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All reviews - Games (45)

Can be fun....But not a whole lot to do here.

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 22 November 2009 08:26 (A review of Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine)

With the success of the Cooking Mama series, one would imagine that it would have only been a matter of time before other cooking-related games sprung up. With Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine, an element of competition is added in to the concept of preparing dishes. While the game is fun to play for a little bit, a few flaws bog it down...And on top of that, there’s really not much to do here.

The concept of the game is simple: Make food quickly while trying to prepare them as perfectly as possible so that when the judges taste your cuisine, they vote you the winner over the other chef. The game does a pretty good job of capturing the feel of the television show, even including that Alton Brown fellow feeding your brain with interesting tidbits as you prepare dishes...Though, after you’ve heard the same tidbit five times, it does start to become a little more irritating than it is charming.

The gameplay is alright. Since it’s Iron Chef, you’re creating several dishes at once, which is neat and all...But it’s confusing. Instead of having an idea what you’re making like in Cooking Mama, generally, all you know is that you’re chopping up beef or slicing zucchini with no real knowledge of what dish you’re doing it for. So, rather than feel like you know what you’re doing, you feel more like a zombie, just simply doing the tasks the screen tells you to do. For the most part, the controls are pretty good. Sometimes the motion controls don’t work properly, and you’ll struggle to get a job done, but generally, the controls work fine.

There are two big flaws within the game, however. First is the difficulty...Or lack there of. There is only one difficulty level...And on that difficulty level, the only way you’ll lose is if you have a stroke while playing the game. There is an option for two-player mode, which can give you some challenge if you compete against a friend...But otherwise, this game lacks any challenge at all. Secondly, there isn’t much to do in the game. Once you’ve beaten the ‘story mode’ and done all of the recipes, you’re basically done...And it doesn’t take very long for that to happen. There is very little replay value here. Had the challenge of the game been bumped up a bit, maybe there’d be some replay value in doing a quick battle here and there...But since you’ll destroy the computer regardless, there’s really no reason to play the game again once you’re done.

Graphically, the game looks alright. However, it feels as if they really slacked off in the animation department. Most of the non-cooking-sequence animations are just still photos that change every few seconds...It’s sort of a head scratcher as to why it was done this way. It really makes the game’s presentation seem cheap from a visual standpoint. The audio makes up for this, however. The voice acting is very well done and really adds to the overall feel and personality of the game.

Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine is a decent attempt at simulating the television series...But one that ultimately falls short of being good. Diehard fans of the Cooking Mama games may find more enjoyment here, but everyone else will likely grow tired of the game pretty quickly. The superb voice acting and decent controls and gameplay can’t save the game from the fatal flaws of no difficulty and no replay value. There really isn’t much to do here, and when you’re done, you’re done. Maybe if they’d let this game simmer a bit more in development and added a few more flavorful features, it’d be better...But as it stands, this game is a boring dish that’ll have you wishing that you’d ordered what that guy at the table next to you had gotten instead.

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Fun in small doses

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 17 November 2009 11:23 (A review of Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad)

I’m one of those people that would much rather watch a cheesy, straight to video, low-budget B-movie than a multi-million dollar box office blockbuster...So, when I first heard of Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad, I smiled. I figured the gameplay wouldn’t be great, but the sound of the game’s plot and story made me think of those wonderful Troma films that have provided me hours of cheesy entertainment. In my eyes, as long as the action was passable and the story was as lame and cheesy as I was hoping for, I figured I’d enjoy my time spent with this game. So was this the cheese-fest I was hoping for? Well, yes and no.

When you first begin to play Onechanbara, you’ll have fun. Unfortunately, that fun you’ll have in the beginning will soon turn to boredom as you’ll quickly realize that you’ll basically be doing the exact same thing repeatedly. I guess the easiest way to describe this game is a longer, modern-day version of Final Fight with sex and gore tossed in. Like beat-em-ups of the past, this game is mostly just button-mashing hack and slash with very little strategy thrown in. It’s even got a special move that you can do that drains some of your health when you perform it just like you could find in most 16-bit brawlers...As well as a giant zombie that oddly resembles Andore, if you’d like to continue to compare the game to Final Fight. While this type of gameplay is fun, it just gets old after a while when things don’t really change up.

As far as moves go, you generally don’t need to use any attack other than your basic sword attack. However, there are little combos and such you can deliver in an attempt to get rid of the repetition. By pressing a certain button combination together, you’ll perform the energy-draining move I mentioned in the previous paragraph. This move can kill some zombies that your regular attacks won’t and it can also kill several zombies at a time. When you’re in a level with two characters, you can do tag team combo action by hitting the right trigger as you attack, allowing your partner to hop in and finish up the attack. There’s also a berzerk mode that appears when you’ve made a lot of blood flow, which makes you very powerful, but also consistently drains your health until you either die or find a holy statue to calm your rage. Another very notable combat feature is your swords. If your sword get covered in too much blood, it becomes dull, does less damage, and will sometimes get lodged in the enemy leaving you vulnerable to attack as you try and pull it out. To avoid this, you’ll need to wipe your blades clean whenever you have a breather...’Cause doing it while surrounded by zombies could result in them all lunging for you while your guard is down.

The enemies in this game are generally easy to beat. While some zombies carry weapons like chainsaws, meat cleavers, pipes, and guns that they’ll try to use against you, their aim is terrible and even with weapons in hand, the regular zombies aren’t much of a threat. The only time you have to worry about zombies with guns is when you see one with one like a shotgun since they don’t exactly need good aim to deal damage to you with that. There are other types of zombies in the game, like some made out of smoke and others out of mud, that pose more of a challenge to defeat...Like hitting the attack button in the exact right rhythm to score a good combo or performing a special move. But precise button input is rarely needed in this game and just mashing the attack button can get you through 95% of the game’s enemies. Most of the boss battles don’t really feel like boss battles...In fact, they almost feel as if you could just replace the boss with a mob of zombies since you can often use the same tactic of just mashing the attack button, moving around a little, then mashing the attack button again to bring them down.

Graphically, the game isn’t terrible but there are many, many other games on the Xbox 360 that look a whole lot better. Though, this can be forgiven a bit since it’s basically just a port of a Japanese 360 game released back in 2006. You’ll see lots of blood....Lots and lots of blood. You’ll also see pretty repetitive environments. While the stages aren’t really poorly made, you’ll find yourself seeing the same environment over and over again...The game tries to justify this by making it so that you revisit some of these levels as part of the story, but it’s just disappointing to be thrown back into levels you’ve already mowed your way through before. The audio follows in the repetitiveness as well as you’ll quickly grow tired of hearing the same sound effects over and over again. The background music isn’t anything special, either...In fact, upon writing this review, I had to turn the game back on and play through a few levels again because I couldn’t remember what the music sounded like. I just zoned it out after a while as I played.

Overall, I found Onechanbara’s story to be amusingly cheesy and stupid but the action is so repetitive that it’s sometimes difficult to feel motivated to grind through it to watch the story unfold. You’ll likely enjoy the mindless fun for a little while, but it’ll quickly grow old in the first fifteen minutes or so. However, if you do actually enjoy the repetitive nature of Bikini Samurai Squad’s gameplay, you’ll find some decent replay value with several unlockable extras to be found. I did enjoy my time with Onechanbara...in moderation. Picking up the game every now and then for a few minutes of mindless fun can be good times...Just don’t expect to plow through this game in one night and enjoy your time doing it. Onechanbara’s story definitely has that B-movie, so-bad-it’s-good quality...It’s just a shame that its gameplay doesn’t quite follow that trend otherwise this game would have been an absolute blast to play.

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Mikhael Gorbachev in a video game? I'm in.

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 5 November 2009 10:19 (A review of Gorby no Pipeline Daisakusen)

If you’ve ever played a game and thought to yourself, “You know what would make this game better? Mikhael Gorbachev.” Then Gorby no Pipeline Daisakusen is for you. Leave it to those crazy Japanese folk to decide that Mr. Gorbachev was a name that would push game sales. Granted, from what I’ve seen anyway, ‘Gorby’ only appears during the title screen...But the fact that he and the California-Raisin-looking birthmark atop his skull are even in the game still boggles my mind...But anyway, on with the review.

So, like you may have put together from the title, Gorby no Pipeline Daisakusen, this game involves you setting up the pipeline system of mother Russia...Tetris style. ‘Cause, you know, Tetris is Russian, so everything they build is done in a similar fashion to Tetris. Anyway, the goal is to connect the piping on one end of the screen to the piping on the other end of the screen. Depending on the level that you’re on, you may only need to connect one pipe to advance on, or you may need to connect several. This is done by dropping squares with bits of piping within them while trying to match everything up. And yes, like in most puzzle games, you can rotate the blocks in an attempt to make it fit the pipe that you’re trying to build.

There are also power-ups that will aid you (sometimes) along the way. If you see a jar of water in the place of a block, you can drop the jar where water is flowing out of a pipe and the screen will flood a little, moving all piping upward, allowing you to get a bigger score when you finish the current pipe that you’re working on....Or possibly sending you to an early ‘game over’ screen. Next is the drill, which can occasionally be nice, but I found it annoying more often than not. The drill will drill through an entire column of piping...And sometimes you may be forced to drill through piping that you’ve got all laid out, or accidentally do so. When this happens, you’ve got to repair the pipe and that’s just a pain waiting for the right pipe piece needed to repair it. Though, in all fairness, the drill has also gotten me out of trouble a few times, too. The last power-up is great; a single drop of water. If you drop it into the end of the pipe you’re building, where the water is flowing out, the drop splits into two drops and each one travels to the ends of the screen...This is like an instant pipe. It counts as a pipe being built and it clears the screen of most debris, hurling plenty of points into your score. The only disappointing thing about the water drops is when your pipe isn’t in a position where it can take it.

The game controls fairly well. For the most part, you’ll be able to get the pipe blocks where you want them to be. However, the game can get frustrating during those ‘tight fit’ moments. Unlike in Tetris where you have a brief moment after one block touches another to move it into position, in Gorby no Pipeline Daisakusen, when a pipe touches another pipe, it’s stuck for good. This had me thinking, “That was pretty cheap.” Several times...Until I realized that it’s not really cheap...I’ve just been spoiled by Tetris all these years. It makes you really plan out your placements during the game because taking a fraction of a second too long to think of where to put the piping could mean that you won’t be able to reach your destination before the block sticks to another one. I eventually accepted this and didn’t mind it so much...But folks used to Tetris may get frustrated when that occurs.

Graphically, the game looks pretty solid. Then again, it is a puzzle game, so there isn’t really a whole lot to see anyway. But everything on-screen looks pretty good. The audio is done well, and is based off of those ballets that the Russians are famous for...What ballet has to do with building a pipeline, I have no clue. But anyway, the audio is done very well and oddly enough, there’s something kind of neat about building pipes in a Tetris-like style while ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ plays in the background. There’s also a good variety of audio here – about ten songs, so you’ll likely never feel that the audio is getting repetitive. Overall, Gorby is a pretty delightful game cosmetically.

All in all, ‘Gorby’ is a fun game to play, especially if you’re a puzzle game fanatic. The game isn’t nearly as forgiving as most popular puzzle games like Tetris, Puyo Pop, or Columns, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. It is a game, however, that may take a little getting used to, if you’re used to those puzzle games mentioned above, before you really start to feel like you’re doing well. Gorby no Pipeline Daisakusen isn’t the best puzzle game I’ve ever played, but it’s inventive and enjoyable enough for it to be up there....Besides, you’d have to be a communist to hate a game that stars Mikhael Gorbachev.

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My happiness needs to be resurrected

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 3 November 2009 06:47 (A review of Dracula: The Resurrection)

Point-and-click adventures, some folks hate ‘em, some folks love ‘em, and other folks, like myself, don’t really have an overwhelming opinion about them. However, nearly all of the point-and-click adventures that I’ve enjoyed in the past are horror-based games...So, when I sat down and played Dracula: The Resurrection, I was hoping for the best. What I got wasn’t a complete disappointment, but it wasn’t something that I can honestly say that I enjoyed playing through.

The game’s story starts off decent enough with Jonathan Harker, the game’s hero, along with a few buddies, ambushing a group of Dracula’s minions transporting the Count (who is in a giant crate for some reason) somewhere. One of Harker’s friends, Quincey Morris, stabs Dracula through the crate and into his heart, but suffers a fatal blow afterward. While Dracula is distracted, Harker slits Dracula’s throat and as the king of all vampires struggles with this injury, the sun rises and he disappears. Sounds pretty awesome so far, eh? Well, that’s all the awesome you get...Well, unless you’re a pervert, due to the vampire ladies at the end with see-through tops...Which I’m positive is the only reason for the game’s ‘M’ rating, by the way. Anyway, from that point, you find out that Harker’s wife Minna was bitten by Dracula and that eventhough he believes that he killed the Count, he has an odd feeling that he may return to attempt to take her once again....Then we skip ahead seven years later, Minna has been summoned by Dracula, Jonathan follows her, and then we’re in the game, taking control of Mr. Harker.

The big problem with the story, like I briefly mentioned above, is that while the opening sequence looks like it may be setting the pace for an awesome story...The story just isn’t all that great. In fact, it’s very anti-climactic and when you reach the end, you’re hoping for at least some sort of confrontation between Harker and Dracula....But, you never get one. In fact, the ending is VERY lame. It’s very obvious that this game was created with a sequel in mind and the whole ending feels more like a trailer for the next game in the series rather than a congratulatory piece of entertainment for you to enjoy.

Puzzles are a big piece of most point-and-click adventure games, so to be considered a great game in this genre, you’ll need to have some interesting puzzles to solve. In Dracula: The Resurrection, there are a few clever puzzles that I enjoyed solving...However, other ones are just very poorly done...And others still are just plain obvious and boring. One I’ll use as an example as both enjoyable to solve, but also very poorly done, is the zodiac puzzle that you’ll solve in Dracula’s bedroom. It was kind of fun solving it...However, when I had to push the correct zodiac signs, that’s when the enjoyment came to an abrupt halt. The little pictures of the zodiac signs were so difficult to distinguish what was what, that while I had solved the puzzle in my mind already, I had to spend another five to ten minutes experimenting and trying to figure out what picture represented the ‘Leo’ zodiac sign, amongst the other two needed to finish the puzzle, ‘cause nothing looked like it resembled a lion. With how impressive the graphics are in this game, it’s hard for me to accept such poor drawings for these signs in the game. Also annoying, in regards to the puzzles, are the key items that you’ll need...Because they’re often just laying around somewhere. If you don’t fully explore an area, you may miss a key item that you need to advance on in the game...And there are so many shadows in the game, that even if you do fully explore an area, you still may miss an item...Like the slingshot, which blends into the ground a little too much to be seen unless you’re lucky enough to have rolled the cursor over it to see the icon change. Many of the puzzles also don’t make sense..why would I think to look at the chest I was just looking at after I grabbed a ball from a pedestal? Well, because by grabbing the ball, I unlocked the chest....Wait, what?

Another big problem in the game is the exploration itself. While the point-and-click method usually works well, there were several times in the game that it seemed like I had reached a dead-end because I couldn’t get the ‘move’ icon to appear on-screen...But if I moved the cursor slightly up or down, I’d get it. And a lot of these areas that trigger a different icon are WAY too small, while others seem to be way too big. Some consistency in the game with this would have been nice...That way I wouldn’t have been stuck in an area on multiple occasions when all I needed to do in order to advance on was to find that fraction-of-an-inch-sized trigger area that allowed me to either pick up an important item or head in the direction that I needed to go.

Now, while I’ve pretty much blasted the game, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any good here....Unfortunately, most of it is cosmetic. Graphically, the game is amazing for a Playstation One game. Granted, there isn’t much movement due to it being a point-and-click adventure, aside from cutscenes...But, in Dracula: The Resurrection, there is a nifty ability to look all around you, as the game warps the picture depending on the direction you choose to look, kind of making the illusion of the flat, 2D background being a sphere of sorts, surrounding every inch of your character. This is much nicer than the static, singular screens that I’m used to in these types of games. The animations of the characters, however are often very awkward-looking. The audio is somewhat nice, though. The ambient noises are pretty well done and do a decent job of setting the mood in each area...However, the voice-overs are often comically bad....But I suppose the poor voice-acting goes with the poor animations hand-in-hand.

In the end, Dracula: The Resurrection may entertain some folks, but it is definitely not going to satisfy the majority of people who play it. The game does have some redeeming aspects and it’s vaguely fun to play...But there are just too many flaws for me to recommend it to anyone. While it will take you roughly two hours max to beat the game when you know exactly what you’re doing, most folks will take considerably longer on their first playthrough due to the need to explore every area to find essential items...But many folks won’t have the patience to find this out. If you love point-and-click adventure games, then Dracula: The Resurrection is worth a glance...However, everyone else should probably stay away from this game. It had promise, but it ultimately fails to be a good experience...In fact, at times it feels like the game is sucking the life out of you. Hey, I guess the game succeeded in simulating a vampire experience afterall.

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The black sheep of the Splatterhouse series

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 14 October 2009 06:06 (A review of Splatterhouse: Naughty Graffiti)

When most people think of Splatterhouse, they think of the violence and blood and guts found on the Turbografx-16 and Sega Genesis consoles. However, oddly enough, possibly the best game in the series is one that a lot of folks have never heard of since it was released exclusively in Japan. This game is much more child-friendly than the others and was released for the Famicom system, but despite the lack of gore and having the worst graphics in the series (mainly due to being on an 8-bit console, of course) this game adds some platforming in with the hack ‘n’ slash gameplay to quite possibly make it the best Splatterhouse game ever made.

The game starts off like a lot of 8-bit games...A girl has been abducted (your girlfriend) and you set out on an adventure to save her. That’s really the whole story here. Not a lot there, but not a lot is really needed, either...This game is all about the action. Using your machete, and occasionally a shotgun, you’ll be destroying any and all enemies that get in your way through various settings while often having to rely on some platforming skills to navigate through a level unscathed. As you defeat enemies, you’ll notice that a counter in the upper left corner will start moving. It starts out at 0/10...After you defeat one enemy, it becomes 1/10, and so on. Once you defeat ten enemies, you’ll hear a tone and a bar will be added to your overall health. Eventually, you’ll need to defeat more enemies than just ten to add another bar to your health...So, it’s kind of like a leveling-up system...The more enemies you kill, the stronger you become. It gives you a reason to actually hack your way through the enemies rather than just jump over or avoid them to reach the end of the level quicker.

The difficulty in Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is perfect. It can be very difficult in some places, but not so difficult that you can’t overcome it after a few attempts. Some areas seem overwhelmingly hard at first...But after a couple attempts, you’ll find yourself making through those same areas with relative ease. It’s never so easy that you get bored, and never too difficult that you just feel like quitting. It’s not a very long game, but it does have a password system, so if you do happen to get stuck on a level, you won’t have to play through the whole game just to get back to the area you had problems with.

If I had to complain about something in Wanpaku Graffiti, it’d be the length of the game. Even with having to continue a few times, it only took me roughly an hour to reach the end. While it can also be argued that the length helped prevent it from getting repetitive, with the password system and all included in, I guess I was expecting a much longer experience than what I got. The other gripe that I’ll toss out there is how cheap some of the enemies can be...I’ll use the werewolf boss fight as a prime example. When you get hit in Wanpaku Graffiti, you’ll get knocked back...Well, if you get knocked back at certain times against the werewolf, who likes to hop over you, you could get stuck in an unavoidable juggle just because you got knocked back and then he lands on you just as you regain your balance, then get knocked back and landed on again...And the pattern will continue until he randomly decides to not jump over you again. While the cheap stuff like this doesn’t happen very often, it does happen...And it does feel very, very cheap.

While I said that this game was graphically inferior to the other games in the series, it’s actually pretty nice for an ‘89 Famicom game. Every enemy looks completely unique, and most parts of the game look a bit different from one another. Everything is very simple, but also very easy on the eyes. The audio is about the same. Also, while it’s not technically ‘graphics’, much of the text in the game is in English, making it a prime candidate for a possible future release on Wii’s Virtual Console down the road here in North America. The audio tracks really fit the game well. They’re not masterpieces, but the do a very good job of complimenting the game and making the overall package seem that much more of an enjoyable experience.

Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is another one of those games that you’ll play and wonder why it was never released anywhere but Japan. With a nice blend of platforming and hack ‘n’ slash, this game could be a great undiscovered treasure for a lot of gamers that don’t reside in the Land of the Rising Sun. Despite some cheap deaths and occasional, overcome-able-with-practice difficulty issues, this is a fantastic game to import if you’re looking for some fun platforming that doesn’t involve an overweight plumber. With minimal gore and a focus on platforming, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is much different than its 16-bit big brothers...Then again, that may be precisely why it may be the best game in the series as well.

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There's never been anything like it

Posted : 10 years, 6 months ago on 12 September 2009 03:12 (A review of Noby Noby Boy)

Noby Noby Boy is a pretty hard game to review...Afterall, it doesn’t really have any challenge to it. There are no enemies or obstacles. All you do is stretch your character out...And that’s that. While this seems like it would be an absolute bore-fest, this charming creation of Keita Takahashi (who also created Katamari Damacy) has managed to make it a fun and worthwhile bargain-priced title.

The premise of Noby Noby Boy is that you are a character named ‘Boy’ and you can stretch. You need to stretch and then report to ‘Sun’ who then will use your stretchiness to help ‘Girl’ reach every planet in the solar system so that everyone can be connected and be happy with one another. So, that’s it. All you have to do is stretch enough and Girl will make it to each of the planets. The stretching mechanic itself is mildly amusing. Boy has four legs; two up front and two on his rear. Using the left analog pad for his front half and the right analog pad for his rear, you’ll have Boy’s two ends walk in separate directions in order to stretch. This is fun for a little bit, and all that’s really required in the game, but it grows old rather quickly.

Most of the fun in Noby Noby Boy lies within just goofing around. While the main goal is to stretch, Boy is also able to lift stuff, eat, and jump (or fly if you hit the jump button repeatedly). Just experimenting to see what you can do can easily amuse you for hours. Add the fact that every level is randomly generated, and you’re guaranteed to not have the same experience each time. One level may contain a windmill that you decide to try and get Boy knotted up in, the next may just be a forested area loaded with animals, the one after that may even contain a certain Prince along with a bundle of katamaris...

The neatest feature in the game, however, may be the massive amount of world-wide teamwork required to unlock things in Noby Noby Boy. Whenever you stretch Boy and report to Sun, you’re uploading the amount of stretching that you’ve done and adding it to the amount of stretching that everyone else around the world has done. As this combined total expands, everyone who owns the game gets closer and closer to the next planet and the next unlockable area. It’s a global team effort and everyone gets the spoils at the same time. It’s a very interesting and neat idea that really goes beyond the traditional view of ‘teamwork’ in video games.

As far as graphics go, if you’ve played the Katamari series, you know what to expect here. It’s the same visual style of very simplistic, colorful graphics. These graphics are just as charming in Noby Noby Boy as they were in Katamari Damacy a few years back and they work perfectly with the mood set in Noby Noby Boy. The music is just as charming. The melodies you’ll hear as you play are almost soothing, really making this a nice game to play when all you want to do is just sit back and relax.

Noby Noby Boy is an extremely unique game...It’s really unlike anything that anyone has played before. It’s by no means perfect, but for the five dollar price tag, it’s a very worthy download for any Playstation 3 owner. It may not have a challenge to it; in fact, you can’t even be bad at it, but it still manages to be fun. In Noby Noby Boy, there are no obstacles to overcome and no enemies to avoid; there’s absolutely nothing to challenge you in this game but your imagination...And that’s all the challenge you’ll need.

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Starts out strong, but loses steam fast

Posted : 10 years, 6 months ago on 11 September 2009 05:13 (A review of Prototype)

Every now and again, I find myself playing a game where my first thoughts are, “This game is pretty awesome.” Sometimes, those thoughts never leave...And other times, like while I played Prototype, those thoughts slowly fade away. I still feel that the first moments of Prototype that I played were very enjoyable...I just wish those feeling stayed with me the entire time I spent with the game.

The story is somewhat simple. You’ve lost your memory and you’re loaded with super-human powers, including the ability to shape-shift, and you have no clue why you have them or why the military is trying to kill you. You spend the game trying to regain your memories and figure out why you became ‘cursed’ with these pretty nifty and useful abilities...and the need to murder and maim. Overall, I found this story to be pretty boring; it had no depth to it and it really didn’t drive me to keep playing at all.

The gameplay is awesome at first. You’ll have fun using your abilities to destroy things and just plain cause carnage. But after a while, you may find yourself asking when the missions are gonna change things up a bit. Pretty much every mission just contains you doing the same thing. There are slight differences, like slightly different goals, or one may ask you to steal a tank...But they’re all the same: kill people, blow stuff up, get bored after doing missions that are way too similar to each other. Yeah, you can purchase new abilities as you advance in the game, but none of them really change things up much. Since the story isn’t something that’ll drive you to play, either, sometimes it almost feels like a chore to just to try and finish the game.

Prototype also boasts that the game is within an open world...And while it’s true that between missions, you’re free to explore, there’s not really anything to do aside from that. There are orbs to find and collect and mini-games where you can earn medals based on performance...But none of them are really anything special. On top of that, this open world really isn’t that fun to navigate in...You’ll probably have a lot of fun at first as you climb buildings and just explore with your abilities, but just like the combat and missions, it gets old pretty quick. The world feels dead. It’s not like a Grand Theft Auto city where each citizen has their own personality to help make the city feel alive. In Prototype, the citizens just feel like an interactive part of the background, making it very, very dull. The open world could have been the saving grace for Prototype, something to keep you playing the game when you got bored from the repetitive missions...But, unfortunately, it’s not.

There are prettier games out there, but Prototype is no slouch in the graphics department, either. Most of the game looks pretty nifty on the ol’ high-def television. My only real problem isn’t the actual graphics, but the art design. I understand that they tried to replicate New York a bit...But I’m sure it’d be do-able to make parts of the city look different from other parts. The only real different area is the park...Every other part of the city looks pretty much alike. It’s boring. Audio-wise, it’s a toss-up. The music, while it generally fits the situation, kind of sounds generic and bland. The voice acting is pretty good, however. Whenever you watch a cut scene, you likely won’t be wondering how the voice actors got their jobs.

Overall, Prototype is a game that starts off very strong...But fails to vary things enough to keep that momentum going until the end. It is a fun game and well worth playing if you’re a fan of repetitive brawlers...But most folks will likely grow bored of doing the same thing over and over by the end of the game. The open-world isn’t fun to navigate in, the missions eventually become tedious, and the story leaves much to be desired. However, the game starts out so fun that even at its most tedious, it’s still a passable game. Just be prepared to get frustrated when you realize that most of the missions you’re doing are essentially the exact same thing.

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This Rygar is way below par

Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 23 August 2009 04:29 (A review of Rygar: The Battle of Argus)

I, personally, enjoyed the original Playstation 2 version of Rygar. It had its flaws, but it was fun for its time. Since then, however, games like God of War have hit store shelves and really evolved the gameplay found in the original Rygar into something truly great. When I heard that Tecmo was porting the PS2 Rygar to the Wii, I thought we’d see some vast improvements in the design so that the reception of the game wasn’t as mixed as it was when it was released on the PS2. Well, the reception isn’t quite as mixed this time...Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing.

Rygar: The Battle of Argus is almost an exact port of the PS2 version of Rygar...Meaning that the outdated gameplay of the 2002 game is unchanged. That could be looked passed...But add in the awkward Wii controls and lame motion-sensor poop just slapped in there so they could say it takes advantage of the motion sensor capabilities, and you’ve got the makings of a poor game. Granted, you will get used to the awkward controls after a while, for the most part, but still. Including the option to use the Classic controller...or even the Gamecube controller would have helped out.

Next is the camera. There are some very weird camera angle changes in the game that can disorient you if you’re not completely paying attention. You could be walking into a room, the camera changes suddenly and now the direction you’ve got the analog stick pressed in is suddenly the direction to go back from where you came, making you unintentionally backtrack to the previous screen. This little annoyance never really gets you in trouble in the game, but it’s still a pain to have to deal with...And you’ll deal with it way more often than you’d like. The camera is also static; if you need to move the camera angle to set up an attack better, too bad. These little issues should been fixed...But, alas, they weren’t.

One of the only real changes in the game is the addition of Gladiator mode. If you could hear me as I type this you would have heard a groan of disgust. Gladiator mode is a mode where you just battle a bunch of enemies in a small space and the only way you can attack is by using the motion sensor controls. You can’t use the basic attacks like you can in the main game by pressing a button...Instead, you’re forced to only use the special attacks, which are done with the motion sensors. These attacks require little animations before the attack lands that only last a second, but that’s enough time for an enemy to hit you and cease your attack. This is a real pain. Also, a pain is the fact that half the time when you swing the remote to do the attack you want, it registers it as a different motion, making you execute an attack that you didn’t want to perform. This is also the only mode where you can control the camera....sort of. Your ability to control it is so limited and poor that a good chunk of time, you likely won’t even see your targets on the screen and they’ll attack you from behind while you constantly struggle to reposition the camera so that they’re visible as they move around. It almost feels as if you’re better off blindly attacking off screen at times....It’s almost more effective to do it this way, too.

Graphically, Rygar pretty much looks like the PS2 game. Personally, I don’t necessarily find that to be a bad thing. I kind of liked some of the environments and such on the PS2 original, and while they could’ve been touched up, they’re a lot better than the graphics on many other titles for the Wii, even if they can get boring and bland at times. Did they take a shortcut with the graphics? Yes. But, they’re passable, unlike other aspects of the game. I’m not even going to mention the horrendous re-design of Rygar, the character. In the audio department the voice acting is absolutely awful. It’s not the worst I’ve heard in a game, but that doesn’t make it any less bad. I can deal with the voice-overs...But when they’re this awful it almost makes me wonder why they didn’t just leave them out and save some cash while they saved our ears.

Rygar: The Legendary Adventure on the Playstation 2 was a decent game that could easily provide some fun to folks who played it. Seven years later, with no improvements, a shoddy motion control gimmick tacked on, and an extra mode that’ll produce more frowns than smiles, Rygar: The Battle of Argus is unacceptable. If you’d like to experience this game, pick up the PS2 original. It’ll cost less and it’ll give you fewer headaches...And despite the fact that The Battle of Argus is basically a direct port of the original, it actually feels inferior in nearly every way. This Rygar is way below par...Hey, that rhymed.

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Improving the Dragon's Lair formula...

Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 11 August 2009 07:27 (A review of Time Gal)

Dragon’s Lair was a pretty groundbreaking game for its time...It featured interactive video footage that really impressed anyone who saw it. The problem was that once you peeled back the beautiful animation and video, all you really had left was a pretty limited game. Time Gal takes the formula from Dragon’s Lair and slightly alters it to try and make it a little more of a rewarding experience. Does it succeed? Well, read on.

Time Gal plays very much like Dragon’s Lair. You watch video footage and wait for a prompt to press a button. You have a very limited time to hit the instructed button, so immediate reaction times are necessary to avoid a quick ‘game over’ screen. Knowing what button to press is simple...If the left arrow flashes, hit the left directional, if the down arrow flashes, hit the down directional, etc. When all arrows flash, hit the action button. Also, on certain stages, you’ll come across a choice. You have a few seconds to choose from a few options on screen. One means you’ll survive and the others mean death.

Now, in Dragon’s Lair, this got boring pretty quickly. Time Gal attempts to vary things up a bit by randomizing the levels you enter, and on top of that, it randomizes the buttons you have to press...To a point. Each level has two different variations to it, so if you go into a level thinking you’ve already beaten it and memorized the buttons you need to press, you may end up getting the alternate version. This does help add a little replay value to the game since you’re never really playing the game the exact same way each time.

Graphically, it’s pretty decent looking...But it is nothing but an interactive movie, so that’s to be expected. The sound isn’t really great, though. It’s in decent quality...It’s just that aside from the opening theme, there’s not really much audio here other than listening to the Time Gal lady mutter things and hear sound effects. Those are nice and all, but perhaps a little background music for each level could have tied everything together a little better...Even if some levels are literally about twenty seconds long.

Time Gal does a decent job of improving upon the Dragon’s Lair formula...Unfortunately, even with its improvements, there really isn’t a whole lot of replay value here. There’s enough to give it a passing grade, but that’s about it. In my opinion, though, Time Gal is better than Dragon’s Lair, so if you enjoyed Dragon’s Lair, I’m positive you’ll also love Time Gal.

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Passable, but not as good as Shattered Soldier

Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 11 August 2009 04:51 (A review of Neo Contra)

Sometimes, making a game play like it would had it been made during the 8-bit or 16-bit eras and modifying it for today’s audience can be a good thing...Other times, like with Neo Contra, it’s not so good of a thing. After the success of taking the series back to its 2D gameplay roots with Contra: Shattered Soldier on the Playstation 2, Konami decided to create another Contra game. However, rather than stick with the formula proven to work with their franchise, they opted to go in a new direction while still trying to keep old-school gameplay in as well. The result is passable, but far from great.

Rather than sticking with the 2D side-view for this entry, Konami went with a top-down perspective similar to that of Smash TV or Robotron. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it turns into one when you begin to play. It’s very difficult to aim in Neo Contra. It almost seems as if you’re unable to shoot in all directions and only limited to angles that are multiples of forty-five degrees, instead. This makes it difficult to get used to. Granted, with time, you’ll learn to position yourself better to overcome this flaw, but there really shouldn’t be a need for that. In a game like this where enemies are coming at you from all angles, you should be able to easily shoot from all angles.

Another aspect of the game that may turn many players off is an aspect that is well known in regards to the Contra series; the difficulty. However, this game is almost the opposite of previous games in the franchise. Gamers expecting hard-as-nails boss fights won’t really find them here. Most of your deaths will come from trying to position yourself to aim in the right direction and not directly from what the boss is doing. Most of the bosses tend to go down a lot easier than you’d expect, too...And their patterns are very easy to learn and avoid. This just makes the controls all that more frustrating...It makes you feel as if you could be doing so much better. It just feels cheap that you often feel the challenge in the game comes from overcoming the controls rather than the hordes of enemies coming at you on the screen.

Neo Contra also suffers from a lack of depth. There isn’t anything to do except play through a few levels repeatedly. It won’t take you too long to finish the game...Maybe two hours tops. Then all you’ve got left to do is just play through again and try to beat your previous score. That would be fine if the game played so well that you’d want to keep playing...But, unfortunately it doesn’t. So, while the game is still fun with its broken controls, it won’t last long. Most folks won’t want to bother playing through the levels again once they beat them.

Now, not everything is bad about Neo Contra. Like I said in the previous paragraph, even though the controls bog down the overall experience, that doesn’t mean that the game isn’t still fun to play. On the contrary, Neo Contra can be a blast to play; especially when playing with a friend. The audio isn’t bad, but it’s nothing you’ll really remember after playing...Though techno music doesn’t really seem to fit well with all of the alien killing and such that you’re doing. The graphics are basically simple, but some of the grotesque alien bosses are very detailed and look very nice. Also, while they aren’t much, there are unlockable extras for beating the game like new weapons and characters...But they honestly aren’t anything special.

Overall, Neo Contra will definitely supply you with some fun if you’re a fan of classic shooting games. However, not so much fun that you won’t feel limited by the controls. Some diehard shooter fans will likely play this game until their fingers bleed in an attempt to master the game...However, most gamers will play it and have some fun, but will be looking for something else to play within an hour or two. Neo Contra isn’t terrible, but it could definitely be better. Unless you’re obsessed with shooting games, this one is better as a rental rather than a game you’d want to add to your collection.

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