By RayCarter 0 Comments
I'm going to stop doing Rapid Fire Reviews for the interim; I think the subsequent entries just weren't as good as I've hoped to be, balancing between compact and informative. For now, I'll write about games that I was very fond of but aren't either console games or handheld games. The games I'll talk about for the next handful of weeks will be mostly Internet games I really liked.
I've actually thought about doing this before, writing about Internet games that dotted my childhood and (less so) teen years, but it wasn't until recently that I really wanted to make this post a reality. This entry is going to be about the earliest Internet game I was very fond of for several reasons: Teen Titans Battle Blitz, a fighting game based off of the Teen Titans cartoon of the early 2000s. But before looking at the final form of the game, I would like to provide a bit of back-story to how I got introduced to the game and its subsequent versions of the game (we'll get to that later).
I was in the fourth grade and at the time I watched a lot of Cartoon Network (I watch more Boomerang nowadays). I don't remember the specifics but a friend of mine at the time couldn't stop talking about the upcoming Teen Titans cartoon coming soon to the channel. I didn't know anything about this show, but the friend directed me to a (now defunct I think) website and also told me to check out its game on the site, Battle Blitz. Taking his word I used the desktop computer (no laptops at the time) to go on to the site and played the game.
Now, I have to note that the Battle Blitz I was subjected to was nothing near the Battle Blitz you can search online and play nowadays. In a pretty clever move by Cartoon Network and the game developers the game only started with very few options. At the time I was starting to play this game I could play only one character, Robin, against four other characters: Jinx, Gizmo, Mammoth and Cinderblock. However, the character selection screen showed that there were four other Titan characters I could play in the future. There too was one more bad guy to be unlocked at a future date. The main objective of this post was to talk about Robin, the Teen Titans character I could play, as well as the four villains.
Let me be clear that during the time I started playing this game I really had no experience with fighting games. I did have a Samurai Spirit game for the Gameboy, but most of the time I played that game spamming buttons, with prayer as my best bet for winning. Like a baby taking its first steps away from crawling, I began to exercise the muscle memory to pull off special moves in fighting games. It helps that the game doesn't have a complicated control scheme. You move your character with the directional keys left and right. Up makes you jump, and you can control your jump trajectory a la Super Mario Brothers. Down is your duck; this is your standard block that locks your character in a spot. You take less damage when you block and there are no attacks that can break your block stance, which is something you can see in other fighting games. "Z" is for punching, and "X" is your kick. If you imput certain combinations with the directional keys, then press the punch or kick button, the character uses a special move. Each character has 3 moves of that type. When I first started in Battle Blitz I just spammed the Z and X buttons to win the fight, but eventually I used some of Robin's special moves, as I'll highlight next.
Robin in this game is a pretty standard fighter. His first move is Explosive Disk, which is executed by pressing Down, Right (or left) and then Z. Robin would throw a projectile in the direction he is facing. If the disk lands on an opponent it deals damage. I gotta say, Explosive Disk was the first projectile move I ever used, and also the first "quarter-circle forward punch" move I ever pulled off. It sounds crazy today in front of a video-game literate audience, but I had a kick out of spamming that move to win my fights. I felt a sense of achievement in doing something I never did before in a game; throwing a projectile, and using an attack that is not punch or kick. But my mastery of Robin didn't end there. I eventually learned his other moves. Flying Kick was the next special move I came to master at the time. This move actually does not use a punch of kick button, but it requires you to go Left, Left, Right on the directional keys. Robin would then lunge forward with a kick for a moderate distance, stopping only when he collides into his opponent or reaches his maximum distance for that move. His final special move is Electric Disk Toss, a move that took me quite a while to master what with my limited fighting game experience. It is used when I press Left, Down, Right, and X. At the time the 3 keys baffled me, and so was using X, because until then I used the Z button to pull a special move. But once I finally got that down, I can make Robin throw another disk for a short distance. Unlike the Explosive Disk, however, this Electric Disks explodes upwards, creating a somewhat-wide pillar of energy. If the enemy gets caught by the pillar he or she is knocked back, losing tons of HP. This is by far Robin's most damaging ability, assuming I, the player, can hit the enemy with it. Finally, and this wasn't in the commands list, if Robin is in mid-air and you press X, Robin does a jump-kick streaking downwards towards the enemy. It doesn't do that much damage.
So just to summarize Robin the character from Battle Blitz:
Now that I finished talking about the Boy Wonder, it is time to talk about the characters I played against. I'll be brief for these guys, but one thing I appreciated from this game was that each villain was unique in a way. Also, the order of fighting the villains is set for Robin and the rest of the characters: To fight Gizmo I have to beat Jinx, and to fight Mammoth I need to beat Gizmo and so on. All fights have the Best-of-3 format. Without further ado, the villains.
Jinx is probably the character most resembling a standard fighter like Robin; she can jump, kick and has moderate movement speed. She has three moves; a large psychic ball (projectile called Psychic Wave), a flying kick [Psychic Distortion] that has more range and reach than Robin's, and a twirl (Energy Spin) that unleashes psychic waves around her. Out of all the moves, the last one is probably the most annoying. It doesn't do the most damage (the psychic ball is the most harmful), but the twirl is so instantaneous that it is too fast for you to block. The Flying Kick is also quite fast, but blockable as well.
My first reaction to Gizmo is "wow the dude is short!" He is the smallest character in the game by far, but makes up for it with incredible footspeed; he is the fastest character in the game most likely. Moreover his small size actually can help him avoid some punches, which I eventually learned when I faced him as Robin; only half of the punches connected to Gizmo because of his size. More weirdly though, Gizmo can't kick. And for him to jump he has to get into his Glider form. That being said the glider form makes him more susceptible to attacks, and it only takes a punch or kick to send him crumpling to the ground and to non-glider form. Gizmo has three abilities, but the one move he uses the most is Machine Gun, which fills the entire width of the screen. It too is near-instant, meaning that it is hard to dodge or block against. He has two forms of missile attacks, both of which spray an area with missiles and dealing damage. One is like the Electric Disk in that it creates a pillar that hits both stationary and mid-air, but the time to channel the move is long, so you can easily block the move.
Mammoth is the bruiser of the first three villain characters, opting to use physical, brute strength rather than gadgets or psychic powers. Though he can't kick he can jump and use three pretty harmful abilities: A ground shockwave projectile, a melee range spinning punch and finally a charge-in move a la Psychic Distortion (Jinx's Flying Kick) that is super fast. Mammoth is where the game is going to get hard; all his special moves deal more damage when compared to other characters' moves. Putting yourself in melee range almost results in a lost cause because Mammoth can do more damage than Robin in a melee fisticuff, so spamming normal punches and kicks are out of the question. Using duck (block) and ranged attacks really pays off, and when I first fought against Mammoth I really needed to use Explosive Disk Toss a lot. At the time, remember, the "quarter circle forward punch" imput still didn't sink into me that much.
Cinderblock is the last villain I got to face until next time. As a hulking statue he is both very tall and very slow. Due to its weight it also cannot jump. But much like Mammoth he can dish out some punishment. It actually shares a similar moveset with Mammoth: A shockwave projectile, a damaging backhand punch (akin to Mammoth's spinning punch), and a double punch that does roughly the same thing as its backhand counterpart. What makes Cinderblock harder to kill, though, is that he has more HP. As a result, when I use the Explosive Disk, it whittles less of Cinderblock's HP bar when comparing with, say, Jinx or Gizmo. Much like Mammoth, fighting it out in melee range is a losing proposition, thus I settled for Explosive Disks and the occasionally Electric Disk.
When I finished fighting Cinderblock I was greeted by a screen with a mugshot of the last villain, but was told that this challenger was not ready yet, then was taken back to the character select screen. That was for now what Battle Blitz was, a simple and yet solidly executed fighting game on the internet, with pretty neat visuals to boot. I looked on at the remaining, blacked-out spots where the rest of the heroes and villains would fill in a future date. I had a pretty fun time with the game despite just playing as Robin. I held out hope that I was going to see the rest of the characters of the game, and have a better time in the game than I already was. Some time later, I was quite right. The next entry of this post is going to talk about the next unlockable fighter in the game, as well as the last villain in the game you get to fight against. I'll give a hint about who this playable combatant is:
Azarath metrion zinthos!