And the non-obscurity continues!



Kingdom Hearts Re:coded

( *sigh*) Damn it, Kingdom Hearts. Why are you doing this to me? You know how much I love you. Hell, I can see you wiping my saliva off your penis as we speak. I was there for pretty much every game in the series....not counting Birth by Sleep, because I don't own a PSP. But damn it, I think the fact that I actually enjoyed Chain of Memories more than makes up for that. Now how are you going to make it up to me? Don't act like you don't know. You know full well what I'm talking about. *points up*

Of course, all the problems start with the story, which is odd when you realize that the beginning premise is kinda legitimate (once you ignore the techno slaughter of Simple and Clean). Remember how Jiminy's journal started getting erased when Naminé screwed around with Sora in Chain of Memories? Remember how nobody bothered addressing that while Sora was off beating up Organization XIII? Turns out that Jiminy Cricket finally decides to fill up his old journal. How does he do this? Does he ask Sora about his previous adventures, now that Naminé's finally restored his memory? Hell no! Mickey decides that the best option is to shove the damn thing into a computer. This is where all the problems with the plot begin. Once the computer enters the fray, everything becomes ridiculously confusing. For example, the journal, for whatever reason, randomly generates rhyming ransom notes. Why? It takes a while to get around to answering that. In the mean time, you just revisit worlds from Kingdom Hearts 1, like Dest....fuck. Sora didn't meet Donald and Goofy until the end of Traverse Town, so why's he exploring these two worlds? Oh, but the odd level choices don't end there; out are Deep Jungle, Halloween Town, Neverland, and Monstro ( why?), and in are Wonderland, Agrabah, and the Coliseum. After that, some more confusing plot levels, followed by a pretty weird ending and...what's this? Pay-off? * gasp*!
 
 Call me when these guys start bumping into each other. Or when Donald and Goofy contribute to the plot.
This...actually, it doesn't make up for the overall game, that much. I mean, you still have to deal with the combat. I know what you're thinking, but I don't know why I know that: the combat's the same, isn't it? Yes and no. Sure, you can still pull off a lot of what you did in previous Kingdom Hearts games, but it feels very button-mashy, at least compared to the meatier and more complex games I've seen from the series. Granted, it tries to fix this, but it doesn't add a lot with either of its ability systems. First, you have the oddly named Clock system. It has nothing to do with clocks, so let's just add that to the pile of confusion, along with "how did 358/2 Days creep into this game" and "how the hell did the computer suck them in." Anyway, it pretty much rewards you for button mashing by giving you special abilities the longer you can keep up the button mashing. It sounds OK, in theory, and while it is OK, it doesn't feel substantial at all (remember that for the next paragraph). The only major thing it changes is what happens when you reach the max level: ultra mega attacks. Don't think that these are just "press A to kill everything", because they're not. Instead, they're cool mini-games, like "rotate button presses in a circle" or even "straight up shoot your enemies." I can't remember if any previous Kingdom Hearts games did something that awesome, but I fully expect Kingdom Hearts III to have it...assuming that Kingdom Hearts III eventually gets released. I really hope that Tetsuya Nomura doesn't just tell us to eat shit, by which I mean "I hope he doesn't tell us that Versus XIII is good enough."
 
Wait, I forgot to mention that other ability system. This one gives you commands that you can actually use in battle, instead of status boosts for hitting dudes. It also allows you to mix and match abilities to create brand new abilities, encouraging rampant experimentation...in theory. In reality, it just allows you to make your abilities slightly more powerful over the course of the game. Again, not substantial. Wow, that was not what I meant to describe with that quip, even if it fits pretty well. What I meant to use that for was the main draw of the game: all the mini-games in all the worlds. You know how this is going to turn out: they're not very complex or fleshed out. Hell, I'll list them off one by one to prove my point. First comes the platforming bit, which plays like a less complex Mario: you move right, jump a bit, and fight a few Heartless before moving onto the next world. If I remember correctly, it ends with a rail shooting sequence. No, not Panzer Dragoon rail shooter, but 3D Worldrunner (this is still Square) rail shooter. However, there's a difference: there aren't any holes that need jumping. Sure, there are obstacles, but those are kinda easy to dodge. 3D Worldrunner was already a simple game, so I can't understand the logic behind simplifying it further. Oh, and I might as well repeat all that crap for the next bit. It's an RPG thing. More specifically, it's like somebody combined Romancing SaGa 1 with Paper Mario, only they essentially boiled it down to "attack, heal, or do another type of attack." Fuck. Then, after that, Agrabah hits you with...nothing. There really isn't anything of note in that world. So I guess the genre blending's over, right?
 
And then Hollow Bastion happens. Oddly enough, although it has all of the same problems as everything I've already listed, I love the shit out of it. That's right: I even love the shit. How is this possible? Well, for once, I can fight alongside Donald and Goofy. Hell, they're my only defense in most of that level. You control them with three AI commands: follow, kill, and break. They follow this code like a religion, and it's awesome. Want some fun times? Set their AI to "break" and watch them destroy any block within a five mile radius. And they do it with such fervor, too, like the blocks called their moms whores. Oh, did I mention that there's a Gears-esque revival system? In a Disney game? Fuck yes. But of course, all good things must come to an end, but re:coded has one more level up its sleeve. End of the World, right? Nope! Castle Oblivion. Makes sense, I guess. So card battles, right? Actually, "alternate endings" to worlds you've already explored...kinda. You only visit them in reduced chunks, so getting those endings takes up all of forty-five minutes. And that's Re:coded. Along the way, I probably could have mentioned the leveling system (it's essentially an evolved/crazy version of the one in 358/2 Days) or the debug parts of the game (even if they're pretty much the same), but I think I got my point across. Handy, too, since I completely forget my point. Oh, yea: Make Kingdom Hearts III Award. DO IT, SQUARE!

Review Synopsis

  • There was once a time when I didn't understand people who couldn't get the Kingdom Hearts storyline; now I know their pain.
  • The combat system's simple, but don't tell it that, lest you want some FPS in your face.
  • That reminds me: genre mixing. There's some of that in here.
 
 
 
 
Speaking of bloody pieces of crap:
  
  

Contra Advance: The Aliens Wars EX

( Wait, something's not right about this.) The order's screwed up. It should have gone Contra III, then the video, and then Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. I know that I gave this game the better score, so let me provide some context. Contra Advance is crap compared to the original Contra III, a lot like how the Atari 2600 version of Pac Man is crap compared to the original. Or on its own. Fuck the Atari 2600 version of Pac Man.
 
Also, fuck Contra Advance. Before I say anything of value, let me get this out of the way right now: the story's about killing aliens. Now that that's over, let's talk about shit that actually affects the game, like the graphics, because I want to look like a shallow bastard. Remember how cool and dark the original Contra III looked? (Oh, and remember how I used that exact same sentence structure in the last part of my blog?) Keep that in mind when you look at the oddly bright and vibrant GBA port. I know that the GBA was kinda marketed to kids, but I don't think that anybody wanted "Contra III: The 'We Maxed the Hell out of the Saturation' Edition." The only explanation I can think of is that it's some type of compensation for the fact that the first GBA didn't have a backlight, meaning you'd have to get a mathematician to calculate the angles necessary just to see the game. But that's more a problem with the system than the game, so let's focus on shit the game gets wrong on its own. You know, like how the art sucks. I know that this is confusing, since a lot of the graphics were ripped from the original, and to be fair, that stuff looks OK (once you forget the Technicolor assault, that is). The problem is that the new graphics are kinda lazy. Don't believe me? Look at this new level they added to make you forget the fact that they got rid of the overhead stuff. That background would look decent on the Master System, but the GBA? Speaking of the GBA, did I mention that the music suffers from the same problem that many early GBA games had?
 
 Get me when the woodland critters begin singing about the value of friendship or whatever. Or when the grenades come back.
I think in all that rambling, I forgot to explain what exactly Contra is. I can't exactly assume that you know how this plays, because who's heard of super-obscure shit like Contra III? What is that, an MSX strategy sim game? Actually, it's an SNES shooter. You run right and try to convince Rambo that the Brady Bill will benefit the country. However, while this is pretty much your only option in the GBA version, I remember original release having a bit more to it, like switching between weapons (this would be kinda helpful in a game that was designed with this in mind), dual wielding in such a way that demands a Rambo joke I can't make (blame Google Images), and grenades. Like all the extra bullshit in the title, all of this is just another reason not to like this version of Contra III. Then again, it isn't all bad; after all, you have the kickass weapon system of Contra III. Over the course of the game, you'll get a regular gun, heat-seeking missiles, non-heat-seeking missiles (remember, this game is a work of fiction), lasers, flamethrowers, spreaders, s-OK, I know what you're thinking: go straight for the spreader, right? Actually, don't. Sure, it can decimate a lot, but come boss time, you'll want another weapon. Maybe. I don't know. I can't imagine any gun being better than the spreader, but that's because the weapons are actually pretty well balanced. I'd say that this adds some strategy to the game, but let's be honest: the weapon switching is gone. Also, since when do guns and strategy mix? Have you seen Rambo?
 
Ah, but don't think that it's all just shooting. OK, it pretty much is all shooting, but what I'm trying to get across is that the level design is actually pretty cool. Every single level in the game manages to do a lot with simple crap like climbing and driving vehicles...that one time. Want a cool motorcycle level? Look at the picture, damn it. Or how about some crazy wall climbing shit? What about overh...I forgot that I was talking about the GBA port. The one where you can get to the final level on normal difficulty. To make up for that, let's throw in jumping from missile to missile while shooting enemies down. Wait, that's a boss battle. Screw it, I'm keeping it. Why? The boss battles are pretty crazy in this game. I could list them all off, but all I have to do is post a video of a giant Terminator busting through a wall to kill you. Can you think of any other game with bosses so awesome? I can't even tell if I genuinely can't think of anything or if I'm being lazy about this, because my mind is focused on one thing: giant wall Terminators. The only award I can think of for this game is the Giant Wall Terminator Award for Excellence in Giant Wall Terminators. Did I mention that I'm only giving this to the original version? Because I am. Contra Advance will only get this award when it decides to be Contra III, and not just a mediocre port of a good game.
 

Review Synopsis

  • Tons of cool weapons, and some of the best shooting mechanics in a shooter...would be better if I could have two weapons at once. Or grenades.
  • The levels and bosses in this game are pretty cool...and they'd be even better if they weren't changed from the original.
  • Just play the original Contra III.
8 Comments
9 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King


Kingdom Hearts Re:coded

( *sigh*) Damn it, Kingdom Hearts. Why are you doing this to me? You know how much I love you. Hell, I can see you wiping my saliva off your penis as we speak. I was there for pretty much every game in the series....not counting Birth by Sleep, because I don't own a PSP. But damn it, I think the fact that I actually enjoyed Chain of Memories more than makes up for that. Now how are you going to make it up to me? Don't act like you don't know. You know full well what I'm talking about. *points up*

Of course, all the problems start with the story, which is odd when you realize that the beginning premise is kinda legitimate (once you ignore the techno slaughter of Simple and Clean). Remember how Jiminy's journal started getting erased when Naminé screwed around with Sora in Chain of Memories? Remember how nobody bothered addressing that while Sora was off beating up Organization XIII? Turns out that Jiminy Cricket finally decides to fill up his old journal. How does he do this? Does he ask Sora about his previous adventures, now that Naminé's finally restored his memory? Hell no! Mickey decides that the best option is to shove the damn thing into a computer. This is where all the problems with the plot begin. Once the computer enters the fray, everything becomes ridiculously confusing. For example, the journal, for whatever reason, randomly generates rhyming ransom notes. Why? It takes a while to get around to answering that. In the mean time, you just revisit worlds from Kingdom Hearts 1, like Dest....fuck. Sora didn't meet Donald and Goofy until the end of Traverse Town, so why's he exploring these two worlds? Oh, but the odd level choices don't end there; out are Deep Jungle, Halloween Town, Neverland, and Monstro ( why?), and in are Wonderland, Agrabah, and the Coliseum. After that, some more confusing plot levels, followed by a pretty weird ending and...what's this? Pay-off? * gasp*!
 
 Call me when these guys start bumping into each other. Or when Donald and Goofy contribute to the plot.
This...actually, it doesn't make up for the overall game, that much. I mean, you still have to deal with the combat. I know what you're thinking, but I don't know why I know that: the combat's the same, isn't it? Yes and no. Sure, you can still pull off a lot of what you did in previous Kingdom Hearts games, but it feels very button-mashy, at least compared to the meatier and more complex games I've seen from the series. Granted, it tries to fix this, but it doesn't add a lot with either of its ability systems. First, you have the oddly named Clock system. It has nothing to do with clocks, so let's just add that to the pile of confusion, along with "how did 358/2 Days creep into this game" and "how the hell did the computer suck them in." Anyway, it pretty much rewards you for button mashing by giving you special abilities the longer you can keep up the button mashing. It sounds OK, in theory, and while it is OK, it doesn't feel substantial at all (remember that for the next paragraph). The only major thing it changes is what happens when you reach the max level: ultra mega attacks. Don't think that these are just "press A to kill everything", because they're not. Instead, they're cool mini-games, like "rotate button presses in a circle" or even "straight up shoot your enemies." I can't remember if any previous Kingdom Hearts games did something that awesome, but I fully expect Kingdom Hearts III to have it...assuming that Kingdom Hearts III eventually gets released. I really hope that Tetsuya Nomura doesn't just tell us to eat shit, by which I mean "I hope he doesn't tell us that Versus XIII is good enough."
 
Wait, I forgot to mention that other ability system. This one gives you commands that you can actually use in battle, instead of status boosts for hitting dudes. It also allows you to mix and match abilities to create brand new abilities, encouraging rampant experimentation...in theory. In reality, it just allows you to make your abilities slightly more powerful over the course of the game. Again, not substantial. Wow, that was not what I meant to describe with that quip, even if it fits pretty well. What I meant to use that for was the main draw of the game: all the mini-games in all the worlds. You know how this is going to turn out: they're not very complex or fleshed out. Hell, I'll list them off one by one to prove my point. First comes the platforming bit, which plays like a less complex Mario: you move right, jump a bit, and fight a few Heartless before moving onto the next world. If I remember correctly, it ends with a rail shooting sequence. No, not Panzer Dragoon rail shooter, but 3D Worldrunner (this is still Square) rail shooter. However, there's a difference: there aren't any holes that need jumping. Sure, there are obstacles, but those are kinda easy to dodge. 3D Worldrunner was already a simple game, so I can't understand the logic behind simplifying it further. Oh, and I might as well repeat all that crap for the next bit. It's an RPG thing. More specifically, it's like somebody combined Romancing SaGa 1 with Paper Mario, only they essentially boiled it down to "attack, heal, or do another type of attack." Fuck. Then, after that, Agrabah hits you with...nothing. There really isn't anything of note in that world. So I guess the genre blending's over, right?
 
And then Hollow Bastion happens. Oddly enough, although it has all of the same problems as everything I've already listed, I love the shit out of it. That's right: I even love the shit. How is this possible? Well, for once, I can fight alongside Donald and Goofy. Hell, they're my only defense in most of that level. You control them with three AI commands: follow, kill, and break. They follow this code like a religion, and it's awesome. Want some fun times? Set their AI to "break" and watch them destroy any block within a five mile radius. And they do it with such fervor, too, like the blocks called their moms whores. Oh, did I mention that there's a Gears-esque revival system? In a Disney game? Fuck yes. But of course, all good things must come to an end, but re:coded has one more level up its sleeve. End of the World, right? Nope! Castle Oblivion. Makes sense, I guess. So card battles, right? Actually, "alternate endings" to worlds you've already explored...kinda. You only visit them in reduced chunks, so getting those endings takes up all of forty-five minutes. And that's Re:coded. Along the way, I probably could have mentioned the leveling system (it's essentially an evolved/crazy version of the one in 358/2 Days) or the debug parts of the game (even if they're pretty much the same), but I think I got my point across. Handy, too, since I completely forget my point. Oh, yea: Make Kingdom Hearts III Award. DO IT, SQUARE!

Review Synopsis

  • There was once a time when I didn't understand people who couldn't get the Kingdom Hearts storyline; now I know their pain.
  • The combat system's simple, but don't tell it that, lest you want some FPS in your face.
  • That reminds me: genre mixing. There's some of that in here.
 
 
 
 
Speaking of bloody pieces of crap:
  
  

Contra Advance: The Aliens Wars EX

( Wait, something's not right about this.) The order's screwed up. It should have gone Contra III, then the video, and then Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. I know that I gave this game the better score, so let me provide some context. Contra Advance is crap compared to the original Contra III, a lot like how the Atari 2600 version of Pac Man is crap compared to the original. Or on its own. Fuck the Atari 2600 version of Pac Man.
 
Also, fuck Contra Advance. Before I say anything of value, let me get this out of the way right now: the story's about killing aliens. Now that that's over, let's talk about shit that actually affects the game, like the graphics, because I want to look like a shallow bastard. Remember how cool and dark the original Contra III looked? (Oh, and remember how I used that exact same sentence structure in the last part of my blog?) Keep that in mind when you look at the oddly bright and vibrant GBA port. I know that the GBA was kinda marketed to kids, but I don't think that anybody wanted "Contra III: The 'We Maxed the Hell out of the Saturation' Edition." The only explanation I can think of is that it's some type of compensation for the fact that the first GBA didn't have a backlight, meaning you'd have to get a mathematician to calculate the angles necessary just to see the game. But that's more a problem with the system than the game, so let's focus on shit the game gets wrong on its own. You know, like how the art sucks. I know that this is confusing, since a lot of the graphics were ripped from the original, and to be fair, that stuff looks OK (once you forget the Technicolor assault, that is). The problem is that the new graphics are kinda lazy. Don't believe me? Look at this new level they added to make you forget the fact that they got rid of the overhead stuff. That background would look decent on the Master System, but the GBA? Speaking of the GBA, did I mention that the music suffers from the same problem that many early GBA games had?
 
 Get me when the woodland critters begin singing about the value of friendship or whatever. Or when the grenades come back.
I think in all that rambling, I forgot to explain what exactly Contra is. I can't exactly assume that you know how this plays, because who's heard of super-obscure shit like Contra III? What is that, an MSX strategy sim game? Actually, it's an SNES shooter. You run right and try to convince Rambo that the Brady Bill will benefit the country. However, while this is pretty much your only option in the GBA version, I remember original release having a bit more to it, like switching between weapons (this would be kinda helpful in a game that was designed with this in mind), dual wielding in such a way that demands a Rambo joke I can't make (blame Google Images), and grenades. Like all the extra bullshit in the title, all of this is just another reason not to like this version of Contra III. Then again, it isn't all bad; after all, you have the kickass weapon system of Contra III. Over the course of the game, you'll get a regular gun, heat-seeking missiles, non-heat-seeking missiles (remember, this game is a work of fiction), lasers, flamethrowers, spreaders, s-OK, I know what you're thinking: go straight for the spreader, right? Actually, don't. Sure, it can decimate a lot, but come boss time, you'll want another weapon. Maybe. I don't know. I can't imagine any gun being better than the spreader, but that's because the weapons are actually pretty well balanced. I'd say that this adds some strategy to the game, but let's be honest: the weapon switching is gone. Also, since when do guns and strategy mix? Have you seen Rambo?
 
Ah, but don't think that it's all just shooting. OK, it pretty much is all shooting, but what I'm trying to get across is that the level design is actually pretty cool. Every single level in the game manages to do a lot with simple crap like climbing and driving vehicles...that one time. Want a cool motorcycle level? Look at the picture, damn it. Or how about some crazy wall climbing shit? What about overh...I forgot that I was talking about the GBA port. The one where you can get to the final level on normal difficulty. To make up for that, let's throw in jumping from missile to missile while shooting enemies down. Wait, that's a boss battle. Screw it, I'm keeping it. Why? The boss battles are pretty crazy in this game. I could list them all off, but all I have to do is post a video of a giant Terminator busting through a wall to kill you. Can you think of any other game with bosses so awesome? I can't even tell if I genuinely can't think of anything or if I'm being lazy about this, because my mind is focused on one thing: giant wall Terminators. The only award I can think of for this game is the Giant Wall Terminator Award for Excellence in Giant Wall Terminators. Did I mention that I'm only giving this to the original version? Because I am. Contra Advance will only get this award when it decides to be Contra III, and not just a mediocre port of a good game.
 

Review Synopsis

  • Tons of cool weapons, and some of the best shooting mechanics in a shooter...would be better if I could have two weapons at once. Or grenades.
  • The levels and bosses in this game are pretty cool...and they'd be even better if they weren't changed from the original.
  • Just play the original Contra III.
Posted by LordAndrew

There was a Contra game on the Game Boy Advance? I thought you were going for non-obscurity?!

Posted by Video_Game_King
@LordAndrew:

It's Contra, so it's not obscure, unless I play one of the two PS1/Saturn games in the series.
Posted by Yanngc33

I wouldn't call that machine a useless piece of crap, i'd call it a luxury of sortes

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Re: Coded was originally a Japanese Cell Phone game that came out like 4 years ago, which is why nothing regarding the plot really matters. Then again, I'm in the camp of people that considers the story of Kingdom Hearts to be incomprehensible nonsense (but in a good way). But, they probably should make a KH 3, if only because I find the constant side story-expansion to be sort of pointless from an outsider's perspective.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater:

Yea, but still, they could at least make a better story. Why'd they need the damn computer to fix the journal? I wouldn't have been surprised if that letter had said, "Hey, Sora, remember how Naminé fucked with your memory? Well, it turns out that it also fucked with Jiminy's journal. Mind pointing me to the nearest EB Games?"

Oddly enough, I'm one of those people who has always understood the storyline. I just laugh at people who don't understand the plot :P.

It's not as pointless as you think, given that 358/2 Days did a lot with Roxas' character, and I think Birth by Sleep explains all the crap from the extra ending in Kingdom Hearts II. But yea, I want Kingdom Hearts III. At least then, they'll have the chance to explain why we went from two Keyblade masters (and you only saw one of them for under a minute) to about thirteen.
Posted by WatanabeKazuma

Wow, I know that the Kingdom Hearts history is convoluted but seeing it laid out like that makes me glaze over. Incidentally I have a PSP and I might just pick up Birth by Sleep at some point. I hear good things about it.


What do you think about franchise's that branch out across different platforms? As little asides I don't mind spin-off games but when a main title jumps around I tend to get a little annoyed, MGS Peace Walker I'm looking at you.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@WatanabeKazuma:

Get it, maybe. I have heard good things about it. Then again, I've heard bad things about 358/2 Days (it's a good game, so this confuses me), so be wary of the opinions of others.

I really don't give a crap, unless said game appears on a system I don't own. It's one of the main reasons why I have yet to play MGS4.
Posted by WatanabeKazuma
@Video_Game_King said:
" @WatanabeKazuma: Get it, maybe. I have heard good things about it. Then again, I've heard bad things about 358/2 Days (it's a good game, so this confuses me), so be wary of the opinions of others.I really don't give a crap, unless said game appears on a system I don't own. It's one of the main reasons why I have yet to play MGS4. "
Exactly, I feel the same. I died a little when I realised that an improved Snake Eater port was appearing on the 3DS when I have no intention of buying one.