of the times the animations for the moves play out till the end, and it requires some forward thinking about whether you're going to dodge, defend or continue attacking once the animation finishes. Also, Enoch does not always auto-target the enemy so controlling him requires a bit more manual input than in the exquisite Bayonetta for example. Or you can just button mash. But it's much more rewarding if you time your button presses because you're working within the limitations of the character rather than blindly bashing buttons. I found the platforming sections to be very enjoyable also, and a lot easier if you work on the timing. 
Don't think that El Shaddai isn't worth playing because it's minimalistic. The beauty of the game is how it fits together as a whole. You don't feel that its lacking anything because there's a strong harmony and balance between gameplay styles, it's well-paced, and the visuals, atmosphere, music and story carry it for the most part. It feels whole; it's all about feeling the aesthetic. However, El Shaddai knows it is a video game. It manages a great balance between being an old-school arcade game and being a beautiful moving painting.    
 

You can beat the game in about 5 hours but you’ll surely want to play through it again as it's just amazing to see and feel and try to understand the story some more.  

El Shaddai is a rare flower that is delicate, doesn’t bloom for long, but smells and looks gorgeous. 

#4 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

El Shaddai just came out in Europe. I got it a few days ago. It's a really amazing and unique experience. Giant Bomb should have a review by now and talk about it a little bit. It's been getting 9s across the board generally. It's sad - I went to the game shop and there were like 3 copies on the shelves, and I had to really dig around for it. Just like Shadow of the Damned, original games are bombing. It's worse than its ever been before.

#5 Edited by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

 
Nice post. Good to celebrate Metroid's 25th! :-) 
 

@ ahoodedfigure
 
Despite what gamers often say, the story in Metroid is not limited to those little cut-scenes that happen now and again if at all. Metroid tells its story through its pacing and direction. Return of Samus is a narrative about extermination of a race, Super Metroid is a very rich and silent narrative about the nature of power itself. Metroid Prime 2 is very much about repression and restriction as a theme, and so on and so on. Story in video games cannot be directly compared to literature or film. It tells its story through play. Wake up gamers! :-) 
 
Isolation is a small part of the Metroid picture. It figures a lot in the earlier entries where the maps are very sparse. But later in the series the theme becomes very much about attack and and all-out offensive. It becomes about speed and energy much more so than isolation. 
 
All those little plot details and the manga fiction is nice and all to set the background, but it's not generally representative of the players' direct experience through Samus. 
 
 
@ selbie
 
I agree. I love that about Super Metroid. I hope they bring back, someday, the ability to skip weapon upgrades and mix and match abilities. I feel Bayonetta really allowed a lot of this by allowing her moves and abilities to be switched on or off on the menu screen. 
 
 
Anyway, I wonder if scanning would work very well in 2D, in the same way as in the Prime series. The scan visor was actually invented in Super Metroid; you got it near the end and it allowed Samus to see through walls. So I guess they could bring that back. I admit, it was an excellent touch that added a lot of gameplay depth. But each Metroid is unique...and takes advantage of each specific systems limitations and opportunities. Each Metroid is very bespoke. I'm not sure a 'hodgepodge' of elements thrown together would necessarily work well for the sake of nostalgia or something. Fans are their own worst enemies really... they want designers to give them their nostalgic memories exactly as they experienced them and keep repeating their own specific experiences, which is impossible. That said, each game tends to combine some great aspect of a former entry in the series and, like zelda, uses its storied history to its advantage. 
 
I will say though that there are two basic Metroid experieces, to put it crudely. One is based on speed, and the other is based more on space and the environment. These two elements are combined a lot of course, but 3D is best for environment depth, and 2D is best for that feeling of speed (speed booster, screw attack etc.). Super Metroid I think is a great balance of both of these elements. 
 
 
 

#6 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

****Mods, please don't move this to the Metroid board. That board is dead. Thanks. :-) *****
#7 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

I noticed a blog post on Game Informer the other day. It was a reader discussion on memories of Zelda games, for the 25th birthday of that series. Then I thought, well that's all fine and good but it's Metroid's 25th this year too , so it should also have something similar. 
 
There's also no better time than now to celebrate Metroid. Recently we've had a flood of games that all pay tribute to Metroid. If you think about it, it's really as influencial as the Zelda games, if not more so! The only recent game that I can think of that is directly inspired by Zelda, is Darksiders. Recent Metroid-type games include: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Aliens: Infestation, Outland (To some extent), Fez (Said to have a wide-open, inter-connected map), Cave Story, Shadow Complex, Aquaria, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and a TON of Castlevania games. 
 
So it didn't invent Z-targeting. It hardly matters. Its contributions are just as valid: silent, atmospheric storytelling, non-linear design, seamless combination of action and exploration gameplay, and a general level of elegance and polish that is rarely seen.  
 
  

Anyway, share your Metroid memories here. :-) They can be anything from memories of the time, to the actual in-game memories. 
 
Personally, I first discovered the series through Super Metroid on the SNES. I was at Secondary (High) school and unwittingly borrowed a copy from someone I didn't know so well (Couldn't even really be called a friend of a friend). But I took it home and played for a bit. It didn't really make much of an impression on me. I think at the time I was used to N64 graphics and Playstation. I did recall fond memories of Mario games and Donkey Kong Country games on the Super Nintendo, but for some reason never knew about Metroid and its sheer detail and subtleties were lost on me at the time. I remember my friend came round to see the new game, and he was more interested than I was! He was transfixed. I know I shouldn't of but I lent him the game that I had been lent (But I did eventually give it back!). Eventually my friend bought a copy himself and for years preached about the game and its merits, saying it was his favourite thing. I just kept playing my N64 and eventually Gamecube. Then I got Metroid Prime on import from the US because it got good reviews and I had this souped-up all-region GC with component-type cables that I wanted to use. So with Metroid Prime I experienced the brilliance, the beauty and the elegance of Metroid. It was so involving, exploring lush alien planets and searching for mysterious powers. It captured me at the time. But it was only a few years ago that I really got into Super Metroid. I went back and played it on a whim, and finally understood its genius. The rest is history, and I've been a fan ever since.  
 
:-) 
#8 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

Yeah, it's definately a combination of Alien Soldier, The Legend of Zelda, and of course ICO.
#9 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

I only realized recently, but SotC is very similar to the original NES Legend of Zelda. Big, sparse map; with dungeon after dungeon. Only in SotC the bosses are the dungeons.
#10 Posted by just_nonplussed (127 posts) -

Oh yeah, and I don't believe there's any such thing as a 'truly interactive story' in a game. There's just interaction at different levels, to varying degrees. It doesn't matter if one game has more adventure pathways than another; it depends more about how meaningful the interaction is.
 
Also, you might want to understand 'storytelling in games' as two main branches:
 
1. Games as a unique storytelling medium.
 
2. Games as a more interactive off-shoot of literature.
 
Most of the examples people have given fall into number 2, but in my opinion I think it is somewhat misguided for games to ape literature so much that they become literature. Games can learn a lot from other mediums, but if they just copy other mediums outright they can never grow and have their own identity; it's what you saw a lot with FMV in the 90s - games aped cinema so much that they became cinema. I don't think Bioware makevery compelling games...They just copy a tried and tested D&D format, and then throw in some cheesy fantasy storytelling (Mostly talking about Dragon Age et al).
 
I think games like Bioshock and Deus Ex are more inventive in how they structure story than anything Bioware put out. Bioshock structures story through the environment, and Deus Ex through player choice. Metroid: Other M (Ignore the naysayers), Metroid Fusion, and Portal are also great examples of control and player manipulation.