By Video_Game_King 10 Comments
Karnov( I believe a bit of backstory is necessary before I delve into what will no doubt be a short review.) A little while back, me and some user named Schmidt got into a debate about the overall quality of old school games. He said they sucked, I said they rocked. To prove my point, I picked 10 NES games at random so I could get a better view of the overall quality of the system. This is the first of that line of games.
There's another reason why I told you that little story about my motivation: because the game has no story itself. All I could gather is that you guide Karnov, the Russian fire-breather, on his adventures. You know he's Russian because his name is Karnov, and you know he's a fire-breather because you spend all of your time breathing fire upon your foes. In fact, that's pretty much all there is to the game: walking right, holding down the turbo B button, and then walking right again once everything on screen is dead. Seriously, that's all there is to the game! I'm surprised I managed to stretch this portion of the blog beyond two paragraphs!
But I persevered, and stretched this blog to appropriate length! How? By mentioning the power-ups. First, there's one that turns your one-ember breath into a three-pronged flame of fat. It's not much, given how I only found it in one portion of the game, but it does make an already easy game easier for easily figured out reasons. You can hit a larger portion of the screen, allowing you to kill almost anything that comes your way. Almost everything because oddly enough, it doesn't make the bosses any easier. I don't know, I guess there's a limit to how easy something can be, and the bosses are leaning against that limit. For many of the bosses, all you have to do is shoot at their face, which may require, and we're getting into some advance stuff here, jumping. Yes, I know, I'll let you grasp that concept for a second.
Oh, you've finally grasped that difficult theory? Good. Now we can move onto the really hard stuff: the power-ups. Throughout his journey, Karnov occasionally collects cool abilities, like boomerang breath, explosive turds, the ability to spawn ladders, paradox-inducing flight for one level, and several others. Aside from the ladder thing, it sounds pretty standard, right? It is, but somehow, Data East managed to fuck it up. How? Well, you have to select your power-ups before you can use them. The concept makes sense, but it's the execution that ruins it all; you select them in real-time, using the same controls as you do for moving. So choosing a given power-up consists of making Karnov walk back and forth in a futile attempt to burn off some fat, and there's a good chance this will all be ruined in the soon-to-come encounters. I'm aware that you can pause the game to alleviate this problem, but you'll just run into the same dilemma.
While I'm on the subject of power-ups and their weirdness, a lot of them are placed in incredibly weird places. Half of them are placed above Karnov's jumping range of 5 inches, forcing you to use the ladder to get them. Weird, yes, but it seems Data East thought it could get weirder, as one of the power-ups that required the use of a ladder...was a ladder. It seems to be nothing more than an exercise in futility, and we all know Karnov isn't up for an exercise, period. OK, I promise that's the last fat joke of the blog, mainly because it's gonna be shorter than the actual game. Don't worry, though, the ending will be better, for instead of a crap screen of text, I give you...damn it. Karnov the Karnie Award.
- It's easy and short, like a midget whore.
- There are a variety of power-ups, but trying to use them is far more frustrating than it should be.
- Why is the Japanese ending much, much better?
This is what Bowser's minions do in their down-time:
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena( In the past, I've had a bad time with people recommending me games.) After all, the only reason I played Cyborg Justice, the worst game ever to be shat out the industry's ass, was because some sick fuck derived enjoyment from this waste of existence. So why did I play this game solely based on the recommendation of one user? Actually, I don't know; the person in question has had different tastes from mine in the past (like Ys, the game I can't pronounce), and both of us know this. The best reason I can furnish is that I'm challenging his tastes, given the aforementioned history. Well, his tastes won. Here's some damn victory music.
The game, of course, is The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, a remake of Butcher Bay. Seriously, how hard has an industry hit rock bottom when they've run out of ideas so badly that they feel the need to remake a game released in 2004? Remember the good old days, when every game was a unique stand-alone title, not a desparate remake of a relatively young game? Oh, wait, those days never really existed. So this concept isn't something unique to the industry, meaning Riddick has to do something else to be ironically unique. More on that later, though; right now, I wish to indulge in the story. It's the future, and Vin Diesel is being sent to jail. You're never told why he's being sent to jail; there's a tutorial/flashback that suggests he's being sent to jail because he escaped from it previously, but that's just delaying the issue. My theory is that they're arresting him for being badass under a joint ruling from the Sexyface v. Stillwater. You see, Mr. Diesel's rectum is so insidiously awesome, that upon looking at the Vin Diesel facts, his ass rejected them and forced the facts on some random wuss.
Meanwhile, Vin Diesel's stuck in a cold, oppressive jail, looking for a way out. That's one thing the game does well: the dark and oppressive feel. Butcher Bay emits a very depressing atmosphere, riddled with corruption and lacking in any form of humanity. The inmates spend their time either killing each other or helping Riddick, and the guards simply don't give a fuck about any of this. That explains why Riddick is able to escape with such ease. However, without spoiling anything, his journey to freedom takes him to a space barge for reasons inadequately explained. What's worse, it lacks the charm and feel that Butcher Bay had, like it's a generic sci-fi setting instead of the dark and oppressive prison we all loved back in 2004.
That's a theme that runs through the entirety of the game: the first half is the better portion of the game. For example, the fisticuffs: Dark Athena does them more frequently, but I found it lacking in strategy. Often times, I'd just walk to a drone and carve them up like I was hastily preparing for Thanksgiving. Compare this to Butcher Bay, where in the three fist fights in the entire game, you had to figure out a pattern of punching and dodging. You know, like in real fist fights, only with the option to pull out a screwdriver in the middle of it. It's incredibly satisfying and rewarding, which makes it that much sadder that you only get a few opportunities to punch people.
Of course, there's a good reason for that: Vin Diesel's ass prefers guns. Sounds weird, right? After all, how would it even hold a gun, let alone shoot it without the recoil planting it deep within Diesel's ass? I'm guessing the people at Vivendi foresaw these problems, which probably explains why the beginning of the game forbids guns, even if it doesn't help make that less shit (no pun intended). Seriously, for the first hour or so, every gun you touch will electrocute you! Why did they feel it necessary to punish the player for basic gamer instincts? For the small number of fistfights, or for the "I haven't even mentioned this yet" stealth aspect of the game? Whatever, at least you actually get to use guns at some point in the game. In fact, when you do get to use guns, it feels like the game is making up for all the not-gun parts before it.
How, you ask? Well, you get to hold all the guns you want. There's no limit to how much you can hold, and NEVER do you find yourself swapping one gun for another. Granted, this means it's lacking in some of the guns you'd expect in a first person shooter (my beloved sniper, for example), but I appreciate the gesture, nonetheless. Riddick is quite old school like that; he's not the type of pussy whose weak baby arms can only hold two or three guns at any given time; Diesel's ass does not need regenerative health; when the odds are stacked against him, Vin Diesel's butt doesn't hi.....OK, it does hide in the shadows, but unlike other first person shooters, Riddick actually commits to this idea. From time to time, Riddick will deliver a corny line about how the darkness is awesome, indicating that you should either agree with him or face the horrible wrath of his rectum.
Let me reiterate that such a system gives off a very primal feel that creates satisfaction when you snap a man's neck from behind, and tense fear when his friend is looking for you in the shadows. Not to worry, though, he won't find you, as he can't see in the dark. Fortunately, you can. After all, wouldn't it be stupid of the developers to make a large portion of the game incredibly hard to see? No, Vivendi thought this whole thing through, making sure that you can see in the dark at all times and that the lighting effects are fantastic enough to make the whole thing work. If I may go off on a tangent, let me say that the graphics in this game are fantastic, both on a technical level and artistic. I know it sounds weird to describe the game as looking good artistically, given that it's mostly shades of blue and brown, but I get the feeling that the people behind this game not only knew that, but went with it. For further information, please refer to paragraph three.
The only major fuck-up in it all is the flashlight. It has its uses early in the game, but even after it's become useless, you still have the damn thing. The only thing I can think of that's worse than a useless gameplay feature is a gameplay feature that prevents you from enjoying the game. In enter the spider turrets, mostly exclusive to Dark Athena. (A similar thing appears in one room in Butcher Bay.) I'm not going to go into detail about it, mainly because Yahtzee has already done that in his review and I feel like I'd just be mimicking his review verbatim. However, there is one thing we disagree on, and that's the overall quality of Dark Athena. Yea, it's shorter, but it's not as bad as he makes it out. Granted, it lacks the charm of Butcher Bay, and it tends to rip off BioShock a bit, but there are a few redeeming qualities to be found, like the part of the game where you control drones. You get infinite lives without any punishment, meaning you can just run into a room, shoot things until you die, and then repeat the process until Left 4 Dead looks tame by comparison. Sure, it goes against the mood the game was establishing the entire time, but I'm willing to overlook a flaw if it allows me to live out homicidal maniac fantasies.
- An old school run & gun philosophy that suits the nefarious quality of Mr. Riddick's ass.
- Combining stealth elements with a dark, dank dungeon was the best decision they made when making this game.
- The stark contrast between Butcher Bay and Dark Athena is enough to win a Harvery Dent Award.