Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Month Overview: Game of April

Games completed in April:
Alundra                                                    7
Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters                  6
Strider 2                                                  8
T.R.A.G: Mission of Mercy                      7
Tekken Tag Tournament 2                        10
Alundra 2                                                 7.5
T´ai Fu                                                     8
Ar Tonelico Memory of Elemia                 6
Street Fighter EX 3                                  5
Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring                      9
DarkStalkers 3                                         8
Megaman Star Force 2 Zerker X Ninja    Unrated

 April was a fun month, many good fighting games, even though Street Fighter EX 3 was a 5, I had loads of fun with it, much more than with Godzilla, which was, arguably, the better game. I also got to play T.R.A.G and T´ai Fu, games I´ve held interest on for the longes time, and neither dissapointed. For the Game of the month, TTT 2, Ar Tonelico and Megaman Starforce 2 are unelegible, since I started them months ago, in the case of Ar Tonelico, years.

 Game of April:
 It was short, but my god, T.R.A.G was an amazing game, terribly underrated and unknown. It´s the game that had the biggest impact on me this month, the one I want to replay the most

 It´s a fun game, while movement is a bit on the clunky side, the game looks and plays great, it´s one of the most unique fighting games ever.

Archview #20 : Darkstalkers 3

 Number 20? They said I´d never get here. But I did.
  DarkStalkers 3 is a 1 on 1 2D fighting game from Capcom. It´s commonly referred to as "Street Fighter with monsters", but I disagree, DarkStalkers 3 is nothing like Street Fighter, heck, later Street Fighter games took elements FROM Darkstalkers. For instance, there are no rounds, not in the traditional manner, instead, you get two life bars, and once one is depleted, there´s about a second in which neither character can attack, but can move, and then the second "round" starts, and the winner doesn´t get a health refill.
 What it does share in common with Street Fighter is the six-button layout, consisting of Jab, Strong Punch, Fierce Punch, Short,  Forward and Roundhouse. Just like Street Fighter, special moves and EX are done by imputting motions with the direction pad and pressing attacks. Something that Darkstalkers had, before SF 3 and 4 borrowed it, are enhanced attacks, by using some meter and pressing two attack buttons, you can enhance your special moves. Darkstalkers also introduced the Advancing Guard, years before Tatsunoko VS Capcom and MVC 3 used the mechanic. There´s also "Dark Force", you can choose between Change or Power(Both with different properties), and by using one or two energy bars, depending on what type you picked, you can use them in battle, bestowing upon your character special gimmicks and access to new attacks. Interestingly, unlike other fighting games, you can accumulate an infinite amount of energy bars, which lends to the faster speed of this game. Rounds can end in less than 10 seconds, even white health recovers extremely fast, if you don´t get hit.
 There´s 18 different characters, and around 5-7 secret "variations" of some characters, which is a decent amount of characters, specially taking into account how different each character is from the others. From their special moves, to all their different animations, characters in Darkstalkers are full of personality. However, there are few game modes, there´s Arcade, Training, VS and Original Character. Original Character allows you to edit the name and color of a character of your choice, and enhance him as you fight dozens of enemies. This mode is how you unlock the art gallery and the special options... and the special options are worth it, you can make the game play like Vampire Hunter or Vampire Hunter 2, besides allowing other game-changing options. They are worth it.
 The graphics are colorful and vibrant. While the animation isn´t as good as the Arcade version, it still looks good, except Pyron. Pyron got the short end of the stick this time. Regardless, there are loads upon loads of animations and unique "states", like Cut in Half, Burned, Under Demitri´s Attack, under Jedah´s inflation, etc. The music is not my cup of tea, but it doesn´t sound bad, but I´d wish they had harder-sounding tunes to fight with. The translation is a bit iffy at times, but it doesn´t get in the way of the gameplay.
 Darkstalkers 3 is a solid fighting game, it´s only real drawback is the lack of modes, but you can toy around with the ES and DX option in order to shake up the gameplay, so it´s not a bad trade off.
 It´s an 8 out of 10

Monday, April 29, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Darkstalkers 3

 Wow, much better than I remembered.
 Confession time: While I thought it was alright, I was never really a Darkstalkers fan. True, I wanted a new Darkstalkers game, but that´s because I love new fighting games. It´s been years since I last touched this, or any other Darkstalkers game, and... Holy cow, this game is much better than I remembered!. It doesn´t animate as well as Vampire Savior, it´arcade counterpart, but it has more characters and even with the lack of frames and white blood, it looks great.
 And my god is it fast! Rounds can end up in less, LESS than 10 seconds. And credits where credits are due, this series introduced the EX moves, which now got so popular that even Mortal Kombat and Injustice uses them! So, yeah, awesome fighter.

Archview #19: Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring

 I adore this game.
 Ehrgeiz, better known as that quirky fighter with Final Fantasy VII characters is a 1 on 1 3D fighting game. This is a game that, before I had a PS2, had always wanted to play. I loved Final Fantasy VII, PC version, and seeing the Magazine ads "He is back, and he is not alone" with a page-sized Cloud was oh so enticing. Yes, the FFVII characters were added since the game lacked any kind of brand recognition, and it needed something to make it stand out from the other, superior, and well-stablished fighting games.
 Ehrgeiz system is kinda unique, for instance, you have free movement around the arenas, some even feature higher places you can jump on to, and the camera does a great job at keeping both characters on the screen, as they run around the arena. Blocking is done by standing still, which blocks highs and mid attacks, or by crouching(Default position when "targeting" the enemy), which blocks lows, there are other defensive options, like interrupts which are done by pressing Special just before an special move hits you(These look really cool) or rolling.
 For offensive options you have Low, Mid, High and Special attacks. Special attacks consume a non-chargeable gauge that starts full every round, after it´s wasted, you get a different attack. One really neat feature, is how most characters have totally unique Special attacks, Godhand can place mines or shoot, Cloud pulls out his sword(And gets a new moveset!), Jo becomes a Werewolf, etc. There are two other buttons, Targeting, which targets your enemy, and the jump button. Attacks are very responsive, but moving around can be a bit cumbersome, it´s not too precise which will make you miss some attacks, unless you are targeting.  The game also has plenty of extras. There are 4 different minigames, although I didn´t find them too fun. One of them is just survival mode though, but there´s an Othello clone, a racing mini game and a Beach flag catching thing. they are passable at most, but they are there. There´s also a really cool extra: Forsaken Dungeon. It´s a mini-RPG of sorts, there´s some semblance of story, but it´s just there as window dressing. The game itself however is very engaging, it plays more like a rogue-like than anything, and you are to challenge a 21 floor dungeon as one of two characters. It may sound short, but it´s really challenging and incredibly fun. If you want to save, you are charged a lot, and money is quite hard to come by, and you´ll need it, for repairing your equipment to potions, which are a must and are expensive, unless you want to try your luck with monster drops. And like any good Rogue-likes, there are traps, you might find yourself trapped into a room with no healing items and broken weapons.... If you die once, you get to rescue your character with the 2nd character(Which you must level up individually, and there´s no storage, so no items, unless you care to buy from the expensive salesman). Die before you get to your partner? Game over. And there´s also the fact that stat growth is affected by what you eat... yes, this "mini-game" is surprisingly deep, engaging and fun.
 The graphics are very good, with exceptionally good animations, the movements are very fluid and look great. The music is nothing special, but it´s worth noting that there are remixed versions of FFVII´s main theme and victory theme, so I can´t complain. The character designs range from odd to strange. There´s a Taekwondo fighter whose leg dissapeared(Yup), so he outfitted his stump with a robotic leg that shoots rockets(I´m not making it up), a guy with a prosthetic arm, which conceals a gun, and he even removes the arm and bashes his enemies with it! While all the characters are really unique, in both design and moveset, most Final Fantasy characters are clones. Zack is a clone of Cloud, Yuffie is a clone of Sasuke, Vincent is a clone of Godhand and Tifa might be a clone of Prince Doza, but I´m not too sure.  I think that Ehrgeiz is not a good fighting game, but it is a great game, it´s very  fun and fast, and it has a bunch of extras, including an amazing mini-RPG.
 It´s a 9 out of 10.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Progress Report.

 It´s not a good fighting game, but it is a fun game. I´ve unlocked all characters, most costumes and cleared Arcade Mode with everyone, so I decided to tackle the Forsaken Dungeon... Holy Ess! It´s incredibly hard and fun, it feels like a Roguelike, with al those traps and the need to eat. And you have to eat right. It a balanced diet(Carbs, Lipids, Proteins, etc) and you won´t raise stats as you level up, you have to focus on something, since focusing on one stat, means that another one won´t get raised.... it´s quite challenging. And if you die you get a second chance... to rescue yourself, with your partner character, and with no way to store equipment, s/he will have to do a "naked run" to get the soul of the other character. Challenging, and fun, wish I could stream this! It´d make for a fun romp.
 This is the most fun I´ve ever had with Tetris. All the extra modes are great, and I´m trying to clear them all before marking it down as done. Some of the puzzles get devilishly hard, and puzzle games are not my style, so.... it´s gonna be a while.
 I did not forget about Megaman Starforce, I´m on part 3 now! I just hit a slump since Starforce 2 got so damn boring, it´s easily the worst in the series. It was such a drag that I decided not to do the post game and jump right into Starforce 3, and what a good choice it was. Megaman Starforce 3 is as great as I remembered it, but I´m still 5 hours or so into it. I really don´t know how I managed to 100% Megaman Starforce 2 on my first go through the game, going through the Skylines is such a drag, specially when sidequesting and forced to go back and forth, back and forth.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Ehrgeiz - God Bless the Ring

 Since I´m on gaming fire today, here´s one more
 Control is a bit odd. Characters are a bit odd too. The controls are a tiny bit odd too. But I like it! A lot. Ehrgeiz is fast, and... better than I remembered it to be! However, unlike the last time I owned this game, I will do the Forsaken Dungeon RPG minigame, and I will clear it. And I will review it. Yes.

Archview #18: Street Fighter EX 3

 What a shame...
 I´ve always been a fan of the awfully underrated Street Fighter EX series. Why? They tend to be faster than the regular SF games, and they have some badass characters like Kairi and Garuda, owned by Arika, reason as to why they haven´t appeared outside the EX series. Street Fighter EX 3 skipped arcades, a first for the series, and it was a PS2 launch title. As with most launch titles, this means the game was rushed, and it shows even in the boxart, which is just a picture of Ryu model´s face, it even doubles as the instruction booklet´s cover, a sign of things to come?
 For starters, it has less characters than EX 2 Alpha Plus. There are no new characters either... actually, there is a new character, Ace, but he is a "template" character, destined to be outfitted with moves from other characters, that means that he looks generic and his moveset is not unique to him. Gameplay-wise, they removed the best feature of EX2: Excel combos, and it was substitued with mechanics that seem more like an afterthought, like the "Surprise Attack"(Mid Punch plus Mid Kick) and some tag non-sense.
 For some reason they decided to make Tag the default mode of play, heck, 1 vs 1 can only be done by going to Team Battle and doing one-man teams, baffling to say the least. Besides Tag battle, there´s also "Dramatic" battle, where you can go 1 vs 3 at the same time, or 2 vs 2, amusing for a couple of times at least. The game does have a clear lack of modes, theres Original Mode, read "arcade mode", however after beating each oponent you can add him to your team, then Arena Battle, where Dramatic, Tag, Team and Multiplayer is located, finally there´s Character Edit, where you edit Ace´s moves and accomplish missions to earn points in order to buy more moves. My One gripe with the missions is that you are told what to do, not how to, so it can be a bit challenging until you have learned what a Surprise blow is and how other mechanics are named.
 The presentation is lackluster, graphics are blocky and simple. Some models just look awkward, like Guile or Sagat, and some of the animations lack oomph. All the stages look incredibly generic and boring, and the music didn´t win me over, I felt it didn´t fit the game, but to each his own. The endings are just a tiny text window, and none of them are satisfying. There´s also a bizarre "mini-game" during the credits, where you get infinite HP and infinite energy bars, and you get to pummel loads of generic thugs, it´s midly amusing, but gets boring after the tenth time!
 Despite being a letdown, the basics of the game are sound, it is a fun game, but it could´ve been so much more, SF EX 2 Alpha Plus ends up being a better alternative.
 5 out of 10

Friday, April 26, 2013

"First" Archimpressions: Street Fighter EX 3

 Eh.... At least now I can see it´s flaws.
 I like it, I really do. It´s fun and fast, just the way I like my games. However, as a sequel to EX 2, it is a letdown: Less characters, less modes, less mechanics... less everything. And as a launch title? Even worse, graphics are blocky and ugly, there´s a lack of everything, it´s pretty clear that it was rushed to meet a deadline.

First Archimpressions: Tetris DS

 It´s gooood.
 I´m not a fan of Tetris or puzzle games for that matter, but this version is quite good. The Nintendo inspired look is a big plus, for me, and it has loads of modes which are Nintendo inspired. I just tried all modes and they range from fun to amusing. I was not planning on tackling this one so soon, but I kinda tried standard mode, and cleared it, so now I kinda have to commit to it. Curse my 1337 Tetris skills!

Archview #17: Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia

 Could´ve been much worse.
 Ar Tonelico is your typical Japanese overly complicated RPG, with an unnecessary amount of Moe. The story is set in a world populated Reyvateils, songstress that can craft magic out of songs, and humans. As expected of any JRPG, there are a bunch of corporations, the Tenba, the Teru, the Church and the Knights of Elemia. Of course, being a JRPG that has a unique type of creature or female(Or both), in this case Reyvateils, there are bad guys that seek to exploit the Reyvateils, surprising(I´m being sarcastic, by the by), regardless, the story centers on Lyner, one of the Knights of Elemia, who fell from Platina, a place a top a giant tower above the blast line, a zone no space ship can cross, who fell to a Virus invasion. Now Lyner has to return to Platina, and on the way, find a way to destroy the viruses and save the world.
 What makes Ar Tonelico different from other JRPGs is it´s combat system, now stay with me, ´cause this is extensive: When battling, your party consists of 3 warriors and 1 Reyvateil. Warriors take turns with the enemies according to their speed, the Reyvateil however, you can press Triangle at any time to issue her orders. Reyvateils can only attack using magic, which they must charge up. Warriors can´t deal as much damage as Reyvateils, but they can take much more damage than them. When enemies target Reyvateils, you can have your warriors protect them, and you usually must, since they will probably die.
 It doesn´t end there. Below the combatants, there are two gauges. The first gauge increases as you use spells. It can go up to 3 "stocks". How do you charge those stocks? That´s when the second gauge comes into to play. It has two bars, a blue one that goes from left to right and a purple one that goes from right to left. Every time they meet, the stock goes up by one. The blue bar increases as the warriors deal damage, and decreases when they take it. The purple one increases as the Reyvateil charges songs. Charging these stocks allow the Warriors to use HP-consuming techniques, which I found to be quite useless, and the higher the stocks, the better the enemy drops. While I enjoyed the combat system, later in the game, enemies get loads of HP, and you have to charge your spells longer, so Random encounters will become a drag.
 Ar Tonelico has two other distinguishing features: Grathmelding and Diving. Diving has you go into a Reyvateils subconscious and partake in a visual-novel like mini adventure, which is how you unlock costumes for the girls. Some of the levels in their subconscious can be kinda entertaining. Then there´s grathmelding, which is, basically, Crafting. Find the recipie, the ingredients and then craft your items or equipment. The process is quite streamlined, so it´s quite easy to do it.
 One of the better features of the game is it´s customization. By finding, or crafting, crystals, you can add extra effects to the Reyvateils spells and equipment. Perhaps add a chance to paralyze? 100% chance to crit with a spell? You can do it.
 Graphically, it´s quite ugly. The sprites are simple, and the animation feels stiff, and lacks some frames. The music is a bit too cheery for my tastes, but it has some really good pieces, specially the reyvateils songs. Voice acting is fantastic, shame the dialogue is not too interesting. It´s filled with double entendres, so your milleage may vary.
 While I did enjoy grathmelding, I was not too keen on the forced grathmelding. There are a couple of times where you are forced to grathmeld something in order to move on with the story, which means you have to find the ingredients, it´s no fun and it may force you to backtrack in search for the ingredients. By far the biggest blunder of the game are the loading times. The game will stutter a bit during combat, specially when too much stuff is going on, it makes the already slow combat even slower. The loading issues are verywhere though. Going to the menu to pick a spell? The game has to load a lot of information of each spell, that you don´t really need, when all you want to do is go down the list to use a friggin´healing spell
 All in all, it´s a better than average JRPG, but it´s nothing special. I will admit that I enjoyed it though.
6 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Quickie: The Fifth Child

 What a letdown.
 This book, man, this book.... It starts off really good, it´s paced quite nicely, and for 3/4ths of the story it´s really good. This initial three fourths of the book are really creepy, telling you of Ben, the fifth child. Since his conception, he has been kicking in the uterus, with such force that he would break his mother´s ribs. He behaves creepily, and has been stablished to be unusually strong and unusually big. So, it´s a really good horror story.... untill the last fourth of the book begins, after what I consider it´s climax, and then.... the horror book turns into some kind of drama. I kid you not, it was most baffling, it has such an unsatisfying ending!
 Conclussion: It´s a great horror story, until the last part of the story, when it turns into such a huge letdown...
 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Getting Reacquainted: Ar Tonelico

 Oh boy...
 I stopped playing this game a couple of years ago, and for a good reason. It wasn´t very fun. The game is, alright-ish, a tad too cheery for my tastes though. I was so bored last time that I decided I´d call it a day after  getting one of the bad endings... nope, not this time, I´m getting the best ending. Damn right.
 For what it´s worth, so far it´s not AS bad as I remembered it, but it´s not too entertaining. Could be worse!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Archview #16: T´ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger

 Your Kung Fu is no good here.
 Let´s keep it short and simple, T´ai Fu is really good. The story is not as interesting as it´s setting, keeping it short, you play as T´ai Fu, sole survivor of the Tiger clan, raised by Pandas(I´m not making this up), and must journey to learn of your past and avenge your clan, who fell to the Dragon clan. There are no humans in the game, just various animals, part of different clans, who each have their own martial arts. As you play through the game you´ll be taught from the Mantis, Leopard, Monkey and Crane masters.
 T´ai´s moveset is not incredibly large, but it gets the job done. As you play through the game, T´ai will earn new moves, imitating his masters, running like a Leopard, hovering like a Crane or rolling like a Monkey. All styles serve T´ai Fu to move around through the levels, as he will need to make use of their abilities, but each one also has combat purposes. Combat itself is pretty simple, and enemies are not too challenging, most of your deaths will come from the traps each level has. Lives are quite plentiful, sometimes it seems as if the game is looking for excuses to give you more one ups!
 The graphics are great, characters look really good, and there´s virtually no slowdown, great lightning effects too. Stages themselves are quite varied, from the jungles, to the snowy mountains, there is a lot of variety. The music is quite forgettable, but it´s appropiate for the martial arts setting. The voice acting is quite good, surprising for it´s time! All in all, the game sells it´s Kung-fu inspired setting really well.
 While the game´s lenght is appropiate for the type of game, ending before it gets repetitive, there´s no replay value at all. Stages, while not small, don´t house many secrets, and said secrets are mostly one ups, nothing worth returning for. After you beat the game, you only get the ability to Level Select, but there´s nothing new, no new moves to try, nothing!
 Despite it´s lack of replay value, I had fun with T´ai Fu. It´s fun, and the presentation is quite interesting and well done.
It´s an 8 out of 10.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Archview #15: Alundra 2

 I´m doing this without my notes, so I might forget some stuff....
 For starters, Alundra 2 has nothing to do with Alundra, any similarities are purely coincidental. This time around, you play as Flint, a young Pirate Hunter, who gets roped into helping princess Alexia to free the kingdom from Baron Diaz, who replaced the king with a Puppet. Yup, it also tries to be funny, but the game has a very... quirky sense of humor, more often than not, it falls flat on it´s face.
 Although Alundra 1 was very clearly inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Alundra 2 tries, and manages, to do it´s own thing. Puzzles no longer rely on various tools, but revolve either around 4 elemental rings or the enviroment itself. Puzzles get almost as hard as Alundra 1, however, they don´t ever get frustrating, since most rooms reset themselves if you screw up. And screw up you will, puzzles are very varied, from setting up chain reactions, to acting as a tile for a statue to go over, the puzzles are quite varied.
 Combat is a bit challenging, due to the clunky system, it´s not quite obvious when the invincibility period, after the enemy gets up, ends, so you might end up getting sucker punched while you hit an invulnerable enemy. Another issue, is that the fine folk at Activision decided to rename "Normal" and "Hard" into "Easy" and "Normal", so if you are like me and choose Normal... get ready to recieve tons of damage from the enemies. Bosses are not as hard, since you must learn their patterns and how-when to attack. Some bosses are quite original, there´s one boss where you need to grab the bombs the lesser enemies drop, walk under the boss´ fire attack, to light up the bomb, and time it, so that when you throw it towards the boss, it explodes in the air. Another one has you evading his attacks, until he winds up for a punch, where you must slide into his feet, to throw him off balance, and hit his head.
 The game looks... quite bad actually, graphics are simply and messy, there´s clipping everywhere, and slowdown is quite frequent when there are many things on screen. The music is quite generic and forgettable, voice acting however, is quite decent. Luckily, the ending is much more fulfilling than Alundra 1´s, however, there are loads of loose ends by the end of the game. How did Flint´s father survive? Will Flint ever find out that that guy is his father? And the king, did they ever find him?... there are many loose ends.
 There´s almost no replay value, but the game is as long as Alundra 1, and has as much hidden stuff to find. It also has loads of minigames, like Shooter, and many secret activities, like dog hearding. Sadly, most of the good rewards require you to play the games for a long, long time, even games like Shooter, which are fun, end up becoming quite boring. Also, getting the item for the best shield in the game, means that you will almost surely give up on the magic ring enhancements, since they use the same currency, and it´s hard to aquire with the dart games. And you also need to farm loads of darts from enemies... so yeah, they are nice distractions, but the game overstimated their appeal.
 All in all, Alundra 2 is a good game. I enjoyed it more than Alundra 1, however most of it´s charm is missing. Hardly a classic, but it´s quite fun.
7.5 out of 10.

First Archimpressions: T´ai Fu

 Coming from Alundra´s 2 less than spectacular graphics, this is... whoa.
 I´m on level 3, just cleared it actually, and so far so good. Game looks great, although the music is a bit on the boring side. Combat is fun, and levels are just long enough. It does seem like the game lacks replay value, since there are not many areas, and most of them just house extra lives. Still, first impression? The game is gonna be fun. On a sidenote, why does T´ai look different on the cover? Lampshading maybe?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Capcom killed Darkstalkers.

 Remember how Capcom blamed fans for the death of Megaman Legends 3? They expected the fans to BUY a DEMO to help THEM with the game, kinda like Raccoon City, except it wasn't a complete game, if you could call Raccoon City complete at launch that is. Said demo never made it through since Inafune left, Capcom got cold feet and blamed the fans. Regardless, they now killed any hope of Darkstalkers 4 through bad decisions.
 Capcom, fans wanted Darkstalkers 4. You didn't need to do much really, all we wanted was the full Darkstalkers 3 cast(The Playstation port that had everyone), you could skip on Dee, that new inclusion from DS collection, which was Demitri with a new head and Donovan's moves. You could also skip the Sprite edits, like Oboro Bishamon and Gold Talbain. You needn't make any new characters. Just a new engine, which you could've borrowed from SF IV or MvC , the same characters everyone loved, with a new coat of paint, and maybe a few new mechanics.
 What did you do? Port two older games and hold DS 4 hostage. You wanted to earn twice as much money, by ransoming DS 4 if DS Ressurrection sold well. If fans really wanted DS 4, they would have to buy Ressurrection AND DS 4, sneaky. So what's the problem? You offer Vampire Saviour 2. Sure, it has better graphics than the PS 1 port... but not as many characters, which makes it inferior, even if it looks twice as good(It really does look much better). And the worst part is expecting it to sell much. True Darkstalkers fans probably own these games in other way or forms:
The Saturn Vampire Saviour 2 port? The Ps1 Darkstalkers 3 port with all the characters? The Dreamcast port of VS 2? Darkstalkers Collection for PS2 importers? Darkstalkers Chronicles for PSP? Emulate it for free with M.A.M.E or WinKawaks?. The people that want and clamor for a new Darkstalkers game have, more than likely, already bough the game before and probably own it more than twice. Another blunder? Digital only. I admit that if it had come out in disc form, I would have bought it.
 So, Darkstalkers: Ressurrection, while being the 7th most sold game on PSN of it's month, failed to meet Capcom's expectations. Capcom is either very, very blind or thinks it can ride off nostalgia forever. It can't pretend to take as much as they can from the consumer, without giving them what they want instead of devicing ways to rip off their fans.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

First Archimpressions: Alundra 2

 Hmmm, it's alright. It's no TRAG.
 This game feels almost nothing like Alundra so far, so I dunno why call it Alundra 2. Sure, the view is sorta the same? But it feels much, much different, and I'm not just talking about the phyisics. I'm almost an hour in and I've mixed feeling about it.
 The music is the sort of music you'd expect from a game like this, it's nothing special, but it's not bad. Surprisingly for the time, the voice acting is quite decent. The graphics however are quite bad, not only are most characters very simple and low poly(Seriously, the textures for the faces are so simple and bad) and worst of all? It will have slowdown at times. With graphics this simple, they've no excuse for it.
 The controls are alrightish, it's a bit odd that the game supports the dual shock and you can control de camera with R1 and L1, yet you can't move it with the right analog stick, it feels like a missed oportunity. Also, moving the camera while moving Flint sometimes makes the left analog stick behave oddly, it's hard to explain. On the whole, they are not as tight as I would've liked, but it's not too annoying.
 I like it a bit so far, not as much as I liked Alundra 1 when I first played it, but I doubt it's gonna be a bad game.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Archview #14: Tekken Tag Tournament 2

 Part 2 of the Double Review Special
 This is my favorite fighting game ever, no lie. So, where to start from... Hmmm... There's 59 characters. Yup. There's only like 10 clones or so, and even then, they have different moves and different properties to some of the shared moves. Besides, some of these characters are here just to please the fans, and that's what this game is about, pleasing the fans and celebrating Tekken. Almost every character from previous games are in here, the few exceptions are Jack 1, Jack 2, Gunjack and Jack 4, however, Jack 6 takes their place. There's also missing Gon, for obvious copyright reasons, but then again, Gon is not really part of Tekken, so he's not a necessity. There's also Kuma 1, Armor King 1,King 1 and Roger missing, but King 2 , Armor King 2, Roger Jr. and Kuma 2 take their place, and they looked the same anyways.
 Just as there are loads of characters, there are loads of modes. Arcade ladder, Ghost Battle, Time Attack, Survival... and then, you can also play in pair-play mode, with 2 players, each one playing as one character on the "Team". Customization returns, but I'll speak of it later. There's also Fight Lab, and while it was presented as a "great tutorial into all that is Tekken", that's an exageration. It teaches you some basics, but you are left to do most of the work. For example, it teaches you what a launcher is, but since each character has different launchers, it's up to you to find them out. Fight Lab will not make you a master at Tekken, it will just teach you rough fundamentals, with some funny missions.
 Speaking of customization, it's a step back from Tekken 6. Now "Arms and chest" got grouped into Chest, "Legs and feet" into Legs, and creating hairstyles got a tad more cumbersome. The accesory department got expanded though, with lots of "in-hand" equipables, and most swords and knives are usable in battle! Most of them have a slow startup and deal little damage, so they won't affect a serious match, being there mostly just for show. It does feel like there are less pieces of clothing though, and some of them don't look too good on the characters. Luckily, most of previous alternate costumes from the characters are unlockable for equipping(You have to unlock both Chest and Legs pieces though, or just mix them with other clothings, who's judging?) and they do look good. Most of the unlocking is done in Ghost Battle, however what you unlock is random, so it could take a while before you complete your favorite character's wardrobe. It's worth noting that characters do have default alternate costumes, but most of them are really, really bad and feel completely uninspired, probably made in a couple of seconds just to have them. The game does provide around 10 slots per characters, so you can make up for them.
 The game looks amazing. While I feel, but can't prove, that the bodies feel a bit more streamlined, characters are still impossibly detailed, I dare say the most realistic muscles in a videogame ever. Characters algo get dirty and/or wet as they fall into the various types of ground, it looks really good. One thing I disliked though, is that replays got shorter, now it only plays the last 3 seconds before the killing blow, which is quite dissapointing. The music is your usual Tekken Techno, it's a shame they also got rid of the "Play your own music at any time" from Tekken 6, but the music is good. Voice Acting is great, each character speaks in it's native language! Portuguese, French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, German, Japanese, English.... it proves just how much attention to detail they payed. Oh, actually, Lars is half german, but still speaks Japanese, go figure. Another neat touch, is how endings(Yeah, endings! In a fighting game! Again! Finally! REAL ENDINGS, WITH ANIMATION AND NO TEXT!) use many and different styles. Some are in FMVs, some are handdrawn, some use different filters... there are loads of different ending styles, and it's so good!. And, obviously, they reek of Tekken's trademark humor.
 Gameplay is your tried and true Tekken fighting system, forged in fire through over 7 iterations of the franchise, with the addition of tag mechanics. It's not just tagging, there's tag assaults and tag throws too, and a bunch of defensive tag additions. Wanna tag in safely? Just give up you red health and rage, and you can tag in while on the ground. Like the previous Tekken Tag Tournament, characters recover red health when they are not active, and rage is activated when you take damage... however, it's your partner character who gets enraged. There's a whole Allegation chart, based on character relationships, that can make your partner get enraged sooner, or take more time, depending on who's his partner. Wait, learning two characters is too hard? Well, characters do have at least 60 moves, some go beyond a 100, and all those stances... worry no longer, you can go 1 v 2(Or 1 v 1, if you are boring). Playing as one character limits your options, since you no longer have access to all those neat tag mechanics, but you do get more health, and get enraged sooner, still, fun people play as two characters.
 Tekken Tag 2 is an extremely fun game, proof of that is that I spent over 10 hours fooling around in ghost mode before even going to Arcade mode and getting the endings, it's that good(Also, the fact that most of my friends dislike Tekken. If you are reading this, EFF YOU, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.). It's not totally perfect though, I dislike how Arcade Mode and Survival mode are littered with crappy looking custom characters instead of their default looks. Also, most oponents "pretend" to be players, so you'll be running against the same teams multiple times, I've had prefered random teams, like Tekken Tag 1!. Also, there are few victory poses and special victory poses, specially for a game as big as this one. Then there's the "free" dlc. Yes, it's free, but if you don't have Internet,or 10 years from now, when PSN and XLive are dead, you won't have access to around 10 characters. All of these are just nitpicks though, and hardly get in the way of your enjoyment with TTT2.
 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the best Tekken yet. If you don't like Tekken, this game won't change your mind. If you do, this is a no brainer.
10 out of 10.

Archview #13: T.R.A.G : Mission of Mercy

 Welcome to a double Review Special, part 1: T.R.A.G
 T.R.A.G is a criminally underrated PS1 action game. It never seems to be mentioned anywhere. No Top 10s, no "Obscure PS1 games", no nothing. EVER. And it's a shame, 'cause it's surprisingly good.
 The game plays like Classic Resident Evil, characters move like tanks, you've got fixed camera angles on pre-rendered backgrounds. There's also lots of information logs, items(mostly keys) that are needed to open various objects. There's also a limited quantity of healing items, and the game never heals you, so you have to keep that in mind, albet enemies tend to be quite generous with health packs(These can't be stocked though). Unlike Resident Evil, however, you play as four different characters, each character can be swapped on the fly, and each one has a different weapon and fights quite differently from each other. Unlike REvil, however, combat is quite fast. You've got backsteps and special moves, using the D-Pad.
 The game looks pretty good. Characters and enemies are a bit on the simple side, but they look good, specially for a PS1 game. The music variety is a bit small, but it works for the game, voice acting on the other hand..... To be fair, back in the day, voice acting wasn't common, and it wasn't good, at least the dialogue is cheesy, so it kinda, kinda meshes well with the bad voice acting. One thing I loved is the amount of details, like different descriptions depending on which character is doing the examination, and the amount of alternate CG cutscenes and lines depending on which character you are using!.
 The game is a tad too short though. It's a shame, since it has many great ideas, like the initial sequence, where Alex and Michelle break up and each one handles a different area. You can switch characters and proceed at your own leisure, it'd have been nice to have more moments like that. Also, you can choose which character handles which area, so you get different CG cutscenes and dialogues, and a different latter consequence, but alas, the game is too short, and it's a one time deal.
 After finishing the game, two different endings by the way, you unlock different colors, and depending on certain conditions, different weapons and costumes(In some cases, like Alex and Rachel, it changes their moveset) for each character, plus, having Alex and Michelle take the paths they didn't last time, so there is some degree of replayability. My final complaints lie on the fixed camera angles, like other games of it's ilk, sometime it can make it hard to see what you are fighting, specially when the camera angle changes and on the controls. Tank-like controls probably wasn't the best way to go with this kind of game, and movement sometimes is a bit cumbersome, but it doesn't get in the way of the game.
 So, in conclussion, T.R.A.G: Mission of Mercy is a great game, and everyone who hasn't played, nay, hasn't even heard of it should get shot.
 It's a 7 out of 10.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Archview #12: Strider 2

 Short 'n sweet.
 Strider 2 is one of the most action-packed games ever, rivaling the best Contra has to offer. It has you travelling from airship to airship, through the artic, battling a gravity defying machine or fighting over flying cars. This game is awesome. It's also over a little too soon.
 The game is very simple, you have a Slash button and a Jump button, go wreck havoc. The game is very fast paced, but the controls are very tight, you always feel in control. Imagine Sonic, but less watching and more playing, that's Strider 2, kinda.
 At the start you can choose from 1 out of 3 missions, and as you clear them you'll unlock 2 more. Each stage is incredibly action packed, but the game, as a whole, is very, very short. It's also quite hard on the default setting, but you get infinite continues. It's a very short game, no doubt about it, but it manages to cram so much fun into it's length that it's quite astounding, and it's highly replayable. Also, beating the game unlocks Hien, and while he is just a Hiryu headswap, his attack is quite different, providing a slightly different experience.
 The game looks good, it has flat sprites on 3D backgrounds. Both are very jaggy, but it doesn't get in the way of the game. Activating Boost also can take a toll on the frames per second, but it's not too annoying. The music is... you'll never hear it, you'll be stuck with Hiryu's "HA!"s everytime he swings Cipher, and you will be mashing that Square button.
 So yeah, it's a short game, but it's also very fun. It's highly recommendable, and it also comes with Strider 1, a much harder and much more punishing game(And despite what the hardcore fans may say, Strider 2 is much better.).
 It's an 8 out of 10.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Archview #11: Godzilla Destroy all Monsters Melee

 It grew on me...

  For starters, I know jack about Godzilla, I mean, I'm familliar with the franchise, I know what is a Mothra, I know that there is more than one Mecha-Godzilla, I know that the franchise involves aliens and humans as much as the kaijuu themselves(Well, maybe not as much). So I hope I don't mess up too badly as I fumble around the review.
 Godzilla: DAMM is a fighting game in which you take control of a "Kaijuu", a giant monster, and have to battle another giant monster. Battles take place in various cities, which can, and will, get destroyed as you fight. You have a Punch, a Kick and a "Limb" button, stringing them together you can get combos, and coupling them with the analog stick you get more moves. Punch+Kick is grab, and Punch+Limb unleashes the rage move, provided you are in Rage mode. There's also a Beam button, that can be charged to unleash... a beam attack.
 First complaint: Controls feel wonky. Yes, monsters react slowly to your button presses since they are supposed to be big and heavy... but they are still wonky. Also, if you are not exremely precise with the Grab or Rage move combination, you'll end up just punching the air. It happens a lot, and it's annoying. Another baffling mechanic is... Head rotation. By using the C-Stick you can rotate you monster's head, in order to better aim the beam attack(Since homing is also wonky). It's a really strange mechanic, and due to the camera angles, it never manages to become second nature.
 Monsters are caged with laser walls, touch them, and get knocked back while taking negligible damage. Throughout the stage, sometimes power ups will appear, they can be either Health restores, Energy restores(Energy recharges slowly, and it's used for beam attacks), Rage(This puts you in rage mode, allowing you to use the Rage attack AND goes through monster resistances) or... Mothra. Yes, Mothra, one of Godzilla's trademark enemies is a mere power-up. He flies by, zapping the enemy.
 Stages also have the military forces and alien spaceships, and both like to take their anger out on the Kaijuu. While they do little damage, occasionaly you'll get frozen by the ice beam, granting the enemy a free attack. Some buildings can also be picked up and thrown. Something I disliked, is that it's not immediately obvious what can be picked up, unless you get close to it and it flashes red.
 The game looks really good. While buildings are very simple, the monsters look really good, however the beam attacks look really puny. They sound puny, and the visual feedback looks as if the other monster simply got a weak push. Monster screams are quite fitting though. The music is barely noticeable, but it's better that way, it sounds way more epic to have all the little explotions and monster screams fill the enviroment.
 There are 11 Kaijuu, and one of the neatest things, is how each one feels very different from one another. Actually, Godzilla 2000 is a slightly different Godzilla 90s, and Mecha Gidorah is barely different from King Gidorah. However, those particular cases aside, each monster feel very different. For example, one of the has a spiked shell, hit it, and your monster will get stunned as he grabs his paw or foot  in pain. Another one can dive into the ground, and a couple of them can fly. One thing I disliked though, is the Blunt, Sharp and Beam resistances. Some monsters are particularily resilient to one type of attack, and weak to another. It's a bit annoying, but I guess it adds some un-needed depth.
 This game is a case of "It's better with friends", 'cause y'see, if you play single player, you can only play: Adventure mode(Where the AI is horribly cheap and the Military seems to target you exclusively, shame it's how you unlock everything), Versus(You versus 1 CPU) and Survival. However, if you have friends, you can play Melee, a 4 man free for all. You can also play Destruction, where you race to destroy the town before the other player. You also get the added bonus that human players won't own you like the CPUs.
 Godzilla: DAMM is not a bad game, but it's not for everyone. Godzilla fans will eat it right up, anyone else, tread carefully.
 It's a 6/10.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Archimpressions: Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee

 No bueno.
 I got hyped. I did, I heard and read about this, supposedly, great GC Godzilla game, so I just had to try it... and it's no bueno. For starters, the controls are clunky, yes, it was done on purpose, since these are huge monsters, but they are still clunky. Physics are incredibly floaty, the jumps have no weight to them, and these are supposed to be heavy monsters, remember the clunky movement?.
 Another beef I have: Affinities. There seems to be different some kind of resistance system? Some monsters are strong againt blunt attacks, others agains sharp, and some against beams.... Basically, the balance is broken. Attacks also lack oomph. I had to cut back to 1-round fights since it was so boring. Visually, the attacks lack any sort of "ouch" factor, soundwise they seem puny, and the life bars take so much time to go down.... Specially maddening with the beam attacks.
 So, yeah, I'm not liking this game. At all. Hope I get done with it soon.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Archview #10: Alundra

 Finally got here, Review number 10!
 Alundra is an adventure game in the same vein as Zelda. Almost exactly like Zelda. Actually, it's a Zelda clone, and it doesn't even try to hide it, you've got puzzles, you've got elves, you've got bombs... however, there is one big, highly noticeable difference... Alundra is hard as balls, call it Zelda: Hard mode, if you will.
 The game puts you in the shoes of Alundra, the eponymous hero of the game, who suffers an accident and wounds up in the town of Inoa, where people gave up the ability to create in order to gain the ability to control their dreams. However, people begin having deadly nightmares, and it just so happens that Alundra comes from an ancient race of dreamwalkers, so guess who has to save the inhabitants of Inoa?.
  Surprisingly, the story takes some very dark turns later in the game, suffice to say, it doesn't shy away from killing defenceless kids. And this, being a game localized by the now defunct Workings Arts, has some pretty funny lines. The game is filled with humor, even in the darkest moments(For example, when a certain pothead dies, the game says "X has take the ultimate bad trip". They make light of every situation!).
 As for the game itself, it's pretty good. Controls are very simple, and are responsive, most of the time. Just like Zelda, there are some times in which you are going to return to the pause menu numerous times to switch items, but it doesn't get annoying... not that part, at least. The game is brutally hard, some of the puzzles are quite taxing, and worst of all, the game punishes you constantly. Rooms don't reset unless you exit them, which means on rooms that have 3 or more tasks to complete, fail even one of them, and you have to do all of them again, that barrel you just lost, is gone forever until you exit the room.

 The worst aspect of the game is the jumping. The game has a dumbfounded focus on jumping. Jumping in this game is annoying, due to it's 2D with a 3D plane nature, gauging distances is hard, and some jumps need to be pixel-perfect. The worst part? The game is filled with jumping puzzles, all the way to the end. Some can get quite frustrating, since you might, actually, WILL, need to reset a lot of rooms that have jumping puzzles. It's quite surprising on the amount of jumping the game pretends you to do, and blemishes an otherwise great game.
 The game could've also used maps, it's easy to get lost in the main world of the game, at least until you learn the landscape. Most of the dungeons are small enough as not to need one, but the last dungeon can get quite confusing. Another annoyance comes from the health of enemies. Enemies take a lot of hits before going down, specially early in the game... and the bosses? Working Arts said that the in the Japanese version, bosses had even more health... hard to imagine. The latter bosses specially, will soak up a lot of damage before going down.
 The presentation is one of the game's best assets. It looks great, the sprite art is charming, and has a very distinct style, with their big feet. The music is fantastic, there are a lot of pieces, and they are all really, really good. The localization is top-notch, worthy of the Working Arts logo.
 The game is really good, but it's hard difficulty may turn off some people, nothing a guide can't help ease, however the jumping puzzles are an exercise in frustration, probably the one thing that kept this game from becoming a classic, instead of just a cult hit.
 It's a 7 out of 10


..... Really?
 I just finished Alundra. After the most impossibly complex and sanity-taxing dungeons ever. After a 3-boss gauntlet that anything but easy, all we get.... all we effing get is a long-a$$ anime-cutscene in which, no only does the girl leave Alundra, but it makes no sense. It mixes past adventures with stuff that happens in the presente.
 So, SO unsatisfying. I'm mad.
 Review coming shortly.