6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Batman – Arkham City

Batman 3

Batman: Arkham City might well be the best video-game sequel ever made. It retains the core elements that made it’s prequel Arkham Asylum such a revelation, while expanding the series’ ambition exponentially. The open world works excellently in Arkham City. Better yet, the way the limitations of the it are actually written into the story is a stroke of genius. The world feels real and integral to the plot, rather than just a sandbox to swing around in. Likewise, the story’s flow works brilliantly, with each villain having their own reasons to exist within it. Nothing feels shoehorned in and everything just seems natural. Just like Arkham Asylum, this really feels like a genuine Batman adventure. The pacing also deserves a mention; the game peaks at all the right moments and ends in a suitably climatic fashion.

Batman takes a good, loooong look.

Batman considers bringing his ‘moterboat’ tactic into play.

Technically, the game looks beautiful and is (outside of Uncharted or The Last of Us) one of the best looking titles on PS3. The world drips with bleak, Gothic atmosphere and drops the jaw at many intervals. Snowy Gotham vistas and a romp through Penguin’s twisted, fortress-like museum are both phenomenal highlights. The game’s controls and level design are universally tight, rarely offering up problems, bugs or glitches (which is no mean feat in an open world game). The open world traversal is fun (who doesn’t like divebombing?) and the famous, fast paced combat is still top of it’s class (who doesn’t like kicking people in the nuts?).

Batman always did love a good game of 'peanuts".

Batman always did love a good game of ‘peanuts”.

Arkham City is pretty much a perfect sequel. Such a perfect sequel, in fact, that it’s hard to see how the series can maintain it’s momentum. How do you ever make a Batman game that can again move the goalposts so spectacularly? How do you ever make a Batman game where an open world would make as much sense? It’s going to take a magician to pull that one off, I think. So… Batman: Arkham City is a true, authentic Batman adventure, a masterclass on how to do a videogame sequel right and a really fun to game to boot.

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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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