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Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I am an Iraqi-Saudi living in Saudi Arabia.
-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Seeing as my top 10 games of all time would change depending on the day you ask me, I am just going to put in Random games I don't think are in anyone's top 10 list:

-Blood Will Tell
-Mega Man Legends 2
-Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
-Donkey Kong Country 2
-Suikoden 2
-Some weird game in the PS1 that caused my grandfather to kick me out of the house because it had me giving a girl an orgasm by massaging her feet.

Six is as good a number as any, so here is that:

Badges
Following (5)  


For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

[b]93- Super Turrican 2
[/b]
Year: 1995.
Genre: Side-Scrolling Shooter.
Publisher: Ocean.
Developer: Factor 5.




First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

Side-scrolling shooters are perhaps one of the easiest genres to measure. In theory, all its games are similar enough that there is no need to bother with the bottom sitters for a different experience, since there wouldn't be anything majorly different to begin with.

What that leaves games that are not Contra or Metal Slug (by far the genre's A list), is attempting unique twists on the formula and semi-innovations. In it's day, Super Turrican 2 gained a reputation for their revolutionary 3D cut-scenes and sharp graphics. Both didn't age as well as the more graceful works of the SNES. What is left is a game that you wish was something else by the time you finish its first half.

"In a small planet in a star system floating in the arms of a black hole"

This small planet is the setting at the start of ST2, with you, the Turrican suit (hence the name) clad hero going into a mission to rid someone somewhere from the evil "Machine". Story is never important in side-scrolling shooters, and besides, star system's "floating" in the edge of a black hole would get sucked in.

For these types of games, the setting is much more important than the story. You could tell us we are in an alien planet, but you must show us that as well. In the beginning, we find this dessert planet in total war with the evil machine, and proceed forward to shoot aliens and stuff. I would suggest relocation for the people living in this planet, but perhaps they enjoy their view off the abyss.

Regardless of its initial promise, the game then devolves into regular locations with little to no imagination, and we are left singularly unimpressed with the game's setting. The enemies are boring and without a personality, and all the bosses except one are devoid of any unique characteristic. Even the final boss acts like a rip-off of Cutman from the first Megaman game.

Of course, it doesn't help that your main hero doesn't have any defining trait, and looks more like a low-res Fischer-Price Master Chief than the hero he is supposed to be.

Boring Setting: -2

"Inside the mouth of despair"

ST2 does not manage to be more than a passable side-scrolling shooter, but that is not because of a lack of trying in its side. There are many sound concepts in the game, but many are either woefully underused, woefully overused, or simply terribly executed.

An example of the first category would be one of your regular abilities, which allows you to roll into a ball ala Samus and charge ahead. Yet, it is not used in a useful matter in a single instance in the game, and is consequently relegated to the part of a glorified dodge button. In the other hand, the grapple arm mechanic you have access to is used in nearly every level, and it is simply a not well done platforming mechanic.

Finally, the game sometimes have brilliant ideas, or generally good one, yet it blows them apart with terrible execution. For example, the labyrinthine stages are a first time where you can lose your place in what should be a massive world. However, with a timer in your back; you are of course forced to abandon exploration in order to finish in time. Why build these labyrinths without giving us the time to explore them adequately?

The most obvious of the great ideas gone bad is in the first major boss of the game, where what should have been an awesome fight inside the mouth of the beast, becomes a vertigo inducing battle of attrition.

Some Terrible Idea Execution: -3

"Truly trying to innovate"

Admittedly, not all of ST2' attempts at innovation falls flat. Take for instance the CGI scenes, which were among the first of their kind. It is true that they are not as impressive now as they looked 18 years ago. But that is the case with most early CGI tech.

Other areas where ST2 excelled in is the introduction of vehicle sequences. I am not talking about riding some vehicle in the 2D stages, but a complete bike level that resembles Sonic ring stages. Those stages where fun and tight when played, and were a neat distraction from the regular gamplay.

Also, the game didn't feel comfortable giving us the same stages again and again, and instead peppered a number of smaller "concept" stages to keep things fresh. Ultimately, it is these innovations that stand out most after playing ST2.

Innovative Choices: +3

"It drags on"

For a game that is essentially a high-score run game, it is a capital flaw for it to drag on as much. Whether it felt as long as it was due to its length, or its boring gameplay I am not sure. By the end of the second chapter, I was ready for it to end, and apparently the developers thought so as well as the game just seemed to throw random stuff at you in hopes of exhausting itself.

From the onset of the game, the game did not grab me much. The weapons felt generic and weak, and the enemies took more time than necessary to kill. By the end, I was thoroughly bored with the game and had no intention whatsoever of getting a better score.

If it happened that I died enough for a gameover, I would have been surprised to see I had to start at the beginning. Also, without playing in an emulator, you wouldn't be able to save the game, and hence will need to beat it in one setting. The thought of having to repeat the game from the beginning just to finish it sends shivers down my spine.

Unmercifully Boring: -5

"The music is mostly great"

Well, this is one part of the game that consistently holds to scrutiny. Aside from a few mundane tracks, the game's soundtrack is both intense and unique. The opening track and the ending credits song are both in my opinion off the best pieces of music in the SNES.

The prospect of listening to new music kept me going at the game. Even though, like the rest of the game the music started getting samey and boring by the end.

[i]Music: +1
Two Great Tracks: +2[/i]

In Conclusion:

Super Turrican 2 may have been at some point in history a highly innovative title. Now, it is more a novelty than a serious game to play for enjoyment. It is however a statement that above all else, it is gamedesign that ages best.

Final: 21/50

*****************************************************************

"Tips"

1- Don't try and explore in labyrinth stages.
2- Not all laser shots are useful.
3- Practice the grapple techniques..


"Next Game"

The game I am going to play next was one that I skipped before because it was too tough playing it in the keyboard. Now, that I have synced a PS3 controller to my lap top, I am going to try it again. It is #88 Sunset Riders.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

94- The Adventures of Batman and Robin:
Year: 1994
Genre: Action-Platformer.
Publisher: Konami.
Developer: Konami.



First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

This is going to be one of the more difficult reviews I had to make, because The Adventures of Batman and Robin is a game that is at once a brilliant in design, and terrible in value. It poses the now raging question of quality vs. length.

Ultimately, I think ABAR is one of the best Batman games despite its flaws. However, it fails to reach the levels of a classic SNES great.

"Right out of the 90's Batman cartoon"

This was a game based on the amazing Batman 1990's cartoon, and it looks like it. It takes both the style and animations of the cartoon and produces them as faithfully as it can given the SNES's limitations. What results is a game with a visual style unlike any other game in the series.

However, the style of the cartoon doesn't just stop with the animation, but also in the design of the regular goons and the many super villains of the show. In fact, each level takes a different villain and showcase him/her perfectly with their own level. Poison Ivy's forest stage looks suitably overgrown, while the Riddler's stage is an enigmatic labyrinth.

I don't usually start my reviews discussing the visuals, but in this game, they showcase the thought process Konami had making the game. It wasn't just a Batman game, but a Batman cartoon game. It needed not only look like the cartoon, but also have the variety of super-villains the cartoon had. It wouldn't do that each level is the same, when each of the villains would naturally set up their obstacles and plans differently.

Aside from one level, all other 7 levels were top notch design.

Visual Design: +3
Variety: +2

"Is is a plane, is it a bird, no its just a man in a bat suit"

Aside from a stealth system, Batman operates very closely to how he operates in general. By being an immovable obstacle to the lawless, and an eternal hand in the faces of criminals. Armed with an arsenal of gadgets and gear, Batman can alternate between punching villains and throwing hundreds of Batarangs at them.

The combat in ABAR is basic, but not boring. Punches can be accompanied with Batarang throws, and outside of the bosses, the goons are not difficult to dispatch. Since the regular goons are cannon fodder, the bosses are naturally bullet sponges, or in this case punch sponges. This means that most boss battles would be punch and run affairs with baterangs thrown in for measure. These boss battles can be an exciting battle of attrition, but by the third similar boss, you find it tiring and against the villain's style.

Thankfully, those boss battles are the only repetitive parts of the game, as each level is a study on variety of game design. By the final boss battle in the game, you would have fought the joker while in roller coaster ride, thwarted the Penguin's museum robbery, and even chased Two-Face in a brilliant top down GTA-like car chase that predates the first GTA by at least two years. Each level played differently, which diluted the repetitive combat in the game. Unfortunately, some levels required difficult platforming sections which were not helped by the imprecise platforming mechanics. However, it is rare to see a game try as many different mechanics as ABAR.

[i]Variety: +5
Batman Gadgets and Gear: +2
Disappointing Boss Battles: -2
Imprecise Platforming: -2

[/i]

"Riddle me this: What is the best way to end a game?"

Regardless of the answer to Riddle's riddle, it surely was not how this game ends. To put it simply, the final level in the game despite being as different from the rest as other levels are, is a complete bore. In Batman lore, it wouldn't be a spoiler discussing the level as it is a simple Arkham Escape.

All the villains you put to jail in the game now convenient escaped, what ensues is a straightforward boss battle survival run. We fight most of the game's bosses with some few extra's, and then go on to fight the Joker in a final battle more disappointing than Arkham Asylum's final roid-Joker battle.

I can imagine the guys in Konami's decision making session as the following:
Project manager: So, we made a level for each villain, but we put the Joker first, what now?

Employee 1: Let us make an elaborate level where the Batman tries to protect Arkham from another breakout.
PE: Arkham now that's a good idea.
Employee 2: Hey boss, we already put in a lot of work on this already, and its a Batman game, it would sell regardless.
PE: E2 is right, let us just put in all the boring boss battles we already put in.

Disappointing Final Level: -2

"I am the night. I am vengeance. I am Rob..(get's bitch slapped by Batman)"

So far, ARAB doesn't look as good as it was in my review as it did while playing it. I think it is because the sheer variety at show is difficult to convey accurately. One way of looking at it, is that each level is made with a different Batman facet in mind.

Levels feature his ruthless attack on crime, as he singularly punches through minion after minion. Other feature his detective skills as he saves the museum from getting robbed. Also, each level emphasizes the specialty of the villain in charge. Naturally, the Penguin would have many minions as well as guns on his side. In contrast, the Riddler uses technology to trap the bat.

The contrast between each level and the rest keeps the game not only fresh, but also easily repayable. Getting to Poison Ivy without being able to harm the environmental fanatics she employs is always fun. True to form, Ivy doesn't fight you herself, but delegates that to a new Vagina Plant Monster she concocted from a Hentai's producer's wet dream.

[i]Fresh Level Design: +5
Vagina Plant Monster: +1[/i]

"Batman cut short"

Finally we come to ABAR's most obvious flaw; it's length. With 8 levels including the majorly disappointing final, Batman can comfortably be beaten in 5 hours or less. The game at the end implores you to finish the game on harder difficulties, but that doesn't add anything extra to the game. Finishing it in hard is the same as finishing it in normal without the added comfort of being able to save the game via passwords.

If, for instance, another play-through introduce Robin as a playable character, or even at least changed the level layout slightly, it might be more inviting to play through it again. Of course, playing the game again would be a blast, and if I was back in the early 1990' playing in my grandfather's couch, I would try and beat it time and time again.

However, this was a 70$ game, and as such we are forced to consider the value of its hours vs. its price. It is a difficult question to answer, but we are left wanting more of the game. Perhaps that in itself is a actually a testament to a good game, that yet didn't manage to fulfill itself completely

Very Short: -5

In Conclusion:

First, let me get somethings out of the way. The goons we beat up are the same two guys for every villain that uses them. Apparently, the only sell two shirt colors in goon town (-1). True, you do not feel like the night as you do when in predator mode in the Arkham games (-2) but if anything, you feel more like Batman when moving around with main theme of, well, Batman booming in the background than by doing anything else (+3). I was half ready to go on and wear a scarf over my neck and pretend its a cape. The rest of the music isn't bad as well (+2).

Batman is one of the few comic book characters with a consistent track record in gaming. If weighing his successes against his failures he might be the only one with a scale leaning positively. It can be said that ABAR is one of the heaviest titles in the positive scale. Not to be missed by any fan of the bat in tights.


Final: 35/50


*****************************************************************

"Tips"

1- Baterangs are your friend.
2- Take everything with you in every level, you never know what you might need.
3- Seriously, Baterangs are your friends.
4- Grappling can be a little wonky, practice it before Catwoman's stage.
5- The shoulder buttons drift in the car chase level.


"Next Game"

After Batman's cleansing effect, I am not as worried about the games I missed as I was at first. My next game would be one I never heard anything about, by a studio I am no sure it still exists. Its going to be #93 Super Turrican 2.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvment.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

61- Breath of Fire 2:
Big Ol' Mustache
Year: 1993.
Genre: Brawler.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.




First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
Final Fight has an old reputation in the brawler genre, it has been a constant presence in arcades and is even represented in Capcom Vs. Marvel by the Burly Mayor Hagger. I am yet to play any other Final Fight game, but from what I saw from this first one is that this lofty reputation is totally undeserved.

Starting from the limitations of the brawler genre, to the limitations of the actual game itself, Final Fight is proving to be one of the few SNES game I disliked in my current attempt to review the top 100.

"Your daughter for your cooperation"

Every brawler needs a reason for the hero(s) to go in a linear path of destruction. In FF, Mike Hagger is the burly mayor of New York, and he is clamping down on crime in the city. The local thugs don't take kindly to that, and they kidnap his daughter to show him their disapproval of his policies. Just like any half decent mayor, Ol' Mario in Steroids removes his shirt and goes brawling in the streets of NY. Also, there is Ken-wannabe Cody who loves Hagger's daughter.

Hagger's mustache proves to be the only noteworthy presence in the game. As the thugs being an assortment of generic types, and the bosses being only a light upgrade on their minions. The other playable character, Cody, is as boring as his name. Inexplicably, Cody is actually the better fighter, so whomever picks the superior character in Hagger needs to contend with being disadvantaged by the game.

Hagger's Mustache: +4
[i]Cody and the Generic Thugs: -3

[/i]
"Linear punch-a-face game"

This game in theory can be played in the NES with slightly downgraded animations. In the NES, it might be considered a classic, but in the more powerful SNES, its mechanical shortcoming are all too apparent. For instance, the game only uses two buttons, one for attacking and the other for jumping. This leaves no room for guarding, attack switching, or any truly complex move-set.

True, there are grab attacks, but they are initiated when the player's sprite contacts the enemy sprites in a haphazard rule. You can grab the enemy, or you might get punched in the face. Regardless, all tactics are then found to be inferior to spamming Drop Kicks most of the time.

Why do we need to spam Drop Kicks you say? Well, there are a bunch of reasons:

First, the enemies do more damage than you.
Second, the enemies take more damage than you.
Third, Drop Kicks is the only attack where you are sure that its range is more than the enemies.

What ensues is a constant barrage of Drop Kicks, these Kicks launch the thugs off-screen. Hence, you need to wait for them to reappear on-screen to Drop Kick them again. Rinse and repeat. In theory, you could finish the game without taking damage at all with consistently well placed Drop Kicks, and the occasional grab-a-boss technique. Of course, this proves to be a most boring practice.

In hindsight, perhaps the very short length of the game is a blessing. Yes, the more I think about it the more I am convinced that the short five stages the game consists off is a way for the developers to save us from its mundane gameplay.

Short Length: +2[i]
Terrible Brawling:-7[/i]


"Andores, Andores everywhere"

Andore is one type of thug that takes 15-20 Drop Kicks before dying. They are present in every level of the game bar the first one. It is not an isolated incident, as the same thugs populate all five levels. The levels themselves are only told apart by well made, if boring, backgrounds.

Aside from those backgrounds, there is little to differentiate between levels in the game. Bloody Andore will show his ugly face every now and then, as similar sounding music blasts. Of course, Hagger himself or Cody won't ever change, they move with the same animation, the same pose, and attack with the same animations and poses again and again.

One thing brawlers have in advantage over other genres is their big sprite design, which leave a lot of room for expression in their characters. It is a shame FF doesn't use that large design for anything other than a smirk in one of the bosses face.

Mundane Design: -3

In Conclusion:

This turned out to be a shorter review than I though it would. It is short game, so there is that. However, here are a number of other sorry facts about the game. Item grabbing recognition is wonky at best, deadly at worst. The only way to escape combos from enemies is by executing a special move that also depletes your health. (-2).

I will stop there and go into some moral grounds. The last game I reviewed for the SNES is BoF2, which is another Capcom game. It had its share of problems, but it also had heart. The fact that FF sold more than both BoF1 and 2 is a testament that games don't sell on merit alone. That Capcom is failing hard now might be belated Karma fro all the Final Fight games it sold, as well as several shamefully designed games like it.

Final: 18/50
*****************************************************************

"Tips"
1- Don't play the game.

If you insist on wasting your time:
2- Press R+L+Start at title screen to customize difficulty.
3- Use Special Move to break oncoming barrels.
4- Make sure to never lose a Katana if you have one.
5- Knifes are useless and could open you up for attack.
6- DROPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICKKKKKKK (Jump and press attack)


"Next Game"

Ok, so my first game in the retreat was a dud. After FF, there are a bunch of fighting and racing games until #94 The Adventures of Batman and Robin. I am going to play it next, and hope for the best.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo








For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvment.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

61- Breath of Fire 2:
Year: 1993 (released 1995).
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.



[i]First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
[/i]
Breath of Fire recently came to my mind with the news of Breath of Fire 6. Which was released with much chagrin by fans of the series and gaming in general as Capcom went ahead to deface another beloved series into a husk of its former self. However, I realized that BoF was in fact never a strongly followed series. It was both critically and financially lukewarm. In Fact, most Final Fantasy titles sold more individually than the entire BoF series combined.

Hence, it is somewhat confusing to see many fans remember the game fondly. In reviewing BoF2, I understood both facts. I understood why the game is remembered fondly by those who played it, and also why it didn't receive much critical or commercial acclaim.

"Cooperation! I don't think you understand the current situation"

It is true that BoF2 story is about an ancient evil being fought by an ancient tribe, it is true that you (the hero) are a destined child that is going to defeat this evil. BoF main story arc breaks no new ground, and I immediately concluded I was going into a typical RPG tale.

Yet, the story refused to go with the safest path. While it had the subtlety of a jackhammer, and the language of a preschooler, it managed to be interesting, dramatic, and grand. There are no less sophisticated arguments against organized religion in any medium ever.

This story is only as well told as it is because of the unique characters telling it. While they are without a doubt a bunch of cardboard cutouts with laughable dialogue, they manage to be endearing by virtue of both their simplicity and design. From the villains, who are wonderfully evil without any cause, to the playable characters whose unique stories round up the game. Each of the playable characters has their own story, which are all satisfying and add a lot to the overall story. The RPG enthusiast will note many of what we consider cliche today, but this is from an age pre-categorization.

These characters ultimately remain memorable. Those who are weak, but try hard anyway. Those who are wrong, but are loyal to their faults. Those who afraid, but swallow their fear to protect their friends. We can be cynical about these tales, but we would lose a lot of its charms by being so. It is no surprise that many fond memories are of these moments in BoF2.
[i]
Characters: +4
Story: +4[/i]

"There is a bathroom in every house"

I tested the above fact myself, and found that every house designed to be lived in must at least have one room for its sprites to do their business in. This meticulous design aspect lends itself to a number of other areas in the game. Each town and village is unique, and most of the character sprites are well designed. I say most because of the bland design of the hero himself, who dons a boring white cut shirt.

However, all the evil bosses look deliciously evil, while all other sprites in the game convey their personality by their design. The star of the artistic department is surely the white dragon you see in the beginning of the game, whose white scaly skin is dotted with green moss underscoring his ancient stature.

In the other hand, the rest of the game is not as carefully done. With many of the background assets being reused, especially those of the bland dungeons. We can spot the difference between the carefully crafted sprites, and the wavy NES still-shot in the background.

Nonetheless, great care has been given to the area of the game where you spend most of your time; battles. The battle backgrounds are colorful and vibrant, even if they are not impressive. The enemy design and animations are also spot on, with the powerful bosses looking like the menace they are, and the EXP fodder looking as goofy and nonthreatening as they can be.

[i]Design: +4


[/i]

"Grandma, can the both of us unite with him, he is so handsome"

With turn-based battles, the best innovations come in the form of preparing for those battle outside of combat. BoF answer to that challenge is the Shaman system, where player characters are fused with the female shamans (hence the joke) to get some enhancements. The most basic of those enhancements is rudimentary statues boost, but different Shaman-character combinations get different results. With more effective fusion, the character changes color, and with very effective fusions the character completely transforms into a much powerful version.

Taken by itself, this system could be the best customization system in SNES RPGs, with a caveat. Yes, it shall become apparent that many of BoFs systems are accompanied by caveats.

First, the last shaman who is responsible for the transformation of at least 3 characters is only introduced before the final dungeon.

Second, each character loses their fusion if they die or get to a low HP.

These are frustrating limitations to deal with. Having to go back all the way to your village to fuse again just because you got beat up a little screams of bad game design.
[i]
Shaman System: +2.5[/i]

"Hey Ryu, I am looking for a home, can I live in your village?"

Speaking of "your village", BoF2 had a citizen recruitment system 3 years before the first Suikoden. At one point in the game, you get control over some village, and you can invite homeless NPCs to your village. These NPCs pay you back by performing a range of services, from the useless job of guarding your town (which is never needed), to selling you the best equipment in the game. Of course, the system comes with its frustrating limitations.

First, you can only recruit 6 out of 27 NPCs, and even then, each set of NPCs are randomly assigned to one of six houses which makes recruiting the best ones a pain.

Second, once you recruit one you can't kick them out of your damn house. You recruited the thieving bastard, well, tough luck.

Again, BoF2 frustrates us with another confounding limitation. What could have been a fun way to liven up your village by getting mostly useless features is now a village filled with the same useful people in most game saves. BoF2 could have started a village building tradition, but instead gave us a half-baked idea.

Your Village: +2.5

"101 in Caveman Design"

If the above two section did not convince you of the prevalence of Caveman design in the BoF2, then the lack of a dash button will. Everything in BoF2 takes more time to do than it should. From navigating the menus, to walking in the street. It takes forever to reach any place, as the encounter rate is through the roof. The game lacks polish in many of its areas. It lacks polish in its hinting and fishing minigames, the droprate of items from enemies is ridiculously low, and there is no monster book to keep track of them anyways.

The backwards design of BoF2 is nearly summed in my final moments of the game. I was with my full transformed party in the last levels of the final dungeon, just before the final boss. There, I encountered a story sequence, and when it finished I was surprised that my party lost their transformed form. It had nothing to do with the story sequence. I had to escape the final dungeon with an Exit spell, reassign the transformation, then slog back all the way down. There was a town in the middle of the dungeon, but I couldn't "wrap" to it because the Wrap spell wraps you just outside the towns, not the towns themselves.

I had to slog through the obnoxious final dungeon twice just to face the final boss with my preferred party. Elsewhere in the game are more evidence of bad design. Direction are misleading and rarely helpful, so you find your destinations with a guide or by trial and error. In one instance, the game flat out mistranslates your destination and you are left to luck and heaven. I counted 35 translation errors by myself.

Ultimately, this is a game plagued by the worst of SNES design. And if I actually played it in the SNES, I would be less favorable towards it. As it stands, playing it with an emulator (Wii U or otherwise) is the sanest thing to do.

Caveman Design: -5 if played in an emulator, -10 in the original version
[b]
"There won't by any orchestration of this soundtrack anytime soon"[/b]

It can be said that RPGs strongest asset is in their ability to convey emotion, drama, excitement, and adventure with their music. It can also be said that BoF2 music conveys non of those. It is a completely bland and forgettable soundtrack. I can only say that 2 or 3 tracks are noteworthy, including and okay intro theme.

By the time I finished the game, I realized that them music was singularly uninspiring. From the basic town music, to the boring final battle theme. This is one game where the music was just written to check a box. It follows no style or genre, and it flows randomly with little direction.

Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy fame expanded SNES FFs into a third dimension with his music. BoF2 music only glory is that it didn't drag the rest of the game down with it.

Music: -5

In Conclusion:

First, let me get other things out of the way. The combat is regular tbb, but the varied characters with their unique skills and attributes make it fresh and unique, however those skills are never explained and you are left to your own devices with only a poor text explanation to aid you.

The many towns and villages are interesting and help underscore the story, it is even easier to go to those towns by their description than by their name, mostly because you don't get the name of anyplace you visit like a normal game should.

As you can see, BoF2 is clearly a flawed gem. It is a great game encased by a thick shell of backwards design. I now understand the fondness fans had for the game, for its characters and story. I also understand why it never had much success, as it must have tested the patience of many who played it. BoF2 could have been another pillar for Crapcom to then deface years after in its current form as Crapcom, but it never was a pillar. BoF6 might be another loss for gaming, but BoF2 not being as great as it could have been was a bigger loss in itself.

Final: 35/50
*****************************************************************

"BoF 1 vs. BoF 2"

It is very surprising how different BoF 1 is from 2. While 2 went in a much better storytelling direction, it took a nosedive mechanically for some reason. Bof 1 is the more accessible game, but it is a much weaker story.

"Next Game"

I realized that I would want a more comprehensive look at the top 100 games of IGN. Therefore, I decided to revisit the earlier numbers of the list and review titles I would not normally have reviewed. I will therefore start at #100 Fina Fight and see if it deserves opening the list.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List
Photo Photo








Something, Something, Videogames: Saudi Arabia Bans Bravely Default because it promotes "Pedophilia.."


And also "sexual promiscuity in children".

It is not a strange occurrence for videogames to be banned in Saudi Arabia, just as it is not strange at all finding these banned games very easily in most videogame stores (albeit sold under the counter). Saudi routinely bans games for sexual content, violence, religious references, and for being David Cage games. However, Bravely Default is the first and only game that has been banned for the reasons mentioned above. Banning a game for its sexual content (nudity, sex scenes) is "to preserve public morals". Yet, the same reason is not applied to BD, but a more serious one indeed.

Having learned about the ban, not by means of the press or any actual credible list, but by the statement of videogame store vendors and company suppliers, I had to do some checking around. Videogames are less than a footnote to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and no official document would list all games banned and their reasons. Also, since some of the banned games are readily available, it can be hard understanding how the hell they are supposed to be unlawful to sell (CoD).

With Saudi's ministry of Culture being adverse to working with foreign languages, they  mostly refer to the UAE for quick reference. Whatever they ban, we also ban as well. Hence, games that are not banned in the UAE but are banned in Saudi are mostly banned after the fact of their release.

Usually, a game would come in and by some serious of unlikely events manage to get the public in some uproar causing the game to get a ban. The ministry of Culture would not pain itself actually studying the game in question. Firstly, because they wouldn't know how. Secondly, because they don't want to open to criticism from the religious police.

In this case, according to the suppliers of the game, and the two major game stores (Tokyo Games, Computer Games), it all started with an editorial in a newspaper. You could color me surprised (sarcasm), but a single editorial managed to ban a game.



Why So Simple?

As is the case with anything, it is easier to morally degrade a product by claiming it hurts children in any way or form, so how about claiming it promotes sexual abuse towards them. The writer of the editorial says he was buying his children some "Nintendo children games" and was surprised by the "gross sexuality of children" in the cover of the game. Which is why covers are blackened in the illegal versions sold in stores now.

Here is the offending cover:



To the writer's credit, he did not only use the cover to support his arguments, but also some basic youtube research as well (sarcasm). In short, the game not only is a pedophile best training tool, but it also promotes children to act and dress more sexually. 

With Saudi Arabia having recently being awoken to the real issue concerning children's safety (just 10 years ago you could be molested as a kid and your family wouldn't be able to do anything short of personal vendettas), any media that is said to encourage the act would be easy targets. The writer did go in a tangent mostly accusing Japanese anime as well as "foreign conspiracy cartoons" but those were actually supported by networks and some rich people.

Whether it is related to the vulnerable psyche of a nation coming to terms with a real problem in its treatment to children, or the footnote videogames find themselves in; banning Bravely Default was as easy as finding it in stores after the ban.


Disclaimer: these are not complete facts, with no official persons confirmation all we have is educated guesswork and the word of the suppliers as well.



Thank you for reading.








I remember having a lot of fun time playing the SNES in my childhood, but I did not play buy about 10 to 15 games, and many games that I played I couldn't go far into owing to my inability to read basic instructions in English.

As I grew up, I did play some more SNES games that fell my way and others that were released in other platforms. Due to the sheer quality of those titles that I plaed years later (such as FF6 and Chrono Trigger) and those I remember playing (DKC, Super Mario World) I always was curious about the quality of all those titles I did not play.

Back three years ago, IGN released a list of their top 100 SNES games:

IGN's Top 100 SNES Games

Reading that list, I got excited and wanted to play all of them. However, I realized that just playing them wouldn't be enough. I wanted to study that list, and hence decided to review most games in the list.

I say most because I decided I wouldn't review:
1- Games I already played.
2- Sport and Racing games, these genres have simply only gotten better with technology.
3- Multiplayer-focused games, because I have no friends.
4- Games that don't interest me at all.

With the publication of Earthworm Jim's Review, I finished publishing all the reviews I wrote three years ago. I called them the "legacy" reviews because they were old and because I wrote them in a football forum (soccer) called Goallegacy. As I reread those reviews, I am somewhat embarrassed by their quality, and by the criteria I shackled myself with. Due to Goallegacy being an international forum, and due to it being a forum with its own memes and in-jokes, the reviews might contain some cringe worthy lines, and other confusing anecdotes.

Speaking of Goallegacy, that is one great forum with many cool people. I would suggest anyone interested in football (soccer) of giving that place a tour. Back to topic now.

Since those reviews were three years ago, I also managed to evolve my review writing skills and my new reviews are IMO much better than my old ones. Why did I stop then? Because my laptop destroyed itself causing me to abandon all my previous writing endeavors as I focused on life outside of the screen.

Yet, here I am reviewing SNES games again with even more enthusiasm. I realized that I missed several titles my first time down IGN's list due to casting too tight a net. Hence, I am going back up the list and going down again.

This blog will house the list of all games I reviewed so far. It is better than posting the complete list in every review blog as I was doing before.

Legacy List:

90- Blackthorne
78- X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse
77- Shadowrun
76- Soul Blazer
74- Illusion of Gaia
SC- Terranigma
69- Out of This World
66- The Lion King
65- R-Type III: The Third Lightning
62- Kirby's Dream Land 3
60- Aladdin
57- Earthworm Jim

New List:

100- Final Fight
94- The Adventures of Batman and Robin
61- Breath of Fire 2

Destructoid Challenges:

It is well known here in Destructoid that Chris Carter lives 72 hours a day. There is no other explanation of his ability to finish as many game as he does while having a healthy life.

I think it would be fun trying to guess which games of this list Chris have not played yet.

Outside of List Reviews:

Terranigma, the greatest game I have played in my SNES reviews was not actually in the IGN list. I only played it because it was the third game of a trilogy that had two games in the list. It was not in the list because it never was released in the US.

My point being, is that there are great games that are not in the list. So, if any of you readers think I should review such a game, please suggest so in this list.