Monday, September 29, 2014

What I'm Playing, June '14, July '14, August '14

at 6:00 PM
In this feature, we commemorate games I have for the first time started and finished in the last few highly variable time units.

Annnnnnd here's the big one. I completely failed to track all summer, so I'm just shoving em all in. I probably forgot a couple but there's almost no way for you to tell. We've got one more to go before we're back on schedule, and that's September, which'll be up later this week.

Special Recognition for Starting and Finishing:

Fatal Labyrinth (Sega Genesis / Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
A Genesis roguelike that cuts to the chase and is a great starting point for the genre, being fairly easy but suitably tactical and providing crutches like checkpoints every five floors.

Super Bonk 2 (Super Famicom, Japan only)
An okay platformer that doesn't utilize its ideas well and basically plays like a more linear Bonk - which is enjoyable enough for a run.

Shovel Knight (Nintendo 3DS)
Beat this largely to prove to myself that it was just as derivative and boring as suspected.

Games Finished:

Crimson Alliance (XBLA)
While easily categorized next to similar-looking hack-and-slashes and Gauntlet-riffs, the careful balance of the combat here and emphasis on defense make for better comparison to the handheld Castlevanias.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North (Xbox 360)
Very nice combo action game with solid if simple brawler enemy design and a satisfying balance between shooting and slashing.

Phantasy Star IV (Sega Genesis / Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
I've pretty much already said my piece on this game, it was everything an RPG should be and never felt like a waste of time.

Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360)
For a while this delivers all the (now easier) thrills its recycled RE4 mechanics promise, but the last act turns into a cover shooter that neither the developers nor the engine were able to manage (plus a constant AI partner as dumb as Sheva is catastrophically annoying).

Games Started:

Ys Book I & II (Turbo CD)
This is the kind of game that proves how much impact a soundtrack can convey - flat though the tale is on paper, it delivers an emotional punch just because Koshiro and Nagata's music is so gorgeous.

Dungeon Siege III (Xbox 360)
Nice tweener hack-and-slash with fun crowd combat that doesn't rely on loot or grind/questing.

bit Generations: SoundVoyager (GBA)
A simple all-audio game, this functions more as a statement on the potential of sound-only gameplay than it does as a uniquely compelling experience.

Lost Planet (Xbox 360)
The potential for monster-shooters remains high and an aspiration of Capcom's, but they missed the mark in this one that may as well be titled Space Invaders '06.

Dragon's Dogma (Xbox 360)
Very very junky combat that is technically incompetent and reliant on a brutally archaic game structure that overall makes a complete mockery of its premise of high action meets high role-playing, something accomplished perfectly well in, for instance, The Witcher 2. I don't normally go out of my way to dislike a game, but Dragon's Dogma is abysmal and the single worst conceived/executed professional game I have played in years. For every stroke of genius like Vanquish that makes me wish Japanese developers would spread their genre wings, there's a Dragon's Dogma to show some can't handle it.

Adventures of Lolo (NES)
Hey if Zelda takes too long to get around to block puzzles for you, this has got plenty, and they're tricky enough if you like that stuff.

Mega Man Xtreme 2 (GBC / 3DS VC)
A just okay adaptation of Mega Mans X2 and X3 that mostly falters due to the already bad level design of X3 and an ill-fitting appropriation of X4's Zero. 

Birds of Steel (Xbox 360)
Haven't played enough simulators to know where this lies on the spectrum but if this is what they're like then hey I'm on board because the game makes just doing turns and loops so satisfying.

Resident Evil 6 (Xbox 360)
This is the third terrible Capcom 360 game I played in this interval - it takes that atrocious last third of RE5 and just runs with it, making for one of the most unpleasant unwieldy shooters brains can imagine.

Vexx (GCN)
Though late to the Super Mario 64 party, Vexx provides nice open environments that take advantage of sixth generation hardware when most platformers had moved on to be whatever in the dumb hell Jak & Daxter & Ratchet & Clank are.

Vexx was suitably angry for the era at least
Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (SNES / Wii VC)
A surprisingly dynamic game that at least as far as I've played keeps things mixed up in the level arena even if the basic mechanics are a bit stuffy.

Charlie Murder (XBLA)
Pretty pointless and toothless action RPG in the form of a neo-beat-em-up, approaching zero gameplay to be found.

Wolfenstein: New Order (Xbox 360)
Your basic post-Half-Life 2 FPS with emphasis on run-and-gun rather than digging in, it's still surprisingly strategic and largely maintains the medium high standard the series is known for.

Nazo no Murasame Jou (NES / 3DS VC)
A version of Zelda where instead of all those stupid boring puzzles and mazes you get to fight crazy swarms of enemies.

Space Harrier 2 (Sega Genesis / Wii VC)
This is Greg L.'s favorite game ever and I am starting to get into it, even though I still find the mechanics of Space Harrier explicably hard to manage (see entry for 3D Space Harrier).

Legendary Axe II (Turbografx-16)
For side-scrolling action I actually like this better than Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts or Super Castlevania IV - it's more enemy focused than the former and faster than the latter, even if it's not as diverse as either.

It's the H.R. Giger reincarnation of the California Raisins!

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