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I make games. I also play them. I talk about both activities here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Games I'm Playing Right Now

I play a fair number of games. I hesitate to say I play "a lot" of games, because inevitably that opens the door for someone who really plays a lot of games to come and tell me so. Anyway, I'm working on a rather large article, and I thought to fill the time until I post it I'd give a quick rundown of the games that I am currently playing. My definition of currently playing means I would have had to actually played the game at least once in the last week. Whether or not I pick them up again depends on a lot of things.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX (PSP)
While I will always pledge allegiance to Street Fighter, as I imagine any fighting game fan who started playing them around the time I did probably does, I'm not particularly fond of the Alpha series. I used to be a fan of Street Fighter Alpha 2, but even now playing that game is somewhat laborous. The original Street Fighter Alpha was fun for about 1 day, until the novelty of chain combos wore off (ironically, chain combos propped up the entire Versus series for years, seemingly without complaint [although I hated those too]. Go figure.).

My biggest complaint with the PSP version of the game is its controls - it's just too hard to do anything. I can't even jump forward reliably. I guess I could use the gamepad thingie that Capcom's selling, but here's one thing they don't tell you - once you attach the little do-dad to your PSP, it's not meant to come off. Attempting to do so apparently seriously fucks your hardware. I don't think I'm willing to destroy an overpriced accessory like the PSP just yet, especially for a game that for me, it's average at best.

Anyway, I figure SFA3M will be a sufficient fighting fix until another Street Fighter I'm not particularly fond of is released

Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition (Ps2)
This is my 3rd attempt to play Devil May Cry 3. I've always been rather disgusted by the series, but I persevere because I know this game is loved by many, and I really do look forward to the times when I finally "get" whatever it is fans of things "get." I think Dante is an asshole, and I think he looks ridiculous; neither of these things helps my cause to complete this game. Then there is that aggravating initial difficulty when you first start out. I'm sorry fanboys, the first level really is unnecessarily hard, and I completely understand why many people turn away in disgust. There's also the distinct repetitiveness of the singular attack button, a feeling compounded by your limited moveset in the early goings - alternating between those two combos gets old fast. And don't get me started on the game's structure: cut scene, action, score splash screen, menu menu menu, cut scene, action, blah blah blah. I think I'd like the game a lot better if it stripped out any story elements whatsoever. They seem to get in the way of the true essence of the game, which is basically that of a skill challenge.

With all that said I'm actually liking the game more than I ever have before. I don't think I "get" it yet (if getting it means I will somehow like it better than God of War, because I don't), but I at least look forward to playing it, and that's a start.

The Rub Rabbits (NDS)
I'm something of a Sega fanboy. I guess there are degrees to this whole fanboy thing, because I don't love all things Sega does, but on a scale from 1-10 I'm probably at least a Level 8. I really loved the original Feel the Magic, and this sequel, which I've played all of one mission of, looks to be more of the wonderful same. I really dig the art style, and if I'm ever in need of a DS tech demo, well there are few games that fulfill the job so completely. Plus the whole thing is just so unapologetically weird that you just have to acknowledge the effort that went into it. Well, I guess you don't have to, but I like to.

Drill Dozer (GBA)
I was somewhat reluctant to buy this game, mostly because I've developed somewhat of a GBA bias recently. Although Nintendo insisted that the DS was not to be considered "The Next GameBoy" I can't help myself but to see it that way, and buying games for the GBA feels about as weird as I'd imagine buying a new Ps1 game to be. Nevertheless, this game seemed interesting, and so I bit the bullet. I have to say I'm glad I did. While you won't see a reinvention of the wheel in Drill Dozer, what you will find is a pretty solid action/platformer with a cool drill mechanic. Plus, there's just something about the 2d gameplay sensibility (that Eric really should write an article about) that just feels right.

One large complaint I have about the game is in its drill gear system. You see, your drill can operate at 3 different speeds - the higher the better - depending on how many gears your drill has equipped. You have to find the gears scattered about each level of the game. Once you find all 3 and you've got your drill feeling all nice and powerful, they take your gears away and you start the next level with only 1 gear. Why games do this just absolutely baffles me. You see, you actually feel really strong when you've got all 3 gears going. You kill enemies really well, and you can drill for much longer, allowing you to travel faster. Taking all of that away makes the game feel bad (well if not bad, at least not-as-good), and that's just bad design.

I still think the game is reasonably enjoyable, and I'll continue to play it, but damnit they were so close to having something really great.

Zombie vs. Ambulance (Ps2)
I've been looking forward to this game for a while. This game was described by its developers as a sort of Crazy Taxi with logic. Essentially, the game has been overrun by zombies, and you as the player take your ambulance around town picking up recently infected people and bringing them back to the hospital. For doing this, you're rewarded with upgrades to your ambulance, which allow you to travel faster and carry more people and such.

I really, really like zombie movies. There is something about the despair involved in being the last few normal people in a world overrun with monsters that's just too cool. It's a shame this feeling hasn't really been translated into games yet. Zombie vs. Ambulance seemed to hint at doing this - rescuing people and all that. It's a damn shame that this game is one of the ugliest, clunkiest, most un-fun games I've ever played. You basically drive around these really short streets in a car with controls right out of GTA. On occasion you'll see a group of zombies - run over those. On even rarer occasion you'll see a big blue circle with a pedestrian inside. Stop within the circle and the pedestrian will get in. Go back to the hospital and you'll be rewarded. Sometimes you'll unlock upgrades to your ambulance, sometimes you won't. Then it's back out onto the streets again to rinse, wash, and repeat. It's really, really bad, and that's a shame.

So that's what's on my docket as of late. Some of these games I'll beat, some I won't. Check some of them out, if you'd like; I recommend it (although I won't tell you which ones).

Thanks for reading.


  • At 1:16 PM, Blogger Maj said…

    Talking shit about SF2:HF in SoCal is bound to get you beat up sooner or later. I certainly wouldn't take that risk.

    Seriously though, HF is about as pure as Street Fighter gets. How can you hate on short short short FIERCE?

    - Maj

  • At 2:40 PM, Blogger omar kendall said…

    I'm 27 years old; I can't be worried that the kids on the playground might not like my opinion anymore. :-P

    Here's how I see it: Super Turbo is the best, and it's all anyone should play. Sound crazy? Well check this out:

    When VF1 came out, it was swanky and everyone loved it. When VF2 came out, it pretty much pwned VF1 in every way. So everyone who loved VF1 moved to VF2 and no one played VF1 anymore. VF3 came out also obliterated the VF2 scene. As VF3tb did with the VF3 scene. As VF4 did with the VF3tb scene. VF4Evo. VF4ft. See a pattern?

    This concept doesn't seem to play out in the SF community. It seems that no matter what, there is a very vocal minority who sticks around one particular iteration or the other just because. Don't get me wrong; HF is certainly the 2nd best SF2 game around, but why settle for 2nd best?

  • At 8:51 PM, Blogger Maj said…

    Heh, any day i get to play HF or ST counts as a good day. I'm not too picky there. Not a lot of people care about it either way anymore. You make some good points, but i think you are also oversimplifying things. Whether HF or ST is the best SF2 game is still up for debate, i think.

    Who are the dominant characters in HF? Guile, Ryu, Blanka.

    Who are the dominant characters in ST? Dhalsim, Vega, O.Sagat, Balrog.

    The character rankings in HF suit my tastes way better than those in ST. Who do you enjoy playing against more? I'd much rather have a disadvantage against Ryu than a disadvantage against Dhalsim. While you can say one game is better than the other in some areas, a lot of it still comes down to a matter of preference.

  • At 10:31 PM, Anonymous deadtrees said…

    There's also the distinct repetitiveness of the singular attack button...

    Two buttons. Three, if you're playing any style other than Trickster.

    a feeling compounded by your limited moveset in the early goings - alternating between those two combos gets old fast.

    Two combos? You might want to read the manual regarding the R1 button...if you're not holding it down during 99% of the attacks you make in DMC3, you're playing it horribly, horribly wrong.

  • At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Ioan Puscas said…

    I think you have DMC3 built all wrong.

    A) The descriptor you gave it (action, cutscene, menu, action etc.) is how 99.9% of all other action titles work.

    B) Read the file listings in the menu, they provide nice little video tutorials on how to perform all the game's 100 + free-form attacks and combo's.

    C) You have the Special Edition. Choose Gold-Infinite Continues and play the game on Easy_Auto OFF and there is absolutely no way you can still consider the game to be hard.

  • At 4:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just wanted to mention that taking the Capcom D-pad attachment off the PSP has no ill effects - I took mine off (I didn't really want to, but that's another story) and there after scraping what little residue it left on the PSP's Dpad, there is no evidence whatsoever that it was ever on in the first place.

    Unfortunatly, once it's off, it's off :(

  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger omar kendall said…

    To The DMC3 comments - Thanks for the replies. I understand you all like the game, and so do I. My comments are based purely on my personal reactions to the game, and the way the game is presented to me as a player. I'm not a reviewer, I'm just a guy giving his opinions. Devil May Cry is another one of those "industry" games that quite a few developers have in their collections. I've had the pleasure of both playing the game and seeing the game played in various group settings.

    People flail with it. They fumble with it. They die a lot in it. They don't have fun with it. They stop playing. That is a problem.

    As for the D-pad thing, well, I ended up modding my PSP (the whole punch method) and that seemed to help a lot.


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