Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Custom Robo Arena (DS)

Now we come to the first game that I didn't really enjoy.  Going into this game, I really was excited.  Pocket sized robots that are customizable and fun to use.  Battling each other in an arena?  How can that not be awesome?  I will explain why.

First, the story.  It is so convoluted and boring that it's not even worth mentioning.  In fact, here is all I will say about it.  It was dull.  So dull, I don't even remember most of it.  This story could have any character switched out and replaced by a robot and you wouldn't tell the difference.  The relationships between characters is ranging between "knows" and "doesn't know."

Secondly, the battles.  While the battle system is great, the combat is fluid, each part has a downside and a plus, and there is a lot to having a good setup.  The battling itself is boring because there is no progression between who you fight next...until very late in the game.  Every battle feels the same, in fact I used the same setup for the whole game and each battle (besides the last few battles) felt exactly the same.

Lastly, difficulty.  In the beginning, the game starts out decently.  A nice learning curve is established.  You learn what sets work against what robots.  How to avoid certain attacks, things like that.  At the end of the game, you have no advantages.  In fact, the entire last few bosses, they have more advantages than you and there is no way to counter them.  This is not good pacing.  If I am expected to get better, then don't have it be for the last three or four battles.  Work me up to that point.  Also, don't make the last boss near god-like.  Having weapons, abilities, and the like that I have no access to or have never seen before is not fair.

All this said, this game wasn't terrible.  I beat it, it can't be bad if I beat it.  It just had some basic development issues.  One last thing.  Cleaning my robot, IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE FUN.  Why is this a feature?  What were you thinking?  I know, DS touch screen needed to be used, let's put in this cleaning thing.  No.  Bad Nintendo.  Cleaning is not fun.  That's why I play games, so I don't have clean.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Contact (DS)

Now this game.  One of my first DS purchases.  In fact, one of my first Atlus games as well.  Not much to say about this game other than I loved it.  Everything about this game screams retro.  The style of battle was well thought out.

The battle system is what I will focus on here.  Basically your character has several jobs 6 (I don't count the default useless job).  You can pick your weapon.  Then to engage in battle, you just press a button to switch to battle mode.  If there are enemies on the screen, you pull out your weapon.  Just approach and profit.

The game starts out quite difficult (the first boss being difficult is not always fun) but it pays off in dividends.  Having you actually learn the basics before moving on means you don't get confused later.  The sticker system is useful but I never needed to use it.  My personal favorite job was Chef.  Because cooking was just so simple and fun.  You could try to make all sorts of different dishes and things.  Plus watching bosses die as you hit them with a Filet Knife was just awesome.

Was this a popular game?  No.  Should it have been?  Probably.  This game tried to do a lot of new things and nobody really paid attention to it.  I liked it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

For its time, this game may have been the greatest side-scrolling adventure.  It had it all, great soundtrack, great game mechanics, a story that was coherent, difficulty, and let's not forget...length.  This game takes me back.  When I first saw this game, my brother had borrowed it from a friend.  I watched him complete the game completely.  Every item, every enemy entry, and the whole map completed.

What really astounded me at the time was the music.  For a PS1 game, this was good.  Darn good.  I remember that there was one song that always stuck in my mind.  I forgot the area it was but that song was what drove me when I was playing so many other games in my life.  Now that I've had a chance to play and beat this game myself (on PSP), I have to say this game is still good.

The basics: You are Alucard.  You must stop Richter Belmont in Dracula's Castle.  Simply put the story doesn't sound much different that regular Castlevania games.  Dracula is involved somehow, you are in his castle, and things happen.  I won't spoil anything but the game does take twists.  You find out more about Alucard later in the game.  You learn the true intentions of the Belmont.  It's interesting.

Now here we come to the main part, How does this game play?  Great.  In fact, it still plays great.  This is one PS1 game that I can honestly say has aged very well.  The mechanics are solid.  The selection of abilities, weapons, and special things is good.  Some issues occur while trying to find various parts of the castle and I often got lost.  This isn't a bad thing though.  Often when you get lost you find an item or weapon that you really needed.  Backtracking is one thing that hasn't aged well though.  It's an old system to make the player go to a new place, find a new item, and then return to an old place to progress more.  For it's time backtracking wasn't bad.  But now, the system is stale.

I can't believe that this game is as old as it is.  I mean when I played it, I was truly surprised.  I felt bad for not trying to get a copy and playing it all those years ago.  I mean, I still paid for the download off of Playstation Network but I feel I should have paid more.  I wanted to show Konami just how much I enjoyed this by paying more.

See, I can get through this review with no mention of "miserable piles of secrets" or throwing a wine glass.  You can too.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pikmin 2 (GCN)

Green.  Smiling.  After having finished the first Pikmin game, I opened the box of this understanding what was to come.  A fun romp through a world which I don't get to see often.  For being a GameCube game, it was quite stunning graphically.  The water effects were great, the foliage and lighting were vivid, and the world just seemed so alive.  Of course, when you first start the game, you are not where I am talking about.  No, you are in a cold, scary place.

The story.  Simply put is heartwarming and upbeat.  I won't spoil anything for people that haven't played it but it is definitely not the draw of this game.  Unlike the previous game, this one does not have a time limit.  Something that I view as good.  I felt much less stressed and rushed this time around.

So let's get into the meat of this game.  This is a 3-D Real-Time Strategy game.  For those of you that don't know what that is, it's essentially amount to commanding an army.  In this case and army of carrot-like monsters called Pikmin.  Just like in the first game, the concept is simple.  Command you army of little monsters to defeat much larger beasts, grow your army, and find treasure.  Simple as that.  One addition to this game is the cave system.  You will often run into little holes in the ground that contain a series of maps that are challenging at times and often times themed.

These caves make up a good portion of the game.  In fact, there are numerous caves I have yet to beat completely.  The reason why is you need an army of the special type pikmin to do this.  Purple Brawlers are heavy and can lift more than other pikmin types.  White Poison are small and speedy.  They are resistant to toxins and are toxic to enemies.  In addition to all those features, white pikmin can also find buried treasure.

This brings up one of my negatives points about the game.  Just running through this game like I did, not farming any particular type...I wound up with only 17 white pikmin my whole play through.  Now this may not seem bad but you need every single one you can get.  Without these, you can't find buried treasure.  So why not farm them like normal colored ones (not mentioned: Red, Blue, Yellow)?  Simply because you can't.  You can only find the flowers that produce white and purple pikmin in caves.

The only other negative point I can make about the game is the randomness factor.  Often you could be running through a cave and run into an enemy that you just could not defeat...simply because you were not expecting it.  One such enemy that I ran into was actually a secret boss that only spawns under certain tight conditions.  This boss ended up spawning on top of my army.  Reducing my army from 100 blue to 23 in a matter of seconds.  I was thoroughly confused at this.

All in all, I loved my adventures with this game.  I often think about dusting off my copy and going to 100% completion.

So for the first review, I feel I should point out something.  I am not a writer.  I am nowhere near being a professional.  I do play lots of games though and I know what is and what isn't a good game mechanic.  I know I'm missing some things in this review (namely how sprays are awesome and leader switching is often a death sentence) but I feel I got what I wanted to get into it into it.

Now I feel it is only right that I should provide this nice little disclaimer here saying this is my OPINION.  I know many will say that I am wrong.  That's fine, if you feel I am, just say so.  Swearing at me and saying I have poor taste will not only make you look bad but it will make me feel bad because you had to resort to such a thing.  I'm a reasonable person, if you think I got something terribly wrong...I am capable of revisiting past reviews.

With all that said, thank you for reading.  I hope you look forward to the next review.  I have over 100 games on my list to review.  So this might take a while.