Archive for April, 2008

Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

I got a lot of time in with the original Street Fighter 2 game, but it had a couple of shortcomings. Like if you had two people playing, they couldn’t pick the same character, and the four boss characters weren’t playable. But now? All that’s changed!

Really, other than those couple of changes and a few minor technical changes that only the hardcorest of players would care about, this game is otherwise identical to the old title, just refined a little. I guess the older one was successful enough that Capcom didn’t want to mess with the formula too much. But they’d end up tweaking it some more and releasing a few more versions over the years.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

I guess to a neophyte the Final Fantasy series might be a little intimidating. Ridiculously convoluted storylines, lots of characters with obvious flaws, and sometimes obtuse battle mechanics might be difficult to grasp. So, what do you get if you take all of that out? You get something like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is kind of a ‘beginner’s RPG’. And what that means is that it’s got all of the features of a regular RPG pared down to its barest elements. They story? Something about saving the world, but without all the normal twists and turns. Party management? Only two characters in your party, max. Battles? Streamlined to the point where you can win most of the time by holding down the ‘A’ button to accept the default commands. Oh, and your partner is so powerful that you’re going to have to try real hard to lose.

Since I had the experience of a few Final Fantasy games under my belt, I fully expected that this game would be easy, and I was mostly right. You’re pretty much always told exactly where to go and what to do to proceed. The battling amounts to just holding down ‘A’ until you win, so you just kind of meander around the game taking in what passes for the story… Until you get to the end.

The last boss of the game, for some bizarre reason, is a lot tougher than anything else in the game. Duh, I know, it’s supposed to be. But this one was far and away tougher than anything else in the game, and a genuine challenge. I actually had some trouble beating him… but I did beat him. After that I found out that there’s a glitch(?) that allows you to cast Cure on him to do ludicrous damage and win without much effort. Which kind of seems anticlimactic… unless you just played through the game a second or third time and want to get right to the ending real quick.

Yeti Sports Seal Bounce

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The original Yeti Sports game was pretty dumb, but I guess some people liked it for some reason. Maybe it was because of the insipidly simple gameplay, because there wasn’t a whole lot of skill involved. But it was received well enough that it got some sequels, which added some wrinkles to the yeti-penguin relationship.

One of these is Seal Bounce, a little time-waster that has you, as the yeti, tossing penguins upward in a neverending vertical chasm. Along the walls are seals that will give a little boost if the penguin hits them, you have five chances to make the penguins go as high as you can, and your score is totaled at the end.

Seal Bounce

Since your yeti is on a moving ice-platform thing floating on water, your angle shifts constantly, couple that with the way he winds up to hurl the birds and you have a recipe for not being able to consistently do anything the same way two times in a row, so it pretty much boils down to luck, and playing a game like this long enough to get five lucky penguin tosses in a row didn’t really seem like a good use of my time.

Tetris DX

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I was actually an owner of a Game Gear for a time, but its battery life of about fifteen minutes made its viability as a portable system kind of suffer. But a few years later I felt that hendheld color video game consoles had made enough progress that I could give it another shot, so I picked up a Game Boy Color. And even though the Game Boy Color could play all of my classic Game Boy games, I still wanted to get something to bask in the more-than-four-shades-of-greenish-grey screen. So I picked up a version of the old standby, Tetris, incarnated as Tetris DX.

This game is really just the same as the pack-in Tetris game I got with my original gigantic Game Boy in ‘89, but with little splashes of color everywhere and some slightly tweaked gameplay mechanics.

But I guess, as the saying goes, it wasn’t broken, so there was nothing to fix. You can still play endless mode until your brain and fingers just can’t keep up, or you can play “B Mode” where the playfield is drastically shortened. Or, if you were lucky enough to know someone with a Game Boy Color and this game and had the forethought to bring your link cable along, then some head-to-head action could be had.

It’s weird, every few years a new system will come out and eventually there will be a version of Tetris for it. Then I’ll inevitably pick it up and realize that I haven’t played the game in quite some time, which will lead to me losing far too many hours to it until the next system comes along and I pick up its version of Tetris.

I do sometimes wonder, though, how many times Nintendo can sell me the same game.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

If this site is nothing else, it should be a lesson to not go to the rental store on a Friday or Saturday night right before they close. All of the good stuff will be gone, guaranteed, and you’ll be forced to play some dreck like Terminator 2.

I saw Terminator 2 the movie and liked it well enough. The Terminators gave off their vibe of being almost indestructible pretty well, so, of course I wanted to be one, or at least control one while he cut a swath of destruction across the landscape. So I picked up Terminator 2 and gave it a shot. It had you taking control of the Arnold Terminator and had to go do the stuff from the movie.

I guess the developers watched a different movie than I did, because this game is nothing like any movie that I’ve ever seen on purpose.

Terminators in the movie are nigh indestructible. The Arnold Terminator in this game is very destructible. Punches hurt him a lot. A robot, with super-strong metal bones, can be destroyed by being slapped around the face by what amounts to meaty clubs. It’s a little disappointing.

I rented this game exactly one time, and in the time I had it I could only stand to play it for one afternoon. I could get through the first part where you run to the right and large groups of identical guys come out of the woodwork and you gently massage them to death. It takes twenty or thirty hits from your super-powered robot fists to down some random guy in jeans and a tee shirt, which is far less than it takes for them to kill you. Seriously, if the robots go down this easy, then that impending war is going to be a piece of cake to win.

After a while, you’ll get to a boss. You can tell that he’s a boss because he’s real big, moves real fast, and you can’t kill him. I said that I played this game all afternoon, and that’s true. I played this game about a dozen times that day and each time I’d get to the boss, and each time he’d somehow manage to stay in a magical area where my punches couldn’t reach him, but his Terminator Disintegrator Fist Technique could hit me soundly every time. Which means that I couldn’t beat him, and that means that I couldn’t get past stage 1. Stage 1!

After that embarrassment I went outside and hit hamburgers with a baseball bat… for distance.

Helicopter Game

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The Helicopter Game is one of those silly little Flash games that makes the rounds every so often. This one’s really, really simple, though. You have a helicopter inexorably flying to the right through a cave of sorts. The cave is filled with obstacles, and you have to try to avoid hitting them. The only control you have is to make the heli go up (gravity makes it go down). As you go along you get points, and the goal is to get a high score. See? Simple!

helicopter game

The further you get in the cave, the more it constricts and the faster it throws obstacles at you. You only get one shot to make it, hit anything and it’s game over.

I played this game for roughly twenty minutes and then haven’t really thought about it again until today. So if you have twenty minutes that you don’t need anymore, you could do worse than playing this game.

You could do better, too.

Metal Storm

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Most of the games that I’ve played over the years seem to fall into one of three categories: they were extremely easy, they were extremely hard, or they were pretty easy until I got to the end where they ramped up in difficulty so sharply that they were nigh impossible. Unfortunately for me most of the ones that I would rent would fall into the third category. I’d stay up all night playing them, and make it to the end and then get stonewalled by the final boss fight.

Enter Metal Storm, a game that stars a robot that can (and must) change gravity to proceed. It’s kind of an interesting play mechanic, and really twists your brain a bit as you try and make sense of the levels, since they’re all essentially two-in-one.

So you run to the right, and occasionally up and down, to try and kill all the evil robots that stand between you and… um… you not destroying all the evil robots. If there’s a deeper story than that, then I don’t know what it is. It’s not like it matters anyway, your goal is pretty clear.

For the one night that I had this game I liked it a lot. Being able to change gravity up on the fly was pretty interesting, and I made some pretty good progress, but then I got to the end boss. I tried everything. Continuing lots of times, mostly. But I also resorted to my NES Advantage’s ’slow motion’ function and still couldn’t beat it. So, after several hours and a few hundred attempts I gave up.

I’d probably play through it again, but I guess I didn’t realize that it would be such a rare game to find. In the several years it’s been since I’ve played the thing, I have yet to see a copy of the game ‘in the wild’, so to speak. So I just haven’t had the chance.

Enemy Territory Quake Wars

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

I liked other games in the Quake series, even though I wasn’t very good at them. So when I found a game in the series that I hadn’t really heard all that much about on clearance at my local department store I snapped it up.

Turns out, though, that this game is a little different than the other games that I’d played. This one is a team-based shooting game. Basically, you take one of the sides from the games, the humans or the Stroggs, and compete in various maps to complete a series of objectives.

I played this game for a couple of hours, but I just don’t get in to this kind of game for three reasons: my aim’s not that good, I don’t want to play an objective-based game with people I don’t know and, I find that completing objectives makes my FPS overly complicated.

I guess I should pay more attention to the games I buy, even if they are cheaper than $10. But I’m a sucker for good graphics, and occasionally compelling box art. And it’s good to play games that I don’t like once in a while, partially to reinforce that I still don’t like them, but also to possibly play something good that I’d have otherwise passed up.


Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Every time I see a list of the ‘Top X underrated NES games’, Shatterhand invariably makes the list (and Nightshade doesn’t). I just can’t fathom why, unless these people are playing a different version of the game than I did, or if they’ve been hoodwinked somehow to believe that mediocrity is greatness. Because Shatterhand isn’t that good of a game.

Like a lot of NES games, the story in Shatterhand is largely immaterial. All you need to know is that you have a guy who has cybernetically-enhanced arms, making his superpower the ability to punch things real hard.


So you have to take your punchy little guy up against wave after wave of enemies that have projectile weaponry and/or a longer punching reach than you for some reason or another. Oh, and you can choose what order you want to tackle the stages in, Mega Man style!

One of the other things that the zealots will point to is the weird little mech that follows you around. See, throughout the stages you collect little icons with either an α or a β on them. Collect three of them and you get a little robot thing that hovers around you giving you a little bit of support, and a little complimentary projectile attack to your nearly impotent punches.

But, honestly, I stopped caring pretty much right away.

The game is hard, but that’s not usually a problem for me. Unless the difficulty comes from difficult controls or a particularly bizarre game play mechanic. This game suffers from the latter. Your little guy isn’t very maneuverable and he has to get right up in the face of the enemies and try to hit them with your understandably small punching radius. If you’re skilled enough you can have your little floating robot buddies live long enough to meet the bosses, but usually it ends up being you running impotently around the room while the boss leaps around like a maniac and lands just out of range of your Fists of Fury ™, whittling down your health and eventually making you swear off this game.

Pokémon Stadium

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Pokémon Blue was a pretty good game. I really liked playing through it, catching all of the monsters and formulating strategies. But I got kind of bored after a while. The crux of the game is battling your little monsters, and since I didn’t have any regular opponents (i.e. real life opponents) and didn’t really want to start the game over and lose all of my progress, I was pretty well stuck.

A while later, though, and all that changed.

Pokémon Stadium is a lot of things, but primarily it’s a pretty 3D interface to your generic pokémon battling. See, when you fight in the Game Boy game, you just get a static picture that might waggle around a little, but pretty much doesn’t do much. This game, though, has your hordes of monsters rendered in glorious 3D fighting it out. And as an added bonus, you get to transfer the team you’ve slaved over on your portable system to the 3D system. And you’ll have to do just that to get the full enjoyment out of this game.

The game throws several dozen scenarios at you to test your battling mettle, which is pretty nice… if you like that kind of thing. You have to have a special affinity for managing statistics and probabilities to really have much success at these battles. I only kind of do, so I only kind of had success at the battling. But it was an ever-present challenge, so that’s something.

The other thing you could do to break up the constant battling was a collection of minigames. Which are mostly kind of lame, but are a reasonable distraction for a while.

I liked this game a lot. I liked trying out my different combinations of monsters, and I really liked being able to use the enhanced organization features that this game offered (the organization feature of the Game Boy version was pretty much nonexistant). But, since you really needed to have the Game Boy version to get the full enjoyment out of it, I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t have played it.