By Video_Game_King 4 Comments
Burning Force(Seriously, nobody had ever heard of those games.) And oddly enough, that was what made it so inflammatory. But as happens with all my controversial blogs, I learned some good things that make me a better gamer. For example, this important question: if a game sucks and there's no-one around to play it, can it still be called overrated? According to me, Wiktionary, and the question I just plagiarized, yes. But I'll avoid that stance and move onto games I liked and ones you've probably heard of. Not this one, though. (Hey, I can't beat Marios and Final Fantasies all the time.)
Hell, even I hadn't heard of it when I saw it. The only reason I played was because Treasure (the guys behind Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, and a bunch of other awesome games) made it, and no matter the quality of the game itself, a Treasure title is at least unique. So I decided to play this game, and found it to be an enjoyable, shallow, short, but enjoyable experience. Like the last Genesis shooter I reviewed, Burning Force is a behind-view shooter utilizing Space Harrier-esque graphics and lots of enemies.
Your goal is to blast through each level (at whatever speed you choose, a feature more important than it lets on) and kill baddies along the way. There are a few power-ups for your ship, but only three of them are worth getting: the chlorine gun, the super-cheap wide shot, and the only-half-as-cheap homing missiles. Everything else is pure crap, and nothing else. This isn't to say that the game is easy, even though it kinda is; the difficulty falls somewhere between easy and ball-busting. Often times, there's a bunch of crap on screen that you have to avoid, but paradoxically, the enemies all die easily to one or two bursts of your cannon.
And that's what makes it fun: dodging enemies at high speeds and shooting down anything heading toward you. Or coming at you from behind; unlike the last game I played like this (Super Thunder Blade), Burning Force pulls off the 3D perspective thing rather nicely. The objects scroll towards you smoothly, things are moving all over the place, and the ground doesn't look like a striped monstrosity. Sure, the graphics can edge on the simplistic side at times, but for the most part, it looks really good, especially given the early release date.
Whoops, seem to have digressed from the gameplay onto some random graphical tangent. Let's get back to the gameplay, shall we? In addition to the normal biker/shooter portions, there's also a plane flying thing, transforming the game from 3D Worldrunner without jumping to Space Harrier with a 150% badass increase. It even comes with a pretty cool bonus level where you try to see how many points/orbs you can get. It's a nice diversion from the shooting action, and, in my opinion, a needed one. After all, there's not much to the actual game other than "shoot, shoot, dodge that, shoot." It's still a fun game, but not exactly the deepest experience you'll have with a video game. Therefore, I give it the Tetris Award for Shallow Fun.
Last blog, I also got a bit of crap for the musical link things I use as my blog introductions. I like the feature, so instead of omitting it from future blogs, I'll do the opposite: torture you for 90 minutes. VWEEEE-HEEE-HEEE!!! (Seriously, though, it's pretty cool.)
RayMan(How can you not know about this game?) It's not big enough to be Mario or Sonic, but it's not small enough to be Little Samson or Metal Storm. But does its semi-importance to gaming make it a good game? No, all the great gameplay mechanics make it a great game.
As soon as you turn your PlayStation/Saturn/Jaguar/whatever on, you're greeted with a delightful Rayman-creature-thing in a top hat. Despite his pleasant, relaxed, almost-hippy exterior: he has some bad news: his home land has been invaded by an evil villain named Mr. Dark, also wearing a top hat. Mr. Dark arrested all the Electoons and threw them in hard to find (a key point for later on) cages. RayMan, the only being in the universe not wearing some sort of weird hat, is the only hero these poor creatures have.
So how does he plan to save them? By punching the crap out of anything that comes his way. Lucky for him, he has no limbs, meaning he has the only punch long enough to beat Chuck Norris in a fight. However, he does not start off with this godly gift; RayMan must learn it, like he dubiously does with other abilities. I can understand the helicopter hair and grabbing onto rings, but why does he have to learn how to run? That just seems like something he'd automatically understand, like breathing.
Whatever, at least the game itself if fun. As I hinted at a few sentences ago, there are a lot of abilities and elements to each level, and Ubisoft never seemed to run out of steam, even until the end. Each level has its own distinct feel to it, other levels being unable to replicate this. There's a mini-exploration-based level, a level that behaves a lot like a side-scrolling shooter, the typical "stay on the platform for 9 minutes" level, and many others. Boss battles are also creative, but not by much. Sure, no other game has you throwing your fist into the face of a fat space viking, but no other game makes that same space viking victim to easily predicted patterns. (The game isn't exactly easy, but I'll touch on that later.)
Yet the gameplay isn't the best part about the game. No, that honor goes to the aesthetics, which are great from both an artistic and technical perspective, especially for such an early PS1 game. RayMan has a very sweet, sugary, saccharine feel to it, each level featuring more colors than a rainbow. This, along with the aforementioned/incredibly rare cartoon FMVs, give the game a lot of charm. The music also helps with this, but I don't have much to say that a YouTube playlist already can't.
For a lot of the game, I had trouble finding any sort of real faults with the game. The most I could come up with was, "Well, he has a bit of misplaced 'tude." Not that valid a complaint, right? Well, RayMan heard this complaint about the lack of complaints, and decided to give me a bunch of reasons to hate it by making the last few hours as unenjoyable as humanly possible. Before you can even get to the final level of the game, you must free every single Electoon in the known universe. Yes, this game does what Blast Corps and Jet Force Gemini did: force you to 100% it in an attempt to get you to stop playing. I tried bypassing it with the password system (there's also a password system, in case you don't have a memory card), but the mystical voodoo forces of this game prevented me from doing so. So I went back through each level, slowly growing to hate my once former love. I had no choice; the game would not accept less than perfect (which really sucks when you have JUST ONE CAGE LEFT in a certain level). So you'd think that the game would allow you to exit a level you've already finished once you get everything you need, right? Like Mega Man? No, you still have to finish the damn level, turning what were once enjoyably challenging platforming sections into frustrating obstacles that waste your precious time.
Keep in mind that while I made it through, I had to do it with maps, walkthroughs (or rather, walkthrough), YouTube videos, and a bunch of things that people in 1995 did not have. But I made it through to the final level, only to find out that it was a hellish nightmare. Mr. Dark pops up throughout, sprinkling you with annoying magic spells, like a perpetual state of running or reversed controls. Obviously, a deep hatred for Mr. Dark started brewing within me, so you can tell how much I wanted to get to the final boss so I could beat his face in for his crimes against humanity. But the final boss isn't even Mr. Dark, it's some crappy fly thing on a stone body! But the ending has to be good, right? Well, let me stop you right there: no. You want an ending? Here's a ten second clip saying you beat Mr. Dark and a credits sequence. That's your ending. Because RayMan gave me a crap ending, I'll give the review for it a crap ending. It gets the Ghosts 'n Goblins Award for Frustrating 2D Platformers with Shit Endings, and also the crappy ending to Prince of Persia. That's your ending.