By Video_Game_King 19 Comments
Ghouls 'N Ghosts(This one should be quite obvious to all gamers.) After all, many gamers (myself included) know that Ghosts 'N Goblins is one of the most frustrating platformers you can jam into your NES. I say "frustrating" because to describe it as hard would imply some amount of legitimacy that it doesn't have. However, what most people don't know is that Ghosts 'N Goblins is actually the first in the CIA's video game torture program "Codename: GnG." It was meant to drive communists to the point of suicide by being ridiculously cheap and frustrating, at which point an agent would ask them the location of the bomb or whatever.
However, Geneva Conventions declared it to be an inhumane tactic, forcing the US to develop the far more toned down Ghouls 'N Ghosts. For those of you searching for a point in that introduction, it was "this game is easier than its predecessor." There are quite a few fixes to the original formula of "jump, shoot, die", like the fact that you can shoot in multiple directions. Finally, you won't have to worry about flying burritos of death raining down death from above. You just have to worry about a billion vultures pecking your eyes into a fine mush.
Yes, the game is still extremely difficult, but you probably knew that before you read the review. Enemies will kill you faster than you could possibly dream of, and playing the game on an easier difficulty leads to the game calling you a pussy, but it's still not as hard as the original game. The enemies are easier to manage, and you are now able to take a whole three hits of damage. Yes, holy crap indeed. Sure, you don't get extra health as often as you need, but at least Capcom is trying to make the game less frustrating.
They've also tried some new things with this game, a surprising thing to come from Capcom. The most obvious (and arguably, only) change is the addition of a gold suit of armor. It gives you an extra step away from death and a super attack that changes with your weapons. It's a kind of cool system that helps fixes the omnipresent problem of the difficulty, and does so with no real flaws. Yet it does so with a fake flaw: not telling you what your new power with your new weapon is. Yes, it's petty, but I'm still gonna complain about it. At first, I thought all of them would be the Ninja-Gaiden-2-esque doppleganger thing, but then I found out this wasn't the case. All I'm asking for is a tiny little sprite at the bottom of the screen that tells me what I have.
Wait a minute, why am I asking for this game to do something for the player? The GnG series hates players with a passion that has not changed since the last game. One thing Capcom has not changed is the ball busting difficulty. Yea, earlier, I commented on how there are fewer enemies and you can take an extra hit, but you still can't direct your jumps (imagine Bionic Commando or Prince of Persia), and level design still seems designed with the goal of killing your spirit. You know what else hasn't changed? That stupid "play me twice, bitch" gameplay mechanic. Turns out when you beat that giant fly boss, the game says "sorry, but you need gold armor and Hadouken to get to the ending. Go play again." Does anybody like this feature? Oh, you? *kills you* There. You see that, Capcom? NOBODY LIKES THIS FEATURE. *more people raise their hands*.....*kills them off* Don't worry, they were already dying from lethal amounts of stupid.
But you should already know that, Capcom; you hired them as your translators for the ending. Another hallmark of the series included here is the poorly translated ending. Again, a minor thing to complain about, but still....Well, there's not much I can say about it that you can't already decipher. There are several grammar errors and typos in a very text heavy ending to a difficult game. It's like running five consecutive decathlons, and after having won first place overall, the announcer mispronounces your name (and he's not even close). In fact, let me give Ghouls 'N Ghosts the Squidward Tennisballs Award just to prove that point. I would have included a clip, but I couldn't find the damn thing.
- Still hard as hell, but not as hard.
- A few new features, like the gold suit and multi-directional fire, are welcomed with open arms.
- There are still things that need fixing.
Quick, tell me what the most random combination is. If you said "Twilight and milkshakes", you are horribly wrong. The correct answer would be "Dragon Quest and Hairspray." The Internet exists, therefore meaning that the latter combination does as well.
Lost Odyssey(OK, this one is definitely more personal.) However, it caused me more frustration than when my computer restarts (almost as if to deter me from blogging). When I first got this game for Christmas, it was sealed and labeled "New." I opened it up and found NO GAME IN THE BOX. Add in the fact that GameStop (the guys who sold it to me indirectly) wouldn't accept trade-ins of sealed games (they were extras), and you can see why I've developed a hatred for them. However, fast forward a week or so to when I actually have the game. Open it up, and I find three discs where they should be, and one in a crappy paper sleeve. OK, weird.
However, when I got into the actual game, I (eventually) found it to be really, really good. Set in the world of Fashyn Disastera, you take the role of Kaim Argonar, an immortal pretty boy who's seen quite a bit in 1000 years, but can't remember any of it. So of course, your goal is to get his memories back, which, somehow, ties into him saving the world. OK, so the story is by no means original; it's filled with quite a few genre cliches (brooding badass pretty boy, kingdoms filled with royalty and assholes ready to betray them, amnesia all around, etc.) and the villain amounts to little more than Jafar with a thicker mustache, but I made a point last blog that a game can make up for unoriginality in several ways.
Lost Odyssey is definitely one of those games, and it makes up for this with its presentation. Several aspects that would normally cause me to projectile vomit pure rage (like the later-mentioned romance) are now quite loved because of excellent presentation. The dialogue is very realistic, and the voice acting is excellent. Mistwalker hired some of the best voice actors in the business, like Phil/Lil, Ben 10, and other prolific voice actors. Hooray!
Also deserving of a gold star is....well, many aspects, but the battle system in particular. Like many RPGs, Lost Odyssey employs a turn based system as defined by FF10, meaning excellent blending of cinematics and enemies beating your 9-turn-spellcasters into the oblivionth term. So what separates Lost Odyssey from Final Fantasy X (apart from its closeness to the turn based system)? Well, there's the incredible creativity of Lost Odyssey when it comes to the turn based system, but officially, it's the ring system!
During combat, a ring appears on your enemy while attacking. Line up your ring with their's, and you do more damage. And that's pretty much it. There's not much more to the system other than a few status effects that were only important a few times. I can see where they were going with this (trying to get you more involved in battles), but it simply doesn't work, probably because magic doesn't work with it. When your mages start dealing out spells like Flarus and All-Barricadus, you just sit there and watch the effects. Now to be fair, I shouldn't bash such a minor feature, but the game seems so damn proud of it. Throughout your journeys, you'll trip over random components to create rings all the time, and you can create them directly from the menu (as opposed to a shop or anything).
In fact, that's a theme that runs throughout the entire game: immortality sucks. No, wait, I meant pride over the most minor of features. Yes, Lost Odyssey seems particularly proud of several insignificant things, the most notorious being A Thousand Years of Dreams. At random points in your travels, some random NPC you pass in the streets will fart, and that fart will unlock a memory Kaim has of the time 200 years prior when somebody farted and everybody around him stopped being racist. Each dream reads-wait, hold on. You have to read each one slowly and laboriously. It's tedious, breaks the flow of the game, and is generally crap.
Anyway, each one reads like a short story, and the game seems rather proud of them. It asks you if you want to read it immediately, when you sleep at an inn, from the menu, or generally when you want (or more likely need) to. Yes, these things pop up frequently; at one point, I ran into three of the damn things, obviously not seeking them out. Now you might say, "Why are you complaining about them, KIng? They're not a necessary feature, and you don't need to read them." My response would be "You do if you want to finish the game, bitch." There are several bosses (final boss included) that will absolutely murder you if you don't have a certain skill obtained from a certain accessory. How do you it? Side quests, of course! I have no problem with the side quests, but how do you unlock the sidequests? Read a dream! Ugh. UGH!!! And as if to add injury to insult, the side quests really don't connect to the dreams in any noticeable way!
I imagine that this was put into the game to flesh out the story (and to say they found the best talent possible for this game), but why does it need fleshing out? It's fine as it is. Hell, the story manages great things at times, like a romance I actually like (see, I told you I'd get back to this). What turns me off most JRPG romances is this: the guy is a brooding badass introvert who eventually abandons this (Kaim, for example), and the girl is usually some bubbly, overoptimistic twat whose cheerful effervescence makes me want to kill off all the world's stupids. Not so with Lost Odyssey. Instead, you have Jansen Friedh, a womanizing asshole who doesn't take things seriously, and Ming, a queen who can see through his bullshit but decides to humor him anyway. What makes the romance great is that a.) there's no luvvy-dubby dreck that poisons what I previously described, and b.) they mature as characters throughout the story without drastically changing into brand new characters. What do I mean by that? Go play Final Fantasy VIII.
Throw in things like awesome boss battles and a soundtrack that some (reactionary people) have called a One Winged Angel killer, and you have a game that I would willingly label a "classic." However, there is one crippling flaw with the plot: one that deserves the Butchered Death Award. Spoiler alert: on the first disc, Kaim finds his thought-to-be-dead daughter, who then dies within a few minutes of reuniting. I have no problem with that. Next, V randomly comes by and orders you to collect sticks until he remembers something about November 5th. Again, this is not what I have a problem with, although it does build up to it. Here's the problem: Lirum's (the dead daughter) funeral is boiled down to a minigame. WHAT THE HELL!? Do I need to explain what's wrong with this? Imagine if in FF7, right before Aeris got a sword in her gut, a Quick Time Event flashed on screen. That would remove all the power inv-what's this? I'm getting word that Lost Odyssey actually had Quick Time Events. Well, I suspect only at one point in th-no, I'm getting word that it was on several occasions. At least they were optional, ri-wow, you actually have to go through them if you have any hope of completing the game. Seriously? *walks away, quite displeased*
- Somewhat cliche characters brought to life with excellent voice acting/characterization.
- Creative use of the turn based battle system.
- Wow, they were quite proud of even the tiniest, most intrusive features.