Franchise features, gaming

A Timeless Top 5

Gaming is a progressive medium. Kids raised on Call of Duty and Uncharted would easily thumb their noses at the likes of Pac Man or Rad Racer. But some games are truly timeless. Some just simply don’t age. They looked charming then and they look charming now. They were fun to play then and they’re still fun to play now. Here is the Chuchu’s personal top 5 list of awesome games that never get old. Each of these badboys are dusted down and replayed regularly. If you haven’t played these titles, then you really owe it to yourself to give them a try!

5. Duck Tails (NES)

Low Blow! Kick that spider in his icicles!

Low Blow! Kick that spider in his icicles!

The original DuckTales was a short, sharp masterpiece. It had perfect controls, an uncomplicated graphical style that still charms to this day and an unforgettable soundtrack. Capcom made all the right moves in this Disney licensed game. Even the brevity of the game (only 5 stages) kept it from getting repetitious. Full of memorable enemies and hidden secrets, DuckTales was one of the true gems of the NES library. Testament to the original’s greatness was Way Forward’s remake from a couple years back. Whilst a fine attempt (superior boss fights), it still came up short against the charm of the 8-bit original (enforced exploration and… well… that undefinable ‘x’ element). Oh… and I know I’m repeating myself here but… That soundtrack!

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)

Foot soldiers really rack up their frequent flyer mileage in this game.

Foot soldiers really rack up their frequent flyer mileage in this game.

Turtles in Time on the SNES is the best TMNT game ever made. It is also probably the best 2D scrolling beat ’em up ever made. Certainly on the 16bit consoles, anyway. It was bright and colorful, full of memorable stages, had a great difficulty balance and was sooooooooo much fun to play. Then there was the TMNT fan service that saw a great array of bosses and enemies taken from the 1980’s cartoon. The SNES even scored points over the arcade original by having an extra stage and replacing a generic rock boss with the more recognizable Slash from the cartoon (even though he became the most difficult boss in the game). I still go back and play this title about once a year with my daughter in tow. And again… The modern day ‘Reshelled’ remake isn’t fit to lick it’s boots.

3. Metroid Zero Mission (GBA)

Riddle me this, riddle me that... Who's being a bit of a twat?

Riddle me this, riddle me that… Who’s being a bit of a twat?

Onto an amazing remake this time round. Metroid Zero Mission is the best 2D Metroid title out there. Super Metroid was phenomenal and may have redefined action-adventure games, but Zero Mission truly perfected the formula. Better controls, graphics and pacing make Zero Mission the number one ‘go-to’ 2D Metroid title in my opinion. It is, of course, a remake of the original NES Metroid title but it’s just so much better that it renders the original completely redundant. For me, Zero Mission is 2D perfection and the bar for which all other 2D action platformers must be measured against.

2. Dragon Force (Sega Saturn)

NOT to be confused with high pitched metal bands...

NOT to be confused with high pitched metal bands…

Dragon Force is the greatest ever JRPG that no one ever got to play. Seriously… No one knows about this game. And that’s a shame because it was AWESOME! Those who did play it will tell you of it’s 8 playable nations, spectacular soundtrack, relaxing cathartic gameplay and beautiful anime story scenes. Not to mention the fact that it’s as addictive as crack cocaine! Put this game in and whole days will slip by in the blink of an eye. This game is eater of time and the warmer of souls. Each play session leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed. It was the best game on the Sega Saturn and also the best reason to get yourself an emulator pronto. I replayed it last year and it hasn’t lost a single beat. RPG perfection!

1. Doom (Every device ever made in the history of forever)

And it still looks more convincing than the Hollywood movie...

And it still looks more convincing than the Hollywood movie…

Onto the game I have re-bought more times than any other. Seriously. I have bought doom on (deep breath) SNES, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, Playstation, Playstation 3 (twice) and PC (twice). Phew… The reason being is that I just can’t get enough of this amazing game! When I first played Doom as a boy, it blew my 15 year old mind out of my skull. It was so much fun back then. And that aspect simply hasn’t diminished for me. The way the weapons feel, the overwhelming number of enemies that come at you, the way it still delivers jump scares after all these years. Modern FPS titles look better and have more interesting stories or emotional beats, but few are as flat-out fun as Doom. And that is why I’m still playing the game to this very day (this morning in fact)!

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128-Bit, 16-Bit, 64-Bit, Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Starfox

Ah… Those sacred days of unboxing a new console. Is there anything better in life? If you answered “no” then you should seriously get yourself a girlfriend. But hot bother between the sheets not withstanding, new consoles are ace! One of my favorite memories was unwrapping my girlfriends ti… oh, wait. Ahem. One of my favorite memories was unwrapping my brand new Super Nintendo on Christmas day. The game bundled with the console? None other than epic space shooter Starfox (or Starwing as it was called in the UK back then).

"Incoming Enemy." Still sends chills down the spine!

“Incoming Enemy.” Still sends chills down the spine!

Lest we forget, Starfox was a completely unique game when it was released. 3D graphics of this caliber had never been seen on a home console before. To get all the visual splendor up on screen, Nintendo created a new in-cartridge addition called the Super FX chip. It was mindblowing back in the day. The graphics of the future… Today! The game itself was an on-rails arcade shooter. You had your default lasers and superbombs to fire with (power-ups for which could be collected in-level) and barrel rolls, knife rolls, braking and boosting to evade with. Bar being able to switch to an in-cockpit view during space sequences, that was pretty much it. Simple, addictive arcade goodness. The game’s highlights included giant screen filling bosses, branching paths in the hubworld, a shitload of secrets to uncover and a cast of colorful characters (and yes, we all hate that bastard Slippy Toad). Of course, the game wasn’t quite perfect. Firstly, it was very short; you could finish the entire thing in under an hour and there wasn’t much replay value after you’d seen everything. It could also be said that Andross made for a particularly bland final boss (a bunch of squares assembled into the shape of a face. How uninspired is that?). But although it also hasn’t aged so well (what early 3D games have?), it was still an unmissable title back in the day.

Fox loved to shoot down traffic copters over the freeway.

Fox loved to shoot down traffic copters over the freeway.

Starfox was a very successful game on the SNES, so a sequel was duly commissioned on the N64. Starfox 64 (or Lylat Wars in the UK) mostly kept the on-rails formula intact but did offer up a few innovations. Most interesting among these was the free roam sequences, where Fox and company would switch the wing formations on their ships (that sounds familiar) and the ‘rails’ would be ditched in favor of sweet, free-form dogfighting. They also added extremely slow ground based tank sections, which nobody liked and are best forgotten about. So too for the disappointing multiplayer dogfight mode. In theory, 4 player competitive action sounds like a good idea but it actually developed into a lot of flying around aimlessly, trying to shoot targets that were almost impossible to hit. In a word; boring. Add to that the fact that the already annoying Slippy Toad had, like, a five year old ‘actor’ voicing him (shut the FUCK up Slippy!!) and the title starts to look more and more like a scarred successor. Whilst that is a little unfair (it was, in fact,a very solid action game), the 64 bit iteration didn’t quite make it into the same league the SNES original.

I seem to have some Zelda in my Starfox.

Hmm… I seem to have some Zelda in my Starfox.

The next game in the Starfox series was Starfox Adventures on the Nintendo Gamecube. This was the last game made by Rare for Nintendo before they left for Microsoft and became absolutely redundant. But actually, Rare were already starting to become redundant before they even left Nintendo. Sure, they had made the amazing likes of 007Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Banjo Kazooie but their last game before Starfox Adventures was the underwhelming Jet Force Gemini. That was a game that looked great but had awkward controls and was boring to play. And so it was with Starfox Adventures too. Heck, the game wasn’t even supposed to be a Starfox title! It was originally developed as a new IP called Dinosaur Planet before Nintendo wrangled Rare into switching it over to the Starfox franchise. Hence, here we have a game that plays nothing like the first few titles and seemingly has nothing to do with the license save for a few grafted on character skins.  The gameplay itself was a mishmash of very typical Zelda tropes. Starfox Adventures took it’s place in line with a million other mediocre Ocarina of Time copycats. Simply put, it was soulless to play and an obvious indicator that Rare’s creative fire had all but been extinguished. It isn’t a game that anyone remembers when compiling a ‘best-on-Gamecube’ list and neither will it ever appear on a ‘best games that Rare made’ list. Despite being graphically stunning, it merely ended up as a poor man’s adventure game.

After Starfox Adventures, the series slipped further into despair with Starfox Assault, a lukewarm retread of the on-rails shooter formula and the pointless DS strategy game Starfox Command. A brief ray of sunshine was flashed momentarily by way of Starfox64 3D on the 3DS, which let us all briefly revisit the days when the Starfox brand actually meant something. Who knows what’s next for Fox McCloud, Peppy Hare, Falco Lambardi and Slippy Toad. Can Nintendo ever truly resurrect the franchise in a relevant way? My money’s on the “Slippy Toad Rendition” game, where we finally get to waterboard that motherfucker. I’d buy that for a dollar!

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: My personal top 5 gaming related moments of 2013

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas (it’s Christmas day as I write this, you see). While it could possibly be argued that 2013 was a disappointing year for gaming (too many sequels, too predictable), I nether-the-less had a lot of fun at home with my various forms of electronic entertainment. Here are my personal top five moments of gaming related joy this year…

#5: Jack Tretton mic bombs E3

Sure, it’s all said and done now. The consoles are out and Microsoft has totally reversed track on their whole online DRM nonsense. But if you step back to E3 2013, you might just be able to re-catch that excitement of a certain Mr. Tretton stepping out on stage and basically announcing; “Enough of this shit! Let’s just play some fucking games!” It was a moment in time that excited the blood and stirred the senses… Also to see Microsoft scrambling back over themselves in the wake of it was pretty hilarious.

For just a few seconds, he was the patron saint of gamers.

For just a few seconds, he became the patron saint of gamers.

#4: Metroid Madness!

Earlier this year, I had a very strong urge to revisit the world of Metroid. That urge soon turned into a full blown bout of obsession. Over the course of about a month I played through and finished; Metroid Fusion (twice), Metroid Zero Mission, Metroid Other M and Super Metroid. Along the way I discovered that Other M isn’t a complete dog of a game and Fusion is actually my favorite 2D entry in the franchise. If Nintendo ever get around to making another full Metroid game, the WiiU is as good as bought!

Apparently, Samus gives no quarter to the disabled.

Apparently, Samus gives no quarter to the disabled.

#3: Bioshock Infinite

I loved Bioshock Infinite. That came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I didn’t particularly love the original Bioshock. I thought it was a decent FPS adventure with oodles of atmosphere, but love it… Well, no. But I was in love almost as soon as I set foot in the world of Bioshock Infinite! With it’s floating cities, amusement park style visuals, alluring science fiction detailing and extreme violence, the title just blew me away. Even better, the game had awesomely fun combat mechanics as well as some memorable emotional peaks. I loved every second and ended up playing through the game twice.

Yes I would... Just sayin'.

Yes I would… Just sayin’.

#2: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

God bless PSPlus. After playing through the “Best Game Ever Made (c)” Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and finding it merely a solid game, my wont to play the insanely hyped third installment wasn’t particularly high. But in a moment of boredom, I decided to download the free 40GB digital version on PSPlus. Man am I glad I did because it rocked the shit! I felt that it was a far superior title to Uncharted 2 in every conceivable way… Oh, and it was better than the Last of Us too. The plot line, dialogue, combat mechanics, atmosphere, set-pieces, gameplay variety… It was all pretty much perfect. I was flipping out the whole time whilst playing! So much so, in fact, that I went back and replayed Uncharted 2. And whilst I did enjoy that game incrementally more than last time, it still didn’t come close to the thrills of Drake’s Deception. See… Sometimes (Michael Bay pay attention) a little restraint can work wonders!

Where's the trifle and cake?! Some desert this was!

Where’s the trifle and cake?! Some desert this is!

#1: Becoming a gaming ‘journalist’

Wow… How egotistical does that sound. It kind off makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little. Still, I don’t know how else to say it. This year I started this website (patronized by all of 10 people… and thank you for that, btw) and the (slightly) more successful Axehead Assembly podcast over on Epicbattleaxe.com. These endeavors have added a lot of work into my free-time, especially editing the podcast, but getting together with friends from around the world, chatting about games and entertaining people while I’m at it… That’s a very special thing indeed. And as ramshackle as my website is, I fucking love it. Which is why I’m writing this blog on Christmas day instead of playing Minecraft! So thank you if you’ve been part of either my website or podcast. Happy 2014 to you all!

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: GTA Movies

Have you ever thought that Grand Theft Auto would make a great movie if Hollywood ever decided to make one? Whether you do or don’t, there’s no doubt that the GTA movie has already been made about a trillion times already. From the likes of First Blood to Taxi Driver to Natural Born Killers, they all have a little bit of the GTA spirit in them… Or, to put it another way, GTA has always riped off the long history of crime movies blatantly and unashamedly. That said, let’s look at Tokyochuchu’s top 5 GTA-like movies.

5: TRUE ROMANCE

It was either this or Natural Born Killers to kick off this list. I chose True Romance simply because I like it more. Scripted by Quentin Tarantino, directed by the late Tony Scott, this sees two star crossed lovers (comic book geek Christian Slater and prostitute Patricia Arquette) get mixed up with drug dealers and gangsters in GTAV’s L.A. There are so many highlights in the movie, including a scintillating exchange between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, a crazy rastafied Gary Oldman, a condescension-hating brad Pitt and the mother of all hotel room gunfights.

TOP QUOTE: “I haven’t killed anyone… since 1984.”

Now I do it just to watch their fucking expression change.

“Now I do it just to watch their fucking expression change.” Gandolfini – R.I.P

4: DRIVE

The most recent film on this list, Drive sees a mysterious stuntman / gettaway driver fall in love… And then go on a murder-revenge rampage when his new squeeze is threatened by Jewish gangsters. That’s really in-eloquent language for an absurdly elegant movie. This is a flick that really manages to capture that Red Dead Redemption vibe of violence and catharsis. Plus the opening car ‘chase’ is pure GTAV; Pull into an allyway, switch off the lights and hope the police don’t spot you!

TOP QUOTE; “That is one fucking fine ass looking pussy mobile, motherfucker!”

Now THAT is a suspicious looking jacket.

Now THAT is a suspicious looking jacket.

3: SCARFACE

The most obvious GTA-inspiring movie, Scarface sees Al Pacino’s Cuban refugee Tony Montana work his way up the criminal ladder. From burger van chef to drug overlord, Montana’s rise is meteoric, violent and cool as hell. Of course, it then all goes to shit as paranoia and greed take their toll and Mr. Montana is inevitably left facing an entire South American army with only a certain ‘little friend’ for company. Classic in every sense of the word, DePalma’s comic book style gangster movie is a colorful GTA romp for the ages.

TOP QUOTE: “Say hello to my little friend!” so… fucking… obvious

Sadly his ladies were put off by his 'little friend' because it wasn't circumcised.

Sadly ladies were put off by his ‘little friend’ because it wasn’t circumcised.

2: HEAT

Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro come together in Micheal Mann’s masterpiece. And it’s a beautiful thing… Unlike Righteous Kill which was shit. Basically GTAV the movie, Heat sees DeNiro’s ultra-professional thief go head to head with Pacino’s relentless cop. Stocked full of fantastic performances, memorable quotes and action scenes to die for (which includes arguably the best shootout in movie history), Heat is a film that you simply cannot and should not miss.

TOP QUOTE: “There’s a flipside to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down?”

Rat-a-tat-tat that copper's a twat.

Rat-a-tat-tat that copper’s a twat.

1: FALLING DOWN

We all cut loose from time to time in GTA and go on a maniacal, city-wide rampage. Micheal Douglas’ deeply stressed everyman deals with some crippling depression in pretty much the same way. During his LA based rampage he shows some Latino homies who’s boss, shows a nazi facist who’s boss, show’s a aging golfer who’s boss, show’s a road construction crew who’s boss, shows an entire hamburger shop who’s boss, show’s a rude Asian shopkeeper who’s boss… Have you got it yet, you fucking liberals!? The white, conservative, working class American is the boss! Let’s face it, Micheal Douglas’ character in this movie is pretty much a button-downed Trevor from GTAV that lives in the city instead of the sticks. Whilst the film is on very shaky political ground, it is nether-the-less an excellent thrill ride of a movie with a mean streak of humor.

TOP QUOTE: “Yeah? Now you’re going to die in that funny little hat… How does that feel?”

You're about to get 'Burger Shot'

You’re about to get ‘Burger Shot’

So there you are. If you haven’t seen these movies (of course you have!) then head out to the nearest DVD store, ASAP.

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6th-Gen, Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Underrated games of this generation

So… Recently I wrote a blog about overrated games of this past generation. But in order to not be a total negative nelly (everything is shit / no reason to live… My family moto!), let’s redress the balance and look at the flipside of that coin (“What if you do got me boxed in?”). Here are five games that I feel are woefully underrated. Some of them were well reviewed but ultimately never got their dues and are now largely written out of gaming history, while others were just written off strait out of the gate. This much is certain, though; I had fun with each one of them!

#5: SONIC GENERATIONS

Kicking off with a relatively well received offering, Sonic Generations garnered a smattering of applause upon release but then was promptly forgotten about. NOOOO! People should shout of this game from the rooftops and speak of it in reverent, hushed tones. Sonic Generations perfectly captures the spirit of the older Sonic games, but infuses that spirit with a refined sprinkling of successful elements taken from later periods. In my opinion, Sonic Generations is the very best Sonic game to date and probably my favorite platform game of all time. The reason for this is that the action stages are designed perfectly… No… That doesn’t quite cut it. Every stage is absolutely fucking exceptional! They all feel very different from each other and each has it’s own little unique hooks to dig into you. I’ve played all the stages in the game over and over and over. They never get old! The challenge gates, whilst seeming like tacky time fillers at first glance, actually turn out to be a great addition for those who want to get really deep into game. Usually, I’m not the guy who plays every nook and cranny of this type of game, but I just couldn’t help myself with Sonic Generations. Getting all the red coins, achieving S rank on all stages and bosses, beating all the challenge gates… I was well and truly addicted. Basically speaking; I have nothing but love for this game! And the stereoscopic 3D mode is beyond phenomenal.

This in 3D is AWESOME!

This in 3D is AWESOME!

#4: ASSASSIN’S CREED REVELATIONS

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations always gets the short end of the stick. People often feel that this game was the point where the yearly cycle and over-familiar mechanics really corrupted the series. Two words; DEAD WRONG. Assassin’s Creed revelations is by far the best AC game available as of yet (ACIII isn’t fit to lick it’s boots). It refined the gameplay elements to near perfection, finally hitting the right notes in the main story missions by not pushing you down ultra-linear paths (unlike the previous games). Better still, the campaign was shorter than before, which negated over-repetition and brought more focus to the story. The story itself was much tighter, more coherent and better scripted than the prior games with far more impressive action sequences and set pieces. The only things that didn’t make the grade were the two new additions. The first person platforming levels were tedious to play and came off like a poor mans Portal whilst the tower defense mechanics seemed laughably simplistic. The great caveat to those was the fact that aside from the one tutorial mission where the tower defense was introduced, you didn’t have to play them ever again. They were very much off to the side and out of the way. That small bit of nonsense notwithstanding, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was a brilliant game, crammed to the rafters with great gameplay and eye-popping graphics.

Poor game? I call that Istanbullshit!

Poor game? I call that Istanbullshit!

#3: BULLETSTORM

Bulletstorm might well be unessential in the grand scheme of gaming, but man was it fun. It had great game-play, with the whole kill-with-skill thing not being nearly as intrusive as you might’ve thought. The game was well crafted and had great pacing. There were also some really impressive bosses, including a giant plant boss that seemed to have escaped directly out of a Metroid game (with old school weak-points! Yay!)! The foul-mouthed humor is bound to rub some people the wrong way, but I found it amusing enough. Yet… The game isn’t nearly as funny or as controversial as it thinks it is. In the end, when all it’s publicity grabbing distractions such as grotesque laughs or snicker inducing cusses have been dispensed with, Bulletstorm still stands tall because it’s core game-play is wired tighter than a virgin’s knickers… And nothing takes precedence over that.

This same thing happened to me when I went to the London Eye once.

This exact same thing happened to me when I went to the London Eye.

#2: YAKUZA – DEAD SOULS

“They keep calling me!” Dead Souls once again proves that the Yakuza series is one of the best and most underrated franchise’s in gaming. Sure, the game suffers the same niggles as it’s predecessors; generally antiquated mechanics, occasional camera issues and text boxes galore… But it also has their strengths; unique lovable characters, a hilarious sense of humor and a grand, epic plot powered by amazing cut-scenes. Yakuza: Dead Souls is a ton of fun. Killing zombies just never got old and I was always interested to see what kind of huge, crazy monster the game was going to throw at me next. For long time fans, the plot and dialogue shine excellently too. There are so many unforgettable scenes (if you don’t get a belly laugh out of Daigo’s reaction to Maijima’s blow-job request, then you must a zombie yourself!). That said, if you love Yakuza for it’s more open-world elements such as massage parlors and the like, you should know that the game pushes them further into the background. Getting in a round of karaoke is a bit more bothersome when you have to fight through an entire army of zombies to do so! All in all, Yakuza: Dead Souls is a fantastic game that will make you fall in love with the franchise all over again. Or for the first time… IF YOU GAVE THE SERIES A CHANCE YOU BASTARDS!!! *ahem*

Kill zombies than relax with a game of erotic ping-pong. Man I love Yakuza!

Kill zombies than relax with a game of erotic ping-pong. Man I love Yakuza!

#1: HARRY POTTER and THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART II

BLAM! Confringo, motherfucker! Expeliamas this, you cunt! Oh yeah, Harry Potter has come of age and is busting heads like the fuckin’ Terminator! Although it’s never going to win any awards for originality, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows part 2 was an engaging third person shooter that kept me entertained for it’s murder-happy duration. The difficulty and game length are both just about right, and there is also a good smattering of memorable set pieces along the way. I don’t know why people are so dismissive of this game. I found it to be a lot of fun (BOOM! Where’s your head, bitch?)… Even if you do have to spend ages magically unlocking small garden gates that you could easily kick off their hinges, or merely hop over. That bit of eye-rolling stupidity aside, this was a decent game.

Burn motherfucker! Burn, burn motherfucker!

Burn motherfucker! Buuuuuurn!

Bonus round: GAME OF THRONES

This is in the bonus section because I’m currently playing it and have yet to finish. The reviews weren’t good but I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan (who isn’t?) so I couldn’t resist despite my better judgement. I’m really glad I gave in to that urge because I’m having a blast with the title. The graphics are passable but outdated and the RPG combat system is actually pretty awful. But the story is excellent. The dialogue trees and general flow of the story is very reminiscent and respectful of the TV show. The dull combat is negated somewhat by how easy it is. This is a stress-free game that I can happily stick on after a hard day of work and unwind in. I’ve even fallen asleep playing it once or twice… And that’s a good thing. So yeah, Game of Thrones seems to be yet another underrated game that I’m enjoying more than I should.

Nap time! Game of Thrones time!

For relaxing nap time, Make it Game of Thrones time.

So there you go. Don’t throw yourself off the tower just yet, some games are actually quite good! And so, dear reader, I offer the floor to you. What games would make your underrated list? Sound off in the comments if you dare.

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6th-Gen, Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Overrated games of this generation

The Last of Us on PS3 got rave reviews. People are falling over themselves to lavish praise upon it. Hmmm… The story and characterizations are top notch for sure, but… No, no. I must reserve judgement fully as I haven’t finished the game yet. Although the endless ‘arenas’ and unbelievable surplus of ‘random’ ladders / chain-pulled garage doors aren’t really compelling me to do so. ANYWAY, here are the top five games of this last generation that everybody loved but me.

#5: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Kicking off with a double helping of Naughty Dog bashing (that sounds like masturbating to me), Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a very solid adventure game with stunning graphics. Lots of people seem to think that this is one of the best games of all time. I’m not one of them. Uncharted 2 was fun, but I did not think it to be exceptional. There were times in the game when I became frustrated. This frustration wasn’t born from the game’s difficulty but from it’s design. The seemingly endless hoards of enemies that frequently attack you feels quite like, well, a ‘hoard’ mode. It feels basic and tacky. The climbing also seems fairly rudimentary and limited when compared to something like Assassin’s Creed. I don’t mean to savage the game too much, though, as it does have some very strong elements. The script is decent and the acting is very strong. It makes for a compelling reason to finish the game, even when the gameplay isn’t pulling it’s weight. The graphics can sometimes dazzle and create truly special moments, such as climbing up high and catching the sight of a spectacular vista. In the end, I felt Uncharted was a solid game that was worth playing… But it didn’t meet my expectations for “The Best Game Ever”.

Can anyone say "uninspired combat"

Can anyone say “uninspired combat”

#4: The Unfinished Swan

The Unfinished swan had plenty of potential and after Journey, big things were expected of it. Unfortunately, The Unfinished swan is too pompous. It’s like a videogame art snob waving it’s arms around and crying “Look at me! I’m an artistic masterwork! I was made by trendy fucking beatniks that live in a new age condo in New York and drink nothing but wheatgrass shakes! ” Whilst it does get kudos for presenting an interesting idea and a nice visual aesthetic, it ultimately fails because it’s paint throwing gameplay is duller than dishwater. Do not be fooled. This is not a worthy successor to Journey.

Boring screenshot. Boring game.

Boring screenshot. Boring game.

#3: Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is a very disappointing game. I was looking forward to it because, despite the circle strafing helicopter BS, I really enjoyed Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The campaign mode in BF3 is pretty much worthless. It’s overly difficult and boring to play. The co-op features are also poor. It’s just a disguised version of a ‘hoard mode’, where waves of enemies relentlessly come at you… Very disappointing. The multiplayer is the main meat, though, and always has been with the Battlefield franchise. Basically speaking, I don’t like that either. The matches generally consist of players camping prone in bushes or hiding in shipping containers, but they can’t really be blamed for that… Nature of the beast, I suppose. Another annoyance is that a lot of the maps are very tight and don’t give you any breathing space (Metro / Seine Crossing). It’s a case of; spawn, die, spawn, die, spawn, die… Not so much ‘Battlefield’ as ‘Battleroom’ or ‘Battletunnel’ or ‘Battleshippingcrate’! Ultimately I find Battlefield 3 very frustrating to play. Occasionally a team will pull together or I’ll get on a hot streak and I’ll have a great, fun match. But that only happens about once every ten games. The rest of the time it becomes a tiresome slog and just isn’t fun. And why play a game if it isn’t fun?

How fucking generic can you get?!

How fucking generic can you get?!

#2: Fallout 3

For most people, Fallout 3 will be a wonderful experience. For me it was a title riddled with annoyances. The glitches and dreary post-apocalyptic world were not good openers for sure but… I mostly just couldn’t get my head around shooting at something like an FPS but never being able to hit it because of level stats. If you’re not supposed to use the FPS aiming system, why put it in the game? If physically aiming at a guy’s head with a sniper rifle counts for nothing, why bother giving us a scope? I know it’s an RPG and you’re supposed to use the VATS system, but the hybrid aspects of the game just totally killed it for me. Take my fucking head-shot candy away from me Bathesda?! Bastards!

NOOOOO! Don't tease me with this. It's a myth!!

NOOOOO! Don’t tease me with this. It’s a myth!!

#1: God of War III

Everyone loves God of War III. Everyone but me. Sure, the game looks beautiful and has a fairly interesting tale to tell, so I can partially understand why people rave about it. Unfortunately, the simplistic button mashing gameplay, ultra-linear environments and truly awful jumping mechanics are harder to lend praise to. Seriously… Those jumping mechanics. What. The. Fuck. I have done more effective jumping maneuvers while being pissed up on twelve pints of ale and dealing with a case of the shits from a rancid kebab. God of War III was a game that I just couldn’t muster much passion for and ultimately had no fun with. Despite an entire decade separating the two titles, I would still much rather play the original Soul Reaver than this inexplicably popular turd.

Kratos looks hard as nails. But he jumps like a poof.

Kratos looks hard as nails. But he jumps like a poof.

So… Now I have doubtless insulted your favorite game, why not come back at me and tell me what’s what. FLAMEBAIT AHOY!!

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128-Bit, 16-Bit, Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Metroid

As I am typing this, we’re deep inside the annual summer gaming drought of 2013. The last interesting current gen game I played was Bioshock Infinite. I’m now waiting patiently for The Last of Us to drop through the mail slot. In the interim, I have amused myself by going back and playing a whole bunch of the old Metroid titles. And I’ve had an absolute blast doing so. It’s been one of the most nostalgic and satisfying gaming periods of my entire life. I replayed and finished all five of the titles listed below within the space of about a month. Phew! Talk about going hardcore otaku. So… Let’s take a look back at Tokyochuchu’s “Top five Metroid games you MUST play“. But before we begin, I should warn of the odd *spoiler* dotted here and there (most notably in the ‘top Metroid moment’ sections).

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#5: METROID ZERO MISSION – As groundbreaking as the original NES title was, when you go back and play it now, it feels decidedly dated. You can’t shoot in eight directions, there’s no easy save system and it’s difficulty is beyond brutal. Thankfully, the Gameboy Advance remake Zero Mission righted all those wrongs. The game took the pinpoint perfect control interface of Metroid Fusion, the design philosophy of Super Metroid, the general layout of the original NES title and blended them together in a Metroid powershake of awesomeness. Zero Mission has just the right amount of exploration, power-ups and bosses. There are tons and tons of hidden collectibles to find and a lot of content that wasn’t in the NES original. One minor quibble people level at the game is that it’s too short and too easy. I personally don’t find either of those a problem. In fact, I’d say that makes Zero Mission the perfect entry in the franchise for beginners.

TOP METROID MOMENT: Motherbrain is ashes. You’ve escaped the exploding installation. Time to relax and watch the ending… What’s that?! Samus has been shot down! Stripped of her powers, sexy zero-suit Samus must use stealth to sneak into the enemy mothership, steal a fighter and escape the planet. This is the most difficult and most thrilling moment of Zero Mission. Sheer awesome sauce!

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#4: METROID OTHER M – Other M is a truly divisive title in the Metroid saga. I can totally see why. Other M has one of the worst opening hours that you could imagine as a Metroid fan. All the mechanics that we know and love are gone. In their place is a combat heavy battle game featuring ‘sensimove’ projectile dodging and close quarters finishing moves. Worse still, exploration is put on the back burner in favor of linear progression. Then there are the story elements; Samus whines like an immature teenager and acquiesces to a dominating general who refuses to let Samus use items (“This monster is going to eat me. Can I please use missiles, sir?” WTF?!). A lot of Metroid fans threw down their controllers in disgust, myself among them. I left Other M to gather dust and contempt until just recently. After finishing a couple of the other Metroid games, I decided to give Other M one last shot. I’m glad I did because it’s fantastic! The opening hour is still hard to swallow as it throws you in at the deep end. But everything improves. Once you acclimatize to the sensimove and 2D to 3D missile lock mechanics, they work extremely well and are fun to use. As you progress, areas steadily become re-unlocked and allow the traditional backtracking / hidden power-up hunting. Even the plot gets better; Samus mercifully stops acting like a petulant child and the tale evolves into a gripping yarn about cover-ups, betrayal and murder. You feel that at the end of Other M, Samus is not the same as when she started. And then there is the best part of the game… The bosses are freaking AWESOME! Seriously, Metroid is known for excellent bosses and Other M has some of the best encounters of the entire franchise. And they’re unpredictable, too. In most Metroid games, bosses are denoted in specific places or have creepy doors to their lairs. In Other M they could be anywhere. It certainly keeps you on edge and wondering what’s around the next corner. Wow… I’ve rambled on a lot about this game. In conclusion, be patient with Other M. It takes it’s time but it truly delivers the goods.

TOP METROID MOMENT: The bio-engineered creature Nightmare was one of the toughest and most memorable bosses from Metroid Fusion. He’s here in Other M too. The moment when his gravity drives kicks in to life and he drags himself out of the ceiling is a true “I’ve just creamed in my pants” moment for Metroid fans. And the fight that ensues… Perfect!

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#3: SUPER METROID – WHAAAT?! Super Metroid is not number one? What the hell? I can sympathize. Arguably the best game on the SNES, it redifined the action adventure genre (along with A Link to the Past, of course), not so much moving the goalposts as shifting them off the pitch entirely. Although the NES title started the franchise, Super Metroid will always be it’s true explosion point. The bosses, music, power-ups and zone designs were absolutely legendary, setting new standards all the way around. So… Why is it languishing at number 3? At the time, Super Metroid was perfect but these days it shows a little bit of rust around the edges. For example, the control layout has been refined since that time. The system employed in Fusion and Zero Mission just feels better. The weapon select system was annoying back then. It’s feels atrocious now (scrolling though weapon lists in the heat of battle – not fun). And the jumping mechanics can sometimes lead to frustration; The wall jump. Oh.. My.. God. GET THE FUCK UP THERE SAMUS!!!!!! *controller hits TV and breaks*

TOP METROID MOMENT: Not anything involving the fucking wall jump, that’s for sure. Does anyone remember Kraid from the original Metroid? He was a stout, fat little monster as short as Samus. He beefed up a bit for his comeback in Super Metroid. The moment when Kraid rises out of the ground to stand as high as a three story building is as intimidating as it is jaw-dropping. How on earth are you supposed to beat something that big? Finding the answer to that question was one of the best moments in videogame history.

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#2 METROID FUSION – As stated above, the control scheme in Metroid Fusion was refined to perfection. It was ridiculously intuitive. So too were the jumping mechanics and weapon selection systems. Fusion was a game that played fluidly, had beautiful graphics and felt fresh. There was a great sense of discovery within Metroid Fusion. It wasn’t simply a retread of the popular and lauded Super Metroid; It did it’s own thing whilst still staying true to it’s roots. New for this mission was a detailed plot-line. Told through text monologues and navigation-booth interactions, Fusion’s story was fun and intriguing (and a total dry run for Other M). It was also quite a dark and spooky game, with the trademark Metroid atmosphere being laid on thick and heavy. And the bosses! The likes of Nightmare, the SA-X and that bloody spider-thing-that-grabs-you will forever haunt my gaming memories. Whilst the title took some minor flack for being a bit more linear than previous games, I personally thought that Fusion had just the right amount of direction versus exploration. It was always super fun to revisit old areas with new power-ups to see what you could find. With great bosses, vibrant graphics, flawless controls and an interesting story, I think that Metroid Fusion marginally beat out the classic Super Metroid for the best 2D entry in the series.

TOP METROID MOMENT: Who says 2D games can’t be scary? Try being chased down an obstacle strewn corridor by the relentless SA-X. This indestructible dark doppelganger of Samus is terrifying! You can’t fight it, you can only run and hide (until you get the correct weapon to kick it’s ass with, at least). The mid game chase sequence is a heart pounding, pant filler of an experience. It’s the most difficult part of the game but also the most memorable.

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#1: METROID PRIME – Super Mario Bros had Super Mario 64. The Legend of Zelda had Ocarina of Time. Metroid had Prime; A game game that seamlessly transitioned from 2D to 3D, taking with it everything that made the franchise great. I really couldn’t imagine a more perfect 3D take on the Metroid universe than the one that Prime delivered. There are so many stunning moments in the game; the first sight of Samus rising out of her ship in glorious three dimensions, the first time you set foot in the snowy Phandrana Drifts, the thumping, nostalgic music that urges you through Magmoor Caverns (originally from Super Metroid) or how about the first time you set your eyes on the giant plant boss of the Chozo Ruins? Metroid Prime delights time after time. With minimal plot and maximum exploration, the game stays definitively true to it’s roots and it’s a sheer joy to traverse the world, sniffing out all the little nooks and crannies for hidden items. The graphics are crisp and clean, the level design is phenomenal, the bosses are mind-blowing and the challenge is just on the right side of brutal (the final boss is a fucking handful!). This is a game that ranks within my top three of all time and one of the only videogames compelling enough to coax a 100% completion rate out of me (I’m not a trophy whore kind of gamer). I also go back and play the game periodically, especially with the Wii version rocking the shit (this is one game where motion controls actually work better). And it’s amazing every single time!

TOP METROID MOMENT: You’ve gathered all the Chozo artifacts. It’s finally time to head down into the sealed chamber. Nothing can stop us now! That is, nothing save for Meta Ridley who blows up your only entryway. Prime’s showdown with Samus’s arch nemesis is teased a few times during the game and when it it finally comes, it’s a cracker! Ridley throws everything he has at Samus and it’s a damn tough fight to the finish. But it’s also unforgettably brilliant… I mean come on; he’s a robot dragon for god’s sake! How cool is that?!

So, there it is. I hope you enjoyed this list. It’s a shame that the Prime sequels failed to hit the same highs as the original (2 was too long winded and difficult, 3 was tired from the off), but I guess that’s the price of perfection; it’s kind of difficult to follow.

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