6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Sonic – Lost World (3DS)

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I love Sonic and I always have. I remember staring google eyed at the first game in my local game store when I was eleven years old. And so the love affair began. Sonic 1,2,3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, Sonic Advance… All great classic titles that fill me with joy and nostalgia.Of course, there have been some truly hideous Sonic titles sent out there too. Although it’s beloved by a certain contingent, I felt the rot got semi-started by Sonic Adventure 2 which was buggy and poorly made. And then it got worse; Sonic Heroes, the Sonic Rush series, the Sonic Advance sequels, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Unleashed and… Possibly the worst game OF ALL TIME, take a bow Sonic ’06. But the blue blur has bounced back in recent years. Sonic Colors pulled Sonic out of the crapper and games like Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, Sonic 4: Episode II and the sublime Sonic Generations re-cemented his position as king of the mascots.

This looks fun and it IS fun. Great demo... SHIT game.

This looks fun and it IS fun. Great demo… SHIT game.

And now we have Sonic: Lost World on 3DS. Which is… Unbelievably bad. The unfortunate (and recurring) trait of forcing in mechanics that don’t work or belong has been pushed into overdrive with this game. Sega has thrown everything and anything at the wall to see what sticks. Here’s a hint, Sega; NONE OF IT DOES! Infuriating design choices, limited actual ‘platforming’ levels (the kind that are unhindered by awful gimmicks), a crazy amount of trial and error… It’s just bad heaped upon bad. And it’s really unforgiving to boot. That’s such a shame because the demo was tons of fun. It was colorful with tight controls and interesting wall-hoping mechanics. Why can’t they just make a game like that without messing it up with all kinds of annoying shit? I sincerely hope that the WiiU version is better because this awful title represents a real stumbling block for the franchise. Basically; avoid this terrible 3DS ‘game’ at all costs!

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6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Yakuza 4

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Yukuza 4 is an excellent game from an excellent franchise. For those of you that don’t know, the Yakuza franchise picked up where the legendary Shenmue left off. Instead of a pussy shy schoolboy (Nozomi wants it, Ryo!), the series revolves around Kiryu Kazuma (a.k.a the Dragon of Dojiima). Kazuma is a total badass of the highest order, who’s always happy to squeeze in a quick round of breaking faces between a few holes of golf and an erotic massage. But this particular protagonist has a heart of gold. He fosters a young girl, runs an orphanage, helps to find lost cats and will even help strangers buy ornaments for their homes. What a diamond geezer… But for the love of sweet baby Jesus just don’t make him angry!

Tanimura here will SHIT himself when he sees the bill

Tanimura here will SHIT himself when he sees the bill. And what’s with the total skanks?

In Yakuza 4, the familiar free roaming RPG mechanics and real world locations return, as does the brutal / hilarious combat (smash peoples heads on the curb / brain them with a bicycle tire / take a full-on home run swing at their heads with a baseball bat). In fact… Not much at all has changed since the prior Yakuza 3. It is a bit disappointing to only have the old Kamarochou (the area is called Kabukichou in real life) as your only explorable location because Yakuza 3 also had a tasty, tropical Okinawan sprawl to cause mayhem in. That said, Yakuza 4 IS a better game than it’s predecessor. This is not so much due to the now re-instated hostess clubs (which were annoyingly edited out of the western translation of part 3), but due to the fantastic plot, which for the first time in the franchise’s history, weaves together the stories of four different playable characters (each with a unique fighting style).

The better you play ping pong, the more her robe falls open. Perverts rejoice!

The better you play ping pong, the more her robe falls open. Perverts rejoice!

Instead of just badass Kiryu Kazuma, part four also follows the prison escaping Saijiima, with his burly pro-wrestling style, bent copper Tannimura (as in corrupt, not gay) with his counter-attack heavy combos and the strangely generous money lender Akiyama with his machine-gun kick stylings. It’s a real pleasure to see the plot’s mysteries slowly unravel and the character’s disparate thread’s inevitably come together. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but jeez, I’ll just say: BEST END BOSS FIGHT EVER! With a great story, hilarious mini-games and deep fighting mechanics, Yakuza 4 is at turns funny, touching and totally bonkers. But it is always very, very entertaining. Now, for the love of god Sega… TRANSLATE YAKUZA 5 and KENZAN into English or the Chuchu will come to your house and shit in your mop bucket!

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128-Bit, gaming, Sega Dreamcast

Tokychuchu on: Shenmue

 

Does anyone remember the Dreamcast classic Shenmue? Of course you do! Shenmue is an unassailable and legendary videogame. But for those two people that never played it, Shenmue followed the story of young Ryo Hazuki and his quest to avenge the murder of his father. Ryo’s epic quest included such awe-inspiring tasks as asking people questions, feeding a cat, hanging around the local game arcade and working part-time at a forklift depot.

 

 

Hey… Who said the life of a hero always has to be glamorous? Ryo, of course, made up for his mundane existence by beating seven shades of shit out of anyone who looked at him funny. Two bullies annoying a kid by taking his soccer ball? BAM! Two broken noses! A bar full of burly sailors who dare to tease minors by serving them milk? Not on Ryo’s watch, motherfucker! BAM BAM BAM! Or how about 30 angry bikers outside their clubhouse? Not a problem for our Ryo, whose ass is so bad that you could go blind just looking at it. BAAAAM! Take that you big burly sailors and leather clad bikers!

 

When good ol’ homophobic Ryo isn’t busy demolishing a gay rights parade, you’ll actually find some deep emotion dwelling within this game. It’s full of truly poignant moments like his friend Fuk-san’s tear-jerking piggy-bank donation. Ryo’s scenes with his girlfriend Nozomi also ache with gentle catharsis, despite the fact that Ryo always treats her like an irritable asshole (something I get after a kebab). C’mon.. She’s gagging for it, Ryo! FOR GOD’S SAKE MAN!! All these touching moments are made far more amazing when you consider the voice acting of the English dub. It’s… fucking… awful. I think Ryo might actually be voiced by Microsoft Pendown (aka Stephen Hawkin).

 

Still, the plank-like acting aside, Shenmue is an awesome game. It’s QTE sections were the first of their kind and damn impressive. The plot was unique and made far more sense than modern day crapola like Heavy Rain. The fighting was a solid pastiche of Virtua Fighter and the graphics were absolutely phenomenal… So phenomenal, in fact, that the development of Shenmue pretty much bankrupted Sega. To break even on the title, every Dreamcast owner in the world would’ve had to have bought the game twice. They didn’t (bastards!) and creator Yu Suzuki was demoted from chief game designer to chief toilet cleaner. A sequel was made a few years later (the imaginatively titled Shenmue II) and was all kinds of awesome. Unfortunately, with the franchise still not recouping it’s monolithic cost and Sega pulling out of the console race, Shenmue was indefinitely shelved (leaving it’s plot agonizingly uncompleted).

Since then, the Yakuza series has taken up where Shenmue left off and has made a success of itself. But we’re all still wondering; will Shenmue III ever see the light of day? Most have given up hope but Sega have reportedly been thinking about releasing the two previous games as HD downloadable titles. If that’s true, then who knows? Maybe Ryo might just claw his way back from limbo hell yet.

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Great Gaming Gaffs

 

As the great AVGN would say; “What a shitload of fuck!” I am, of course, referring to the Xbox One. Everyone has been frothing at the mouth and having seizures over the calamitous reveal. Now… It’s not really my place to jump on the wagon of despair. After all, I don’t own an Xbox 360 and I’ve never even thought about picking up an Xbox One. But let’s face facts; Microsoft’s reveal hasn’t won me over. Or anyone else for that matter. Standardized DRM so you can’t lend games to your buddy? Bullshit. Always having to be online or your games don’t work? Bullshit. Partnering with E.A? Bullshit. Being able to watch TV and use a hands free remote as the console’s flagship cornerstone? BUUUULLSHIIIIT. But hey… Microsoft didn’t invent the handbook for stupid gaming ideas (though they are iterating on it), so let’s take a look back at Tokyochuchu’s top five gaming gaffs.

SONY AND THE OPEN DOOR POLICY FOR HACKERS

Having an online database for customer accounts, personal information and credit card details is one thing. Having almost no security for it is quite another. So, all of our PS3 information was duly stolen by hacker scum. Adding insult to injury, Sony didn’t make the hack public knowledge until sometime after it occurred.  That type of thing needs instant transparency! Luckily, the hackers were just assholes out for kicks and not hardened cyber-criminals. But we still went a good month or so with no online functions for PS3. Have you game companies learned your lesson now? DON’T FUCKING SKIMP ON CUSTOMER SECURITY!

THE FOUL MURDER OF SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Since 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog has been a star. He is Sega’s defining mascot and saw his name upheld with classic after classic in the 16 bit era. Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are bonafide gaming legends. As are Sonic CD and Sonic Adventure. But then Sega decided to severely put the brakes on the franchise. What was an excellent, simple game got pushed and cajoled into twisted, unrecognizable shapes. This led to such bastardizations as Sonic Rivals, Sonic the Fighters, Sonic Air Riders, Sonic R, Sonic Unleashed, Shadow the Hedgehog and worst of all… the truly unplayable Sonic ’06. That long decade of misery had the effect of taking a gaming icon as esteemed as Mario and wiping your ass with it. Sonic became a joke; a byword for laughably inept games. Even with the great recent turnaround of Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations and Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing, the franchise still hasn’t recovered from it’s awful stigma (and maybe it never will). So… Have you game companies learned your lesson yet? TREAT YOUR FUCKING IPs WITH CARE AND RESPECT!

ATARI AND THE GREAT 64 BIT LEAP

You had the 16bit Genesis and SNES rocking the shit back in the early nineties… But, hoah! What’s that? Atari with a 64bit machine? It can’t be true! And… It wasn’t. Two crappy 32 bit processors don’t make a 64bit machine, you morons. ‘Do the math’ their advertising slogan insisted. I did the math and traded in my SNES with 25 classic games for an Atari Jaguar with Aliens versus Predator and Atari Pinball. Big mistake. The console had three decent games. Doom, Aliens versus Predator and Tempest 2000 (the latter of which looked like a SNES title). Seriously… three good games. The rest were a bunch of 16bit ports or badly implemented crap (anyone remember Kasumi Ninja… OUCH!). Long story short, the Jaguar went down in flames and Atari pretty much went out of business. Have you game companies learned your lesson yet? DON’T SUCKER US WITH SHIT PRODUCTS OR YOUR COMPANY WILL GO DOWN IN FLAMES!

SEGA GOES DOWN IN FLAMES

This one should be very pertinent for Xbox watchers. Sega had a strong foothold in the 16bit era, even leading the competition in North America. But such shitty offerings as the Sega CD and 32X exposed both Sega’s lack of direction and disrespect for it’s loyal customers (neither the Sega CD or 32X were supported in a meaningful way). The following Sega Saturn had big technical problems too, being notoriously difficult to program for and ultimately failed. Sega’s last effort, The Dreamcast was a bit more of a return to form. Still, Sega couldn’t claw back the fans it lost by repeatedly corrupting it’s brand with inferior products. That combined with the company’s idiotic spending (the failed Neptune console cost them millions, as did Shenmue which could never have recouped it’s development cost even if it sold two copies for every machine) ultimately put Sega out of the hardware market. At which point they became a publisher and set about destroying their best loved franchise (see above). So, again… DON’T SUCKER US WITH SHIT PRODUCTS OR YOUR COMPANY WILL GO DOWN IN FLAMES!

E.T AND ATARI TRY TO DESTROY VIDEOGAMES

The Atari 2600. The ZX Spectrum. The Amstrad CPC464. The Commodore 64. These systems were easy to program for. Hell, you could get a magazine and input codes to make your own games on some of them. I myself programed a BMX game back in the day and I know nothing about game development. So… What does Joe Blogs coder do when he’s made a crappy game? He sells it, of course! With everyone and their dog making games (most of them shitty), the market was flooded by thousands of titles. Gamers couldn’t judge which games were good and which were bad. Everything was lost in a mad, confusing shuffle. Inundated with worthless titles, gamers simply turned off and stopped buying. The market crashed, the industry lost millions and companies started dropping like flies. This in turn invited Nintendo to cautiously dig itself out of the debris, holding quality assurance close to it’s heart (which is why the Nintendo seal of quality exists in the first place). Although it is perhaps unfair to lay blame at the foot of one title, the most iconic game of the crash was E.T. The game was legendarily bad and unbelievably overstocked. Another long story short; large quantities of  unsold copies were taken out and buried in the dessert! Have you game companies learned your lesson yet? DON’T SUCKER US WITH SHIT PRODUCTS OR YOUR COMPANY WILL GO DOWN IN FUCKING FLAMES!

So there you go. Take from this history lesson what you will. I hope you enjoyed reading!

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