By Video_Game_King 40 Comments
(Wait, that's it?) I 100%ed the game (I had to have done that by now, lest my past self was as much of an asshole as I am), and that's all there is? I want more Sonic the Hedgehog, damn it! And not that new crap that people say is good, but the old stuff that people also say is good. Actually, to be honest with you guys, before I got this game on Xbox Live Arcade, I had no idea what I was getting into. All I remembered was Sonic Boom (Sonic Boom (Sonic Boom))) and that one part where Sonic becomes tiny, for no reason. Then I played the game and found something great. I found a thinking man's Sonic game.
Why do I say that? Well, how about the goddamn time travel feature, otherwise known as "the main feature of the game"....also known as "the best thing to happen to this game"? Here's how it works: grab a future marker, run fast enough, and travel to the future, where you'll have absolutely nothing to do. Oh, and you can do it for the past, too, because fuck Stephen Hawking. I know it seems weird, but two things; first, it's not the weirdest thing in the game. Second, it just allows the game to be more Sonic than ever. Think about it:....actually, read about it, because I said "run fast enough" just above that quote. And what's Sonic all about? Exactly. But you can't just hold down right and expect to travel back to 1985, when Back to the Future jokes were still funny; you actually have to pay attention to the level design and determine the best routes. Usually, this takes the form of bouncing between two springs (finally, those things have a fucking use) or bouncing off a spring and up an incline back into the same spring, but you don't always have the luxury of springs. Sometimes, you actually have to run a little bit, paying attention to enemy placement and weird level quirks. Then, after you've modded Stephen Hawking into Katawa Shoujo, you have to find a Robotnik generator and destroy it. I was afraid that this would break the hell out of the game's flow, and to some extent, I was right. Keep in mind that this time, you're not focusing on going fast, but just finding something. That's going to involve a lot of backtracking and figuring out where the hell you are. This would be good if it were Castlevania: Symphony of the Sonic (OH GOD, SOMEBODY NEEDS TO MAKE THIS!), but it's not. It's a game about going fast, something that's hard to do if you're trying to save the future. It gets even worse if you're aiming for 100%, which involves destroying EVERYTHING in the level, which usually involves spending ten minutes just trying to get your bearings. Wait...this happens only if you're trying to 100% it. I guess that was the developer's way of saying that 100%ing a game just isn't fun.
Actually, now that I think about it, whoever designed these levels was a fucking (weird) asshole. I'm not insulting the level design (did you read the last paragraph?), but merely stating that the level designers (I'm not gonna list off all their names) are gaping buttholes. Remember what I said about wanting to maintain speed throughout the levels? The designers don't want that happening. If there is a long stretch of land, there will be an enemy or a spring or a future sign at the end of it. They don't give a fuck that you have things to do; they'll still laugh at you for not knowing to deactivate that future sign at the end of the path. But you'll persevere, knock out the generator, and get to the special stage. This is where things get kinda weird. In order to save the future, Sonic has to destroy UFOs in an alternate dimension that's just a glorified tech demo. Look at it. Look at all the scaling and rotation. You can almost hear Sonic Team's past screams of, "Hey, guys! Check out our Sega CD! It's better than that SNES stuf-PLEASE BELIEVE US! WE HAVE FAMILIES TO FEED!" Doesn't mean it can't be fun, though. Sure, it takes a while to get used to the overall feel (possibly because depth perception is hard to achieve in a 2D game), but like everything else in the game, it manages to be fast paced and tense and overall fairly challenging. Sure, I restarted them a bunch because I'm obsessive compulsive about Sonic, but that only made victory that much more satisfying. Oh, and while I'm at it, I guess I should mention the boss battles. They're cool, I guess. Odd that you get so much room to explore them, but still pretty fun.
Oh, and I guess this is a really pretty game, or something. Of course, I could go into detail as to how it's pretty, but go click that Sonic Boom link (any one will do, really). You see that level of detail? That's the level of detail you get in this version of the game (here's what I mean by that). I'd say that it's movie level quality, but I'm not an idiot; it's better quality than the movie. But that's not all you get with your Xbox version of this. You also get shit like leaderboards and different soundtracks! I'm certain that you're expecting me to be in love with the Japanese soundtrack, since I'm the guy on the site who plays all manner of obscure-ass Japan games, but I'm honestly a bigger fan of the American soundtrack. Yea, there's absolutely no coherence to any of the design choices with it, but that's what I love about it: the all-over-the-place dissonance to it all. It doesn't hurt that I remember more of it, either. Oh, and Tails is in here. I haven't played as him, though, mainly because he can't achieve anything, and rightfully so. Who the hell plays as Tails? In Japan, asking somebody if they want to play as Tails is legal grounds for a divorce. Meanwhile, Sonic CD is the equivalent of an engagement ring...at least if you're Jeff Gerstmann. I honestly can't blame him, though. OK, it's not the best Sonic game ever, but I'm perfectly willing to grant it the title of second place.. And not some bullshit Tails second place, but a second place you can be proud of. I guess what I'm trying to say is fuck Tails. And Stephen Hawking, maybe.
- How can this game be so involved yet so fast?
- Oh, right: because you can achieve anything if you're a large enough dick.
- Still, all the cool extras and stuff make this the definitive version of Sonic CD.
I'm not sure if this invalidates my title, but it's worth a shot:
Resident Evil: Code: Veronica X HD
(This one is going to take some explaining, isn't it?) I mean, look at the release date: January 1st, 2000. Odd, then, that it only supports my point even more. After all, this crap just barely missed being part of the 90s, and the decade was better off for it. As you can probably tell by now, I really don't like this game, and I won't believe you if you tell me that you genuinely like Code: Veronica X. I'd believe you if you told me that you ironically like the game, but even then, I'd plant hidden cameras in your house and wiretap your phones, because you are clearly not a person to be trusted. You know, just like the people who made this can't be trusted to make a decent game.
Oh god, where do I start with this game? The story? I didn't even touch it for the last section, so I might as well pull a double shift here. It's been some time since Resident Evil 2 (I didn't pay attention, because the developers clearly didn't), so the introduction is pretty much that: Resident Evil 2. Somehow, this leads to Claire being arrested and thrown on an island, possibly in the hopes that she won't stumble into a plot of some type. Oh, how wrong her captors were. Not only does she manage to find two Umbrella labs in her adventures (is there even anything left to be said?), but also the movie Psycho...if it was written by a moron. I'd say that that sentence sums up the game perfectly, but this cutscene is far more to the point. Let's examine it in detail. First, the harmfully high amount of stupid. Take note of how Alfred jumps down from his hiding place to hit Claire with a gun. This type of stupid runs throughout the whole game, whether it's characters performing experiments on each other for literally no reason, Alexia going on about turning the whole world into an anthill before transforming into a mutant dragonfly (again, the developers clearly weren't paying attention), or...well, any of the puzzles, really. (That's all I can say for now.) I guess you could justify this by pointing out how insane Alfred is (seriously, go watch that cutscene again), but that only brings up the over-the-top performances. You think Alfred was bad with his fear of misapplying his lipstick? Well, he is, but my point is that the entire game is like that. Nobody sounds like they're ever trying, and it results in characters either phoning it in (Wesker sounds bored with the whole affair) or characters hamming it way the hell up (Alexia thinks "sophistication" means "enunciate the shit out of your words like the inebriated shrieking WASP you are"). It's like a really bad movie. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the only way you can enjoy this game: as a bad movie. Then again, it's a video game, not a movie, and even if it was a bad movie, it's still a bad movie.
Part of that is because of Steve Burnside. Can I talk about him for a second? Well, it's my blog, so I'll just say it: he's fucking terrible. For those who don't know who he is, he's some guy. Were you expecting more sentence? Well, there isn't any, because that's the best way I can sum up his character: some guy. He contributes absolutely nothing to the story. I'd say that part of it is because he's nowhere to be seen for about 40% of the game, but even when he's there, he doesn't do anything, or at least he doesn't do anything that actual protagonist Claire couldn't do. In fact, let me extend that: Claire could probably do everything that Steve does far better than he ever could, given how much he screws up whenever he's on screen. For example, watch as his boner fucks up Claire's stupid plan and extends the game by a scant five minutes. Speaking of awkward romance scenes, have I mentioned that his voice sounds effing terrible? (Oh, I'll get to the romance soon enough.) For those not willing to click on the link (I can't blame you), imagine, if you will, a character named Zach. He's the star of a shitty Saturday morning cartoon on Toon Disney. Do you have a voice for this character in your head? That's pretty much Steve's voice. All you need to add is a mispronounced version of "sorry" and you're good to go. Yet somehow, Claire finds him attractive. Did I forget to mention that? If that came off as abrupt, then I was only being true to the source material, because trust me, that romance comes out of nowhere. She's just sitting around and then decides that she's in love with this fucker. Claire, let me ask you something: what do you find attractive about this guy? How he first introduced himself to you with bullets? His daddy issues? The fact that you could add an annoying "eehhh" (the type that would come at the end of the phrase "girls are icky") to the end of each of his sentences and absolutely nothing about him would change? Or how during his last moments, he resembled a far stupider version of The Incredible Hulk (that description is canon, oddly)?
That reminds me: the game...actually looks sort of OK. Sort of. Granted, Claire's face looks exactly like the emoticon :-|, and the ending switches aspect ratios, for some reason, but the graphics get the job done. Actually, that brings up an interesting point: this is the first fully 3D game in the series. That may not sound like much, but trust me: it adds up to a lot. Remember how in previous games, the perspective was limited to the camera angle at the time? Well, that hasn't changed in the actual game, but cutscenes are different. You actually get more dynamic camera angles, allowing for far more flexible storytelling techniques. Granted, it's telling this story, and it's not used very well (this fight looks like it's using wires; that's not even the right fuck-up for your medium!), but it's certainly better than how previous games told their stories...except for the CGI. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, given how frequently I've been using them), I can't find any videos on YouTube that capture this well enough, so let me just say it right now: the CGI is horrible, and the porting is to blame. What does that mean? It's anti-anti-aliased. Somebody must have gone in and added all these spikes and pixelation. That's the only way this could possibly make sense, even if it makes no sense whatsoever. Isn't CGI supposed to look better than the in-game stuff? Why did Capcom think "bad PS2 game" was a such a graphical improvement that they parceled it out in such tiny bits? And while I'm complaining, why is the rotation animation just the model of your character rotating in place? You mean you took the time to animate an idle animation, but not the time to animate your characters stepping in place (yet took the time to include the sound of them stepping in place)?
Somehow, this transitions into combat. You know, that thing where you push buttons and whatnot to scare away enemies. Before I get to anything relevant about it, though, let me explain that segue: Resident Evil has always been known for its slow-ass zombies. Despite what Resident Evil 4 would like you to know, this was the first game in the series to break that rule. Not by making fast zombies, but fast-turning zombies. While the zombies would lose a race to a limping tortoise, they'd certainly win some weird contest where you can turn around a lot. I know that sounds weird to say (trust me, I know), but since your ammo can drain really fast (how many bullets does it take to kill a human? I don't think it goes into double digits), it's in your best interest to slash at zombies like they're all Steve's supple throat. It sounds like it should be scary, and to be fair, I can see the argument for that. It takes a lot of slashes to kill one zombie, but there are more zombies than one, so it can become a lot to manage, especially when one of them is gnawing on your shins. Sadly, though, the game isn't scary, what with the aforementioned crap story and the absolute abundance of dead space that makes the game of the same name look outright phony. Guess what this turns combat into? A boring chore. A bore, if you will (clever, right?). It doesn't help that enemies regenerate quite a bit, even after you've killed them. At this rate, you won't have any ammo left for the boss fights. Good thing, then, that you can run away from half of them, and the other half are over in less than a minute. Threatening, right?
Wait, I forgot something: the puzzles. The stupid, stupid, utterly goddamn stupid puzzles. Again, an example would be helpful here. Early in the game, you come across a torture room hidden behind a locked door that can only be opened with a glass eye. It get stupider. In this room, you have to grab a sword, rotate a statue so you don't die, stab an iron maiden with the sword to open it (and no, there is no crossover between Resident Evil and Kingdom Hearts, nor would I ever want one), kill the zombie in the iron maiden, and take the piano roll he was holding. Can somebody bring logic to me? I want to lift up its shirt and look at the bruises Capcom left. I know, Alfred is insane, but surely the engineers and architects who made these buildings (especially the non-crazy parts) weren't this crazy. The numerous files revel in conveying this major detail. I'd say that this makes the game challenging, but it's oddly obvious about how utterly goddamn stupid it is. Actually, the real challenge comes from the inventory limits. As always, limited slots for items, weapons take them up, healing items don't stack, blah blah blah, same old song and dance. What makes Code: Veronica X unique, though, is that it's aware of these inventory limits, and does its best to fuck with you at every turn. You're going to be overwhelmed incredibly fast, and not only does it maintain pace throughout the game (Chris finds a ton of curative blue herbs in a land with, like, two poisonous enemies), but you can't even drop items to alleviate the problem. Hell, you get nearly 200 arrows before you get the bow gun necessary to launch the damn things. Overkilll, much!? Throw in a lot of backtracking, and you have a game that's used for executions in Japan. (I assume that all legal processes in Japan take the form of video games, and I hope Phoenix Wright proves me wrong, someday.)
- There are so many things I loathe about this game's story.
- And its gameplay.
- I know what I'm doing once I finally finish this blog.