By Video_Game_King 13 Comments
( You have greatly disappointed me, my Parliamenty Fresh.) I gave you the duty to recommend games for me to replay, but you neglected this duty worse than I neglect the titles of my blogs. Given your lack of action, long ago, I decided to take things into my own hands and choose these games myself until you reclaimed your duty. The game of choice? Mystic Ark, as at the time, the first translation came out. I remembered some decent memories of it in Japanese, so I decided to see if said memories would hold up in English.
To an extent, they didn't; in my original playthrough, I didn't take to heart some of the flaws that became apparent now. First time through, I thought this was a game about renegade Yu-Gi-Oh cards turning androgynous knights into action figures, and while that much hasn't changed, there's a bit more to it than that. Turns out these cards have been turning others into action figures, and you have to restore them to their original form while finding your way home. Unfortunately, in order to do that, you have to travel from isolated world to isolated world, which means that the story's kinda fractured without a sense of unity. Hell, the one thing that could give this game unity, a villain, doesn't show up until the last few worlds, so the story comes off as a bit of trial and error.
Which is what I suspect the translation was like. I've heard things about how hard it is to translate Mystic Ark, and in this translation (there's another one I completely ignored), it shows; typos abound, some of the wording seems too literal, and at times, I could tell it was a Japanese game translated into English. But it could be worse. Anyway, along your journey, you'll collect Arks, special beings that help you solve puzzles, give you battle bonuses, and eventually help you beat the final boss. "That sounds a lot like The 7th Saga", I force you to say for the sake of this blog. Yes, it is a lot like that piece of crap game, but fortunately, it's a lot better. I guess with Brain Lord sucking one ball and The 7th Saga suckling another, Produce's third game had no balls to suck and decided to give me the most amazing blowjob of my life.
Notable improvements start with the party system: rather than being forced into two characters for the entirety of the game, you can now choose three characters from a large cast to bring into battle, protagonist included. Should one die, you can just summon another character after the battle. Can't do that? Well, things get kinda shit here, since you have to go all the way back to the shrine and pick up their figurines before you can use them again. Should be easy, though, as not only is the enemy encounter rate slightly down, but more often than not, you'll be level enough with the enemies that you can get back to the shrine with your internal organs intact. In fact, I'd say that the tables have turned slightly, enemies now being the ones having to reset the game over and over and over and over and over again.
This is my way of saying that the game is slightly easy. Death holds little consequence for you, a lot of your abilities are more powerful than they should be (Body Slice, anybody? No? Screw you.), and probably because of that, bosses have this odd tendency of dying with little effort. Sure, they may do significant damage, but usually, you fall into a nice pattern: stat boost, attack, heal when necessary, refresh MP if necessary. Yet none of this makes the game a piece of crap, like The 7th Saga. Why? Well, first, I'd rather play an easy game than a hard one, and Bushwald Sexyface would probably agree. Second, there's more to the game than the usual JRPG fare, like the adventure game elements.
Remember when I told you that the Arks would help you solve puzzles? This was what I was talking about: they enter objects, and do whatever their name says (Fire burns things, Water makes them wet, Darkness does nothing because you get it at the end of the game). But that's not the only way you solve puzzles; no, you also get to rub items against shit and exhaust all options the game presents to you at a given time. Obviously, this means that Mystic Ark carries over some of the flaws inherent in adventure games. Perfect example: in one of the worlds, you're not allowed to leave a building until you collect a bunch of scattered books and return them to a bookshelf. Sounds good, but these things are hidden in the most random of places, like clocks and leg chairs. You're presented with two options: either search every object in the area, or just break down and consult GameFAQs. Keep in mind that this happens more than once; it isn't the case with all puzzles (some are quite clever, like those in the Dark World), but it happens with enough regularity to warrant mention.
Yet the puzzle elements aren't even the most notable thing about the game! I know, what could be more memorable? The graphics. Remember in 7th Saga, how everything looked like an action figure, and the colors ranged from incredibly bright pastels to the FPS spectrum? Well, between that game and this one, Produce evidently obtained a larger palette, as this game displays a color range far greater than 7th Saga. Verdant greens, bright blues, golden yellowy-browns, and just about everything in between can be found within the multiple worlds of Mystic Ark. "But the 7th Saga had that, too", you're yelling defiantly without knowing what the hell a 7th Saga is. Let this be the last insult I throw towards that game: it only used those colors sparingly, and even then, it didn't have much of a definite style to it. Mystic Ark does: it feels like somebody knew what a JRPG was while making it, but had the slight handicap of being from the 19th century. And on a random note:
Kind of gives a distinct, almost calm feel that other games haven't really replicated. Wait, something about that isn't right....what could it be?.....! I know! I was listening to this the whole time! Can you taste the irony? That's not irony, spit it out. Here you go. Tastes good, doesn't it? Almost as good as the music. Not enough for you? Here's all I can show you without getting tied up in copyright lawsuits or whatever on Earth, therefore leading to a major war between our two celestial bodies. It's enough proof as to why this game is awesome. Then again, all those other word things are proof, as well. As is this award I give it: The Sexiest Video Game Review Award. I think there's only one possible ending for this:
- The story's OK, but not great; it's disjointed and the fan translation kinda sucks.
- Yet where the story kinda fails, somewhat, sort of, the gameplay picks up, being much better than its predecessor in every way.
- It may only be 20 hours, but it's an amazing 20 hours, filled with vibrant colors and distinct melodies.
This is why I make sure that all my knights are cyborgs, like Sir Stephen Hawking.
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
( This is starting to creep me out a bit.) After playing and blogging about a 19th century esque game with unique gameplay based around special power used against a late game villain, I find myself playing and blogging about a 19th century esque game with unique gameplay based around special power used against a late game villain! Déjà vu, anybody? No? You guys never played Mystic Ark! Damn it, how are we going to make this work if we can't find some common ground!?
What's that? You've played/heard of Little Nemo? OK, I guess that's common ground. However, I bet there's one thing you didn't know about Little Nemo: it's a movie game, as it was based off a kid's movie. Specifically, this one. Why I got Rock-a-Doodle and some shitty Disney sequels over this, I still do not know. Anyway, the basic premise is this: the Mayor of Imaginationland comes to Nemo's house and allows him the chance to play with the Princess. Nemo doesn't like girls, so he obviously accepts this offer within minutes of being offered. Somehow, this leads to him blasting the hell out of a dark sorcerer.
But this is supposed to be a dream, a land where logic means nothing and you can do anything you wish. And that was the idea behind the main feature of the game: animal powers. During your adventures, you'll come across some animals just lying around. Drug their asses with some Reese's Chloroform Cups and you can now defile th-er, become that animal and gain their powers. It sounds cool, and on the surface, it is; there are a wide variety of animals to roofie up, they're fun to use, and there's a....variety....of power ups to find. You're probably wondering about the ellipses in the previous sentence: I included them because while there's a wide variety of animals, the actual number of power ups is a tad disappointing. There tends to be a bit of overlap with the power-ups, especially the wall climbing ones. Long story short, there's three of them. They each do one thing different from the others, but I don't see why they couldn't be a single animal, making room for other, much better animals.
Hell, it would have made the level design a bit more creative. I'm not saying that the level design is banal or nondescript; in reality, the level design is as good as any other platformer, but the format is what really makes it shine. A few of the levels are your typical left-to-right platforming fare, but the majority of them are based more on exploration. Like some of the other things in this game, it may seem weird/out of place, but can you think of any other way to base an entire game on special animal power-ups? Exactly. It's executed in exactly the manner it should be, at least in terms of level design in relation to power-ups. In terms of actual level count, the game's staggeringly low at 8 levels. 8 short levels, with the best parts limited to the last one. Bosses, a new attack, linear/non-linear level design, a villain, all of it is limited solely to the build-up to the final boss. Now you see why my face is so unsure: while the game is creative and fun with well-executed level design and power-ups, it's incredibly short and all the best parts are at the end of the game. What's my final verdict? How about the Cocoron-NiGHTS Award for Dreamy Platforming Goodness? That doesn't count? Well, I'm King, so it does count. There.
- A large variety of animals to roofie up and powers to use...sort of...
- Great level design gives you a reason to drug the local wildlife.
- Why isn't this game longer?
New feature thingy( You may have noticed that this blog saw a new feature.) And you also may have noticed that there's a third section of this blog called "New feature thingy." Put two and two together, idiot. No, you don't get 100, you get "I'm adding these GB-esque pics to all my blogs." Why? Well, they're awesome, OK? Plus it helps eliminate any sense of ambiguity that the words may have. Yes, I know many of you are too lazy to go check my damn lists, so I've made this. Let me explain in greater detail:
Strong start, yes? What, you're confused? I never told you guys that my crown grants me (AND ME ALONE) the ability to transform into any video game character I want and gain their powers? Well, now you know. I only use this under two conditions: a game scores between 1 and 2.9, and/or a game angers me to the point that my anger summons the fires of Hell.
Professor Oak-me does not approve. So much, in fact, that he refuses decent anti-aliasing. You'll only see this for games between 3 and 4.9.
OK, this is where things get weird. This pose only comes into play when a game scores between 5 and 7.9. Why the huge leap? Because I'm tired of so many games getting 6s and 7s! GRRRR!!!! *posts 1 star pic*
Ah, here we have one of my personal favorites, only to be used for games scoring between 8 and 8.9. My Spidey Sense is very discriminating like that.