By Video_Game_King 37 Comments
Mother 1+2( I've made it clear time and time again that I don't like Earthbound.) Sorry, but Earthbound games and I have never really clicked. My first experience with the series alone almost turned me away from JRPGs, and later, when I learned that there are better JRPGs out there, I came to the conclusion that Earthbound Zero wasn't that good. However, I'm not 100% set in my ways; I'll give a game another chance if it meets certain conditions. Mother 1+2 met those conditions. Even though it's not in English and previous experiences have been buggy, I decided to give it a shot anyway. Since it's two games, I'll take the Phantasy Star Collection approach and just write two separate reviews, one for each game. Oh, and keeping with that tradition, each part of this blog will feature a Chuck Norris reference/picture:
Earthbound Zero( Oddly appropriate that I start things off with the game that started this series.) Actually, no, it's wholly appropriate, since this is the first game I played in the double package. Anyway, my verdict remains the same: the game isn't that good. I'm not saying that the game is bad, just that I was completely right long ago when I said that Earthbound Zero isn't that good.
After a long introduction where you're told that a turn-of-the-century couple got abducted by aliens, you find yourself playing as Ne-er, Ninten, the great-grandchild of the couple. After beating up some possessed dolls and lamps, your step-dad calls you and sends you on an epic quest to...um...actually, I forget what exactly he tells you to do. I know that your goal throughout the game is to get random objects to sing to you, but dear old dad isn't exactly clear on that. Then again, given how the plot is structured, I can't exactly blame him. A lot of the game goes without any story at all, it's just a couple of kids traveling from random area to random area, stumbling across musical melodies along the way. Most of the story elements don't come into focus until the end, but by then, it all feels rushed and forced, like the guy responsible for writing the story fell asleep while writing his own long-ass introduction. "But Earthbound games aren't known for good story", you tell me while probably thinking other stupid thoughts, "people play Earthbound because it's fun..ny."
Oh, that reminds me: I wouldn't use "funny" to describe this game, as it isn't the best word to describe it. No More Heroes, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Secret of Monkey Island, Portal, and about twelve other games are funny, but Earthbound Zero isn't. Instead, it's more surreal, quirky, trippy; a lot of the stuff in this game summons the question "Wait, what the fuck?" For example, you can whack a crow with a baseball bat (keep in mind that this is a Nintendo game), but should that crow light up a Marlboro, suddenly the censors have to come in and join you in beating down the crow. Oh, you can also beat up hippies. I have no criticism for that; say what you will about the 1950s, but in terms of human-hippie relations, they definitely had their priorities straight, as did Nintendo. If you see nothing fun about Hippie Skull Hacky Sack, get the hell out.
Look at that, I've just transitioned into the battle mechanics. It's a regular turn-based system with a few quirks. For example, rather than learn spells through normal leveling or by buying them, new spells just pop up at random. I've never discovered a pattern to when you learn specific spells, they just pop up at random times in the game. Hell, sometimes I've gotten spells while running from enemies, which is extremely convenient, given how much you'll be running from them. Two reasons for that: first, you don't see enemies out in the open like the other games, meaning the random encounter rate is stupidly high. How high? (I guess "stupidly high" doesn't answer that.) Remember in Phantasy Star II, how you could avoid enemies by opening up your menu with each step? I think the guys behind Earthbound Zero viewed that as a sort of challenge, since I actually entered a random encounter by closing my menu once. I'm literally at a loss for words. I tried coming up with five jokes for that, but nothing.
Second reason you'll be running a lot: the difficulty curve seems a bit screwy. When traveling to a new area, the enemies can go from "that crow from two paragraphs ago" to "you will die faster than Brad." Hell, even after being forced to grind your ass into a fine pulp for one before-end-game-boss, you'll still find your party members dropping like flies when fighting regular enemies in the final dungeon. Obviously, you'll have to grind. A lot. Sometimes, you won't even know when to stop grinding, since you'll be grinding for money more often than levels, and you can only tell how much you've earned by going to town and using an ATM. Weird, it seems like the huge random encounter rate balances out the grindy nature of the game; weirder still is that the relative ease of relying on auto-battle balances all three.
Why do I get the feeling that this game isn't properly balanced? Like Nintendo rushed this out as soon as possible? Shame, too, since I really think that if they put more work into the game, it could have been a good game. Yet instead of working on a notable story or balanced gameplay, they went for the quirks, which aren't even that good. Sure, a magic land of Chuck Norris cats and running really fast to warp spacetime all sound cool, but then you run into problems like visiting said land again and again and again and the large amount of space needed to use the damn warp spell in the first place. Basically, not that goo-wait, I still have a bit more to say. Lemme just rush through the points still lingering in my mind: unique graphics, excellent music, takes half the game to get another party member, shorter than Strider 2 (a game I beat in about 30 minutes). OK, that's all. McCarthyism Award for Giving Me Another Reason to Hate the 1950s.
- The funny factor doesn't make up for the fact that the story is barely there.
- How can a typical turn based battle system cause so many anomalies?
- Had they taken some extra time to polish the game, it could've been a decent product.
Earthbound( Well, this is rather embarr-er, humbling.) Turns out after about 4 years of claiming this game is crap (along with at least hinting at it in the last two parts of this blog), I actually liked the game quite a bit after playing it. How odd that the one JRPG that almost scared me away from the genre turned out to be pretty good once I'd had more experience with said genre. (Just for the record, not only do I still believe Mother 1/3 aren't good, but just about any popular game I don't like that you'll probably mention at some point.)
What specifically do I like about this game? Obviously, the story, since that's what attracts me to JRPGs in the first place. It's the year 199X, and a powerful super-psychic fly from the future visits Ness in his town that's so huge, it makes Springfield look like Rhode Island's little brother. The fly relays this message to Ness: that ten years in the future, everything goes to Hell because of something named Giygas. Of course, it's December of 2009, making the plot of this game impossible to pull off. For failing at math, Buzz Buzz ( that's the fly) gets swatted to the ground and dies. Wait, is that...funny? Odd, because the last game wasn't funny at all, it was just trippy.
Well, Earthbound looked at the amount of drugs the creators had to ingest to get that trippy, multiplied that amount by "woah, dude", and decided to add one key ingredient that it was originally lacking: FUNNY. OK, so I couldn't understand ALL the humor due to the Japanese, but trust me, it's funny. Hell, it was so funny, that I'll declare it the funniest game in the series, even if the other games make it incredibly easy to say such a thing. What's a bit harder to say is that it's the most refined game in the series, probably because of the flaws I'll mention in two sentences. It manages to develop its characters and story structure properly (better than EB0) while telling the story through things that aren't always cutscenes (Mother 3's down). However, there were some flaws I found with the story, like how a lot of what's funny is balanced with either a "WHAT THE FUCK!?" moment (I'll elaborate later) or some obscure Beatles reference that flew over my head because my Beatles literacy barely passes Yellow Submarine. Oh, and there are some minor things that annoy the hell out of me, like Mr. "Let's Interrupt the Game so I Can Take a Picture of How Angry You Are", or how the cast's parents are more abusive than Square-Enix.
Seriously, I hate you, Mr. All That Crap I Said Before (from now on, Mr. All That Crap). Why did you interrupt the gameplay? It's actually kinda decent, you weirdo! Instead of tripping over random battles whenever you try to swap inventories, you actually see the enemies on screen before you fight them! Plus I can avoid repeatedly dealing with crappy dogs, because if I'm strong enough, they kill themselves when I approach them! Does that not amaze you, Mr. All That Crap? Oh, he left? Damn it. Well, let me transition into the actual battles, then: like Earthbound Zero (but totally not like Earthbound Zero), it's traditional turn-based with a few twists. It's still incredibly easy to rely on the "tape the turbo button" strategy, but there's a lot more to it than that. For example, there's actually a reason to use the spells in this game, probably because of how damn intuitive the system is compared to other games. Each spell is organized by type, and you learn each spell at a fixed rate, as opposed to Mother 1's extremely random nature or Mother 3's magic herpes outbreaks. Add to that the high leveling speed, and we've eliminated another flaw in Mother 1's gameplay: the grinding.
But wait, I think Nintendo took it too far in this game, because a lot of the bosses (that's right, bossES) are ridiculously easy. Just spam your most powerful PSI moves until you run out of PP, then bash their knees in with a baseball bat. Of course, this doesn't work with some bosses (the final boss, for example, because of a lack of knees), but for the most part, that strategy worked more efficiently than it did in DarkStalkers. Perhaps this is why in my first run, I found it to be a sort of point A to B game where you did nothing more than jump from location to location without any transitions or unity whatsoever. I was wrong in that regard, but the point is that I at least had a good reason to believe that, as was the case with several other complaints. Like the scrolling HP. Oh, such a unique feature, but in need of refinement. Here's how it works: instead of your HP/PP just becoming some number less than what it was before, the numbers actually scroll down like a countdown to your doom. However, should you heal whilst it still scrolls, then you recover HP from where it left off. Sounds cool, but it's prone to errors. In the original, it was too fast to be of any use, and while the GBA version's fixed that, it came at the cost of smooth scrolling; if you let it hang there because you abuse systems like that, it'll reach a point where it stops short of its goal, possibly in a double cheat. Keep in mind that this only happens when you heal yourself, not when you're hit.
Some may call this cheap, but given all the other trippy crap that goes on in this game, I don't know what to call it. There's some very weird stuff in this game, and while you probably knew that already, I bet you don't know the depth of such weirdness. Ness goes into his own psyche naked, the game gives you a bike 12 minutes before you're never able to use it again, and it seems to borrow a lot from Earthbound Zero while still trying to be its own game. Seriously, there's A LOT from Mother 1 in here: lots of remixed music, same enemies, similar scenarios, but somehow, all of this is much better than the original game. It gives off this incredibly refined and polished feel, at least when compared to the original; on its own merits, things can feel not only kinda rough, but also very, incredibly, horrifyingly creepy.
I'm speaking, of course, of the final boss battle. We all know that it involves a terrifying red skull launching...stuff....at you, but that's only the beginning of it. No, things don't get full-on creepy until you realize your true mission: you went back in time to abort a fetus. A fetus that came into the world through rape. I am not kidding, that is the final boss: a rape fetus. Let me repeat that for those of you who turned away in disgust (and rightfully so): YOU. MUST. ABORT. A. FUCKING. RAPE. FETUS. TO. BEAT. THE. GAME. Everything about that scares me on levels I can barely understand, and this is coming from somebody who's written not one, but TWO blogs with overly elaborate rape analogies. Imagine what this would do to a n-on second thought, you probably can't. No wonder Mother 3 came out 13 years after Earthbound: that's how long it took for the developers to stop screaming long enough to make another game. And the worst part?: you can only abort Rape Fetus using an up-until-now-useless Pray command. In case you don't fully grasp the severity of that statement, let me phrase it a different way: you can only abort Rape Fetus through the power of God. What now, Christians? I'll give this game the I Was Wrong Award if it promises never to make me abort a Rape Fetus ever again.
- The story's actually...funny?
- The battle system, while still about as smooth as Brawl's online play, can at least stand on its own this time around.
- AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RAPE FETUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why didn't the people behind Earthbound take this advice when making Rape Fetus?
Mega Man 6 ( Wow, it's been a really long time since I've even touched a Mega Man game.) Maybe it's because playing Mega Man is enough to get you on a sex offender registry. Or maybe it's because every time I'm playing a Mega Man game, I realize that it's just the same crap they've been making since 1987. Mega Man 6 is obviously no exception, except in the fact that it may be somewhat good, to a certain extent.
Still, it's not doing itself any favors, given how much they've blatantly ripped from previous games. Same graphics, same weapons, same bosses, same story. Ooh, that's convenient, isn't it? As always, it's the future, and some guy named Mr. X is holding a tournament to find the world's strongest robot. Mega Man joins, not knowing that Mr. X is the world's most common alias, and forgetting that the first step of all of Wily's world domination plans is "tape fake mustache over current mustache, setting up a new identity." Predictably, the contest ends with Mr. X announcing a world domination scheme, and predictably, Mr. X is actually Wily in disguise.
Also predictably, you have to fight 8 bosses in a certain order that hasn't really changed since Mega Man 2. In fact, the only thing that has changed (besides the addition of some useless stats) is the connections between bosses, which seem to be getting worse with each game. Sure, you have logical connections (fire melts ice, ice destroys plants), but then you get the kind of connections that not even Glenn Beck could see, no matter how dysfunctional or drunk. Example: Tomahawk Man. How do you beat him? Plants, of course! Yea, because no tomahawk can cut through mushrooms, right? We all know that the previous statement is doubly wrong, but what does tomahawk beat? Yamato Man, duh! Apparently, the one thing ancient Japan fears more than drunk snake demons are tomahawks. Ignore the fact that they have robots, and robots fear nothing; tomahawks really do kill robots, especially if they're from ancient Japan.
See how none of that makes sense? What also makes little sense it the weapon selection. Don't worry, you get the same weapons you've seen five times before (and a few more, but more on that later), but what pisses me off is how much of a cocktease Mega Man 6 is. During the boss fights, you'll sometimes see the enemy using two weapons: a regular one and a much better one. You fight the boss, hoping to get the better one, but instead see a preview of the regular one, confirming that you got that piece of crap. Hell, sometimes they won't even use the regular weapon; in my playthrough, Centaur Man, the most redundantly named of the Robot Masters, kept using a spread shot on me. I thought I'd get that spread shot, but alas, I was left with a crappy time freeze thing that you'll only ever use against one boss.
Fear not, though, for Mega Man 6 actually does a few things differently, even if it doesn't do them well. Remember Beat, the bowling ball that would peck the shit out of anything within a nine screen radius? Well, he's back, and while I didn't use him whatsoever, I have a good reason: too much effort in getting him. You sill have to collect the letters of his name, but not through searching the levels or anything; no, this time you have to get to a certain room to fight the boss du jour. There's no difference between the bosses and Beat's the only benefit, so it just feels like a cheap way to pad the game's length by making us play the same level twice. Fortunately, you don't have to go through all that crap for the new mecha suit things, and fortunately, I actually liked these. They replace the Rush adaptions of the past and allow you either to punch the hell out of anything in your way or bob through the air like you've just run out of gas for the damn thing. That's probably because you have, given that the energy bar only goes halfway up. You also can't slide or launch charged punches from afar, leading me to question whether they're actually upgrades.
However, other than those things, it's the same game, as I've said before and about a billion times before. Yea, it means that a lot of what we've loved is still there ( music, graphics, etc.), and while you get some new stuff, you also get all of the old crap you've seen again and again. Think of it what you will. Personally, I give this the Laziest Villain Paint Job Award for Mr. X. Seriously, look at him. If you didn't know better, you'd think Wily just went blind, probably because of one his stupid Robot Masters.
- What the hell's a Yamato? And why is it scared of tomahawks?
- Some new suits are introduced, and while they're pretty cool, they both handle awkwardly.
- It's pretty much a Mega Man 2 mod.