A blog that will confuse you into insanity.

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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

( Do you wish to hear my opinion on those who hate light gun shooters?) You don't? Then why the hell are you reading this blog in the first place? Just pretend like you do, OK? That's better, as my opinion is that they can all do what I refuse to do: shut the hell up. Sure, they all play exactly the same, but isn't that a good thing? It means I can pick up any old light gun game and I will immediately know how to play it. They don't need to change the formula, since they've already refined it into an acceptable form. OK, not so much here.
 Bromance: a great new addition to this game.
 Bromance: a great new addition to this game.
After all, this is Resident Evil we're talking about, the series that prefers cheating off the more popular kids to doing some actual work ever. I'd use the story as an example, but given that this is a recollection of everything that wasn't in Umbrella Chronicles (I guess these games weren't Umbrella enough), you should already know what's going on: Umbrella's dicking around with viruses, building things beneath other things, cliche lines delivered through overly stoic faces, all run of the mill Resident Evil stuff. (Consider this a recurring theme throughout the blog.) You'd think the new story they added to this would avoid such pitfalls, but no, it doesn't; not only does it concern Leon and his buddy finding out that Umbrella is now in South America for some reason, but somehow, they meet a girl who bleeds fire through it all. Add "random mad libs nonsense" to the list. 
Then again, it's not like the original games weren't without their weird nonsense; RE2 had you fight a Tyrant while an Asian woman pelted you with rockets, and Code: Veronica pitted you against a plant woman who somehow became a bug woman. What do both of them have in common? "They're both major Resident Evil bosses?" *stabs you* Smartass. The correct answer was that they're both frustrating as hell to beat, each serving as a perfect illustration for the major flaws of the game. First, that Tyrant dude: it's not always clear when or even what you're supposed to shoot. This wouldn't be much of a problem if Capcom knew this, but from what I've seen, they thought it always obvious how to beat a boss. No need to explain that you shoot your rockets at Mr. X while he's kneeling down for half a second; the players will figure that out after about 90 rounds of misinterpreting Ada's hints and then losing half their health because that experiment thing couldn't be bothered to wait the 20 millenia for you to reload.
Or perhaps he charged you like an Umbrella quarterback (that's the only explanation) because your trailer-sized missile missed him somehow. I know this is going to sound petty as hell, but it's very easy to miss the perfect shot while you're pumping lead into bosses. And so we have come to Alexia Ashford, Bane of Darwin. She goes from human to dead to alive to Kuja to plant to bug to dead again, all the while being hard to shoot. Especially in her bug form, she's constantly darting about, a fact the game rubs in your face by giving you only one shot with which to kill her. But wait, there's more! Most of the bosses love to join you in the shooting game by blasting out projectiles, and the only thing they love more is making sure there's no way you'll dodge such projectiles. Sometimes they're too fast, sometimes they take too many shots to hit, or sometimes Darkside Chronicles just plain hates you.
 Do not worry, the ladies get some of the action, too. Cold, awkward action.
 Do not worry, the ladies get some of the action, too. Cold, awkward action.
OK, hate is too strong a word; there is a way to stop them, but it falls under the third paragraph problem of not knowing how to do it. Most of the time, you have to shoot a specific area of the boss before they even get a chance to attack. To be fair, it's a logical choice, given the rest of the game's philosophy, and when it works, it works; but when it doesn't, well, you end up puking blood. But as you've probably surmised by now, this only applies to the bosses; killing enemies is very easy, since they're usually zombies. They shuffle towards you at the speed of 0, and you often see them lying on the ground immediately before you shoot them. But that's not the focus of the game, that belongs to skill. It's not about simply mowing down enemies so they're dead again, it's about plugging a bullet in the precise spot you need to plug it, something that I find lacking in a lot of games in general. It also rewards you for shooting everything in sight, like you forgot where they put the weed. Based on this paragraph alone, you'd think there's no way to improve the game.
But based on the other three paragraphs and the one I'm currently writing, there are several ways to improve the game. I'm not saying the game is bad, just a bit rough around the edges. Maybe they should have refined a few things like the QTEs that force you into a claw position whilst using the Zapper (it's a light gun game, people), the weapon selection (a crossbow? REALLY!?), or the fact that you still have to slash at tiny bugs, breaking the fast paced flow of the game. Hell, they bothered to add more checkpoints, so why couldn't they fix all those other flaws I spent half a blog raving about? That's it, Darkside Chronicles: I give you the Shining Force III Award for Keep Reading, It's Not Over Yet.

Review Synopsis

  • Quick gameplay that focuses mostly on skill...
  • ...would work if the game sorted out some of its flaws first.
  • Not flaws like the story, since you don't play a light gun game for the story. Do you? No, you don't.
Listen to Face Paint Fabio, kids; at least the parts you can decipher.

Shining Force III

( Oh, I definitely feel at home with this game/blog/gameblogthing.) After all, I consider myself an expert on strategy RPGs, given that I've been playing them so much that I refuse promotions just so I can level up a bit more. Complain all you want about THAT GAME, *glares at Treasure Hunter G*, but I've played enough strategy RPGs that I feel comfortable in calling myself an expert in them. Want me to prove it? This blog, how about that?
 I can't remember the joke I had for this.
 I can't remember the joke I had for this.
In case you haven't caught on yet, Shining Force III is your typical strategy RPG, concerning a rebel group trying to take down an evil empire/sect with the power of turn based b-what's that? This one's NOT about rebels at all? It's Republicans? Aren't they the same, though? Not in this case, though? *is handed sheet* OK, here's the actual story: there's a Republic and an Empire, and they've just stopped warring with each other long enough to get peace talks going. Things go well until the Emperor's abducted by the King (I guess a king's democratically elected or something), but not the real King. No, it turns out that it was a fake king set up by the Bulzome sect. Now you must embark on a grand quest to stop the Empire and the sect from whatever they're doing, ignoring the massive irony staring you in the face since the first chapter.
Sounds like typical Shining Force fare, right? I could use that to describe the entire game and call it a day, but since I get paid by the paragraph, I'm going to stretch this as much as I can. For example, the story actually does some creative things, like focusing a bit more on politics and moral ambiguity than on that big bad sect looming over the horizon. It gets confusing at times, granted, but two things kinda make that bearable: first, you can always tell what's going on, meaning the story's detailed but not too detailed. Second, each chapter ends with a basic recap of all the events. "But I don't want to wait an entire chapter", you say, your impatience doubly implied by the fact that you won't wait for me to finish this blog before you respond. Don't worry, each chapter is so short that you're never too far away from a brief synopsis. OK, so they're not short, but they go by very quickly.
I'm guessing this is because of the triple perspective thing. Like another RPG that did some weird battle stuff, this game was split into three perspectives over three games: a Republican mute, an Empire guy, and some random prick who gets thrown into a waterfall halfway through the game. It's unique, or it would be if the other parts were released stateside. Yes, you can buy them from Japan, but they're in Japanese and this is the SATURN! You'll need to take out a mortgage just to afford the Premium Disc! Most people back in 1998 couldn't afford that (and I doubt most people in 2010 could), so you're left with a disappointing cliffhanger ending that sets itself up for a sequel that will never be. 
Four paragraphs and not a single mention of gameplay. Wow, I'm slower than the actual game, given that the intro explains the gameplay quite well. Then again, what's there to explain, it's typical Shining Force fare (see what I meant?): you wait for somebody's turn to come up, shove their face into the enemy, and then watch them whack an enemy with their sword in glorious 3D you wouldn't think possible on the Saturn. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it retains the pick-up-and-play feel that has permeated through all the other games. No worrying about job points or the calorie count of a Hustler or which horse person gets along with which dog person; just walk up to somebody and smack them in the face until you get an ending. Oh, wait, you actually do have to worry about relationships this time around, as that's one of the new features this game introduces...poorly. Another running theme.
Not like that means anything in battle.
Not like that means anything in battle.
My main problem with the system is that it doesn't seem to do much. You can see which units you "trust" (given that it's the highest level, I'm assuming that your army is built on a system of numerous, petty grudges) and what they do, but not how much they affect you, so it's hard to imagine how they're affecting the battles. I didn't take less damage or do more criticals; all that happened was that a "trusted" unit would look at me before I attacked the enemy, as if to question my strategy. Hey, if you have something to say, Gay Wizard, say it! I don't see you using your head; every opportunity you had to counter a move or block it, you sat there and let the enemy punch you in the gut! For once, just forget that you're in a turn based game and take the easy shot. Hell, I'd be glad if you pulled off one of your flashy specials. Sure, they're essentially more powerful criticals, rarely doing anything more than obliterate half an enemy's health, but that's still better than just letting the enemy have their way with you.
Oh, what's the point, you're going to die anyway, given my strategies. My strategy is this: gang up on one enemy, beat them into dust, repeat on all other enemies. Not much strategy, right? Well, not much is required; sure, there were moments when I had to target the boss specifically so all other units would explode, or I had to split up my forces, but overall, my seek and destroy stratagem worked wonders throughout the game. It's not like the game punished me that much; sure, my units died enough to make this the Grim Reaper's best birthday ever, but I could always go straight to a church, throw a nickel at the priest, and my units would be revived just as they were at the moment they died. Now I see why the game felt so short: it's easier than crapping out each of these blogs. Not too easy, like the previously mentioned Treasure Hunter G, but still easier than my liking. If they were going to fix one thing, why not this? Why not make sure enemies don't carry their entire life savings on them at any given time? Why not give me a reason not to promote immediately?
Hell, you could've at least improved the item system so I don't have to play an awkward game of juggling Tetris every time I want to upgrade a new weapon. In fact, let me offer some suggestions as to how you could've done that: don't load me down with antidotes to poisons I'll never experience, or mithrils that shall never become weapons. I don't remember any of those problems in the previous games, so why are they here? And why am I being so negative about this game? It's actually pretty decent and a nice way to introduce your friends to strategy RPGs if they don't own a DS (why they don't is your problem, not mine). Had they kept some of the features of the previous games (specifically, Shining Force II) and refined the new features a bit more, I'd probably bump it up at least 1 point. Yet it's obvious by reading this that it didn't do any of that, so I give it the Left 4 Dead 2 Award for Taking a Step Forward Whilst Simultaneously Taking a Step Back.

Review Synopsis

  • A more complex story that sets itself up for a sequel you'll never see.
  • Same old Shining Force gameplay, good and bad.
  • The changes really don't do as much as they should.

Dominoes' New Pizza

( I can see many of you staring in confusion, wondering many things.) First, let me answer that I have secret invisible cameras in all rooms everywhere. Now try sleeping tonight. Another thought: I'm not only known for being better than you at video games; I'm also well known for my love of pizza. I can down an entire pizza in one shot WITHOUT becoming Kirby or Pac Man first. However, I didn't feel that necessary with Dominoe's new pizza; the general crapness alone limited me to three slices.
Of course! It all makes sense now!
Of course! It all makes sense now!
I can't exactly open with a story, since pizzas no longer come with a novella baked into the bread. Too bad, I really missed reading a saucy version of The Lottery after each meal. Instead, I'll post my initial reactions to the pizza after opening the box: "What the hell is this crap on my pizza?" You see, I'm a pizza purist, refusing to mess around with pepperoni or pineapple or hamburger bits, so I was extremely confused to find tomato on my pizza. I don't remember anybody specifically ordering a tomato pizza (I didn't even know this was an option!), so I'm guessing it's now normal for Dominoes to eviscerate a tomato and toss the remains onto my pizza. I like the taste of ritualistic sacrifice as much as the next guy, but it should never mix with my pizza.
So, fork in hand, I picked off all the offending tomato bits and set them aside, ready to try this new recipe. A foreword: I'm not your normal pizza eater. Instead of imbibing it all at once, I ingest the pizza one layer at a time, starting with the cheese. What? It allows me to review the pizza more efficiently. Granted, it has limited applications, but....*sigh* Anyway, this cheese must have had some grudge against my mouth, as it did not want to stay in my mouth. Simply put, it tastes awful. I had to avoid tasting it for too long, so I swallowed it before it could wreak its revenge against me. Cheese out of the way, I moved onto the sauce. The sauce is OK, but that's mainly because they didn't change it at all. If they did, I didn't notice; it doesn't taste like ketchup, shut the hell up. 
So finally, I stared at my meal, which at this point was essentially a triangle shaped piece of bread. Sounds unappetizing, but I see this all the time and force it down my gullet at Gillette Mach3. But my duty prevented me from doing that, as did the taste. OK, yea, it has new herbs and spices and other plant things in it, that's actually an improvement in some eyes; but for me, it's just too distinctive a taste. I usually feel that the bread should retain the tastes of the other parts of the pizza, making it a little bonus at the end. But this new pizza is some type of renegade; the bread wants all the attention, and will kill anything to have its way. Know your place, bread: know that if you try to rise up, you bring down the rest of the pizza. Know now that I shall give you the Devil May Cry 2 Award for Failing at Being Different.

Pizza Synopsis?

  • The cheese couldn't stay in my mouth for more than a single nanosecond.
  • The sauce.....OK, the sauce is still good. Thumbs up there.
  • They actually managed to improve the bread, yet somehow make it worse.