Monday, November 10, 2014

What I'm Playing, October '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.

Well my initial push to finish games is looking pretty good.

Special Recognition for Starting and Finishing:

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Xbox 360)

That took all of five days. It's not the 8-hour playtime that makes Revengeance feel short, it's the swift pull-up halfway through where the earlier multi-tiered levels give way to reused environments, redundant stealth encounters, and sorta insulting stage numbering (one short stage doesn't have a boss, then the next is just a boss, etc.). You basically get 3 full and 4 quarter-stages. Still, I love the action here - it's a Japanese assimilation of the stealth alternating counter-driven style of popular Western games like Arkham Asylum and Assassin's Creed. The weird pacing just makes higher difficulty replays awkward, with the shockingly early climax leaving little to challenge your skills on the back end.

This is the peak of the game's difficulty. It is the Stage 3 boss. In a 7-stage game.

Kid Klown in Crazy Chase (SNES)

This one was done for the already-published Platformer of the Month Club, enjoy.

Games Finished:

Bayonetta (Xbox 360)

Speaking of weird endgame pacing. Bayonetta becomes wildly indulgent in the final act, giving too much time to variety stages (both Space Harrier and Motorcycle Madness), redundant boss reduxes, and fake-out endings. The main thing I like about this game is the bread and butter combat, but for the last two to three hours there basically isn't any. It doesn't help that (at least in Normal mode) bosses are excruciatingly easy, but still tediously long. Recently I've been starting action games on hard mode because why fuck around, but Bayonetta sadly does not permit that and is far, far too easy for any but the most novice players (professional reviewers) on Normal.

In also hurts that the game is a bit churlish with rewarding performance, as the only thing holding me back from platinum level rankings was that I didn't seek out the hidden sub-stages and thus had a bunch of zeroes in my overall score. Here's a bit of personal philosophy: action games should not have hidden sub-stages. Ever. That is explicitly, shamefully bad design.

Bayonetta had some uniquely paced combat, getting almost turn-based with its reliance on time-slowing dodges, so I could see myself playing it again. Still, it's very sandboxy and I think you'd have to be an idiot to rank it with the good stuff like Ninja Gaiden Black and Double Dragon 2.

Crashmo (Nintendo 3DS eShop)

I kinda can't believe I beat this. Technically there are still 20 or so bonus stages to go, but I got the all-important credit roll so I'm happy to call it done. The thing that kept Crashmo alive late-game was the introduction of gigantic puzzles with dozens of pieces that allowed free-form solutions. They probably rank as much easier than the more rigid challenges (at least for me they were), but they were a lot more rewarding to play, allowing me to prove I had learned and could reapply the many specific techniques developed through the game's course.

Street Fighter 2010 (NES / 3DS VC)

Okay, the last level here was insane. Most stages in this game give you 120 seconds to kill one boss. With the same time limit, this level featured three reused (but now harder) bosses and two totally new ones. That's 20 seconds a boss, and these guys have strict patterns that only leave them vulnerable in certain windows. I really had no choice but to cheese it with save states. Oh well. Lotta good bosses here, you can see the Capcom house-style that permeates Mega Man X and Gargoyle's Quest as well.

Super Mario 64 (N64 / Wii VC)

I have a bit of an OCD problem with Super Mario 64. I am really uncomfortable with leaving stars behind, so I end up 100%ing every world before moving on, which leads to a lot of time wasted on levels I don't really like. Still, this game is goddamn genius no matter which way you slice. Level greats include Whomp's Fortress, Lava Lava Lake, Hazy Hazy Maze Cave, Dire Dire Docks, Pirate Bay's Cavern, and Tock Tock Clock. Anti-favorites include: Shifting Shifting Sand Land, Snowman Blowman Land, Tiny Tiny Big World, and Boo House.

The improved resolution Virtual Console port proves that SM64 still looks fantastic

God of War (PS2)

Even back when it was the second or third modern melee action game I'd ever played, I really did not care for God of War. It has these insanely unwelcome "adventure" parts that usually involve mandatory backtracking or puzzles, the camera angles are very annoying (namely because the movement controls are camera-relative), and the combat is soooo repetitive. Sure, it feels nice and squishy, but that only gets you so far after battle #1000 with the same three enemy types and the same two combos that always defeat them. The game sorta tries to find some identity by spreading battles across different arena types (moving floors, small platforms, tiers) but it makes annoying choices that tend to backfire.

Games Started:

The Evil Within (Xbox 360)

Check up on my chapterly coverage for which I am being paid by Capcom to make as many Resident Evil 4 comparisons as humanly possible. In my defense, I see every game through the lens of Resident Evil 4. Or Mega Man X or Ogre Battle 64, as genre applies.

Wave Race 64 (N64 / Wii VC)

The international Commune Podcast game du jour for November, Wave Race is heavy on the waves and light on the races. I enjoy the wave-handling mechanics a lot, it's just that the sparse course selection and 1v1 limitation pretty heavily restrict this as a multiplayer alternative. Compared to this, it's no surprise that the de facto party racer for the eternally ripe N64 has become Star Wars Episode I Racer.

One and Done:

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Just got this for the sake of it, it feels insanely well-polished - at least compared to the "budget" feel common to Dynasty Warrior games. I'll come back and play it for real sometime in the future.

The Firemen (SNES)

Another podcaster, this is a pretty easy top-down shooter that mixes in a little exploration and a timer. It's fun but it is hard to count it as a game-in-progress when the only thing holding me back from beating it is I just haven't played it a second time.

1 comment:

  1. god i was in such a bitter mood when i was writing about bayonetta