Sunday, February 18, 2018

Now Playing: Digimon Racing

 Can miss this ride.
That red doggo on the cover? You've to unlock him.
 Alright, I gave it a go and... I don't think I like it too much. I played the Western cup, defeated Omnimon and I'm simply not feeling the game. For starters, the character roster is very disappointing, featuring the 'classic 8' alongside Agunimon, Veemon and Guilmon, the latter three who have to be unlocked.

 I dunno, man. The digivolution mechanics aren't anything to write home about, and power-ups are so lackluster... I'm also not feeling the track designs.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Now Playing: Digimon World 4

 They should've stopped at 3. They should've stopped at 3!!!
It looked so promising...
 I just spent an hour playing this game, dying over and over again, because it's rather hard, and then I got to the boss.... and it one shotted me. I was at full life and it hit me in one hit. One normal hit. This game is horrid.

 Where do I start? How obnoxiously annoying it is to get Digivolutions? The fact that they start you back at level 1? Nah, I didn't get that far yet, so it makes no sense to start there.

 How bout I start with the start of the game, appropriately? Well, first you have to talk to over 10 npcs if you want to learn about the game. But whatever, I know how RPGs work, so I only talked with a few NPCs to learn specifics. After that boring intro you have to set out, alright, you're aching to finally play!... but nope, a tutorial. An unskippable tutorial that doesn't teach you anything special. X attacks, Square blocks. Whoope-doo. And then you make it, finally, into the first world, and get wrecked in second flats.

 But whatever, the game is difficult because it's scaled for four players at the same time, whatever.,,, but why is the game so poorly designed? To do ANYTHING in the game, like changing equipment, you have to talk to NPCs. Because menus are too passe. And why the hell is the store on a separate screen from the guy that lets you change equipment? And why is the gate to the different stages on a THIRD screen? Why? Because they love FORCING you to sit through annoyingly long loading screens. Even changing equipment comes with a loading screen.

 Man, I was gonna digivolve and then grind back to my level. I was gonna do it. But now I know why people don't. This game is boring and it's poorly designed. Easily the worst Digimon game I've ever played. And I played World 2.

Review #527: Le Mans 24 Hours

 The game can last you over 24 hours. Have fun.
CAN A COVER BE ANY LAMER?!... It can. But it's still lame.
 I'm not the biggest racing game fan, as a matter of fact, I don't really like them. But when I play Racers I want them to be very arcade-ish, fast, frenetic and care free. Le Mans 24 Hours is the complete opposite of what I like, this is a simulator racing game that takes itself rather seriously.

 The game has a decent variety of modes. Quick Race, in which you race across any of the 12 tracks(Plus 3 unlockable reverse tracks, for a total of 15), Championship, in which you go through various tracks in succession, Multiplayer, self explanatory, Time Trials, in which you attempt to perform a lap around a track as fast as you can and.... Le Mans. Le Mans can be played in either Petit or Le Mans 2000 tracks, and these are endurance runs: Who can do the most laps under at time limit, usually 24 hours. That sounds nuts... but you can do it, if you wish, the game allows you to save whenever you enter a pit stop so that you can continue playing later on! That said, most people won't really care about it, so you can play Petit Le Mans under 10 minute, 30 minute, 100 minute or 10 hours limit and Le Mans 2000 under 10 minute, 24 minute, 240 minute or the full 24 hours if you wish it. Each category of Le Mans unlocks different cars, so if you're a completionist... well, this is gonna be one long ride.
Considering how old the game is, being originally a Dreamcast game, it looks relatively good.
 Luckily for players like me, the game offers various concessions to make your time easier. You can set transmission to automatic, so that the game automatically shifts gears for you... which also changes R1 into a secondary Gas button and L1 into a secondary break, which is rather comfortable. Furthermore, you can also make it so that the game automatically breaks when near curves, allowing you to take them much more easily. Finally, every single event can be played in Easy, Normal or Hard, and every difficulty has the same unlocks, so if you're not used to Simulators, or don't care about them like me, you can have a rather pleasant time with the game. And, hey, if you are into the nitty gritty of car racing, you can customize your car a bit, like which tires to use, how much fuel to have(Since it seems it slows down you car?) as well as other stuff that I'll admit I had no idea what they meant.

 My biggest issue with the game... is that it's rather dull and drab, at least for people like me. All 12 tracks are... boring, for lack of a better word, and it makes sense, since it aims to replicate real life tracks, which explains why there aren't grand vistas or whatever. And then come the Championships.... Tracks are rather long, and once you get on the last four championships you'll be doing at least 10 laps around the same course. I'll have my fill of every track after 3 laps, 10 is overkill. At least you can save after each race mid-championship, so if needed you can take a break. Also do keep in mind that you can't turn off tire wear or fuel consumption in this mode, so besides racing you'll also have to be ready to get into the Pit in order to refuel or change your tires, because maybe it started raining and you'll do better with tires fit for wet roads. If you love Simulators, there's a lot for you here. For me... there's only endless repetition. It doesn't help that there're very few music tracks in the game, and the game only loads ONE for every race, so if you go to a 24 hours Le Mans.... good luck.
Driving against other cars... doesn't feel very exciting.
 Something that irked me, because it's a pet peeve of mine, is that there's no car damage, so it doesn't matter how many things you collide against, you'll always be looking pristine. I also wasn't a fan of how colliding with walls felt, kinda like... it lacked impact and consequence, probably a byproduct of not having car damage. Smashing against cars feels very lame too.

 All things considered, I can tell that Le Mans 24 Hours is a well made game that has aged well, even if not perfectly. It's kinda neat how there a ton of different cars to unlock, so every time you break a time record, every time you finish a championship, every time you finish a Le Mans... you get new cars. It's very rewarding. Also, the music tracks, while few, are pretty rockin' and unless you're racing on 10+ laps races, they are a great companion to the gameplay. Overall? As someone who is not a fan of the genre... I approve of this game.
 7.0 out of 10

Review #526: Digimon Battle Spirit 2

 The battle spirit never dies.
Agunimon is a certified badass.
 Digimon Battle Spirit was.... it was a game. While the end result was lackluster, very lackluster, they had their hearts in the right place, so maybe with a sequel they'd be able to do their vision justice. Or maybe it's just more of the same.

The game... offers the same exact modes as the previous one, 1P and 2P and that's it. There's a new minigame too, but you won't get much mileage out of it. The biggest change to the game is the character roster... gone are the various 'mons representing different eras of the TV series, now every single character comes from Digimon Frontier, and there're less characters overall! You get the five main protagonists as well as the.... let's call him sixth ranger. There're two bonus unlockable EX versions of Agunimon and Lobomon, which differ from their normal versions on their digivolution, but the unlock requirements are ridiculous... unless you've got another friend, or gameboy advance system, to link them both and have a few 2 Player matches, since these unlock these characters much more easily.
Digivolution, signaled by the bolts over a character, lasts for a short while, but strengthens your super moves.
 The game plays basically exactly the same as the previous one, A jumps and B attacks. You've more attacks this time around, previously you had a special move with B+Up, now you also get B+Down, and some characters get chargeable moves, or neutral hold B moves. As a whole, while it's not much, there're certainly more ways to lay down punishment on your enemies, which is very welcome. Digivolution is much better too, now you fill a gauge as you land hits on your enemies, once full, press A and B together and you'll enter Digivolution mode. This DOES NOT change your base form, but now when you use special moves(Up+B, Down+B, combo enders, aerial Up+B, aerial Down+B) your character will indeed turn into its digivolved form for that particular attack. It's a faster alternative to how it used to be, and now getting to digivolve doesn't mean that your opponent is screwed out of it or automatically lost the match since it isn't as overpowered as it used to be.

 The objective of the game remains the same: Land hits on your opponent so that they drop colored orbs. Whoever collected more orbs when the time runs out wins the match. There's a new element thrown into the matches though, crystals. Now, every now and then your opponent will drop a crystal alongside, or instead of, the colored orbs. Collect five of them and you can press Up+A+B for a super move that makes the opponent drop a TON of orbs. It's definitely a neat addition to the game, even if it's not much of a game changer.
Not much of a fan of Frontier's premise, but the designs are badass.
 As a whole, Battle Spirit 2 is a bit of a mixed bag. The gameplay is much improved from before, but unless you're big on Digimon Frontier... the character roster won't do much for you. If you leave character preferences aside, this is undeniably a better game, and much fairer too, albeit the lack of more recognizable Digimon might be a huge turn off for some, Frontier isn't one of Digimon's most liked series after all.

 Still, even considering that it's a better game... it's still a rather dull one. The lack of modes is a almost a crime, and the fact that you battle the same CPUs in the same order every time you play 1P mode will quickly grow boring. The game could've used a Free Battle mode, in which you could fight CPUs or Players under different rulesets, like a life/stock system as opposed to colored orbs or maybe a king of the hill mode. Something different from the 'collect as many orbs as you can' shtick. At the end of the day, if you like Digimon... there's no much else you can get on the system, but if you need a fighting game fix, there're many better alternatives.
 4.5 out of 10

Friday, February 16, 2018

Now Playing: Le Mans 24 Hours

 Not.... not what I though it'd be.
The cover screams 'low budget', but it actually isn't.
 So... I thought that Le Mans was something more like... a country-wide race or somethin' like that. Turns out it means doing laps on the same track for a grand total of 24 hours. Definitely not what I expected. However.... the game is rather fun, and the soundtrack is bloody phenomenal, so I'm not too peeved.

 The game is more of a sim than an arcade racer, which kinda sucks, but it can accommodate to my tastes, with automatic braking and automatic transmission. IT made taking curves all that much easier, since a Sim is less about tight maneuvering and more about planning how to slow down for curves. Still, with these two options I'm able to enjoy the game and play it more casually, which helps when Racing isn't your favorite genre, particularly the Simulator kind.

Archile's Grab-bag: THREE FOR ONE Edition

  Three shiny new packages with games. GAMESSSSS
 CoolBoarders 2: I don't know how or why I wound up purchasing Cool Boarders. I've been meaning to play Trick 'n snowboarder, which I haven't found a complete copy yet!, yet wound up purchasing this.
 CoolBoarders 3: That's funny....
 CoolBoarders 4: ...almost as if I wanted to play the entire franchise...
 CoolBoarders 2001(PS & PS2(Not pictured, forgot to take a photo!)): CoolBoarders marathon confirmed.
 Project Snowblind: I don't know much about Project Snowblind except the fact that it was only 2 bucks. 2 bucks. How do you say no to that? You don't.
 Barbarian: Ah! I used to play this terrible fighting game back in the day, and I remember next to nothing about it... but since I kinda wanna get every game I used to play... here it is.
 Le Mans 24 Hours: Something about a 24-hour race piqued my curiosity, so here I am. I'll be playing it soon. Very soon.
 Auto Modellista: First of all, it looks amazing. Secondly, it's made by Capcom. 1+1 = 2, so here we are.
 The Mark of Kri: I played a bit of it when I was younger and I never got the hype for it. It received great reviews and everyone sings its praises all the time, yet... I don't remember it being that good.
 Tomb Raider Chronicles: Fact, when I was younger I played every single Tomb Raider game by Core Design. Even the crappy shareware cash-in 'Artifacts'. Fact, I never finished a single Tomb Raider game. But on the same token, I never spent much time with Chronicles, I gave it a try or two but it didn't click well with me. I think I had fallen out of love with Tomb Raider by then.

Review #525: Samurai Shodown - Warriors Rage

 A sequel to Samurai Shodown 64 Warriors Rage. I don't even...
The Kuki brothers are fantastic successors to the feud between Haohmaru and Genjuro.
 Samurai Shodown is a bit famous in no small part due to it being the first 2-D weapon based fighting game. It was so good that it spawned 6 direct sequels, not counting special re-releases, as well as a 3-D rendition in Samurai Shodown 64. Warriors Rage is a sequel to the sequel of Samurai Shodown 64, a couple of games that never made it outside Arcades... which makes it all the more baffling if you don't know that, since the game's intro starts with a '...20 years later'. 20 years from when? The plot only gets more senseless the more you get into it. And it's pure SNK translation brilliance.

 Booting up the game offers a few different modes: Story, in which you take any one character throughout a ton of battles in order to get an ending, Attack Mode, which is a trial mode which can be used to power up your favorite character, Battle(VS Cpu or player) and a practice mode. The game is made up of 23 characters, but more than half of them are clones or pseudo clones, four of them being useless filler characters that don't even get special moves. As for the characters... this game features some of the best character designs the franchise has ever seen, and most characters are newcomers, Haomaru making an appearance as an old man and Hattori Hanzo's successor being the only familiar faces. During the Story Mode you'll occasionally come across characters interacting via text boxes... and it's glorious, SNK is infamous for their horrible translations, and this is no exception.
Yuda will make no sense unless you've learnt about Samurai Shodown 64. And even then his existence isn't properly explained.
 Gameplay is a mix of old and new. While the game made the jump to 3-D, there's no sidestepping, although the circle button works as a dodge button, in case you don't want to parry or dodge. Attacks come in three varieties, Strong, Weak and Kick and inputting different directions on the D-Pad before pressing an attack button produces Special and Super moves. As per the franchise's standards, combos are not the focus of the game, but rather waiting for openings and profiting from them. This is a slow paced game, so be wary. Many reviewers at the time took issue with it, but I enjoyed the game's pace. The way the life bar works is also relatively interesting, being divided into three segments. Once you lose all your health, it completely recharges but only up to the second tier. Lose all your health and your life bar recharges up to a single tier, lose all your health now and you lose the battle. It's an interesting mechanic, I think.

 One of the game's biggest issues comes from unlocking characters, unlocking all 23 means going through the game with 22 different characters, including the lame filler characters, which are weaker and more limited, moveset wise, than the others. And the problem with Story Mode... is that it's rather lengthy, not helped by the fact that the game loves to pit you on a survival match against up to 5 of these filler characters, back to back, without restoring your health. These take a long time to complete, and there's about two of these on any playthrough. Playing the game was fun, unlocking characters was not.
You'll have grown tired of Oboro's Amazons by the time you're done with the game.
 I loved my time with Warriors Rage. The mechanics are fun, and most characters are fantastic designs, plus, I love it when fighting games get daring enough to ditch old characters and replace them with newer ones. And I can see why reviewers had issues with the game back in the day, Fighters were becoming niche, and they wanted the next flashy, fast paced thing with the ability to string together long combos being the norm.
  8.0 out of 10