32-Bit, gaming, Sega Saturn

Tokyochuchu on: Dragon Force

 

Does anyone remember Dragon Force on the Sega Saturn? If you’re lucky enough to do so, you’ll be remembering one of the best strategy RPG titles of it’s generation.

At the beginning of the game you get to pick one of seven nations to play as (after you finish the game, you can play as the bad-guys too). Each nation has it’s own storyline and it’s a lot of fun to see a bunch of different takes on the same plot. Speaking of plot, the main thrust of the story centers around the reawakening of a long dormant dark god and an antagonistic nation stirring the pot and starting wars on purpose. Despite it’s ‘rent-a-fantasy-plot’ lack of originality, it’s decently scripted and is told via amazing anime-style artwork.

The game starts you off with a couple of castles in your home nation and a core staff of loyal generals to do your bidding. Your task is to conquer the entire continent thus bringing peace by unification. The player sends their armies (each led by a general) to the surrounding castles on the map and does battle with it’s inhabitants. If you win, you get control of said castle and have a chance to convert the enemy leaders to your cause, lending another army to your overall force in the process.

The armies you send out can contain up to five generals. Each general can have up to 100 troops under his command (you start with only 10 troops but 10 more get awarded every time you win a battle with that general). This means that a full scale battle could have 1000 units duking it out, with a maximum of 202 sprites sharing the screen at the same time! That’s some impressive shit, let me tell you. The battles are relatively simple. You choose a formation and tactic (march, defend, flank…etc) and then just watch the resulting scuffle. There’s little interaction after the initial menus except to fire off your general’s special attack move (tornadoes / fireballs / insert generic JRPG move here) or to issue simple orders like retreat, separate or melee. If all 200 troops are killed before either general is defeated, the two generals then enter into a one-on-one sword duel to settle matters.

Dragon Force was and is a great game. Aside from the beginning (lack of troops) and the ending (dragons!) the game has very little in the way of challenge. Even the battles, as busy as they look, are extremely simple and not particularly exciting (in the best possible way).

What the game DOES have is a deep sense of relaxation. It’s one of those games that you can put on after work or before bed and totally unwind in. The graphics are beautiful, the soundtrack is phenomenal and the gameplay is so atmospheric and serene that you’ll be lucky not to fall asleep just glancing at it. And it’s somewhere in that relinquishing of stress that Dragon Force’s true beauty becomes apparent; it has sleepy catharsis stitched into every pixel.

So there you are; Dragon Force, the video game equivalent of popping sleeping pills (non suicide style).

 

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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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