By Video_Game_King 18 Comments
Braid( OK, this is weird, by my standards.) Not the music (that is a tale for another day), but my game du jour. I'm known as the guy who plays obscure shit like Wiz 'n Liz and Evil Zone. What the hell am I doing with a recent game like this? Oh, right: the Humble Indie Bundle. Somebody gifted me one after Christmas, even though I didn't have the Steam account to get the games. I thought I'd be saying "or the computer to run them", but so far, Braid ran pretty well on my piece of shit computer. And it's not like I played a few seconds of it, either; according to Steam, I sunk five hours into this game, and not once did it fuck up on my. What an amazing game.
Unfortunately, I'm not exactly gonna do it justice by starting with the story. It's exactly rescue the princess. That's it. Sound familiar? What's that? A shitload of games have you rescuing princesses? I was going for Mario, since that's clearly what Braid was also going for. The game's so insistent with its Mario allusions that it gets a bit annoying after a while. You have Goomba-things, Piranha Plants that come out of pipes (I'd point out how the pipes hide no warps, but the game's short enough to get away with this), and even a "the princess is in another castle" reference right out of the gate. And it just keeps going with that throughout the entire game. Tim must have his castle, and he must rescue his princess. Unfortunately, the actual plot barely moves past this, instead aiming for characterization and themes and symbolism so deep that you'll find yourself drowning in them. Not in a good way, though, like Fragile Dreams; more like in an overwhelming "seriously, though, what's going on" way. For much of the game, I wasn't even sure that there was a princess. Fortunately, there was a princess, giving the plot a reason to be. I'd insult the story some more, but I can't. Why? It actually manages to pull itself together near the end to deliver a fantastic plot twist that makes extremely creative use of all the gameplay you've come to know throughout the game. Using its magical time powers (again, taken from Mario), Braid reveals that Tim is Isaac Newton. This is very, very bad.
Just like the gameplay? Wait, what? Why did I set myself up for such a terrible transition? The gameplay in this game is awesome. The best way I can explain it is "it's a platformer, but it feels like an adventure game." You jump around levels, bopping Goomba things and killing rabbits in the name of love. However, there are some levels where these bunnies will kill you in the name of the opposite of love. How do you combat these Nazi bunnies? Time travel! Yes, that is the weakness of Nazi bunnies: time travel. It's why Iran has no rabbits. Tim has the power to turn back time, but only whenever he wants. Suck it, Mario. You can only turn back time once, and Isaac Newton's doing it on command. He's also fast forwarding time, kinda, creating shadow clones à la Romancing SaGa 3 (that's honestly the closest analogy I can muster), delay that last thing until level 5, even though it's the most well known feature in the game, and a bunch of other cool stuff. Except taking those powers back into previous levels. Never got that. But still, it's amazing how many ideas the game introduces level by level. Never once have I seen it run out of ideas. Granted, there are only six worlds, and the creators expect you to finish it in under an hour, but still, that's quite an achievement. The closest I could come to catching it running out of steam is the boss battle(s), but even they introduce new ideas.
Of course, you're probably wondering what the hell I did with the adventure game part of that paragraph. Do not worry, for no longer shall my adventure game comparison starve in the corner whilst platformers set up terrible rhymes! However, one last mention of platforming: you can get through most of the game with just the platforming part. Only when you complete the five worlds and notice that Closure (the achievement you get for beating the game) hasn't unlocked will that adventure game part come into play. Before you can access the final level, you have to collect puzzle pieces in each world and put together a nice little puzzle. Here's how it works: everything I've said about Braid+everything I've said about adventure games=everything I will say about the jigsaw puzzles. They're frequently creative and give you a nice feeling of satisfaction once you finally solve them, but often times, you're going to turn to video walkthroughs out of frustration. Sometimes, it'll just make shit up just to force you into this option. If you can figure that crap out on your own, you're in for a lot of smug satisfaction, which I think this game is trying to achieve. After all, it's an art game, and if art is known for anything, it's being smug; if Braid is known for anything, it's the fact that it's the only game that gives me dyslexia (I honestly have trouble looking at it as Braid and not Baird). Oh, and I might as well throw in "being awesome", as well. In fact, I'm going to turn that into an award; Braid gets the Being Awesome Award. I'd give the award to the indie genre, too, but that would require me to forget the existence of Adobe Flash. THOSE GAMES COUNT.
- Hero wants to rescue princess. Hero goes into detail about relationship to the point where you don't know what the hell's going on.
- It's amazing how fun and creative this game is over its six levels.
- And that's how you write a Braid review without once mentioning the graphics. Wait...
I have played this game, and I can tell you this: the commercial makes no sense. Yes, there are frogs in the game (the first word is "frog"), but that's about it.
Harms Way( Is somebody playing a joke on me, or something?) This was supposed to be about the Game Gear port of Ristar; what the hell am I doing with a piece of crap like this? I'm into obscure old-school games, damn it! My best guess is that it's supposed to set up a sudden theme of contrast. For example, you know how everybody considers Braid to be art? Try to find somebody who considers this high culture. You know how Braid was a triumph for indie gaming? Well, this game was farted out by the Doritos Mega Corporation rather quickly. Remember how I gave Braid an 8.4? Guess what score this game got?
As I said a couple of sentences ago, Harms Way (which should be Harm 's Way, with an apostrophe) is the product of the Doritos Mega Corporation, so it has to be an advergame, right? I guess? It's hard to tell. It's not like Pepsiman, where there's a mascot who's very clearly associated with the product (Pepsi's the gay prostitute company, right?) on screen all the time, or Yaris, where the product is made clear from frame one. Once you get to the menus, Doritos is pretty much out of the picture. I assume that to make up for this, Doritos Mega Corporation (I'd abbreviate it to DMC, but I can't think of any way to Photoshop Dante and Doritos together) put the game in the desert. That way, they can pass off the constantly obtrusive sand clouds as Doritos dust. Wait, is it constantly? I have doubts about that, because how constant can you be over three maps? I know that it's a free game and all, but there's so little to the game, I was frequently anticipating the "wanna unlock the full version of this game" prompt to pop up after I finished a map. There also aren't many vehicles, weapons, or hard achievements, meaning that this game needs to survive solely on the merits of its core gameplay. This isn't a good thing. Not for games in general; just for this piece of crap.
As I said no sentences ago, Harms Way is a racing game. Unlike the last paragraph, there's actually some obvious racing in this game. You hold down a button that makes a car go forward, you move a control stick left or right a few times, and then repeat that for a few more laps. There's also a nitro system where you can get nitro boosts from drifts, but since all three courses take place in the Möbius Strip Desert, you're never going to get much use from it. You do get a lot of nitro from the power-ups, but this is where things get confusing. First, some off-screen asshole plays a guitar riff whenever you get nitro, because that's apparently worthy of a guitar riff. Second, in addition to the nitro, you get a shield made of flying sperm and two power-ups that only work in multiplayer. Why are they in the single player, then? I'd blame it on the developers being lazy. Hell, they only put in four power-ups. That's right: half the power-ups don't work in the single player mode. Why not replace them with weapons of some type? After all, the game already gives off a combat racing vibe that it never really delivers on, at least from the car perspective.
Allow me to explain: you know why they call this game Harms Way? Because there's so much gun fire in the game that the only thing separating it from the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan is water. You can even lose your arm and pick it back up again, somehow. However, more often than not, you're just going to explode. Sometimes, it's because your car suddenly goes Swiss; however, most of the time, it's either because you flipped over (I can blame that on myself), or because some random path has been blown up while you were driving into it. Fuck you, game. How am I supposed to react to something that quickly without crashing into something else? All you've done is make rubber band AI cheaper than it already is. The weirdest part of it all? I'm told that it's supposed to be a cooperative feature. How? I just don't see it at all. The turrets come off as vague threats rather than something that helps me, and even if I did know which ones were helping me, how would they help me? There are shortcuts that only turrets can open, but why would they do that? It's not like those paths make you more vulnerable; if anything, they glide right over the stuff that would kill you. Oh, and again, how would it help you to get them to shoot the shortcuts? Since you have to bait them into shooting the area, the signs might as well say "Please slow down to read instructions on how to lose the race."
OK, I've spent enough time insulting the game mercilessly, so I think it's time that I say a few good things about it......Um....uh...no, there's only music on the menus....um....Oh! The turrets! You can actually play as the turrets, and this is where the game gets pretty fun. All you do is shoot. Want a different weapon? Shoot the power-ups until you get the cool weapons, even if it isn't clear that you can do this type of thing. Is that one car pissing you off? Launch missiles into its tires. Are you bored with this one particular turret? Switch to another one. It's like somebody saw a security camera in a mall or whatever, and thought to themselves "Why can't I use that to shoot people?" And thus, the best part of Harms Way was born. Of course, this being Harms Way, it still has a couple of flaws, like some bullets working in exactly the opposite way that bullets work (how does shooting something kill me?), or the nagging feeling that there's no point to any of it. It's not like the campaign, where you have some type of goal that must be achieved; you can get through the entire race without killing anybody. And it's not like you get much reward for killing people. OK, there are points, but the points really don't get you anything. There aren't medals or achievements or new weapons; they're just points. That's it. But still, it's the best part of the game, which is odd for a racing game. It'd be like if the best part of Final Fantasy VII was the motorcycle mini-game. Wait, that was the best part of Final Fantasy VII. Before I hide in my bunker, I'm going to give this game the Please Don't Kill Me Award. *runs*
- The racing sucks. It just sucks.
- Shooting things is OK, but what does it do for me?
- How did this game get the longer blog than BRAID!?