Sonic 4 looks to possibly end the Sonic Cycle by returning us to our classic Genesis-style Sonic game-play roots without having a bunch of lame-ass friends gaying things up. In the past 15 years or so, the addition of wimpy, unlikable, assumably taliban-sympathizing new characters has marred the face of almost every new Sonic title. Although most of the new (post-Genesis) Sonic games would have still blown ass even if they had excluded the dumb, new characters, it's still widely accepted that the people who enjoyed the original games have little desire to see a cast bloated with slow, uninteresting, new animals that serve to only detract from our playtime as the beloved title character.
But...let's set the record straight here: I agree that new friends tend to lame-up Sonic games, but I do take some issue when people try to drag Tails into this "friends=gay" formula. I'm actually flabbergasted by how many people I've talked to consider Tails (and Knuckles) to be in the same lot as the other dolts that have been added post-Sonic 3; some people seriously HATE Tails. I cannot understand this sentiment, and hope it to be isolated to the couple morons I discuss games with. Yes, Sonic games should focus on Sonic, but come on, Tails doesn't F* with that formula, and, in the Genesis games, he helps to make for a richer game overall experience, and I'd be devastated if he didn't show his mug in at least one of the episodes in the upcoming Sonic 4.
I'm of the (right) opinion that Tails really needs to make his way to one of the episodes of Sonic 4--and for anyone who fails to grasp why Tails is the king, I'll try to break down just what he brought to the table when he was first introduced way back in 1992.
Sonic 2 was the best selling Sonic (and Genesis) game of all time, and is argued by some (me) to be the best game in the series, and I can't help but think that this has something to do with the addition of Tails "Miles" Prower. He was rarely able to keep up with Sonic as he'd spindash his way through levels, but I'll be God-damned if the little guy didn't try. His presence in the game was beautifully subtle; I always loved how Sonic's established personality wasn't compromised at all by the addition of a sidekick, something that tends to pussy-up a man. Sonic still seemed bad-ass since he didn't give two shits about whether Tails could clear that jump over the lava, if Tails was three seconds away from drowning (he still wasn't getting that bubble), or whether or not there was an extra handle-bar on the zip-line for the little guy, Sonic had shit to do (i.e., murder Dr. Robotnick for being fat). Also, while playing single-player, having the AI-controlled Tails never really be able to keep up with you served to highlight just how fast and unbelievably-cool Sonic was.
Gameplay-weis, having Tails tag along never upset the formula that made us love Sonic games. Sonic was unquestionably still center stage (literally, the screen only followed him), but if someone in the room got bored of just watching you play, he/she could pick up the second controller and f*ck around as Tails. Another subtle, but amazing little side to Sonic 2; I don't think they even mentioned in the instructions that Player 2 could control Tails, which made it even cooler once you discovered it. This mechanic allowed Player 2 to both act as a passive observer to Player 1's game while also occasionally contributing without any of the stress of playing as Sonic (and things turned real stressful once you got around Hill Top Zone). And a solid Player 2 Tails really did contribute. Do you remember how awesome it felt when when you'd play as Tails and do something to save the f*cking day? It felt unbelievable incase you forgot. For Player 2, the whole experience was almost like being given some minor role in a movie that you were watching...I can't think of any other type of game that implements this whole "1.5 Players" idea in such a manner.
It was especially cool how the hero/sidekick dynamic managed to actually assume itself into the player's minds of the two players when they'd try to beat the game together. When you'd play as the Player-2 Tails, you really did feel like a sidekick: as Tails you would look for any small way to contribute while expecting Player-1 to have most everything under control without you. As Tails, you'd occasionally hit a switch or grab a zip-line that you weren't supposed, apologize to your friend, and then momentarily feel like a screw up and a burden (a dynamic you might imagine exists in Sonic and Tail's "actual" relationship!!!); and you'd always have to follow Sonic around, seeing as how the screen centered on him and you'd disappear if you moved offscreen.
And my f*cking God, remember how sad was it in Sonic 2 when Tail's plane gets shot down and only Sonic is able to make it to safety? I was devastated, although I'm sure I also laughed...heh, after getting killed like 800 times already, Tails' life comes to a close via fiery plane-crash. That seriously sort of bums you out, not having yer bro there as you have to take on Robotnick solo. But as Sonic finally beats the last boss, destroys Robotnick's sky base, and begins to plummet towards his death, how awesome was it when you see Tails in his plane (with sick new engines) fly in and rescue his buddy. "Thanks," Player-1 would say, "Any time." replies Player-2...memories.
Tails was the icing on the cake that was Sonic 2, and in the next two games, Tails just got better. Players would be given the capability to fly Tails almost anywhere in Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. This mechanic turned Tails into more than just a novelty; his ability to fly Sonic around allowed the duo to gain access to secret spots, evade stage hazards, and even find shortcuts to bypass large segments of certain levels. Tail's flying mechanic essentially took what would otherwies be a linear game and gave you some freedom to explore and invent your own path.
Tails is a staple of the golden age of Sonic, that's reason in and of itself to give him a free pass on the Sonic-friends list. Yeah, it would be cool if Sonic was alone like he was back in Sonic 1, but I'd much rather see a game that serves as a proper sequel to "Sonic 3 and Knuckles". The idea I saw adopted for Megaman 9, one of "lets make a retro-throwback game, but play it safe and borrow almost exclusively from the most popular game in the series (Megaman 2) and throw away what was established since (M-Buster and Sliding)" doesn't make the game feel like a proper sequel...and frankly, it's a cowardly play on the developers part. I was sad to see the M-buster and slide gone from Megaman 9, and I for one am hoping (and expecting) to see a little yellow fox and maybe red...ech-echidna?...show up in Sonic 4.
Here's who we need in MvC3, chars listed in semi-alphabetical order.
The Noid (from Yo! Noid)
Monterey Jack from Rescue Rangers
Harman Smith (or any Killer 7 guy)
The plane from 1943
Nick and Tom (from Snow Bros.)
Howard the Duck
If i had to pick...3 guys lets say. I'd go with the Snow Brothers, Stilt Man, and prob Snake Man. I think it's a safe bet that they'll all show up in the game.
Decimation X is the best value of any indie game I've ever played, and that even includes "I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES IN IT!!!1". Based on how many people have already rated it on XBLA, and the fact that it's supposably the #1 best selling and best rated XBL indie game in Japan, I'm guessing I'm pretty late to the Decimation X party, but I'm still gonna write about how much fun I've been having playing this little indie game for those of you who aren't already in the know.
Decimation X is essentially an over-the-top, big-dick-mother-f*cker version of Space Invaders--if that doesn't sound appealing to you, I should mention that I never really liked Space Invaders, but absolutely fell in love with this game after 10 minutes of play...something to think about. Dodge lasers, shoot aliens; a more hackneyed videogame formula there is not, but the fact that its creators (Jason and Matthew Doucette) managed to take such a contrived, boring videogame convention and make a game that somehow feels fresh and exciting is part of what makes this game so special. It's a real videogame's videogame; there are only two real buttons, move (left and right d-pad/analog) and shoot (A button/RT). As such, pretty much anyone can pick up and enjoy the game, but those planning to reach the higher levels will encounter some of the most brutal difficulty a videogame has to offer.
Graphically, the game takes the sort of retro/minimalist route. Lasers are just white lines and aliens are just different colored moving-shape (like red skulls or yellow boxes); the only non-retro flare the game has is the sparkey-explosions the aliens produce upon death, but it can look pretty spectacular when you're plowing through a whole wave, even if the explosions do distract you from the dangers of incoming enemy fire.
The game starts out fairly tame, with, at first glance, it looking to be just your garden-variety Space Invaders clone with a tiny ship, tiny bullets, tiny enemy fire, and some relatively big shields. You may ask yourself, "Why would they make the shields so big?", a question the game will enthusiastically answer for you about 15 levels in. After a few minutes of playing, you'll notice the volume of enemy fire increase from "laughably unthreatening" to "OH MY GOD THE UNSTOPPABLE DOWNPOUR OF LASERS JUST RIPPED THOUGH ALL MY SHIELDS LIKE NOTHING and now I'm dead...". Clear out a few waves and new tougher alien types will start to appear at the back of the wave formations that will fire at you more aggressively, will be capable of absorbing more damage, and, later on, will start to blink in and out of vulnerability (meaning they sorta appear and disappear so that alot of your fire just passes through them).
Luckily, the game provides you the tools to really butt-f*ck these little scuzz-bags, provided you employ the right tactics and have the scrotal sack required to nab the various crucial power-up items that fall amid the lasery chaos. Some items include "S": repairs for your shield, "I": an energy-field that acts as temporary invincibility, and "pT": plain old points, but lots of em'. Points plays a pivotal role in the game, as higher scores earn you extra lives and the occasional item shower, a screen-wide drop of items, of which you'll have time to grab about 6 or 7, so choose wisely.
The remaining items all relate to the real star of the game, and the real determinant of your success in Decimation X, your gun upgrades. Your gun, as far as I can tell, has no foreseeable limit to its upgradability...I've never seen this in a game before...and it's genius. Seriously, you can upgrade the shit outa your gun, like forever(ish). If that isn't gun-good, then I don't even know what the fuck gun-good means anymore.
"B" (Bullet: increases the number of bullets you are allowed on screen), and "P" (Power: increases the number of bullets per shot and bullet spread), "A" (Auto: increases rate of fire), and "R" (Rapid: increases the bullet's travel speed). Keep picking up these upgrades and your gun will go from a single-fire pee shooter to a cannon that blankets the opposite half of the screen with oblivion, at which point you can simply just wipe out waves of aliens with the flick of your thumb...until the stronger waves come and you need to finagle the means to further build-up your gun and defenses without getting hit by one of those alien-spick's lasers. If you get nothing else out of Decimation X, will want to keep playing just so you can see how obscene you can make your gun.
The struggle to avoid increasing enemy fire while trying to maintain your shields, strengthen your ridiculous gun, and mow down aliens is much more addicting than I would have ever thought. And as simple as the premiss may be, the strategy and tactics you must employ to survive when things get rough makes the gameplay especially deep. Just navigating through the narrow gaps in a field of lasers really does become an art at some point; I found myself trying to learn new ways to push the analog stick (tapping it super softly but quickly) to make the precise movements my ship needed to dodge laser in the thicker barrages. The game has some very special moments, like when you're almost out of lives and have no shield protection, you see an Invincibility drop within the field of lasers, you go for it knowing full well that you'll probably die in the process, and then you manage to narrowly snag it and proceed to blow away three waves of enemies, strengthen you gun, completely rebuild your shields, and get an extra life...man-o-man. Little moments like these can turn things around completely, and it's unbelievably satisfying when these desperate, hail marry tactics actually pay off for you.
You may notice in one of the images that I posted that the game supports 2, 3, or 4-person multiplayer...I wish I could comment on multiplayer, but sadly I've only played single player...4-player looks pretty sick though doesn't it (if someone's played it please let me know how it is). And, although right now there are no online leaderboards, I should mention that the game displays a message promising "Online leaderboards coming soon!" on the Game Over screen, and I've been told we can expect it to me up very soon (sometime in March or April I'm guessing?). Between this game and Chime, I'm getting some sick play value out of my XBLA games; I've honestly been playing more Decimation X than Bioshock 2 (which I just picked up).
That's all, just wanted to share some info about a game that's been providing me with enormous play-value for only a dollar. Trust me when I say that my description, as well as the images and movies I posted, don't really do this game justice--you need to play it for yourself. If you're a fan of quality minimalist games, man-level difficulty games requiring "mad skillz", or if you just like shooting lots and lots of shit at aliens, you are brain-dead if you don't at least play the trial version of this little gem.
Haven't seen too much Aliens vs Predator news posted on Dtoid the last couple weeks, guess Jim's been taking a break from dropping his self-obligated nuggets of AvP info. So, for any interested Dtoiders who don't Google AvP news 6 times a day like me, I'll summarize some of the newer info that I've scrounged up from the interwebs over the last 2 weeks...or whatever.
Gamepro and IGN actually had decent hands-on multiplayer previews posted recently. In terms of how the three different species stack up in multiplayer, you'd think the Pred (with his one-hit kill melee and projectile weapons, cloaking, leap, high-defense, etc.) would be hugely overpowered, but when I read the Gamepro preview, the Alien player dominated the Marine and Pred players. How? Hmm, well I did hear that the Alien is fast as shit, despite Rebellion's mention that the Alien's speed would be nerfed from that of the 1999 AvP game. Plus, the Alien's (and Predator's) stealth kills are apparently pretty easy to get off once you get anywhere close to a guy's back, so that's another thing that probably accounted for alot the Alien's dominance in multiplayer, or maybe the Alien player was just the shit...I dunno.
In terms of multiplayer modes I was psyched as hell to find out that Pred Tag (or Predator Hunt as it's now known) is making a return. Thank f*cking God. For those who don't know, it's a mode where a bunch of marines play against a single pred player where only the pred can score points. If a marine player kills the pred, they get to play as him and get the opportunity to start racking up a score themselves. At the start of each run, the Predator is given a set time limit to find his weapons. After getting geared up, he'll start staking the marines and pick out a good spot from which to get some killing in. Even though marines are sort of considered the the game's walking side of beef, a platoon of heavily armed marines are nothing to scoff at, so it serves the predator to make himself scarce after a fresh kill, lest he wants to be on the receiving end of this. It was also announced that preds need to de-cloak before attacking, so their position is given away pretty fast after they commit to a kill. Cautious Preds will stick to the classic plasma casters and discs to take on the Marines in this mode, but if the Predator player is packing a bowling ball bag sack, he could take out the occasional Marine with a trophy-kill, which is allegedly extreemly satisfying (shocker) but leaves you vulnerable to be shot by another player as you rip the first guy's head off, so it's more of a special occasion type thing. Aside from Predator having to find his weapons at the beginning of Pred Hunt, the whole scenario seems to sync-up pretty well with the happenings of the original Predator flick. I can't f*cking wait.
Infestation Mode, another sweet-ass multiplayer mode, is the Alien's answer to Pred Hunt...sort of. Infestation is essentially a last man standing style game with Aliens and Marines. There's a bunch of Marine players against one alien player at first, but then killed Marines will respawn as Aliens who then attack the remaining Marines. Sick...very Aliens-esq. In this mode in particular, Aliens will be working together to bring down remaining Marines, not unlike the special infected in L4D versus mode. Pretty much every game will end with a pair of Marines huddled up in a corner somewhere as waves of Xenomorphs try to bite through their heads--this immediately reminds me of the scene from Aliens where a desperate Vasquez and Hudson (I think Hudson), while being overrun by Aliens as their ammo runs out, pull the pin on and clutch a grenade so as to go out like men (the only way Vasquez could go out, obviously). It seems that both Infestation and Predator Hunt modes will act as proper tributes to their respective source films.
And although pretty much everything I've read about AvP has been overwhelmingly optimistic, I did hear some things that are mildly disconcerting. One preview mentioned that the graphics (particularly the environments, some textures, edges, and blood/fire effects) don't seem on par with those of similar timed releases (like MW2). Take this with a grain of salt though, the game still has a few months to clean up any rough edges.
Hmm, I probably shouldn't end on a semi-down note, so remember, this game's gonna be sick, just look at these last couple of new-ish multiplayer screenshots, they speak for themselves (perceptive readers may be able to guess which site I borrowed them from).
Ellis: "Do you know what 'suck the heads' means? Cause I came down here with Keith once, and he didn't know. And...I mean, it ain't nothin' bad; it's about eatin'..."
Coach: "We ain't got time for this, Ellis! Tell us your story about how you raped your friend when zombies aren't chewing out my eyeball."
Yeah Ellis, f*ck you. There's nothing like hearing your moronic story for the 69th time to remind me how much time I've toiled away replaying the same campaign. Now admittedly, I'm hearing this Ellis line so frequently because I'm just playing the demo, and am thus forced to repeat the same 2 acts over and over, but my question to any Dtoid readers that are willing to respond is this:
"How long do you guys think it'll be before about 90% of the lines uttered by the 4 survivors begin to really grate on your nerves, and, when this happens, does this significantly hamper the experience of playing a game with such enormous replay value?"
I only ask because the banter between survivors is one of my favorite things about the first game, and the repetition of said banter never really hit annoyance-critical mass for me; I just Game Fly-ed L4D and sent it back after a few weeks, well before most of the dialogue had a chance to go stale on me. But for you guys who own the first one, did you ever reach a point where you wanted the idle chat between survivors to just altogether stop?
I'll be buying the game no matter what, but I do want to be prepared for the likely scenario that the novelty of one of the games best features might die off and turn on me like the reanimated corpse of a once-beloved friend. The game mixes up some of the conversations, and there's lots of different rare, situational lines you'll hear (e.g., if you accidentally shoot Nick, and then get helped up by him, he'll say something like "Now if I help you up, are you just gonna shoot me again?"), but I wonder how much this will really extend (heh) the life of the in-game dialogue.
Input appreciated, and a fap would brighten up my day, fye.
"Now, let's go play, together... Together under the clearest of blue skies."
The rush of just barely clearing away a monster block, the satisfaction of hearing the metallic clanking as you grind out a massive chain...speaking completely honestly here, Tetris Attack (Panel de Pon in Japan) might be the greatest multiplayer game ever conceived. But alas, this game's adaptation to a truly accessible form on a modern platform still eludes us 13 years after its release. Those who were down with the sickness back in the SNES's heyday can attest to just how important it is for this game to appear with online multiplayer capabilities in a form that can be brought to the mass gamer market (i.e., big consoles). Do I really need to spell out just how amazing this would be, and how glaring/baffling this game's continued omission on the Virtual Console is?
For those unfortunate few who haven't experienced it, Tetris Attack tasks players with clearing away a continually rising stack of colored blocks (by matching 3 or more like blocks) to prevent the pile from ascending to the top of the screen and ending the game. While the overarching premiss I just described might not be enough to blow anyone's mind, it's the inclusion of a Vs. Mode, where players perform elaborate combos and chains to dump garbage on your opponent's screen, that really puts this game in a class of its own. While the basics are simple enough to learn, performing the big chains requires quick thinking and execution like you wouldn't f*cking believe.
There is NOTHING (coitus) more satisfying than grinding together a tremendous combo, hearing that melody play, and watching your friend schitz out as he scrambles to clean-up that enormous, angry-looking block you just dumped on his screen. This is one of only two games in my entire life (the other being Civilization 3) that I have played all through the night and well into the next day. It has that kind of power.
So why the hell isn't this game available as DLC on the Wii? The truth is, it already is...but in Japan...and the United States and Japan are different countries unfortunately. Japan's actually been sitting on the original Panel de Pon since it was released on Nintendo's Virtual Console back in November 2007, while we Americans continue to suffer with a sans-Tetris Attack Virtual Console! It's 2009, I finally live in an age where I can go online and school 7 year olds in Bomberman and Street Fighter, but remain unable to attack anyone Tetris-weis from the comfort of my own Wii. Plus the popularity of Tetris Friends on the Wii demonstrates a healthy consumer market for competitive online puzzle games, Tetris Attack is a no-brainer.
I've never known any competitive puzzle game to be as thrilling, deep, or all around fun as Tetris Attack, and I want to play it online right now--who knows, maybe I'm the best in the world, I'll never find out since I don't really get to play other serious players. I've waited long enough Nintendo--Tetris Attack, Panel De Pon, I don't care what you call it, just get your shit together and put it on my Wii...f*cking assholes.