By Video_Game_King 32 Comments
Mach Rider( And so ends that bet I made with SJSchmidt93 long ago.) For those of you who don't know what it was, I can't remember a lot of it, but it had something to do with ten NES games I picked at random. If they sucked, I lost, and if they were OK, I won. What does any of that mean? I don't think we determined that, and while I can't remember any of the games or their individual qualities, I still think I lost. I put forward this game as proof.
First, this game is not the ever-elusive Bach Rider, an NES game that only exists in my mind. That's minus a point from the start. Instead, it's a Rad Racer-esque motorcycle game where you race from one side of the map to the other. There's a story in here about a Mad Max-esque world and something like that, but I couldn't make out any of it over the thoughts of Bach Rider in my mind. Besides, it was hard telling which part of the game was story mode, or even single player, as the game gives no hints as to what's what. There's one with levels, and one with time limits, but neither one has an ending. Don't be fooled by the videos, there is no ending. The levels repeat, so don't worry, I beat it. Oh, you're questioning me? I'm the King; I can sentence you to 39 consecutive death sentences for such blasphemy.
Speaking of death, you're gonna be seeing a lot of this dry-skinned fucker in Mach Rider. A lot of the game consists of avoiding obstacles and other drivers, the monkey wrench in all of this being other drivers. It's easy enough to avoid rocks and barrels when you're the only person on the road, but every other driver on the road wants only one thing in life: your death. Irony is just an added bonus. They'll ram you into the side of the road, ram into you from behind with pinpoint accuracy, and I head that in certain versions of the game, they'll hire actual rams to kill you. Don't think you can get revenge, though, as their cars are made of adamantium, meaning you can't ram into them without danger of bursting into a thousand fiery pieces. You can't shoot them, either, mainly because your bullets always fly forward. This may not sound like much until you find yourself flying into a barrel on a turn, and then find your bullets flying in a straight vertical line that defies every known law of physics.
Then again, this game seems to be a giant middle finger to the laws of physics. Whenever I went into a turn, another road would appear next to me, possibly because the NES's "Mode 7 before Mode 7" was trying to outdo the future Mode 7. I first thought it to be a graphical glitch, mainly because of how screwed up things get when you reach the finish line, but one enemy knocked me into the realization that this was an actual road. It only leads to sweet death, but this realization still freaked me out, just as the realization that none of this really relates to the core gameplay will freak you out. I don't really have anything to say about the core gameplay, mainly because it's really, really simple. Put it in fourth, race through obstacles, repeat until you have a headache. Unfortunately, this game does not get the Bach Rider Award for Being Bach Rider, but the Mach Rider Award for Being Mach Rider. Deal with it.
- Standard gameplay, exactly what you'd expect.
- The enemy AI will absolutely murder you.
- This game never ends.
Just in case monkeys riding motor-Bachs wasn't weird enough for you:
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days( This game causes me to question a lot of things about Kingdom Hearts.) No, it's still good (but pretend I didn't say that yet so you read the rest); I'm talking about the little plot details, like the Keyblade. Remember when it belonged to only ONE character? OK, Mickey had one, and so did Riku, but you never saw Mickey, and Riku only had it for about five minutes. Besides, we all know that mice aren't people. Fast forward to the next big game, and it ends with an entire field of the damn things. Then fast forward to Kingdom Hearts 3 (yes, this is Kingdom Hearts 3, just look at the title), and we get another Keyblade master: the oddly Chinese Xion.
A good chunk of the plot revolves around her time in the Organization, and what exactly she is. That good chunk of the plot comes near the end, though, where it's revealed that she's one part Blade Runner, one part Kingdom Hearts, all parts TOTALLY FUCKING INSANE. Fortunately, the rest of the plot isn't that deeply scarring; it mostly deals with Roxas' time in the Organization, filling a few gaps that both II and Chain of Memories didn't. (Oh, I should mention now that there aren't any bonuses for linking Chain of Memories through the GBA port. Sad face.) For example, the Organization got the short end of the stick in Kingdom Hearts II, being depicted as megalomaniacal rock and rollers looking to steal all the hearts for themselves. 358/2 Days tries to set the record straight, showing us all the community service and fun games they played in their down time. But you'll never hear that from Kingdom Hearts II, will you? Actually, that's probably because nobody in those worlds knew the Organization was even doing anything.
Unlike other Kingdom Hearts games, where you found yourself singing alongside Winnie the Pooh to combat the Heartless, somehow, Roxas simply watches Disney events happen before him without doing much, kind of like what the original Kingdom Hearts failed to do. OK, fine, Roxas bumps into a few characters in these worlds, but for the most part, he keeps himself at a distance. It feels surreal just watching things happen without getting involved, especially when you have to watch it all in tiny bits. Unlike most other Kingdom Hearts game, 358/2 Days is a portable game (although you wouldn't know it, as this game looks REALLY REALLY good), meaning it was designed to be a portable game. Instead of going to each world and living out the entire plot from that movie, you just tackle tiny missions, ranging from beating shit up to recon, unlocking worlds at a pace slower than the beginning of the game itself. Oddly enough, it works really well, having enough variety to keep things interesting over all 358 days (even though you don't play all 358 days), and being short enough that you can finish a few missions while waiting for the bus or something. Trust me, I tested this out on the field, and it works.
Unfortunately, I couldn't test the multiplayer feature, even though it's supposed to be a major part of the game. There's no online play for this game, which we all know is the only way you'll ever play this game with other people. Fortunately, most of the missions in the game pair you with an AI partner, so I could at least pretend that I was playing multiplayer, even if I had to collect little badges to make the levels playable in multiplayer. But I could still pretend it was multiplayer, mainly because the AI is as smart as any person I've seen: competent enough to get the job done, yet still able to fuck things up on occasion. Amazing, since the game doesn't really offer many ways to fuck up. Everything you could possibly do is done by whacking it. Even the puzzles amount to clever use of the whack feature. Not that I'm complaining or anything. Sure, it can be a bit repetitive, but it's still satisfying as hell.
What I will complain about is the enemy variety, which is lazier than I am. Prepare to beat up a billion variations of previous enemies, Yellow Operas being the most popular. It doesn't matter what world you're in, as you'll encounter mostly the same Heartless time and time again: Yellow Operas, Shadows, Large Armors, and Loudmouths. The only major enemy variation (outside boss battles) occur in the Castle that Never Was missions, and even then, the game goes out of its way to make sure you won't fight those Nobodies. Oh, that reminds me of something: the stealth sections. Every now and then (no now nor then shall be left out), you can't let the enemies see you, for whatever reason. Usually these missions are done with somebody else, meaning the goal could be accomplished much more easily by beating the shit out of everything in sight. But you have to go along with it and sneak through the levels. There are some decent ideas presented, like a visible range of vision, but it's mostly just a trial and error waiting game where you hope that the enemy hasn't played survival horror games. (Damn it, no page for 180 degree turn.)
Wow, I can't believe I went five paragraphs without mentioning the panel system. There seems to be a rule among portable Kingdom Hearts games where they absolutely need a limited-yet-quirky inventory system. Chain of Memories had the Yu-Gi-Oh system, while 358/2 Days has a system more reminiscent of that one Yu-Gi-Oh story arc where Yugi played some dice for no reason. (Why do I know this?) You're given a set number of panels in which you can place abilities, items, weapons, magic and everything else you need to do a damn thing. Some of these panels are level up panels, showing us that Square-Enix forgot what levels are supposed to represent (especially when it tries to pass off an off day as an excuse to slash away 50% of your levels), and others are ones that link to other panels and power them up somehow. Level complaints aside, it's a great system that leaves a lot of room for customization and strategy. There are tons of options available at Wany given time, and the game paces out the panel expansions well enough to allow for the better stuff. The only complaint I have that's not about the levels is that the game can't keep up with itself; you'll never really need to buy or synthesize anything from the mysterious Moogle Nobody (I called him Mooglex and gave him his own backstory), meaning you'll be stuck with the same shit for several months. This includes healing items, for several reasons.
First, you'll trip over enough potions and ethers to hold a raging Organization kegger. Second, you'll never need any of them, as the game is pretty damn easy. Dying only results in still-living enemies regaining their HP, and a lot of the boss battles are kinda easy to predict and conquer. Hell, even when you're presented with a hard enemy, the game yells the difficulty at you and emphasizes the fact that you can run away like a pussy. The only real challenge comes in the...damn it....challenges, which, while pretty creative and a fun distraction, aren't necessary in any way. I'd say that even with these distractions, the game only comes to about 20 hours in length, but the presence of multiplayer forbids me from doing so, especially since the game was built specifically for multiplayer co-op.
Wait, I still have a ton of notes left on this game? And they're mostly about the plot? Weird, since the game doesn't have much of a plot, as interquels are doomed to meaningless stories, something the game's perfectly fine with. And I'm fine with it, too, since the trade-off is deep character development and at least semi-creative story points. For example, because you're surrounded by fellow Organization members the entire game, there's no real villain. The closest things are Saix, who's a dick, and Pete, who you only see, like, thrice in the entire game. (Still more than Mickey, sadly.) Besides, Saix is only a villain because he stays true to his lack of emotion, which conflicts with all the puberty going on betwixt Xion and Roxas. (Christ, I just made all those ice cream scenes eerie as hell.) Although it contradicts the logic of the game world, I was actually glad to see them develop emotions, since it made them into more human characters to whom one could relate. I'd also mention the deep themes and the contrasts between Namine and Xion, but this thing is getting much longer than it should. I'll end with the Strictest Dress Code Award, since they will not tolerate ANYBODY outside the Organization wearing their cloaks. You know, this supports my hypothesis regarding Mooglex from b-*realizes what I'm wearing*.....Let's end it here. *leaves*
- This game has a weird-ass title. I had a ton of jokes for it I simply never made.
- The combat's pretty simple, but oddly has some meat to it through the panel system.
- Perhaps the stupidest joke I'll ever tell: a lot like women's panties, this game is on the easy side.