By Video_Game_King 23 Comments
Costume Quest( Can somebody explain why I'm doing a Halloween game?) It's not even close to October; it's May or June or something. I'm too lazy to grab a calendar. Wait, I know why I'm talking about a Halloween game in the middle of the beginning of June/the end of May: Costume Quest is incredibly, ridiculously short, clocking in at three levels long. I'm not sure how I should handle that. Should it be a further criticism against this game, or should I thank the turd for smelling like shit for only a very brief amount of time? Unless you're illiterate, you read that right: I hate Costume Quest.
Odd, because the game starts off with a pretty good concept. The game begins with two of several of the recycled character models that were already stolen from somebody's Mii Plaza. After a brief character selection, you and your twin set off to trick or treat. Things don't go well; the first house literally tells you that your costume smells like shit, and the second house kidnaps whichever character you weren't controlling. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Halloween was a holiday invented when pedophiles tried coming up with a way to trick parents into sending their children to them. Oh, and to make things worse, some random witch steals your costume. It is now up to you to rescue your sibling and find out what relevance that random witch (I really wish that B and W were closer on the keyboard) has to the plot. Also, monsters and stuff, but that's not important. What's important is that the game knows its audience: kids. I'd say that it knows how to reach them, but I don't see SpongeBob plastered all over the screen at all times. (If I did, I'd have knocked 20 points off the game from the start.) Eh, I guess the cutesy Mii thing will have to work. Throw in some soft-hitting kiddy humor, and Costume Quest has a fairly noticeable charm to it. Imagine Rugrats with a less generic art style.
Sadly, that's all this game has going for it. I honestly can't find anything else in this game that's actually good. For example, remember the Rugrats thing? Remember how they'd often look at something like a couch and see it as a mountain that required conquering? That concept carries into the battles in Costume Quest; suddenly, you're not some asshole with a tablecloth on his head, but Danny Phantom himself. (What's with all the Nickelodeon references as of late?) Only wait, remember how the mountainous couch was still a couch? Costume Quest doesn't, because some of the characters make it pretty clear that the kids are actually turning into robots and stuff. What? How? Was this ever explained, or am I expected to believe that ten year olds have transformation powers? Anyway, as you could infer from that, the main twist of the battle system is the costume system, which is essentially a dumbed down version of any game's job system. Each costume comes with one special ability, and a few of them even come with in-field abilities that allow you to get past artificial barriers from time to time. These special abilities include creative things like "more powerful attacks", "more powerful attacks that stun", and "heal."
I should probably add that this is the only way to heal in the game. I should also add that these special abilities require charging, meaning that you have no reliable method of healing outside just saving up that charge for when you need it. (That's the only time you'll ever save up a charge.) So what are you doing during that charge time? Attacking. That's it. That's your only option. No spells or items or even defending; just attack. I know that this game is made for kids, and that children are so stupid that they need an adult to tell them that electrical outlets don't taste like candy, but there's such a thing as too much dumbing down. That thing is called Costume Quest. The only complexity you'll get in the battle system comes in the form of Paper Mario-esque button presses. This sounds cool until you realize that your only options are "attack" or "turn off the game", so you'll see the same three or four prompts over the course of about 100 or so battles. You got more complexity? What's that? Stat-altering stamps? Those would work a helluva lot better if they could stack at any point. Sadly, you can only wear one at a time, and it's usually going to be the stamp that increases attack. After all, that's the only thing you're gonna do throughout the entire game.
Now would be a good time to tell you what your enemies can do. They can heal whenever the hell they want, boost their attack whenever the hell they want, boost their defense whenever the hell they want, and generally break the game. Oh, but it doesn't end there. There are status effects in this game, like poison and fire, but guess how it works? You can't, so I'll tell you: you dump napalm on a troll, and the fire will go out by the end of the turn. Meanwhile, they can throw a wet match at you, and you'll burn for the entire battle. Keep in mind that none of this is made up. Needless to say, it makes the game pretty hard for all of the first half of Autumn Haven Mall. At that point, everything starts kicking your ass pretty hard for no discernible reason. Not that it matters; death doesn't reduce your amount of candy (money), your EXP, or send you back to the last save point or whatever. There are absolutely zero consequences for failure and no way to lose the game. You just get dumped back onto the map with full health and another chance at the battle. So where's the challenge, exactly? Again, that one part of the game I listed. No other aspect of the game offers anything approaching challenge.
And this is where I mention the quest system, IE the only part of the game that isn't a battle. You just walk around and do things for people, like collecting cards that would otherwise be completely useless, bobbing for apples (can somebody explain why or how this is related to Halloween?), and playing hide and seek. Like the overall concept, this sounds cool; like the overall game, it sucks. Like the battle system, it's repetitive as hell, probably because each area of the game repeats the EXACT SAME QUESTS VERBATIM. They introduce zero variation, repeating the same easy shit that I accomplished in the first neighborhood. Combined with the fact that enemy formats hide their repetition with different character models, I legitimately think that Double Fine ran out of ideas in Auburn Pines, the first part of the game. That's a new low, video game industry. But at least you still have your beloved concept, don't you, Costume Quest? Here's a fun idea: let's knock that down, too! Since this is a Halloween game, a large part of the game involves trick or treating. Hell, you can't continue to the next part of the game without doing it, which makes it all the more confusing that quite a few of the houses can be pretty hard to find. It doesn't exactly help that there isn't any type of world map to consult. But still, that doesn't change the fact that trick or treating is a crap shoot. Either you get candy or you get a battle. At first, the possibility of a monster behind that door carries some suspense, but after the 30th time or so, it wears off and becomes just another part of a stupidly simple, repetitive, broken game. Did I insult the game enough yet? No? Eh, OK, how about this: the achievements list DLC achievements, regardless of whether or not you actually bought the DLC, possibly as a fuck you to hardcore completionists. There, I think that did it.
- Here's every battle in the game: press button, press other button, press another button, occasionally press Y. Repeat ad nauseum.
- The lead designers behind this game's quests must have been Copy and Paste. What lazy assholes they are.
- I'd say that the charm saves the game, but that would be a dirty lie.
Is this in MGS4? If not, then what the hell is going on?
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King( You know, I probably should have finished Machinarium to round out this blog.) Hell, I just defused a bomb, which, if I'm understanding the table of contents in this FAQ correctly, places me near the end of the game. But I did not finish Machinarium. Instead, I finished this game (there's no fucking way I'm writing out the entire title), just so this blog would have a consistent theme. Now I'm left with a game that gives me little to no material for a good blog.
Weird, because the movie it's based on has tons. It cast Satan Claus on the side of good and, without any indication that it was a Halloween themed movie, began by listing off every possible fear a child could have and then topping it off with monsters cheering as somebody burns their skin off. How could a game based on that leave me dry? Simple: set it one year before the movie. Yes, The Pumpkin King is a prequel, because the movie left so many questions unanswered, like...uh...no, it was pretty self-contained. So what the hell's a prequel going to do for it? As far as I can tell, it only introduced one new question that it never answered: who bashed out Jack Skellington's teeth during his hippie years? Why does it never answer this question? Because the plot never does anything. Sure, Oogie Boogie's messing shit up just to get Jack's attention (a better method would have been asking one of Jack's friends to ask if Jack has any feelings for him), but if you expect the goddamn Pumpkin King to take action, you're going to have to wait a bit; Jack just spends a lot of the game running from place to place, fixing what Oogie wronged. People then remind him that Oogie is still a major threat, and he responds with an apathetic "eh, I'll get around to it." Of course, he never gets around to it, because if he did, then about a third of The Nightmare Before Christmas would disappear into a black hole. Only Metal Gear Solid is allowed to pull such paradoxes, and even it can't get away with them without the Colonel yelling at you over a game over screen.
Wait, what was I talking about? Somebody made a stealth game based off The Nightmare Before Christmas? I'm not sure how that's possible, but OK. Oh, we're talking about The Pumpkin King? If I remember correctly, it does have a very brief stealth section where you just hide under things for half the level. However, that's not what this game is about. Give Buena Vista some credit. They're not the type of fad chasing assholes who would make a cheap stealth game in 2005; they're the type of fad chasing assholes who would make a 2D platformer in 2005. Like any...platformer, you jump through levels and kill things. Sometimes, you'll face a somewhat easy boss that requires more killing than the regular baddies. You know, it's really hard to be enthused for this game at all, and it shouldn't be as generic as it sounds. So why am I so apathetic about this game? Well, look at that last word: sounds. The music is never energetic or lively, and while that sounds fitting, it doesn't exactly help the game. Combine it with the "you can't expect us to jam Skullmonkeys level graphics into a GBA game, so here's some cartoon shit" look, and the game suddenly becomes really boring and mellow. If you're wondering why I said this wouldn't make for a good blog, there's your reason.
Odd, because The Pumpkin King does some pretty cool stuff. For example, the Zero (what, is he the Pumpkin King?) parts of the game are awesome. I wish I had something to say about them, but I don't, so here's a clip of said stuff. You know, I probably should have started with1 the Metroidvania exploration elements. Because that's what you think of when you hear The Nightmare Before Christmas: gameplay ripped from Super Metroid. OK, I'm making it sound pretty bad, but it actually hits all the right Metroidvania notes: you begin the game with limited exploration options and a fairly weak weapon, but over time, you'll collect a bunch of power-ups like walking up walls, letting ghosts stretch you, and lighting yourself on fire. That's how little fucks Jack gives: he will burst into flames to make sure that you die. And that's what should make the exploration part of the game awesome. Wait, should? Why should? Oh, right, I remember the major flaw now: there isn't a lot of exploration. Fine, you can go back to previous areas and collect some more health and stuff, but for the most part, the game literally points you in the right direction. You want some non-linearity? Go play Symphony of the Night or something. If you're playing The Pumpkin King (do you know how tempted I've been to type Pumpking this entire blog?), expect a bland on-rails world that thinks it's Super Metroid.
- Does prequel mean "meander around aimlessly?" Because that's what this game does.
- I know that making Halloween Town bland and lifeless is being faithful to the original ideas of the movie, but that doesn't make it a good platformer.
- How can a game hit all the right Metroidvania notes without being a Metroidvania game?