Hey guys! I'm aware that Destructoid is already way ahead of me and already streaming for this awesome cause, but I thought I'd drop this on here anyway in case anybody's wallet is simply overflowing with money and want to donate ALL THE MONEY EVERY MONEY...or in case you just want to watch me make a fool of myself on the internet. :D
So, Iím sitting in my room, just playiní some video games, and I think to myself: ďWouldnít it be cool if strangers on the internet could watch me do this in real time?Ē It would be so great! All those people laughing at my poor performance while I hang my head in shameÖit would be like those one of those live sex cams, except instead Iíd be putting on a poor video game performance and hanging my head in shame for completely different reasons!
Even better yet, what if I could raise money for charity while Iím at it? Iím sure there are thousands of sick kids out there and I bet those live sex cam people aren't sharing their moneyÖwell, I guess they could beÖmaybe I shouldn't get so judgy. My apologizes, sex workers. Iím sure you care just as much about the sick kids as we do.
Anyway, if you werenít aware already, I will be live on Twitch.tv from 8am on Saturday the 20th until 8am on Sunday the 21st, playing all kinds of video games to promote Extra Life, a charity raising money for sick children.
Thanks to my awesome family and friends, Iíve already raised $351 in the past couple days, which is more than triple the default $100 goal. Crazy! I wasnít expecting such a great turnout, especially since Iíve only promised thus far that Iíd be making a fool of myself for 24 hours straight and have not yet delivered on that promise! As such, Iíve raised my goal to $1,000, which Iíd love to make a reality. If anyone can do it, itís the wonderful and generous people that already owe me a ton for all the laughs my Youtube skits have brought them!
If youíre one of the awesome people that donate, stop into the stream and let me know who you are in the chat! Iíd love to give you a shout out, possibly by naming an in-game character after you or maybe just screaming your name out loud. Either way.
So, follow my lead and put off all your real world responsibilities for a day. Watch me play some games and maybe donate some money while you're at it. Do it for the sick kids! Do you think I want to play games for 24 hours straight? WellÖI suppose it doesnít sound all that bad. A better question: Do you think I can survive playing games for 24 hours straight?
Alright, I just finished Quantum Conundrum and I don't feel like doing a proper review, but after Destructoid's perfect score and the newest Hey Ash Watcha Playin', I think some words need to be said. You see, the two aforementioned sources are among my favorites to get game recommendations. That's not to say I've never played a game that reviewed poorly on this site and loved it regardless, but I can think of few instances where the opposite was true. Unfortunately, this is one of those few instances.
Quantum Conundrum has a cool little gimmick behind it, and to a degree, I enjoyed the puzzles the game had to offer.
That's about all the kind words I have to say about it.
When I first started the game, I was excited. I really loved Portal, so I was totally ready for something similar. I knew it would probably run the risk of trying too hard to follow in Portal's footsteps, especially when one of the designers who worked on Portal was on the team, but who really cares? As long as it's a solid game, I can look past some flaws in the presentation.
It's really hard to look past all the flaws in Quantum Conundrum, though. It's obvious right away that the game borrows heavily from Portal. Your uncle who doesn't like you all that much (GLaDOS) is trapped in another dimension, so you have to use a dimensional glove (portal gun) to solve various puzzles in different wings (test chambers) of his mansion to turn the power back on and free him. Yeah, okay.
Even after being introduced to the lackluster plot, I was still willing to give it a chance, but my patience ran out pretty quick. The dialog was forgettable and I only found myself getting a laugh out of it a handful of times during the six hours it took me to complete the game. The Professor isn't a total dick like GLaDOS, but he's not exactly thrilled about you visiting him and he makes that apparent often. It's really hard to feel compelled to save the guy when he's constantly ragging on you for no good reason. It's one thing if you're being berated while in a survival situation (Portal), but when you're just trying to be a good nephew and save your uncle from his own scientific screw-up, the taunting is just uncalled for.
Of course, maybe some of you don't care about the story (which is good, because you shouldn't), but my gripes don't end there. As I mentioned earlier, the core mechanics are neat and some of the puzzles were pretty creative, but few of them stopped me in my tracks. The ones that did, of course, were mostly because of poor design rather than actual difficulty. The physics made for some really frustrating segments, most notably the entire gravity wing, which forced me to carefully navigate objects using nothing but the ability to reverse gravity.
The worst of it was when I had to transfer an object from one moving platform to another using a slant in the ceiling to align it with the second platform. Of course, the object would bounce around so much that it never went exactly where I need it to go, so I'd often end up hammering the gravity button until something went right. I thought maybe I was just missing something, but even watching GameSpot's video walkthrough, I found that they did exactly the same thing to complete that room.
When the puzzles aren't super frustrating like that, they're just plain easy. Unlike Portal, where portals were automatically generated until you were given the portal gun, most of the puzzles doesn't allow you to utilize all the dimensional options at once. There's not really a point where they just give you everything and let you go crazy. To be fair, it is more complicated to handle four dimensions as opposed to two portals, so the limitations may make the game easier to wrap your head around, but it also makes for less of those cool moments where you feel like the game is bending to your will. My favorite aspect of Portal was being able to solve a puzzle in some really convoluted way, only to look up videos later and find that the "right" solution was way less efficient (or cool) than my solution.
To top it all off, the game is visually dull and repetitive (the set design you see in the first five minutes of play is most of what you'll see for the entire game) and the music is just as boring. There's never any feeling of urgency or anything otherwise compelling you to press on other than the promise of new dimensions.
The very worst of it? The ending. Part of me just wants to spoil it so I can spare those of you who haven't bought it yet the trouble of paying for disappointment, but I'm sure many of you have already made that mistake. So instead, I'll sum it up while being as vague as possible. Basically, the expected "wait, something's not quite right" part happens after you've finished what seemed to be the last set of trials and you're treated to a whopping 15 minutes of extra gameplay before the story concludes with a very unsatisfying 40 second animation. Awful.
I expected the final segment to be the part of the game I was looking for, where I'd get full access to all four dimensions at all times and have to solve another handful of puzzles using all the skills I had learned (like when you escape the test chambers in Portal), culminating in a final battle with some crazy boss or something. Instead, I once again had limited abilities and was asked to solve only three or four very minor puzzles before the final room, which had basically no gameplay other than pacing back and forth to pick up a couple items. It honestly might have been better if the Professor just popped out after I completed the last wing, patted me on the head, and said "Hey, you don't suck after all" before rolling the credits.
Oh yeah, let's not forget the credits. Another page ripped right out of Portal's book, the ending song is lyrical but unlike Portal, not enjoyable in the least. Obviously, Still Alive worked so well because you developed some sort of relationship with GLaDOS by the end of the game, but it's hard to give a damn about anyone or anything (not even the weird little gremlin thing that follows you around) in Quantum Conundrum, so this just feels out of place. It's not sung by the Professor (maybe it'd be slightly funnier if it was), but instead it sounds like the opening theme to some awful Disney channel cartoon.
Seriously, listen to it. Unless you somehow got this far without knowing what the four dimensions are, the words will ruin nothing about the plot.
By the time the credits rolled, I had lost all respect for Quantum Conundrum. It seemed like it had potential to be a decent little game, even if it was riding on Portal's coattails. The sad truth is that it does very little to be an enjoyable experience outside of introducing some nifty mechanics. The plot, music, and visuals are all basic and boring, while the puzzles barely offer a challenge (and most of the time, just offer hair-pulling rage when they demand tight precision that the game is not built for).
I have no right to tell you what you should or shouldn't buy, but I do urge you to be somewhat cautious about this purchase. The disappointment won't hit you until the game is over, so I'm not sure how helpful the demo will be in deciding whether or not this is worth your money. In my opinion, the only thing Quantum Conundrum does well is create the illusion that it's going to go somewhere, but it never does. The only reason I felt compelled to keep playing was for the point when the tutorial ended and I would be set loose to have fun with the dimensions, but the game ended before that happened. If you must buy it, I'd at least recommend waiting until it goes for crazy cheap on Steam. Like, under $5 cheap. I really don't feel it's worth any more than that.
The 3DS hasn't exactly been bursting with quality titles since its launch. We've had a handful of remakes and few decent sequels, but not a lot of must-own titles. Kid Icarus: Uprising is probably the only game I'd place in that category. In fact, that and Mario Kart 7 are the only two titles I've been willing to let rot on my shelf for months after release despite having the option of selling them off for fresh experiences. I can see myself going back to either of them at any point, which is more than I can say for most games that come out today.
So, the new title on the chopping block is Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure. As a big fan of rhythm games and goofy acts of thievery (I'm looking at you, Lupin III), Rhythm Thief has been on my radar for months. However, it seemed as though it was constantly getting pushed back (or my store's previous release dates were inaccurate, which is totally plausible), so I likewise pushed it to the back of my mind. I even picked up Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy to sort of fill the void that Elite Beat Agents left in my heart so long ago, but ultimately, I just couldn't get into it. While it is a fantastic little rhythm game (that I desperately hope they will make more of), I simply don't have the Final Fantasy experience to enjoy it (I've played a ton of the spin-off titles, but my time with the numbered games is limited mostly to FF7).
Of course, now that Rhythm Thief is on the scene, I can finally sink my teeth into a music-based game that doesn't require that I have 25 years of prior gaming experience to enjoy.
Before I begin talking about my feelings for the game thus far, let me take a moment to NOT recommend the demo available on the 3DS Shop. I tried it the day it hit the network and it almost made me want to pass on the full release. While it does give you a taste of the first three rhythm sections, these are not a good measure of the game's charm. They're presented in a sparse menu with no story context provided, which is a pretty key part of having fun with the experience. There's a ton of variety in the rhythm segments as well as Professor Layton-esque puzzle solving, but the demo does neither of these aspects any justice. By the way, I'd highly recommend you turn off the guides for each stage (this goes for the full game as well). They seem like they'd make it easier, but they just give you another thing to watch and throw off your timing really bad. Maybe they help some people, but I found that it made the difference between failing a level with it on and getting an A when turning it off.
Alright, now that that's out of the way...
As I just mentioned, Rhythm Thief is part Professor Layton and part dancing theivery. Yeah. I can't pinpoint a good title to reference to fully capture the essence of what the rhythm segments in the game are like, but the closest I could probably get is Rhythm Heaven. If you've played that game before, you know that while it involves a basic use of the touch screen for each mini-game, each one is pretty different in the way it's presented. Rhythm Thief follows suit. You'll be doing a lot of tapping and swiping to the beat, but the story mode changes it up in some pretty cool ways. One of my favorites so far is in a segment where you play violin and have to slide the stylus back and forth to do so. Some of the mini-games even ask for you to switch to button inputs, which is pretty cool. I certainly think games that use strictly touch controls can be good (Kirby Canvas Curse and WarioWare Touched are shining examples), but in a game like this where you have plenty of downtime between mini-games so it's not terribly frustrating or inconvient to have to put the stylus away for a minute.
I also recall playing one motion-sensitive mini-game so far, which I have mixed feelings about. The concept was fun, but I had trouble making the game register my movements correctly. It was an optional one and I haven't given it another shot now that I understand the range of movement, so I'll let it slide for now.
When the game isn't having you leap across rooftops to escape the fuzz or shake maracas in a delightful Samba de Amigo throwback (which did make fantastic use of the motion controls for posing, now that I think about it), you're scouring the streets of Paris for clues about your father's disappearance. It's not an especially complex story from what I've seen so far, but it gets the job done. Although I don't love Raphael the way I had hoped I would and I scratch my head everytime someone he knows doesn't recognize him in his lazy "Phantom R" getup (or even when people that know of Phantom R don't recognize him when he's sneaking into the constabulary in broad daylight), I do find myself getting into the story at times. If you can get past his somewhat bland character and suspend your disbelief when he outsmarts everyone by wearing dorky glasses and pushing the hair out of his eyes, there are some pretty enjoyable (albeit cliche) moments to the game. One part that really had me smiling was when Phantom R saved the female lead Marie from Napoleon's goons (which, by the way, remind me a lot of the spiky-fingered assassins in Lupin III's Castle of Cagliostro).
The majority of gameplay is spent talking to people on the streets and occasionally solving puzzles using recorded sounds. For example, there's a professor you need to speak with, but oddly enough, during class is the only time he DOESN'T sleep. So, like the respectable E-rated thief that you are, you must wake him from his standing slumber in the middle of the road rather than rob him blind. To do so, you must have tapped (touched? neither word makes this sound appropriate) a rooster to record the sound of it crowing in order to play it back and make the man think it's time to wake up. And considering the rooster was to be found on the screen prior to the one with the man sleeping, that's one of the more difficult challenges I've faced. While the recored sound mechanic is kinda cool on paper, it fails to create especially difficult puzzle situations when most of the sounds needed for a particular challenge are on the same screen as the NPC that needs to hear it. What's worse is all the non-sound related puzzles, which usually boil down to entering numeric codes in various locks. All of these are pretty quick and easy thanks not only to the required code being handed to you right before the puzzle starts, but because they also post it up on the top screen while you're managing the lock.
I'm about two hours in and the puzzles haven't really gotten much more complicated than that, but I've been told they do get more difficult, so I'll leave my gripes at that. To be fair, I have been pretty thorough with my pixel hunting on scenery (just as in Professor Layton, you can tap the shit out of everything to get paid), so it's unlikely that I've missed any sounds that may have been for puzzles that otherwise would have stumped me. I really like the idea behind using the sounds to affect the world around you, but most of the time it just feels like the game is holding my hand really tightly and mentioning the name of the exact item I need to find over and over again each time a puzzle arises. As for the number locks...come on, at least put them somewhere more creative than on a post-it note next to the safe. You know, I think I'd be able to stomach the complete lack of competence from the police force if the game took it a little less seriously. I'd enjoy the inspector's character more if he was more goofy like Zenigata as opposed to being a tough guy cop that's too busy doing his job poorly to spend time with his son (or at least, if the rest of the game matched the seriousness he exudes).
Rhythm Thief has a lot of cool stuff going for it. None of it is anything fantastically original (seemingly Lupin-inspired in story and Layton-inspired in adventure gameplay), but the mini-games are fun and the story is a lighthearted bit of fun. It does feel very storybook-like and aimed toward children, but the gameplay can be pretty challenging at times so it's probably worth a look if you're into music-based games. The soundtrack is pretty solid and compliments the stages well. There's also a handful of stuff to unlock, including optional levels (which can be happened upon during story play or bought later if missed, as I understand it) and optional story chapters that expand upon some of the side characters a bit more. I'll likely finish the game up and give the side stories a shot, but in the end, I can't see Rhythm Thief sticking to my shelf for long after I've completed it. I'd definately recommend it if you're looking for something a little different, but I do have a feeling it's mostly going to be forgotten after a few months have passed.
If you read my post on Majora's Mask last year, you'd know that there was a time in my life where I hated Zelda games. I thought they were all boring and never bothered to play more than the first hour or so in any of them. Last year, however, I decided to set my hatred aside and give them an honest chance. In a matter of weeks, I tackled all the Game Boy titles, bought Ocarina 3D, and finished my little Zelda kick with Majoraís Mask. Needless to say, I was hooked for a while, there.
I played Wind Waker when it came out, but didnít get terribly far. A few weeks ago, however, I finally sat down and finished it off. What do I think?
Well, itís certainly my second favorite 3D Zelda (first being Majoraís Mask). To rank it among all the Zeldas, 2D or 3D, would be a bit more of a chore. I donít hate it by any means, but I do feel like itís really weak in some important areas which sucks when itís surrounded by so much strength.
So, letís start with said strengths. The art direction is fantastic, obviously. I think a lot of Gamecube games hold up really well graphically, but itís really easy to make a game timeless with some quality cel-shading. The music is also great, maybe the best in the series. The moment that Tetra's true identity is revealed to the tune of the Link to the Past opening (at 2:50 in that video) gave me chills.
Wind Waker also easily has my favorite incarnation of Link. One reason I never really got into the Zelda titles is because I donít generally care for silent protagonists. I have played games where theyíre done right and I enjoy them, but most of the Zelda games were never like that for me. I understand that the idea behind it is that it allows the player to put themselves in the characterís shoes, but I donít get too into that unless the plot is really strong (and I only really felt it was in Majoraís Mask, so I was okay with the silence in that one).
This Link is much less an empty shell, though. Heís constantly expressing emotions, even during gameplay. Honestly, I think I related to this Link more because he was so emotional and had real relationships (with his grandmother and sister for example), which makes him easier to relate to than some soulless puppet of a character. I appreciate that his quest (at the start, anyway) hinged more on the fact that he wanted to save his sister as opposed to simply being told ďHey, you have to save the worldĒ at the beginning and just doing it because thatís what heroes do.
Anyway, thatís about all I have to say as far as strengths go.
As for weaknessesÖwell, the game is super easy. I mean, Ocarina wasnít terribly hard either, but Master Quest (as I understand it) and Majoraís Mask were, so why couldnít we get a bit of that difficulty in Wind Waker? I think easy games can be enjoyable still, but when thereís no challenge in a game like Zelda, I fail to stay interested. I died only once in the entire game and that was on level 43 of a 50-level dungeon where the enemies got tougher as I went downÖand I didnít bring any potions or fairies.
Of course, difficulty isnít simply about combat. Puzzles are really important as well (in fact, I like them more than combat), but Wind Waker seemed a little weak in that area, too. I think Ocarina kind of screwed all the later 3D titles by including something like 11 temples/dungeons, setting the bar pretty high in terms of mainline content. Majoraís Mask only had four, but they were all pretty long and difficult. Plus, the sidequests were a really strong and important aspect of the story as well. In Wind Waker, we got something like five (you could argue more with the Forsaken Fortress and Ganonís Tower, but those were both short and relatively lacking in puzzles) which is okay, but only if theyíre good. And I donít think they were.
I think they were all competent, but none of them really strained my brain or made me stop and appreciate how well-designed they were. Wind Temple is the only one that stands out in my mind as memorable and the only reason is because it was time consuming and frustrating (Iím not sure Iíve ever seen a partner segment like that done well in a game) as opposed to being legitimately difficult. Oh, and my power went out right afterwards and I had to do it AGAIN. Ugh. Even knowing how to solve all the puzzles, the dungeon took me a little over an hour because itís just so damn slow (the very last room is the definition of, requiring you to wear the Iron Boots the entire time and move blocks in a wind tunnel to make a safe path).
Now, the plot was okay. Like I said, I appreciated the ramp up to epic proportions rather than forcing you right into it. However, it didnít really feel like there was all that much to it when the game was finished. I mean, itís a Zelda game, which arenít exactly known for their deep plot (with one shining exception which I promise I will try to stop naming), so Iíll let this particular gripe slide, but let me just say that I was hoping it would try to outdo the title before it rather than returning to the safety of the Link-Zelda-Ganon Triforce story. It was a cool take on it, to be sure (Hyruleís flooded? Awesome), and made for some cool segments, but ultimately Iím going to forget everything beyond the really major plot points in a week.
Finally, let me address the complicated issue of the most time consuming part of the game: the sailing. I donít hate it. I donít love it. I love the idea of it. I have mixed feelings about the execution. I donít mind setting course and taking a bathroom break while I sail. I do mind having to use the Wind Waker every ten damn minutes to set the wind direction (and even then, the total number of times I played the Windís Requiem only barely rises above the number of times I played the Command Melody in the Wind Temple alone) and later realizing that I had to do it all over again because the plot demanded I return.
I spent way more of my time in Wind Waker doing sidequests than doing plot stuff. Thatís fine. However, I often spent more time doing exploring the ocean because I was much more invested in the extra stuff than in completing the next plot point. There were a number of times where I would just sail around and fill in my map rather than get anything of value done because I thought the hidden secrets of the islands less traveled and deep sea treasures were a hell of a lot more interesting than the main story.
In this sense, I think the game hits its mark really well. The world is full of treasure and hidden goodies, most of which is rupees and heart containers, which arenít especially interesting on their own, but itís more the journey than the reward. I had a lot of fun obtaining new charts and looking for more money or hearts because the islands were often unique, strange, and fun to explore. The fact that this game has such a huge upgradable wallet makes it clear that youíre supposed to embrace the treasure hunting aspect.
Which does bring me to my last point of complaint: The use of mandatory treasure hunting.
I really like when games allow me to feel like Iím ďbreakingĒ the game. Itís a very cool sense of freedom when you do something youíre not supposed to, even if it was intended by the developers all along. Portal is a great example of this. Nearly every moment of that game, I feel like Iím ďcheatingĒ my way through, even though Iím playing the game exactly the way it was designed to be played.
Wind Waker does this to a limited extent. Finding islands way off-course makes me feel like Iím exploring new and exciting locations with all kinds of hidden goodies that the game developers put there, sure, but at what point did they intend me to find it? Maybe there will be some really kickass secret weapon or something that I wonít need until way later! Of course, I know Zelda better than that by now and knew Iíd never find anything more thrilling than a heart container, but it was a fun adventure nonetheless. Well, it was fun until the game cheapened it.
At one point, you have to search for Triforce shards in the ocean. This is a time-consuming process that is forced upon you during the plotline, which makes it less fun than doing it of your own volition. There are eight Triforce charts to be found (which are hidden on those far off-islands that youíve already been to), each of which must be deciphered by Tingle for a couple hundred rupees (forcing you to spend around three thousand rupees on a plot device), and then you have to actually use the charts to find the Triforce shards (which, again, are in non-plot areas).
This part really bothered me. I understand that the developers probably wanted their vast game world to be appreciated even by the players that only do the bare minimum to beat the game, but it really cheapens the experience for the rest of us. When thereís a portion of the map dedicated to plot-centric areas but all this unknown stuff surrounding it, thatís exciting. When nearly the whole map needs to be visited for the sake of the plot, it gets tedious and makes me pissed that I bothered to explore early. I shouldnít feel like Iím being punished for exploring early.
Now, thereís a fair argument in that this bolsters the treasure hunting aspect of the game. Thatís true, but why are some of the best ďsidequestsĒ used in the plot? The aforementioned 50-level dungeon is a great example. Itís fifty levels of tedium thanks to the boring combat (which, to be fair, is the best Iíve experienced in a 3D Zelda so far, but thatís not saying much) which COULD have been made a little more daunting had I stumbled upon it a few hours into the game, but being a major part of the plot progression, Iím forced to wait until Iím already badass enough to wreck it easily. Whatís worse is that you get the Triforce chart after only 30 levels, but exiting the dungeon starts you at the beginning again, so the gameís mild attempt to make part of this sidequest optional is instantly tossed aside when the player realizes they pretty much have to do the extra part right then if they want to do it at all.
Anyway, Iím going to stop ranting quite so much and just sum up my feelings: I like Wind Waker. I had fun with it. The art direction and music are great. It takes the good qualities of Ocarina of Time and Majoraís Mask and attempts to make them into a unique new adventure. However, I think the majority of the plot is forgettable and the game itself is unsatisfyingly easy, with any leftover enjoyment in treasure hunting and sidequesting destroyed by the insistence that you do these things to beat the game.
Iím playing Phantom Hourglass now and itís fun. It has that 2D Zelda feel that I generally prefer to the 3D games with the world of Wind Waker which I really like. I just hope it doesnít ruin itself like Wind Waker eventually did.
They should make a game starring Bad Box Art Mega Man (just as he appears in Street Fighter X Tekken) as a washed up TV actor named Rocky Rollington who once starred as Mega Man in a live action superhero show. It's been years since the show got cancelled and time has not been kind to Rocky. On the first night of his new job at a gas station in a bad neighborhood, some street punk tries to rob him at knifepoint and he recalls the extremely limited fighting skills he learned on set to defend himself. The kid isn't especially tough, so Rocky scares him off easily by screaming "WHACK!" in a very comic-bookish manner and administering a disarming karate chop to the kid's wrist.
Brimming with false confidence, Rocky goes home that night, breaks out his old Mega Man suit, and puts up an online ad, offering his services as a superhero-for-hire. He contacts his old friend, Tommy Lightning, who designed prop weapons for the show and has him modify the Mega Buster ray gun into a stun gun.
The premise is somewhere between No More Heroes (a game in which an anime nerd buys a beam katana online and sets out to become the number one assassin) and Bored to Death (a TV show where a writer puts up a Craigslist ad offering his services as a private detective), so it's not exactly original (and I can't recall any specific examples, but I know the whole washed up actor gone vigilante has been done before), but I think the fact that it's a Mega Man game changes everything.
The missions would range from silly and mundane tasks (acting as entertainment for a child's birthday party) that could go south (the kid's abusive father crashes the party and Mega Man has to stop him) to shit that puts Rocky in way over his head (someone framing him for murder). Somewhere in between, there could be some crazies that want to do him harm (obsessive nerds that want the Mega Man costume for their collection, so they dress up as Robot Masters and lure him into traps), help him out (an overweight Roll cosplayer that bakes him cookies and owns a handicapped dog named Rush), or just steal his thunder (Peter Bluth, the actor who played Protoman on the show, breaks out his own costume and attempts to settle their long-standing rivalry). The psychopaths from Dead Rising are kind of what I have in mind for these characters, just (debatably) normal folks gone crazy over a show that they like (or hate) a lot.
The game would probably play something like No More Heroes, with a limited city area to roam around in and missions taking place in smaller stages. I also think back to Dead Rising in terms of gameplay, with Mega Man being pretty slow and clunky at first, like Frank West, but learning new skills that make him a little more badass. Mega Man only has to shoot targets and the like during early missions (like the birthday party one), but when things get more demanding, he'll have to use his stun gun to blast enemies and knock them unconscious with his cheesy superhero moves (complete with the embarrassing comic book sound effects). Because he's only human (and an overweight one at that), the game would pull a lot of inspiration from classic Mega Man in the way that it's really damn hard. Rocky can take a quite a few punches, but when guns get involved, it won't take much to put him in the hospital. Despite all the danger, however, Rocky will remain dedicated thanks to a strong sense of justice (and concern that he can't afford his cigarettes or beer without the mission's pay).
Pulling the strings on the whole "nerds pretending to be Robot Masters" deal would be the president of the Mega Man fan club, William Albert, who (unintentionally) bears resemblance to Dr. Wily and wants nothing more than to wear the costume himself. His fandom transcends simply wanting an autograph from the man who played his hero; He wants to become the hero. The story would culminate with Tommy and "Roll" being captured by William and Mega Man would have to beat him down once and for all.
So yeah, this is what's been eating at the back of my brain since I saw the video of Bad Box Art Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken. This game is probably be the coolest thing that will never happen, but I'm going to dream, anyway. If nothing else, I hope Capcom at least gives something new (that's not a fighting game) with Mega Man in it soon! As much as this game would be awesome, I would never actually wish such a sad fate for the Blue Bomber. As it stands, though, I kind of feel like this is a pretty accurate depiction of our hero.
I haven't been quite as active on my favorite gaming website as I would have liked to be, but that doesn't mean I haven't been gaming like a mad man. As 2011 comes to a close, I'd like to share my year with you. But first, a little backstory.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved video games. My first system was an NES I got for Christmas when I was maybe five or so and my first game was Bubble Bobble. It didn't take long for me to get hooked.
Across the rest of my childhood, many other systems and games came and went. Being a dumb child, I must have pissed away dozens of excellent (and now rare) games that I thought were worth the pennies of store credit Gamestop or my other local game store offered me. I think the one that stings the most is the boxed copy of Earthbound (strategy guide and all). I still vividly remember resisting the urge to vomit after pressing my nose against the slime scratch and sniff card. Good times.
I only still own a handful of gaming items from my younger years (my N64, 3DO, Genesis/Sega CD, and my boxed copies of all the original Genesis Sonics), but I've been trying my damnedest to remedy that. A little over a year ago, I got a shitty little retail job selling used video games which is made a lot less shitty by not being a GameStop and carrying even the most retro of games.
Today, my video game collection has exploded. I've done away with temptations to sell my games (unless they really suck, and even then I might keep them if they're a part of a series I like) and have been slowly seeking out all the games I love.
Of course, what's the point if I don't play them?
This year, I set a goal for myself: Play more games! In 2010, I only saw a handful of games all the way through. That was a shit year. In 2011, I played more than 50 different games all the way to the credits. This was an awesome year.
Now, I don't think there's a direct correlation here and I'm not of the belief that video games should be used for escaping the hardships of real life, but I do believe that they're damn fun and can be just what you need after a rough day at work. Also, I think learning to stick with something until the end, even a video game, is an important skill that I didn't really have until now. I feel more focused in other aspects of my life. I've learned that nothing is impossible, from beating Panzer Dragoon to creating a musical montage.
Anyway, getting back on topic, I'd like to wrap up the year by sharing what I think were the best games I played this year. This gets kind of tricky, however, as it's one thing to pick the best out of the games that came out in a year, but what if you played so much more than that? I played so many fantastic titles that didn't come out this year, but I wish so dearly that they had so I could crown them with the honor of being better than all the fancy new bullshit that's come out this year.
It's simply too hard to pick one game that's the best out of such a large pool, so I'll be picking two winners for each category, one out of the 2011 releases and one out of everything else I played.
Best Game That I Did Not Expect To Be That Good 2011 Winner: Catherine (PS3/360) Runner-ups: Shadows of the Damned (PS3/360), Sonic Generations (PS3/360)
When copies of Catherine first showed up at the store, my co-workers and I enjoyed poking fun at it. It looked like Q-Bert with sexy a sexy anime lady whose only personality trait was that she really liked extra cheese on her pizza. Despite being a huge fan of puzzle games, I enjoy a good story more, so I brushed it off as something shallow and not worth my time.
A few months later when we had some used copies to rent, I took it home for a couple nights and fell in love. Uh, not with Catherine. I mean, with the game, not the girl. Uh......
The story in Catherine was a hell of a lot more interesting than I expected. After the main character, Vincent cheats on his serious business girlfriend Katherine with sexy blonde Catherine, his entire world goes to shit. When not in the puzzle sequences, Vincent hangs out with his bros in a bar and texts his lady friends, all of which you get to control him for and influence his faithfulness or lack thereof to his original companion.
The gameplay in Catherine was really unique (not like Q-Bert at all) and I never stopped being amazed at how complex the maneuvers could become despite the basics being so simple. Even late in the game, I was still learning crazy new techniques that I could never actually remember long enough to get much better at the game. I actually had to turn it down to Easy to make it through, something I generally refuse to do, but I think that just goes to show how desperate I was to see how the story ends.
Catherine blew me away with how interesting the story was and how addictive the gameplay was. After finishing it, I realized that the saucy packaging had a lot more to do with getting sales than showing what the game had to offer. I think the old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" is pretty fucking relevant here.
Retro Winner: The Legend of Zelda - Oracle of Ages/Seasons (GBC) Runner-ups: Metroid II - The Return of Samus (Game Boy), Castlevania - The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)
I had never been a huge Zelda guy up until this year. I had played a little bit of almost all of them, but there was something about it that never quite clicked with me. I think it may be that they all just have such slow and uninteresting beginnings with no exciting items or weapons to play around with.
My distaste changed with Link's Awakening, which I forced myself to sit down and play before Ocarina 3D came out (which I hated, but I wanted to finally give it a chance). I was blown away by how much I liked Link's Awakening. In fact, I was so enamored with it that I rushed right into the Oracle games not too long after, which were somehow even better.
I started with Seasons and enjoyed it enough to play Ages right afterwards, which really cemented the games' place in my heart. It's really hard to consider these two as separate games, because they compliment each other so well and really feel like one giant adventure. The weapons and items were super cool (changing seasons, going back in time, and also MAGNET GLOVES) and the dungeons (in Ages, anyway) were some of the toughest I've faced in the Zeldas I've played so far.
While I really loved Link's Awakening and later, The Minish Cap, I have to put the Oracle games up on the pedestal for doing the whole "two versions of one game" thing better than maybe even Pokemon has. I was really expecting to go into Ages and feel like I was playing the same game over again, but I was completely wrong.
Best Game That Put A Big Stupid Smile On My Face 2011 Winner: Sonic Generations (PS3/360) Runner-ups: Kirby Mass Attack (DS), Portal 2 (PS3/360), Child of Eden (PS3/360)
As you might have guessed considering the only games I never let go from my childhood were the Sonic the Hedgehog titles, I'm kind of a Sonic fan. My bedroom back home is covered in Sonic merchandise (which my mom put up, I swear I didn't leave it like that) and I own a Sega Saturn mostly so I can play Sonic R.
Of course, my love is not unconditional and I hate pretty much everything Sonic related that's happened in the last 10 years. The last game I truly enjoyed was Sonic Adventure 2 and even that was pretty obviously the beginning of the end for my childhood hero. I thought he was doomed to be the star of furry soap operas for the rest of his career....until Sonic Generations happened. I was skeptical at first, as I had been for every other Sonic title since Adventure 2, but I still gave in and picked it up day one. I'm so glad I did. The moment I got to Chemical Plant Zone, I was sold.
The story is complete bullshit, but I wouldn't really have it any other way. Something about time being eaten or whatever. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that adorable and chubby Classic Sonic has to team up with gangly and green-eyed Modern Sonic to save the day. Awesome.
Classic Sonic's levels feel pretty similar to the good old days while Modern Sonic's feel more similar to the good parts of Unleashed (or Colors, I think, I haven't actually played it). Both sections are pretty fun, but sometimes Modern Sonic's can get a little frustrating with constant falling of edges (which has been a problem since Adventure, so I'm not surprised). Classic Sonic's are a lot more manageable, but I can't deny that blasting through at high speed as Modern Sonic is pretty fucking fun (especially through the Genesis Era levels).
My only real complaint about Generations was the boss fights. The levels (Crisis City and Planet Wisp aside) were fantastic, most of the challenges were the right level of difficult, and the unlockables were worth the playtime (I can play any level with Sonic Boom in the background? Cool. I can play any level with Super Sonic Racing in the background? AWESOME.), but the boss fights were horrid. I had a little hope after the first one, as it's a Classic Sonic boss and pretty straight forward (though a little buggy), but the three Modern Sonic bosses afterwards were pretty frustrating (in a "broken mess" kind of way, not in the "difficult" kind of way).
Despite the stupid grin I had on my face the entire time I played, the part that almost made me snap the game in half was the final fight against the Time Eater. Everything is wrong with that fight. There's almost zero sense of progression ("Am I moving forward at all? I can't even tell."), you play as Super Sonic, which is fine, but it makes you worry about rings too damn much ("Oh great, I missed the only tiny row of rings that's going to show up in the next five minutes."), and to top it all of, the ENTIRE supporting cast feels the need to tell you what to do ("WHY IS CHARMY THE FUCKING BEE TELLING ME IT'S A HOMING ATTACK? HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW THAT?"). The most baffling thing is that I failed the fight a dozen times before finally S-ranking it by doing the same damn thing that had been making me fail. BROKEN BULLSHIT.
ANYWAY. That fight is garbage, but at least I can play the Metal Sonic level and feel happy again (why couldn't all the fights be like that?). Regardless of the total shit turn it takes in its very final moments, the rest of the game gave me the warm fuzzies.
Retro Winner: Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SNES) Runner-ups: PaRappa the Rapper (PS1), Elite Beat Agents (DS), Gitaroo Man (PS2)
Mario is all fine and good, but I'm not sure I've ever played a Kirby game I haven't liked. Kirby's Adventure on the NES was my first and was certainly not going to be the last.
I've always considered Kirby Super Star to be the best of the series (and one of the best games ever, for that matter) and while I've enjoyed later titles, they've all generally been pretty different and not overshadowed completely by Super Star. All except for Kirby's Dream Land 3.
Dream Land 3 came out on the SNES about a year after Super Star. A year after. Why is this a big deal? Because it's not Super Star!
I finally sat down and gave Dream Land 3 a chance this year, despite it not looking as good as Super Star (though I do appreciate the art style) and not being as complex as Super Star (only 8 copy abilities instead of 23 with no button combos?) and not being as varied in content (Super Star was 8 games in 1!). What did I find after giving it a fair chance and completing it, good ending and all?
Okay, it's actually pretty fucking awesome. Super Star might have been badass, but Dream Land 3 has its own adorable charm. The thing I wasn't really sensitive to was that it's a part of the Dream Land series, which had only seen Game Boy titles until now. Those games were obviously a bit less graphically and mechanically intense on that hardware. Dream Land 3 is a great successor to those games, but it does feel a little out of place on the SNES.
Even so, I couldn't stop playing it. Kirby's animal friends did add a bit of depth to the abilities and some of the side tasks required to get the good ending were pretty difficult. What really made it for me, however, was the final battle against Dark Matter, which brought back fond memories of the Nightmare battle in Kirby's Adventure. I always loved that fight and Dream Land 3's take on it was just as cool.
I still think Super Star is the pinnacle of Kirby platformers, but I appreciate Dream Land 3 a lot more now that I've taken the time on it. I liked it so much, in fact, that I went back and did the boss rush (which I beat in one try, somehow) and then proceeded to spend a month trying to do the mini-game rush.
I still haven't 100%ed that game. Fuck you, Chef Kawasaki. Fuck you and your stupid pots and pans mini-game.
Best Game I Played 2011 Winner: Portal 2 (PS3/360) Runner-ups: Dead Space 2 (PS3/360), Sonic Generations (PS3/360), Child of Eden (PS3/360)
Of all the new releases I played this year, Portal 2 was the only one that I ordered long in advance and made sure I would have it at my doorstep when I got home from work that day. I picked it up on PS3 mostly for the PC copy, but also because I really wanted it to be a big screen experience. After I popped the disc in, I was glued to my seat for the eight hours it took me to beat it.
It was quite a few months ago, but I still remember quite well how wonderful the whole experience was. I really liked the first Portal, but I couldn't believe the jump in quality for Portal 2. The story was a lot more complex and engaging, the characters were hilarious, the music was awesome, and the gameplay stayed fresh and varied throughout, even having played the original Portal already.
The day after, I played the co-op in another insane one-sitting run with one of my roommates. After that six hour experience, I had more or less exhausted what the game had to offer (outside of achievements, which I did spend a little time going back for), but that combined total of 14 hours was probably the most enjoyable I've had with a game in years. Quality over quantity, right?
While I'm on the subject, actually, I'd like to note that I while I didn't play Skyrim (nor do I really have too much interest in the Elder Scrolls series), I don't think I would have given it my game of the year award even if I had. It's not that it doesn't seem like a fantastic game, but hasn't it been done before? Has it really pushed the envelope in a unique way? A game that can entertain me for 300 hours is good and all, but shouldn't we be commending games that think outside the box and aren't on their fifth installment?
I dunno, just my two cents. Also, I'm aware that Destructoid is awesome and Portal 2 won their GOTY award, so I don't know why I'm bitching! I might just have a little pent up rage after having to sell so much Skyrim at work...
Retro Winner: The Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask (N64) Runner-ups: Super Metroid (SNES), Snatcher (Sega CD), The Legend of Zelda - Oracle of Ages/Seasons (GBC)
This is probably no surprise if you know me in real life (since you probably hear me gush about it all the time) and also to those who read my last blog post, but it has to be said again: Majora's Mask is fucking amazing.
While I do have a much greater appreciation for the series now that I've played more Zelda titles, I still don't know that I'm a huge fan of it in the most traditional sense. Sure, the "young hero saving the princess" trope is kind of what Zelda is all about, but personally, I find that the best adventures Link has are the ones that don't take place in Hyrule. Link's Awakening, the Oracle games, and Majora's Mask are easily my favorites, and each of them take place in fancy new lands with unique objectives (though the Oracle games do come back to saving the princess at the end of the linked game).
Now, maybe most people like Ocarina of Time or A Link to the Past better, and that's fine, but I hope those people are still giving games like Majora's Mask a chance. It's a little weird and not very Zelda-like in a lot of ways, but that certainly doesn't make it any less phenomenal.
I'm not going to rant and rave about it again, because I already did that once at work this week, but like I said, I wrote a whole damn post about how much I love it if you need any convincing. I desperately hope that the 3DS remake happens, because I can't wait to experience it all over again. There are very few long, story-driven games I've liked enough to play more than once (Earthbound is the only one that currently comes to mind and I want to play Mother 3 again), but Majora's Mask is undoubtedly one of those games. It's really that good.
All in all, it's been a pretty bitchin' year. Was it the same for you? Did you play some awesome games, old or new? What are your picks for each category?