By Video_Game_King 9 Comments
Gradius Deluxe Pack( Am I the only one who feels it?) I've been feeling a lot of shit lately, but that's not the point. The point is that this blog is probably going to be exactly the same as the previous one. Just look at it: a Japan-only PS1 compilation of the first two games in an arcade series, followed by a video of characters somewhat singing along to a battle song from a JRPG, which will precede a slightly obscure Master System port of a much less obscure game based on crazy. The only difference I can see is that unlike Kenkaku Yubinan Pack, I haven't really done shit with the first Gradius game, meaning I have to blog about it.
Gradius( Well, this is going to be difficult.) I've already typed an opening paragraph for this portion of the blog, so how the hell am I going to do it again for this game? And again for Gradius II? This isn't even taking into consideration the scarce material I have prepared for the game itself. I blame the game for that, though, for reasons I'll explain below. But first, the problem of an opening paragraph! Wait, I just solved that in my coherent rambling.
So, Gradius! There is a brain somewhere in space, and it must die. No, this is not Metroid, nor is it Captain N (although that brain must also die), but Gradius! You, the great and mighty Vic Viper, have the means to destroy this brain, so predictably, it's up to you to destroy it. To reach such a dangerous being, you must travel through mountains, Easter Island, a giant robot ship, and a couple of other levels. That brings me to my first point: the length. Holy hell, this game is short. There are only about seven or eight levels, and I was able to complete every single one of them in forty minutes. I could beat this game in the time it takes to order and eat a pizza. (Don't expect a pizza review from that one sentence; all my options are local, giving them really limited appeal.) Don't expect any replay value from it, either; you get a choice between two weapons, and anybody who's played Gradius knows that the laser beats all. I can see why the double shot was put in the game (do you want to shoot up or destroy everything?), but the laser just kicks too much ass for me to have ever considered the double shot.
Now would probably be a good time to explain the upgrade system to the three people who have never even seen a Gradius game. Rather than pick up power-ups for specific weapons, you pick up generic power-ups that fill up a meter on the bottom of the screen, notch by notch. Each notch has a certain power-up on it, and actually activating said power-up resets the whole meter. In theory, it adds a strategic element to shooters that you wouldn't see anywhere else; in reality, I started by spamming each power-up in order of how many pick-ups they needed, starting with speed and ending with options. At the end of the day (let's pretend that a day lasts 40 minutes), I was an unstoppable death machine, capable of destroying even the most threatening enemies. Then again, that may be because there aren't a lot of threatening enemies in the game; all you get for bosses are waves of enemies followed by ships especially vulnerable to your lasers, and then a brain for a final boss. Before you get excited, keep in mind that the brain I mentioned twice already is piss easy; hell, you don't even have to shoot the damn thing to kill it.
Actually, now that I think about it, for the most part, the game's really easy. I'd tell you all the ways in which it is easy, but I feel like I spent the last two paragraphs doing exactly that. The only real difficulty I found in the game was with cheap crap like the controls. OK, for the most part, they work well, but remember that speed power-up I think I mentioned earlier? Turns out that at its maximum, even the slightest tap of the d-pad (unfortunately, there's no analog control) will send you flying into the nearest wall, like space is filled with nothing but extremely powerful magnets. When you die, the game gets incredibly vindictive about it, sending you back quite a bit. What's that? Baby wants to keep his power-ups? Fuck you! You're only gonna get this one pick-up, and damn it, you're going to like it! That's what you get for playing an easy game: almost nothing. Wait, why am I being so harsh to this game? If I keep this up, I'll be no better than this game, and we all know that I'm better than Gradius. I'm not calling Gradius bad or anything, even though I just spent a major portion of this blog kinda doing that; if anything, it just hasn't aged well. It's competent and does some creative things, but it's by no means awesome. That's why I give it the Predictable Sex Joke Award. Come on, we all saw that coming. See? Another predictable sex joke.
- For the most part, Gradius is an incredibly easy game...
- ...but the kinda cheap deaths bring it down to still-kinda-easy.
- It just barely gets by as an OK shooter.
Gradius II( You know, I could probably just copy and paste my previous opening paragraph, and it would work just as fine.) After all, the games are so ridiculously similar that if somebody screamed "bullshit!", I'd scream "Your claim of this blog being bullshit is, in itself, bullshit! BULLSHIT OF BULLSHIT!" However, since I've too much integrity to be that lazy (or maybe I'm too lazy to be that lazy), I've instead opted to do something that's merely similar to the first part: dick around for a few lines until I'm satisfied.
So, Gradius II! Remember that brain from the first Gradius game? It's back! However, it is no longer a brain; it now has eyes and a mouth and stuff. Unfortunately, no hands, meaning no added challenge or Pinky and the Brain jokes. Shit. But it has a mouth, and it knows how to use it, kinda. The final boss actually talks to you, but you have no idea what it's saying, since the voice acting is so gritty and hard to make out that it makes Altered Beast look intelligible. Oh, I forgot to mention that there's voice acting in this game, but there's good news: it's not all tinny and hard to make out. In fact, about half of it is actually pretty good, especially when you consider the fact that it came out before Altered Beast, maybe. However, like Altered Beast, the voice acting is completely useless. All I can remember of it (besides the final boss saying things I can't understand) is that it gave me hints for bosses, like "shoot it in the head" or "shoot it in the mouth", but it's not like you couldn't figure this crap out on your own. Hell, the one time I didn't pay attention to the voice, I was still able to figure out how to defeat the boss.
Yes, that's right, there are bosses in this game; it's not just that "shoot my four barriers, then the core" thing from the first one, although he does appear in the end-game boss rush, along with all the other ones. As the previous sentence implies, there are multiple bosses in the game, and damn, they got pretty creative with them. You have the famous Easter Island heads, a flaming bird, somehow in space, and some other ones that I can't really remember. My point is that there's a lot of creativity with these guys, and you'll rarely find yourself facing the same enemies at the end of each level. However, you will find yourself doing the same thing in most levels: holding down the fire button and watching as everything blows up in the void of space. Why haven't you fixed this major problem, Konami? To be fair, though, I can see that you're at least trying to fix it. After all, some levels focus more on twitchy navigation than shooting; some populate the screen with enough bullets to tire out Magneto; others still take away your options for stalling on bosses. But none of this is enough, damn it! Most of the levels are still shooty ones, you can shoot away bullets, and again, bosses are kinda easy.
If anything, by improving the game, Konami made it easier. For example, take note of how in that picture, I was not using the lasers. This is because at the beginning of the game, you're given a choice of power-up sets, possibly to introduce variety and replay value. Hell, it even works, in a weird way. Can you imagine how much Gradius changes when you have butt guns, or missiles that ensure nobody will ever use that damn Double shot power-up, so why do they even bother at this point? Here's a hint: it changes the game a lot. Give up? The answer is "it still makes the game pretty damn easy, making replay value somewhat meaningless." It's not as easy as the first game, but I was able to finish this in a little over an hour. Take out the time I spent on that picture, and it's probably under an hour. Multiply by five (four options, plus the alternate shield), and it's still about half the length of Chrono Trigger. Gradius II, at full length, is still shorter than a short RPG on the first playthrough. That's pathetic, Gradius II. For all the improvements and cool stuff you do to make yourself better than the original game, you still don't adequately solve some major problems. Keep in mind that you still fail at solving those problems while succeeding at what you set out to do. Think about that.
- Holy shit, this game has bosses! That's enough for it to earn the Multiple Party Members in Dragon Quest II Award for A Major Improvement That's in Every Game so It Doesn't Seem as Important as it Actually Is. Also, the award gets the Wordiest Award Award.
- Ignoring the last bullet and all its meta, the game also has more power-ups, making it automatically better than the first game.
- But still, it's the same old Gradius we all know and maybe love. Make it slightly harder (or an Aleste game, because I love Aleste), and then we'll talk.
Having had their asses thoroughly beaten last year, Japan hopes to win the title of craziest country this year with this entry: Dragon Ball Z on drums, not even trying to sync up with the music in the background. The weird thing, though, is that it vaguely compels me to watch the show.
Battlemaniacs( If I was going to be more accurate, I'd say "Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, only this version doesn't have the first two words.") (Hey, if I'm gonna repeat the format, I might as well repeat the jokes.) Sadly, this game isn't some odd spin-off of Animaniacs (I couldn't make the Pinky and the Brain joke, OK?), but actually the super-obscure Sega Master System port of Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, as my first sentence implied. Here's the story: for whatever reason, the Master System was really popular in Brazil, so a company called TecToy ported a buttload of games to the system just for Brazil. Often times, they weren't as good as the original version. You know, like this game, in just about every way.
Now then, the story of the actual game: it's what you see at the beginning of every single Navgtr video. Normally, I'd start with the story of the actual game, but I honestly have no idea what it is. The only cutscenes in the game alternate between the Dark Queen yelling at you in under a second, and your professor buddy yelling at you in less time than that, but they usually yell at you more about the level ahead of you than anything relevant to the story. The only thing I was able to figure out is that I'm rescuing somebody named Michiko. Who the hell is Michiko, and why am I rescuing them? Who the fuck cares? The character is only mentioned once, and it's never explained. Maybe, however, the wiki for this game explains the story. Let me go check. *does exactly what I said, making the act of typing this action rather meaningless* Oh, here's the story: the battletoads were sucked into an arcade machine one day, which is pretty meta and unlikely (does the Battletoads universe look like a place with arcades?). Having been sucked into an arcade machine, they must rescue some very sexy ladies the Dark Queen has captured. That's all I got from the wiki, so I'm going to assume that the Battletoads wish to replace the naked pillow fights the Dark Queen has with their own buff, naked furry temptations. I hate you, Battletoads.
By that, I mean the characters, not the game. The original Battletoads was awesome, doing a bunch of creative things with both beat-em-ups and platformers that I haven't really seen in any other game. Except Battlemaniacs, because it is exactly the same as Battletoads. I realize that this was originally an SNES sequel to the original Battletoads, but given that this is the Master System version of the game, and it looks eerily similar to the original Battletoads, I'm declaring it close enough. Wait, did I say that it's exactly like Battletoads? Scratch that; it's Battletoads Lite. A lot of what's done in Battlemaniacs can be found in Battletoads, only it's more fleshed out in Battletoads. For example, remember the combat? Actually, that's a shit example, since that wasn't the game's strong suit, and the only difference here is the lack of weapons. However, remember the racing levels? Remember how large a part of the game they were? Well, in Battlemaniacs, they're just kinda there. You play through them, die a few times, and then kinda move on. Granted, some features are used more than others, like the "we actually did something creative with this" tree level, or the Navgtr bonus stages, or hell, the snakes, but for the most part, you just get a unique level for about a minute before moving onto something else.
Of course, this is assuming you can get past some parts of the game. It has nothing to do with difficulty (the game's hard, but nowhere near as hard as Battletoads), but rather, how glitchy and rough the game is. This is the only thing that Battlemaniacs does more often than the original Battletoads; while the first game only had some weird movement error that made levels like Terra Tubes and Rat Race near unplayable while emulating them, just about every other level in Battlemaniacs has some weird glitch. The most obvious example is the biker level. It's about as hard as the biker level in Battletoads, but with one key difference: near the end, there's a good chance you'll die, simply because the collision detection is terrible. It doesn't matter if you made all those jumps, for all of the ground is made of death forever. You made me weave through rocks at the speed of light, and now you expect me to hit a super sweet spot or die? That's uncharacteristically hard of you (the game's noticeably easier than Battletoads), but characteristically glitchy of you. Hell, if I'm remember the level order correct, the previous level involved hit detection issues with the ramming, and several other levels have absolutely no music, for unexplained reasons. If you want to play this game, play it on the SNES; if you want to play it in 8-bit, play Battletoads. The only reason you may want to play this game is if you like glitches, and although I don't understand you, freak of nature who does not deserve capitals, I would readily recommend this game to you. I'd also give it the Super Pokémetroid Award for Holy Shit, That's a lot of Glitches, but I'm lazy.
- Here's the story. (I will never tire of that clip.)
- Imagine Battletoads, only less of it. That's Battlemaniacs.
- Also, throw in some more glitches for the Master System version.