new challenger

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

Monday, May 22, 2006

Games I'm Playing Right Now - Part 5

It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper one of these, and since the last I’ve played and beaten a couple of games, which as such don’t really qualify as games I’m playing, but I’ll include my thoughts on them nonetheless. I’m currently working on an article about a game I’m really, really, really obsessed with right now, and I may even post it one day. Until then, you’ll just have to make due with my cruel pontifications…

The Elder Scrolls IV – Oblivion (360)
I played Oblivion exclusively for about 80 hours before beating it. During those weeks I couldn’t imagine myself playing any other game. I would come home from work and play for hours a day, every day. And then I finished the critical path, turned the game off, and have never looked back. There’s quite a bit of work I left unfinished in the land of Cyrodiil; in fact, immediately after completing the main quest some woman came up to me and requested that I help her father who had gotten himself into some trouble of some sort. Or perhaps it was her brother, or husband. Either way, she’s still there, waiting in the world for me to return. She’ll probably wait forever. This probably says more about me than it does about the game. In truth, Oblivion is easily one of the best games yet released for the young Xbox 360 – but let’s face it, that isn’t saying much. I’m a goal-oriented type player, and I just saved the whole world, so I have little motivation to go help get some guy out of jail. Go figure.

Tomb Raider: Legend (360)
I had been looking forward to this game for quite some time, pretty much ever since I heard that Crystal Dynamics was helming the project. No, I’m not a Legacy of Kain buff, and I passed on Whiplash, as did the rest of the world. So why the anticipation? Well, in part I guess it was just the idea that someone else besides Core Design was going to get a shot at the project, and I figured they couldn’t screw the game up anymore than it had already been screwed up. And I was right. Tomb Raider: Legend is not great, but it is good. It plays a lot like a Prince of Persia clone that’s trying really hard not to feel like a Prince of Persia clone, and that’s okay – nothing wrong with stealing successful formulas. There is one issue I had that stood out above all other issues: Lara kills pretty wantonly, and that bugs me. In a game that’s seems to be about exploring and discovery, every time I had to pull out the firearms and get crazy on some thugs, my respect for the game lessened a bit. I know, at this point I must sound like some peace-sign waving hippie, with all my whining about violence. I won’t try to convince you otherwise, but I still think Lara would do better to spend more time puzzle-solving and less time busting caps. Oh yeah, and the motorcycle levels suck.

New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
This game, functionally, is a sequel to the original Super Mario Bros. I don’t get to fly in it, and the only “suit” I don is a blue shell that might possibly be the most useless power-up in the history of videogames. I spend most of my play time feeling either bored or bogged down by tedium. It’s not fun that keeps me playing it so much as it is the hope that eventually the game gets fun (I’m on World 6). New Super Mario Bros. has broken my heart. Yes I’m completely serious.

Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
I don’t even feel right giving my thoughts on this game. You see, I hate Mega Man, and I always have (well okay, I liked Mega Man 8 for the Saturn, but everyone likes that one). MM:PU didn’t change this feeling, although I do like the new style choices. I wish I could put a finger on it – my hate for the series – but I can’t seem to. I mean yes, I can easily identify some decisions that I question, like dying on a boss having to send you way far back in the level, but I think the biggest beef I have with the game is that when I’m playing, I constantly feel like the game is being unfair – Mega Man is not a game that roots for you. It exists, and if you conquer it, so be it. If you don’t, the game will still go on, oblivious as ever. I’m really torn on this, as Keiji Inafune has recently become my personal god (knocking David Blaine out of a spot he has occupied for years), but I guess even gods have their off days, on which they can only hold their breath for seven-odd minutes or so.

Capcom Classics Collection Remixed (PSP)
I may have mentioned this before, but my second favorite game mechanic of all time is the helper system. I define a helper system as any in-game assistance that once acquired, augments your abilities through reasonably autonomous means, usually taking care of obstacles without your direct involvement. You’ve all probably played a game or two with a helper system – Gradius, Secret of Mana, Half-Life 2, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and a score of other games all flirt with it. Even Ico had a helper system of sorts. Magic Sword is my all-time favorite game featuring a helper system, and its presence alone makes this collection worthwhile. There’s some other games on there that I’m sure a lot of people will be interested in, but yeah, Magic Sword – totally worth it.

The Pirates (PS2)
So there’s this Japanese publisher called D3, and they have a series of budget games (actually, they have a few budget series, but I only want to talk about this one) that they release every so often called the Simple 2000 games. In a nutshell, these original games are made quickly and cheaply, and are accordingly expected to be fairly low volume sellers. Most of the games appear to be heavily influenced by other popular games released by various publishers. Zombie vs. Ambulance, for instance, was inspired by Crazy Taxi. If a game does well enough, sometimes they get sequels; I’m playing one of those now, but I don’t want to talk about it just yet. Instead, I’ll tell you that The Pirates is a God of War clone (it’s got a bit of Devil May Cry in there too) where you, the player, take the role of a Pirate sailing the seas and looking for treasure. In the midst of these treasure hunts you jump onto other ships filled with zombies and ghosts, and you exterminate them. Half of the fun of playing The Pirates comes from the fact that it’s such an obvious God of War clone – while the game doesn’t play nearly as smoothly, you can almost feel the unabashed joy the developers had in spoofing it. Such freedom of development must be pretty liberating for them. Either that or they hate their jobs thoroughly.

Loco Roco (Demo, PSP)
It’s just not cool to like a game simply because it’s from Japan and you think Japan is mysterious and exotic and home to these crazy, quirky games. If you think it is cool, well, at least now you know that I don’t think it’s cool. Loco Roco is a game with a very interesting visual style that I don’t like playing very much, yet. I hope that changes, because I really want to like some of these damn games I buy for my PSP. When the Nintendo DS first launched, it was accompanied by a bunch of tech demos masquerading as games, and it took a while for the system to get to a place where it didn’t feel that it had to prove its worth with every release. And when that happened, a bunch of cool games got made. The PSP hasn’t gotten to that point yet. Every time I stumble upon a game that I think I can get behind, I lose interest. So yeah, Loco Roco just isn’t fun. It’s got this really blunt control interface (combinations of the L and R buttons) that ends up making me feel really detached and out of control. I like being in control, and it’s unlikely that much is going to change in terms of the interface they give you, so my relationship with the game will probably be strained at best – that’s a shame.

These are the only games that I remember well enough to comment on. I played a little bit of Driver: Parallel Lines, but only long enough to realize that I hate it, so hopefully no one is out there eagerly awaiting my thoughts on it. I’m debating doing an E3 GIPRN edition, but I only played like 5 games there, and one of them was Call of Juarez, which I probably shouldn’t comment on, for obvious reasons.

読んでいただきまして ありがとうございました.


  • At 8:25 PM, Blogger jchensor said…

    Aw man. There isn't anything I can probably say to convince you of this, but MegaMan: Powered Up is awesome. I can't stop playing, to be honest. Maybe the Stage Construction Mode is bringing out that "Wrecking Crew Lover" in me, but that thing alone has caused me many lost hours of sleep.

    But the game itself is also a lot of fun. A good amount of variety between using the different characters, varying difficulties so as not to be too frustrating if you don't like its brutality on the harder difficulties, various modes of play, and just overall a lot of fun.

    I want to say that you would think it's a fun game even if you haven't played a lot of Mega Man. I've heard stories of people who like the game a lot even having not played the original games. But I can't speak from personal experience. I loved Mega Man back in the day, and I think I've played Mega Man 1, 2, and 4 about 49268569543079856378 times total.

    And Mega Man 8 was fun, but dear lord that voice acting! So... awful...


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