By Video_Game_King 36 Comments
Star Fox 64( That honor would have to go to this game for me, personally.) Part of the reason may be that this game holds a special place in my black, shriveled heart. As a kid, I loved playing this on my N64. Sure, I had to get my brother to help me with some of the harder levels, but I still enjoyed blasting Andross in his bearded monkey face. Many a moon later, no pun intended, I have come back to this classic as per the request of a Japanese demon, and I still love it.
Part of that may be the unique combination of elements that Star Fox 64 is. Imagine this game as a combination of furries, World War II, and Star Wars. A lot of Star Wars, in fact; I previously criticized Mega Man X for ripping off Star Wars, but dear god, they even managed to rip the ending straight from A New Hope! Conveniently, this brings me to the plot: long ago, there was this scientist guy named Andross. He did some things that the Lylat system did not like, so they banished him to an abandoned little hellhole called Venom. Of course, Andross is still a threat, so they send three space pilots to kill him. However, Andross is smart and an asshole, so he kills one of them, hires another as his personal lackey, and sends the last one home to tell everyone what just happened. He does, and because he was working for such smart people, he gets sent back.
You play as Fox McCloud, the son of the dead guy from before. You get help from the aforementioned unlucky bastard, the ever-so-badass Falco, and Slippy, who has always confused me indirectly. I've heard a lot of crap about his gender ambiguity, but even as a kid (a very stupid kid, mind you), I could tell Slippy was a boy. I didn't find him annoying, either. However, I'm not just denying it for the sake of doing so; I really believe those things, along with the fact that this game has a strong cast and funny, memorable quotes. I'm not sure they were meant to be funny, though, so I can't give the game credit for lines like "I'm the great Leon!" and "Andross won't have his way with me."
However, what I can give it credit for is voice acting. Not only because there's never really a text-only moment, but also due to the fact that it's kinda good. There aren't any embarrassing slip-ups in voice qu...fine, I'll get to the gameplay. It's a rail shooter, meaning it essentially plays like a 3D version of Gradius. Of course, this gives it a simple, pick up and play arcade feel. That's probably why everybody loved the game so damn much: even as a kid, I could immediately pick the game up and jump right into the fray. It's almost the perfect definition of "easy to pick up, hard to master."
Why the "hard to master" part? Well, the multiple paths. Scattered throughout the Lylat system are about 12-13 planets, but you don't play through every single one. Oh, no, you have to do something specific within certain levels, like flying under some arches or killing a certain amount of enemies. They're creative, take some effort to achieve, and are rarely that hard to figure out. The only thing I don't like about them is labeling them according to difficulty, because it's misleading. There are some "hard" levels which are stupidly easy, like the lone submarine planet, and "easy" levels that will beat your ass into the ground, like just about anything where you have to fight Star Wolf. They wouldn't be a problem if your teammates were of any help, but it seems they prefer "bitch for help" over "actually fight the enemies."
It's not just Slippy who sucks with an Arwing; it's all of them. There was one dogfight near the end of the game where I was missing Slippy, but I managed to beat all but one of the Star Wolf team. Unluckily, the only person left was Wolf. I spent half the fight saving these idiots from their pursuers, but when the time came for them to return the favor, they suddenly noticed the scenic view of Venom, ignoring my pleas for aid. Why do people hate Slippy so much when their reasons for hatred pretty much apply to all of your members? Hell, I actually found him to be the most useful of all the members, probably because he's the only way you can analyze boss health.
On that note, great boss battles. Memorable, challenging, epic, and many other kind words that are just popping into my head all describe the boss battles in this game. So, that's it. These are all the reasons I love Star Fox 64. Oh, forgot one: the one that deserves Most Shocking Plot Twist Award. Why? Well, let me set the scene. It was night, and my brother had just reached the Venom stage that none had seen before: that portion of the planet that belonged to Star Wolf. Amazingly, he managed to beat them, and he was soon navigating the labyrinth that led to Andross. It started exactly like the one we'd seen before, but WHAT THE FUCK, he transforms into a brain!? It was a long, hard fought fight, and at the end of it all, explosions. Many an explosion. All looks bleak and hopeless, and....what's this? Tom Clancy? What's he do....no, wait....IT'S FOX'S DAD!!! Everybody was shocked. It would have been perfect if the scent of poo had not filled the air. To this day, nobody knows who it was.
- Great shooting and flying mechanics that could only be improved by a more useful cast.
- Speaking of which, memorable cast and a lot of funny quotes.
- Tom Clancy leading me out of the Death Star is still one of my most memorable plot twists.
I know I should have posted this weeks ago, when the new GI Joe movie was released, but...
Dynamite Headdy( I'm aware that nobody suggested this game, but then again, there were barely any suggestions.) Besides, it fits the personal theme I have already established, albeit in a far more surreal, creepy manner. But again, more on that at the end. This introductory paragraph is where I profess my love for Treasure, the guys behind this. Almost every game they've made is unique, memorable, and very fun to play; the only reason I began with the word "almost" was because of their N64 ventures.
Dynamite Headdy, being released for the Genesis (as in "not the N64"), fits all three of the aforementioned criteria. The first thing I found unique was, what else, the story! You play as Headdy, the pimpest puppet in all of North Town. There's a demon-guy causing trouble in your domain, and it's up to you to stop him! Along the way, you'll meet several cool characters, like your female counterpart Heather and the " I associate breasts with pain" Trouble Bruin. Although both are certainly creative, that's not the creative part of the story. Wait, now that I think about it...there's nothing especially creative about the story at all! Sure, it's all told as a sort of play, but rarely is this relevant from a story perspective.
It's much more relevant from a graphical perspective; the levels all look like they're being performed in a cheap theater, lending a cute, mechanical charm to the affair. However, this is not the part that makes me love the game; no, what I love most is the music! OK, just kidding, but still, I find the music to be among the best the Genesis had to offer. It's like Treasure knew that the system sounded like robots humping electricity, so they just went with it. The result is distinctive, excellent music and...huh? Incredibly clear voice work? On a system infamous for "wise fwom your gwave" and other auditory faux pas? Holy crap, I think I love you, Treasure.
Wait, what was I talking about, I seem to have forgotten. Oh, right, the head snatchy gameplay. The main thing about Headdy is that he's a puppet consisting of detached body parts that grab onto stuff, exactly like Rayman. However, Headdy is much smarter than his plagiarizer, so instead of solving everything with his fists, he uses his head...almost in the same manner as Rayman uses his fists. He launches his head at things and grabs onto them in various ways. "Where's the creative aspect", you're asking me before the end of the review. Well, impatient one, the unique part is just how far it takes it. There are several power-ups to your own head, each with their own specific purposes, like shrinking or creating an explosive ring around your body. OK....some of them are a bit crap, but most of them are fairly decent.
And don't think it's one note, like Mischief Makers was with the grabbing things; here, you're grabbing things, shooting at things with your head, shooting at things with projectiles that shoot from your head, grappling onto things, shooting some hoops with your head, and about a billion other things. Of course, part of the reason why Headdy's able to do so much is because of the level design. Again, very creative and unique, especially in the dimension part. About half the levels in the game mix some sort of 3D element or cool gimmick into it. One minute, you're blasting a baby head into oblivion; the next, you're flipping levels upside down to drop balls onto a robot's head. There's never really a moment in the game where the creativity comes to a screeching halt.
However, there is a point where my tolerance for it comes to a screeching halt. Near the end of the game, the difficulty moves from reasonable to near impossible. I know this is an old school game, but even ridiculously hard games like Rayman and Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts had basic gameplay elements like CONTINUES. What makes it worse is that Treasure made the game harder on purpose; after a bit of research, I found that the Japanese version not only had continues, but was much easier compared to the American/Euro versions. Combined with DMC3 doing the exact same thing, I'm convinced this is part of Japan's revenge on America for what they did to them during WW2.
Still, even with less content and harder levels, the American version is still a great game that not a lot of people know about. Hell, the only reason I even know about is because I knew somebody growing up who owned the game. This transitions nicely into my Creepy Award. Before I elaborate, let me set the scene. There we are. Now then, it was long ago, and my previously mentioned brother borrowed Dynamite Headdy from the previously mentioned friend. I still remember two things about it: the Baby Face boss fight, and this odd memory, only auto-scrolling. All you "royal" wannabees have probably pointed out that it looks a lot like a certain scene from Mischief Makers. Here's the weird part: I didn't play that game until 2008, long after the time of my memory. How did I get this memory? WHY WAS I GIVEN SUCH PREMONITIONS!? *rips clothes off, runs around, screaming in terror*
- A unique head grabbing gameplay aspect put to the best of use.
- Here's the music. You will soon know the reasons why I love it.
- Holy hell, it gets really hard really quick.