Going Overboard: Anarchy Reigns

Hey guys, I think Anarchy Reigns is pretty good.

I realize my last few blog posts have been nothing but information or talk about this game after I imported it, so I think I'll make this my last entry on the subject and sum up as many thoughts as I can. I will admit up front that my opinion may be colored by my feelings for the developer. Platinum Games (formerly Clover Studios) has always struck me as a group that never caught a break despite all the great work they do in terms of style, characters, and creative weirdness. They ship complete games that aren't loaded down with excessive DLC that leave people feeling burned or cheated. If you're looking for something new or different, they're not a bad place to start.

And yet their latest game has been delayed by SEGA to 2013 just in time to be snowed under all the heavy releases in that window even though it's fully localized and ready to go. I'm not privy to the business side of things that made that decision happen, but Platinum's run of luck sure hasn't gotten any better.

So on that note, I wanted to express how much I enjoy this game. If it ever does get released outside Japan, I'd gladly buy it again.

Anarchy Reigns (or Max Anarchy)

Airstrikes Rain like Actual Rain

For a game that has "Anarchy" in the title (Japanese or English) it sure does a pretty good job coming close to the sentiment. This is especially true in multiplayer where numerous randomized events and roaming enemies make sure player on player combat is anything but routine. I played one game where four teams of two players battled it out in the street while a giant killer robot (appropriately named Cthulhu) appeared and took shots at us with a huge death ray. Then an airstrike came along and littered the area with bombs at the same time. Between the robot, the airstrike, and the eight players it was delightfully hectic and ridiculous. I got blown up in the process, but the kind of shit that happens in a normal game more than makes up for the average stress of winning or losing. Taking part in it is almost a reward all on its own.

One time I fought a guy until he got hit by a semi-truck Uncharted 3 style. On the top of a skyscraper. It was hilarious.

Anarchy Reigns is a brawler more in line with Smash Bros. than Street Fighter. It's not strictly about fighting fair. Combat deals with a light attack, a heavy attack, a throw, jumping (usually for launchers and juggling along with stage navigation) and each character's killer weapon special ability. Combos are pretty simplistic via button combinations. People who have played MadWorld on the Wii might find the set up familiar as Anarchy Reigns is a spiritual sequel with many of the same characters from that game. The killer weapon (arguably the spice of this game) lets player deal out some heavy damage with some awesome looking weapons and great looking character effects. You can't use it all the time as it's dictated by a meter that refills through damage dealt out and received. Obviously you want to work it in at the right time at the end of combos to ruin people's day. Not to mention the various items sitting around each stage like tires and street signs you can use to incapacitate targets. That's not even including the sniper rifles, satellite targeting, and firebombs you can equip and use. Death can get pretty creative in this game.

There's also something called rampage mode that you build up after taking and dishing out damage that makes you invincible and lets you tear into enemies like something out of God Hand. I imagine this might make or break some people on the experience as the only way to counter this mode is to run and hide, carefully time rolls to avoid getting caught the animation, or with your own rampage mode. I've never been able to escape or avoid it online and against bots, but some people have gotten good at dodging it. Two players who clash in rampage mode have to mash face buttons randomly decided by a prompt. The winner tears through the loser (almost always killing them in the process) and is allowed to continue wrecking shit up. To me it mostly seems like a form of rubberbanding, as you can make quite a comeback if you use it right. It doesn't last too long so it doesn't strike me as a game breaker. It is insanely useful in survival mode though.

The Story (Like the Wild West with Mutants and Cyborgs)

If you're interested in the setting and story, the campaign mode will make a decent introduction. The world of Anarchy Reigns is pretty messed up. War has littered the globe with chemical and biological weapons, pollution, and rampaging mutants. Cybernetics and nano-machines are popular ways to stay alive without turning into twisted creatures. Countries don't seem to matter that much anymore as civilization has been reduced to somewhat clean future cities where "normal" life happens and the mutated wasteland outside where guys like Edgar Oinkie and Durga prey on everyone they come across. Think of it like the Wild West with mutants where main characters Jack Cayman (pro bounty hunter and chainsaw enthusiast) and Leo (future cop with limb mounted laser blades) hunt a wanted man through the unforgiving frontier for different reasons. Also questioning the definition of justice in a world just a few shades away from the apocalypse.

Overall the story mode is pretty enjoyable. You'll play as both Jack and Leo through four stages taking on various missions where you meet, greet, and fight your way from start to finish. I don't want to say it's open world, but for the most part you'll be let loose in a large area where you find beacons to take on the different missions. It runs hot and cold. Main missions have most of the narrative meat where you run into the multiplayer cast and beat them up. But there are also free missions that have no bearing on the plot which range from funny, to frustrating, to dull depending on the objective. They're somewhat mandatory as your point score unlocks the story missions as you go. You could just hang out and fight the roaming enemies in the hub, but that will take awhile if you're that stubborn. On medium it's pretty enjoyable and will test you in some cases. But on Hard, the game will routinely crush you, even going as far as stooping low enough to use a seemingly infinite combo to see if you remembered how to break free of something like that.

Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon...

For the most part, the voice acting is fine. You'll get a solid performance from Steve Blum as Jack. The other characters are nice as well with the exception of Edgar Oinkie (by Yuri Lowenthal) who is either the worst character in this game or the greatest character in this game. My personal favorite is Robert Pine who does a memorable job voicing Maximilian Caxton. I'll say they're certainly well designed characters. Whether they're good characters is probably up for debate. Anyone with an animal motif leans a little too hard into associated puns, especially Oinkie who chants 'bacon' over and over as he runs within the game. Expect Big Bull to mention his horns more than a few times and Durga to play up his tiger "in it for the hunt" routine. It certainly carries over into multiplayer.

The Black Baron is there too (voiced by Arif Kinchen) still caught somewhere between offensive characture, comic relief, and oddly endearing despite all that. I almost want to say he's toned down the pimp talk considerably from MadWorld. You probably know where you stand on that. And as a last point, things are tied up quite nicely with an ending I felt pretty good about. Which is refreshing. Not to say the story is full of plot twists but I was pleasantly surprised how it worked out.

The Main Event (Multiplayer)

As you could probably guess, a big reason why you would buy Anarchy Reigns is for the delightfully ridiculous multiplayer. And I have to say, they didn't skimp on the various modes. I have a tough time deciding where to start, but besides the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch of varying sizes, they have modes where players get handed out class skills, special team up abilities, and other weird rules. They also have a free-for-all Battle Royale up to 16 players and a soccer-like game called Deathball, capture the flag and more. Most of it is detailed in the honest-to-God instruction booklet included with the game (full of pages with color and everything!). But since I can't read Japanese the finer points are lost on me. Most of my favorite multiplayer sessions include the Horde-like Survival Mode, the insanity of Battle Royale, and four player Deathmatch.

You can also do 1 vs. 1 cage matches but I would say that's not where this game's strength are. The chaos of other modes are far more entertaining.

No attachments for gun legs, though

It has a Call of Duty style persistence like you could probably guess, but this mostly unlocks emblems for identification and multiplayer characters if you didn't get them through the story mode. A few perks for select modes can be earned this way, such as increasing how fast you can run, your speed when carrying large objects like cars and signposts, and other things. I haven't seen anything that breaks the game, most of it is a matter of play style or leaning heavily on something you're good at. Since it's a primarily point based game and kills aren't the be-all-end-all, some perks increase bonuses from winning duels and other factors. And you can only equip one at a time.

Since I imported it, most of my games have been spanning the Pacific with players from Japan. But despite the difference with lag, I've still had a lot of fun. Finding games have been a little difficult here and there, but it's never skipped or melted down to the point where a game suddenly crashed and ended. Once I've gotten in, it's held stable and I've had a blast. It's worth mentioning that multiplayer can be done with bots through the "Training Mode" in the menu if you have internet issues or reasons against playing with people. You can simulate any game from Survival to Deathball with the appropriate number of bots for each mode. They know how to use items and avoid the stage hazards, but they can be a little on the easy side and sometimes get caught up on geometry jumping at walls.

A Few of My Personal Favorites (Characters and Soundtrack)

Everyone Loves Rin Rin

Two things I love most about Anarchy Reigns involve the cast of playable psychopaths and the soundtrack. The detail spent on the animations of characters activating and putting away their killer weapons I find damn impressive, not to mention their various animations involving throws and landing particularly hard hits. Durga, probably my favorite character overall, has an execution on the big green mutants where he jumps in their face, shoves his gun leg down their throat and pulls the trigger until his revolver cannon goes click. Almost every character has something to offer and they're all pretty fun to play. Most of the online games I've played have been dominated by Rin Rin, her sisters, and Bayonetta (pre-order bonus), but it's great that they have sixteen plus characters all crazy in their own way. While I might not be able to stand Oinkie's bacon jokes, I do appreciate his killer weapon as he hits really, really hard.

The second thing I love most about this game is the soundtrack, which continues the trend started by MadWorld to accompany fights to the death with rap and hip-hop. The nice thing is that profanity is few and far in between, as most artists use their words when it comes to exposition songs that talk about the state of the Anarchy Reigns world or detail a particular quirk about the cast, albeit in their own way. It probably won't change your opinion on the genre if you're decidedly against, but I find it adds something unique to the experience. The posturing and bragging associated with that kind of music works well considering how confident or brutal characters try to be within the game. The 32 songs with lyrics have some variety with them as some are fast paced and relentless like "Venom" by muzeOne, some much slower like "This is Madness" by Dilated Peoples, "Lights Out" by Ox, and some decidedly goofy like "They Came From Underground" by Rushden and Diamonds or "We All Soldiers" by Skitz the Samurida. Not to mention standouts like "Play My Ass Off" by Josh Clemons which has become the unofficial anthem for the game as far as I can tell.

Some of my personal favorites include "Soon Enough" by Sick YG, "Jaw" by muzeOne, and "Find You" by Doujah Raze. If you have the time, I would recommend heading on over to YouTube to give a listen. At the moment I'd have to say it's the soundtrack of the year for me even if it technically wasn't released in North American or Europe yet.

Ending the Anarchy

As for the question of importing, I think that depends on what you're willing to spend for one game, and if you really enjoy Platinum Games' style. I've heard talk that Anarchy Reigns might get a North American and Europe release sometime in March 2013. If you can wait that long (assuming it doesn't get delayed yet again or canceled) I think it's worth checking out. Platinum is pretty good at ridiculous spectacle and Anarchy Reigns certainly delivers.

"Done? This motherfucker's not even medium rare!"
17 Comments

Mail Time: Putting the Chainsaw in Anarchy

So this came in the mail today.

Max Anarchy in the House

This is the first time I've imported something before, so you'll have to excuse my crappy digital photos to mark the event. I've been looking forward to this game for some time, so I couldn't wait any longer and shelled out the extra money I've been saving up over the past month or two. It helps that the game is region free and booted up in English when I put it in my PS3. No messing around with settings. The only real tricky part was redeeming all my Anarchy related codes. You have to go through the Japanese PStore if you want Bayonetta or the extra multiplayer modes you can earn through the official Japanese site for Max Anarchy. A small hassle, but totally worth it because it works for all profiles and not just the one that downloaded it.

I've played an hour or so of it already with a dash of campaign and a dash of multiplayer against bots. Durga is confirmed as my favorite character so far. He may be a high pitched psychopath with a penchant for tigers, but the dude has style with that gun leg. So much fun to watch and play.

Controls feel pretty solid. I feel most people have already gone through the trouble to play the Japanese Demo so I won't linger long on how it feels. Short version, it's very MadWorld-like with two control sticks. Heavy and light attacks, grab, jump, etc. The only thing that continues to throw me is the lock-on, which is decent, but hard to spin around when someone attacks you from behind and you want to break loose and turn. I'm still working on that. I don't believe it will be a problem in the long run.

OH, and it I did try the online. I did a survival match with two other guys and had a blast. The connection was... okay I guess. Things did jump around from here or there but it was stable all the way through. My crew and I fought some guys with flamethowers, giant mutants, a squad of robots with annoying riot shields, a muscle car with a mini-gun turret, and lastly a giant squid monster with electric tentacles. You know, Anarchy Reigns stuff.

If anyone else has imported Anarchy Reigns for the PS3 and would like to play, message me at "Sarumarine" and we can try to get some games in. I'm not sure if the connection will hold up seeing as how this was supposed to be released for Japan, but it's worth a shot I guess.

Yup... Yup... Can't Read Most of That

Celebrate with Soundtracks

So far I'm totally pleased with my purchase. And since I'm in such a good mood, I figure I'd share some of my favorite Anarchy Reigns related music via the YouTubes. I think this soundtrack is great. Definitely a contender for the end-of-the-year Sarumarine Awards.

Soon Enough by Sick YG - Oinkie's Theme

Jaw by muzeOne

Venom by muzeOne - Ai Rin's Theme

Here We Go by Theory Hazit

Testin' Me by Doujah Raze - Leo's Theme

Find You by Doujah Raze (Do you like ominous Latin chanting? I like ominous Latin chanting)

Fast Lane by Rushden and Diamonds

They Came From Underground by Rushden and Diamonds (This song is pretty goofy, but I like it)

It's All About Me by Bandy Leggz - Fei Rin's Theme (This song is such a guilty pleasure)

This is Madness by Dilated Peoples (I have respect anyone brave enough to title a song like this in a post-300 world)

I could keep going, but I'd list the entire soundtrack at that rate. You mileage may vary, of course. Anyway I'm off to lunch and then play some more Anarchy Reigns.

16 Comments

Let's Talk About: Anarchy Reigns

Originally I wanted to write this blog as a lead up to a game I've been looking forward to coming out in July. Anarchy Reigns from your friends and mine at Platinum Games has really caught my attention for a number of reasons. I would be lying if the original appeal had nothing to do with MadWorld that came out on the Wii. I've written a bit about that game before, but long story short, I liked it. The game wasn't perfect or anything, but it had a lot of entertaining quirks, a great voice cast, and an even better soundtrack. Not to mention the insane joy of Bayonetta from the same developer promised they would keep up the great work with Anarchy Reigns.

But as of 5-25-12, it's officially TBA for North America and Europe. It's still scheduled to release in Japan early July... but that doesn't help me any. So now I'm just going to use this post to talk about it and somehow take the edge off the indeterminate wait.

Anarchy Reigns (I'm Cautiously Optimistic)

Much like Matt Rorie's attitude toward movies, I never play a video game wanting to hate it. It would be better if everything was awesome so fun was easy to come by. But I really have no idea how well Anarchy Reigns is going to turn out. It certainly sounds good on paper. Most things do. From the multitude of YouTube videos I've watched, it seems like a cross between a fighting game and a beat em' up, with a little arena combat to make full use of pick ups and environmental hazards. One possible move involves hanging from the bottom of an attack helicopter and redirecting its missiles and nose gun to shoot enemies stuck on the ground. If a match takes long enough, they have critical threats appear in the form of submarine missile strikes, rampaging big rigs, monsters, and more to up the ante. Comparisons to Power Stone and jokes about a Platinum Games Smash Bros. game have already been made.

How it Plays (I Guess)

The most telling thing (to me, at least) about how this game plays is a few scattered videos of a training room where you can practice character specific combos like a fighting game. Bayonetta had something like this in the form of a loading screen where you had the option to press select and hang out to play with different weapon combinations. So far, the combos just seem to be button combinations. No quarter circles or stick movement. On top of that are the character specific "killer weapons" that do serious damage for a short amount of time and recharges through damage inflicted and received. Naturally these work into combos. It doesn't seem like a basic button masher a beat em' up format would suggest. This I can wrap my head around.

What I'm not sure is how it's going to work when you're running around a 3D plane and have to target specific enemies or opposing players. I hope it's a happy middle between MadWorld (the game's primary inspiration) and the tight controls of Bayonetta. I'm not big into multiplayer, but I can't fathom how they're going to pull off an eight player free-for-all and make it feel good. They do have other game modes in the form of the usual suspects, including a football (soccer) looking game, class based team battle, and capture the flag. Personally, I'm more interested in the survival mode, which is basically horde mode with three players. Co-op is more my cup of tea. But my concerns still stand in that mode too. This is why I try to remain cautiously optimistic.

An Interesting Crew of Killers

On a more positive note, the biggest thing going for Anarchy Reigns for me is the delightfully crazy cast that make up the sixteen (plus Bayonetta as DLC) playable psychopaths. The character reveals didn't really pick up until they introduced a man with a revolver in his cybernetic right leg who fired it when he kicked and kneed people. That's not to sell Jack Cayman, Black Baron and Mathilda short as returning familiar faces from MadWorld... but it only got better from there, so I'll make a quick list of my favorites.

Durga

I love the concept of this guy. Durga here has a giant revolver built into his cybernetic right leg. All of his voice acting so far makes him sound totally unhinged. It seems obvious they tried to take Adon's Jaguar Revolver and make it as literal as possible. He attacks with his legs exclusively, which makes it easy to work in his cannon when he kicks people.

Of course, it's a lot more fun to see him in motion.

Edgar Oinkie

Possibly to make up for the blatant tiger theme of Durga, they have the animal hodgepodge of Edgar Oinkie. As a... human... he wears a pig mask and makes light of his weight and size with karate moves and Sonic the Hedgehog style spin attacks. His killer weapon isn't so much a weapon, but a green drug that turns him into a lizard-ish mutant in a way that would make Bane proud in order to do some Fist of the North Star business. Did you get all that?

Considering Platinum has released a trailer for every character, I can't help but post a link to Edgar's, here.

Ai Rin

Something you might not know about me, is that I rather enjoy the time honored trend of making characters that blatantly reference Bruce Lee in video games. Ai Rin covers that base with electrified nunchaku and a great idle animation where she never keeps her feet still. Not to mention she makes plenty of appropriate noises when swinging her weapon around. She gets by in style in an outfit resembling Lee's Game of Death suit.

If you like funny Bruce Lee noises and lots of flashy movement, here's Ai Rin's intro video.

Garuda

The most obvious thing about Garuda is that he's a transforming jet robot. That automatically earns him a Starscream reference, if not Optimus Prime for his blue color scheme. But I like his design, not to mention his killer weapons are a mean pair of drills. Another thing is that he can throw two characters at the same time, due to his size. I don't know many games where characters have the ability to throw two people at once. That's pretty awesome.

Get your transforming jet, drills, and double-character throwing action here.

Mathilda

So Mathilda is actually a returning character from MadWorld. You may or may not remember her as the silent woman who demonstrated all the Bloodbath Challenges by killing the Black Baron in the process. Her role in Anarchy Reigns hasn't dulled her fondness for pain and spiked bats. It's great to have an opportunity to play as the woman behind the man. I find it surprising.

Her video has been out for a long time, but I'll link it here anyway just to be consistent.

I could probably list more, but I'll stop here and just say that there are more crazy characters. I can only hope they'll all be fun to play.

Tracks that Kill

If you haven't played MadWorld, the majority of the soundtrack (or all of it, I guess) was rap tailor made to address the characters and basic set up of the game. Anarchy Reigns continues the trend, and I couldn't be more excited. Even if the game somehow turns out to be total garbage, I can take solace that the soundtrack will turn out solid. I'm no connoisseur of rap or hip-hop. Most of my exposure is from the mainstream and a dash of lesser known stuff due to my roommates in college. But for the game and the style, there's really no better choice of genre. Most of rap nowadays is aggressive by nature, banking on rivalries and talking shit as part of the material. Is there any better music for a man driving a double chainsaw down someone's throat?

Still, I know how subjective music can be. If you really hate this kind of stuff or quality, I can understand that.

The official site for Platinum Games have released a few preview tracks that I wanted to share. And I don't mean to imply that I love all of it, but I do have my favorites.

This is Madness: - A more low key track compared to the others, but still nice. What? Sparta?

Testin' Me:- First heard in Leo's introduction trailer, it caught my attention immediately. I can't wait to hear the full version.

Play For Keeps:- A damn catchy song with some pretty good rhymes. Very upbeat for talking about winning at all costs.

Days of Old: - A full version of the Black Baron's theme. I love all the horns in the chorus.

Unknown Track: - This is a trailer for the various battle modes, but the song in the background is awesome. It might be the full version, but I'm not sure. I still felt like sharing it.

Hurry Up and Wait

So until Anarchy Reigns gets released, those are a few reasons why I'm still looking forward to it. I hope everything works out well. I hope it's fun. I would love to play as a man with a revolver in his mechanical leg and remember it fondly. Not sure how the story will work out, but I bet it will be deadly serious contrasted by the insanity of everything that happens during gameplay. And if I had to sell it to you... Bayonetta is going to be in it. That's pretty cool, right?

23 Comments

Guess That Quick Look: Full House Edition

Guess That Quick Look: Full House Edition

Giant Bomb's stockpile of quick looks grows by the day. So that means I can make more games that test your memory of notable lines from the Giant Bomb crew. It's a potpourri of games, one liners, and members of the site new and old, so let's get to it.

If you haven't seen the other topics I've made like this (which is understandable because I'm pretty irregular with this stuff), I am more than happy to remind you of the rules. I'll give you a notable line from Vinny, Brad, Jeff, Dave, etc. and you try to figure out what game they were Quick Looking when they said it. I will also provide a hint of varying helpfulness so you're not completely left in the dark.

But it's not a contest so don't sweat it. At the end I'll list the answers in a spoiler box. This is mostly just for fun and a creative way I can share some of my favorite Quick Looks with the Giant Bomb community at large. I'll even provide links if you want to relive the magic or see it for the very first time. So... drop a bomb on it and GLHB.

Full House Edition, Part 1

Quick Look Game V.3.1

Full House Edition, Part 2

Screaming Fridge Cam Man is site news editor Patrick Klepek and Happy Scribble Kid is site video editor Drew Scanlon

You've reached the end! Time for the results. Check them out in the spoiler box below. If you want to try your hand at more Quick Look guessing games, be sure to check out the beginning here, and/or Shoemaker Edition here.

10 Comments

Recently Played: Rhythm Heaven (DS)

I find myself fortunate for playing the very excellent Rhythm Heaven Fever before taking on its handheld counterpart, Rhythm Heaven on the DS. Unlike the console version, this game is rage inducing with some pretty clumsy touch controls that make keeping the rhythm a chore rather than a joy. I think it's important I set the tone right up front, because much like the Okamiden Recently Played, I don't know if I'll be able to complain about this game without coming off like an asshole or unrealistically angry. I'm certainly going to try, but I don't like my chances.

Rhythm Heaven on the DS only seems to know how to make rhythm totally aggravating. And that fucking sucks.

Rhythm Heaven (Feel Bad Nonsense with Music: The Game)

Yup... Built to Scale still sucks...

A long time ago I played a store demo of Rhythm Heaven that involved the very first mini-game Built to Scale. It was a frustrating experience that left me cold on the whole idea. At the same time, it was a store demo where I could hardly hear the music and had to hunch over a DS at a strange angle. Then a few months ago I played Fever on the Wii and had a blast, experiencing the very best of weird Japanese visuals and damn catchy songs where hitting one or two buttons at the right time was extremely satisfying. And I wanted more. Even with the content in Fever (and the damn hard Perfect challenges) I wanted to see some more Rhythm Heaven madness. Lucky for me the DS version had come out ages ago and was pretty cheap online. I was willing to give it another chance considering I had a better idea what this series was about.

Unfortunately, this is more of a lesson in knowing when to be satisfied. It doesn't help that Rhythm Heaven is pretty mean spirited and has a bad habit of throwing patterns at you that aren't covered in tutorial sections. One dickish remix starts out giving you a long sequence to match but then switches it in the middle of your turn to another game, guaranteeing you'll mess up the next part unless you already knew that was going to happen. Other remixes lack audio cues, ambushing you with the next game without proper set up. In many cases it has less to do with rhythm and more about knowing when the game is going to sucker punch you. Sure, Fever had its moments too. But it always messed with visuals and never screwed with the beat. I don't get that feeling for Rhythm Heaven. I just feel like the game is doing its best to make sure I don't have fun.

Flail to the Beat (Try Again!)

The biggest difference from Fever is that the only way to play this game is the stylus and the touch screen controls. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if the only thing you did was tap to the beat, but there's also a flicking mechanic where you have to quickly slide the stylus across the screen. This is where Rhythm Heaven breaks for me. Flicking is a completely unreliable motion that ruins the vast majority of the mini-games. It gets used a lot, which is damning because I find it hard enough to concentrate on the beat (as this game can get fucking hard) and now I have to split my focus on this stupid flicking motion and pray to God the game finds it acceptable. It doesn't feel good, even when it works. Games like Rhythm Rally (where all you do is flick) or Big Rock Ending (which asks you to flick impossibly fast in a row) frustrate the shit out of me. Built to Scale, the very first mini-game, really sets the mood of using these motions and never getting a very good pay off from it. The best you get is someone screaming at the top of their lungs. Maybe a dolphin leaps out of the water. It's pretty underwhelming for this series.

Munchy Monk, Rhythm Heaven Savior

Gameplay works WAY better when all you do is tap (or hold) the screen to a beat. Munchy Monk 2 is the cream of the crop and it's a lot of fun to watch a dude gulp down dumplings like a speed eater. Freeze Frame is probably the most satisfying mini-game as you tap to take high speed photographs of crazy race cars. There is fun to be had in Rhythm Heaven when it isn't tripping over its controls. Not to say it doesn't figure out how to screw up tapping too. For that there's the Lockstep game. Not only does it require a ton of tapping, but it's also incredibly hard and feels like final boss material. So of course it gets Lockstep 2 just in case you were enjoying yourself or something. I remember Vinny describing this game on the Fever Quick Look. I was hoping that was just a Vinny thing, but he's totally right. It's especially fun when it shows up in remixes. What the fuck, Lockstep?

Highlights? Yeah... Highlights. We'll Go With That

The music in Rhythm Heaven doesn't feel very impressive overall. There are a few standouts, but the vast majority leaves something lacking. The visuals also don't feel nearly crazy enough to carry the music. This might have to do with the fact I played Fever first, or maybe it was drowned out in a sea of frustration and profanity. The songs with lyrics feel especially lethargic, but I have no idea of the technical hurdles of getting voice on a handheld. I'm impressed they bothered in the first place. Not to say it's all bad. I do love GBA and DS tunes if the Advance Wars series is any indication.

Awesome

Rhythm Hell

  • Lockstep
  • Rhythm Rally
  • Love Lizards
  • Love Lab
  • Built to Scale
  • ...and many others

Special shout out to Love Lab as the turning point where I started to realize just how frustrating this game was. It has this really bad shaking motion that often transitions right into a flick. The chances of pulling either of these motions off in time to the song is next to impossible. Triple that complication when it shows up in remixes. Crop Stomp has a similar problem. And I could go on and on. But I'll always have Munchy Monk. He'll always be awesome. He's this game's Ringside. Or would that make Ringside Rhythm Heaven Fever's Munchy Monk? Either way. Stand out mini-game.

No Such Thing as a Superb Medal

Rhythm Rally? Never Going to Happen. Never.

I used to think that Fever was unforgiving, but Rhythm Heaven sets the bar and cripples you in both legs. I had delusions about getting medals until I realized there are no superbs in this game. There are only perfects. To give an example, I missed one widget in the first game Built to Scale. One. And I got an "OK". It wasn't even the ending. Or a big transition. It was just some random widget before the game speeds up. The only real way to get medals is to miss nothing. Couple that with the flicking motions and I don't know how people could even attempt it. And perfects? Fucking forget it. Give me some damn buttons to press. Then we can talk about perfects.

I do wonder if I would be as hard on this game if I had not played Fever first. That's not something I can fix any time soon, but I suspect it would be the same in reverse. Whatever order you find Rhythm Heaven, it's saddled with pretty awful touch controls that are nowhere near accurate enough to match the insane standards of this series. Things need to be one or two button simple in order to enjoy the craziness going on or react to some of the tricks this game enjoys pulling on you. For the people who find touch controls no big deal... I don't know how you manage it. I feel like I'm beginning to understand the people who use keyboard and mouse and won't tolerate controllers under any circumstance.

And maybe I've made it sound like the worst game ever. I don't think it deserves that title... but it does leave a lot lacking. I do find it hard to recommend even if you're a fan of Rhythm Heaven in general.

1 Comments

Guess that Quick Look: Shoemaker Edition

Guess that Quick Look: Shoemaker Edition

Giant Bomb has done over a thousand Quick Looks, people. That's all kinds of incredible. Even more so that the vast majority of them are pretty damn entertaining as they show off a game or two. I know I'm a little late for celebratory topics commemorating four digits, but I still have to mention it for the purposes of this topic. How well do you remember your Quick Looks? Feel confident enough to name them from a one-liner or joke said by the Giant Bomb crew and friends? There's one way to find out.

This is the second Guess that Quick Look game (called Shoemaker Edition because I left Brad out of the first go around) and if you aren't familiar with the rules, I am more than happy to provide a refresher. I'll give a somewhat notable line from Jeff, Ryan, Vinny, Drew, etc. and you try to figure out the game featured in the Quick Look. I will also provide a hint for each one (of varying helpfulness) so you're not totally left in the dark.

And this isn't a contest, so don't sweat it. It's just for fun and just a way to share some of my favorite Quick Looks in a somewhat creative fashion while playing around with bad art programs. Answers will be provided in a spoiler box at the very end just in case you're totally stumped. Links will also be provided if you need a reminder or want to see it for the very first time. GLHB.

Shoemaker Edition, Part 1

Screaming Face Man is Will Smith from Tested.com

Shoemaker Edition, Part 2

You've reached the end. Pencils down.

Done? Got them all? Need results? Double check below. And thanks for playing along. If you missed the first Guess that Quick Look game and feel like catching up, check it out here.

9 Comments

Recently Played: Resident Evil - Operation Raccoon City

So far, 2012 has been a great year for games with co-op that feature villainous protagonists parading around with guns that do bad stuff to everything that gets in the way. First came Syndicate, and now comes Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. But considering the majority opinion is against RE:ORC in just about every way... this game must have been made just for me. I can't decide if that's awesome or creepy. I've had a lot of fun with campaign (and the two versus games I played), probably due to my particular tastes and expectations for the Resident Evil series. Finally, finally, you get to play as Team Umbrella. Finally.

This doesn't make it the best game ever. Let me make that disclaimer here before I get started. I think this is an odd little game that hits me in all the right spots. Maybe I've been desensitized by all of Skyrim's problems. Or maybe I'm willing to put up with a lot to live out my dream of playing as the bad guys in the midst of a zombie crisis.

So thanks Slant Six Games. I'm sure your bottom line appreciates it.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Third Person Zombie Chaos: The Game)

Mr. Death by kerissakti on DeviantArt

One of my all time greatest desires for the Resident Evil series was for HUNK to get his own game where he fights monsters and zombies on the payroll of Umbrella and nearly gets killed doing it. The closest I could ever get was the insanely hard bonus mission in Resident Evil 2 and the Mercenaries game in Resident Evil 4. It's really the only reason why I put any time at all into that mode. Score attacks aren't really my cup of tea. But if I was going to have the opportunity to play as a dude in a gas mask and snap tons of not-zombie necks, then sign me up. So I was pretty excited to hear about the premise of RE:ORC where you play as a team of gas masked killers on the payroll of Umbrella. It's not quite HUNK-gets-his-own-game, but this is probably as close as I'm ever going to get.

And I suppose it would be hard to explain the appeal if you aren't familiar with the series. While HUNK has a really dumb name, he has a cool look and by series standards is just about as persistent and lucky as any of the major cast. Even as a villain, he's a dude scraping by the skin of his teeth and putting up with ridiculous shit without a one-liner or grunt to the contrary. The cast of ORC is a lot more chatty but I still enjoyed their color. Especially Bertha and Beltway. They aren't super memorable, but they get the job done. At the very least they look cool. I'm pretty sure Bertha uses a hacksaw as her knife. That's not bad in my book.

Not Actually Resident Evil, but a Neat Application of It

Having played most of the core Resident Evil games from Zero to 5 (I even dabbled with Outbreak) I can say with some certainty that this game has little to do with that style or tone. This should come as no surprise to anyone keeping up with its development. It's almost a little unfair saddling it with that title. Think Halo Wars in relation to Halo. Or Battalion Wars in relation to Advance Wars. It's not scary (although RE really hasn't been all that scary since 2 or 3 in my opinion) and it plays fast and loose with the events of RE2 and 3. Not that I'd ever get all up in arms about Resident Evil fiction... but it almost becomes a museum tour of callbacks. Remember when the copter air dropped that Tyrant in RE2? Remember when that asshole Nicholai acted like an asshole in RE3? Remember Nemesis? The RE movies? Zombies? In a way, this game has no "4 Itchy Tasty" moment. They do have Crimson Head enemies... and I feel like I have to give them credit for that.

I wanted to make a joke about this Hunter... then I saw those gas prices in the background...

On the other hand, using the Resident Evil name does give them an excuse to throw zombies and B.O.W.s in the middle of a gunfight. It's more about putting on Resident Evil dressing than putting in soul, but it's one of my favorite scenarios ever when you have a three way free-for-all. Everyone hates everyone and it's bedlam all the time. The only part of the original Halo I really enjoyed was the Covenant vs. Flood levels. There's a Terran mission in StarCraft: Brood War I played over and over again for that reason. And most of ORC is like that. It's fantastic. I feel like more games should arbitrarily throw in Lickers to spice things up. Or if there was a Call of Duty where an asshole with a grenade launcher could get mauled by a Hunter or jumped by a Bandersnatch. ORC knows how to keep things hectic and is not afraid to throw tons and tons of dudes at you. It's certainly more frantic than normal RE games could ever manage. There are more than a few cases where running is your best option not because the plot demands it, but because hanging around is a really bad idea.

With that in mind, it creates this impossible equation where if you haven't been keeping up with Resident Evil there's not a whole lot to get out of it. The campaign especially. But if you have been a fan of this series for a long time, it's probably not what you're looking for. It's not impossible you would enjoy it, but unlikely.

Fun for the Whole Massacre

Zombie Party at Lupo's! Sorry Lupo

To compliment the sheer chaos between guys who want to shoot you and monsters that want to eat you are the various abilities of the Umbrella Security Service crew. While the main mission of the game involves destroying evidence of Umbrella's involvement in the whole Raccoon City turning into zombies thing, I found the most fun pitting zombies against US Government soldiers and various abominations. The lady known as Four Eyes can throw what is basically zombie bait causing nearby undead to swarm a hapless target. It's extra fun to compliment this with a grenade and makes for some excellent crowd control. Doctor Bertha is the medic, and while it's not the most glamorous job, carrying a shit ton of First Aid Sprays (even spawning with one) is seriously useful. Her little anti-virus shot also helps with infection and does a ton of damage to T-Virus mutations. Lupo has incendiary rounds, Beltway tosses sticky grenades... there's something for everyone. Even within a single character they have three abilities to choose from.

I also enjoyed the healthy selection of weapons. Shotguns are a lot of fun in this game as they shred zombies nicely. I can almost hold down an entire crowd single handedly with the Riot Gun if not for the mean reload time. Submachine guns are solid, assault rifles reliable if not for their small ammo reserves. While ammunition management isn't really a thing in this game, scrambling for bullets on the battlefield is. The pistol is never neglected for long in a tight spot. The only real oversight for weapons is the lack of a Rocket Launcher. For every Resident Evil game that hinged on the use of an RPG at the finale, it's pretty disappointing there's never a moment in the game where you can use one. The Grenade Launcher is about as explosive you can get. There's also a flamethrower... but it's terrible. It doesn't help that I've been spoiled rotten by Syndicate's awesome Thermite Gun. That thing should be the model of all future flamethrowers. Remember it, video game industry!

Also, people have plenty to say about the shooting. I didn't really notice anything (or mind it) from what I've played. It doesn't feel any worse than say Mass Effect or Uncharted. It's certainly not the worst shooting I've ever seen before. I can hit guys in the face just fine and hit targets at range with the handgun if I have to. That's good enough for me. Of course, I've never been an especially picky person if that counts for anything.

The Experiment Requires More Testing

The biggest bummer I've found is that boss battles take forever in this game. And unlike more modern Resident Evil games, there's no option to buy a Rocket Launcher to speed things up. The worst example is a sniper fight where you have to play whack-a-mole with an asshole in a bunch of windows. He loves tossing grenades. A lot of grenades. Other bosses take mountains and mountains of bullets. I get that maybe they're trying to demonstrate just how tough these monsters are... but come on. The game's fearless attitude about piling it on comes back to bite it in another battle where you fight two bullet sponges- at the same damn time. Not even Albert Wesker in RE5 soaks up the kind of damage these guys take. It would almost be funny if it wasn't so ridiculous. Luckily there aren't many in the game.

A few odds and ends also stick out where I imagine broke the experience for a lot of people. The cover system is... let's say... It's admirable they tried to take a button out of that equation... but it's way too touchy and I never truly know if I'm hiding or not. I've also played way too much Gears of War and it feels crazy you can't mantle over cover. Early on I got into this loop of trying to jump kick dudes on the other side of barriers before I remembered I was playing a different game. Reviving teammates is also funky, because the heart monitor that lets you know they're down doesn't stick with their body. Corpses tend to slide a bit when they fall so sometimes there is a fair amount of looking around. Picking up guns on accident is also an unfortunate problem and I wish there was some priority on saving your team. I never thought I'd miss regenerating health like I do in this game.

And yes, if you can't get friends together, the bots are dumb. Really, walking into trip mines is probably the worst of it. It's kind of funny first few times, especially if it's the explosive expert Beltway. They at least make great distractions and take damage pretty well. One of my drone buddies lasted surprisingly long sandwiched between a mess of zombies and a B.O.W. On occasion they even heal me. If maybe they were reworked to watch where they're standing/walking or at least keep their damn heads down, they wouldn't be any more noticeable than other gangs of CPUs that hang around and let you do all the work. If that doesn't sound like something you can handle, you probably won't be able to stomach this game for very long.

Proceeding with the Mission

I will never get tired of doing this

I like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. But if I had to use the GiantBomb scoring system I would probably give it a 3/5. Judging from word of mouth, the majority of people would be less kind. Way less kind. Personally this game gives me a lot of what I've wanted out of the Resident Evil series even if it's not a traditional entry. It has a good selection of weapons. It has the monsters I've come to dread/admire over the years. It's got a really satisfying move where you stab dudes in the face. It's got a great feeling of chaos. And I can finally play as Umbrella guys in gas masks. It's not HUNK, but I'll take it.

I also find it hard to hate a game where you can take a zombie hostage and use it as a meat shield. I feel like that speaks volumes about the U.S.S. crew. They just don't give a fuck. They see this shit everyday working for Umbrella. If they have to use a zombie meat shield, then so be it. Plus, it's pretty funny.

1 Comments

Going Overboard: My Last Mass Effect 3 Choice (Spoilers)

I wanted to talk about the ending to Mass Effect 3, but not whether it's good or bad. There are a ton of topics you can drop into if you really felt strongly about it. No, I just wanted to talk out what I thought about when I was making my last choice. If you've gotten this far without picking up on it, there are spoilers here. Yup. It's the ending spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

As a "Going Overboard" post, this involves thinking too hard and talking way too long about what is essentially a video game story line. Yes, I know. Not exactly serious stuff with unshakable plot. But still, I wanted to put my thoughts out there and get a feel about what other people were thinking when they made their call.

I guess you can go off on whether you loved or hated it too, I can dig it.

Mass Effect 3 Ending: At Least it was Weird

First some background. I played a mostly Paragon Shepard with a few renegade choices when the moment struck me. Like punching that Quarian Admiral in the gut (whose name I can't remember because he sucks) when he opened fire on a ship that I was inside- along with Tali. Fuck that guy. And gunning down Udina for selling out to The Illusive Man. Way too satisfying. Fleet strength was good by the end and everything was green. No casualties on the way to the Citadel beam. Well. Maybe. I'm not sure. It's hard to tell if Garrus or Tali got wiped out by Harbinger when he was tired of taking my shit and came down to Earth to zap everyone. I wasn't able to convince TIM to pull an ME1 Saren suicide and had to put him down myself.

Then came the final choice in the game.

The Citadel manifests a holographic image of the kid from Shepard's nightmares to talk about how its whole plan weeding advanced organic life every 50,000 years didn't pan out. It sets up my three choices to solve this impasse. Take control of the Reapers. Destroy all synthetic life in the galaxy. Or trigger Synthesis that would make organic and synthetic one and the same. I probably spent five minutes soaking it all in and considering the consequences of the next action. Considering all you have is the word of this Citadel AI who is the boss of the Reapers didn't give me a whole lot of confidence any choice was a good one.

Take Control of the Reapers (What? No. Not ever. Not cool dude.)

So the first choice sounds like the worst one of all. Basically Shepard would become the Reapers. Why that was colored in Paragon blue and demonstrated by Illusive "I Hate Aliens Everywhere" Man in the Citadel's explanation, I don't know. But taking control of the Reapers sounds like the worst thing ever. Even if the Citadel is telling the truth, why would you risk it? Could Shepard really keep the Reapers in check for the rest of eternity? How long until he or she goes mad from the isolation and decides to restart the 50,000 year pruning of organic species everywhere in the galaxy? Or gets tired of seeing them treating each other like shit and decides to teach them about galactic peace via Reaper invasion? I know Shepard is built up to be a character with an iron will (Renegade or Paragon) but it's shown time and time again in the game that Reapers ain't nothing to fuck with, dead or alive. Expendable Science Guy No.341 in Mass Effect 2 said it best. Even dead gods dream.

They call them "Shepards" now. They like delivering quest items, scanning planets and shooting commercials. Reporters watch out.

So I passed on that choice. It sounded pretty fucked up with no guarantee of peace. Maybe it would last or an insanely long time. But a breakdown from insanity and the return of the Reapers sounds inevitable. Shepard is pretty capable no matter how you play... but I don't think he or she could stomach this fate as a (highly modified) regular human being for the rest of time and space. Plus you'd be giving TIM the thumbs up. No thanks.

Synthesis (Sounds like a Fate Worse than Death)

The extra weird choice, and by far the most nightmarish to me, was making synthetic and organic species one in the same through some vague fusion. I almost picked this one through morbid curiosity. But based on the information at the time, it sounds like a plot for a Cronenburg film packed with body horror and sheer terror. All I could picture was the ending of The Fly with Jeff Goldblum where Brundlefly accidentally fuses with the telepod machine and comes out the other side as a creature of flesh and machinery silently begging for merciful death. I kept picturing Geth and Quarians blending together in some hodgepodge of circuitry, envirosuits and skin. Krogans and shotguns mashed together like a Silent Hill Roadshow that produced nothing but sexually suggestive nightmares. Fear for the flesh indeed.

I'm an abomination! Kill me! Kill me now! Oh god! Kill me now!

I mean, that's what the Reaper enemy type is right? Organic species jammed pack with Reaper tech to become hard charging Brutes and fucking annoying Banshees that can kill you in one hit if they grab you. It's not like you haven't seen this first hand throughout the game. Fuck that, man.

So I didn't pick Synthesis. Even though, looking back it was probably set up as the "best" ending. I don't imagine they would go James Woods in Videodrome they way I fear. And since there would no longer be a divide between synthetic and organic, the Reapers wouldn't have anything left to do. Except maybe make giant T-1000 skeleton frames in their spare time. It still doesn't sound like something ideal. And the logistics and believability of pulling that off would be a hard sell in five minutes when your only guide is an AI who created the Reapers.

Destroy the Reapers (...yes? I guess. Sorry Geth buddies...)

This is the choice I picked even though it was demonstrated in Renegade red by Anderson during the explanation. Wasn't Anderson my mentor the entire series? Plus he's Keith David. How can Keith David be wrong? Anyways, the catch of this one (to avoid making it the easy right answer) is that the Geth also get the purge since they are synthetic. And I wasn't thinking about her at the time, I guess EDI would get whacked too. I suppose this is a lot easier if you went Quarian all the way and wiped out the Geth with the help of Tali. But I had brokered a peace between my Geth and Quarian allies (and felt pretty damn badass too) so I had to consider betraying a pretty awesome part of my galactic alliance. Even after I had helped them achieve sentience too. But I did that awful military thing where I weighed the fate of the many against the fate of the few.

Sorry Legion. I guess the Geth have to reach a consensus on afterlife now.

I came to kill Reapers, so I killed Reapers. I blew them up and everything remotely associated with them and beat the game... and then the last cutscene played... All the relays blew up. Joker and the Normandy is somehow caught in the process even though I'm pretty sure he was supposed to be defending the Crucible and killing Reaper drones. Crash land on a fertile planet. Garrus and crew step out. Roll credits.

So About That Ending...

Matt Bodega posted a status update talking about people who hate the ending and people who love the ending and asking where do you stand? And I know it wasn't a challenge but I guess I'm in the middle somewhere. I'm not sure what to make of it. But I am glad they at least made it weird. The ending of something is never easy, especially if it's been mounting up expectations over years and years. I was curious how choice would play into the final act where you wouldn't be able to buy a Mass Effect 4 to find out if your crazy decision had any effect on the way the galaxy unfolds. Of course, now that I've invoked that scenario they will probably find a way to make Mass Effect 4 a reality, as bad as that sounds. Either way, it doesn't really matter.

I'm not one of those people calling for a new ending and I'm not in love with it either. I don't think this will be something I'll talk about for years to come. But I guess I'm glad they tried something other than a conventional "Destroy Reapers, Win Game, Party Montage" scenario. I probably would have been okay with that too. Really, most of the games I've played this year have been mostly about the journey and not about the destination. Syndicate is a good example. I've had way too much fun getting to the end for the finale to ruin the whole experience.

Personally, I would love smaller stories in the Mass Effect universe where it didn't involve Reapers or Shepard. Preferably where you play as a Quarian or something because those suits are pretty cool even if its their only line of defense from disease and infection. But that's just me.

6 Comments

Recently Played: Rhythm Heaven Fever

The first thing to know about Rhythm Heaven Fever is that if there is a monkey in the mini-game, it's going to be hard. The second thing to know that if you are part of a team of three or four guys, it's going to be hard. The last thing to know is that no matter how hard things get, it's always going to be awesome. So very awesome.

Rhythm Heaven Fever (Feel Good Nonsense with Music: The Game)

It wouldn't be a Rhythm Heaven Fever discussion without Ringside

I feel like I've started most Recently Played blogs with the preface that I haven't played previous games in the series. That trend continues with Rhythm Heaven Fever for the Wii. I've had some passing familiarity with other Rhythm Heaven games, especially a demo of the DS version with the widget game that I remember being incredibly frustrating at the time. But I can see that this isn't the kind of game you want to experience at a demo station where you probably can't hear the music or enjoy the amazing visuals while you try to stick the rhythm. But it ain't easy. I'm frequently tempted to call this the Dark Souls of music games... but that's probably way too harsh. Maybe.

It really depends on how musically inclined you are and how well you can keep the beat. For everyone else it's a very demanding rhythm game coupled with a vicious grading scale I've come to expect from distinctly Japanese games. Thanks in no small part to Bayonetta's scoring system, I got used to the "OK" or "Try Again" ratings pretty fast in this game. And it's a good thing I did, because it's damn amazing in just about every other way.

The Fever Doesn't Mess Around with Timing

Right when you start the game, there's a little test that lets you know what this game is all about. They ask you to press buttons when a timer reaches zero. Something I'm extremely familiar with due to many, many Rock Band calibrations. But unlike Rock Band that simply throws you a thumbs up when you're comfortable... I was ALL over the place. Most of my tests were early or late. With only a tiny amount actually on time. Then I got to Hole in One, the first mini-game where a Monkey and a Mandrill teach you to golf, and whiffed it hard. I was hoping that my Rock Band skills would help a little (cause I've played a lot of Rock Band) but Rhythm Heaven Fever was like "Nah, son."

Monkey thinks I suck at Tambourine. I think he's right.

And it's funny that a game that controls with literally two buttons (A and B) could be so crushing. It's a beautiful simplicity that strips out a lot of elements so the only problem is really not pressing those buttons at the right time. This may surprise some people, but I still play on a standard definition TV. I don't have to worry about HD lag or all those unfortunate timing issues with pretty pictures. So with this in mind I had really taken a blow to my rhythm ego. I thought I was pretty good about that. I admit this was compounded by the Quick Look where Jeff totally kills it non-stop from start to finish, making the whole game look easy. I mean... how the hell did he get a medal on Monkey Clock? Not to mention Tambourine which is my own personal Rhythm Heaven Hell... but I'll get to that later.

Feel It, Don't Watch It

This cat is either psyched about badminton... or a total asshole

One of my favorite quirks of this game is how often is tries to screw you with the visuals. It loves its rhythm and never fails to go out of the way to remind you that if you aren't listening closely, then you're doing it wrong. One of the earliest examples is Monkey Watch, where the camera zooms far out making all the monkeys look like ants. The real rub of this game is listening to audio cues and hitting them in time with the music. This visual teasing doesn't stop as it only gets meaner in the form of screen obscuring clouds, dramatic narration, flashing lights, and in some cases total darkness. One game even starts on a black screen and if you aren't listening closely you'll miss the first three hits before you know what's going on.

But totally ignoring the screen isn't the answer. There is a lot of crazy stuff that is made better when successfully pulling off mini-games. In some cases, things get even crazier as button presses are more and more successful. Characters often react to success with party poppers or complementary cheers that making pressing one button in time feel damn good. The boss-ish Remixes are even better that take the established mini-games and throw decorative themes over everything. Rhythm Heaven Fever has a very distinctive, very awesome look that never ceases to amuse from start to finish. It also helps that a lot of mini-games are so weird it allows the art style to have a lot of fun with synchronized rolling seals, Donk-donks, and tap tap dancers with an amusing secret. Not to mention executive pigs.

Rhythm Heaven Highlights

This part is mostly for people who have played the game. With the fifty or so mini-games and people's varying experience with keeping rhythm, I imagine there are a lot of different opinions on what game is great and what isn't. Below is a short list of some of my favorites and some stuff I wasn't so crazy about.

Awesome

Heavy drops all over the See-Saw
  • Ringside - "Pose for the fans!" An obvious choice maybe, but this interview game is so damn great.
  • See-Saw - "Eee-ooh!" Rhythm Heaven makes See-Saws more awesome
  • Air Rally - "Ba bah bah bum!" I may totally suck at this game... but it's probably one of my favorite songs in the game. It's so cheery even if it sounds like the cat is taunting you the entire time.
  • Packing Pests - "Double up!" This game has a great groove. Not to mention, I can crush it regularly. One of my first perfect medals.
  • Remix 9 - "Okay, it's on!" Besides Remix 1, this is the only other Remix I have managed to get a medal on.

Not So Awesome

Monkey Watch is here to high-five, look adorable, and be brutally hard
  • Tambourine - This game was my first serious road block. I didn't think Simon Says with simians would be so hard.
  • Monkey Watch - I love the concept of this game as you hand out non-stop high fives... But man, it has a damn tricky rhythm to get down.
  • Shrimp Shuffle - "Together!" The shrimp game is pretty annoying and I hate the switch up. I don't care for the song either, so it makes this game a complete loss in my opinion.
  • Tap Troupe - Maybe second to Monkey Watch in terms of games I just can't handle. It's especially bad when this game shows up in remixes and fucks me up bad. I do like how your character doesn't seem to care when he messes up.
  • Remix 2 - Probably the hardest remix in the game for me. Mostly because Tambourine and Monkey Watch make a deadly tag team to ensure I almost always get "Try Again!" I will probably get a perfect on Remix 10 before I get a medal on this game.

Wubba-dubba-dubba is that true?

Besides the style and music, this game is great about putting on pressure. The way it hands out gifts manages to add another layer to an already tricky game. It randomly selects a song you've gotten a medal on, challenges you to getting a perfect, and only gives you three shots to pull it off. The first time it gave me an opportunity on Hole in One, I missed the first beat three times in a row. During another challenge on Board Meeting I consistently missed the last beat every time. I'm not sure if these challenges keep popping up or are "forever lost," but it's just as stressful as anything in Dark Souls. I don't think I have the drive (or the skill) to get perfect medals on most of the stuff in the game. And getting a perfect on some of the Remix Boss Songs seems... nearly impossible. Like a job for crazy people. I can't handle that because I am too busy being the best at choking.

I'm glad this game exists... and I understand if others don't agree. I've already seen plenty of responses where people don't see the appeal. If I had to make an argument, I would say that it's not any single part of this game, but everything working in concert that makes the difference.

Lastly, a Challenge

I've seen some great parody videos. I wouldn't be surprised if "Blocker Heaven" is posted in the comments or one of the pony ones. Because that's what you do when Rhythm Heaven Fever talk happens. But I say take it further. I'm putting it out there on the internet... I want to see some live-action Rhythm Heaven videos. Some would be easier than others. Cheer Readers or the Ringside would be totally possible. But if someone could do Fork Lifter or Packing Pests, I'm sure it would be the best thing ever. Until then, there's always have this quirky game's crazy sense of rhythm.

And pose for the fans!

RAAAARRRRGGGH!
13 Comments

Recently Played: Saints Row The Third

I've heard (often) that no one man should have all that power... So I took it to heart and made a female boss for my playthrough of Saints Row: The Third. I have an image of her below, but since I used the official Saints Row the Third website... image quality won't be great, but you'll get the idea.

Like a Boss I Care About

You can't see it here, but she also has a bunch of scars on her face because she's seen some shit. I also picked the absolutely terrible and awesome Eastern Europe/Russian voice because it's so appropriate for everything that happens in this game. A few "comrades" get dropped here and there, but overall it's used pretty sparingly.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here.

Saints Row: The Third (The Official Game of Jeff Gerstmann's Giant Bomb Persona)

In a parallel to Dark Souls, I never played any of the previous Saints Row games. The most exposure I've had outside The Third was a demo of the first Saints Row on the X-Box. Early on it seemed like this series was after that Grand Theft Auto money, as the rule of business always seems to spawn competitors (or pretenders) whether it's a good idea or not. Thanks in no small part to the Giant Bombcast's running gag of "You should play Saints Row" and the promise of some crazy shit happening, I played through The Third. And if I had to stack it up against my recollection of Grand Theft Auto IV, I vastly prefer the off kilter world of Saints Row The Third and all the stupid shit they manage to get away with. Not mention their masterful use of licensed music stirring up fond memories of Short Circuit 2 and Karate Kid.

Accurate memory of my first time with GTA III

The major dividing line is that The Third has captured the essence of what brought me to the GTA series in the first place: unadulterated mayhem. GTA IV got a lot of play in my college dorm not for Niko Bellic's story, but simple endurance tests of how long each of us could run from the cops or survive on six stars. If we ever had to kill an hour or got bored, we would run from the cops ramping up construction sites, stealing poor getaway vehicles like garbage trucks and having last stand shootouts at city hall or the coastlines. And Saints Row The Third has that same vibe in a lot of different ways. A lot of very stupid, but very entertaining ways.

And just to be clear, this isn't a declaration of "GTA, never again!" but just an observation that they have become very different games. It will be interesting to see if GTA becomes too serious for its own good, or if Saints Row becomes too stupid for its own good. Or if a third franchise will appear and tackle some unknown middle ground between them.

Off With a Bang

This game has one of the strongest openings I've played in a long time. I feel like I always have to mention other people's opinions may vary... but one of my favorite flavors of action is vehicle disasters. Trains, planes, helicopters, cruise ships, etc. If it's destined to crash and burn, I am totally there. A gunfight in free fall after escaping a cargo plane and parachuting between loads and loads of cars and crates was awesome. Not to mention the bank heist before hand where you try to lift a vault out with a helicopter. I enjoyed the way they established all the characters caught up in the oncoming storyline of Saints vs. the Syndicate and all the crazy gang leaders they have. Where it goes from there can be hard to describe offhand. Somethings you just have to see for yourself.

Perfect Weapon for a Stroll

And from there it doesn't really stop. This game's sense of escalation is probably my favorite part. In the first three missions you go and attack a national guard armory because "they have guns and we need guns." The often mentioned Predator Missile is one of the first weapons you get... and from there they just keep giving you stuff along the way. Every five or so missions you get a new gadget or vehicle or celebrity gang member to call in when you feel like it. Admittedly, some are more novel than useful... but the gun that lets you take remote control civilian vehicles while the drivers are still inside is one of my favorite things to do, even if it hardly ever sees use in gunfights.

Eventually you get to the point where you're fighting crazy futuristic government task forces, contractually obligated to fight zombies, and have the option to call in Burt Reynolds while you tear up a casino owned by Luchadors. If there is one thing Saints Row The Third can handle is the presentation until your reaction is something along the lines of "Ok, awesome. Let's go."

Barrels of Bullets and More So

Every gun you can get your hands on can be upgraded in some way. There are a few melee weapons that can't... but for all the bang bang and pew pew I feel like it has something for everyone. My personal favorite was the AK stand in that can be converted to a light machine gun with a grenade launcher that makes spraying down enemies a good time. Other guns get incendiary rounds, like a lever action shotgun (also one of my favorites). And I didn't notice until the very end of the game that you can upgrade your grenades too. The flashbang becomes a fart in a jar along the lines of Jarate from Team Fortress 2. Yup. Even the pistols are always useful considering one handgun is the only weapon in the game that can fire explosive rounds.

My Favorite Activity

But of course my all time favorite activity in the entire game is what counts for melee combat. Wrestling moves. All you have to do is run up on a guy and hit the right trigger to launch into a flashy suplex or take down. There's a surprising number of variations so I never got tired of it. Some of the best involve leapfrogging a confused enemy and straight up punching them in the face. Or one where the boss shamelessly poses after dropping a fool on the ground. This was made even better by Pierce (one of your homies) quickly commenting "save it for the cameras." Once I had a high enough level to buy the immunity to bullets, wrestling moves was practically the only attack I used if I could swing it.

Features that Should Be Essential

Maybe now is a good time to mention that Saints Row The Third is essentially an open world game so if you're not into that kind of thing, all the gunfights and window dressing isn't going to do you any favors. But the game has done more than a few things that I don't think I can live without if I had to play another game like it. Leaping into cars and kicking out the driver is so quick, easy, and useful that the brief carjacking animations of GTAs past seem like they take forever. It's also appreciated that if a cop somehow does run up on your side and throw you out you don't get immediately arrested. Saints Row The Third is pretty committed to letting you play until you die. Or in the very late game playing until you're satisfied because dying becomes impossible. Of course, considering the tone of this game that kind of shit can fly any day of the week. But if other games had to crib notes I hope they find someway to make that work.

Genki Homies are the best Homies

Not to mention the way they handle vehicles in this game. If you ever find a car you absolutely love, you can never lose it if you return it to your garage. The feature to call up a gang member to deliver it to where ever you may roam is also greatly appreciated. Sooner or later you can do it with helicopters and VTOLs and that's also pretty awesome. Expendable gang members are also a plus so you never have to get too attached to your soldiers or worry about wasting them. This is especially awesome as you complete side missions until you can have a whole gang of Professor Genkis rolling with you whenever you feel like it. It's like a Super Ethical Reality Climax everyday of the week.

Of Course, Perfection is a Hard Mark to Hit

Saints Row The Third is a good game, but like any release in 2011 it has its fair share of problems. I had more than a few lock ups on loading screens and even one while I was flying in a helicopter. The trigger for one mission to end never flipped so I had to reload my save file and play it twice to beat it. One weird glitch occurred where I couldn't interact with characters like taking hostages or using wrestling moves- which was probably the worst one of all considering how much I love running up on guys and drop kicking them. This even happened during one of the endings of the game where a cut scene was supposed to trigger meaning I had to play through the whole thing all over again. Video games, man.

Overall I had a great time. This game's sense of humor is fairly particular, and it makes sense why most of the Giant Bomb crew would enjoy it. I'm in no position to say whether it was hilarious or not, but there are some good moments if just for the "wow, they really did that" value.

4 Comments