Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grandia (Saturn) Beyond Oasis (Genesis) LOTR:The Third Age (PS2)

I can't even remember if I've talked about some of these games yet.  Let's go!

In remembrance of Takeshi Miyagi, I sat down to actually play my copy of Grandia.  I must have bought it when I was a student in Japan.  I tried to start playing it at least three times and quit because my Japanese level wasn't adequate to figure out what the fuck it wanted me to do.  Of course once you get past the opening it's just a JRPG so it doesn't even matter if you understand what's going on you understand what's going on.

Somewhat simultaneously I started playing Lord of the Rings:The Third Age.  In that game you are the guys on a quest to find the guys on a quest.  Baring that you see some really cool vistas and amazing texture work.  The game looks pretty incredible at times.  Then you spend 8 hours in Moria.  You have attack and two ability types per character.  You actually raise your abilites by using them in battle.  This results in you dragging out every battle to dull casting buff spells.  There is the sinking fear in you that if you DO NOT do this you are going to get proper fucked later on.  So you drag out the battles. 

I played this game years ago might have been shortly after it's release.  I stopped playing it in protest.  You have the chance of seeing the enemy on the field and running into him to start the battle, the glowing eye of sauron growing brighter until a surprise battle starts, or just for an enemy to jump down and attack you without warning.  This whole game is a straight line in the way that FFXIII wishes it was.  You just keep moving forward fighting monsters.  Your HP/MP restores every time you level up and you collect all your gear along the way.  It's kind of cool.

Except you are stuck fighting goblins in Moria for EIGHT HOURS.

Grandia has the same sort of ability leveling system.  It is a charming enough game with Anime Characters (TM) Anime Plot (TM) and Anime Humour (TM).  If you are over the age of 15 you probably have seen absolutely everything the game shows you once before.  I'd say the voice acting in the japanese version is above the legendarily awful American voice acting but after the 3rd hour there is none.  It's really strange but up until I quit I don't think I heard another voice emit from my speakers. 

The music reminded me enough of the superior music in Grandia 2 to buy a copy though.  It's the terrible terrible PS2 version and I haven't played it yet.  But we're talking about Grandia.  Which features a supposedly great battle system which as I said above makes you extend battles as long as possible.  It's also just slightly more complex than ATB of Final Fantasy fame.  It's just complex enough that it kind of annoyed me in a way I can't articulate.

I'm going to assume the PS1 version is actually better than the Saturn version.  It  can't be worse because the Saturn version frequently has FPS in the single digits.  It also is the days of early 3D.  You have things blocking your overhead view camera because they can.  The dungeons also being really directionless and actually maze like (everywhere looks the same) with a finicky guiding arrow really really got tome.  I was happy to finally put my trails with the game to rest.  Who knows maybe I'll enjoy Grandia 2!  It could happen.  I loved it when it was my first JRPG after Final Fantasy V on SNES9X.

Weird progression there.  Our middle game in the title list Beyond Oasis is by Ancient.  Ancient is headed by Yuzo Koshiro.  That's pretty tops!  The game is a mildly Arabic zelda-clone that is hard to get excited about playing in any form.  Everything about the game bleeds competence.  "We needed to make a zelda-type game."  I think I actually like Neutopia more?  At least the Genesis/Megadrive has Crusader of Centy a pretty great Zelda clone! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

LA Noire (PS3) 50 Cent Blood in the Sand (PS3)

Seem like there was something right in receiving both of these games from gamefly at the same time.  Compliments and opposites.

Not going to try to make this a great narrative.  So let's start with the latter first.

50 Cent: Blood in the Sand is the second game from business man 50 Cent. 

That video about sums up my thoughts on the first one.  This new game is for NEXT-GEN consoles though.  It features even more exclusive music from 50 Cent.  I love 50 Cent.  I have no love for his music, but I find the man very good at his job (making money) and possibly unintentionally hilarious.  I can never tell if he knows how funny he is.  he named his dog Oprah and likes to tweet "Oprah's here licking herself lol".  So yeah, it's never quite clear.

A lot of people compare Blood on the Sand to The Club a game I played very little of but was very said no one was playing it online.  I'm not sure you were supposed to even play it online, but it looked like it would be a lot of fun that way.  BotS has a combo kill system that rewards you for doing well (so obviously better than Vanquish (and no that is not sarcasm.))  It never really presents you with a chance to kill more than 3 headcovered Middle Eastern Men in sports jerseys at a time.  Except for the mission where you set houses on fire and then mow down the guys as they run out screaming.  That's where I quit playing, because that was fucked up.

It was fun before that happened though!  50 Cent is paid for his concert in a compensation crystal skull which is then stolen by some sort of Arab Ninja Girl.  He must then KILL EVERYONE IN THE CITY to get his skull back.  There's a Hind-D fight.  You get one of Fity's friends as back up. His music is blaring.  I'm fairly certain 50 wrote his own dialog.  Hell maybe he wrote all the dialog, I wanted to keep playing to find out, but again that above sequence seemed like a good point to suddenly have moral doubt and quit.

It is a glorious celebration of 50.  Not many people get to have their friends and themselves as stars in a video game.  He got the opportunity TWICE.  That's twice more than Marc Ecko did!  50's game is absurd but coherent.  Ecko's was nuts.

He also has grenades on his bullet proof vest at the concert.

Then we have white bitches get murdered the video game, LA Noire.  5 hours in I was ready to quit but wanted to see how dumb the dumb resolution to the second act was.  It was dumb.  I was doing more or less the same actions every case, which yes is what reality is, but there were definitely ways they could have made the game more enjoyable doing the same things.  The interviews/interrogations hit the uncanny valley really hard.  I couldn't tell if I was to trust what I thought the people were doing or read what the programmers wanted me to choose between TRUTH, LIE, DOUBT.  Also my PC's interpretation's of those choices was frequently baffling. 

Best object holding since Shenmue.  Hell it just made me want to play Shenmue.  A common opinion I found on SB, and one that I share, is that LA Noire is something you play and then forget.  Disposable entertainment.  Actually this feels like everything you need to read about the game.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Atari Lynx

I spent this labor day playing through the Atari Lynx romset.  It was a strange and mostly unrewarding journey that at least got it out of my system.  The games are almost entirely developed Atari or atari affiliates.  The only thing that bucks that trend in my fresh memory was a port of Raiden that would have looked perfectly at home on the Wonderswan.  I'm pretty curious what the story behind it was.

Fun Fact: I've never held an actual Lynx.

Oh it also had a port of Ninja Gaiden, the arcade game.  Which if you've never played, is pretty awful.  And a handheld (HAH) version is also pretty awful.  There might have been a port of the 3rd NES game, but it wouldn't go past the title screen.  Neither would Shadow of the Beast which despite there being 5 different roms of, wouldn't launch.  I suppose it was for the best.

It says I managed to keep 40 "roms" around.  I suppose I should talk about some of those.  like Dracula, a game where Bram Stoker (sp?)  reads you Dracula and then you choose actions for the characters to take?

Fun Fact: Chai Cola is a thing you can buy in STORES.

Or the actually fairly good ports of Battlezone 2000 and PaperboyBasketbawl game where you are totally allowed to shiv the other player and then take it to the hole.  Lynx Casino is a fairly terrible casino games game, but your avatar for the casino has an amazing walking animation.  Pinball Jam I've never heard of, but reek of a port.  It features an Elvira table!  I'm not sure  I could say anything about Fat Bobby, except if you're going to play one Lynx gameicantevenfinishthatsentenceidon'tbelieveyoushouldplay any Lynx game.

Fun Fact: Gates of Zendocon has a nuts intro.

Scrapyard Dog has the saddest intro where you get gunned down so a dog in a trenchcoat can steal your dog.  Todd's Adventure in Slime World is about the importance of regular bathing.  Robotron 2084 and Super Asteroids and Missle Command are awesome graphical upgrades.  Xenophobe I know I've played before, but can't remember where.  Viking Child is looking into the face of awful game design.  Blue Lightning is a dog-fight simulator (as in with planes,) that's graphically impressive.  It was probably awful to try and play on an actual Lynx.  Warbirds had a full 3D world going for it's dog-fighting.

Fun Fact:Subway Artists are supposed to put 3 pieces of olives on your sandwhich.  If you ask for more, they are supposed to put an additional 3.  They seem to follow this policy more closely now.

This romset had tons of prototypes and homebrew.  Booster caught my interest as a triangle cutting through a teal blocks and producing tons of pixels. is a game where you move a knight on an empty chessboard.  Knightmare had Arthur running around an empty 1st stage of Ghouls and Ghosts, but with pretty neat colors.  There was also a whole folder of 200 demo-scene things.  I didn't keep any of them, but the ones of note were a still frame flashing between 2 hideous color schemes. 

Fun Fact: the objective of Chip's Challenge for the ATARI LYNX is to prove that you are cool enough for the computer club

Road Blasters and Hydra I kept around because they made me think about Space Harrier.  Turbo Sub did to, but an equally impressive manner.  Bubble Trouble starts with a man shooting lasers at a bathtub, and has the player start as the man trapped in the bubble in something's intestines.  Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop lives up to the name until you start playing.  Gang members will stab you and shoot you. Zaku Prototype is not a mysterious gundam game, but a furry homebrew clone of Air Zonk.