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6:33 PM on 05.26.2015  

SNES REVIEWS: Secret of Evermore

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:

SC3- Secret of Evermore:
Year: 1995.
Genre: Action RPG.
Publisher: Square Soft.
Developer: Square Soft.
 

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 game has one of the most striking cover images in the SNES. Back in 1995, before I started learning English, I remember going to a videogame store with my father who promised to buy me a new game. I went there looking for a new Mario or Donkey Kong game, but I didn't find any. Fearing that by leaving the store without buying anything would free my father from his promise, I bought the first game that caught my eye.

I couldn't even read the title, but the red monster compelled me to buy the game.

As soon as I started the game, I realized this was something different from what I am used to. Grand music started to play as scenes shifted, obviously telling a story with the alien English letters that I am yet to understand. Persistently, I tried going as far as I could in the game, only to not know how to save.

It didn't take long for me to realize I needed to grow up an learn English in order to beat the game, and I shelved it. Yet, as I grew up, new game systems came, and the old SNES's charger went up and died (never the SNES itslef). However, the cover image and the haunting opening scenes were lodged in my brain.

Once I started my current SNES reviews series, the red monster image flashed again. I realized I need to finish and review this game. However, I didn't even know its name. Armed with cover image, I typed in google "SNES rpg game with red monster in cover", and lo and behold, Secret of Evermore.

To my surprise, this is a game made by none other than the SNES RPG masters. This is a review 20 years in the making, and in some way, it delivers.

"My friends, prepare to be part of history"

By the end of the SNES era, Square became known for making particularly great intros to their game, and SoE is no different. Starting with a black and white "flashback" scene, we are treated to great moody music and an excellent setting of pace. Some experiment has gone terribly wrong. By the time we gain control of out character, we believe the game's invitation to be part of history.

Yet, this is not a game truly made by Square, but one made by an American team that Square formed for the express purpose of making an RPG with western influences. Smartly, this team took Secret of Mana as a template, and made a spiritual spin-off that borrows many elements while introducing new things. This is mechanically a SoM game. However, it is something entirely different.

The game starts in Podunk, USA, a generic US small town. You are simply a boy with an unhealthy love for B-Movies, who walks his dog without much care. This becomes the catalyst of the plot as your dog ends up chasing a cat into the abandoned mansion seen at the intro of the game, starting a brief sequence of mistakes that leads you with your pet into the world of Evermore.

And This is how you become Dr. Manhattan


At first, I thought this was going to be a time travel tale. In the beginning, you start in a spaceship, and in less than 10 minutes you are thrown into the Jurassic Age. However, this is an interconnected world where different time periods exist in geographical proximity. Specifically, this game spans 4 different time styles, with two being very similar to each other.

Ironically, the game's setting doesn't have much to do with the plot other than the overarching desire to go back to normal USA. Yet, to go back, you must travel Evermore and solve the problems plaguing it since it might help your cause. Other than yourself, the victims of the experiment that started it all are trapped in this world as well.

You should not expect a grand story to unravel in SoE. However, this is a fun game. Like the B-Movies that inspired this wacky adventure, this a game that is enjoyable if you approach it with the right mindset. Helping it is possibly the best script and writing found in an SNES RPG. Cartridges are known to have memory issues, and with Japanese text being relatively compressed in comparison to English; translations have always been weak. Hence, when we have a game designed from the ground up with English as the main language; we get a script that is both funny and well-done.

Ultimately, this is a story about a boy and his dog trying to go back to their real world. In their way, this boy manages to help the citizens of Evermore in some meaningful ways. Sometimes, this involves a number of interesting stories, even if non of them is ground braking. Yet, this is also a fiercely unique player among its RPG brethren. True, it might use some usual RPG tropes, but, it will always have a funny B-Movie scenario to back that trope up.

Unique World:+3
Funny Story:+2
Excellent Writing:+4
Dog:+2

"Like Emperor Zorn in 'Acropolis Apocalypse'."

With the SoM system in place, SoE already has a huge advantage gameplay-wise.This means you can walk around and directly attack your enemies as you wait for your attack bar to fill. Also, you could pause the action to unleash some spells, heal, or just change your weapon of choice. Even more, it actually improves on it in many ways. For one thing, the camera is centered on you unless a co-op player is controlling the dog. Also, there is more information when attacking. Fro example, when you miss an attack, an actual "miss" number will appear on screen to notify you that you hit the right place but simply missed the attack.

In the first stages of the game, you immediately learn the importance of keeping your distance as you joust with your enemies. Then you gain your first "Alchemy" spell, and fight your first real boss. Thraxx is the enemy you see in the cover of the game, and he is no slouch. With your bone club in hand, and your Alchemy spell in the bag, you must always be on your toe to succeed, and what a feeling when you do.

Then it all goes to hell.

He couldn't have siad it better


Let us start with the Alchemy system. Unlike spells in other games, Alchemy requires mixing ingredients to launch a spell. Ingredients can be bought or found through your dog who sniffs ingredients out of the environment. In many ways, this gives extra value to money, because it can be used to stock on ingredients. Here, we can imagine a game economy where using Alchemy to kill enemies would give us money to buy Alchemy ingredients. This is how it should work in theory.

However, theory is much different in practice, as the invisible hand royally messes up. First, Alchemy needs leveling up through usage. Yet, unless leveled up, using Alchemy is useless. Hence, you either spam fireball a hundred time to upgrade it to a semi useful level, or simply stick to your melee weapon. Worse yet, in order to level one spell up, you need to use it an obscene amount of times. Hence, the only way to realistically level up any one spell is to set up a grind. Go murder a few monsters with the spell, get the money to buy ingredients for that spell, rinse and repeat.

This sets up the entire Alchemy system to fail. And that didn't need to happen. Take the "heal" spell for example. Through normal usage without grinding, I managed to upgrade the spell organically so that it always stayed useful for me without being overpowered. Yer, the game found it fit to give me a healing spell that completely heals my wounds. Hence, the only reason I continued using my old "heal" spell is to stubbornly stick to something I worked to upgrade.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time the game steps on its toes regarding Alchemy. With more than 20 spells (which should have been nice), some spells get stronger versions of themselves. However, this means you will need to level those up in order to get any use. Which is highlighted by the game's own lack of balance regarding damage. Taking one spell and grinding it up, in one level jump, it became ridiculously powerful for the time. So powerful in fact, I could simply ruin any boss by spamming it, and I actually manage to make a profit while doing so. Hence, I had an infinite use of a cheap grenade launcher.

Yet, through one jump of the game, the spell suddenly became useless. At the endgame, I didn't bother going back and grinding (although I could). In fact, I believe if I upgraded it to its maximum level that I wouldn't have any hard time with the final boss whatsoever.

Sometimes this plane feels more balanced than the game!


This is highlighted by another major balance problem in the game. Unlike SoM, you have four types of weapons to choose from, with one coming late in the game. In SoM, each weapon gets stronger once you upgrade it with an item, which adds a charged attack that is significantly stronger. In SoE, you upgrade weapons through usage. This sounds okay in paper, but it is fundamentally flawed. You see, of each type, you get an "upgraded" stronger version as you go through the game. However, this stronger version starts at level one. This means that if you want to use the stronger spear, you must lose the charge attack you earned through leveling the weaker spear. Simply put, each weapon class should have leveled up regardless of the "weapon" you use. The bone club should have upgraded to the Gladius and so on. Anything else is ridiculous.

Ironically, this makes your Dog as the only dependable damage source in the endgame. Because he used the same weapon (his mouth) the entire game, it sets him up for murder in the end. The developers obviously realized something is wrong in the end, which is why they equip you with the Bazooka weapon, which makes both under leveled Alchemy and Melee weapons useless.

In many ways, SoE had grand ideas that fell far too short. Perhaps over confident with their SoM engine, or too relaxed with it. However, I think this speaks to the lack of experience this team had in the day, which ultimately created a very unbalanced game.

Terrible Balance: -12
Some Good Ideas: +3

"How do we get back to Podunk?"

This is a game in which its art tells perhaps more than it intended to. Look at the lush, distinctive, and widely different locations of the prehistoric part of the game. Not only is the art direction superb in making you feel entangled in prehistoric jungles, its variety also makes for a very believable world. From the raptors that attack you to the wild planet life, the game's design in both background and enemies shows great care and attention to detail.

Then, look at barren, similar, and boring "Omnitopia" part at the end. It can be argued that such boring design is symbolic of the ultra modern era, but I think its both budget problems and time constraints. Even though, while not the entire game is as detailed and splendid as prehistorica, the game's graphical and artistic design is consistently good, even if it drops in style at the end.

With the game's smart use of foreground, the game's locales are more three dimensional than they may otherwise seem. Jungles obstruct your view just as they should, while deserts have sand particles flying about in the wind. In all of this, wonderfuly designed and animated cretins walk the earth. These monsters belong to their world as much to fight you as to simply live. Different than the usual monsters found in many RPGs, these baddies are plausibly existing as part of the world design.

This looks like a nice place to live, if you don't mind the bathroom situation


Of course, bosses are the best designed baddies of them all. Now, these guys don't belong; they dominate. From the monstrous Thrax who towers over your poor mortal self to the lord of the rats, the bosses are formidable looking and mostly unique. Despite the occasional color swap, most bosses are fearsome looking and fun to fight against due to their variety and style.

Unfortunately, such variety doesn't extend to the color palette, which is unfortunately dull and repetitive. While such coloring worked very well for the prehistoric era, I cannot but feel the other eras should have lighted up as you went by. Probably, this is a major reason we feel future locations feeling more familiar as we go by.

Along with consistency of the color palette, we get a consistently good soundtrack. in a rather bold direction, SoE aims for a mysterious and ambient style of music. Hence, this is a soundtrack that mixes some zany sounds with ambiance mixed with nature.

Oddly enough, this works very well when walking around in the outer-world, with the natural chirping of birds and the sounds of the jungle your only companion. As such, the mysterious soundtracks of the dungeons are further accentuated due to the sounds of the great outside. So, while there aren't many great tracks, the originality of the soundtrack as whole is a part of the game's unique charm.

Graphical Style: +4
Sprite Design: +3
Music: +3

Thrax looking as fearsome as he does in the cover


In Conclusion:

There are games that I believe fulfill their entire potential, and are as a consequence very good games. Not truly great, but very good games. And there are games that had the potential to be great games, yet fall short.

I think that SoE is a good game that could have been one of the SNES's greatest games. Clearly, the potential for a great RPG was there. Yet, through the inexperience of the development team, much of that potential was wasted in balancing problems. In many ways, this was a game which begged for the sequel that would get it perfectly right.

Unfortunately, SoE never got that sequel.

Yet, we are left with a good game, that could with effort from the player be especially fun. True, it sags through the end. True, its balance is off in many areas. However, this is one game that wasn't afraid of doing it differently, and it shines as a result. Perhaps it didn't manage to achieve greatness, but it tried. And 20 years after first playing it, I am very glad I did.

Final: 37/50

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


"Tips"

1- More expensive gear is always better.
2- If you are going to level up one Alchemy Spell, Crush is your friend.
3- Don't bother with upgrading your melee weapons, the Bazooka will replace them anyways.
4- You really wouldn't need anything more than the first healing spell.
5- If you are getting too much damage, you probably need better armor.
6- Try talking to Sellers as the dog.
7- Some puzzles require you to control the dog.
8- Keep Puzzle Alchemy Spells equipped at all times (to save some backtracking time).

"Next Game"

While Secret of Evermore couldn't have possibly stood up to 20 years of hype building inside of me, the experience wasn't bad. It could have been much more, but what we got isn't terrible. For one thing, this game surely belongs to an SNES top 100 games, and as such should have been in IGN's list.

Next game I am going to play is the Square Soft and Nintendo collaboration, none other than Super Mario RPG at #10. As the father of the Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi series, I am excited about this one.

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/secret-of-evermore/screenshots

  read


7:30 AM on 05.21.2015  

Wii REVIEWS: Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles:

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

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.gamesradar.com/best-wii-games-all-time/

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar 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:

47- Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles:
Year: 2009.
Genre: Rail Shooter.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom, Cavia. 

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.

As the second Rail Shooter released by Capcom in the Wii, The Darkside Chronicle obviously benefits from the learned experiences of the team. Not only is it obviously better graphically, but also manages to have a tighter aiming and a cleaner interface.

Outside of the more obvious upgrades, The Darkside Chronicles manages to add more flourishes to itself, and almost manages to transcend the genre. Still, this is a game that is meant for Rail Shooters and/or Resident Evil fans. However, this is also a game I would recommend to anyone even remotely interested in either.

The Darkside Chronicles is probably among the pinnacle Rail Shooters.

"Just another one of Umbrella's failed experiments"

I will continue to reiterate; Umbrella is probably the most evil corporation in videogame history. While the company doesn't directly act in this game, their previous legacy is still the driving force for the narrative.

While the first chronicles game focused on Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine and their respective story-lines, The Darkside Chronicles retells the story of RE2 and Code Veronica as well as adds the excellent Operation Javier storyline. This means that the game focuses on the story of Leon and Claire (Chris's sister). This makes for a better story, because Leon and Claire are simply better characters than Chris and Jill.

Unfortunately, the game does not have the huge presence of Albert Wesker as it did in the first game. Yet, the new Operation Javier manages to compensate well. Especially by being a new fleshed out tale, the added scenario also explores the past relation between Leon and non other than Jack Krauser from RE4.

Additionally, the storytelling of this game is just better. Besides actually retelling the stories in a concise and personal way, the game doesn't only rely on archive files to flesh out the tale. While not as deep as the actual games themselves, the game manages to cultivate a sense of urgency that was sorely missing before.

Unlike the first game, where the story was hidden in the archives, The Darkside Chronicles actually does a decent job of showcasing the best parts of the stories it tells. Whither its the fate of the Birkin family, or that of the Ashfords. And not to be outdone, the Javiers putt in their contribution as well.

No Wesker: -2
Great Retelling: +4
Operation Javier: +3

Chris has nothing on Krauser's Cannon Arms


"Something strange. It smells like... like a battlefield"

Similar to the first game, the character you choose has no effect on the gameplay, which is usual Rail Shooter fare with an infinite handgun and several side weapons. Yet, it seems like Capcom learned a lot from making the Umbrella Chronicles, and it shows.

In the first game, I bemoaned several factors for non-ideal aiming. If I could, I would go back and dock more point from The Umbrella Chronicles because this game simply has much better aiming which makes the first unforgivable and clunky. While still not perfect, and prone to shake without using a peripheral, it is still possible to sting along a series of head shots, and I feel more culpable when missing shots than the game itself.

This culminates in the cleaner look, which allows for a better aiming reticule, as well as enhanced feedback. Switching weapons is now simply done by pressing a directional button instead of scrolling through all of them to get to that beautiful rocket launcher. Grenades are their own weapon slot and no longer its own attack, and you can keep most supplies through levels. Better still, you can store herbs to use when you really need them instead of wasting them on full health.

I am no closer to being an expert at Rail Shooters, but I feel that practice would pay off when playing this game, and the gameplay feels satisfying.

Yet, two aspects might prove uncomfortable for some. The first is the removal of any camera control, which means you cannot look around as you could in the first game. The second is the shaky cam which is used throughout the game.

Since I played this right after the first game, I missed the ability to control the camera, and wish some limited control was available. As for the shaky cam; I honestly think its an overblown complaint. Not only does it add to the first person experience, but it rarely detracts from your aiming, since you character steadies their aim whenever you actually need to shoot stuff. However, it might make it harder to get the archive items (I didn't get all of them) but I am not sure.

Generally, this a better Rail Shooter than the first, and a better game because of it.

Better Aiming: +3
Cleaner Interface: +2
Quick Weapon Selection: +2
No Camera Control: -3
Linear Corridors: -2

These guys were in an orgy before the outbreak happened


"Come on now trenchy"

Since this game spans three timelines and three generations of B.O.Ws, we have more to deal with besides the Zombies which are thankfully varied in design if not in actual intellect. From the hunters and their variations to the lithe Anubis, we are tasked with handling a variety of foes.

Generally, each level has a healthy dose of variety, and no particular enemy feels cheap or forgivable (besides the bats). For RE fans, its cool to see the development of the Hunter class of B.O.W as well as the variety of bugs that are turned into nightmarish monstrosities. I am yet to see a camel scorpion zombie, and if I do, I am going to run far away.

As the pinnacle of the experience, the boss battles rarely disappoint in Resident Evil game and this one is no exception. From the human like Tyrant in all their terrifying power to truly frightening behemoths, the boss fights are intense.

When the boss's healthbar shows itself in the screen, you realize you need to throw in the gauntlet and let loose with everything you have. In many ways, the game does so as well, as it stretches itself both visually and mechanically to offer increasingly unique fights.

Not to be confused, you are still shackled to the rails as per the genre, but each boss fight has a combination of QTE dodges, as well as attacks that can be cancelled with the right firepower. However, acting more than a visual spectacle, these fights demand more accuracy than the usual horde, and are the most difficult parts of the game.


Boss Fights: +3
Varied Enemies: +2

Here comes Trenchy!!!!!


"When you look at the depth of the abyss it swallows you whole"

There can be no arguing, the Darkside Chronicles is a beautiful game SD graphics be damned. Whither it is showcasing the beautiful vistas of "South American Country" or the dreary streets of Racoon city. In gameplay and in CGI scenes, this is a game that is among the best on the Wii and the PS360. A lot of it is due to the excellent direction of Capcom, as well as impeccable lighting.

Hence, the game' varied locations all look great, and add to an atmosphere that is lacking through the genre's gameplay. With mansions suitably looking extravagant and filled with knick nacks, and a village that looks to have been obviously populated before an unspeakable catastrophe claimed many lives. This visual and stage design is even better than that or the disappointing RE5.

With this added graphical capability, the monstrosities conjured by the game's directors come to life more vividly, with a special kudos to one of the best final boss designs in a series renowned for its boss designs.

Shedding the plastic faces of the PS2 era human characters, Leon and Claire look and act more believably than previous iterations. However, for some reason, that jackass still looks like a jackass even with the visual upgrade.

Adding to the beauty of the game is its soundtrack and audio design. With both the music and the sound effect playing a crucial part in underlying both the prevailing mood or urgency of each situation. While not exceptionally brilliant, it still manages to complement the game well.

The VA deserve a special mention because they all do their job admirably. While some lines are cheesy and could have been cringe-worthy, the delivery of said lines made them passable and in some cases somewhat funny.

True, a Rail Shooter doesn't struggle to showcase stellar graphics, but such effort is to be commended by Capcom.

Beautiful Graphics: +5
Nice Soundtrack: +2

Here is a frontrunner to the worst father award


In Conclusion:

For a game particularly made for two fan bases, it has a lot to offer to both. With excellent retelling of loved RE stories as well as much appreciated back-story on Krauser, as well as great Rail Shooting gameplay., The Darkside Chronicles hits both demographics well.

Additionally, this is a game that I think manages to be fun for different players. The story is concisely told, with player unfamiliar with the source content mostly able to follow through, and the game itself being really well done.

Much better than the first game, The Darkside Chronicles is another point for Leon in the Leaon vs. Chris debate. Everybody hates Chris anyway.

Final: 44/50

 

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

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

So, this game was reviewed by the current Editor-in-Cheif Jonathan Holmes himself way back in 11.20.2009, and he gave it an 8.5. Since he alreayd liked the first game, Holmes was bound to love this one. After hitting the "jump button" (where is that in the keyboard) to find out, a breif philosophical discussion on the meaning of darkness ensues before Holmes tells us why he liked the game. "Where many on-rails shooters are content to offer a short, standard arcade adventure, The Darkside Chronicles offers a campaign experience on-par with just about any action/horror game out there. If you don't like the on-rails genre because you think the games are always too short or too shallow, you may want to rethink those notions. Games like Darkside Chronicles and Dead Space Extraction are evolving the genre in a fantastic way, and that's something you might not want to miss out on."

The comments section wasn't too busy at the time, and noted was the absence of any person thinking about how much the game is going to sell. Most notably, this game (at least the time) marks the point Chris Carter bought a Wii:

"Just bought a Wii and the first one came in the mail today ;D"

I think Chris liked this one better than the first. 

Holmes was previously worried about me going back and reading what he considered a non-well-written review, but he should be glad that Hiltz liked it:

"Great review, Holmes. I can always rely on Destructoid for their well written reviews unlike some other review sites and magazines like IGN and Edge.

I'll be picking up this game very soon."

One reader is all that counts JH. But apparently Mortoes thinks the review is too long:

"Does the review need to be this long? "Game moves around for you, you point and click at things." Bam. Game summarized. Another amazing Wii game."

You can't win them all, can you.

 

 

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

Despite being better than The Umbrella Chronicles in everyway, this game wasn't better in the only way that mattered to Capcom. While it managed to sell a respectable 1.1 Million copies, it fell 400 Thousand copis short of its elder sibling. Still, this makes it one of the top earners of the RE spinoffs, and still one of the best earning Railshooters in the Wii.


"Tips"

1- There is no countering in this game, so don't get them close.
2- You can switch weapons into the quick selection slots in the pause menue.
3- Shoot the heads (DUUUUH!).
4- Brake stuff in the environment to get gold.
5- Use gold to upgrade your weapons.
6- Focus on upgrading your handgun first.
7- But an aiming peripheral if you are a fan of Rail Shooters.

"Next Game"

Gamesradar are perfectly right to put this one in the list instead of The Umbrella Chronicles. In fact, if Operation Javier was a full fledged RE game, I would guarantee it being a hit. Now that I am done with Rail Shooters for the moment, I might change the den like it was before.

The next game in the list is at #46, Sakura Wars: So Long my Love. This sounds like a very Japanese game, and it should be interesting since it is based on the Sakura Wars media franchise

Stay Tuned


For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/wii/resident-evil-the-umbrella-chronicles/screenshots

  read


12:35 PM on 05.13.2015  

Wii REVIEWS: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

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

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

http://www.gamesradar.com/best-wii-games-all-time/

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar 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:

S1- Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles:
Year: 2007.
Genre: Rail Shooter.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom, Cavia. 

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.

With the first reveal of the Wii, it was inevitable that a host of Light Gun Rail Shooters were going to be release on the console. With Rail Shooters, zombies are a natural fit. And where there are zombies, Capcom's Resident Evil series cannot be far behind. The Umbrella Chronicles is Capcom's first answer to that demand.

Since rail shooters typically requiring less resources, Capcom took this opportunity to retell the story of Resident Evil 0, 1, and 3 in a fast naturally action oriented fashion. Additionally, the Umbrella Chronicles include chapters detailing the fall of the pharmaceutical corporation. This makes the game ideal for Resident Evil fans who want to quickly brush up on the series's history, and for new fans who are not interested on playing the older games. Also, the game is a decent enough Rail Shooter that should appeal to fans of the genre.

However, I am not sure the game will hold any appeal for players who are neither Resident Evil nor Rail Shooter fans.

"Humanity's future is safe under our Umbrella"

There are few organizations in videogames that are as evil as Umbrella. In fact, I would argue none even manage to compete. Through more than 40 years of virtual history, Umbrella ruined the lives of countless individuals, and inflicted horrors on both an individual and global scale that are simply unimaginable. At no single point is it entirely clear what are the reasons for their action. Because it is a huge organization, the different ideologies of its executives cause pain for a variety of reason.

Unfortunately, in this retelling of the Resident Evil story, the more interesting parts of Umbrellas story is relegated to the Archive Files, while the main story treads mainly on the main protagonist's walk from point A to B. In each of the different scenarios, those who are not already familiar with the lore behind the franchise wouldn't be able to differentiate it from Zombies the Game.

The exception is in the behind the scenes scenario, which are played by non other than Albert "Sunshades" Wesker. Reaffirming his statues as a badass character, Wesker's chapters are actually the only chapters that run more than skin deep, as they attempt to showcase both Wesker's ambition and Umbrella's imminent downfall.

After reading through the archives, playing the regular scenarios, and finally playing Wesker's chapter, I was reminded of three things. First, that Resident Evil is a franchise with a carefully constructed lore, a lore that was sadly forgotten with development of RE5. Second, that Chris "Punch-a-boulder) Redfield is such a stupid one dimensional character with no redeeming factors. In one instance, after having to kill a teammate who became a zombie, his first remark was: "sorry Forest, I will miss our target practice sessions". Third, that Wesker is a great villain, and his narration adds a lot to the story.

As you might guess in a Rail Shooter, the story is divided into small stages. Due to going through what can be considered 4 story lines, the game consists of a number of "main" stages as well as "sub" stages. Generally, you would want to finish both, but some of the sub stages can only be unlocked after fulfilling some easy conditions.

There is nothing revolutionary about the Umbrella Chronicle's attempt to retell the Resident Evil story, and it can actually be said its a little bland. However, its actually just enough for fans to remember all the lore, while newcomers might be interested after reading the Archives.

Albert Wesker: +3
Not an Interesting Retelling: -3
Cool for the Fans: +3

Sure you will


"The city was doomed to annihilation... and there was no way out"

Before starting a level, you are usually given the choice between two characters, who are either Jill Valentine or another character (Jill is available the most). However, your choice has no effect on gameplay, as the starting handgun which has infinite ammo is the same for all characters depending on the stage.

Other than your trusty handgun, you can pick up different weapons in each stage, running the gamut from shotguns to anti-tank missiles. Also, you can chuck grenades if you need to, and as always, picking up a herb will help keep you healthy.

With your arsenal in place, the player needs to concentrate in one thing and one thing only; to point at the screen with the Wiimote and shoot. I did not find this to be really accurate at first, which could be due to one of these reasons: A) Limitations of the Wii itself, B) Programing, C) Light Gun games in general, D) My own incompetence. As I slowly managed to get better, I realized it actually can be a combination of all the above.

For maximum efficiency, you are required to shoot at weak-points to get critical hits. Unfortunately, the weak-points usually have very small hit boxes, and whether I hit them or not was more due to luck than skill. To better be able to play the game, I spent some time calibrating the Wii sensor, as well as realign my whole gaming area to get a more steady aim. Consistently, I thought some kind of aim-assist would have improved the experience somewhat.

Depending on many factors, this might be different for the player. For instance, the size of your TV vs the size of your gaming area. Such discrepancies are inherent in Light Gun games, which is why Arcade Cabinets are custom made for a certain position.

Convinced that I won't be able to master the game, I lowered the difficulty to Easy, and actually had a fun and challenging time. For my limited skill-level, I didn't feel it was a cake-walk, and the challenge level was perfect. Generally, the game was fun for a stage or two, but playing longer than that wouldn't be ideal

Stage System: +2
Aiming: -3

Just the time to have a romantic candlelight dinner


"Be a good girl and stay dead this time"

Since you are basically retreading a lot of the stories of the past RE titles, you will be facing a number of familiar monsters. From the mundane zombies, to all sorts of creepy crawlies. Regular monsters come in three varieties, small creepers that die with one shot, zombies, and special foes that are usually tougher than your regular zombies. Some scenarios have unique monsters, which was a relief since I really hated the leeches of the RE0 chapters.

There were a number of iconic bosses in the RE franchise as well, and the Umbrella Chronicles does a good job of making some of those bosses just as iconic in a different gameplay mode. Besides being visually freighting, the bosses will push you in a mulch-tiered battle for dominance.

Generally, each boss offers a unique fight that would demand you focus where to shoot. If its red and glowing, you know you should shoot there. However, sometimes you need to do more to expose the weak-spot, and sometimes it is only exposed momentarily as you move on-rail. Meanwhile, you need to do everything you can to evade your enemies attacks.

In another genre, some of what happens in the boss fights can be derided as QTEs. However, within the confines of a Rail Shooter, they are another form of a dodge button. Yet, not all attacks can be evaded with a button prompt (or a Wiimote waggle), as some require you to stay your ground and cancel the momentum of the boss. Other attack will have you shooting off tentacles, or breaking down incoming rocks.

Not all levels have a boss fight at the end, but most do, and the bosses are in many ways a highlight of the game.

Boss Fights: +3
Varied Enemies: +2

Jill has more to worry about here than becoming a sandwich


"The world will burn in an inferno of hate"

Rail-Shooters benefit from their pre-designed camera angles, and as such they have excellent control over the environment you see. As such, through good direction, a Rail-Shooter can look much better than contemporary games in the same system. Naturally, a series known for its good direction such as RE looks great.

However, enemy models are repeated a lot, with little difference between two of the same type. Which makes sense for bats, and even monkeys, but shouldn't be the norm for the large sized hunters. Of course, the bosses are a highlight of enemy design, but how hard is that with the iconic direction of the series.

The Playable characters themselves look fine in all of their pre-HD glory, and I frankly see this grounded design of Chris as a more natural design choice than the Hulk in RE5. As for their voice acting, it runs all the way from weak like Rebecca Chambers, to excellent in the case of Weskers. Mostly, it adds to gameplay experience, especially since you are too busy aiming to read.

For the soundtrack, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and style. While no track other than the main-title track was especially memorable, it was a solid offering that gave a special mood. With ambient noises, as well as an electronic score, the track smoothly changes from haunting to urgent and exciting. When I think about it, its difficult to fully appreciate the soundtrack of Rail-Shooter because the game continues to move and doesn't give you the chance to fully listen.

Nice Graphical Design: +3
Repetitive Enemy Models: -2
Nice Soundtrack: +3

He is really a fun guy if you get to know him


In Conclusion:

With enough content to fully occupy a first run, the Umbrella Chronicles is great for people looking for another RE game or a Rail-Shooter. For one thing, they can always play it with two players (which I have not tested). At worst, its an inoffensive game that serves to remind you of the glory days of the franchise.

At best, you might actually like it and actively try to master each and every level. With different difficulty levels, as well as a number of collectibles that you can only get if you preform well at harder difficulties, this is a game that you can play a lot.

Personally, I don't think this game warrant the time needed to master it, but it sure deserves a full play-through.

Final: 36/50

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

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

For some reason, Destructoid did not review this game.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

Judging from the fact that Capcom made another Chronicles game on the Wii, they were satisfied by this game's performance, as they should be. In fact, at about 1.5 million units sold, The Umbrella Chronicles actually is the highest selling spin-off RE game to date, selling more than the Outbreak game in the PS2, and the terrible Operation Raccoon city in the both the PS360.

As for Rail Shooters in the Wii, its only outsold by Link's Crossbow Training, which I guess makes sense especially with the Zapper being packaged with that game. Its noteworthy that only RE and House of the Dead are Rail Shooters that punched the 500 Thousand line.


"Tips"

1- Don't be ashamed of decreasing the difficulty level.
2- Aim for the head (DUH!!).
3- Magnum's are your best friend if you don't usually miss.
4- Don't be afraid of using grenades.
5- To get better scores and to find files, simply shoot everything that can break.
6- Some doors are breakable, and lead to bonus stuff (nothing groundbreaking though with one exception).
7- Countering is an easy kill, but it costs some time.
8- If you are willing to play even more Rail Shooters, it pays to get a Zapper (I don't have one though).

"Next Game"


After playing the RE Rail Shooter game that is not in the Gamesradar list, I am now going to play Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles which is #47 in that list.

I enjoyed the Umbrella Chronicles, and Darkside is supposed to be the better game, so I am actually going in with some expectations.

Stay Tuned


For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/wii/resident-evil-the-umbrella-chronicles/screenshots

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8:33 AM on 05.12.2015  

Lessons We Learn From Videogames

Lessons We Learn From Videogames:

After my admittedly serious and whiney blog, I felt I owed Dtoid something more educational. Of course, nothing can be as educational as videogames, and here are the most noteworthy lessons we can learn from them

Lesson 1: Mario Kart: Being first is the only thing that counts, everything else sucks

If you ever played Mario Kart for an extended period of time, probably trying to get 3 Stars against the frustratingly rubber-banding computer, or even played a few round online, one thing is abundantly clear. If you are not first, someone is going to fuck you hard with a shell or something.

For all the myths and horror stories about Blue Shells, driving first means driving safely away from the crowd, a banana peel safely guarding your backside. With each installment, the threat of a Blue Shell attack is nullified. When driving first, you are basically under near complete command of your own destiny.

However, just being one place outside of 1st, and you are basically under the mercy of the MK gods. Not only do you need to chase down the number one driver, but you also need to protect yourself. Unleash that red shell, and it will probably cause no harm to the leading guy, but will leave wide open to the vindictive 3rd. Other than that, the middle crowd are basically in a gangbang of violence, banana peels being thrown about like used condoms, and every maniacal raging penis like bullet bill in existence.

And to add insult to injury, the Blue Shell that is supposed to be the terror of leading drivers, end up screwing the trailing ones as well. Talk about a stacked deck.

Mario Kart clearly states it: Be first, or don’t bother.

How it feels to be in second place

Lesson 2: Uncharted: It is perfectly ok to kill Museum Guards:

At this stage, it is perfectly documented that Nathan Drake is a murderous psychopath with no regard to human lives, history, or common decency. Not only does he go in endless murder sprees against poor mercenaries all the while looking for treasure, but he also risks all humanity by keeping out the evil plots of madmen from more capable hands. Meanwhile, he goes on endangering countless innocents in his reckless pursuit of glory, and ends up causing the destruction of priceless history worse than an ISIS commando looking for a blowjob from the great Caliph himself.

We can talk all about that, but we won’t because Mr. Drake did something much worse.

In Uncharted 2, psychopath Drake showed his first ever sign of empathy by being appalled at the idea of shooting unarmed Museum guards. As such, he was happy to use a tranquilizer gun. Yet, as proof of his sociopathic nature, at the first sign of even remotely needing a stealthier approach than simply pointing and shooting, Drake shows his dark side.

Ahmet is proud Musuem guard with a son and two daughters. He feels proud that his job helps protect the history of Turkey and human civilization, while also paying the bill for his terminally ill wife. Nathan Drake put an end to all that, when without the slightest provocation, he grabbed this man’s leg, and threw him off the top of the building into his impending doom. All the while, he cracked some corny jokes about his death as he fell down to the abyss.

Is that treasure I see there or are you just happy to see me....

Lesson 3: RPGs: Personal property doesn’t mean anything:

The first thing I don in every RPG I start playing is check my own closet for Items, then I proceed to check all other closets in the world for items as well. If not closets, then jars, chests, drawers, and every cavity there could be an item in. If there are plants I could rip apart, I would do so. If there were teddy bears I could rip to pieces, I would do so.

Generally, everything in an RPG’s universe belongs to the protagonist and the protagonist’s party. Even more, through classes such as “Thief” the players are encouraged to steel from their enemies; mostly harmless woodland creatures.

To be fair, some RPGs do not have any items to steel inside the multitude of houses. Yet, even in those games, the protagonist is free to roam into all houses uninvited, with no regard to such trivialities such as consent or decency. Whether it is the middle of the night, or in the final barrage of mad maniac, if a door is unlocked you can invade the privacy of a home unchecked.

In RPGs such as Skyrim, it goes beyond personal property and into the NPCs themselves. Just by offering a single easy to find item, the player could marry almost any citizen in the game. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, age, and regardless of consent. Vargas didn’t want to marry a unicycle riding dark elf calling himself Mary, but he had no choice.

Look as I break down all your dreams and steal all your Rupees, and hey....listen

Lesson 4: Mass Effect: All relationship’s natural conclusion must be sex:

If you are male Shepard, all relationships with female characters end with sex as a conclusion. The same is for a female Shepard and male characters. In ME3, a homosexual option was added. Regardless of the route you choose, the end result is a PG sex scene that is more clumsy than erotic. Like a teenager trying to grind against her much taller companion.

Its not like any of the other characters just want to be friends. If you choose the “correct” responses, you will go to bed with them. Some would even risk their lives for what would equal a one night stand.

Of course, that is not as strange as the entire galaxy wanting to have sex with Shepard in ME3. Not only does Shepard save all of the universe by the end of the game (regardless of the color you choose), but also manages to solve 10000000 years worth of universal animosities and fuck ups in less than a year. Fucking hell everyone would like a piece of that God-like power.

Sure, the ending of ME3 sucked, but in the endings Bioware have for their characters, they will include some sucking as well.

All the character devolepment you need

Lesson 5: Harvest Moon: By gifting anyone an enough amount of eggs, they will be willing to marry you:

This is similar to the above lesson, but rather than try and guess the right choices, simply gift lots and lots of eggs. Sure, you might want to be a chicken farmer to manage to get the necessary amount, but the end game must require eggs of some sort.

As a Harvest Moon farmer, you don’t need a personality, or even simple dialogue. All you need are presents to give. Eggs make a delightfully natural gift, and with enough eggs, a person will be willing to marry you.

Taking this lesson to real life, realize that relationships are all about gift giving, and that without the money or mean to give around gifts, forget about having a relationship.

 

You know what, this is just a nice picture

Lesson 6: Final Fantasy: Appearances outweigh depth:

At this stage, we all should realize that the design philosophy of new Final Fantasy characters start with their hair, and ends. Lightning is a girl with pink hair, Cloud was retractably reduced to boy with spike Chocobo for a head. All the new characters in FF15 are boys with different hairdos. Hell, their only black character in a while had an Afro for Kefka’s sake.

From this, and from the graphical masturbation that is FF13, we realize that Squenix is more interested in crafting the exterior of both their game and characters than the interior. Thus, we have beautiful corridors, and sleek looking systems, that crumble at the first search for depth.

Like Lightning, we are invited by Squenix to judge the world purely by its look. As such, evil looking characters are evil, and guys with fucking birds for a head are cool. Realizing that the less vocalized characters of their past generations can have actual characteristics due to fan interpretations, Squenix diligently tried to reduce them to Chibi knockoffs or characters with hair through spin-offs and Kingdom Hearts.

The ultimate lesson being: Judge books purely by their cover, who has time to read anyway.

This picture has more personality thatn Lightning shows all three games

Lesson 7: Fighting Games: Girls fight better the less they wear:

We have been repeatedly hearing about harassment to women playing videogames in professional tournaments and such. From what I gathered, they deserve a lot of that harassment for not caring to wear fighting girl uniforms while competing.

We know from the various fighting game out there that a girl is as good a fighter as the skin she shows. It is no coincidence that most of the female fighters are scantily clad, and that with each sequel, they get more outrageous in their outfits.

It makes sense. Less restrictive clothing with the added benefit of cleavage, which is scientifically proven to cause both males and females to lose concentration. True, some might say that those outfits are too revealing, and that they are actually too tight to move about. To those guys I say: have you tried doing a reverse backflip tornado kick with your pants on. I don’t think so.

Dead or Alive takes this a step further. Not only are female fighters inversely strong to the amount of clothes they wear, but they also grow their upper body with each installment. In fact, is through such boob physics that the DoA fighters manage to be so effective. Through controlling those huge mammary glands, they can control their momentum at will, causing them to be extremely agile and formidable in combat.

Back to the real world, we see how female eSport players are ridiculed and we understand why. They are fighters competing in sport, and thus, they should take inspiration from the female fighter in videogames and simply prance about in bikini outfits while kicking ass in EVO.

If it all goes well, half the competition would look for a floating button prompt to hide their raging erections.

True story, my mother thought I was searching for porn while I was searching for this picture, pretty uncomfortable

Lesson 8: Open World Game: People will ignore all your past actions:

Just fresh out of a massive massacre that cost the death of hundreds of people and the destruction of countless cars. If you somehow managed to evade the police and the military long enough for the star countdown to drop, you can go on like nothing happens. Neither the plot nor the city acknowledges the carnage you unleashed just minutes before, as if the MiB came in a reset everyone’ memories.

Sometimes, this run completely counter to the plot. Take Read Dead Redemption for example. Regardless of your conduct, which might be much worse than the criminals you are trying to apprehend, the US government doesn’t think twice about the job they gave you. Hell, south of the border, you basically massacre both sides and yet neither feel the need to even put in a remark.

In a game, the world centers around you, and the game’s society as well as the plot itself ignore all you do inside that sandbox. And for you, the player holding the controller, why give a damn.

Open world games basically teach you that you hold the controller of your destiny, and you should not give a fuck about people at all. After all, they are all just NPCs.

Still more sane than Drake

Lesson 9: DLC: If you buy a hamburger, expect to pay more for the sauce:

With games such as ME basically chopping off important story bits and selling it day one, as well as other games that peddle “optional” content that used to be standard stuff, we should prepare for the hamburgers of the future.

Be prepared to pay the same price of the hamburger to get all the condiments that come with it. Except, you don’t exactly know what is included, nor when it’s coming. Keep holding into that hamburger, thankful that they even included the buns, as you wait for the lettuce to arrive. Then the onions, and finally the ketchup.

Wait, what’s that, more has been added to the burger outside of your first payment. Well, pay again, to get the mustard, the jalapenos, and the fucking pickles (who the hell like pickles anyway).

True, some sell their DLC as if it were the dessert, nice to have but completely optional. However, most publishers are thinking of more ways to cut the meat, so that you might end up having to pay for it as well.

So, order your hamburger, and as you wait for all the ingredients to arrive, watch a movie in the local DLC Theater. Expect to pay as you watch, because some of movie’s characters are paid DLC. Hopefully, you are not wearing some of those new DLC pants, in which case, you might have trouble fitting both your feet in the one side that is already done.

Of course, the ending of the movie will be sent to your home, unless you preordered the ticket three months ago. And if you need napkins, then tough luck, those were preorder bonuses as well.

Be thankful for the buns.

I could just repost Cammy's picture again here....Am I right...anyone....

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2:04 AM on 05.11.2015  

Grow a Thicker Skin Dustructoid and bring back Hoffmann

I guess its all in the blog title, but allow me to elaborate.

Satire:

noun

the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

It can argued that Hoffmann was a "troll", a windbag, an opininatod dick. All the same, it can also be argued that he was intentionally such a persona because it managed to get more people to think. Even now, other posters who go against the grain, and by doing so, force us to engage in discussion (like civilized people), are posting. Yet, how safe are they, despite making our community a more varied, better represented one.

For Dustructoid, Hoffmann was a valuable member. His blog posts regularly get a number of views and comments, our blog posts regulary get a number of views and comments from him. And ever present face in the front page and the blogs, he was an important voice for the site, because he was a different one. To shut down that voice because he manged to make you uncomfortable is downright pathetic.

For me, Dtoid's facination with sex, and the orgies in the comment section, are both hugely alien to me. The memes, the in-jokes, and more, all make Dtoid to be like an impnetretable community that I could never be part off. A number of opinion and thoughts do make me feel uncomfortable with who I am, with the unfortunante fact of being born in the wrong side of the world. Yet, I come here, and I engage, because that is how you understand other. This is how you understand yourself.

Learning:

adverb

The modification of behavior through practice, training, or experience.

We are not complete human beings. Everyday, we still learn from experience, from discussions with opposing viewpoints. To stifle this discussion in the pursuit of uniformity is a shame. I cannot say I completely agree with Hoffmann, nor can I say that his entire conduct was pursposful and not simply his nature. What I can say that the differences he brought to the table were neccessary compnents of a community in flux, a community that is intrested in discussion and not in stagnation.

The fucking world sucks, and its going to challenge your thoughts everyday. With the internet, not even your home is a safe-zone from the influx of ideas and opinions that go through millions of people different than you are. You can pretend to "protect" this community from harmless voices such as Hoffmann, while actually actively and hypocritically cause more harm through your own actions (Glowbear for instance, as well as Allistair).

I like to think that we are all intellegint human beings here, and that we can weigh down each opinion without getting to flustered about it. Regardless of any opinion by Hoffmann, none were irresistable implants that could go through your own reasoning to irreversibly change the way you think. His style of humor could annoy you, and his whole personality could repel you. None of which means that you are obliged to view his comments. In fact, just like I and many enjoyd pointing to him that he didn't need to click the Amiibo articles he liked to make fun off, many annoyed readers could simply ignore him.

Thought Police:

noun

A group of people with totalitarian views on a given subject, who constantly monitor others for any deviation from prescribed thinking
 
Sometime last year, my favorite comedian was pulled off the air, his show cancelled because the military could not handle his satire. At that point, nearly 30 million people watched his show every week. His name is Bassem Youssef, and the military did not want to hear his voice. Living in the middle east, you learn not to get attached to famous people. Their views might land them in prison, or they can simply be bought and changed. For Bassem, it became to dangerous to live in Egypt, and he had to leave to protect himself and his family.
 
For me, everyday I realize that a number of my opinions could land me in jail, or worse, could land my family in huge trouble. As such, I am not afraid of the censors, but I am more afraid of starting to self-censor my own thoughts. To start interpreting my own thoughts as taboo opinions.
Honestly, I did not expect to see such thought control to ever star in the videogame scene. Yet, here we are, with another "opposition" poster banned from the public forum, another satirest who could not harm our group think.
 
Seriously Dtoid.
 
Don't be such dicks, don't be like the Egyptian Military.
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4:17 PM on 05.06.2015  

Wii REVIEWS: Lost in Shadow

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

The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:

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

I decided to go back and play those 5o games and review them, atl least those that intrest me and those that I hae not played before. Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar 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:

49- Lost in Shadow:
Year: 2010.
Genre: Puzzle-Platfromer.
Publisher: Hudson Soft.
Developer: Hudsos Soft.
 

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.

These days, we find games like Lost in Shadow more readily in Steam or the Nintendo eShop, mostly made by indie developers. Of course, this is not a slight on the game as much as a reflection of the development of the indie scene, as well as the relative homogenization of major publishers. Not adhering to any single trope, Lost in Shadow follows its own philosophy on games, and it works for the most.

Obviously, Lost in Shadow is inspired by Ico, a PS2 Puzzle-Platformer that is as well regarded as it was commercially ill received. Taking place in a mysterious world, where most of the game is in the shadows of the real world, LoS clearly could have been a brilliant game. Unfortunately, it falls far from its potential despite being a good game.

"A Shadow, that is all I have become."

An ominous tower looms from the distance, but the camera quickly zooms into the top floor, as an ominous man prepares to sacrifice a child. While this child looks helplessly, the man slashes with his sword. Yet, there is no blood, only the sudden severance of the boys shadow, which is the unceremoniously dumped from the top of the tower.

We control this shadow, which aims to go back to its body. Hence, we need to climb the tower. This sets up the world of LoS, where its unique gameplay is almost entirely related to shadows. It also sets up the main mystery, and a lot of questions.

Why was the boy's shadow severed?
Why his shadow?
Why a boy?

Unfortunately, the game poorly answers its question. Soon, we know that there is a terrible monster that devours the shadows that try to climb the tower, mostly the shadows of the dead. Hence, we can surmise that shadows are like souls. However, other than this important fact, the game poorly manages its own mystery.

Taking cues from Ico, LoS aims at non-conventional exposition and a sense of mystery. Yet, LoS doesn't have the emotional core of Ico, nor does it reveal its information well. Most of the exposition we get is in major "narration" between important segments, which feel a bit lacking. Especially because what should have been a major story element is just disappointing. While climbing the tower, collectible "memories" are found, which raise your health as well as expose a little story. Yet, most of the memories are not that revealing, and some are downright "too blurry to read". Seriously, it is like collecting corrupted Audio-Tapes in Bioshock. The first one is cute, but it becomes increasingly stupid.

Ultimately, I wasn't as invested in the story as I probably should have been, and it didn't become a driving force for going forward (or upward in this case).

Mysterious Set-Up: +2
Non-Intresting Story: -3
Poor Story-Telling: -2

Actually a cool looking tower, lead designer worked with Miyazaki


"What is the sound of a shadow's step"

Courtesy of being in the shadow realm, movement is naturally going to be in the 2D plane. However, all your movement is constrained by shadows. While you are in the shadow realm witohut a real world counterpart, the rest of the environment is simply the shadows cast by the real world. As such, you can actually see the foreground where pillars and machines cast their shadow in your play-field.

Here, the gameplay is a simple 2D platformer with some combat. You can jump, crawl, and attack in three combos. Its not a mechanically sophisticated system, but it does the job with no hassle, unless your a playing on hard, in which case you will need to jump-dodge more often.

The crux of the gameplay comes from interacting with the real world. Without any explanation, you are accompanied by some shadow butterfly that can interact with the real world. Its as simple as pointing at objects of interest and pushing a button. This physical change in the real world causes a change in the shadowscape.

More complex is when you are tasked with manipulating the lighting. True to real life, when you change the light direction, both the orientations and size of the shadows change. While it is limited by place, and often easy to know exactly what you need to do, it does combine sometimes in clever ways.

Finally, you get the ability to visit the real world for a brief amount of time. This changes the 2D gameplay into basic 3D gameplay. Unfortunately, this ability comes in late in the game, despite being useable in earlier stages. Obviously, the game wants you to go back to get some staggering memories.

Generally, the game isn't really difficult, and the puzzles are rarely challenging. Yet, they are clever enough to entertain, and unique enough to surprise. Despite that, the game outstays its welcome by a bit. With the endgame having the best levels and puzzles, I was annoyed at the midgame padding. For instance, just at the end of the tower, we are tasked with a stupid fetch quest that asks you to visit some rooms in the tower. It could have easily been cut without affecting the story.

Most levels use one or two ideas and evolve them, but many are just retreads of similar ideas. Each level tasks you with collecting three "Monitor Eyes", which is necessary to finish the game. Some levels include "Shadow Corridors" which serve as micro levels designed to showcase a single game mechanic. Unfortunately, those corridors are unskippable, and are hot or miss. Which all combines for an uninspiring level structure, yet the shadow concept holds strong throughout.

Interesting Shadow Puzzles: +4
Varied Systems: +2
Too Long and a little Uninspired: -3

I feel I have played this level a few other times


"The Monster ate the shadows that tried to climb the tower"

The first time you are faced with the monster is set-up very well. First, you get a few memories in your path that hint at a terrible beast. Then, as you start the next level, the music shifts to a more urgent scale, and you are suddenly chased by the abomination. Its well designed, and scary enough to compel your escape without any directions to do so. It is single handled the best moment in the game because all of it comes together nicely. The music, the gameplay, the artstyle, and actually narrative drive.

Of all those aspects, only artstyle is consistent throughout.

Because it is basically shadows, the graphics basically need to show shadows on a plane wall. However, it goes much beyond that. Since shadow are cast on the horizontal ground as well as the vertical wall, the camera shifts as the shadow moves through different 3D planes. A shadow is equally cast on a near pillar as well as a far pillar, which translates to the cascading motion of the shadow hero as you move forward through the pillars.

While the main monster is the most memorable enemy, all the other enemies are actually well designed themselves. With a combination of macabre elements fused with natural horrors, we get some truly formidable looking foes (if not actually formidable in themselves).

I can always complain about the unimaginative 3D "real world", but the shadow world feels like playing shadow tag on a huge landscape. Additionally, the idea of the tower, as well as the best locales, both add to the mystery of the game. So, the shadow theme helps a lot in the graphical presentation of the game.

Yet, it perhaps hinders the soundtrack most of all. I can imagine the composer wanting to create a music that fits the mystery and theme of shadows, and I can imagine that composer finally setting his ambient tunes to the stage. The end result is a mostly ambient style music that is hardly distinguishable, and perhaps most unforgivable; simply boring.

While the desire to complement the graphical mood makes sense, the music simply needed to be more interesting, more varied, and just not this boring. Previously, I said the the moment where you are followed by the monster is the best moment because all elements of the game gel together. Its not because the music is especially memorable, but because its the first time you hear a different sounding music.

Nice Shadow Graphical Effects: +4
Interesting Enemy Design: +2
Boring "Ambient" Music: -5

For we are Legion


"Only hope keeps me going"

Time is scarce. In fact, I am more convinced that time is the deciding factor in purchases more so than cost. With this knowledge, I feel that my desire to finish every game I play is a determinant to trying out new games. Yet, there is always the fact that game will drive me to finish it.

This "drive" comes through various means: music, gameplay, story, or even style. With LoS, I cannot underscore a driving factor, because I believe "Hope" is the best I could come up with. Hope that the game fulfills the potential of its core mechanic, the potential of its mysterious set up.

To its credit, the game actually comes close at the end, but by that time, I doubt a lot of player stuck to the end.

No Driving Factor: -4

Not always bright


In Conclusion:

Lost in Shadow is proof that a game should not rest on a single promising mechanic, but should use that mechanic to differentiate a quality product. That is not to say that LoS is not worth playing, nor that it is a complete waste of time. In the contrary, I am glad I did indeed play it.

However, I am not entirely sure its worth finishing.

Final: 26/50

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

"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"

Mr. Nick Chester originally review Lost in Shadow back in 01.04.2011, and he gave it a 7. I found the gist of the review to be "that it’s a striking and impressive journey that manages to mimic its influences rather well in a few key areas. Unfortunately, it staggers in a few areas, and ultimately can't quite stand alongside the masterpieces that inspired it."

Generally, the comment section was inquisitive about the game, snarky ate the review style, and there was a lot of attention given to the possible sales perfromance of the game. Lofty the Metroid had this to say:

"If this doesn't sell well (despite its gameplay flaws), it will be cited as evidence for why the Wii can't support "core" games and why it should have been on the HD twins. Aesthetics and lack of advertising will not be taken into consideration by naysayers. See: MadWorld, de Blob, Zack & Wiki, etc."

Apparently, our own Chris Carter (who was not part of the staff then) disagreed.

"I don't see how this is any more "niche and special to the Wii" than Limbo was niche - and that sold 300,000 copies - and had zero advertisements outside of the Xbox Live Arcade interface itself.

There is some negative correlation between the Wii audience and certain games - it's not magic that even niche titles can sell on consoles that have a [much] smaller install base."

Intresting conversation, but the comment of my choice is by our own Recap master ShadeOfLight:

"I unfortunately haven't had the chance to play this game yet, even though it's been out here for a while now. T.T

It still looks great though, games like these are right up my street, so I fully intend to do so."

I wonder if he actually did end up playing it.

"Sales Data:"

I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).

As we see in a lot of Wii Review comment sections in the past, people are really intrested in how games sell on the Wii. As predicted, LoS is not a huge seller at an estimate 110 Thousand units sold. However, Hudson soft itself doesn't have a huge selling history, with LoS actually being on of its highest earners. OTher than bomberman, they are not very lucky in the market.

For comparison to other titles that are somewhat similar, Ico sold 400 Thousand in the PS2, which is actually low compared to its bigger budget and bigger studio. Limbo in the other hand (which was discussed in the Dtoid review of LoS) is reportedly at a lifetime record of 3 Million. I guess team Ico needs to break up and head for steam.


"Tips"

1- Don't underestimate your jump.
2- The best way to defeat enemies you are having trouble with is a quick one two then a jump.
3- Occasionaly flash the scene to look for intractable objects.
4- You can always change the difficulty in mid-level.

"Next Game"

So the beginning of the Wii list was not that good of a game, but it is at least better than the SNES list at least. The next game I am playing is not in the gamesradar list, but is the predecessor to one that is.

Of course, the Wii meant a revival to light gun shooters, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was Capcom's first response to that revival. Here is hoping its more undead than dead (hahahahahaha).

Stay Tuned


For Previous Wii game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

Screenshots are not available in Mobygames.

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5:58 AM on 05.04.2015  

Wii REVIEWS: The List

Despite the common jokes about the Wii's library, I found a number of great games to play. However, most of those games were Nintendo staples, Metroid, Zelda, DKC, and of course the most famous plumber in history. In some way, I was actually affirming the common myth through my gaming library. Unfortunantly, few other Wii games were stocked in Saudi Arabia, and only after starting to study in the states did I find many other Wii games.

Continuing in a similiar vane to me SNES Reviews marathon, I found a list online to help me decide which games to play. Through that list, I bought a number of games in preperation for a review marathon. Initially, I planned to start reviewing Wii games only after finishing up every other console leading to it, but the fact that I have the physical discs made it hard for me to wait.

Hence, I am starting this list now, which is based on Gamesradar's 50 best Wii games off all time:

Gamesradar Best 50 Wii Games

As with my SNES Reviews, I am going to set a few rules regarding which games I am reviewing. Additionaly, I added a number of games I thought are missing from the list, such as No More Heroes 1 (the second is already in the list). Finally, I am going to add more games after I actually buy them.

A Reveloutinary Controller

Rules:

I won't Review games:

  1. I already played before (that's most of Nintendo's main stuff).
  2. That are best experienced in multiplayer (still have no freinds).
  3. That doesn't intest me at all (few games actually fall into this category).
  4. Non-Retail games.

Review Style:

Because the 50 point scale have been useful for me while reviewing all those SNES games, I will probably continue with it. Every game starts with 25 points, then I add/subrract points based on many aspects I feel are important for games in general, or the genre in particular. While this might seem to mathematical for some readers, I actually assign points based on how I feel about the game. If the sum at the end doesn't match what I feel about the game, it actually serves as great fuel for an inner conversation about the game.

I write reviews because I want to have a conversation about the games, and I feel that all the points of intrest I add in to the review can serve as conversation starters.

Also, for each review, I am going spelunking into the Dtoid review of the game (if it exists) and see both the comments and the review itself. So it might be a nice historical revision of the Dtoid mindset of the day. Finally, I am going to do some economical investigation regarding the game' performance, because it might shed some light on the Wii U's misfortunes.

The List:

Here is the list, in order of their Gamesradar listing, S stand for Special and these are games not featured in the Gamesradar list:

  • 49- Lost in Shadows.
  • 47- Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles.
  • S1- Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles.
  • 46- Sakura Wars: So Long my Love.
  • 39- Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.
  • 37- Trauma Team.
  • 28- Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros's Treasure.
  • 27- The Last Story.
  • 25- The House of the Dead: Overkill.
  • 23- Punch-Out!!.
  • 20- Red Steel 2.
  • 17- A Boy and his Blob.
  • 16- Silent Hill: Shattered Memoris.
  • 11- Xenoblade Chronicles.
  • 7- Little King's Stroy.
  • S2- No More Heroes.
  • 6- No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
  • 5- Sin and Punsihment: Star Sucessor.
  • S3- Phantom Brave: We Meet Again.

Too Many Broken TV Screens

Dtoid Challenge:

This is might prove to be a non winnable challenge, but it would be fun to bet on which games Chris Carter didn't play from this list (and the updated ones). For the SNES review list, the only game he didn't play wasn't even released in the US. So, we actually know that young Chris was actually limited by his physical space, if not his temporal state.

Is the Wii era Chrisbot as omnipreset and omnipotent as we think, or is there a chink in his gaming armor?

Out of the List Games:

The games in the above list are all games I am going to review in the coming months, there might be omissions both from myself and from Gamesradar. Please suggest games you think I should review in the comment section, while noting that these serieses are completely covered by the rules (Zelda, Mario, DK, Kirby, Metroid). Also, the reason Fire Emblem is not in the list despite being in the Gamesradar list is because I am not paying a 100$ for a used game. Fucking scalpers.

 

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3:54 PM on 05.02.2015  

SNES REVIEWS: Secret of Mana

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:

11- Secret of Mana:
Year: 1993.
Genre: Action RPG.
Publisher: Squaresoft.
Developer: Squaresoft.
 

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.

In the early days of console gaming, RPGs were synonymous with the sudden ripping off the game scree, and the transportation to a more action packed realm for the battle. The screen would tear, break, or simply transform. The music changes, and the rules of the game change as well.

Secret of Mana was an active attempt to change the rules of the genre. Instead of turn-based battles and a different map, Secret of Mana puts all the action in the same map, and ends up being one of the major innovators in the Action-RPG sub-genre.

However, being an innovator is not a mark of excellence in of itself. For Squaresoft, they wanted to innovate while giving us their usual known quality in the SNES.

"Darkness sweeps the troubled land as Mana fades..."

While Secret of Mana aims early to go against RPG gameplay cliches, it embraces storyline cliches openly. The tale is simply of a dying world, a chosen hero, and an irredeemable villain. With such simple formula, one would hope greater effort would then be put into the characterization of the world. Unfortunately, neither playable characters or NPCs offer anything of interest to the player.

Despite the amount of time I spent in SoMs world, I couldn't bring myself to care much about what happens to it. Yet, while the overarching narrative is non-interesting, the world itself is fun to walk around in. With distinctive locales, and some humor along the way, going from dungeon to dungeon is driven by the desire to see more of it. More so because of the unique way the world's locations are interconnected with each other.

Rather than having an overworld map, the entire game is connected as if one huge dungeon. This might lead some to feel that might limit travel. However, fast travel through Cannon blast points (you literally get blasted from a cannon) and a later game traveling companion addresses the fact.

Ultimately, SoM is not a game you would play for its story, nor even for its admittedly vibrant world. True, the plot gives you enough incentive to plow forward, but the real incentive will depend in your appreciation of its stronger qualities.

Poor Generic Story -4
Interesting world +2
Boring Main Characters: -1

Main characters can be a little undercooked


"You must become a hero worthy of the sword"

The first thing you will notice when you start the game is the weird camera angle; its not centered on your character, but tethered somewhere at the edge of the screen. This means that you need to push near the edge of the screen to move it, which starts as really annoying once the gameplay incentive to do so becomes apparent.

In SoM, all the action happens in the regular map space, which is shown in top-down Zelda-like space. But besides the main character, you also have two allies, a girl and a sprite. All these characters need to be in the screen at the same time, which explains the camera angle. So while it starts as an annoying eccentricity, the camera angle shows itself as majorly useful once you have a full party.

With all three characters in view, battles will often be against a couple of monsters or a single boss. In battle, you control one character while the AI controls the other two. While in control, you can walk around freely and press the action button to attack, or issue commands to the magic users. There is a catch though; attacks are nearly useless if the Stamina gauge is depleted, and it depletes withe every attack and takes about 10 seconds to recharge. Hence, you have to attack, wait a little bit, and then attack again.

This might feel simple enough, but boss battles will take the system to its most complicated (and most rewarding) conclusion. Besides attacking, you must also move around to dodge enemy attack. The AI can be issued a simple strategy, and switching characters is easily done on the fly. Additionally, you can keep pressing the attack button to charge up additionally powerful attacks, all the while try to use magic effectively.

For the usual attack (non-magic), you have a choice of one of eight different weapons, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the trusty sword lacks range, but it hits in a wide arc sometimes sweeping foes left and right. In the other extreme, the whip doesn't lack range but only attacks in a straight line. Additionally, there are ranged weapons with their own different styles like the Bow and the Boomerang. And the more you use a weapon it levels up.

With its fast pace, and the constant rewards of battle (leveling up both yourself and your weapons), SoM starts feeling like an addictive dungeon crawler, which is not off the mark with the excellent design of the game's dungeons.

Admittedly, the battle system sometimes feels like it lacks some polish. Early on, charged attacks are nearly useless because they do not justify the opportunity cost of charging for them, especially when we consider the possibility of missing. Indeed, attacks that whiff frequently are the worst offenders of the battle system. With little feedback on when a miss happens, you are left scratching your head debating whether the attack was dodged or simply did not clip the hit-frame of the enemy. It happens frequently enough to slow down the pace with some enemies, but critical hits happen even more as often to offset this minor annoyance. And critical hits wackes the enemy with a satisfying sound that pushes you right back in the cycle of murder and grinding.

Finally, for those looking for a cooperative experience, SoM offers what is probably one of the rarest cooperative RPG experiences. Instead of the AI controlling the other two characters, up to two other players can do the honor (which makes the game easier overall).

Engaging Battle System: +5
Variety of Weapons: +3
When attacks miss: -2
COOP: +3

Bosses are fun to take down


"When Mana fades, kids lose their hopes and dreams"

Outside of its battle system, SoM plays nearly the same. By virtue of not operating the two in combat, traversing the world as well as solving its puzzles is through the same commands. Some weapons are necessary to move forward, with the axe breaking boulders while the whip acts like a gabbling hook of some sorts. Non of the game puzzles are particularly interesting as they boil down to use magic A instead of magic B, but world traversal is fun in of itself.

Particularly admiring is how little time the game wastes in its introduction. By the third hour you will have most of the weapons and all three characters ready to fight. Generally, the game isn't interested in complexity, as Items are very few and leveling up is straightforward.

Unfortunately, leveling up magic is not as fast or fun as regular leveling up. Similar to weapons, magic upgrades with usage. However unlike weapons which are used every time you attack, you will find less opportunity or need to use magic/ Especially since MP is not as easy to recover as HP. This causes a minor annoyance where you need to grind magic in order to level it up to a respectable degree.

Fast, Fluid, and Fun: +4
Magic Leveling Up: -2

If only Goombas were this freindly


"Pure evil seeks the seeds now"

Even with minimal grinding, the game's regular enemies rarely pose any threat outside of "gear switching times" (when you need to buy better equipment). It is no surprise then that you will be on auto-pilot for an extended period of time, which unfortunately under-utilizes the battle system. Here is where bosses come in. Simply put, bosses are the only time when you will need to carefully think about what you are doing.

While not the norm, a highlight boss fight will force you to either switch between ranged and melee weapons, or switching between two character who each has one of them. Normally though, the boss battles will involve using everything you have from magic to charge attacks. When all else fails, you will need to use some items. Thankfully, using items is not at all cheap, because you are only able to carry very little that you will need to think carefully before abusing them.

Yet, its in boss battles that the game's lack of feedback on misses that is most infuriating. Sometimes, the boss's huge frame deceptively signals where you can hit them. In such cases, the beginning of any fight involves experimenting with the best way to attack them to register a hit. Also in these fights is where magic is either used to its fullest potential, or found to be lacking because of lack of grinding.

Boss Battles: +4
Miss and Magic -2

Fly dragon, fly......


"It's like a dream... can we really be here"

We have seen how the many elements of SoM show both greatness and mediocrity. Yet, the game's artistic and audio design is simply brilliant. Not only does it add tons of personality to the game, but it also acts as its own incentive to move forward. When a game's soundtrack is so good that just stopping and listening to it is its own reward, you know that its a damn good soundtrack.

Starting with the graphical design, its neither very unique nor is it groundbreaking. It is however constantly good, with varied locales and beautiful vistas, it brilliantly showcases the world of SoM. With a colorful visual styles, the graphics convey the natural power of Mana, as opposed to the less vibrant metallic style of the technology that uses nature.

Highlighting the visual style are the sprites themselves, which are expressive, unique, and well animated. From the main characters whose movements land weight to the combat, to the random storeguy NPC whose dancing signals his willingness to sell. As usual, the stars of the show are the bosses whose massive frame showcases the highest level of detail.

As for the soundtrack, little can be said about this squaresoft masterpiece other than that; its a masterpiece. I often say that a go0d soundtrack adds another dimension to videogames, which is even more important in the earlier games of the SNES. Hiroki Kikuta does just that in one of the best SNES soundtracks.

Besides being consistently brilliant, SoMs soundtrack also has a considerable number of great tracks. To focus on a few, "Into the thick of it" highlights the game's nature theme as well as serve as great adventure them. "The Mana Fortress" is epic, serious, and showcases the danger much more than any graphical pre-CGI scene could ever do.

That such a track is rarely talked about in the conversation of best SNES soundtracks is frankly baffling, because Mr/ Kikuta not only composed greater musical pieces, but also a unique musical style. With folklore music, as well as 80 techno as influences, this fusion stands proud among SNES soundtracks.

Graphical Style: +3
Music: +6

I could listen to the soundtrack forever


In Conclusion:

I am not going to pretend that Secret of Mana is a constantly brilliant game. Despite enjoying it most of the time, too much of it was on autopilot because of the non-intresting story. And while the music always demanded some attention, the game didn't need much of it when not fighting a boss.

In many ways, the game is similar to its battle system. The frequent misses are noticeable, as well as frustrating. Yet, the critical hits are frequent as well, and it sure feels great when you get one.

Final: 44/50

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


"Tips"

1- More expensive gear is always better.
2- Try and grind your magic every now and then.
3- If you are getting easily decimated, you probably need to buy better gear.
4- After level 5 for any weapon, start specializing each character with a number of weapon instead of upgrading all the weapons.
5- Use Stat boosting magic.
6- Don't neglect charge attacks, especially late in the game.
7- If you miss too much, try changing weapons.

"Next Game"

Secret of Mana is one of the great Squaresoft RPGs of the SNES, and its opens up the list here. However, there is a lesser know Square title that is a spiritual sequel in a way. Secret of Evermore might not be in the IGN list, but I heard too much about it to ignore, and I have my own personal reason to play it.

Here is hoping for a good time.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/earthbound/screenshots

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4:10 PM on 04.16.2015  

The Advantages of Being an Arab Gamer:

[b]The Advantages of Being an Arab Gamer:[/b]

Gamers are often ridiculed and shunned by a larger society much too concerned about their public image. As for Arabs, no one has been as a vilified by the US media as much as us in the past 15 years.

Thankfully, I don’t live in the US and hence have no reason to worry about being a gamer or an Arab. Unless I am the wrong kind of Arab, in which case we are probably at war.

Here are the advantages of being an Arab Gamer, in no particular order. Except the first one, which definitely deserves its first place.

[b]1- Free Colonoscopies:[/b]

Instead of scheduling an appointment with a doctor, and staying for hours in a miserable waiting room until your doctor invades your anus. Just get one from the accommodating airport security while you travel in your merry way. It doesn’t matter whose disinterested hands inspect your colon, it just matters that someone does.

Additionally, you can always ramp up the discomfort factor for the poor security officers by pretending to really enjoy it (or better yet, actually do enjoy it).

If you are a frequent enough flier to the west, you might never have to check your colon ever again.

[b]2- Widely Accepted Piracy:[/b]

With little interaction with the internet, we didn’t realize we were the immoral bane of the industry. For us, hundreds of games at cheap prices was the norm for PS1 and PS2 games. I would argue that the dominance of the PS brand in the Arab world is hugely due to such piracy, but that is a topic for another day.

For myself, this allowed me the opportunity to dip my balls.. urm, I mean my toes in every genre I could find. And while half of the games I played didn’t work properly, and the other half simply sucked, it allowed me to become the highly varied gamer I am today.

It didn’t hurt that I had a job at a videogame store were my salary was three pirated video games a week and a coke a day. (I was 12, so bugger off)

[b]3- Amorphous Looks:[/b]

What does an Arab look like? You probably don’t know. The media showcases us as turban wearing, darks skinned, bearded people, with a tendency to explode. While we do have some of those traits, we are actually much more varied than you would believe. I have been mistaken for a Greece, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Latin, Balkan, and of course the usual Jew, Turk, or Iranian.

In the US, the ethnicity for Arabs is white. A US born friend of mine can only be described as black, which turns into all kinds of hilarious situations at the passport checkpoints, especially if the passport officer is black.

[b]4- Awesome Facial Hair:[/b]

If you have any interest in facial hair, you are probably jealous of Arabs. Adding to our amorphous quality, we can change the whole way we look by altering our facial hair. Except, anything we do is undone by midnight.

A friend of mine had a full beard by the 9th grade, and he was a year younger than the class. All the while people in the world struggle to grow a respectable moustache.

[b]5- Just Blame the Sikhs:[/b]

After 9/11, Sikhs were probably the most harassed population in the US. Due to their beards and turbans, they looked like the stereotypical Arab Muslims. Yet, they are neither Arab nor Muslims. As such, Sikhs serve as a natural decoy to Arabs who aim to do some mischief.

Who else could say they have an entire race of people being blamed for their shit.

The only disadvantage here is that if there is a Sikh with you while you are traveling, you will not get those free colonoscopies.

[b]6- Second Highest Representation in Videogames:[/b]

Just recently, we bypassed the Russians as the second most represented people in videogames after the US Americans. If you play videogames, you probably shot us in a number of games. In the past, we were often represented as merchants or simple desert people. Yet, recently, we are mostly bearded evil men with a tendency to explode.

Still, we have more representation than both women, blacks, and every other non-white demographic combined. Which means, we can always pretend to shoot our stupid neighbors while we play, even if they are sometimes Pakistani’s who should have no business speaking Arabic.

[b]7- Having Great Online Makes you a Prince: [/b]

There is nothing worse than playing a multiplayer game through terrible lag. Streets in Saudi Arabia are more dangerous than Baghdad’s, so I know what I am talking about. With the internet in the Arab world being victim of despotic regimes, terrible infrastructure, and sharks, it means who ever has great internet is king.

In fact, having a somewhat great internet would be a lifesaver if you are in ISIS controlled territory. ISIS loves playing Call of Duty, and you would be favored by them if you have the internet to satisfy their needs. Provided you have a penis of course.

[b]8- Being Far Removed from Gaming “Controversies”:[/b]

When you live in a region that might self-implode any day, where family members and friends in other countries live in constant danger, you get some perspective on life. Ridiculously tame gaming “controversies” only serve to annoy me. Anita whatshername may want to talk about gender equality; my mother and sister are actually fighting for it.

Some asshats in youtube think Nintendo is being too tough on their channels, I have to fight censorship everyday. In the Arab world, you are either the wrong kind of Arab, or the kind of Arab with the potential to be wrong. Great powers don’t give a fuck about us little guys.

In one way, the existence of gamin “controversies” is prime evidence of the US’s completely relaxed and secure state. While your media likes to frighten you about anything from Islamic terrorism to Ebola (which never became a credible threat to the US AT ALL), you are all actually blissfully safe yet constantly annoyed at stupid stuff.

So, dear US gamers, be grateful for your gamin “controversies”, they are proof that you can afford a little stupidity.

[b]9- Cheap Non-Essentials:[/b]

With cheap food, cloths, shelter, and of course cheap oil, we have more money to spend on important essentials such as games. Now that games are no longer pirated, and because we have poor second hand market and no internet trade, we need more money to buy our games.

Which is why having such cheap non-essentials is key. Back when I studied in the US, I actually had to look for deals and even buy from Amazon. Now, I can buy every game new and only worry about the time I have to actually play those games.

If you are the wrong kind of Arab (those with no oil) this doesn’t apply to you.

[b]10- Arranged Marriages:[/b]

The western media likes to spin this as a negative practice. Yet, if you think about it, it actually greatly improves your gamin life. Getting married is a pain. First, dates are complex and expensive, and I am not talking about the ones we grow in the desert. Second, all the emotional nonsense just takes away from your time. As a result, getting married is just going to encroach on your gaming.

With arranged marriages, all the work is being done by your team of negotiators. Both for males and females, you are free to relax until you’re a team finds a suitable spouse. Even then, you just say yes while the A team, does all the marriage arrangements.

Best of all, with arranged marriages, it doesn’t matter that you’re a neck bearded basement dweller. As long as you have some means of making income, you are probably going to get married.

[b]11- Having a Riot Every Time we see Arabic Being Used: [/b]

I am not talking about the types of riots that overthrew the military in Egypt, nor the ones that reinstated the military in Egypt. I am talking about the jolly kind of riot, with laughter and all. Whenever we see Arabic being used in videogames, it is always fascinating how its being used.

From a writing that uses Arabic like an English Alphabet (Arabic letter connect to each other), to voice acting that ranges from terribly inauthentic, to hilariously trollish. For example, some war cries in Call of Duty say: “Let’s go kiss the enemy”, others say: “Lets throw the pomegranate” instead of: “let’s throw the grenades”.

Regardless, nothing videogames did with Arabic compares to the multitude of Hollywood actors who had to say lines of dialogue in Arabic in hilariously broken way.

[b]12- Simply Better Mangoes: [/b]

Let’s get real here, the fruits in the US are over engineered abominations with no smell and little flavor. Your mangoes taste like cucumber, and your watermelons like moldy plastic. Somewhere along the way, you traded taste and texture for size and color. The result being the flavorless plastic you sell as fruits.

True, there are exceptions, mainly with apples (which have their variants of oversized garbage) and strawberries. Yet, even your specialty in Oranges is being heavily beaten by what we have here. The sole exception being grapefruits, which the rest of the world forsook as neither deserving of grapes nor fruit in the name. Yet, you stubbornly preserve with it and pretend it is more than a way to suck your own face.

For me, ISIS harvested grapes from Syria, Army ripened Oranges from Egypts, and whomever has control of the mango fields at the moment in Yemen. These fruits, grown with hard work and love, and probably some blood and bullets, these are great tasting fruit. Just beware of the pomegranates, apparently some use them as grenades.

  read


12:56 PM on 03.28.2015  

SNES REVIEW: Earthbound

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:

13- Earthbound:
Year: 1995.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Ape Creatures/HAL Lab.
 

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.

For many, including myself, their first encounter with Earthbound or Mother 2 as it is known in Japan is through Ness in Super Smash Bros. It was only after seeing Ness in the famous Nintendo cross-over brawler that I began hearing about the game he featured in. The reputation of Earthbound becomes a part of gamer's lore. We have seen the petitions asking for Nintendo to release the game in the Wii's virtual console well before it finally released it on the Wii U.

Hence, it is difficult to play Earthbound without being influenced by the passion of its fans, and the unique statues it managed to cultivate with the passing years. At once, we are promised a unique experience and another SNES RPG classic.

It is difficult to analyze why Earthbound was a commercial failure in the US. It did well in Japan, and Nintnedo heavily advertised it overseas. Yet, those who bought the game are behind the massive push for it online.

For the reviewer, we need to discern the reality from the myth. Yet, it increasingly difficult to separate the two in case of Earthbound. And it is this power, and its unapologetic pursuit of novelty that pushes Eartbound well beyond its flaws to what I consider a true SNES classic.

"Giygas, the universal destroyer, sent all to the horrors of eternal darkness"

Taking the game at its two end points, Earthbound is little more than a chosen hero tale defeating an ancient undiscerning evil. Yet, when we unfold this story and play as Ness through the journey to the final end point, we see both the character of the world, and the novelty of its stories.

At once, we are greeted not with the typical fantasy realms of SNES role-playing games, but with modern world suburb. This setting lands the game its unique charm, and also highlights its parody qualities. But the game does not rely on parody and making fun of RPG tropes, it carries itself as a game first and foremost.

I will begin by saying there is little interesting in the core story outside of it setting of a reason for all the side stories to exist. Giygas's only reason to exist is for all the crazy plots to begin. He spreads evil through a crazy golden statue, and causes weird things to happen. It is not Giygas who players will remember after playing the game, but the crazy cults they fought, the corrupt business mafiosi they went against, and all crazy things that happens in the way.

Unlike other games, the world of Earthbound is its own character. Interacting with the NPCs flesh out the story, and little exposition dialogue is offered. This does make for a dull group of playable characters, who are only interesting in a gameplay perspective. Yet, it makes talking to the NPCs more than a way to gather what to do next.

To carry through with this living modern world, the game pays a lot of attention to small details that flesh the world out, and huge design choices that impact the whole game. Little details such as the main character Ness being homesick unless he calls his mom every now and then, and the main currency being funds from his dad that he withdraws from an ATM. There is no world map in Earthbound, locations are interconnected by land roads, bus routes, ferry travel, and even a lake monster ride.

Outside of his iconic appearance in Smash, Ness might not be otherwise remembered. Yet, the world of Earthbound is one that most players would find hard to forget. The stories it tells, and the journey you take. In a way, it is the player that travels through the game, the playable characters only forgettable companion to an unforgettable journey.

Unique Fleshed out World: +5
Interesting Side Stories: +5
Boring Main Characters: -1


"Pokey used Ness as a shield!!"

RPGs have a really hard time crafting a good combat system. Make it too complicated, and its too slow. Make it too easy, and it becomes repetitive. A balance between deep and engaging is hard to craft, and it requires both experience and design pedigree. For the people at Ape Creatures and HAL, who have little to no experience in the Genre, who are headed by a director who insists on upending the whole RPG scheme; the expectation is to fail.

Yet, by throwing around RPG tropes and simply relaying on crazy out of the box idea, the team managed to make a combat system that is surprisingly good. While not of the quality of Square titles, Earthbound's battles are as interesting as the text inside the battle.

Central to its combat system is the diversity of its cast. Ness is both your physical tank, and your main healer. In fact, Ness is simply overpowered compared to the rest of the team. Paula is your typical Mage, who is both your defense against magical attacks (called PSI attacks in the game) and your main user of them. The other two characters are weirder styles yet. You have Jeff, who you could invest on by buying missiles that he can only use (decisions time), but he could be the one healing with items while your team dishes it out with magical attacks that he does not have. Poo is the last member in the team, who acts as a healing support for Ness, but also a magical assault companion to Paula.

Balancing the strengths and weaknesses of your cast is central in most battles, which are challenging due to the fact that I was rarely over leveled. With boss battles being a highlight, simply attacking is not going to cut it, and making wrong attack decisions can bite you.

Fortunately, the game does include a built in trump card for the player. Since the health of each character is shown in a roulette looking screen, you can always heal your characters before they die as the rollers count down. Unfortunately, this scramble for a last minute save exposes one flaw in the battles. The text is simply too slow, and nothing is more infuriating than having Paula die on you because the enemy's text took to long to disappear.

Additionally, we notice a few difficulty spikes through the game, with some combination of enemies being tougher to handle than the bosses themselves. For instance, one enemy can completely obliterate your team with his attacks unless you put up an expensive magical shield before he makes it. This makes the first time you face him painfully hilarious, and you are well out of luck if Paula is not fast enough. Yet, the worst offender is undoubtedly the self-exploding enemies, who dish out huge damage as you kill them. In these cases, you furiously tap the B button as you scramble for the battle to end before your health rolls down too much.

A grind is always possible to alleviate the difficulty spikes, but it never feels forced, especially since you could see enemies in the map. Additionally, Earthbound implemented the pioneering feature of obliterating under-leveled enemies. This means that if an enemy is no match for you, they simple disintegrate and give you the experience you would usually get without having to fight them. Hence, you could always go for a fast grind.

Elsewhere the game doesn't waste your time with obtuse objectives, as the game give you enough clues to get you to the next objective. Surely to be handy to some is a hints system, which simply tells you where to go next if your are truly stumped.

Engaging Battle System: +3
Unique Map Feature: +3
Frustrating Difficulty Spikes: -1


"Get your butt home, pronto!"

In many ways, we respect Earthbound's dedication to both is style and to streamlining the RPG genre The enemy obliteration feature and the fact that you can play the entire game only using your left hand is great. Yet, in many ways, we see a clash between the two goals, and in other ways we simply see the inexperience of the team making this RPG.

One of the greatest time wasters in the game is its storage system. While having limited pocket space is nothing new in RPGs, and it is a balance decision. We are used to having a storage system for the items clogging our inventory. Earthbound wants to have a storage system that is thematically appropriate. Hence, it uses a storage service with a guy coming over to pick up or deliver things.

This system causes a number of problems. First, you can only store up to an amount. Second, you cannot get rid of key items even after using them for their purpose, hence they clog you storage space. Third, you can only store things or take things at a trip, hence you can't swap items. Fourth, you can only store or take 3 items at a time, unless you physically go to your sister back in your hometown (not your real hometown and sister). Fifth, navigating the menu is just too slow.

Trying to heal Poo, I need to go into the menu, hit down once, go to another menu, hit select to choose Ness, hit down once to go to recovery, hit right once to go the the second recovery spell, hit right three times to choose Poo. If I wanted to heal Paula after Poo, I am booted right to the start of this sequence.

Simply put, navigating the menus is a chore, and with healing being so damn important, it is going to add up time wasted as the game goes on. I can't help but think this issue would have ironed out if the game wasn't such a troubled development project (it took 5 years). Also, it is infuriating to know how much time was wasted on the storage service which hurts more than helps the game.

Storage Service Blues: -2
Slow Menu Navigation: -3


"We are Mr. Saturn. ZOOM BOING."

With all its dedication to a unique RPG experience, we of course expect an art direction aimed at establishing this unique world. Mostly, both the art and music of Earthbound lends greatly to its living world. Yet, the same dedication to a zany experience manages some poor decisions.

Off the bat, I am going to say the art style of the world is great. The chibi people style lends to a more modern looking RPG, with the little animations people do adding to their credibility. Each location is beautifully crafted and has its own character, with both towns and dungeons showing great variety in this interconnected world.

Going off this art direction, we see the enemy models with some as memorable as the locales. It is difficult to forget the angry hippies that attack you or the piece of contempreary art that insults you for failing to understand it. The game expertly pokes fun at both popular and high culture in the same breath.

Yet, the game goes too far in its pursuit with the battle background. Composed of surrealistic moving colors and lights, they can both be dizzying and bleh at the same time. With the exception of a few battles, more traditional backgrounds would have been much more appreciated.

Similar to its art direction, the musical selection adds a unique feeling to each place. With town tunes being a highlight, just walking around is fun. When you go to another town in a bus route, you not only see the scenes of the town passing by, but also listen to jazzy tune.

Yet, similiar to the art direction, the music takes a nosedive inside battles. Perhapes wanting to complement its LCD nature, the music wants to add to the theme by being mysterious and just plain weird. I don't think it works. It doesn't work as a tune, and doesn't work as a battle music. While some Battle songs are cool and memorable, the more common ones are a bore. Sometimes, even the better one feel misjudged. To clarify, one of the better battle music is a jazz inspired tune with some good bass. Yet, by the time the song really starts to hot it, most battles have already finished.

Earthbound's dedication to its style is both the cause of its better and worse decisions. But as a whole, it pulls through. Nothing reflects that more than when the music and art of the game complement each other in the cooler scenes, cut-scenes before the age of CGI. The highlight here being the Runaway five show, which showcases both the funny artstyle and unique music of the game.

Music: +5
Graphical Design: +5
Battle Music and Backgrounds: -6


In Conclusion:

As I see it, Earthbound earned its reputation through both being a solid game, and because of the story around it. Assuming it was commercially sucessful, with sequels improving on the formula and such, the game would be looked upon with respect as the game that stared the series but without the same reverence.

As it is, Earthbound is classic because it is both a unique and solid game. It did not ignite a series, but is its own game with the iconic image of Ness in Smash. Similarly, we see similiar reverence to its sequel Mother 3.

Does Earthbound deserve it?

I think it does.

Simply Unique: +5

Final: 43/50

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


"Tips"

1- Be very careful in the early game, it gets easier from there.
2- You can farm magic butterflies in some rooms for MP points.
3- Don't be afraid of using magic, but always leave some for Bosses.
4- Jeff needs higher IQ to fix some items.
5- Trash items that are not useful, no need to store useless buns that heal 8 points.
6- Trash periodically, you don't want to navigate the storage often.
7- Talk to the NPCs, sometimes they are really funny.

"Next Game"

Eearthbound is the perfect case in which a sequel would have become a true masterpiece. Yet gamers shunned it only to ask for it later. Perhaps Nintendo shot themselves in the foot with their stinky advertising.

After finishing a lengthy RPG, I am going to sink into another one by the masters of the genre. I am talking about Secret of Mana which sits at #11. I know its going to be good, but is it a classic?

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/earthbound/screenshots

  read


1:11 PM on 02.24.2015  

SNES REVIEWS: Super Punch-Out!!

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:

17- Super Punch-Out!!:
Year: 1994.
Genre: Boxing Simulator.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Nintendo.
 

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.

The original Punch-Out had the novelty of having boxing's most famous ear-eater in its title cover, which contributed as both a selling point and excuse for making the game. If a sequel was never released, few would be surprised. The original game summed up the "noble" sport of boxing into a deceptively simple dual system, and did not have much in terms of either variety or action to back it up.

Yet, the game's limited mechanics proved to be amazingly deep, and the competition that fought your Little Mac besides Tyson himself were all colorful and unique. As such, Punch-Out developed a cult following and was loved by many who tried it. Little Mac fought the odd and became more than the tech demo he started out as.

Then, in the SNES comes the Super Punch-Out. It drops Mike Tyson from the title, but it brings everything back from the original and changes little from it. In that sense, Super Punch-Out is a game that you will either love or not care for at all. If the limited nature of the game bothers you, you won't be able to enjoy its deep combat system. However, for those among you who are thrilled by the idea of applying your wits in the mat, and fighting against all the odds. Then, this game is for you.

"Now let's get this show on the road"

The title follows little Mac's attempt at winning the world championship. At least, I think its little Mac. Both his face and coloring morphed into something very different, and Doc is nowhere to be seen. Despite these minor discontinuities, the rest of the cast features the trademark loonies impersonating as professional boxers.

When the first boxer you fight against looks like a senile old man who just escaped a nursing home, your should realize that you are not fighting your regular boxing game fare. Featuring such characters as a Mad Clown, a Bruce Lee impersonator, and two semi-clone brothers, Punch-Out does bring back its trademark ridiculousness.

These boxers have a tendency to break all rules. Expect a flying dragon kick from Bruce Lee, and being hit with a staff from Miyagi-san. Each character also comes with their unique special moves, which range from the aforementioned kicks to spits and bear hugs.

However, judging from the past, the characters in Super Punch-Out are less iconic than those of the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. While most of the boxers you fight are fun, both their quotes and overall design feels less cutting than the first game.

Punch-Out Craziness: +4
Less Iconic than Predecessor: -2

"Do you have the rhythm?"

In boxing, and in fighting games in general, there is always a mindgame going on between the two. Every move invites a counter move, and it becomes a matter of both analyzing and guessing what your opponent does. Purely reacting is slow and disadvantageous, and stupidly lashing out will only invite a quicker defeat.

The gameplay in Punch-Out takes the mindgames in boxing and makes a whole game of it. You can guard high and low for face and body punches respectively. Also, you can dodge left and right as well as duck. Your opponents can also defend themselves in the same way.

As for offensive play, you can punch right or left, high or low. However, these punches won't do much damage to your enemies. Connecting with an attack fills up your super meter, which allows you to use various special attacks that do most of the work. With the important caveat that if you are hit, the super gauge depletes, adding insult to injury.

Thus, the match evolves into a chess match between you and your opponent. Not only do you need to hit him enough to cause some damage as well as fill up your super meter, but you also need to protect yourself from their assaults in order to be in any shape to fight.

Here is where the hidden brilliance of Super Pinch-Out shines through. Each animation is a tell for you. Your opponent shows you exactly what they are doing, whether its guarding high or low, or initiating an attack. Thus, you should study your opponent and see when and how to defend.

He is punching you in the right, punch first in the left. Or dodge and give him some quick jabs on the jaw. Or just go with a body face body face combo. There are many ways to victory, and the more you understand of the system the better your results would be. Bait your opponent to react, or simply defend long enough to get a power boost that will help you completely decimate them.

In addition to their regular montage of punches and uppercuts, your opponents also have their special abilities as well. Almost always triggered by a telling jig or through orders from their coach, these special abilities are usually devastating if not dodged.

This only combines to create a system that rewards tactics and strategy above simple button mashing, which won't even get you through the first circuit. Little Mac is a smaller opponent, and he needs smarts more than brawn to defeat the competition.

This competition is divided in four circuits featuring four boxers each. But these circuits are also accompanied by an excellent Time Attack mode that invites perfecting each fight. I have not reached this level yet, but almost all fights can end in less than 10 seconds, and some can be ended with a one hit KO.

Excellent Fighting System: +5
Deceptive Depth: +5
Time Attack Mode: +2

"I have lost so many times I forgot how winning feels"

We only talked about the combat system with the assumption that you managed to understand it. However, I couldn't unlock all its secrets even after putting 20 hours into it. Patience might not be inherent in your gameplay style, and if so, a sudden rash decision could leave you down for the count.

Even in the first circuit, these guys won't have any mercy. Any mistake is easily punished, and every punch is a commitment that can be a mistake.

For many players, it might be too difficult getting pummeled to get anything from the fight. Not even figuring out precious visual and style ques. This can be alleviated by approaching the game as if a spectator, and just try and get as much information of the fighter as you can get. Simply play defensively and only occasionally land a jab.

In Punch-Out, you need to carefully study your opponents to beat them, and once you master one boxer, fighting them is simply an exercise in shortening your time. You might finish the game the first time with epic stories of comebacks, or long fights, but by the end of your time with the game, you should find the fights becoming easier and easier.

Unforgiving if you don't know how to approach it: -2


"Had your goodnight kiss?"

By now, you should have realized that much of the game's charm, as well as its gameplay system, heavily depends on how the game looks. A tell is only a tell if it can be easily viewed and distinguished after all. And here is where Super-Punch Out delivers in spades.

Perhaps one of the most visually advanced sprites in the SNES, each of the game's 16 fighters convey both in animation and art style their entire technique and personality. When Bruce Lee's impersonator prepares for a dragon kick, he leaps from side to side and lungs at you with his feet. If you were hit by that, you simply were not paying attention. Less elaborate moves are just as simply telegraphed, with each arm exactly showing how the punch is going to be delivered, and each body movement showing where to best attack.

Besides its functional requirements, the graphics show us the personality and ridiculousness of the cast in ways not feasible otherwise. Though some characters are palette swaps of each other, each character showcases their personality through both their dress style and animation. From the eccentric movements of Heike Kagero to the chill moves of Bob Charlie.

Unfortunately, the music doesn't do as well as the graphics at all. With a limited selection of music, and no track standing out at all, this is terrible for Nintendo SNES standards. I even find the music of the original Punch-Out to be better overall.

If the audio ques weren't that important, this would be one of the few games I wouldn't mind listing to my iPod while playing. Listening to eye of the tiger while fighting Aran Ryan would have been a perfect fight.

Music: -4
Graphical Design: +4
Animation: +5


In Conclusion:

Super Punch-Out is a game you will either love, or one that you will simply not care off. With a simple premise, it shouldn't be easy to know how you feel about it. For those who do fall in love with the game, they might want to just finish it and move on, or sink countless hours perfecting their craft and reducing each opponent into a shell of their former selves.

With boundless depth, and the charm to stand out, Super Punch-Out is an SNES Classic. If only it had better music.

Final: 42/50

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


"Tips"

1- Know thyself and know thy enemy.
2- Don't button mash, and don't panic.
3- A missed opportunity is better than getting counter attacked.
4- Being in power mode is not an automatic invisibility period.
5- Left jabs are your fastest attack.
6- Super punches come in various forms.
7- Attempt higher level tactics in Time Attack Mode.
8- Also try to knock your opponent down with a special punch, it will give you more time to recover some stamina.

"Next Game"

Everyone reading this will either get why Super Punch-Out is #17 in the list, or be amazed that it is. With very different games, we often get such divided reception. For me, it deserves a top 20 spot but only marginally.

For the next game, I am jumping all the way to #13, where I am going to play the famous cult hit Earthbound. With such hype, I am both excited and guarded going in. Here is hoping it lives up to what I have been reading about it.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/super-punch-out/screenshots

  read


12:49 PM on 02.18.2015  

SNES REVIEWS: ActRaiser

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:

19- ActRaiser:
Year: 1991.
Genre: Action Platformer/ God Game.
Publisher: Enix.
Developer: Quintet
 

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.

ActRaiser is one of the more unique games in the SNES library. Half a traditional Action Platformer, and half a god genre simulator, its a game that surprised many in the early life of the console. Also, it acts as the spiritual inspiration to Enix and Quintet's creation trilogy which features the excellent Terranigma.

There is no doubt about ActRaise being an important game. However, outside its unique gameplay and influence, we find it a a difficult game to assess. Taken on its own merits, I understand player's love for the game, and yet I find many ways in which it is lacking.

By no means a bad game, and actually one I would recommend playing. Yet, ActRaiser does not reach enough to be one of the SNES's timeless classics. Instead, it reaches just enough for us to wish for a sequel that never truly was.

"Master, your people are waiting for your salvation"

Before succumbing to US censorship, The Master who is your playable character was more clearly referred to as God, or kamisama in Japanese. Other than that name change for your main character, and the head demon who is no longer Satan, it is obvious that you are a god in the game.

As god to the people of this land, you are required to defeat the monsters that plague them and help them develop their cities. This constitutes running around as a statue (possessed by you) defeating enemies and bosses, thus clearing the land for human habitation. Afterwards, you control your trusty angel and help this newly found human settlement to expand against all odds. Finally, their expansion will trigger some event which will demand you go in again as a statue and face the town's boss.

Every "level" in the game will follow this formula.

However, you are not locked into rails once you visit a city, and you can easily switch between cities and finish them in a somewhat non-linear order. I say somewhat because the advantages offered by one city might be pivotal to seriously advance in another. Also, as more people grow and the cities develop, you gain levels and also some magic points.

Other than the obvious novelty of playing as a god, the plot rarely delves deeper than the monsters you are killing over and over. Yet, we see glimpses of intelligent remarks about human nature and religion. While the story of most towns is an uninspired tale, one settlement actually stops worshiping you and start worshiping the demons. It wasn't required for me, and actually set me up quite a bit, but I launched and earthquake against them before I proceeded to cut the fool they bowed down to instead of me.

Unique Gameplay: +3
Unique Premise: +4


"Let us work towards peace"

With two modes of play, ActRaiser is a game that feels fresh by variation, not by the depth of its gameplay. Indeed, both the action and simulation segments lack a certain polish but are satisfactorily addictive. The process of preparing a settlement, helping it grow, then liberating it from a boss might be formulaic, but is oddly satisfying.

The action segments are straightforward Action Platforming, with solid jumps and the ability to duck. Neither the enemies or the levels themselves demand much attention from the player, and the ability to summon some magic spells should be saved for bosses. Nothing fancy, but nothing special either.

As for the unique attraction of the game, the god simulation aspect, it doesn't quite deliver a really unique experience. You control your angel sidekick, who shoots arrows at the monsters who are attacking the town. Also, you can direct the building direction of the town as well as help them around with miracles. In theory, it should be more interesting that it really is, but the game is somewhat limited with it. For instance, shooting the enemies with arrows is mostly busy work, and the miracles are rarely used. For instance, on city wants you to use rain to get rid of the desert around them, another asks you to melt the snow with the sun. Few cities ask for combinations of these miracles, and the whole process seems like an extended loading screen.

Both modes are fun, but neither are particularly well-made. In fact, it is the combination of the two modes that saves them from being too harshly judged on their own. Essentially, the game holds on for a first play-through but the lack of any complexity and the linear style of gameplay works against replayability.

Modes are Lacking: -3
Variety Helps: +2
Replayability: -2


"Create Order From Chaos"

In the last few games I played, I was treated to some really good boss battles, and the trend continues with ActRaiser. Even though the action part is not that deep or engaging, the bosses themselves demand your best use of it. Equally slug-fests and pattern based battles, each boss plays differently and is engaging. Their fantastic design only adding more to the battles. Unfortunately, the boss battles are only found in action segments, as the simulation game offers no big bad boys to take care off.

One thing I found weird however is how magic completely obliterates some bosses, to the level that using it feels somewhat cheap. Similar to the way a Robot Master's health plummet after being hit by a weakness in some Mega Man games, and Ice Dragon's cry of anguish as a third of his health bleeds out after a magic attack is not at all awe inspiring.

Unfortunately, this aspect probably balanced for the final stage only, where we get a disappointing boss-battle Marathon. Only in such a marathon would you need to conserve magic instead of blasting the boss with it from the onset. It is disappointing that the final level is only a boss marathon, and is only made worse by lackluster final stage design (consisting of only one cool background image).

Good Boss Battles: +4
Disappointing Final Level: -2


"In the haunted land of Dearth"

One thing I noticed in Quintet games is their clean graphics and simple yet effective animation, which is followed through in ActRaiser. Obviously, the game demands two graphical styles, and the larger sprite work of the action sequences is much better than the overhead look of the God simulation parts. Each level has its own unique look, as well as its set of enemies. And other than the disappointing final level, the graphical design of each stage is unique and personable.

One aspect that is never disappointing is the boss designs, which are varied and suitably menacing. Being a God game, I was delighted to see the design of bosses taking a lot from religious myths and superstitions.

Not taking any inspiration from the spectacular graphical design of the game, the soundtrack is one of very few tracks. Consequently, what tracks there is grow to be tiresome because they feel juxtaposed into unrelated scenes, and you see a huge lost opportunity in track variation.

For instance, all the simulation parts have the same theme, which might as well be non-existent. Having a different theme or just a basic remix for each city is another way to give those cities some personality. Music is a storyteller's tool, and its not used at all in ActRaiser.

Music: -3
Graphical Design: +5


In Conclusion:

There is a class of games that introduce characters, concepts, and all around provide a solid infrastructure for future great games without being great themselves. Take the first Crash Bandicoot game and compare it to the second one. ActRaise introduces us to this great concept, and it just can't pull it off. It does however show that a sequel that irons its creases can be truly wonderful.

Unfortunately, ActRaiser 2 went into an all together different direction, and as a result we are forced to deal with the first game as the single culmination of a great idea. We realize that this game is a unique gym that should be cherished, but we really wish they went to the same mine again.

Final: 38/50

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


"Tips"

1- Use the shooting star magic.
2- Earthquakes destroy the entire city, so use them before building anything.
3- Lives restart each stage.
4- Magic Points don't refill when you lose a life.
5- Search around the levels for health and more Magic Points.
6- For maximizing your level, keep a monster lair active in the city and farm the monsters as they spawn.

"Next Game"

As a game on its own merit, I wouldn't put ActRaiser in the top 20. However, as a game that is the inspiration of the really solid creation trilogy, I see the rational in doing so.

My next game is a story of underdog vs. the world, none other than Super Punch-Out!! which sits at number 17.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/snes/actraiser/screenshots

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