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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64-Bit, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Body Harvest

body1

Does anyone remember Body Harvest for the N64?

Body Harvest was a third person shooter before third person shooters really existed. It was also an open world game before open world games really existed. So, you could say that Body Harvest was something of a trailblazer in videogames. Yet it seems to be completely left out of conversations that relate to gaming innovation and inspiration. That’s unfair, don’t you think? Especially when DMA, the studio that made it, morphed into Rockstar and subsequently made the iconic Grand Theft Auto III.

Awkward aiming mechanics ahoy!

Awkward aiming mechanics ahoy!

Body Harvest was an unbelievably ambitious title for Nintendo’s 64-bit box. As well as bringing new-fangled third person shooter and open world mechanics to the table, the game also let you drive any vehicle you could see. These ranged from jeeps to tanks to airplanes to hovercrafts. That was a big deal back in the N64 days and nothing like it had ever really been seen before in a console game. Added to that were the game’s adventure elements. There were switches to be pulled, bridges to be lowered and random NPCs to talk to. If that wasn’t enough, the game featured a time-traveling plot that took you to a bunch of distinct locations in different time zones. Again… Unbelievably ambitious!

How much does the Body Harvest hero look like Samus from Metroid?

How much does the Body Harvest hero look like Samus from Metroid?

What was the biggest fault of the N64? Non CD soundtracks? Nope. The horrible C-buttons or tiny D-pad that made it impossible to play fighting games? guess again. The lack of a Metroid title? BINGO! The N64 had no outing for the orange suited heroine. Now… The main character from Body Harvest wears an orange power-suit. He comes down from space in a ship that lands on the planet just like Samus’s. He fights big goo spitting aliens and has an annoying ship’s computer telling him what to do. Smells like Metroid to me! It’s not, of course, but Body Harvest was the closest thing we ever got on the N64. Which is obviously awesome by default. *Metroid fanboy alert*

Tanks for the memory!

Tanks for the memory!

Now, all this ass kissing aside, Body Harvest also had a fair few problems. It had a pretty awkward control scheme, for example. You had to aim with R, move the targeting reticule with the stick and press Z to fire. That’s a bit of a handful in itself, but you also couldn’t move while firing. And it got much worse while in a vehicle. Another issue was the amount of “shield walls” in the game. These acted like the proverbial invisible walls, hindering progress and keeping areas out of reach. The only difference is that they were visible. Highly visible, in fact, glowing like bright blue beacons in the sky… And they were fucking EVERYWHERE. During the later stages of the game, I swear you couldn’t walk two feet without bumping into one. Man that irritated me so much back in the day!

Those bloody shield walls!

Those bloody shield walls!

Still, these annoyances aside, Body Harvest deserves it’s place in videogame history. Ahead of the curve in every sense, it was pretty much a dry run for GTAIII and a true trend setter. So it’s a real shame that it just won’t run right on N64 emulators. Not that I would ever stoop to such depraved and obviously illegal practices. Butter wouldn’t melt in the Chuchu’s mouth. Honest.

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16-Bit

Tokyochuchu on: Go Go Ackman

Does anyone remeber Go Go Ackman on the Super Famicom? Of course you don’t! But that’s not your fault because the game was never actually released outside of Japan.

That’s a real shame as Go! Go! Ackman is an absolutely fantastic 2D sidescrolling platformer. The plot revolves around the titular Ackman and his mini devil sidekick. Their job is to kill and collect souls. Hmmm… When you put it like that, it seems quite dark, doesn’t it. Like a proto Manhunt or something!

Of course, it’s not dark whatsoever and has a bright pallet with a twee art design. Basically, it has that trademark Japanese cuteness but without stepping it into overkill. Go! Go! Ackman also has a great sense of Japanese humor, with the bosses in particular being weird, chuckle-worthy creations

The gameplay, whilst not breaking any molds, is very solid indeed. The controls are very tight and easy to grasp. You start the game with only your fists and feet as weapons but as you go through the game you can pick up such items as a boomerang, a sword and a pistol. These items work the same way as in Mario and Sonic. If you get hit, you lose the power up. Go! Go! Ackman also includes a couple of vehicle  stages where you either drive a car, use a surfboard or fly a hover mech.

These stages have a constantly scrolling screen and usually require quicker reflexes than the other levels. The car levels are actually a little frustrating to be honest and require a touch of trial and error. But once you have acclimatised to the vehicle controls and the car’s mine-bouncing technique, they are quickly surpassed.

Ultimately, Go! Go! Ackman is an excellent platformer, stuffed to the brim with memorable bosses, colorful graphics, great music and Japanese charm. So, if you ever feel like playing an awesome platform game that most people in the western world have never heard of, emulate your way on down to Go! Go! Ackman land.

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32-Bit, gaming, Sega Saturn

Tokyochuchu on: Amok

 

Does anyone out there remember the 1996 Playstation, Saturn & PC title Amok? For those who remain blissfully unaware, Amok was a third-person mech shooter. Although mech shooters were two-a-penny in the mid nineties, Amok tried to stand out from the crowd by adding an amphibious element to the proceedings. When on land the mech would be in the standard AT-ST style but when in the water it would transform into a big submersible frog. This presumably made it easier to kill enemies as they’d be busy pissing themselves laughing at your ‘frog-mobile’ whilst you were getting missile lock.

The plot of Amok was the usual half baked crap. Something about a rebel fight against corrupt dictatorzzzzzzz… Basically speaking, Amok was a level-based arcade shooter which means no-one gave a tea-bagging nun about the plot, only caring about where the next sumbitch to be gibbed was hiding at. Objectives in the game followed the normal path of the day; ‘take out three shield generator pylons and then take out whatever they were shielding’ or; ‘escort this train from A to B and make sure it doesn’t get blown up’. Sometimes the game would shock you by stretching to; ‘make sure you blow up this train and it’s escorts’!!!

As you may have gathered from my tone, Amok was certainly not perfect. In fact it had a myriad of annoying flaws. Firstly, it suffered almost all of the graphical failings of the 32bit era; nasty pixelation of close-up objects, a poor draw distance masked by ‘fog’ and plenty of pop-up and fade-in. Add to that it’s crippling difficulty and a very short campaign and you’re probably left wondering why I’m even bringing up such an obvious gaming turd.

The reason Amok is remembered so fondly is down to it’s one saving grace; you could play the entire campaign in split-screen two player co-op. That might be commonplace now, but back in ’96 it was a real rarity. That changed Amok from something that I would’ve shelved very quickly into a nostalgically flawed title that I nether-the-less sank a shit-ton of hours into with my brother. God bless your crappy, unoriginal, graphically nauseating ass, Amok… We loved you in our own sick way!

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8-Bit, gaming, NES

Tokyochuchu on: Low G Man (NES)

Does anyone remember Low G Man for the NES? I won’t blame you if you don’t. Low G Man was never massively popular and the NES was flooded with it’s side-scrolling ilk. Low G Man, however, was a cut above most of the competition. The controls were tight and responsive and there were no glaringly stupid design choices. It even managed to scratch out small nuggets of originality from time to time. The ‘G’ in Low G Man obviously stands for Gravity, which equates to being able to jump really high in the game. We’re talking tower block height here people! As I mentioned before, the controls are responsive, so the height of your jump is easy to gauge. This mechanic certainly makes for some interesting and unique platforming later in the game.

That said, platforming definitely comes in second behind combat. Low G Man has a pistol that can be upgraded with a myriad of 8-bit power-ups. You’ll eventually have boomerangs, scroll weapons, power balls and even the good ol’ spreader at your disposable. More prominent than those, however, is Low G Man’s spear. When you attack an enemy with your default sissy-pistol, it merely freezes him. You then have to use your multi-directional spear to polish him off. Quite a lot of the bosses require the use of the spear, so expect a lot of projectile dodging, getting in close and stabbing away at break points.

Never willing to be outgunned, Low G Man can steal enemy vehicles such as walking mechs and flying cars (that drop bombs! Yay!). These are super fun to use and provide a brief reprieve from being murdered. Which is a fate you will be condemned to many times over. But whilst Low G Man is a difficult game and requires quick reflexes, it never feels impossible like a lot of old NES titles. The bosses are memorable, the music is great and the game bristles with timeless retro cool. In short, if you are looking for a great NES action game that isn’t Mega Man or Contra, Low G Man is sure to float your boat… And then sink it with a badass 8-bit explosion!

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