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A couple of Dtoid community members have chosen for me to write a big, fat blog about sand, but that one is still in... let's call it 'research and development'. Probably mostly research.
In the meantime, let me tell you why Tomb Raider: Anniversary is way better than every Assassin's Creed game ever made, in a way that's guaranteed to piss off everyone who even remotely disagrees with me. But guys, c'mon, it's totally better in every way. It's not my fault you have the wrong opinion!
Okay, alright, so maybe Tomb Raider and Assassin's Creed isn't really the same thing, what with one being a series of puzzle focused games, while the other is a series on non-focused open world games with way too much stuff in them. Similarities are still plenty, however, and whenever the two have something in common, I've noticed that this one Raider game always seems to do it better than all the Creeds combined.
Y'see, in Tomb Raider: Anniversary...
Climbing is fun
Climbing in this game is practically perfect. You might be able to find some rough edges here and there, but generally, this is how climbing should be done. You control it. You control the direction, you decide when to jump, you decide whether you want to take it slow or increase the pace. There's even an option to make grabbing a manual thing, like in the first game. Aside from that, the path is never laid out for you, and you often get a lot of options. You get to figure out your route, and it requires you to be observant, and keep concentrating. This is really engaging, and it makes climbing a joy no matter how many times you take a lethal fall.
In a certain other series, the game does everything for you. Just keep running forward, and your acrobatic buddy does all the crazy stunts automatically. While this is happening, you only get a little bit of control over which direction you want to climb. Of course, this would have been understandable if this particular series didn't revolve around climbing to the same degree as Tomb Raider. But it does, and has done so from the start.
Having automatic climbing in a climbing based game is a bit like having an auto-drive function in a racing game. Really stupid, that is.
You can swan dive everywhere
In Assassin's Creed, jumping off of a tall structure and diving into something soft is a recurring element of the series, and it happens a lot in each game. Sadly, it's yet another automatic thing, and it's not really a part of the game as much as a glorified cutscene. You have no control over the actual jump, and it can only be done in special places, so it's impossible to do it wrong. At no point are you able to face plant into a hard surface and break your dumb face on impact, which I'm sure saddens a lot of people, since doing badly on purpose can be really funny at times (in a game, that is, not during a life-threatening operation).
Thankfully, Tomb Raider: Anniversary allows you to do just that, and much more! All you have to do is jump, then quickly press the duck button. It's a satisfying move to pull off due to its timing, and the game lets you do it anywhere you want. You don't even have to jump off a ledge or move in any directions; I can be pulled off from any height. Hitting the ground after a swan dive will be followed by a roll, unless you fall too far, in which case it will be followed by amusing ragdoll physics.
Combat is fast and simple, not glitchy
It's no secret that the combat in the Creed games isn't very good. It's really stiff, dissatisfying and glitchy. Especially glitchy, with an AI that's unpredictable for all the wrong reasons, and which tends to react strangely to the environment. Not the most fun you can have, and considering the whole 'stealth' pretense that these games have, there's surprisingly much of it. Maybe it'd be more tolerable if it had been toned down and simplified a bit.
Or you can just play Tomb Raider Anniversary, as combat in this game is fun, fast, simple and restricted. You won't encounter enemies in every room, and when you do, you only have to shoot them in order to do damage. Aside from that, the crazy jumps and dodges you can pull off make it much more enjoyable than waiting for an opportunity to counter an attack, only to be shot from the distance by some asshole that you couldn't see.
I am of course fully aware that the two ways of doing combat are very different, but it's not like the Assassin combat system ever had to be such a chore. At this point, it could've easily evolved into a sword based Arkham system. Everyone else have ripped off that game anyway, so why not?
You can always swim underwater
No need for a stupid, expensive diving bell here. Instead, the unlimited possibility of underwater exploration will now be available to you by the press of a button. It's like magic!
Sure, I know some people really hate underwater sections, because apparently Ocarina of Time is the only game they've ever played, but when a game does it well (which is very often), it adds a lot to the experience. One way to make it fun is to make it simple, and Anniversary gets that. Like with everything else in the game, swimming is fun, fluid and easy to get the hang of, so the underwater puzzles are just as enjoyable as all the others.
Meanwhile, in Creed town, underwater exploration is weirdly removed from everything else. There's no organic transition, and it's considered to be an unlockable, even when you can swim. The actual swimming isn't very fun either. Let me ensure you that my first diving mission in Black Flag was also my last. No time for that stuff when there's ships to rob and islands to explore. Of course, that does bring me to the one water-related thing that this franchise has over Tomb Raider, as those games never allow you to sail around on a pirate ship. But what if...?
The out-of-campaign stuff is actually cool
Both Anniversary and the Ass Creed games have some gameplay that exists outside of the main campaign: In the former, this is the Croft Manor level, and in the latter, it's the future narrative.
People aren't very fond of the future narrative. It's often criticized for being unnecessary, boring, uneventful and for having too much exposition about a story that most player don't really seem to care about. I agree with all that, and would like to add that the environments that these sections take place in kinda suck. The one in Black Flag especially, taking place in the kind of horrifically "modern" office that cynical people think look "welcoming" and "personal" because it has ugly, multicoloured beanbag chairs and bullshit "abstract art" all over the place. Because who doesn't love working in an office that looks like a fucking kindergarten?*
Croft Manor, however, is something else! This is an old mansion full of secret passages and tunnels, with a swimming pool and a hedge maze. There are no multicoloured beanbag chairs to be seen, and the art on the walls are primarily portraits of previous owners. Best of all, though, is that there's a puzzle to solve; One that stretches all over the mansion, involving every room and every hidden area. The biggest difference between this one and the campaign puzzles is that this is much more inventory-based, making it feel a bit like a classic point and click adventure. It's a really fun activity that perfectly compliments the main game, rather than take away from it.
* Sorry, got a bit off topic there.
There aren't any tailing missions
That's quite the bonus!
The tailing missions in AC are probably some of the most justifiably hated gameplay elements ever, yet they keep showing up in every game, even though it's obvious that nobody appreciates them. But hey, guess what? They're not in Tomb Raider! I don't know what else to say, honestly. No tailing missions. Not even optional ones. None of that stuff here. Bliss.
Hell, you could probably market any other game by listing the lack of tailing missions as a feature. "Tired of following some dick around a boring town while awkwardly jumping through hoops in order to remain hidden? Well, here is one way of spending your time doing something completely different!" Tell me you wouldn't be convinced to buy that on the spot!
So that's why this one game is totally better than an entire series of very different games. Made a lot of sense, right?
What I'm trying to say with all this is that, despite numerous differences, the Assassin's Creed series could learn a lot from Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Well, that and the Arkham games. And GTA. Probably a lot of games now that I think about it...
The other thing I'm trying to say is that Anniversary is great, and you should play it if you like jumpy climby shooty puzzly kinda deals, as it has a very good balance of each. I've heard it didn't sell very well, which is a huge shame, and it makes me sad that the series didn't continue in this direction for very long. Hopefully, it might look back at this in the future, possibly leading to remakes of other games in the franchise. Nothing like a tank control-free version of a classic adventure!
Now excuse me while I wait for someone to make a Tomb Raider pirate game. It better happen!
Check out the others!
The battlefield has not shown you mercy, and you find yourself getting increasingly exhausted, as fierce enemies overwhelm you and grand obstacles stand before you. At times, it may look like you're attempting the impossible, that you are so weak and insignificant that it takes nothing to bring you down. At times, the challenge is almost scary to you, and the solutions seem out of the realm of possibility. You're running out of options, and you're running out of health.
But you do not give up.
You don't work that way. 'Life's as worth living as ass is worth kicking', is the code you live by. So you press on. For every step back, you take two steps forward. With every failure comes a little bit of wisdom. As the difficulty rises, your fear lowers, and you accept it. You get comfortable with it. As you polish up your strategy, you eventually reach perfection. Before you know it, you see your goal. There is your destination, right in front of you. What once felt like a distant dream has come true, and you finally get to advance on your journey. But that's when you see it.
That's when you face the boss.
Thinking you were at the end of your struggles, it now turns out that they have only started. Every enemy you've faced, every obstacled you've passed, everything you've fought for so far, has led to this. You now face the ultimate test of skill. Your fear returns.
It's not easy. The strategies that were flawless against everything else are not enough here, and once again, you're forced to think out of the box. After a good while being a chew toy, you start to consider your surrender, as the difficulty seems to be too much for you to handle. But then, you discover a weakness. Something unexpectedly starts working, the pieces start coming together, and it's just enough to turn the battle around. With this weakness exploited, your strategy suddenly has an effect. Your confidence is renewed. The battle lasts a while, but in the end, the boss turns out to no longer be a match for you. You strike the final blow, and emerge victorious.
You stand as a lone champion in the middle of what was once a battlefield, look upon your defeated, and walk off to seek a new challenge.
Yes, it is once again time for gifs and gushing. As usual, commenters from previous rounds throw their own personal favourites into the mix, ensuring that even games that I haven't played myself (or haven't considered) get a chance to make it onto the list.
Spoilers are obviously going to be all over the place, so tread lightly.
(NOTE: Every gif is clickable, and links to each boss' soundtrack. Open it in another tab while reading for the ultimate BFAZ experience!)
"One of my favorite bosses ever is the Huge Hermit from Metal Slug 3. It's a giant hermit crab that chose a huge military tank as a shell, and it chases you down while shooting projectiles from the tank and attacking you with its claws, and also destroying the bridge you're running on. It's a cool idea for a boss to begin with, not to mention it looks freaking beautiful in motion, since the Metal Slug team's pixel work was just phenomenal!"
First one on the list and we're already tits-deep in crazy!
By itself, the tank is already strange, with an impractical number of cannons pointing in different, random directions. Makes me wonder what cross-eyed maniac developed this thing. The hermit crab thing only perfects the piece, and it is a really cool idea.
The Metal Slug games are where I think people really started to see the potential in pixel art and animation, and the games have had a very clear influence on modern pixel artists and game developers. It's the kind of influence that has led to stuff like Rain World, which I really appreciate, so I have a lot to thank these games for. I wanted to pick up MS3 on PSN, but it wasn't available, so I got the first one as well, and it's been plenty of fun so far. I should probably return to it soon, even if I may not beat it.
"As for a boss I love, the final confrontation with Radec from Killzone 2 is easily the best boss in any FPS I've played. A highly strategic, punishing but fair fight. Doing it on Elite was one of the most amazing things I've ever done."
Dude, this game looks Radecal! HAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!
No but seriously, I think GajKnight might have sold me on the Killzone series, or at least this one installment. This is considered the best one, right? In any case, this teleportation stuff, combined with Gaj's description, makes me really intrigued. It looks tactical, raw and tense, which is something that I really value in a shooter.
The franchise's name has always sounded cool to me too. It's so punchy, simple and straight to the point, while still being fairly original. That's the best kind of product name in my opinion, especially for entertainment.
Killzone may never be a Halo killer, but it's definitely welcome in my zone, hahahaHAHAHAHA!!!
"I'd like to nominate the "Liquid Ocelot" encounter from MGS4. Not so much because of the fighting itself but for everything that this battle encapsulates:
Two old men. Both have been pushed far beyond their limits and at this point in the game, it's all basically over. The GOP-Servers are destroyed and a virus is destroying what's left of the other Patriots.
Yet here we are and there is no turning back for the two. There are no flashy special moves this time. There aren't even weapons. They brawl it out on top of a secret submarine with their life-bars and the background music changing over time to resemble the respective ones from the previous games.
...Damn, I'm getting goosebumps while typing this."
I've talked so much about Metal Gear Rising on here that I've almost forgotten about the other MG's. The entire series has always been well known for its bosses, despite being based around stealth (although it has gotten more and more action focused).
Here we see two old men punching the arse out of each other, despite the main conflict seemingly being solved. They are just really tired of each other's shit, I guess.
Solid Snake really seems to be at a disadvantage here, though. It looks really warm, yet he's still wearing his entire suit. I know it protects him, but that hardly matters if both are going straight for the face, which certainly seems to be the case here. Ocelot gets all the fresh air, and Snake's old ass is cooking. No wonder he's losing in the gif.
"...For me, one would be ... in Final Fantasy VIII. The first time you face Ultimecia at the end of the first disc, because (Spoilers for a half a million years old game here) when you "beat" the boss, she doesn't actually die, because Ultimecia ends up being the final bossof the game. You "willow" down (Is that a real expression, or am I hearing it wrong?) her hitpoints enough to progress with the story, but it shows you kinda giving her an attack, and she just kinda waves it off, and then she summons this giant icicle that's like the size of this massive spear, and then she just sends it into Squall (the main protagonist of the game) and kinda pierces his heart, so it looks like you die, and you see your team has been defeated. You have a second splinter team that failed in their mission as well. They've all been captured. And then it kinda fades to black and says: "alright, go to disc 2", so you're left with that cliffhanger of a boss..."
- djnealb (PStoid)
That is a very rough quote, yes, but it's the best I could do. You can't copy-paste audio, after all.
With JRPGs being alien territory to me, I don't know much about Final Fantasy. I know there's a guy named Cloud, and he has spiky hair and a huge sword that he couldn't possibly lift. The games are also extremely long, so you always need like ten discs to play them. There's a wizard. There's a cactus thing. That's about it...
Predictably, I can't comment much on the boss fight either, but I do love a good cliffhanger, especially one that you know will be resolved. That's actually a pretty clever use of having more than one disc, since there will inevitably be a break in the story anyway, and being part of the same game means that the player won't be frustrated by it. Instead, frustration is replaced by anticipation and excitement, like when you finish a season of a show on Netflix, knowing the next one is on there too.
So yeah, good on you Final Fantasy VIII. That's a cool thing that you did.
"I ended up picking Majora's Mask and Majora's Mask from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask"
- Nanashi (PStoid)
The thing about Majora's Mask from Majora's Mask is that Majora's Mask always Majora's Masks when Majora's Mask, but not when Majora's Mask Majora's Masks in another Majora's Mask. It might be because Majora's Mask isn't really Majora's Mask without Majora's Mask and Majora's Mask from The Legend of Majora's Mask: Majora's Mask.
I want there to be a Minora's Mask, which is just a really shitty, poorly made version of Majora's Mask. Like, the eyes aren't fully circular, some of the paint is peeling off, stuff like that.
FUN FACT: Did you know? Majora's Mask was originally going to be named Major Ass Mask, explaining why the titular mask vaguely resembles a firm pair of buttocks.
(NOTE: Nanashi actually did go further into detail during the podcast, but I felt like making fun of the game's name instead, like an asshole. If you want to know the rest, and a couple of other cool boss opinions, go listen to the full podcast. It's only three hours, you have the time!)
This time around, I have a few choices on here that are probably a bit unexpected. There are also a couple that I have been dying to talk about ever since I begun making these. Let's have a look!
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is a strange game. It's kind of the black sheep in the series, but not to the same degree as something like Zelda II. In fact, if you might find that a lot of people actually consider it the best in the series, likely preferring the more simplistic, combat focused gameplay over the other, more collection based games in the series. But it's generally either the first one, the second one or Origins/Legends that gets the most praise. I personally consider it the "worst" one, as little as that means, but there is one thing that I find it did better than any of the other games: the bosses. The bosses of Rayman 3 are just the coolest! They are creative, varied, fun, challenging and memorable. While the game's combat can get a bit repetitive at times, the bosses alone makes the entire game worth playing, and I strongly recommend it to any boss lover out there for that reason alone. It's actually a bit difficult for me to choose between them (especially from the first half), but I think Reflux will always be my favourite.
Reflux is a Knaaren (with a hard 'k'), a powerful species of creatures that you, usually, can't do anything against, meaning you have to run from them. But this guy, the strongest of them all, you will have to face. That's a very effective way of immediately making him scary. He's no pushover either, and he fully deserves his reputation. With many different attack phases, and with no real safe spot anywhere, this is a fight that forces you to constantly move and adapt to your opponent, which in this case often requires some quick reflexes. Once he's been through a number of attacks, he rests his staff, allowing you to do damage. But he never stops attacking you, as you still have to dodge fireballs while moving close to him.
The fight is on a high note the whole way through, and never lets up for a second. With a foe that spends most of the fight being invincible, never gives you a break, has a ton of health and gets more dangerous the more you hurt him, this makes for one of the game's hardest battles by far, and the game treats it that way. It takes place in an underground arena surrounded by smoke and lava, watched by an audience of your enemies. The music is weird, yet fittingly intense, and the whole thing is like a little climax in itself, ending off the first half of the game with a bang.
Has there ever been a movie that had an evil training montage? Like, it's just a montage of the bad guy getting stronger, and instead of feeling motivated, you're supposed to be scared? Because, for some reason, that's what the music of the Wardens makes me think about.
As for the Wardens themselves, they don't get a mention here for their difficulty (they are kinda easy), but for the system that they represent. In most open world crime games, once you get the highest possible wanted rating, it stays like that until you either die or somehow manage to run and hide for long enough for it go down. In Saints Row IV, getting the highest rating triggers this boss, and beating it takes the rating down to zero. That is goddamn revolutionary, and the real reason I put this one on here. It is at once a punishment and a reward for the chaos you've caused, and it's kicked off by such a sweet intro, with the Warden falling from the sky and roaring at you, and the music kicking off.
I once fought one at the top of a skyscraper, and managed to have both of us fall off during the final blow. Killed the bastard before I landed among the clueless, virtual citizens. Instant mood change. Suddenly, the fight felt like a distant memory, despite having happened seconds ago. Looking back, I think that was the moment that I really started to appreciate the Wardens.
They may not present that much of a challenge, but they are memorable for many other reasons.
Oh yea, catching up on those Zelda bosses!
I believe the excited fellows at ScrewAttack described this one fairly well in that one video. Originally I wanted the first Darknut to take its place during this round, but that one will have to wait. Priorities!
Strangely, it seems like Zelda bosses tend to be either extremely cute or demonic abominations, and while the Dead Hand will probably always be the scariest thing in the entire series, Stallord is by far the most metal! A huge, skeletal torso with long arms and a demon-like head. Or dragon-like. Is... is this Spyro!? Is this what's happened to him!?
Spyro or not, the boss is amazing. You fight him using the most ridiculous item ever, a huge spinning top, which you use to surf around and hit him in the spine while he tries to grab you. He also raises a bunch of warriors from the dead to essentially act as goalies, as they try to prevent you from reaching his spine by standing in your way. There's even a second phase, in which you use the top to grind on the walls and basically chase his floating head around while avoiding his attacks. The entire thing is absolutely balls crazy.
What's even crazier is that Nintendo had Lamb of God do the music for this boss, as they felt it was the only appropriate way to do it. It's so weird that they would do that, but hey, I agree with them. It was a good decision overall, and I'm glad that it's a thing that they actually did, and not some bullshit that I made up because I thought the actual music was kinda dull compared to Stallord's design. Yup, glad that wasn't the very specific case.
In the first blog, I already had a gif of a Darksiders boss prepared for a proper mention, but I hadn't gotten very far in the game at that point, so I decided to hold off any mention of a boss from that game until I had completed it. It's a good thing that I did so, because this game has far better bosses later in the game. Many of them were a challenge, but Silitha gave me the most trouble by far, as she forced me to master a pattern rather than just learn it.
Silitha's attacks do tons of damage to you. Makes enough sense, as she pretty much uses her entire body weight against you, by teleporting over you and letting gravity do the work, when she isn't attacking you directly. Both attacks have to be avoided by dodging, which sounds simple enough. Dodging is a big part of the game's combat, so naturally, you should be pretty good at it by this point in the game.
But no. It is not nearly as easy as it may sound. See, simply pressing the dodge button isn't enough to escape an attack. You have to learn to use directions to your advantage, and in this case, do so by looking at Silitha's shape (and shadow), which lets you know where the closest safe spot is. Even then, you aren't given a long time to look, so you have to think quickly, and time your moves right, which is then made harder once she starts teleporting all over the place in an attempt to throw you off. When you actually get a chance to do damage while she rests, you will rarely make it over without using the grappling hook, which still doesn't reach all that far.
In short, there is a lot of things going on with this boss, and Silitha did kill me a lot of times. While most bosses in the game were mostly challenging because I didn't know how to hurt them, I knew how to hurt Silitha from the beginning of the fight, yet she still beat me multiple times. For that, she is definitely worth a mention here.
So far I've been avoiding fighting game bosses. Not because I dislike them, but because it's such a vague definition. They are almost always playable characters that you can unlock for yourself, and this is usually what most people remember them as. But I don't want to exclude them either, so I guess it's time to introduce them to the zone, and I'm starting with the one that's closest to my heart: Heihachi Mishima from Tekken.
I chose his Tekken 3 incarnation specifically, because that's the first one I played, and because of the remarkable achievement of being far harder than the actual final boss, Ogre. Ogre has a cool design and theme and everything, but he's child's play after dealing with Heihachi, who never fails to put up a fight. His style is a very heavy version of (classic) Jin's, and he's got some mean, hard hitting combos, as well as some brutal throws. He also has that one counter move that you never see coming, in which he pretty much kicks you across the room. This guy is no joke.
Jinpachi from Tekken 5 would also be worthy for a spot here, but he has a lot of weird, supernatural moves that are a bit too flashy for my taste (when it comes to fighting games). What I like about Heihachi his old fashioned toughness. He kicks your ass with nothing but his martial art skills, and has no need to breathe fire, shoot lasers, teleport or fly around in order to do so, which all the supernatural bosses rely on. He's just a buff old man who won't take anyone's shit, and that's a big reason why I like him so much.
I have become very familiar with his moveset ever since he became my main, so the fight against him has naturally gotten a bit easier over time, but the memories of him kicking the ass of my ass will stay with me forever.
Oh, and his music rocks!
"Oh, but those aren't real bosses you idiot, you never have to fight them."
Well, you know what you are? An anti-dragonite! Well, that and a non-existant strawman.
I know that these probably aren't technically considered to be bosses in a traditional sense, as they are avoidable obstacles, but the Blood Dragons have a lot in common with most bosses. They do a lot of damage, take a lot of hits to kill, and always require your full attention whenever they are close. Because of this, I still consider them bosses, and them being optional to fight doesn't change that.
Aside from being huge and fast, Blood Dragons have the ability to fire lasers out of their mouths. This makes a fight against these creatures much more intense, considering the increased range of their attacks. Add to that a very smart and organic AI, and you have an endless possibility of exciting combat scenarios, as a Blood Dragon can appear anywhere on the map (except in water).
Interestingly, you also have the option of using them to your advantage, and turn them against regular enemies. This is very helpful for taking over enemy territory, even though it might leave you and the Blood Dragon alone by the end, depending on how efficiently the enemy soldiers fought.
When you get a certain super weapon by the end of the game, these creatures unfortunately become way easier to fight, and it's a shame that they don't get to stay threatening. But during most of the game, they are still rulers of the jungle, and the've made for some very memorable fights.
So happy I chose the Blood Dragon in the round that uses red.
Are you a HUGE Member? If yes, you probably know about all the perks you have access to, such as increased site customization. Every HUGE Member gets to upload their own, very special background, and I have been so kind as to make one themed after Boss Fight Appreciation Zone, featuring bosses of all different shapes and sizes, for all of you out there who love to put up a good fight!
Unfortunately, it only really works on a widescreen monitor, and making a resized version is tricky, because the amount of space available on each side changes, meaning a complete redesign. I hope you widescreeners like it though.
Furthermore, for all the Steam users who are reading, feel free to follow my curator, Boss Lovers, to find some of the games with the best boss fight that the service has to offer. Most of them have already made an appearance here, so now you have a nice, comfortable list of the BFAZ games that are available on Steam. It's not all of them, sadly, but there are more than you might think.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
I'd like to do something special for the distant Round 5, by having a fun little exercise that happens to be relevant to the theme:
Are there any characters you would like to see as game bosses?
From any media, really. It doesn't have to be restricted to movies or TV, it can be anything from books to music to sports to cereal boxes. Anything you can think of.
O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill
Skilled at swordfighting, and one of my favourite characters from the movie.
Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad
Has proven himself to be a very clever, tactical guy, who comes up with a lot of ways to mess with you on the spot.
René Dif from Aqua
His voice is a deadly weapon in itself.
As you can see, I'm not necessarily looking for detailed descriptions here. I'd just like to see some fun suggestions. Excited to see what you peeps can think of! :)
What a bunch of craziness! Well, we're about to wrap this round up, but before we do so, I'd like you folks to participate in a little community vote thingy. See, there's a bunch of game related subjects I'd like to blog about, all of which are somewhat related, but I need to find out where to put my focus. As such, I've come up with three blog titles, each covering a theme, and I'd like to know what people are the most interested in.
In which I talk about 3D platformers, and do my best to explain their appeal, while highlighting influential examples.
In which I talk about how tricky it is to turn a desert into an interesting level, and take a look at how different games pull it off.
In which I talk about game environments in general, and what makes some of them more interesting than others.
All of these subjects are fun to me, but some of you might like one more than the other. Just write which one you'd like to see in a comment, and it counts as a vote. :)
As always, all of you are encouraged to share your favourite boss fights in the comments below, (or anywhere else), and any of them might have a chance of making it to the next round.
This is it for now. I'm out!
(DISCLAIMER: I have no idea when most of these games are actually going to come out, but if they all hit 2015, that would be swell)
Hello, it's me! Jinx's blog had the very fortunate effect of putting a new game (Hellraid) on my radar, so I'm gonna make a similar one, in the hope that all you good little capitalists may get a few ideas for your own shopping lists.
Here we go, then:
Batman: Arkham Knight/Doom 4
These two are definitely my main ones, and the ones I keep mentioning, so I'll just group them together. Seriously, though, what's not to get excited about? Doom is awesome. Arkham games are awesome.
Rocksteady is surely gonna deliver on their part, having more than proven themselves in the past. Playing Arkham City, I kept thinking about how the Batmobile was the only major thing missing in order to have a "complete" Batman experience, but I couldn't imagine how it would work with the rest of the game. Then E3 came, and so did I it blew my mind!
As for Doom 4, all I know is that Wolfenstein: The New Order is supposedly really good, and that the private preview was very well recieved, with a lot of welcome features making a return. It's a lot of good signs at once, and coupled with the Cyberdemon's badass new design, I allow myself to be very excited for this one.
GRRR YOU KILLED MY MOTHER!! AAARGHGR YOU WERE TOO WEAK TO BE MY SON!!! GRARGHLR YOUR HAIR IS STUPID!!!! BRRUGHRUH I'M GONNA PUNCH YOU INTO A VOLCANO!!!
Tekken is back! Interestingly, while being Tekken is enough to make me interested, being Tekken is also what prevents it from being as anticipated by me as the duo above. Y'see, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 only came out two years ago, and it was huge and great and fun and satisfying, so I don't really need to have that particular itch scratched just yet. Furthermore, I would honestly rather see Tekken X Street Fighter be announced, simply because that game would add so many more new characters to the franchise. Still, for what it is, I have no doubt it will be great.
Mortal Kombat X
X is and always will be the coolest letter ever, and the fact that it happens to be the Roman numeral for 10 makes for the perfect opportunity for the tenth Mortal Kombat game to include it in its already cool title. You can't handle all this cool!
Fatalities looks more insane, creative and brutal than ever before, and the game itself looks gorgeous. I appreciate Mortal Kombat for being far more approachable than any other 2D fighter I've tried (I'm not very good at those in general), while still managing to be deep and satisfying to play. Can't wait for the brutality to start!
Boss fights are the best. So good, in fact, that I believe they deserve an entire blog series devoted to them. If only someone would do that.
Anyway, when it happens that a game consisting of nothing but boss fights comes along, I tend to get very happy. It doesn't happen very often, but that just makes it more exciting when it does. Titan Souls seems a lot like Super Meat Boy, in that it's simplistic yet difficult, and victory is gained by reading your opponent, and figuring out how to move and when to attack. It's action in its purest form, and I couldn't be happier with it.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Okay, so before we move on, let's get one thing straight: this game has an identity crisis. It has absolutely no idea what it wants to be, whether it wants to be stealth, action, sandbox or something entirely diffent. Metal Gear has always been a bit like this though, and I still play those games a ton, so they definitely do something right.
Messing around with guards is my main reason for playing these games in the first place, and Phantom Pain looks like it's going to give me a lot of opportunities to do this in more creative ways than ever before, which is why I look forward to it. That and hearing Keifer Sutherland delivering crazy Kojima lines, which is certainly going to be a very unique experience.
Unbelievable animation and pixel art is something that the developers of this game have no problem bragging about, as they happily share gifs of the game in action, fully confident that their work is worth boasting about. Personally, I think it is, and they have every right to brag. It looks fantastic!
Gameplay-wise, it reminds me of Oddworld, a series that I adore, so bonus points for that as well. It looks intereting, the way you jump, climb and try to survive against predators much bigger than yourself. Everything I see from it makes me more interested, and I'm very much looking forward to giving it a shot.
Roller Coaster Tycoon World
This is very optimistic of me, I know. Especially considering the last one. I really just want it to be good, so I can make some really cool parks. Roller Coaster Tycoon is the only simulation game series I really enjoy (probably for the wrong reasons), so having another solid one would be swell. Fingers crossed!
2015 better be as cool as everyone's expecting. It's all up to you, year! NO PRESSURE!
The year was Windows 95. The grass was blue, the sky was green and the birds were barking. Pixels were as big as bricks, and I had to walk several kilograms to get to the glue factory every Thursday. Times were rough.
Good thing we had computers in this age, and some really weird games to play. Games like Commander Keen, and that weird Mickey Mouse themed puzzle thing. But none of those really stand out to me anymore. Not after the days of Sierra's Hunter Hunted.
Hunter Hunted isn't really a horror game. I might make it look like one in the header, but that's just to fit the theme. No, it's actually a sidescrolling arena combat platformer hybrid thing, with levels that exist in different layers. You get a bunch of weapons to use, there's health to pick up, some areas are secret and there is a wide variety of obstacles to surpass and enemies to go up against. It's actually pretty cool. It feels a bit like a competitive shooter, except that the levels are structured in a way that means you most likely won't see your opponent most of the time, which builds up a lot of tension.
You get to choose between two kinds of characters: a typical, buff 90s action hero dude, and a big, scary, horned monstrosity. The game is pretty cheesy in a lot of ways, all of which I like, but it might make one wonder why I would find it so scary. Well, there are a bunch of reasons for that, the most understandable of which was my age.
I don't actually remember my exact age, nor the exact year, but I was quite the little turd. Not only that, but I didn't speak a word of English. It was basically an alien language to me at the time, and as a result, I had no idea how to properly pronounce the game's title. "Hunter Hoonted" was my version, and I was fine with it, even when people tried to correct me. Guess it sounded spookier to me.
Of course, the big Doom-esque bull monster (or whatever it's supposed to be) is another big reason for my pants pooping (THAT WAS A JOKE I DID NOT REALLY), despite being a playable character. It was difficult for me to relate to this strange being, but it also made playing as it all the more difficult. This thing also made a lot of noise when walking around, which is parts silly and scary.
It should be mentioned that you're never really outside in this game, to make sure you never really feel free. I guess this is mostly due to the game's lore, which has to do with you being enslaved by an advanced alien species, but it offers more than that. Always being surrounded by walls means that you never really get an idea of where exactly you are, and you never feel free at any point in the game. You never feel like you can escape, or that you have escaped. The environment is closed off, and everything wants to kill you. On top of that, everything is gritty, rusty and grim looking. It clearly takes place within a sadistic obstacle course that's meant to kill its participants. In a way, it reminds me a little big of TimeSplitters' level designer, which never allowed you to go outside either, and which could lead to some pretty creepy, isolated levels.
As you'd probably expect, the sound design is very unsettling. That was the case in most games from this era, intentionally or not. We have a lot of loud noises going on in this game, and with the lack of background music, they really stand out. I do believe you can hear an obstacle before you see it on screen, so you get to feel the thrill in advance. Isn't that just cunts wonderful? Not to mention the voice in the beginning of every single player mission, which is awesomely terrifying.
All things said, however, I'm pretty sure that the scariest part of this game, to me, was the Bruiser enemies. Big fucking robots that would attack you with missiles. Mhmm, yup, good times! Hell, for their size, they aren't even that slow. I clearly remember managing to get behind one, thinking I had a chance, but nope. In a single jump, it turned around, ready to blast my ass full of pain. I was not prepared for that, game. Thank you.
I never completed this game back in the day, and I'm not even sure if it was very good, but I've gotten pretty interested in trying it again. I'm not sure what reminded me of it to begin with, but thinking back, it really did shape my taste in gaming, giving me a love for difficult, grittier action games. It has helped making me appreciate variety in entertainment, and it probably changed my opinions in ways I don't even think about.
Oh, and I have this friend who used to be so scared of the game that he apparently couldn't sleep. Haha, what a wuss!
The game in action:
Hello again you cunts wonderful people!
I was just eating some pancakes and drinking some sexy chocolate milk when I decided to shit out another one of my delightful blogs. This one's about the one thing every nerd loves the most: Big, fat, smelly crossovers!
When a fictional universe and a fictional universe love each other very much, a magical thing happens, and one of them gives birth to a screaming abomination that mixes the worst traits of both its parents. This is known as a crossover. Now, seeing as the horrifying scenario I just described is something that I would like to happen a lot, here's a list of crossovers that could totally happen, as well as the names they could have.
Well, they already have a similar look. Very colourful, shiny, stylish and wacky. We're also talking about two franchises that became more and more about playing dress-up as they went along, and they now seem to be competing in the sport of 'who can have the stupidest outfit?'. Recurring themes in both also include beating people up, gang/corporation wars, supernatural elements, sci-fi elements, wrestling and animals (such as tigers and pandas).
Not sure if I'd want Tekken characters in an open world, or Saints Row gangsters in a fighting game. Maybe a little bit of both. If the two would come together in any way, I'd be down!
Tekken X Saints Row
Saints Row X Tekken
Saint Tag Tournament
'Fuck You Say?
Because I really want to explore Shadow Moses with Sam Fisher's shadow-based gameplay. Wouldn't that be the coolest? Cause it's called Shadow Moses, and now it would involve actual shadows!
Of course, another reason is that these games are so similar yet so different, in so many interesting ways. It's obvious that they are from completely different cultures, which would probably have to lead to some compromise on both sides, and I doubt anyone at Ubisoft would let Sam go up against a bee man. But the cool part would be how Snake relies on walls, bushes and cardboard boxes, while Sam takes advantage of darkness. One man is a legendary soldier, the other is a phantom that nobody knows about. Oooh, artsy contrast! Make it happen!
Fishing for Snakes
Of Goggles and Boxes
Uhm, because they are both about assassinating people? All the 'duh' in the world! Why do you keep asking such stupid questions? Also why are you hitting yourself?
To be fair, I have no idea how the story would work. Maybe 47 finds a time machine and goes back to the past? To kill the shitty people that suck ass? So, like, he meets Altzio or Conward or whatever, and they go on a road trip and stuff.
The gameplay would kick ass though! What's your approach, disguise yourself to get in, or climb the building to find another way? Plenty of possible depth there, even for something like an assymetrical multiplayer mode. With pirates! Hitman with pirates! Wouldn't that be something else? Like, okay, it already had battlenuns, but still...
Assassin's Creed: Bald
Hitman: Cannon Cruise
YO YO YO YO YO YO
Both are space, sci-fi action games starring cutesy characters. One is a third person platformer/shooter with some flight sections, the other is an arcady space shooter with some ground sections. They have both shown vague interest in becoming each other, so why not a game with both? On planets, it could be Ratchet & Clank, and between planets, it could become Star Fox.
It might seem like an odd split, but I'd play it! Lots of nice, chaotic, explody shooting in two different types of gameplay. The simplicity of these games make it seem possible, and reasonable enough to happen.
The only weird thing (aside from, again, the culture clash) is that R&C has weird aliens, while Star Fox has animal people instead. Seems unusual that one creature would be a Blargian Snagglebeast, and the other would be a... wolf? But, in my opinion, that would be worth it. I'd still hit it.
I'd still play it. Nothing else.
Ratchet & Clank: No Fox to Give
Ratchet, Clank & the Mysterious Space Animals
Star Fox: Cannon Cruise
Star Fox & Clank: Ratchet is Pissed
Slippy & his Bitches
They may have grown apart a bit, but back in my horribly pixelated day, these two looked very similar in style. Both are also platformers that reward exploration and both have to do with solving puzzles. They also both have ruins, pirates, zombies, weird machines, genies, swimming, dancing and a very "exotic" feel compared to most platformers of their kind.
Pirates is an especially important one, as both series have a villain that's almost the same character. Captain Syrup and Risky Boots are very similar in personality, and I can easily imagine them teaming up in an attempt to backstab each other. The protagonists couldn't be any different though, which makes it all the more fun!
Also, Wario as a bellydancer. Think about it all the time.
Call of Shantae: Modern Wariofare
Wario's Big Fat Ass Shaking Dance Quest
Hot Sexy Wario Bellydancing Action For You
Wario Shakes His Ass So Hard That The World Turns Inside Out: Genies
IGN Watermark Adventures
I can't believe nobody has ever thought of this! It's such a perfect mix after all, and one I'm sure everyone would appreciate. Take the purple little fuck and throw him in with all the lovable, memorable plastic figures in the happy world of *googles* Skylands (that's with an S at the end, right?). Maybe they can show him a bit of dicipline while they are at it.
Man, this would probably make soooo much money. Think about all the cool things you could buy with all that money.
Things such as worthless plastic figures!
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
Feed Me Your Tears
Why not? It's basically the same thing anyway, it might as well happen.
Big Fap Appreciation Zone
Alright, that about wraps it up! Do you have any crossovers you want to see? Of course you do, so put them in the comments. Or your own blog, whatever, I can't stop you.
I recently deleted PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale from my PS3's harddrive. I had gotten it for free via PS Plus, and I was curious about it. Not because I have much interest in these types of games, but because this one has a lot of characters that I'm very familiar with. It's the kind of crossover that, by all means, I should get excited about. It's a game that I should love.
But I didn't love it. I didn't even like it, honestly. It gets a few things right, but way too many things wrong, on a fundamental level. I feel like the entire game misses the point, and has been missing the point since development started. From the beginning, All-Stars was doomed to fail in its attempt to bring popular franchises together, as it fails to understand what made any of these franchises popular to begin with.
Of course, it's difficult to talk about this particular game without mentioning Super Smash Bros. (which really is the core of the problem here), and the only one of those games that I've played is Brawl. While I wasn't a huge fan of that game either, it did do a lot of things right as far as crossovers go, and it showed a lot of heart and passion, which is certainly more than what can be said about All-Stars. I'll be bringing up Brawl a bunch of times, because I think it serves as an important contrast, and it helps to show how to properly do a crossover.
PlayStation All-Stars could have been a beautiful thing, but what we got was bland, confused and underwhelming. I'll list a number of things that should have changed, starting with what is by far the biggest.
It really, really should have been.
Try counting the amount of characters in All-Stars that started their careers being limited to a 2D plane. Chances are you won't end up with a very big number. It's clear that all these characters are out of their element (even Sackboy, without the three layers of movement). Sure, the PlayStation has had a couple of 2D characters, but none of them are in this fucking game, so whatever. Hell, even if they were, they would be a tiny minority.
In Smash, it makes sense. Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, Metroid and Kirby all started without a Z-axis, so putting these characters in a 2D fighter is a logical choice. It's a no-brainer, really, and it feels natural within the game itself. Again, certain characters from 3D games do appear, but it's a sensible sacrifice to make. In huge crossovers like these, you can't possible make every character feel at home, so the best you can do is going for the majority, and the majority of Nintendo's properties are from the 2D era, so there you go!
But the original PlayStation was all about pushing 3D gaming as the new norm. Many established franchises from the Snenesis era made the switch on this console, and it introduced a bunch of new ones (such as Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider) that helped define 3D games as we know them today. Even the logo is an arrangement of the letters P and S as polygonal models. With all this in mind, having a big celebration of the PlayStation in form of a sidescrolling fighter is absolutely bonkers, and it clearly shows how cynical this product really is. It plays like Smash because Smash is succesful, and some executive wanted a slice of the pie. What could have been a genuine declaration of love for these games is instead a hard, cold business decision made by people who couldn't care less.
All-Stars should never have been concieved as a Smash Bros. clone, especially since Smash is pretty much a "fighterized" multiplayer version of Kirby. So what we got is essentially Kirby, but with Kratos. Hilarity aside, I don't think anyone would really want that.
Still, the approach is solid: Taking one of the franchises and making the whole game play like a crossover version of that means that at least one character will feel natural to play as. So the question is, which one would it be in this case? Well, if you ask me, the answer comes in the form of an unlikely, skeletal hero...
(PICTURED: Sir Daniel Fortesque, ready to... save the day?)
I picked up MediEvil alongside All-Stars, meaning it wasn't an entirely disappointing PSN shopping trip. See, this game turned out to be really good. It has simple controls, fun levels, really good puzzles and a surprisingly compelling narrative about a man whose bad luck on the battlefield had him wrongly labeled a coward, and who gets a chance to finally prove himself a hero from beyond the grave.
Though, obviously, the plot isn't the reason I'd have wanted MediEvil to be the fundament of All-Stars. That would be the simplicity of the controls. Here's the basics:
= Basic Attack
= Strong attack
Add something like R1 for a "Special" move (in Sir Daniel's case, this could be the crossbow), and you have a really good setup for a 3D arena fighter. Another notable element is the camera angle in certain sections:
Having the camera be zoomed out with somewhat of a bird-eye view is quite common in this game, especially during boss fights, and it makes the game an even better fit. I don't think I could possibly think of a better style of game for a PlayStation themed crossover. It's such a great balance between being complex enough to be a satisfyingly deep fighter (chain combos would be possible for certain characters), yet simplistic enough the involve characters like Sackboy, Sly Cooper and Fat Princess. It would also be easy to make it so that the button layout can be manually changed to fit each individual character.
There is a game on the Dreamcast called Power Stone. I haven't played it, but from what I've seen of it, I'd say it's probably the closest thing to what I'd like All-Stars to have been. Full 3D space in any other kind of game would have been fine too though, because that at least shows an understanding of what these franchises are, that they were born in 3D, and that they work best in 3D. The result would have been a completely different game, very unlike Smash Bros., which would have felt far more like an actual celebration of the franchises involved.
With the big, interesting one out of the way, let's move on to the second change.
PlayStation All-Stars has an embarrasingly thin amount of content. It's one thing to be a cheap rip-off of something else, but why be this cheap? There is so little to unlock, and most of it is insanely boring stuff like intros/outros for characters (yes, they seriously only have one of each to begin with), unique victory music, fighter icons and backgrounds for said fighter icons. No, that was not a joke. The only thing All-Stars has in spades are these tiny little piece of shit backgrounds for your icon. They actually came up with something even more lame than Brawl's stickers.
Speaking of Brawl, however, at least that game has a shit ton of unlockables that are actually cool, such as trophies (detailed character/object models with fun information, that you can even take pictures of in a seperate photo mode), alternate stage music, new stages and new playable characters. Shiiiet, the only additional characters in All-Stars are paid DLC, which is another problem, especially since having so much stuff be DLC in an already barebones game is simply unacceptable. Even with all the DLC, there wouldn't have been much content overall, but without it, the game's dry as a desert. PlayStation All-Stars is simply a bad deal, unless you get it with Plus, or at least for very cheap.
But it didn't have to be like this. Brawl's oceans of content and clear adoration for each franchise represented is the only thing that All-Stars should have "ripped-off", yet it's one of the only things it didn't. What if we got stuff that was actually exciting to unlock, and kept us coming back for both single and multiplayer sessions, trying to catch every little loving nod to the games we adore so much? It's a hearwarming thought, isn't it? How I wish it had been the case.
More characters were certainly possible. While I'd have loved to see fighters like Crash, Spyro, Abe and Lara Croft make it in, I understand that licensing deals aren't always easy, but even without those faces, there is plenty to harvest from the licenses already obtained. Yet, strangely, it seems like the game was developed with a "one character per franchise" rule (with few exceptions, the most stupid of which being Evil Cole), meaning we didn't get to play as Big Boss, Captain Qwark or even Sly's Bentley or Murray. That's a huge waste of potential, and it annoys me quite a lot, since it makes for an unnecessarily restricted roster.
Generally, the whole game is just hollow from a lack of passion, but nowhere is that more clear than in the soundtrack.
The soundtrack of this game is unbelievably half-assed, to the point where it's actually kind of depressing. It has a nice, somewhat cathcy opening/menu theme, but that's all the praise I can give. Making a good soundtrack may not always be priority number one, but as I've constantly been reminding you, this is a crossover, and it's pretty damn important to get the music right in one of those.
Some iconic themes are present, but several are not, which is mind-boggling. Why in all that is the fuck would you not put in anything from Metal Gear? Or Tekken? Those were kinda big deals for the PlayStation brand back in the day, and not having any recognizable music from either is just fucking stupid! There is no excuse for that, it just sucks, and everyone responsible should feel bad. Ape Escape's main theme isn't in there either. I love that theme, it's unforgettable to me. It's uplifting, fun and fast paced, and it promises a fun, light-hearted adventure that the game then delivers. But hey, guess they didn't like it. Instead, when Spike pulls of his super attack, we get this soulless replacement. Eh, thanks...?
At least the game didn't take out all the iconic music. Some music is entirely unchanged, and some tunes are even remixed. This should satisfy me, right? Based on everything I just wrote, I should at least be happy to hear some new versions of the classics, right? Unfortunately, that would also be a no, since the remixes are dreadful! I'd much rather have all the music be lazily ripped than listen to that half-assed, awkward version of the Sly Cooper theme. But seeing as I'd like to bring up Ape Escape all the time, let's take a look at the one piece from that game which did make it into All-Stars (seriously, they actually did include one song from the game, just not the main theme), the Time Station music. I love this track too, in its original form, but this version is an awkward mess. Let's compare them side by side:
Why is it so slow!? It's a fighting game, if anything it should be faster paced! That's not even half of the problems with it either, it's just the most immediately noticable one. Then there's the irratating change in melodies, and the complete lack of direction. I've heard way better fan remixes. Hell, I've heard some pretty fucking solid fan remixes. By people who didn't get paid. Unlike these people, who somehow did. Lovely.
It's so painfully obvious that nobody gave a single shit about the music in this game, and by extension, that pretty much goes for the whole game. Yet, it did make one desperate attempt to be innovative.
It didn't work out...
Here we are, the final nail in the game's coffin. While it completely and utterly fails in every imaginable way to be a satisfying crossover, at least being a half decent fighter could have saved it. Unfortunately, the fighting is not much fun, since you don't actually do damage through attacks. Actually doing damage through attacks would've been nice, PlayStation All-Stars, why can't we do that? Why can't we have nice things?
Instead of winning the fight by actually being, you know, good at fighting, you now have to punch your opponents until you get a super attack that actually does something. You can get 3 levels of supers. The stronger the super, the more likely you are to wAAAARGH I'M BORED! Goddamn, even writing a few sentences about this system is a snorefest. How the fuck did anyone even survive development?
C'mon, game, just let me beat people up! I know Smash is unorthodox in its mechanics as well, but at least, in those games, every attack matters. Every move can be a finisher. Brawl even had an option to have normal health. Where was that in All-Stars? All it has is an option to build up supers at a faster pace (which you have to use, as "normal" speed is unbearable!), so you can finally get to use one of the three attacks that actually matter!
At the very, very least, the fighting feels a good deal heavier than it does in Smash. It really feels like your attacks do something to the other players, despite this not being the case at all. Unfortunately, when everything else is this bland and boring, a bit of meaty punching does little to raise the entertainment value. It takes far more than that.
Pretty much all I'd want is being able to do traditional damage. It might not be original, but it works, and it might have been enough for me to give the game another chance. But while I'm writing down wishes, why not have bosses other than the final one? Why did the bosses from the games represented only show up as stage hazards? Why let them attack me when I can't attack them? That's just frustrating!
Old fashioned health and a couple of bosses may have saved this game even in its bland 2D form, but combined with the other changes, it could have made for something magical!
TL;DR version: A 3D arena fighter with a reasonable amount of content, a passionate soundtrack and engaging gameplay is what I believe that the concept for PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale could (and should) have evolved into. What we got fell far, far short of that.
Simply ripping off Nintendo's series is stupid enough, but the lack of trying to even compete is just downright pathetic. SuperBot (the developer) was clearly not an optimal choice for a project such as this one. If they had been, they would have fought against the decision to make it a Smash-clone, and they would have tried to make something bigger and better. All-Stars sucks, but it never had to. It never needed to be a copy of something else in order to compete with it. It could have done so while being something unique, doing its own thing, and making a name for itself by leading rather than following.
You know, kinda like the PlayStation.