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AndyV's blog

12:38 PM on 02.28.2013

Is pacification always the best idea?

Just a silly little sketch I did while fighting off a nasty flu. While I understand the concern about characters being mindless killing machines, I wonder if tying them up defenseless on a deserted island is the really the best idea...   read

2:11 PM on 06.03.2011

Late To The Party- Splatterhouse (PS3)

I'm often pretty terrible at picking up games I am interested in or just flat out playing them. I have my own backlog of sorts that I still need to work through, so what "Late to The Party" is going to be is just sort of my own late reviews of games that came out...really whenever ago.

When Splatterhouse was first announced some time ago I got all sorts of excited, the original games were still classics in my mind when it came to favorite old school video game franchises. I still have fond memories of first sneaking away to my room with my older brother's copy of Splatterhouse 2 and playing it for hours. The games to me at that young were terrifying but also so interesting that I tossed my fears aside and pressed on, though later when it was time for bed I would have to fight imagery of the boss monsters in my head in order to sleep. To me Splatterhouse was like the older more mature version of Super Mario, you were simply a man who wanted to rescue a girl. I think that's what made the game so appealing, it was such a dark and twisted spin on a very familiar concept. I would revisit these games many times throughout my teens and would always wonder if out of all the games that were being revived if it this would be one of them...which it eventually was.

I would search high and low after it was announced for information on it, would it be a reboot, would it be the same exact formula, what would they do? I remember watching the trailer and being relieved to see the overall tone of the game was still the same, you still played as Rick, still wanted to rescue your girlfriend and the only way you could do it was with an uneasy alliance with the "Terror Mask". I would eagerly away to see what the game would be like when it was finally released...and I was disappointed. It seemed like everywhere I went every review trashed the game, calling it boring, repetitive and a complete rip-off of every modern action game nowadays. Needless to say it took the wind out of my sails about picking it up.

Months would pass into next year, I would always peruse through the gaming section of the Best Buy I work at and would always stop and having to read the back. Always wondering "Could it really be that bad?" Eventually due to other games coming out I forgot about picking it up until one day I happen to stumble upon one of the last copies we had in the store and saw it had dropped in price. Figuring what the hell I decided to pick it up and give it a go. What I found was a game that did not deserve all of the criticism it was being slammed with, what I really found was a brutal, fun, gory, simple and enjoyable modern day brawler that was a blast from start to finish. Does the game have problems? Yes, it definitely does, but as someone who doesn't need their games to always have top-notch production values and can enjoy simplicity I was completely satisfied.

One thing I enjoyed about the game was that it finally gave me and what most Splatterhouse fans wanted, more story. Thankfully it doesn't go completely overboard but this time around we finally learn more about the Terror Mask, the antagonist Dr. West, Rick's relationship with his girlfriend Jennifer and more about the events that led to West Mansion being as f'd up as it is. As I said it thankfully doesn't go overboard, cutscenes are brief, well-done, and really help flesh out the motivation of the hero. Speaking of the hero I really enjoyed the almost symbiotic relationship that Rick and the Terror Mask have, the brief dialogue that the two share between the combat really give a welcome bit of personality. Speaking of personality I really have to commend the voice acting of everyone in the game, all the characters have appropriate voices and are all done really well, the big star of the show of course having to be the Terror Mask itself done by voice-acting veteran Jim Cummings. I was a little concerned that his constant one-liners and berating comments would grow tiresome towards the end but even in the games final stages I was still cracking a smile at it's cruel and unusual form of encouragement.

The combat in the game is simply put, fantastic. It starts off really simple and I'll admit frustrating, but once you really get into it and upgrade some of your skills you get a great rush out of pulling off some epic moves. For example, breaking up a crowd enemies with a shoulder ram, singling out one to tackle and rip the arm off of, continuing to use said arm as a blunt object to take out another, then finishing it the last enemy standing by pummeling them until you can use one of the games "splatter-kills" to end their life by ripping their torso off. I loved it because while you did become this wrecking ball of destruction at the same you had to use some level of strategy to keep yourself alive. Simply rushing in and wailing on the light attack button won't work once really get into it.

As I said the game does have its problems, the platforming segments are frustrating since they don't really let you know where to go and the load times can be bothersome. But not of that really mattered to me when I was clearing a room full of enemies with destructive grace. The game keeps up a brisk pace and keeps the combat flowing pretty consistently with not to much in the ways of downtime. Just enough for some dialogue and exposition between the Mask and Rick. The music also helps keep the flow of the game moving too, though I'm not the biggest fan of death metal the tracks used did set the tone really well for the game and added a level of excitement to the games set pieces and boss battles.

I've never really typed a review before so I wanted to keep this somewhat short. In a nutshell if you were a fan of the original Splatterhouse games (which you do get the original 3 in the game!), are looking for some gory brutal combat similar to MK, or if some of your favorite movies are Evil Dead and even Riki-Oh, you will probably find a lot to love in Splatterhouse. I know I did.   read

12:39 AM on 05.25.2011

P2 Press Start: Romance in the Arcade

The crowded arcade was thick with people, huge groups of them clustered around the Dance Dance Revolution machine in the corner. People standing around wowed by the ridiculous amounts of dedication people had to memorizing the patterns to a song over and over again. My friend Mike was one of those guys, always wanting the spotlight and going through any lengths to get it. He had the two girls we were at the mall with enamored by his skills, using his fancy footwork to skyrocket his score higher and higher as the people watching cheered.

Myself at that point in time being a somewhat uncoordinated 16-year old who had no interest in playing a game like Dance Dance Revolution found himself feeling somewhat depressed. These girls we were there with, one of which I was crushing on, just seemed so impressed by him. I found myself wondering if I should get in the line and step up to the brightly colored plate to show off my non-existent dance skills in hopes of getting a little bit of the spotlight and possibly impressing her... but thoughts of getting booed and making a complete ass of myself in front of not only them and total strangers didn't seem like the way to do it.

I sighed and walked away from the crowd, feeling down on myself and jangling about the couple of tokens I had left, curious what to spend them on. My spirits rose when I saw an open arcade machine housing one of my favorites, Guilty Gear XX! Wailing on the computer with my main Slayer would no doubt help ease the feelings of boredom and potential loneliness. I sat down on the stool of the machine and excitedly put my token in, starting up the game and picking my character.

A match in and already I was feeling better, the sounds of the DDR crowd cheering and clapping being tuned out as I operated buttons of the machine, pulling off specials and combos with ease. Suddenly my concentration was broken when the "New Challenger" notification came up on the machine. The way this arcade was set up was that the fighting games had two machines facing towards one another, so you couldn't really see your opponent and if you weren't paying attention someone could step up and join in. The match was on as I re-selected Slayer as they chose Chipp and I prepared to face my mystery opponent.

The match started and it was explosive. Both character dashing back and forth, close calls happening nearly every second, combo's being landed, special attacks being thrown left and right. I found myself loving it, the person I was fighting was definitely on my level of skill. The match ended as I managed to land a decisive fatal blow, I had won. I stood up to walk around and greet my opponent and give them the celebratory "good game" that I felt was most definitely necessary. I rounded the corner of the machine and my heart stopped.

The girl I had been crushing on, the one who I had already felt I had loss to the moves of another, glanced up from the machine with a smile on her face. I didn't know how to respond, I knew girls played video games but this completely blew me away.

"Good game." I awkwardly said.

Before I knew it we were both talking as if we had been friends for years. Talking video games, how lame the DDR obsessed crowd of people were (no offense to DDR fans!) and other things. While Mike was continuing his quest to keep the crowds eyes on him, her and I wandered off to the food court to continue our conversation in peace.

It's been 7 years and I am happily engaged and soon to be married to that same girl. We still spend nights playing fighting games like Guilty Gear XX though lately me and her having been going toe-to-toe in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. She plays a pretty wicked Chun-Li that still gives my Alex a lot of problems. Though sometimes we do decide to mix things up and work together for a change by playing a good old co-op brawler like Final Fight. Who needs couple's counseling?


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