This is not a happy blog.

Spyro the Dragon

(Mainly because both of the games I've played aren't that good.) Then again, for both of these games, I had a vague hint at one point or another. With this game, my hint was my past experiences with this series, by which I mean Enter the Dragonfly. It was a piece of crap that I played back in the days of gaming I can't really remember, so I won't dote on it too much. However, from what I remember, it shares quite a few similarities with this game, the most obvious being the story.

Spyro starts with all the dragons being unlikeable assholes who spend their time making fun of the main villain if only for the fact that he's the villain. It should come as no surprise that he ends up freezing all the dragons, except for Spyro. It is now your mission to rescue your dragon friends and defeat the main bad guy, Gnasty Gnorc (that is how they spell it). Unfortunately, Spyro isn't as big as the other dragons, so he can't just beat up Gnasty and steal his lunch money. No, he only has two options: breath deadly fire down upon his foes, or ram into them head-first.
Prepare to do this a lot in Spyro.

Unfortunately, this is the first of several flaws. When facing enemies, those are literally your only two options: fire or ram. There's no, for example, "ram their backs to stun them, fire them a bit", just those two options. I guess the main reason this problem exists is because of the limited enemy range; not counting the two (yes, two) bosses, there are only a few enemies repeated about 6 times to fit the themes of each world. Speaking of themes, that's another weird thing about this game. Usually, they're pretty good, but in each world, there's one level that seems to go against the established theme entirely. For example, there was this cowboy world in the middle of the game, but one of the levels was quite clearly an ice level, as if the level designers were blatantly trying not to be cowboy.

OK, I've rambled about nothing for long enough. Now it's time to get to the meat of the game: the platforming. Having come out in the late 90s, this is a Super Mario 64 rip-off, but it's better than several others I've played. You run around each level, either collecting treasure or rescuing the dragons (and having to suffer through their lame dialogue as a result of it). Unlike Mario (and its many rip-offs), however, there really aren't any objectives in the levels other than "rescue these guys." I don't have a problem with that, per se; mindless collecting can be fun if used properly, and this game had the potential to do it properly.

However, the ambiguity of the collecting stomps on whatever potential there was in this game. Let me explain: given your knowledge of video games, you'd expect each of the aforementioned items to have their own use, like the dragons opening up new worlds and the treasure new levels, right? Well, not exactly. It seems Insomniac missed that part and instead opted to lump everything into the same category. This means that every time you want to progress in the game, you have to go back to some level and search all over for that one dragon you didn't rescue. There's a handy little status screen that tells you which levels aren't complete, but that doesn't solve the problem.

Despite all of the ranting I've done in the last 5 paragraphs, I can't fault the game too much. After all, it does have some things going for it, unlike Enter the Dragonfly. It's at least functional; the graphics are OK; and the flying levels are actually pretty decent. I'd say, "That's one thing Spyro ripped off properly", but it doesn't really feel like the flying in Super Mario 64. If this was the entire game, I'd have scored it at least three points higher, but the messy collect-a-thon gameplay and other flaws bring it down to a 5.6. A 5.6 that deserves the Second Most Unlikeable Character in a Platformer Award. Who's the first? Well...

Review Synopsis

  • I am a fan of consistency. All the collecting in this game seems to be an attack on this.
  • The combat has A LOT of room for improvement.
  • Great flying levels. Shame they're not the whole game.




The only reason I am posting the following video is for your entertaiment. I am near the end of this game, and it was not until now that I realized how truly fucked I am.
  


Contra Force

(Obviously, this wasn't my first choice of game.) The game I wanted to review was Zombies Ate my Neighbors, another Konami shooter that got a shit Irate Gamer review. It was a great game, but I stopped playing when I realized one of the bosses was impossible to beat. So why did I decide to play this game? Well, I've hit a gaming rut where most of the games available to beat are RPGs. I've hit these ruts before, and during these times, I turn to whatever games I can get my hands on. This happened to be one of them.

Unfortunately, I can't begin this review with the usual story synopsis (I seem to be having that problem more often than I like), since I tried as hard as possible to blot this game from my memory. This means I'll just have to make one up: you play as one of four stupidly named mercenaries, all of them on a quest to get into a much better game. Somehow, this involves blowing things up with huge, bulky cartoon bazookas. Yea, that's the best I could come up with, but I'd like to see you/the game do any better.

As I previously mentioned, the gameplay consists mostly of shooting the hell out of anything with a pulse. You may ask yourself, "Well then, what makes it so bad when compared to other Contra games?" Two aspects: the weapons and the slowness. Oh god, is this game slow. Everything in this game is so slow, that you'd probably need an entire day off just to complete one level. I'd blame it on a high amount of sprites on screen, but I honestly don't remember a lot of sprites or flicker on screen at any given time.

Isn't Contra supposed to be about fast paced bullet action? Did something get lost in translation? Oh, wait, about that: this game was originally supposed to be released in Japan as Arc Hound, having nothing to do with Contra. However, they decided to cancel it. That's right, Contra Force is one of the very few games to NOT be released in Japan. It's also one of the few games in the Contra series to not be Contra, the other ones being those crap 3D Contras. But to my knowledge, those games at least got the weapon system right; here, it seems they were thinking of Gradius.

Like Gradius, you collect something that fills up a bar to a certain square. Whichever square you choose determines what weapon you get. I could never figure out what the difference was between many of the weapons (other than firing speed), and the only weapon that I could distinguish sucks in the overhead levels. Yes, there are overhead levels, and they're just like the rest of the game, only overhead. Anyway, the one weapon that isn't just a gun is the grenades, which work well in the side scrolling levels, but behave exactly the same in the overhead levels as they do in the side scrolling ones. This may not sound like much, but trust me, it's worse than I made it sound.

So is there any redeeming aspect to this game, anything that would justify playing this? Well, the music's pretty good, but you can get the same effect from Super C. So in a word: no. No, there's really no reason for you to play this game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling it the most awful thing in existence, I'm just saying that there's no real reason you should play this when there are better games out there to play. Therefore, I give it the Xzibit Award of Superfluity. If you don't understand that joke, then search Google Images.

Review Synopsis

  • SOOOOOOOOOOO SLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW.
  • A little weapon bar on the bottom of the screen only works in Gradius.
  • If you want Contra, there are many other Contra games you can choose from.
20 Comments
21 Comments
Posted by Video_Game_King

Spyro the Dragon

(Mainly because both of the games I've played aren't that good.) Then again, for both of these games, I had a vague hint at one point or another. With this game, my hint was my past experiences with this series, by which I mean Enter the Dragonfly. It was a piece of crap that I played back in the days of gaming I can't really remember, so I won't dote on it too much. However, from what I remember, it shares quite a few similarities with this game, the most obvious being the story.

Spyro starts with all the dragons being unlikeable assholes who spend their time making fun of the main villain if only for the fact that he's the villain. It should come as no surprise that he ends up freezing all the dragons, except for Spyro. It is now your mission to rescue your dragon friends and defeat the main bad guy, Gnasty Gnorc (that is how they spell it). Unfortunately, Spyro isn't as big as the other dragons, so he can't just beat up Gnasty and steal his lunch money. No, he only has two options: breath deadly fire down upon his foes, or ram into them head-first.
Prepare to do this a lot in Spyro.

Unfortunately, this is the first of several flaws. When facing enemies, those are literally your only two options: fire or ram. There's no, for example, "ram their backs to stun them, fire them a bit", just those two options. I guess the main reason this problem exists is because of the limited enemy range; not counting the two (yes, two) bosses, there are only a few enemies repeated about 6 times to fit the themes of each world. Speaking of themes, that's another weird thing about this game. Usually, they're pretty good, but in each world, there's one level that seems to go against the established theme entirely. For example, there was this cowboy world in the middle of the game, but one of the levels was quite clearly an ice level, as if the level designers were blatantly trying not to be cowboy.

OK, I've rambled about nothing for long enough. Now it's time to get to the meat of the game: the platforming. Having come out in the late 90s, this is a Super Mario 64 rip-off, but it's better than several others I've played. You run around each level, either collecting treasure or rescuing the dragons (and having to suffer through their lame dialogue as a result of it). Unlike Mario (and its many rip-offs), however, there really aren't any objectives in the levels other than "rescue these guys." I don't have a problem with that, per se; mindless collecting can be fun if used properly, and this game had the potential to do it properly.

However, the ambiguity of the collecting stomps on whatever potential there was in this game. Let me explain: given your knowledge of video games, you'd expect each of the aforementioned items to have their own use, like the dragons opening up new worlds and the treasure new levels, right? Well, not exactly. It seems Insomniac missed that part and instead opted to lump everything into the same category. This means that every time you want to progress in the game, you have to go back to some level and search all over for that one dragon you didn't rescue. There's a handy little status screen that tells you which levels aren't complete, but that doesn't solve the problem.

Despite all of the ranting I've done in the last 5 paragraphs, I can't fault the game too much. After all, it does have some things going for it, unlike Enter the Dragonfly. It's at least functional; the graphics are OK; and the flying levels are actually pretty decent. I'd say, "That's one thing Spyro ripped off properly", but it doesn't really feel like the flying in Super Mario 64. If this was the entire game, I'd have scored it at least three points higher, but the messy collect-a-thon gameplay and other flaws bring it down to a 5.6. A 5.6 that deserves the Second Most Unlikeable Character in a Platformer Award. Who's the first? Well...

Review Synopsis

  • I am a fan of consistency. All the collecting in this game seems to be an attack on this.
  • The combat has A LOT of room for improvement.
  • Great flying levels. Shame they're not the whole game.




The only reason I am posting the following video is for your entertaiment. I am near the end of this game, and it was not until now that I realized how truly fucked I am.
  


Contra Force

(Obviously, this wasn't my first choice of game.) The game I wanted to review was Zombies Ate my Neighbors, another Konami shooter that got a shit Irate Gamer review. It was a great game, but I stopped playing when I realized one of the bosses was impossible to beat. So why did I decide to play this game? Well, I've hit a gaming rut where most of the games available to beat are RPGs. I've hit these ruts before, and during these times, I turn to whatever games I can get my hands on. This happened to be one of them.

Unfortunately, I can't begin this review with the usual story synopsis (I seem to be having that problem more often than I like), since I tried as hard as possible to blot this game from my memory. This means I'll just have to make one up: you play as one of four stupidly named mercenaries, all of them on a quest to get into a much better game. Somehow, this involves blowing things up with huge, bulky cartoon bazookas. Yea, that's the best I could come up with, but I'd like to see you/the game do any better.

As I previously mentioned, the gameplay consists mostly of shooting the hell out of anything with a pulse. You may ask yourself, "Well then, what makes it so bad when compared to other Contra games?" Two aspects: the weapons and the slowness. Oh god, is this game slow. Everything in this game is so slow, that you'd probably need an entire day off just to complete one level. I'd blame it on a high amount of sprites on screen, but I honestly don't remember a lot of sprites or flicker on screen at any given time.

Isn't Contra supposed to be about fast paced bullet action? Did something get lost in translation? Oh, wait, about that: this game was originally supposed to be released in Japan as Arc Hound, having nothing to do with Contra. However, they decided to cancel it. That's right, Contra Force is one of the very few games to NOT be released in Japan. It's also one of the few games in the Contra series to not be Contra, the other ones being those crap 3D Contras. But to my knowledge, those games at least got the weapon system right; here, it seems they were thinking of Gradius.

Like Gradius, you collect something that fills up a bar to a certain square. Whichever square you choose determines what weapon you get. I could never figure out what the difference was between many of the weapons (other than firing speed), and the only weapon that I could distinguish sucks in the overhead levels. Yes, there are overhead levels, and they're just like the rest of the game, only overhead. Anyway, the one weapon that isn't just a gun is the grenades, which work well in the side scrolling levels, but behave exactly the same in the overhead levels as they do in the side scrolling ones. This may not sound like much, but trust me, it's worse than I made it sound.

So is there any redeeming aspect to this game, anything that would justify playing this? Well, the music's pretty good, but you can get the same effect from Super C. So in a word: no. No, there's really no reason for you to play this game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling it the most awful thing in existence, I'm just saying that there's no real reason you should play this when there are better games out there to play. Therefore, I give it the Xzibit Award of Superfluity. If you don't understand that joke, then search Google Images.

Review Synopsis

  • SOOOOOOOOOOO SLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW.
  • A little weapon bar on the bottom of the screen only works in Gradius.
  • If you want Contra, there are many other Contra games you can choose from.
Posted by crunchUK

You know, you should really start reviewing games people are interested in

Posted by MB
@crunchUK said:
" You know, you should really start reviewing games people are interested in "
You know, you should really keep your negative comments to yourself.
Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King
@MB said:
" @crunchUK said:
" You know, you should really start reviewing games people are interested in "
You know, you should really keep your negative comments to yourself. "
You know, you guys should stop starting your sentences with "you know." (And I agree with you. I can get a lot more obscure than this, Crunchy.)
Posted by lordofultima
@MB: You know, you should really keep your Gouken-playing self to...well, yourself!

Good write-up mang, keep it up!
Posted by Video_Game_King

Hooray, I have the mods on my side! (muttering to self) We'll attack their barracks at 0200. (yelling): MOVE OUT!!!

Posted by mordukai

This Blog title should have been: This is a long ass blog. But its a interesting read none the less. 

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Mordukai said:
" This Blog title should have been: This is a long ass blog. But its a interesting read none the less.  "
It just looks long. Trust me, I can make 'em longer.
Posted by gingertastic_10
@Video_Game_King said:
"@Mordukai said:
" This Blog title should have been: This is a long ass blog. But its a interesting read none the less.  "
It just looks long. Trust me, I can make 'em longer."
Haha do it. If it's interesting I'll read it.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@gingertastic_10 said:
Haha do it. If it's interesting I'll read it. "
Fortunately, I've a few games that will most likely warrant long reviews, like Romancing SaGa 2 and GTA4.

(It seems I am slowly gaining support for my movement. Perhaps now is the time to invade Crunch's stronghold :P.)
Posted by druid42

How much of your dislike for these games would you attribute to them being older titles?  It seems like this would especially be the case with 'Spryo' and it's "fire or ram" options.  For a PSX game that came out in '98, that seems like one more option than you'd have with other games ("Fire or... well, there's more fire").

Posted by Video_Game_King
@druid42 said:
" How much of your dislike for these games would you attribute to them being older titles?  It seems like this would especially be the case with 'Spryo' and it's "fire or ram" options.  For a PSX game that came out in '98, that seems like one more option than you'd have with other games ("Fire or... well, there's more fire"). "
No, I'd like to think they could've added more strategy to the combat. Look at Mario or even Gex, games that fit into the same category as Spyro. Both of them have varied combat and enemies, don't they?
Posted by dankempster

If you're under the impression Spyro the Dragon only has two boss battles, I think you've missed out on a fair bit of the game's content. Each home world features its own boss battle, and the majority of them are pretty good from what I can recall. I have to agree with you about the combat, though. Thankfully, that's something they addressed to a degree in the second and third Spyro games.


Nice write-up, VGK. I look forward to reading more of your stuff in the future.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@dankempster said:
" If you're under the impression Spyro the Dragon only has two boss battles, I think you've missed out on a fair bit of the game's content. Each home world features its own boss battle, and the majority of them are pretty good from what I can recall. I have to agree with you about the combat, though. Thankfully, that's something they addressed to a degree in the second and third Spyro games.

Nice write-up, VGK. I look forward to reading more of your stuff in the future.
"
I only found two bosses in the game: Gnorc and Jacques. Then again, I played the levels as I found them; I never really took the time to search for a boss battle, and the status screen didn't tell me I was doing something wrong.
Posted by regularassmilk
@MB said:
" @crunchUK said:
" You know, you should really start reviewing games people are interested in "
You know, you should really keep your negative comments to yourself. "
OH DAMMMNNNN!
Posted by Otacon

Nice reviews, I'm afraid my views of spyro are blinded by nostalgia so my opinion on it is very biased, Spyro 2 is the best spyro game though so I urge you to check that out.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I probably will in the future. I don't like playing games from a series immediately one after another. I like to make the experience last.

Posted by Tireyo

Nice reviews.  You might want to do more.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Tireyo643 said:
" Nice reviews.  You might want to do more. "
I do these things all the time. (Wow, this blog is weird. I thought it was kinda crap, but you guys love it. Weird.)
Posted by Tireyo
@Video_Game_King said:
" @Tireyo643 said:
" Nice reviews.  You might want to do more. "
I do these things all the time. (Wow, this blog is weird. I thought it was kinda crap, but you guys love it. Weird.) "
You do what you want to!  People will read.
Posted by Video_Game_King

And people will insult :P. I know the game.