Sequels to games that I didn't originally care for.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

How long has it been since the last one of these? Well over a year ago? That sounds about right. In case you've forgotten, I'll remind you of the old song and dance: I act all nervous about touching another Halo game like I've just gotten out of a seriously abusive relationship. Then I reveal to you that I actually sort of like this particular entry in the Halo series (well, parts of it, this time), and then only four of you bother commenting on the blog itself. Such is the circle of life.

That being said, I only really acknowledge the overall story. I don't like it; I don't hate it; I just acknowledge that such a thing exists. It's been four years since Master Chief finished the fight (whatever fight that was supposed to be), but Microsoft needs more money. In enters the Didact, a magic space genie who wants to assimilate all of mankind into digital ghosts or something? I never really understood the details. They're a lot like a cloud: dense, vague, and sometimes look like asses. Unlike clouds, though, it's best to ignore them, because the overall picture is pretty clear throughout: stop the Didact from being mean, and also Cortana's dying. Did I not mention that? Because it's a pretty big component of the story, and it works? All I can really say is that the ingredients are there. There's tension, a very real relationship between Space Link and Sci-Fi Navi, and some emotion to their lines. Does it all add up to something worthwhile? No goddamn clue. Let's just say that I may be blind to this sort of thing.

Quick! Shoot the science!

I'd also say something about how Del Rio's a flat tire away from taking a gun to everybody or how this vehicle probably costs more than the GDP of several nations, but who comes to Halo for big fucking cars? Misinformed people, that's who! Slightly more informed people come here for the theatrics. Getting dragged into firefights, seeing shit explode around you all the time, and generally being caught up in the moment. I know that sounds a lot like mere gameplay, but it's something more than that. It's like you're playing a movie, EXCEPT NOT AT ALL LIKE THAT. I don't know what that is, but I know that Halo 4 isn't that. It is this: knowledgeable about how to use what tools and when. You want to see the power of a thousand suns drag Master Chief into eternal night? Switch to the first person perspective and experience that shit yourself. How about a slower story moment, where everybody's talking about Forerunners asking the Librarian for the Composer to....write the All Song? I have no clue, but I was going to say that Halo 4 puts that all in a cutscene so that you don't watch lifeless puppets ignore your existence so the story can move forward. Hooray for letting me live the moment, game! Is there anything you don't know how to do?

Be consistent, for one. And here we come to my major problem with the series, rearing its ugly head once again in another numbered entry: the dissonance. (Have I been on a tear with this sort of thing? Feels like it. Just give it a while to work its way out of me.) Allow me to explain: the story of Halo 4 sells Master Chief as some sort of immortal demigod among men. Hell, its first priority is to have some old woman lecture us on how super soldier Master Chief Taco Supreme is the future of all mankind because of how goddamn awesome he is. Let's completely ignore how worrying it is that man's future is supposed to be so dedicated to war that it can't function outside conflict. I'll even completely brush over how the game is trying to establish a warrior fantasy that simply can't exist with the type of military it's utilizing (mainly because that's a larger issue than merely this one game). Instead, let us focus on what happens when the actual game starts up: suddenly, Master Chief can only take three bullets before he has to call time out, and he can only hold two weapons at a time, despite the fact that he can just flip trucks over and jump with a mini-gun in hand like it ain't no thing. Doesn't matter if he's holding a pistol and a banana; he's not allowed to have more than one weapon at a time because the future doesn't know what a belt looks like.

"What's this asshole saying about me?"

Speaking of what, what the hell happened? Why am I supposed to trust my future to a man who thinks he has to dedicate a hand to each weapon he has? What makes him such a trustworthy fellow on the battlefield? Is it his ability to avoid enemy fire and recover from these situations quickly? Put his ass on reconnaissance duty where he can stealth you a victory. Or maybe he's supposed to be intelligent enough to devise tactics that make this all irrelevant? Give the bastard a command role and let THAT lead you to victory. Mayhap he can recover from injury super quickly when his shields fail on him for the 308309th time, like a cybernetic Chidori? (Not that I remember that from the actual game, but I'll give this game very brief benefit of the doubt.) Then send this man's ass to the medics so they can figure out how to give that ability to more soldiers. My point is that the game doesn't provide a lot of strong evidence for what the story claims is the reality of Master Chief's situation. You can't say one thing and do another, Halo 4. That just leaves you with credibility more shot than your opponents.

I know what you're thinking, devil's advocate: "But maybe these elements make the game fun and your complaints irrelevant, Mr. King." First off, what exactly do you advocate of the devil, Mr. Devil Worshipper? Maybe some time with Father O'Floggihan will set you straight. Second, actually looking at your words this time, I understand them, even if I don't approve of them entirely. But that's a subject for another day. Today, I completely understand that sentiment and prove it by using an example that does nothing to support that claim: the cover system. It's not that I'm oblivious to the appeal behind the idea: take a break from the action and think things through. You know, a strategic element to the combat. At least that was the plan. Unfortunately, it comes off less like a tactical element and more like the game's telling you to stop having fun for a bit while it gets its shit together. You don't make a fast-paced game fun by slowing things down. Maybe it works better on the high difficulties, but on the Normal difficulty the game actively recommended to me, that simply isn't the case.

Wait, does this thing have tiny arms in addition to its larger arms? Why wasn't I informed of this at any point in the actual game?

Speaking of maybe, maybe it is again time for me to talk about something I like about the game. Let's make it the shooting, because that oughta confuse the shit out of you. I know that I just spent literally the last 192 or so words criticizing the cover system, but the glorious thing is that there's so much more to Halo 4 than that. "Like what"? Who the fuck said that? Well, first off, how about a shitton of weapons? This is where all the narrative stuff I mentioned before actually works toward the game's favor. Jam in two alien races on top of the humans, and you have an abundance of weapons, each with their own personality. Speaking of two, that's the highest number of weapons Master Chief can carry at any given time. I'm aware that I was complaining about it before, but from a gameplay perspective, limiting weapons like this works really well. It forces you to think on your feet and be aware of what weapons you have on hand and how to use them. (Or maybe you can resort to punching things to death when you've run out of ammo all around. Whichever works.) It's almost like the feature introduces some amount of strategy the cover system only wishes it could deliver.

But let's assume that this still isn't enough for you. I don't know why. Maybe you're a horrible person. I mean, you were worshiping the devil two paragraphs ago. What was my point again? Oh, right: there's more to the action than the shooting. For instance, the vehicles. Maybe it's the sheer variety of vehicles you can pilot; maybe it's how the controls are so momentum based that you feel like maybe Master Chief had one too many drinks before the big battle; maybe it's how Master Chief can simply jump on vehicles and punch them to death; but there's just something really enjoyable about the game's vehicles. Even if that's not your thing, though, there are still plenty of other moments worth checking out, like the jetpacks and the leisurely stroll of a flying sequence? OK, so not all the elements of this game are worth checking out. Still, you can't fault Halo 4 for its variety, and there's at least something admirable in that. Combine all of this into one package, and you have a quite enjoyable shooter fit for short bursts of gameplay. Then add sci-fi mythos, an intrusive cover system, and all that dissonance I mentioned before, and you have Halo 4.

And did I mention that this game looks fucking fantastic?........You know what? This blog is long enough; let's leave it at that.

Review Synopsis

  • Just ignore the dialogue about the Forerunners wanting the Composer or whatever; just come to it for the explosions and stuff.
  • That applies to the gameplay, too.
  • Did I mention that Master Chief essentially has two separate characterizations that are near impossible to reconcile?

One of the many alternate endings to BioShock Infinite. Again.

Hey, remember the original Tomb Raider? (Forgive me if I don't; it's been well over two years since I touched that game.) Remember how all the living beings populating its world looked like grotesque MS Paint monstrosities? Remember how the levels were all confusing and lacking personality and not at all fun? Remember how the controls were kind of bad? Apparently, this was all endearing enough to gamers of the 90s to warrant not one, but a billion sequels. Today, I'm tackling Tomb Raider II. Good news: it fixes a lot of the problems I'd mentioned not a few sentences ago. Bad news: it still has some other, quite important issues that leave it just OK.

I'd like to discuss the problems, but first some context that fortunately comes in the form of a compliment. Namely, the level design is...sort of good? I mean, the problems that I discuss later relate directly to the levels, but strangely enough, they're the best part of the game. Gone are the days when you had to blindly bumble your way through a nondescript ruin. Instead, you get large yet still contained arenas, AKA the best thing to happen to the game. It gives you enough direction to know where you're going, but also enough so that you actually have some fun figuring things out for yourself. It's like a puzzle game where every solution is "jump". There are also some secret statues to find in each level, if you're into that sort of thing, but they're not necessary to have fun. They may help (I don't know; I only got the obvious ones), but the absolute core game is fun enough on its own. That's not even counting the circumstantial fun the levels deliver. You're going to be travelling all over the goddamn place in Tomb Raider II. China, underwater, Italy, underwater, floating China, underwater.....a lot of the levels take place underwater, for some reason. Personally, I found the trend strange, but not a major problem for the entire game.

Where can I get that tank top, Lara? I've always wanted that snug, vacuum sealed comfort.

You want a major problem for the entire game? Try the pacing. Dear god, do these levels just feel like they go on forever. Now originally, I was going to cite the time you spend in these levels as an indicator of how long they are, but then I realized that I'd used this same indicator to describe the levels in Halo as somewhat short. This is why I used words like "pacing" and "feels like" instead of "length" and "is": because it's all a matter of perception. In Halo, you're always shooting something and generally moving toward a clear goal. Not so with Tomb Raider. Sure, there are a lot of puzzles to solve, but a lot of your time is simply making it to these puzzles or solving puzzles to get to even more puzzles. The result? A game that feels empty and constantly in build-up to something else. Not the best expression of all the exploring, platformy fun from the last paragraph.

Let it be known, though, that I want to offer some constructive criticism. That's why I tried to think up ways to improve this lamentable state of affairs. I failed, but the important thing is that I tried. "More puzzles" was immediately thrown out as a solution. There are already enough puzzles in the game, and changing them around too much would actually make things worse. I'm already expending brain energy getting through the levels; no need to increase it on one-off puzzles time and time again. I could also think of a few areas where level design could be made less circuitous, but that's more treating the symptoms than anything else. With those two options out of the way, how about combat? Just throw in more enemies and then you'll realize that the combat completely sucks ass. The main problem is that the controls simply aren't up to the task. (The controls aren't so much an issue for the platforming because there's not as much on the line and you're going to adjust anyway.) Lara can turn on a dime, provided that said dime is the size of the Earth's equator. She's also lacking in any sort of appropriate strafing motion, so your only real options in combat are to run around the level, shooting and jumping in all directions until there's nothing left living. I shouldn't have to tell you how clumsy and unfun this tends to be.

"MUST. KILL. LARA."

But maybe the enemy designs make up for this, right? I'm not sure why that would be a factor, but the answer is no, not particularly. Most of the time, you'll be facing off against generic thugs. Nothing bad, but nothing particularly good, either. Their only notable feature is how they can take so many bullets that you'd swear they were half robot. Once you're done with them, you can move onto the animals. For some reason, every animal absolutely wants Lara dead and will instinctively maul her face if she so much as exists, so be prepared to shoot tigers and falcons and other surprisingly innocuous animals. If you know how to position yourself correctly, they won't even be able to touch you. Can't say that for rats and spiders. Their only job is to chew at Lara's feet until she simply collapses dead from chewfoot. They are simply an embarrassment that take time away from the far better parts of the game. There are also a couple of cool boss battles that I won't spoil, but again, you have to fight them with this game's combat system.

Speaking of spoiling, I probably would've mentioned the story by now if I remembered any of it. Italian mafiosi are trying to grab a magical Chinese dagger so their leader can become an immortal dragon or something? That's all I could get from the three cutscenes spread over a ten hour game. Yet somehow, without having (much of a) story, Tomb Raider is an accomplishment in stupidity. Lara can apparently hold her breath for what seems like days, handle underwater pressures that should logically crush her to bloody bits, and walk barefoot on rusty metal. Now before you criticize me for my criticisms, keep in mind that I like this brand of idiocy. It's not like any of this destroys significant plot elements, and it's just dumb enough to be hilarious. Pretty sure that's not at all what the developers had in mind with this game, but what works works. I wish I could apply that to the rest of the game, but damn the myriad problems I'd listed before. Notice one, and another pops up. They're like weeds in the....I don't know where I was going with that analogy, but I do know where I wanted to go with it: this game could have been better. It's not bad, but yea, it could be better.

Review Synopsis

  • Kill all the animals you could ever want! Assuming, of course, that you can figure out how.
  • Hooray for the level design! Unhooray for the pacing!
  • All while playing as the most oddly proportioned woman ever born.

Keep in mind that I only write controversial titles when I can’t come up with anything better.

30 Comments

Ridge Racing through the X-Zone world of Columbia, one Harvest Moon at a time.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

How many of you have eaten a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup? (A strange introduction fits a strange blog.) It's a combination of the great tastes of peanut butter and chocolate. Well, BioShock Infinite is just like that, only the exact opposite. In fact, I probably should have compared it to toothpaste and citrus. Both of them taste great on their own, but combine them, and you're left with this unpleasant taste in your mouth. This is assuming, of course, that you chug tubes of toothpaste as meals, pretending it's some future space food. I do.

I guess that makes me just like the people of Columbia, who, for whatever reason, are never without hot dog, cotton candy, or otherwise out-of-place food product. What's that? You've played BioShock Infinite and know what the story behind Colubmia is, but are pretending that you don't for the sake of this blog? Well, then, let me spin you a rather....mostly great yarn of idealism and zealotry gone horribly awry. But since you're pretending you haven't played the game, some context: guy named Comstock makes sky city, other guy named Booker DeWitt wants to rescue girl from sky city. That out of the way? Good. Now I can get into the real meat of the story: all the criticism of religion and patriotism and general idealism. It's impossible to avoid these topics, given how the game browbeats you with them the very moment you enter Columbia.

I want to talk about the ending, so without spoiling anything, I'll simply say that it's 999 if 999 actually made some damn sense.

Fortunately, Infinite covers these topics very well, its main strength being just how much thought it puts behind every single aspect. You want something about how historical figures become mouthpieces for our own views? Got it. What about the Christian idea of inclusion and forgiveness eventually giving way to paranoia, exclusion, and all other sorts of nasties? Explored. In the mood for Colombian ideals and ways of life naturally giving way to violence? That's exactly what the gameplay's there for. I told you: everything about these topics is thought out. I'd say that this comes at the cost of being one-sided, but not entirely. There is one level that takes the opposite view and criticizes the hell out of that, showing that they're not terribly different, and while it's only one level, it's the thought that counts. Of which there is a lot.

But you know, there's more to this game's appeal than the themes. We also have Disney princess Elizabeth. No, seriously, she's a literal Disney princess. Hell, the girl even breaks out into song for no real reason and is probably disappointed that a little birdy didn't swing in and chirp along the melody. This being the type of game it is, her optimism is crushed into a fine powder as soon as she steps outside her precious little tower. And then crushing it into tiny little atoms afterward just to show you that it's not done. I hate to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the narrative, largely because it reveals that I am a petty, sadistic bastard. Instead, I'll just say that she also has the ability to warp reality to her liking whenever and wherever. Does that sound overpowered? Well, it isn't. At her worst, Elizabeth uses it to warp all about the map when you're not looking and summon precious ammunitions from the aether. Now does that sound like a clever integration of narrative elements and gameplay mechanics? Well, it isn't.

It's also worth noting that Elizabeth's bestest friend in the whole world just so happens to be the final boss from the first Sly Cooper game. Go figure.

And here is where we come to my main problem with BioShock Infinite: the developers weren't aware that they were making a game. If they were, it doesn't show particularly well. For instance, the protagonist's feet are practically non-existent. They aren't there when I look down, and there's no momentum or give when you're moving forward; you just seem to float forward ever so smoothly, in an inhuman way. I know this seems petty to complain about, but it really does take me out of the moment when a human character behaves and feels so inhumanly for unexplained reasons, especially when I can see his body parts whenever the game decides I can (like the ending, for instance). Combine this with the lens flare and the slow motion and all the action-heavy moments at the expense of reason, and it becomes clear that you're not controlling a person, but a floating camera that can telekinetically control guns. Except that can't be the case, because Booker has a very strong presence as a character in the story. I have a clear image of who he is: a cynical man who's trying to wipe the slate clean by doing this one job. So I think you can understand my confusion when the game only acknowledges him when it's most convenient.

But the confusion goes deeper still. I'd say that it's a theme for the game, but choice is the more obvious answer. Or maybe the lack of choice. Again, I'm very confused. Over the course of Infinite, you're presented with quite a few choices to make, and by choices, I mean button prompts. You don't have a choice in these actions; you either do things the game's way or not at all. Now this may sound like it's building up to something, but it isn't, at least not like this, as the choices are so insignificant that I question why player input is even needed. Why, for instance, do I, the player, have to comfort Elizabeth with the push of the X button? If it's gonna happen anyway, why not let Booker just do it as part of a cutscene? It's not like my input really adds anything here; it was going to happen, anyway, the input doesn't match the output (IE not many people find button presses comforting), and it's not a major enough story event for that point to mean something. It's just there as a waste of time, a feature that only exists to remind the game that there's somebody playing it.

Wait, you can dual-wield tonics? Since when?

Granted, the game at least tries to reconcile this problem with some alternate reality shenanigans, but I don't buy that excuse, at least not fully. Alternate realities somewhat deny the idea of fate that's so necessary for what BioShock Infinite's going for (one choice goes to one reality, another to another, so I'm not really railroaded into anything). There are also some other, very minor discrepancies, like calling Robot-N-Word-Freeing-Devil-Lincoln a Patriot or the Tonic tutorials addressing the player instead of the characters or the pixelated display before pixels existed or this thing I just noticed, but I think I covered all the major ones.

And with that out of the way, let's return to parts of the game that I actually like. The graphics! It's really amazing how every little object has a palpable texture and lighting, and all that on top of the high saturation carto-And I just remembered what I'm actually supposed to be talking about: the gameplay. I'd say it hits all the right notes, but I just spent the last couple of paragraphs detailing some significant notes it doesn't hit, and I still have quite a bit to say about it. Namely, this game loves it some dumb scenarios. They're not necessarily contradictions like before, but they do stretch the bounds of plausibility. Magnets or something allow Booker to jump thirty feet straight up; a robotic George Washington shoots you the eff up; also, you fight a ghost three times late in the game. You know, stuff that makes no sense. But there's another trend running through these events: they're all really fun. I know that I just criticized them, but in the moment, they're so theatric and exciting and action packed that it's a lot easier not to think of the logic, at least during the event itself. Afterwards, yea, you'll notice all the dumb shit, but not while you're actually doing said dumb shit. Take that as you will.

Wondering why I haven't posted a single screenshot that's actually from BioShock Infinite anywhere in this blog? Because I couldn't get to any of them when I was originally writing this blog. Simple as that.

Or read ahead, if you favor straightforward statements, like the mechanically refined shooting. I'd say it hits all the right notes, but this time, it actually does hit all the right notes. In fact, let's walk through a typical scenario and deconstruct what exactly makes it work. For the most part, you're immediately dropped into a large arena and aren't allowed to progress until you brutally murder every single living being in the near vicinity. Yea, it seems forceful, but who gives a shit? You're getting a ton of enemies to shoot up and a chaotic situation that forces you to react quickly to everything that's happening around you. Fun, yes, but only one half of the equation that makes Infinite's shooting enjoyable. The other half? Strategy, itself divided into two halves, because fractions are confusing. First up: the weapons. You have your standard pistols, shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles, Super Mega Freud Fuckers, rocket launchers and....actually, I think that's about it. But really, do you need any more than that? All those weapons are certainly enough to cover whatever needs you encounter on the battlefield, and it's hard not to enjoy blasting a dude in the face with a shotgun and then shooting somebody from afar with your sniper rifle. What more do you want? How about Elizabeth's reality warping powers? Yep, they're in here, too, but only to summon certain pieces of architecture. I'm well aware that this sounds limiting, but honestly, it's just enough to work. You can only summon one thing at a time, so you have to put at least a little thought into whether that shiny freight hook is worth more than your destructo-turret that's currently firing on all cylinders.

There are also Vigors to use in all this, but for whatever reason, I never made heavy use of them. Trust me: I tried searching for that some reason, but was never quite able to find it. It's not that they're not useful, as the few times I did use them bought me enough time in battle to let me do other stuff, usually of the shooting variety. That's not even including the Vigor traps you can set all about the environments, largely because I know I never used those. Again, I don't know why. One Vigor allows me to shoot crows out of my hands like a vengeful Edgar Allan Poe, and another lets me become either Cthulhu or Katara, depending on your interpretation of things. Yet for whatever reason, I only used the one that lets you possess turrets and shit for a couple of seconds. Don't make the same mistake I did. Now is that a statement that extends to the game as a whole? I'm not entirely sure. I mean, there's still the issue of the game parts not contributing that well to the narrative, and you can't ignore the narrative. It's just far too big for that to be a feasible option. But considering all these aspects on their own, the game should be really good; it's only when you combine them that it's just average. You know what? Give this game a try if only because of its ability to defy the laws of mathematics.

Review Synopsis

  • Shooting a robotic Washington with guns and magical crows? Amazing!
  • A thought out, complex as fuck political treatise? Also amazing!
  • Both of them combined? Not…terribly amazing.

One of the many alternate endings to BioShock Infinite.

It has been described as "a tale as old as time". Did I ever have a choice? Especially when there were so many opportunities to screenshot the fuck out of this? And as long as we're asking questions, how the hell do you turn a movie like this into a video game? Well, simply put, you don't. Instead, you put it all in a Genesis cartridge and ask that the player walk around until Red XIII up there loses all his fur. I'd say that it's as good as it sounds, but that would imply that the game is good.

Now in case you aren't familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, rest assured that in this installment, it's all about the Beauty. In this case, it's a girl with severe Asperger Syndrome. From the very beginning, she spends all her time reading (so much, in fact, that it seems she can't live without it), the first gameplay mechanic centers around avoiding any and all social interaction whatsoever, and I can't imagine her being in this game if she didn't find some comfort in repetitive tasks (more on that later). This in mind, the story then becomes about her leaving her house for once and all the horrible things that happen because of it. Now normally, this would be the part where I laugh like a sociopath, but oddly enough, that's not the main appeal behind the story. No, that belongs to a few of the characters and all their weird quirks. I've already mentioned Belle, but you also get alpha-asshole Gaston and....actually, that's about it. Turns out there isn't much reason for letting the story continue past the first ten minutes. That said, what story is there is at least presented sort of well. As faded as the colors in them can sometimes be, the cartoon stills are clear and detailed, offering a lot of expression to an otherwise dull story. And for as out of place as the electric beeps sound, their bubbly melodies do fit the general mood the game's going for. So let that stand as one of the game's few strengths: it's aesthetically OK.

"Strike her while she's distracted and don't hold back."

Hey, that reminds me: this is a game. About what? Walking. Tons and tons of walking. Does that sound engaging? Of course it doesn't. You're just holding right and/or left, depending on your mood, and sometimes, you have to move left. That's really all there is. On a technical level, I guess it works. Pressing right makes you go right, and pressing other buttons will make Belle do other things you may need to do. Not that that matters much; there's a world of difference between "not glitched beyond belief" and "something I would want to play". I think the game is aware of this, though, because there are a few attempts to spice things up. Not good attempts, but attempts nonetheless. For instance, you know how in most Disney films, animals are jumping at the opportunity to sing with the most attractive woman on screen? Not in Belle's Quest. Every single animal is a dirty sexist to whom the idea of an intelligent woman is highly offensive and must be murdered immediately. Too bad for them that Belle's life of reading has trained her in animal avoidance, downgrading them from actual threat to simply annoying, a statement that applies equally well to the labyrinthine level design. Writing it out loud, these sound less like features that add enjoyment to a game, and more like delaying tactics to stretch out the length far more than it should be stretched. Gotta get the most out of that walking, don't you, Acclaim?

What's that? You want something other than simply walking around? Fortunately, Belle's Quest breaks up the monotony of walking around with some simple mini-games. Be lost in the pure joy of collecting falling objects, collecting falling objects, and (this one's my favorite) collecting falling objects. That's all there is to the game outside what would be considered the main gameplay. If you want variety, you're gonna have to pay extra. Oh, and if you want decent controls, you might as well go back to the game proper, because some of these mini-games control like crap. Catching books and plates that are falling work just well, but try catching rose petals, and suddenly, it feels like the game drank one too many. And don't get me started on the non-catching part of the game. If any of this sounds appealing to you, consult a doctor immediately. You are clearly suffering from some severe mental illness. Maybe some catastrophic synesthesia, since we've already firmly established that these words are somehow making noises.

Review Synopsis

  • The colors are faded, but otherwise, this is a good looking visual novel.
  • What's that? There's gameplay to this thing? Oh fuck.
  • Also, something about psychic roses. I can't quite remember well.
12 Comments

Feel the magic this week. FEEL IT.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

And so goes another game in the Humble Indie Bundle. Of course, there are more of those now than there have been people in all of history, so the statement has lost some of its weight, especially when you consider the inclusion of Magicka. Now I'm not calling the game bad.....actually, yea, I sort of am. The core concepts are good, though. Mix and match magic? Good! Arena combat? Good! Combined? Ungood!

Especially given what's framing these two ideas...kind of. Before I get into the negative parts of this blog (otherwise known as "this blog"), let it be known that I like the fantasy atmosphere. It's just really effective at projecting a fairy tale atmosphere. You get some cute, squishy graphics, storybook narrations between chapters, and just about everything you need to put your daughter to sleep. But then comes the humor of the game, which will presumably keep her bouncing off the walls in utter confusion. Wow, what a strange joke. Still funnier than Magicka. At least it wasn't a cultural reference, because that's all you'll get with this game. Not even jokes that engage the material they're referencing to humorous effect. Just references; cue cards with the words "GRIM FANDANGO. LAUGH" written on them, expecting you to laugh without giving any reason why. And this is the best case scenario. Don't get the reference (quite a real risk when you realize how little overlap there is between the Diablo and Aristocats audiences)? Prepare to be even more confused than you were when there were hyperactive little girls jumping through this blog. I think the best example is Vlad, whom the game constantly insists is not a vampire. Why would I assume that in the first place? His accent is the only thing I can go on. Otherwise, I don't have a clue. If it is a reference, I don't know what to. If it isn't, it's just not funny. More forced, really.

Oh, no, this isn't relevant or anything. I just realized that you don't get a lot of chances to post a picture of David Bowie to the site.

Fortunately, you don't come to the game for the humor. I think I outlined the problems with that approach. Instead, it's all about the magic (go to Japan if you want some ka), which, in theory, works just fine. You get 10 elements and 5 slots to put them in. Some quick math indicates that this leaves us.....30000 options. A little less when you consider how some elements cancel out others, but still, not bad. That's certainly enough options to encourage experimentation, and that's not even taking into consideration the different ways you can cast spells. You have weapon buffs, regular spells, armor buffs....no, that's pretty much it. Still, though, that's enough to fuck around with to keep you busy for a long time. Add on top of that a bunch of set spells you find over the course of the game, and the magic system looks reasonably strong and deep. That's the keyword, though: looks. Here's an important question: is there really a reason to explore different spell combinations?

Nope. Not really. Now we begin to see where the core game falls apart. Turns out putting this magic making system into what is essentially an arena fighter ruins both. How can that be? Wasn't Super Smash TV fun? Isn't lighting imps on fire with flaming thunder all kinds of fun? Both of those statements are true. However, these are not two tastes that go well together. Combining all these spells requires patience and thought, two luxuries that you're not going to have when there are twelve goblins chasing you across the screen. Instead, you're going to fall back on spamming whatever spell you found was the most useful at the beginning of the game. (There's no leveling system, so the enemies don't become particularly stronger over the course of the game.) For me, it was some combination of lightning and either ice or fire. The perfect combination of crowd control and stacking damage, all without the strategy the developers were hoping for.

He's too busy playing Wing of Madoola for the next section of this blog.

But speaking of crowd control, that's the name of the game: Magicka crowd control. On this, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I can certainly see the appeal. There's just something fun and chaotic about having to think on your feet to make sure you're not overwhelmed with enemies. I'd compare it to tower defense, but that's a dumb comparison. On the other hand, there are a ton of enemies, so it's incredibly easy to become overwhelmed at any given time. Yes, you have a sword to whittle down enemies in your immediate vicinity, but unless it can freeze enemies in their place, there's really no point in using it. (There is a sword that can do that. Just want to be clear on that.) With so many enemies that want you dead, you're gonna get caught in a corner, die, and then die again because you couldn't get out of said corner. Temporary invincibility isn't enough, especially since casting a buff of any kind immediately gets rid of it. I suppose it's relevant to mention that I was playing this on single player when the game would have preferred me to play with another human being.

Oh, and I should probably mention that the game's ridiculously bugged. No amount of bug bombs could save it, although I think that's more because I'm thinking of a different kind of bug. It started after installation, when the mouse wouldn't display on full screen. Granted, I planned on changing to windowed mode, regardless, but that's not a good sign. But we can't play the game yet, since the button that lets you do that is having a bad day and needs some down time. The game's good, though, right? It is only if you consider the following good: being trapped in a horrible limbo because the game over screen didn't show. Being resurrected in such a way that you cannot continue the game. Weapons dancing on the ground at the behest of some celestial puppet master who doesn't want you picking up that cool new weapon. Frustrated with all this, I decided to pay attention during the credits, and I didn't see any listings for a debug team or QA guys. Nothing worrying about that, right? And the version I played was after several patches and updates. That should show you the level of confidence the developers had in this game, and how much you should put in it, too.

Review Synopsis

  • I'd make a Family Guy joke here, but if anything, the humor is closer to a Friedberg and Seltzer film.
  • I very much like magic customization, but I'd like if I had a reason to use it in the first place.
  • Also, bugs. So many bugs.

Your previous time transgressions have displeased the gods, Mario. Now you are damned to be frozen in time forever for your avarice, always conscious of the fate to which you have been consigned.

Tentarafoo-la, Wing of Madoola, bippity boppity boo. Put it together and what have you got? The most confusing introduction to a blog I've ever thought up. Certainly not the best way to sell you on this game, and believe me, the game has enough going against it already. Namely, a crappy beginning that's no fun to play. But on the other side of that bad introduction is....well, an average game. Is it worth it? Probably not, but I still liked it.

I was going to comment on how the game looks good (as counter-intuitive as that may seem), but then I realized that this was the only other actual screenshot of the game on the site. Now you know why you need my billions upon billions of seemingly random screenshots.

Again, though, this is in spite of the really bad first few levels. It's like all of the things that eventually make the game fun conspire against the game itself. The combat, for instance, won't do you any favors. For a while, enemies are going to take a few hits to bring down, but sadly, you can only hit one at a time. Too bad those sleeping bag burrito monsters come in groups and infinitely spawn off screen. Thus you are forced to hop over them until you become stronger, and this brings with it two realizations. Realization the first: you move ridiculously slow and can only jump on inch off the ground before you break your shins. The next realization: the levels aren't terribly long. I know that combination sounds contradictory, but skipping over all the enemies makes the levels go by very quickly, even when you find all the little secrets and items and whatnots. It's almost like the developers weren't confident in their level designing capabilities and decided to pit the odds against you so you wouldn't notice. Fortunately, this gets better. Kind of. Straight lines give way to maze-like levels that require some effort to navigate. Unfortunately, if you don't find some necessary upgrades, it's quite easy to get stuck in such a way that you cannot possibly advance.

But only if you don't have enough boots. Once you have two or three of them, every single level turns into a Lunarian moon bounce, thus revealing the game's greatest strength: not the enemies. What? Yea, this is also around the time your weapons become more powerful, but infinite spawns still make them a pain in the ass to be avoided at all costs. The boss fights are pretty cool, though. You fight eggs and dragons and stuff with the power of jumps. Anyway, most of the game's fun lies in the level design. There are just so many nooks and crannies to these things, and the game rewards you heftily for finding them. You get cool weapons and power ups and hell, there's even a chick that gives you a key word for no real reason. What more could you want? Maybe some more variety, as there are only about four types of levels repeated over 16 stages. Still, that's a solid 16 levels of jumping about castles, discovering what you can and can't jump on. Well, a solid 12 levels of jumping about castles, prefaced by 4 dreadful levels of struggling through straight lines and wizard spawns. Is it worth it? That's for you to decide. The perfect metaphor for life!

Review Synopsis

  • A very bad start
  • gives way to an average game.
  • This is a haiku.
19 Comments

The skimpiest Renegade Ego yet.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

It's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum. I'm also out of ass, so what that leaves me is blogging. Now Duke Nukem 3D (not to be confused with Duck Fuckem 3D, James Cameron's early foray into the world of mallard pornography) is most well known for....I'm not entirely sure. I don't think it was the first 3D FPS (I'm well aware of the technical tricks that make Doom not 3D), so I guess it's because 3D Realms made it? Well, anyway, my experience with it was not in 1996, but 2013, and what I found was a juvenile, absolutely psychotic piece of 90s pop culture. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

But that doesn't mean the scenario's free from criticism. Remember my Duke Nukem Forever blog, where I likened Duke to a medieval lord of yore? Let's throw that characterization out, because here, he's a genocidal (literally) maniac. From the very start, he's shooting down every non-human in sight. He doesn't need any more motivation than that. Hell, you don't even find out that they're capturing Earth's women until much later. Until then, you're left with Duke shooting down aliens while they sleep, gleefully spouting lines like "Let God sort 'em out" and "Nuke 'em 'till they glow, then shoot 'em in the dark" and "Heil to the King, baby". I hope I don't have to tell you how massively uncomfortable this is. It's like Postal 2, except....no, it's Postal 2. We already have the worrying racial undertones, but how about we throw cultural references (maybe they're jokes, but I only saw them as references), crass puns, and out-of-place misogyny on top of all this? So what's more unsettling: this or the fact that Duke was one of the more popular games of the 1990s?

Nope, this isn't the least bit sexist at all.

Now don't freak out. I know precisely why this game was so popular in the 90s: the shooting.......That sounds just as unsettling. But rest assured that Duke Nukem knows what it's doing when it comes to shooting. There's never a moment when you're not shooting an enemy. Part of this is because Duke himself moves faster than Speedy Gonzales (a fact that no doubt irks him to no end), but a lot of it's also because of how many enemies crowd the screen at one time. There's almost never an instance where there's not an alien pig to shoot, and just when you think you've eliminated them all, there's another waiting just behind the next door (or explosion, at least later in the game). Yes, this sounds overwhelming and crowded and whatnot, and to be honest, it can be. I don't need to tell you how annoying it is to open a door and be greeted with a bullet to the face. Personally, it's why I don't go trick or treating anymore. But for most of the experience, it hedges more toward simply giving you enough targets to shoot and making sure that the action never dies.

But what good is a ton of action without variety? Still kind of OK? Well, what I'm trying to say is that Duke Nukem delivers on the variety. This much is clear just by looking at the enemies. It's amazing how 3D Realms is able to give every single enemy a very distinct personality. This may be because there aren't a ton of enemies to deal with (maybe a little more than ten types), but the result is the same: every enemy feels like an individual. Two things happen when you give enemies personality: first, Duke Nukem looks like a genocidal asshole. But I've already mentioned that in detail, so let's move onto the second thing that happens: you have to develop a variety of strategies to handle the enemies, which is only possible when you have a good selection of weapons. Hey, look at that! Another strong point....sort of. Let's face facts: there are quite a few weapons you're never going to use in this game. Anything that requires forward thinking, like the tripwire or the freeze ray, has no place in a game where you have to strategize while you're shooting. I'm guessing that's why those weapons are so few in number. Everything else is just different means of blasting/shooting away, like shotguns and rocket launchers and stuff. You know, the types of weapons that would fit in well with a mindless shooter like Duke Nukem.

Apparently, everybody at the 3D Realms offices spent a lot of time reading Cracked. That certainly explains what became of Duke Nukem Forever.

Wait a minute. This is a mindless shooter from the 90s. That means we have to deal with the most confusing level design in the world. If you're making a game where the fun comes from shooting everything in sight for every second of it, you're not doing yourself any favors by setting it all in a labyrinth where it's incredibly easy to miss important details. I don't appreciate the shooting after the delay; I'm just mad at the delay. The only time this really pays off is in the secrets, since they're really well hidden, reward multiple playthroughs, and most importantly, are actually meant to be hard to find. I'd say that the level design comes off as pretentious, but if so, it's only very barely. You get to solve puzzles and collect keys and new weapons you lost in between episodes for unexplained reasons, almost as though this were a Zelda game. Except the puzzles aren't terribly challenging and there's only capacity for three keys ever, so it isn't much of a Zelda game. The only mitigating factor in all this is that the game kind of trains you in how to play it, so the level design becomes less and less of an issue over time. But man, that's still one significant investment to ask at the beginning and throughout much of the middle.

Oh, and I guess I should talk about the graphics, since they're mentioned right there in the title. Of course, it's hard to develop a straight opinion of such a broad topic, since the quality fluctuates wildly depending on what we're talking about. For instance, the environments look pretty damn good. I'd say they're detailed, but to be more accurate, they carry the special charm that comes with looking like pixel vomit. For something a tad less backhanded, how about decent lighting (from a technical standpoint, lest you think I enjoy dark, flickery rooms), a smooth frame rate, and a lot of interesting tidbits to fuck around with? That's more than I can say for the characters populating this world, and not just because lighting can't even remotely apply to characters. Oh, sure, things look fine if you're looking at them head on, but try to get an upskirt shot on that pig cop, and you'll suddenly discover that he's thin in the wrongest of ways. To be more direct, the enemies are completely flat. It takes you out of the moment and makes you think you're playing Paper Mario: The FPS. Actually, that sounds like a far better idea than I'd like to admit. I'd tell you to go play the Paper Mario FPS, but since that doesn't exist, Duke Nukem will have to do.

Review Synopsis

  • In the immortal words of the Duke of Nukem, "Niemand stiehlt unsere Frauen...und lebt."
  • I'm pretty sure if you look in the credits, Daedalus is credited as the head level designer.
  • But the shooting is so incredibly solid that I'm willing to overlook those last two bullets.

Behold your life, Mario. You are now the plaything of the gods. You shall forever die to be born again. Your existence is suffering.

I wanted to continue with the Japanese equivalent of Duke Nukem, but surprise: I have no clue what that is, or if it even exists. So instead, I went for Ghost Sweeper Mikami, a.....what the hell is this? It's hard to place just what exactly Ghost Sweeper Mikami is, mainly because for a while, it doesn't do much of anything. You just walk forward and whack enemies with your sword, sometimes jumping to get around. It's nothing, but in a surprise twist nobody saw coming, it's a very strong nothing. (Nobody saw it coming because it doesn't make a lot of sense.)

For those of you who don't know what Ghost Sweeper Mikami is, I don't, either. From what I could gather, it's a Japanese Ghostbusters starring a girl with eyes as enormous as her dresses are tiny. She gets a statue in the mail and goes on a quest to fill in all the little holes on it. Why? I have no effing clue. It's possible that the writers never bothered including a motivation for her to do this, but it's also quite possible that I simply missed that part. I know that sounds strange when half the game is cutscenes (probably literally), but from what I could understand, there's a good-ish reason for having so many of the damn things. You get cute little banter between the various characters to keep you entertained outside the game proper. But only barely. I can't remember much about each character's personality or even most of their names, but I still enjoyed the personality it had.

Wait, when did things get so Valis-y? Is Mikami's outfit going to become even more provocative?

Now this would be the part where I spend an entire paragraph describing the mechanics, except there's honestly not a lot to describe. The main gameplay boils down to this: you walk forward and whack things. The walking forward is hard to call enjoyable, but the action is exactly the same. I don't even know how to phrase it. It's not the number of enemies; that much is fine. Maybe it's the fact that you're literally swatting them away that makes the combat something of a nuisance. There are power-ups to fuck around with, but they're all pretty much the same: swat things from a distance. Not much of a difference, is it? There is one level where you get to make platforms with your sword-wand-whatever a la Mega Man 1, but that's about as much variety as you're going to get in the weapons. Now I should clarify that the game isn't bad. It controls well, and everything is done competently, but so far, there's nothing compelling or magnificent.

But here comes the level design to save the day. Cat-cars! Broomstick shooters (that are drifty as shit)! What I think is a parody of The Nutcracker! What more do I need to say? Something more applicable to the game as a whole? Sure, why not? Remember what I said about the combat being a nuisance? Well, that was only on its own. Throw in a boss battle or jumping all about, and suddenly, it starts redeeming itself. You start developing a rhythm of a sort, trying to balance navigation and combat at the same time. I know it sounds strangely mundane, but trust me: it's pretty damn fun, especially when you mix those grapple platform whatevers in. Or you can stick with riding cats across the rooftops of Tokyo, swatting at bugs and demonic pancakes. Actually, just go with that. It's the best part of the game. Sure it's just conceptually, but where's the harm in that?

Review Synopsis

  • The eyes....the eyes...
  • Describing the mechanics doesn't make it sound very fun.
  • Actually playing the game serves the job, though.
17 Comments

Aliens, bacteria, breaking the barriers of being...I'm all over the place this week.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

And so goes yet another game in the Humble Indie Bundle. The fact that there are more Humble Bundles than there are words in my blogs certainly isn't making this easy, and neither is my insistence on grabbing these in free giveaways, knowing full well that I have other games to complete. But enough about that. We must speak of Splice, a game that defies all reason.

This probably isn't a good thing to have in a puzzle game. You know, the type of game that relies on logic and reason. Now Splice is nothing if not consistent, so a lot of the reasons for for the reason-defying, well, defy reason themselves. However, let's start with the concrete elements I can point out, like how this game is as transparent as a brick. The whole point is assembling strands in a specific way, but the game isn't very clear on how strands behave when you move them. Why can I move this cell here, but not this cell? Why did this cell activate before this other cell? Why am I not allowed any more moves? Where do babies come from? Granted, the game has a tutorial, but it only explains the bare basics. Maybe this is simply the type of game you're supposed to work out on your own (more on that in the next paragraph), but there's more to it than that. Part of that is because of how things are graphically arranged (it's hard to explain, so watch this video and take note of how cells rearrange themselves), which, I have to admit, is difficult to work around, especially if you don't want your game looking all kinds of strange. Let's call it the best of a bad situation, then. A bad situation the game manufactured by its very nature, but a bad situation nonetheless.

The only graphical quality you'd ever need.

A lot more of why this game makes no sense, however, is because so much of it relies on intuition. I don't even really know how to describe it. Everything's about feeling things out and guessing around until you get something to work. Want to talk things out or understand the underlying logic of this puzzle? It's not happening. Everything's subconscious in this game. This isn't even a bad thing about the game; it's just really, really weird. The closest this ever comes to turning sour is the difficulty curve. It somehow bounces all over the place AND manages to be fiendishly difficult at the same time. Remember: this game defies reason, which means that you feel really good for solving the puzzles....I think. Can I even say I get enjoyment out of this game? I mean, yea, I solved the puzzle, but it's hard to lord it over myself when I don't know how I solved it, which is how most of the puzzles in Splice work. Except near the end, when the developers throw you all types of misnomers, meaning they injected logic and sense somewhere in the game. YOU DON'T EVEN MAKE SENSE AT BEING ILLOGICAL! Maybe the negative tone should be taken with a grain of salt, but all this information is absolutely necessary toward understanding Splice. Or, rather, not understanding it at all.

I'd love to end the blog there, but I don't think I've said a clearly positive thing about the game yet. That would be strange for any other game, but since Splice is such a strange game, it feels oddly fitting. And yet I am still compelled to compliment the game on something. How about that super smooth, calming aesthetic? For all the frustration I felt throughout this game, the look really kept me going. The 100% minimalist design keeps you entirely focused on the situation at hand and relaxes your very being. And the music....OK, there really isn't any music. Just ambiance really, but that works in the game's favor for reasons I have already mentioned: it calms the hell out of you. It's like a drug, only exactly like that. That's probably why I prefer to call it Marijuana: The Game: it has a dulling effect that the rational part of your brain cannot wrestle with. That, and it's probably outlawed in half of the United States.

Review Synopsis

This marks the special occasion where I post nothing but Mario videos for two months straight. How do I start this event? With a Super Mario Existential Crisis, of course!

Wait, what's this doing here? This was supposed to go with Duke Nukem 3D, damn it. Who mixed up my schedule? *sigh* Might as well make the best of a bad situation. What we have here, good readers, is Dungeon Explorer, a game of absolutely no importance to anything ever. I think it became a series, but that's about it. That means the first entry had to be really good, though, right? About? I mean, it's a tad on the repetitive side, halfway between purposeful and just plain dumb, but on the whole, Dungeon Explorer is on the up and up. Why was I British in the last sentence? I don't 'ave a bloomin' clue, I don't!

Anyway, it all begins with an incredibly dumb story that's immediately ignored. So long ago, there was this civilization that was so totally awesome that you wouldn't believe it. Then aliens come and start being assholes. I'd point out the utter lack of justification for their behavior or the racist undertones, but really, I'm more concerned about how there are no sci-fi elements to be found in the game. It's as disjarring as a make it out to be, almost like they meant to call them "demons" or something slightly more logical. Then again, this is pre-Nocturne Atlus we're dealing with (somehow), so let's just be happy that all nobody has inexplicably changed race. Besides, my main issue with the game is how the set-up is pretty much swept under the rug. You don't really do much to stop the aliens or retrieve the stone they have that I forgot to mention. You really just bumble around from random goal to random goal, hoping something is accomplished in the end. The only thing tying it all together is vague mythology, but that's about it. Yes, I'm perfectly aware that the story isn't the selling point of the game, but that's no excuse. If you're gonna have a story in the first place, no matter how small or basic, at least put the effort in to make it work.

I'm still not sure what this room is for, especially considering how late in the game you actually get the ORA Stone. Maybe it's a multiplayer thing (since you can somehow play this game with four other people)? Who the hell knows?

But as I said, this game isn't about the story. It's about shooting shit up! That's why the game gives you so many spawn points: so you can create a sickening Hell on Earth where monsters are constantly reborn only so that they might die shortly thereafter. Or maybe the level designer was really goddamn lazy. Sometimes, the various spawn holes look like they had thought put behind them, and other times, it's like they're just slapped about the map, like Mother Gaia's having another herpes outbreak and you have to help her through it. The same goes for the enemies, too. Ignoring their visual design (because I don't have the space to talk about little bald men pelting me with axes), they're all over the place, from enemies that will engage you on very specific terms to pathetic sacks of meat just waiting to be put out of their misery. It's confusing, to say the least. Well, regardless, it manages to pace the game well enough (sometimes; other times, you're just trudging through, hoping to make some sort of progress) and lend it at least some semblance of strategy, so I can't hate it too much. Besides, the boss battles offer enough straight-up action to balance things out.

If I were smart, I'd end the blog here, but alas it continues. For you see, there are RPG elements to Dungeon Explorer! Very weak, ephemeral RPG elements! For instance, a leveling system. Well, at least the game says there's a level system. You only level up at bosses, only your HP increases on level-up, and all the other stats are completely meaningless. So what's the purpose of it? I was going to say that it marks off areas you shouldn't go to, yet, but there are several flaws with that idea, like how I could go through those areas just fine, regardless of my level. I was also going to say something about it affecting character choices, but I think everybody has a long-range attack, anyway, so really, these features exist only to exist. But does it matter? Does any of it matter? The thrown-in afterthoughts really don't diminish the shooting in any way. It does that on its own. It can't decide on if it's smart or if it's dumb, so it throws everything in and hopes it makes sense in the end. On the whole, though, it all adds up to a somewhat decent product......Holy shit, those last few sentences describe my blog really well, don't they? I'm horrified by myself. I AM A MONSTER THAT I CAN NEVER ESCAPE!

Review Synopsis

  • Aliens are invading! Do things until something happens.
  • As long as those things are shooting and more shooting.
  • Also, RPG stuff or something.
  • Man, I should have saved this for my next blog. It would have made so much more sense there.
2 Comments

A Cold War where nobody wins.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

до свидания, fellow Comraduders. Wait, that's the Russian term for goodbye. I guess I don't know the Russian term for hello. Anyway, that's my awkward way of telling you guys that I'm going to be talking about Metro 2033, but there's a reason for the awkwardness: I'm a shitty writer Metro 2033 is an awkward game I'm a shitty writer who believes Metro 2033 is an awkward game. Does it want to be stealthy or action-y? Is it a first-person or third-person narrative? Is the protagonist some schluck or the savior of all mankind? Do you even know who you are, Metro 2033?

But to be fair to the game before I rip it a new asshole, it at least looks pretty. The lighting, for example.....I can't really say much about it. It just looks good. Go ahead and look for yourself. What I can talk about, however, are the textures, probably because everything has one. Everything. From your visor to the ground, you're going to see realistic bumps and imperfections, making it very easy to feel like you're actually in the game's world. But the best part of it has to be the smoke effects, not just because it looks really fucking good, but because it gives the guns a physical presence in the world. You're not just killing your enemies with yellow lines that make "pew-pew" noises; you're operating an actual machine that uses fire and metal to make things dead. Hell, I could probably sum up the game's technical side by saying it does everything in its power to draw you into the world of Metro. 2033. But speaking of power, the game's so resource intensive that you're going to need a lot of it to get this game running. I'd like to think that I have a pretty good laptop, but I still had to knock the settings all the way down (and fuck about with config files to move away from full screen). On the one hand, it's impressive that the game can still manage to look as good as it does at such low levels. On the other hand, this results in so much texture pop-in that you'd think you were playing as a geriatric old man. But in that hand is also some DirectX, so take it with a grain of salt in your already crowded hands.

Man, there's no room in here for a Persona 3 reference at all.

Let us, then, uncrowd your hands with talk of the world. (The game world; not some drive-by philosophy.) What did you think the graphics were being used for? The answer is "hell on Earth", and not the type of hell on Earth where things are just bad and stuff. I'm talking about the hell on Earth with demons and fire and shit! Does it make sense? Not particularly, but who gives a crap? It lends the game an intriguing supernatural/fantasy vibe that oddly brings the horrors of war to life. It's kind of like Adventure Time, except instead of being made out of candy, the people are instead made of depressing sadness. Between the cold metal of the crowded underground slums and the cold metal of the open above-ground also-slums, I seriously can't name a single moment with even an inkling of hope or joy. (This is going to be relevant later.) Again, this works well for....

Wait a minute, an important question just popped into my mind: is this world used to tell a compelling story? I'll give you a hint as toward the answer: it begins with an N and it's no. Hell, for a lot of the story, I couldn't even tell you why the protagonist was doing the things he was doing. I remember a lot of the things he did, like getting lost in sewers and breaking the spacetime continuum, but not any of the reasons why he was doing these things. Now there are several reasons for this, but I'm going to start with just one: the game doesn't know what kind of story it wants to tell. Not that you can tell for much of the game; at first, it looks like a first person narrative where people stand around and dictate the story right at your face area, implying that you're seeing things from the protagonist's point of view. The protagonist whose vision sometimes goes into slow-mo without any warning. Because "somber with a vague hint of fantasy" always goes well w-WHY ARE WE IN THIRD PERSON NOW!? And then you're back in first person, as though nothing has happened. It's disruptive, takes you out of the moment, and leaves you wondering just what the hell was going on, making it difficult to pay attention to....well, whatever the hell's going on. So with one fell swoop, the world building is compromised.

BEHOLD THE DECADENCE OF YOUR CAPITALIST SWINE, WHICH IS QUITE LITERALLY A SWINE IN THIS SPECIFIC SITUATION.

And things aren't getting better from here. I was going to say "Take, for example, the main character", but there isn't a main character. Sure, you control some lower-class guy named Artyom (that's all the characterization he's getting, by the way), but who is he? He's nobody. He has no character. He doesn't even have a physical presence. He's a ghost; a nothing that mysteriously drives the plot of the game forward. To be fair, the game does try to give him some emotion to alleviate this situation, but the problem is that it doesn't do it particularly well. If anything, it only reveals how emotionally dead Metro 2033 as a whole is. Check out the intro to Chapter 5. Artyom's supposed to express the joy one would have upon reuniting with a long-lost parent; his delivery sounds like he didn't get enough sleep last night. This is the emotional high bar, ladies and gents: an emotionless piece of nothing of no importance whatsoever. And yet he's supposed to be the savior of all Russiankind? Why? How? Stick with something, game!

It's at this point that I should probably mention we're talking about a first person shooter, even if it's not a particularly good one. You're not going to be seeing too many glorious, action-packed gunfights. Instead, they're more plodding and awkward; enemies materialize out of nowhere, and you both pop in and out of cover, hoping that you've hit them. No cover? Well, then, the shoot-outs either become loopy circle-strafe dances or just really quick. Not exactly what I'd call fun or enjoyable. I'd say that this plays into the anti-war messages this game has, especially since the weapon imperfections mean every single battle will be woefully inefficient, but somehow, I'm just not feeling it. Maybe that's because I'm not even sure if there's an anti-war message to be had. With that out of the way, what we're left with two things: a cover system that removes the strategy that makes the game worthwhile (more on that in a bit), and Nazis who can take five shotgun blasts at point-blank rage, and yet drop like flies if you knife them in the face when they're not looking.

Just like Fragile Dreams, except for the part where they actually explain it.

Ah, therein lies the problem: knifing them without them knowing. And therein lies the solution: a really good stealth system. It may be slow and.....no, that's really the best way to describe it. Just slow. But that's the best part: you have no choice but to wait in the shadows, observing enemy patterns and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Sometimes, this can lead to some cool world-building stuff (conversations, really), but for the most part, the appeal lies in the methodical, tactical feel it has. My only real complaint regarding the stealth system in itself is how punishing it can be. One fuck-up, and every enemy from here to the antipodes will center on your exact location, making further stealth impossible. Even if you fix that mistake half a second later and nobody was around to see it, you still have to pay. Yea, the reward for avoiding all this is nice in the end, but you could still scale it back a bit.

And maybe make it clearer when I'm supposed to stealth and when I'm supposed to action my way through? This isn't the type of game where you can just exchange the two on a whim; stealthing through an action sequence will end the same way as if you'd started your morning with some Honey Nut Bullet-O's, and actioning your way through a stealth sequence will leave you with a single bullet left for the rest of the game. Fix this problem, though and....well, you're left with a lot more problems that need fixing. The confused narrative, the texture pop-in, the inconsistent damage, the unskippable intro sequence on every single start-up, that Sasha sequence I didn't mention (the game clearly makes the controls worse just to make another character useful), the auto-save screwing you over. Fix all that, however, and I'm confident that you'll end up with a decent game at the end of it all. Then again, that is a lot to fix, especially for a game that's already been released.

Review Synopsis

  • Wow, what an amazing world!
  • That surrounds a poorly told story, though.
  • The action may not be good, but the stealth sure is.

I know that this is a weird video to post (even by my standards), but it's the motionless picture that really brings it all together. It's like the most psychotic radio play the 1950s could muster.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum is Zombie Nation, also known as America. Before you say anything, this is canon. Then again, anything is, given how much weird shit this game packs into itself. Don't mistake this for being confused, like Metro 2033 was; instead, Zombie Nation is a confusing game. I don't even know how to describe it, let alone render an opinion on it.

I'm not kidding about that. I legitimately have no clue what to think about this game. Why of course that includes the story! It all begins with an alien crashing into Earth to avoid copyright infringement that would only exist on Earth. He then decides to use the power of magnets to make everybody a zombie, and it's up to a floating samurai ghost head to stop him because.....uh.........What? Can you figure any of this out? Because I can't. Is it supposed to be camp? Am I supposed to be laughing at how dumb it is? I'm not exactly getting that feeling anywhere in the game. Everything's just slapped together at random like a Mad Libeurysm. (Or like that joke, now that I think about it.) Then again, that might be what the game's going for, since the first boss is the Statue of Liberty, and things somehow get weirder from there. It's like the game is perfectly in control of the fact that it's not at all in control. Confused? So am I!

You try to figure this out.

Maybe I should move onto something certain: the amazing production values. At least I know where I stand on that. For instance, the music. OK, so I can't remember a single melody, but that's not what impresses me. No; I'm interested in the technical aspects of Zombie Nation. It's hard to name a single NES game with a more robust set of instruments at any given time. So hard, in fact, that I didn't really bother looking for any. If you need all that summarized, then you've probably skipped to the bottom right now, but I'll look past your confusing nature and state that the game sounds as good as it looks. This is how the game looks. Behold everything, wrought with a texture! Behold all the colors that would put a rainbow to shame! Behold that well-drawn face!

And behold how it all comes together to confuse the hell out of you. Remember: this is Zombie Nation. If you can tell what's going on, then you should probably call 911, as you're a few seconds away from overdosing. But while you're sitting pretty on a stomach pump, the rest of us are dealing with an absolute assault on the senses. Everything's always blowing up or moving or doing something, so it's incredibly difficult to tell what's going on at any given time. I can't even tell you how to recover health in this game. Do you blow things up? Do you rescue the humans that fall from the sky? Does it just happen? How am I supposed to play this game, damn it? I feel like I'm being repetitive with this point, but it's really important to say that I had no idea what was happening at any given time. It prevents me from learning how to play the game, so I'm just set up for failure in each level because everything's vying for my attention.

The good news is that this eventually evens out and we can figure out what type of game this is: a shooter. Well, sort of. I don't think there are any power-ups, and if there are, they're rudimentary, at best. The enemy grouping's also decent, but not entirely what you come to the game for. Instead, it's all about the level design. Specifically, navigating all those tight spaces without losing 80% of your health. This isn't an easy task. Granted, part of that is because of the aforementioned assault on the senses, but a lot more of it is simply because you aren't offered a lot of openings. This is a good thing; it means I have to rely on actual skill that might reward me with some feeling approximating satisfaction. But then we have to remember that this game is only about five levels long, and two or three of those levels are what I described in the last paragraph. So is surviving these levels worth it for the fun that lies on the other end? Especially when we're talking about a short game like this? I believe the only answer I can offer with any certainty is "Zombie Nation".

Review Synopsis

  • This game is floating an uncomfortable line between idiocy and camp value.
  • Coupled, of course, with more moving parts than the machine you're using to run it.
  • The last couple of levels are alright, though.
8 Comments

A blog so fast, you won't even be able to read it.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

At last, I can be done with this. Never more will I have to worry about how to pull off a Limiter Cut. Never more will I have to time my Crazy Drifts ever so perfectly, lest I plunge into the ocean of nothingness. Never more will I have to reset my run because I crashed into too many cars, drunk driver that I am. And never more will I have to put up with a single mode that ruins an otherwise really fun game.

In fact, before I tell you why Crazy Box mode is not fun, allow me to set the scene with why the rest of the game is completely fun. After being greeted by a scummy "radio/strip club DJ" voice at the title screen, you pick one of four even scummier looking characters to blast through a tiny city to this "music". That's not the fun part. Actually, yea, now that I think about it, a lot of the fun is in how sleazy everything is. Don't let that bright beach setting fool you. Not only are you going to be barreling through traffic like a madman, but people are going to pay you for the pleasure. Who gives two shits about making it to Pizza Hut on time when you could risk your life in a car accident? Oh, did I forget to mention that your fares often want to go to fast food restaurants because their lives are horrible? The only reason you'd ever take a taxi to KFC is because you're too drunk to drive there yourself. What does it say about their lives that this takes place in broad daylight? Or that everybody in the city is like this?

Nope. I don't see a single thing worrying about this screenshot.

Normally, I'd say that this is where I'd say that I'm only kidding, but I'm really not. A lot of the appeal is in how crazy this game is. Everything about the game is just so fast paced that you really don't stop to question anything. Instead, you just plow through streets like crazy, trying to get to your next goal. Wait, did I say "plow"? That's not the right word. That implies that this game is lacking in strategy, and I wouldn't want to imply that. After all, every game starts off with everything in the same place (allowing you to plan things out), and there's this hidden technical side to Crazy Taxi that I haven't even mentioned yet. If you want to succeed at this game, you're gonna have to learn all types of moves the game never tells you about. It may sound unfair, a few things: first, they'r easier to learn than you'd imagine, since they're usually just a couple of quick button presses (Limiter Cut notwithstanding). Second, they lend a lot to the frantic fun thing I've been mentioning a lot, even if that comes at the risk of being accurate. All those times when I accidentally stayed in reverse when I was pulling a Crazy Mach Speed 20 make it clear that this game is 100% meant to be played in the original arcade cabinet. Maybe that explains why I felt such a feeling of triumph when I managed to string together all those moves with perfect timing.

But what about that Crazy Box stuff I mentioned before? To be brutally honest (I think you can take it, seeing that you're not Crazy Taxi), that was more a sense of frustration than triumph. This is partly because they don't teach you what you're supposed to do to succeed. You're not getting anywhere without knowing how to Crazy Dash, and you're not getting any information on that from Crazy Taxi. At least not good information, since the most helpful stuff came from outside sources. But even knowing these things, there's still a good chance you're not gonna win. The game's still asking a lot of you. Drop off all of Progressive Field in less than a minute. Make a hairpin turn on an impossibly small corner. Navigate the Labyrinth without encountering the deadly Minotaur. With a lot of these challenges, I only very barely had enough time to get through them (the example hanging above notwithstanding, strangely enough). If you want to conquer Crazy Box, you really have to know how Crazy Taxi functions.

Too bad it doesn't function well. For something like the regular arcade mode, that's a lot easier to overlook, but for something as technical as Crazy Box? Hell no. If you're asking me to perform exact operations, you can't have Crazy Drifts glue you to walls, or crashing turn your car around 180 degrees. That simply makes the already challenging challenges more challenging in an unfair. And that's not even getting into how confusing a couple of the layouts can be. But the effort has to be worth it in the end, right? Right?........Just play the arcade version. That chaotic fun there? That's the best part of the game, unless your self loathing is so profound that you'll readily welcome a situation that will repeatedly call you a failure.

Review Synopsis

  • Imagine Burnout 3 with a sleazy undertone.
  • And a punishing set of extra missions.
  • Where the physics were ripped straight from an arcade game, and not in a particularly good way.

Man, after the stress those Crazy Box missions put me through, I think I should relax. Will this cover it?

At last, I-wait, I've already used that intro. How about this? It was the best of times; it was....also the best of times, but a completely different type of best of times. Then somebody decided to combine these best of times together to make the bestest of times. The result? Times that were no longer best, but still kinda cool......also known as Uniracers.

Perhaps I should explain. Uniracers is a unisex racing game, which, by miraculous coincidence, also happens to have (overly animated) unicycles. And so many twists and turns that Sonic would find himself vomiting. Actually, now that I think about it, that's a very apt way to describe this game, despite it being an SNES exclusive. After all, the game relies on going really fast and simply holding right (or sometimes left) for a large portion of the course. (Ignoring what I'm going to say in the very next paragraph), the only interactivity on the tracks is changing from left to right...which turns out to be a lot. Several of the tracks are nothing but whiplash turns, creating this very muddy, chaotic feeling to Uniracers, but in a good way. Wasn't I just telling you about how chaos and insanity are really good ways to get you pumped? It still applies, even when you paradoxically add some order to the mess. You better pay attention to the track colors, because they're really good at telegraphing what's about to come. What we end up with is a sense of depth I forgot to tell you about earlier. So if I haven't made it clear yet, Uniracers is the type of game that rewards skill and swiftly punishes incompetence. Wait, didn't I say all that in my Crazy Taxi blog?

OH NO! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NOT MIKE!

Except for the stunt part. I don't think that's in Crazy Taxi. It's in Uniracers, though, and it's....oddly simple? The hell? Turns out all there is to doing tricks is holding a button and then holding a direction until you hit the ground. The only exception is that fiddly bastard of an X button, which seems to do whatever the hell it wants to do. Other than that, though, the only skill in pulling off sweet tricks is remembering to land them. Lame. I suspect the developers knew as much, since spamming the same move over and over again gets you nowhere except the next paragraph. If you want to get a good score, you're gonna have to combine all kinds of crazy moves in a single jump. No doubt, then, that the stunt system is probably the stronger part of the game. It actively encourages variety, it looks cool, and the stunts don't suffer a bit when you combine them with the racing.

Wait, what was that? Turns out that Rockstar North (no, seriously) decided to combine the two systems. While understandable, it's not a pretty result. In fact, the two systems are completely incompatible with each other. The stunt system demands that you dream up new ways of spinning like an asshole (what a horrible image I've put in our heads); the racing system encourages the utmost efficiency on every stretch of track. Combine them, and you end up spamming the simplest moves whenever flatness greets you. This isn't fun, you guys. The stunt system now feels way too simple, and I'm now distracted from the speed because I'm a horrific rotating rectum.

And the worst part is that the racing suffers the worst. I can pull off stunts just fine without racing, but I absolutely have to pull off stunts if I want to race. This applies especially so in the more difficult races, where your opponents will cartwheel their way from boost to boost while you get left behind in the dust. This isn't a good thing when your game is called Uniracers, even if it's also called Unirally. Then again, I could be making a bigger deal of this than is warranted. After all, the combination of these two elements doesn't negate everything I said before it; it only waters it down to something that's merely OK. And on top of that, the game makes good use of the Donkey Kong Country style of plastic graphics, so it's not a complete wash. Merely a partial wash, whatever the hell that means.

Review Synopsis

  • Racing: awesome!
  • Stunting: awesome!
  • Rasctunting: not a word! Also, not particularly awesome.
2 Comments

A quest for dragons. In screenshot form.

What? Were you expecting something else? Well, whatever you were expecting, you're getting Dragon Quest V instead. A game that I've already played through twice before. Yet despite this, there was so much here that I didn't see in those previous experiences. Enough, at least, to start another one of these threads. Let us commence, shall we?

When people say not to drink during a pregnancy, they mean it for both parents.
Stilted, but badass.
OH, PISS OFF.
Is the captain toking?
The hell is sugoroku? Anybody have a clue what that means?
You know how monsters in video games carry money on them for no explicable reason? Well, here, it's weed.
Can somebody remind me why I married the other girl in my previous playthroughs?
"Yo wut dis here 'for' word supposed ta mean?"
I think that's the reason WHY he hasn't returned.
Kush Quest V: Herb of the Heavenly Bride.
I can't tell if this monster design is lazy or scary. Sclarzy?
All he needs is a top hat.
"We are here to pray for the loss of Mario."
Suck it, Kurosawa.
"Dat don' sound weird, right?"
This village is fucked.
I think you're premature on the angle launch, game.
"EVEN THOUGH I'M HOLDING THE SWORD DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF MY FACE."
Fusing them into one.
"Wait uh second. Ain't dis here da exact opposite o' what we's be trying ta do?"

All of Bianca's dialogue courtesy of the Ebonics Translator.

89 Comments

The anniversary of the King's glorious birth has come once again.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

Let us once again celebrate my birth!.......That's really all there is to say, isn't there? You post congratulations for my emergence from a vagina, we all eat cake, and everyone shares a good laugh. EXCEPT NOT THIS TIME. I aim to interrupt these traditions with a gift of my own. To you. Specifically, the gift of my not-so-glorious voice in my first ever video review. It seems as good a time as any, and we probably need something to make this an actual milestone. Anyway, on with the show.

(Hopefully, I didn't fuck up the last part of those traditions.) Well, with my gift to you out of the way, I expect reciprocation. After all, Alex already gifted me with the power of The Wolf, so I expect no less of you. Get to it, my subjects.

41 Comments

Smacking them balls around.

The suave, daring, unrivaled King of Video Games. He is on an EROTIC quest to see if lesbians indeed have the goods. BEWARE, the Moon.

And so goes anoth-wait, is this from the Saira people? Well, it turns out it was a person, not people. Anyway, it's pretty striking how completely different these games are. You might even call them exact opposites. For instance, remember how Saira looked kinda crap but had decent gameplay to make up for it? (Of course you don't! I'm the only person who played it, and nobody read the damn blog.) Well, NightSky is exactly the same, except it isn't.

Right down to the graphics, which are as good as Saira's were bad.......NightSky looks good, is what I'm saying. I don't even really know how to praise it without turning you off. The game combines the color black with almost nothing else, but again, I should state that this is a good thing. There's something of a calming effect to it, as there's nothing but you and the game. I could carry on and tell you how crisp, minimalist, striking, and other nice words NightSky is, but I'll just leave it at "artistically, this is one of the best games I've played since BIT.TRIP Runner". (Let's just say that I've been playing quite a few good looking games this year.)

THIS IS MY FIRST TIME SEEING A CIRCULAR OBJECT!

But here's the thing: it's very hard to carry a game on graphics alone, since gameplay problems are going to shine through anyway. (This includes graphics that are artistically good in addition to technically good.) Need an example? NightSky. It's a physics puzzler thing where you move right. That's pretty much it. You get two directions to move in, two buttons, three screens per level, and not a whole lot else. Think the level design itself is going to make up for that? Let me set the scene: I beat the first level without pressing a button or even paying attention. Now, not all the levels are like this. I'll get into it more later, but some of them require some actual thought, and predictably, these are usually the most fun. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of these. There are just too many levels where you really don't have to do a lot to get through them. Pardon the pun, but it's simply going through the motions.

Don't get me wrong; the game has plenty of ideas. It's just that it never really does anything with them. NightSky lives on novelty, and will abandon a concept as soon as it's discovered. For instance, VEHICLES! You're no longer playing as a ball; you're driving a-no, wait, you're a ball again. Forget the vehicles. Now remember them, because we're interested with them again. To be fair, though, the vehicles are fun to use in the brief time that you actually use them. Each one has its own strange logic, and a lot of the fun is simply in figuring out how you're supposed to make them move. The problem is that that's all there is to the levels. No puzzles or anything; just figuring out something over the span of a few seconds. And that's the most thought NightSky gives to...well, anything, really. Anything else, like the secrets (just a secret repeated a lot) or the rapid fire length of the levels, only demands about a second of attention. It's almost like ol' Nifflas couldn't figure out what he wanted to do with the new toys he discovered.

Or maybe he just didn't have a lot of control over these toys in the first place. That's not really a comment on the controls (they're iffy, but otherwise get the job done), but more a comment on the double-edged sword that is a physics puzzler like this. That's as close as the game comes not only to focusing on something for more than a second, but also the closest the game comes to drawing me in. No longer can I beat a couple of levels with the window minimized in the background. These new levels require me to study the level design in just the right way...and then completely destroy it all in the process. This is sort of where the game falls apart....yet again. Why bother going for the difficult solution that the level designer planned out when you can simply rely on cheap exploits like leaping over the entire level? Maybe that's where the appeal of the game lies, but for me, it felt too much like I was cheating the game. It's more or less the wrong way to work my brain, which makes it all the more depressing that this is the best aspect of the game. Well, aside from the graphics, but I have to imagine you could replicate that through YouTube. Hey, guess how I'm going to end this part of the blog?

Review Synopsis

  • Wow! What a great looking game!
  • Wow! What an absolutely nothing else!

This is it. This is the week where I show you guys the song that launched Nanako'Sho's career...behind a link. Because there are some people out there who somehow don't know what Nanako'Sho is.

I think I can describe it best with a quote from my next video: smoke weed everyday.

Oh man, it's not often that you get to see Sonic bust out the starry eyes for a recommendation. Well, except for almost a month ago (I'm not linking that again), but that simply means I've been playing a few amazingly good games lately. Yes, I'm aware of the emphasis. It simply means that you're in for a game I'll pester you for not playing...and possibly a blog that's bad enough to compensate for the game's goodness, since I have a lot of trouble thinking up serious flaws and criticisms for the game.

I'd try challenging myself by listing off flaws right at the start, but since I'm almost certain you don't know how the game is played, these complaints would make no sense. No, this isn't a golf game....well, it sort of is, but the goal isn't to suck up Tiger Woods and gain his powers. Instead, you get a few enemies on the course, and a certain amount of shots with which to kill them all. This is where I'd sarcastically say something like, "Because that's exactly what golf needed: more violence", but it turns out that's exactly what it needs. It adds so much strategy to the game, lining up your shots to bounce off the walls perfectly and applying just the right spin to get around that dickhead tree or whatever. And that's just to finish the hole without dying (presumably from shame). Don't get me started on winning medals or a hole in one or any of the other extra stuff. You have to fucking earn that hole in one, which probably explains why the screenshot I used wasn't my own. And this stuff only gets more co-

Oh, and this is in the game, for whatever reason.

Why are you cowering in the corner? I'm going to assume it's because I'm scaring you with all these gameplay mechanics to manage, and not because I can see you from across space and presumably time. Don't worry, though; the game's not that hard to pick up. Hell, if you want to relax a bit with Kirby, go right ahead. Each hole takes, what, a couple of minutes if you like to be really careful? And it's not like the concepts the game's dealing with are terribly overwhelming. You get two buttons to interact with the ball, and aiming amounts to holding left or right. That's really it. And if that's still not enough, you also get some cute little cinematics to help teach you the more advanced stuff. Granted, a lot of them come long after you've figured them out for yourself, but the important thing is that the game has them. That way, you can toss aside basic understanding and get to the meatier strategy stuff I was talking about before. It's probably the rare type of game that can balance the things that Kirby's Dream Course balances, and this game is exactly that type of game.

Wait, I think I forgot to mention the power-ups, because this game totally has them. I'd talk about them in more detail, but what more could I say that I haven't said before? Just take the "the tactics, man" tone from a couple of paragraphs ago, get it caught in some type of electrical fire, and you have a good understanding of how the power-ups work. The only exception is the UFO, whose only purpose is to make the level designers cry. That UFO turns any course into a two step process of aim at the UFO and then just steer toward your targets, because fuck strategy. Fortunately, the UFO only comes up very late in the game, so it doesn't hamper the experience too much. But man, what does it say about Kirby's Dream Course that this is the most significant fault I could find with it? (I'd say the only fault, but isometry and a final boss greet us both.) It says that I'm probably going to creep the shit out of you for not having played it, yet.

Review Synopsis

  • Apparently, combining golf, pinball, and murder results in something fantastic.
  • Mainly because it leads to a ton of strategy and accessibility.
  • But fuck that saucer, man.

Note: Renegade Ego's taking a break next week, since my birthday falls on the day immediately after I post my blogs. But you forgot that, didn't you? BROOKLYN WAS RIGHT ABOUT YOU! *runs out of room crying*

14 Comments