Hello gamers and welcome to the Buy it/Avoid it Report!
If you're new to the Cblogs, this is a feature I've been posting on Destructoid for the last couple of years. It started as a video game journal of sorts, to help me remember all the games I played, and slowly evolved into the collection of mini-reviews you see today. Obviously, there are plenty of expansive game reviews out there that go out of their way to explain every mode and feature a game has to offer, which is helpful if you actually want
to know every little detail.
The Buy it/Avoid it Report is for the TL;DR crowd. I don't want to explain every aspect of a game and I definitely don't want to take up too much of your time. In fact, if the three small paragraphs under each picture are too much to handle, I've attempted to boil each game down to a simple positive and negative comment, just for you. Maybe I should take this a step further and condense my thoughts down to a single word. Maybe just attach a number at the bottom? I'll try that next time, but since I've already written this thing...
Let's do this!
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
A lot of iOS games try too hard, struggling to work within the obvious limitations of the platform. They attempt to cram PC or console experiences onto the smaller screen, often at the expense of proper controls and playability. What they should do is study the platform’s strengths (quick, portable, simple) and capitalize on them. There are definitely more than a few games that “get it”, but even fewer fucking nail it
as gracefully and effortlessly as Super Hexagon
Before I gush too much, I should get one thing out of the way: Super Hexagon
is ridiculously hard. Like, seriously hard. My first attempt was over before I was aware it had even begun! The moment you hit start, you’re immediately thrust into crisis mode, and it only gets more hectic and intense the longer you manage to survive. The screen rotates and spins at random while walls relentlessly close in on you, threatening to crush your tiny triangle friend. The vibrant colors melt into each other as everything pulses relentless to the beat of the music. You’ll no doubt get lost in the chaos and may feel like progress beyond the 20 second mark lies outside the realm mere mortals.
But then something will just click
. You’ll get it. Around the 30 second mark, your brain will cease all non-essential activity, the world around you will melt away and you’ll be elevated to a higher plane of existence. You’ll no longer be playing Super Hexagon
; you will BE Super Hexagon
! Gods will kneel at your feet as your score climbs past the 40 second mark but you’ll laugh in their faces. There’s no stopping you now. 50 seconds. The universe is in the palm of your hand. 55 seconds. Immortality is within your grasp. As you cruise past the 60 second mark, you'll take a millisecond to acknowledge your infinite brilliance and *BAM!*, it's over. You hit a wall, moron. But before you’ve even had a chance to mourn your death, you’ve already restarted. Resistance is futile, you see. Super Hexagon
is in control now.
BUY IT and a storm of absolute power will crush your frail human form as your soul transcends the very limitations of pain and desire.
AVOID IT as long as you don’t mind trading in all your gamer street cred for an oversized “Wimpy Weinerhead” t-shirt.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U
The console version of the original Tekken Tag Tournament
came out a long time ago; 12 years to be exact. My friends and I picked it up on launch day, along with the PlayStation 2, and spent the rest of the day shouting, smack talking and laughing our asses off as we pummeled each other into the ground. It was the best of times. Years went by and we continued to play it. Crazy juggles were memorized. Tournament brackets were scribbled in notebooks. Champions were crowned. Friendships were tested. Yeah, no one was really getting laid back then either.
Over a decade later, here I am playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2
and I honestly couldn’t be any happier. Nearly every character is back (over 50 in total) with more to be released as free DLC in the following months. When you consider the sheer amount of moves and animations each character has, it’s staggering. For someone who’s never picked up a Tekken
game before, I could see this being somewhat of a problem. Luckily, Namco has included one of the most comprehensive tutorial modes I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. Fight Lab, as it’s known, may not make you “good” at Tekken
, but you’ll definitely come away with a much better understanding of the components involved. Even I learned some stuff.
Offline is solid, as expected, but the biggest improvements lie in the online section of the game. Matchmaking in Tekken 6
was slow and boring, with the matches themselves often suffering from extreme bouts of lag. This made landing juggles and defending yourself a chore. That’s all changed with TTT2
. Search parameters can be set ahead of time, assuring that you only get matched up with players who have solid internet connections. You can also see if they’re prone to rage quitting by viewing their disconnection rate before you okay the match. Brilliant. Wins feel earned and losses feel deserved. For an online fighting game, you can’t really ask for anything more than that.
BUY IT if the sight of a drunken Kung Fu master and a massive robot going toe-to-toe with a bear and a dinosaur sounds fucking awesome.
AVOID IT if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a juggle in a Tekken game and thought to yourself, “this is complete and utter bullshit”.
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
I have a lot of love in my heart for the No More Heroes
series and its creator, Suda51. So much, in fact, that I often catch myself making excuses for some of his other games' shortcomings in spite how regularly they crop up. Like an overly supportive parent, I turn a blind eye to his failing grades because I know he's trying his best. The reality of this started creeping in when I played Shadows of the Damned
, but I shook it off. After all, that game wasn’t bad
; it was pretty decent! Though it breaks my heart to say it, Lollipop Chainsaw
is equal parts tedious and mediocre, with only a pinch or two of inspiration.
Where to begin? The entire game feels like an intrusive, painful tutorial. Go here, press this button. Jump here. This is exactly how you kill this type of enemy. Press X, right here. After every single successful combat section, the camera leaves its place behind Juliet, flies over to a point in the level where you need to go next and highlights it with a big-ass sign. It's literally impossible to miss and impossible to skip, even during the high score mode. I've come to expect this kind of incessant handholding during the first level, but the whole fucking game?! What's worse is each section of the game is split up into these tiny, walled-off areas. Where the fuck else would I even go?! It’s completely unnecessary and just plain sad because without that constant annoyance, the game could actually be kinda fun.
The combat in general is pretty solid, albeit a little too stiff for my tastes. Akira Yamaoka delivers a really fantastic soundtrack which, like Shadows of the Damned
, matches the tone of the game perfectly. The supporting cast of characters, as with all Suda51 games, are as insane as they are lovable and hilarious. Nick (the decapitated talking head hanging from Juliet’s waist) in particular had near-flawless comedic timing. Some of the bosses are pretty epic too. But sadly, even the highest quality ingredients can be utterly ruined if prepared by an unskilled chef, and Suda51 still has a lot to learn. He may be famous for his burgers, but his barbeque chicken salad tastes like shit.
BUY IT if my food analogy flew way over your head and now you’re just wondering what time T.G.I. Friday’s closes.
AVOID IT if the thought of someone constantly interrupting you during sex to remind you how to thrust sounds annoying.
Mark of the Ninja
Xbox LIVE Arcade, Steam
Stealth games, by and large, only appeal to a specific type of player; one that enjoys the hunt more than the kill. While lurking in the shadows, he carefully scans the environment for possible environmental hazards and marks targets in optimal assassination order. Once the plan is set, his mind clears as he waits for the perfect moment to strike. There’s nothing to fear as the outcome of each careful step has already played out in his mind. The silence that follows the last victim’s muffled gasp is the assassin’s ultimate reward. He disappears once again into the shadows, leaving not a trace of his existence.
Mark of the Ninja
understands this perfectly. Every room, every enemy and every weapon are an eager assassin’s wet dream. Take out a spotlight with a kunai and anyone within range of the sound will come to investigate. Crawl along the ceiling like a spider as they make their rounds. Toss a dead body into their line of sight and watch as they scream in terror, killing their allies as they fire blindly into the darkness. Though kills often end with the sharp end of a sword emerging from a soldier’s warm chest cavity, the moments leading up to it have the potential for some seriously satisfying foreplay. The stages in Mark of the Ninja
are fairly complex too, offering many alternate paths and allowing for vastly different strategies. As an optional challenge, it’s even possible to complete them without killing anyone and/or avoiding detection altogether.
What makes the overall gameplay so interesting and exciting is the way Mark of the Ninja
handles sight. Not only is your enemy’s vision limited to their line of sight, but so is yours. Being a 2D game, there are often rooms that are technically visible to you as the player, but are blurred out because your character cannot physically see them. While hiding in a vent, you’ll have to carefully peek out in order to see your surroundings. In order to see if the roof is clear, you’ll have to climb up the wall and peer over the edge. It’s a brilliant way to handle sight and one that I hope other games borrow. Sound is handled in an equally elegant way, ensuring that the player is constantly aware of who can hear what and ultimately use that to their sneaky advantage.
BUY IT if you relish the calm, peaceful moments just before you pounce on some unsuspecting goon and fillet his esophagus like a trout.
AVOID IT if you haven’t enjoyed hiding in dark places since that one time you ducked into the closet while your parents “wrestled”.
That's all I've got. I messed with some of the formatting this time and made a new header. What do you think? As always, thanks for reading and I'll see you next time!