By Video_Game_King 73 Comments
Devil May Cry 4
(Even without a computer, I'm still blogging!) There's no taming this ego! OK, self-congratulation aside, let's get into the actual game. Now remember when you were a kid, and you had a friend who wanted to be a firetruck when they grew up? Not a fireman, but a firetruck? Well, that kid probably grew up to become Devil May Cry 4, because this is the stupidest goddamn game I've played in a while.
Fortunately, the game is more than happy to remind you of this every few minutes. Action-y cutscenes just ooze throughout the experience, and each one is more laughably idiotic than the last. How do you top two white-haired demon dudes having a gun fight with bullets slower than the game's intelligence? By having these two incredibly similar characters hug it out with their legs, of course! Or how about riding an enemy like a Newton-enraging sled? Throw in Hollywood hardcore rock (that's the best term I could think of to describe it) and enough cleavage to set women's rights back about half a millennium, and you have a dumb action movie where you press buttons, sometimes....which I guess is kind of the point. When you see shit like this, that's your cue to turn your brain off and just enjoy how effing silly the experience is. If you're into that sort of thing, then more power to you, I guess.
But even ignoring that, the story isn't particularly well written. It's set in a small religious town where only the important characters can afford a fleshed-out wardrobe; everybody else dresses like they're about to bash some Templar skull in, for some reason. Then demons show up, and the oddly likeable Nero fights them while trying to figure out another motive. A common problem in games, I know, but I still don't like when characters don't have a clear motivation. Why is Nero exploring this huge night castle? Is it ever explained? True, it becomes relevant later, but until then, it doesn't make a ton of sense. Meanwhile, Dante's busy exerting no major influence on the plot and generally being that guy in his mid- to-late 30s who still thinks he's in his early 20s. You're not cool anymore, Dante. You're somebody's dad, now.
Speaking of wand-wait, that wasn't what I ended on. Well, remember how I said Nero likes bumbling around a huge castle for no real reason? Well, that's a lot of what the game is: environments that exist only to fill space. I don't know, but it just feels like the environments don't serve much of a purpose to the overall game. They delay the fights instead of continue the game. Sure, you get a couple of cool areas, like the midnight snow castle that opens into the mid-day forest just a few feet away (so Chickenhead can't be far behind, although in demon presence, it goes without saying), but the fights are just so much better (more on that in a bit, though). I can't blame it for not trying, though, given all the ideas it throws in your face. Demon grapples! Board games! Time lasers! Shouting secrets! Oh dear god! When will it all end!?
When I get to the combat, because as it turns out, Devil May Cry 4 really knows how to craft a competent combat system. In fact, let me walk you through it. Start off with a pair of guns. Ignore those guns, because they are worthless. Now add in a couple of other weapons, a shitload of moves, and have at it. It may not sound like much, but DMC4 manages to do a lot with it. You'll always have a ton of flexibility in how you build your combos and how you devil-fist an ice monster, even mid-combo. (Granted, a lot of them are merely variations on "press this button a lot" or "press this button while moving the stick this way, but the point is that you still have a lot of options at any given time.) This may not sound like much, but trust me: it's pretty damn fun when you're in the groove of things, effortlessly slashing from enemy to enemy while juggling nine others.
Wait, did I say "effortlessly"? I probably shouldn't have, because this isn't the easiest game in the world. Maybe I just suck at it (OK, I do suck at it), but I seem to remember far more deaths in this game than I care to mention. It doesn't help that the game insults you for these types of things, handing out handicaps against your will and whatnot. But I can't complain about it too much, since it's the difficulty that can make the game awesome a lot of the time. Nowhere is this made clearer than the Credo fight. It represents everything I could ever love about the game: it's challenging, flows nicely, and requires lightning-quick reflexes that make you feel like a goddamn god when you slash his smug face in two. Hell, his fight is so good it easily manages to eclipse the annoying Dante fight a couple of missions later. Speaking of, I guess my only complaint would be that Dante isn't as fun as Nero, since he trades in the grapple for switching out styles (a single move, really) mid-fight. Not the best way to handle things, but whatever. Minor complaint. So maybe this game isn't so much catatonically stupid and more just an idiot savant. It's the Rain Man of the video game world, is what I'm saying.
- Man, this game's story is stupid.
- And the environments sure are pointless.
- But then the combat brings it all together.
And somehow, I still manage to find the strangest Japanese trends on YouTube.
Where do these even come from?
Super Mario 64 DS
(Now what we have here is an interesting project for this blog....sort of.) I'm sure you all know how important this game is to gaming history. It shaped not only an entire genre, but also a lot of how developers approach 3D games, at least early in the history of that technology. So will it be possible for me to put all this context aside (since I'm not too big a fan of context) and judge it for what it is (or something close to that)? Seems like it.....OK, that doesn't tell you much about my actual opinion regarding the game, so allow me to say it more bluntly: it's pretty cool.
Wait, this is the DS version. I'm gonna have to explain a few things. The controls are cramped and a bit iffy (Mario can turn on a dime, provided said dime is a mile wide), and the touch screen sucks, but on the whole, they get the job done. Let us contrast this with the new characters, who might as well not exist. Remember how this is a remake of an N64 game that originally had only one character? Meaning it was designed to use that one character? Guess what happens over the course of the game? That's right: you'll completely ignore every new character you get. I wanted to make a joke about Luigi being Jesus if he was cast into the Lake of the Dead, but why bother? It's not like you'll ever use him and get what the hell I'm saying. Sure, there are a few stars only they can get, but that justification fell apart at the word "few". Mario's gonna be getting them all, and when he needs another character, why bother switching? Just grab one of their hats (Yoshi's bloody scalp not included for whatever reason), assume their identity, and laugh in their dumb faces for ever thinking that they could be of use in Super Mario 64 DS. (Yoshi gets some importance in the ending, oddly enough, but that's about it.)
Although that Majora's Mask "I can become them with this hat" thing is certainly going in the right direction. I mean, the dreamy portions are what make the game so awesome in the first place. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out: what are the most memorable levels in the game? That penguin race? Get out of here with that fucking shit. Swimming around in a giant skybox full of water is what makes the game so good. You know, freaky shit like that, which makes almost no sense. Of course, it doesn't always work in its favor, power-ups being the most obvious place. I could say something about how broken they are (why shoot for that star when you can lazily float over their with your fat ass?), but instead, I wish to call out the flying cap. I can understand the appeal of it, but why does flying have to be so hard. It's far too physics based, and I'm not sure you can ever really gain altitude (or at least I was never able to). What, pray tell, is so fun about merely gliding? Nothing, that's what. Still, it's the thought that counts.
If you want more boring, pedestrian reasons for why I like the levels, though, I still have those. For instance, there's usually a lot to do in each level. Most of them are open world (at least the ones that know what they're doing), giving you a lot of room to explore and mess around with whatever you find. No, I mean it: there's a lot to do in these levels. 150 stars, about 8-ish per level, and it manages to get a lot of mileage outta these ideas. Normally, this would be where I just rattle off a few examples, but all I need to say is that you'll be collecting 8 red coins all the goddamn time and no two instances will feel exactly the same, even though it is essentially the exact same goal each time. Granted, a few of these stars are pretty lazily designed (Toad will literally just hand you a couple of stars from time to time), but dude! You get to drown caterpillars and then curb stomp them. Do I need to say more?
Well, yes, I do. If I had to complain about the ga....OK, I have, but let's pretend that I've mindlessly praised it up until now. Anyway, if I had to register one major complaint against the game, I guess I'd have to go with how easy it is. It's not exactly hard to figure out how to get a star, and that's pretty much all there is to getting the star. Obviously, this means you're gonna blow through the campaign in a couple of days before moving onto something more challenging (link to next blog). The boss battle is also not challenging. I know what I said; there's really only one boss battle in the game, and it's repeated a lot. You just throw the guy or generally knock them out of the ring. That's it. Repeat it a ton, and you have Super Mario 64 DS. Or just tag alongside a penguin so a snowman doesn't blow you off his chin, because that's Super Mario 64 DS, too.
- Are the remake portions really needed?
- Because the base game stands well enough on its own.
- Mysterious Mountainside is still everything I could love about this game.