Sunday, January 31, 2016

Month Overview: January 2016

Silent Hill 3                                                      8.0
Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden                     5.5
Castlevania Chronicles                                    7.0
Batman Arkham Origins - Blackgate              5.5
Chrono Trigger                                                10
Spy Fiction                                                       7.5
Super Mario Land(Virtual Console)                2.0
Rogue Galaxy                                                 7.5
 Last exam-free month, dammit. I surely made the most of it, although I also decided to start Rogue Galaxy and Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate, which proved to be huge time-sinks, hopefully my studies don't suffer during February. All in all, a decent way to start 2016.

 January's favorite:
 Man, I had forgotten how badass Chrono Trigger's OST was, certainly one of my favorite soundtracks ever. EVER. And the game itself doesn't fall behind the music's level of quality, this is a timeless classic no doubt.
 As a side-note, it's weird to notice how little Square used to care about graphics. Final Fantasy I-III were decent, as for Final Fantasy IV- VI they were pretty lackluster. Bosses were detailed, but lacked animation, playable characters used only the very least required frames. And Chrono Trigger? While the exclusive animations for critical hits are a nice touch, and novel at the time, most animations lack frames. It's not unusual to see enemies move, space-wise, without moving their feet, and the character's walking and running cycles look very odd. Final Fantasy VII was fairly minimalist when it came to graphics as well. Then we got into Final Fantasy VIII, and it's all been graphics, graphics and graphics with Square. Culminating with XIII which is pretty to look at but not much else.
 Square, bring back games like this. Graphics are overrated.

 Aaaaand I still don't understand why Silent Hill 4 gets so much flak. Because it's different from previous games? So what? It's still fantastic. Silent Hill 3 is really good, although not quite as good, as well.
 I didn't find it as scary as Silent Hill 4, or as inventive, or as believable, but it was a fun romp. Good enough to make me kinda want to play the rest of the series. And I know that I keep bringing SH 4 whenever I talk about SH 4, but I just can't stand all the hate it gets just because it's different. They changed the controls, so what? It controls better than SH 3. They changed the monsters, where are the Zombie-like nurses? Who needs them?! Silent Hill 4 is awesome, goddammit.

Review #280: Rogue Galaxy

 On a galaxy, far, far away...
 Rogue Galaxy is a JRPG that takes place in outer space. Kinda. From what I can gather, Sony expected the game to sell well and become a franchise, but, probably, due to the time of its release, it didn't manage to sell very well. But hey, it's getting a second chance on PS4!

 Meet Jaster Rogue, the hero of the story. An every-day hunter-for-hire on the Desert planet Rosa. Then meet Simon and Steve, two robots searching for the legendary hunter, Desert Claw. Long story short, these two mistake Jaster for Desert Claw and take him on Dorgengoa's Space Pirate Ship, on an adventure through the stars. Kinda. See, the game is set on the future, with space-travel and what-not... but besides lasers and a few robots here and there, most of the game feels fairly... medieval. You'll visit jungles and its ancient ruins, you'll visit a fairly run-of-the-mill city and its non-futuristic mines and then go through its... underwater ruins. Then there's Zedran, the most futuristic city in the game, and you'll get to go to a robot factory in there, and then the... fairly non-futuristic prison and it's... non futuristic ruins. Basically, it's a non-futuristic game set in the future. With a lot of swords, magic, golems, and what not. Even the 'aliens' are unimpressive for the simple reason that... most aliens in the game are anthropomorphic animals like sharks or dogs! Still, only four party members are human, there's also two robots, a lizard-looking alien and an anthropomorphic dog-alien which make for quite the colorful cast. All in all, the plot isn't too bad, but I wasn't impressed or particularly invested on it. You'll see every plot twist coming before the fact! Every member in the cast gets his or her chance to shine, and while none are particularly original or deep, you'll grow fond of them.
 Once you get into the Dorgenark, Dorgengoa's ship, you'll be able to travel to different planets. One of the game's most impressive feats is how well it hides loading times, so that every planet, which hold 2-3 dungeons each, features no loading screens or 'separated areas'. That means that each planet offers a ton of areas to explore, and as you go along you'll find Save Spots which double as 'teleporters', which can teleport you to any other teleporter on the planet, making backtracking a cinch. One thing that may grate your ears is that party members don't shut up as you explore, and they'll repeat the same lines over and over again. Ok, Deego, I get it, you want to rest, whatever the hell that means on a game like this. And Kisala, shut up, this is the ONLY route towards the objective, so there's no possible way that this route is wrong, so shut the hell up.... Yeah, it's fairly annoying. And since I'm at it, this may be a nitpick, but usually when you go into an RPG's menu, you expect to see the status of your party, as well as your money. Not here. Wanna see your levels, and how your HP is doing? Gotta go into the 'Allies' sub menu. Want to see your money? Gotta go into the 'items' sub menu. And after you reach the arbitrary maximum of a certain item, but you find more in a chest or after a battle, the game takes a second to load the menu and force you into the 'Items' sub menu to choose what to do. Would've been much better to just let you choose what to do with the item on the 'results' screen. But hey! Planets look beautiful, and there's a bunch of treasure chests everywhere, so exploration is always encouraged.

 Meet Jaster Rogue, the hero of the story. An every-day hunter-for-hire on the Desert planet Rosa. Then meet Simon and Steve, two robots searching for the legendary hunter, Desert Claw. Long story short, these two mistake Jaster for Desert Claw and take him on Dorgengoa's Space Pirate Ship, on an adventure through the stars. Kinda. See, the game is set on the future, with space-travel and what-not... but besides lasers and a few robots here and there, most of the game feels fairly... medieval. You'll visit jungles and its ancient ruins, you'll visit a fairly run-of-the-mill city and its non-futuristic mines and then go through its... underwater ruins. Then there's Zedran, the most futuristic city in the game, and you'll get to go to a robot factory in there, and then the... fairly non-futuristic prison and it's... non futuristic ruins. Basically, it's a non-futuristic game set in the future. With a lot of swords, magic, golems, and what not. Even the 'aliens' are unimpressive for the simple reason that... most aliens in the game are anthropomorphic animals like sharks or dogs! Still, only four party members are human, there's also two robots, a lizard-looking alien and an anthropomorphic dog-alien which make for quite the colorful cast. All in all, the plot isn't too bad, but I wasn't impressed or particularly invested on it. Every member in the cast gets his or her chance to shine, and while none are particularly original or deep, you'll grow fond of them.

 And then comes the combat system, where it's easily where the game squanders most of its potential. Battles come out of random encounters, but they take place in real time, you take control of one party member and the AI takes control of the other two. Each character comes equipped with their own unique main weapon and sub weapon, assigned to X and Square, respectively, there's also a charge attack by holding X, jumping with circle and R1 to block. You can also use spells or items or change your equipment by pressing triangle, which pauses the action while you do your stuff. Funnily enough, items don't have 'use animations', so you can use as many items as your stamina allows! Ah! Yes, what you can do is governed by a stamina bar, and after it runs out, either wait a while or block one enemy attack in order to instantly refill it. And you can also pick up enemies(Or objects) and throw them, if you are so inclined. So far, so good.
 But the devs realized that the combat was fairly shallow. It was fine, but shallow. So they introduced different enemy types. Some come with shields that must be broken with a charge attack. Fine. A select few(One enemy type and its recolors) need to be jumped on before you can hurt them. Ok, whatevs. Then come 'huge enemies' that can only be damaged by attacking them while jumping. Firstly, these make no sense since you can basically shoot at their 'weak spots', but nope, it has to be a jumping attack. But the issue comes with how jumping attacks work, these are very limited and these enemies may just attack through your attacks or fall midway through your aerial three hit combo, making them a bore to deal with. And early in the game you are also introduced to 'barrier' enemies. These barriers can only be dispatched by one specific gun that only Jaster can use. These enemies are not frequent enough as to justify equipping the useless Barrier-breaking gun for the entirety of the game, but are frequent enough to make it a chore to switch your sub-weapon mid-battle just to deal with these enemies, so if you see that the dungeon has this type of enemy, just keep it equipped. Oh, and to make matters worse, this gun has one of the worst cooldown counters in the entire game, so if you run out of energy, you have to dance around these enemies, pray your AI buddies don't die(HA!) until it refills. And I haven't even gotten into the technical aspects of the combat. There's another type of attack, the 'downward stab', done near downed enemies. This is a very slow attack, that leaves you open to attacks and takes a long time to get out of... and your character will attempt it every time he is close to a downed enemy, EVEN if you are not targeting them. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly sure my character tried to do it to standing enemies. It's an annoying, useless attack that I never, EVER wanted to do and ended up with me receiving unwanted damage. Oh, and the targeting system? The camera doesn't track the enemy, that, you have to do yourself, but hey, at least you know that even if the enemy is off-camera, you are aiming at it, and that's always nice to know, right...?

 Speaking of the AI, it's atrocious, your allies don't know how to block or dodge attack, so expect them to die. All. The. Time. Hilariously enough, when it comes to 'jumping attack' enemies, sometimes they will go straight for their heads, and others they will try futile normal or distance attacks. I also came to at least two instances of an enemy and an AI partner doing staring contests. Hilarious. And for whatever reason, the AI also adores picking up and throwing enemies, are you too good to use your normal attacks, my dear, stupid AI buddy? And, by the by, you can somewhat give them 'general strategies' to follow during combat, but none of them are very specific. Either 'Attack the same enemy' or 'attack different enemies', stuff like that. And they can't use items or spells by themselves(And seeing how dumb they are, good riddance), but they may suggest use of their skills or items during battle, which you answer with L1, L2 or L3 to ignore them. Listen, buddies, if I wanted you to use a spell or item, I would've told you so, so stop insisting! Another thing that needs to be said, is that the game isn't particularly hard, technically, but normal enemies deal a ton of damage, and most of the time, their most damaging moves are unblockable, so carry a lot of healing and reviving items, all the time. You will need them.

 To the game's credit, the 'crafting' system is fantastic. Any weapon can be combined with any other weapon of its same type. No combination offers no result, and in the case the combination will offer a weaker weapon(Which happens when you try to mix, say, a level 20 weapon with a level 45), the game will warn you. There's dozens of weapons, and different colored variations of each, which encourages you to keep combining weapons and see what you can get. It also means that you can craft some very powerful weapons early on in the game, but seeing how much damage enemies can dish out, its only fair. Each character also has a 'Revelation chart', in which you use items to clear and learn new spells or passive skills, which is also fairly engaging.

 There's quite a bit of sidequests to fulfill as well, from gathering all the Legendary Swords, finding the 'rare items'(For bragging rights only!), challenging the bonus bosses and the... Hunting subquest. The 'hunting' subquest is a chore, basically you have to defeat 20-30 of each and every enemy in the game. Considering that some enemies only appear on 'rare encounters', and each of these may come with 1-2 of this rare enemy, this will take a while. If you decide to do this quest as it comes up, which I did(At least until I got into the #1 spot on the ranking, which nets you arguably the best alternate costume for Jaster) you will end up horribly over-leveled. By chapter 6 I was level 40 and sporting the strongest weapon in the game. And I wasn't grinding intentionally, it just happened as I tried to fill this quest's log. But, once again, enemies can deal so much damage, that it doesn't quite 'break the game'. And look, I'm not one to complain about optional stuff, but this sidequest is a drag and you'd be insane to fully complete it(And for what? An extra costume for Kisala?), I spent more time than I'd like to admit doing it in order to get enough points for Jaster's costume, and at times, I got sick of so much 'grinding'. It's a chore, it's not fun!

 Look, Rogue Galaxy is a fine game, but I don't think that the end result quite matches with the scope of the game's ambition. It was a great attempt, and it has a ton of great ideas, like the huge non-segmented planets, the weapon crafting and the Revelations charts. The combat system too was a great idea, but marred with poor design choices.
 7.5 out of 10

Monday, January 25, 2016

Now Playing: Rogue Galaxy

 In a Galaxy far, far away...
 Rogue Galaxy is a game I was never really interested in, really. But the RPG bug bit me this year, and since this was a JRPG on the PS2 I hadn't even played before, I decided to give it a chance.

 It's quite good, and the 'Star Wars mixed with RPG' a lot of people grant it is well deserved. You start on a Desert Planet, and two 'roids team up with him pretty early on. It's a bit more complex than that, both Androids are bounty hunters, for instance, and Jaster wields a one-of-seven legendary swords, as opposed to a beam saber.

 Battles seem to borrow a lot from the Tales series, albeit not quite as good. When approaching downed enemies, Jaster uses a slow as molasses downward stab that leaves him open for attacks. Sometimes he'll use it even after an enemy stood up, and heck, sometimes even WHILE targeting a different enemy, if a downed enemy is in the way... he'll use the annoying stab. And targeting? Targeting is a joke, the camera doesn't follow the enemy, just your attacks, so either you turn it manually or use R2 to snap it onto the enemy. And the Ally AI? Downright useless, they don't know how to block or dodge. And maybe it's only because I'm early in the game, but enemy AI seems just as bad. And as overly critical as I am being, I'm actually enjoying the game!

Review #279: Super Mario Land(Virtual Console)

 It's over already?!
 I'm gonna be pretty blunt here: This is probably the worst Super Mario game I've ever played. Alright, so it's an old game and on a handheld console, fair enough, but this is the same console that gave us the TMNT games, the Wario Land 1 and 2 games... I'm... I'm baffled.

 This is Mario, so you know the deal, rescue the princess. This time around, the game is made up of four different worlds, three stages each, for a 40 minute long game. Probably even less if you've better skills than me. This is also the weirdest Mario game out there, even more than Super Mario Bros 2. There's an Easter Island level, complete with Moai heads, a Chinese level, and Egypt level and even submarine and airplane levels. What the hell, Mario?
 As someone who's played Mario games his entire life, this game's physics, the overall feel of Mario's movement, is very awkward. Movement is very slippery, it's hard to come to gripes with Mario's jump arc and everything just feels off. You can't bounce from enemies, you can kill them, and Mario bounces a little, but timing a Jump when hitting them doesn't produce a higher jump, which threw me off a bit. It's hard to explain, but overall, it feels as if someone tried to copy Super Mario Bros.(NES) movement and jumping physics but couldn't quite get them right. At all. At times, it feels more like an amateur Mario game than an official game. The platforming was so imprecise that I was scared after every single jump I took.

 It's also a bit glitchy, it's not uncommon to see Mario overlap with blocks for a few seconds after jumping, and this one time my fireball got stuck bouncing off the same two angles, and since you can't shoot until it either hits a target or disappears of-screen... I effectively lost use of the Fire Flower power until I got through the obstacles on-screen.

 Look, I don't feel as if I'm being overly unfair with the game, and it's not like I'm looking at it with modern standards in mind, I am comparing it to Super Mario Bros. on the NES after all! Some people clearly have a soft spot for this game, sadly, I'm not one of them.
2.0 out of 10

Review #278: Spy Fiction

 That pesky Swery's at it again!
 Remember Deadly Premonition? Yeah, it was pretty dope. Well, Spy Fiction was a game made by Swery 65, before he went and developed Deadly Premonition. Spy Fiction is a derivative game as well, borrowing heavily from Metal Gear Solid, albeit a bit more Spy-ish.

 You play as either Billy Bishop or Sheila Crawford, two Phantom operatives task with stopping the terrorist organization Enigma, which has bioengineered a Virus and are planning to do evil terrorist stuff. Billy is stronger, so he can take and dish out more damage, but he is a bit insecure, so he can't disguise as female NPCs. Sheila, however, can disguise as male NPCs, and nobody even notices how she shakes her hips as she moves, go figure! While both characters get the same missions, they get some different cutscenes, and one mission even plays out differently depending on which character you picked. The story plays itself straight, although characters sometimes exhibit the same quirkiness that the folk of Deadly Premonition were so fond of, although this time around, it also has to do with the terrible voice acting and awkward-sounding dialogue. The game also holds a secret ending for beating the game with both characters, and rewards for up to four different playthroughs.
 At a first glance, this is a Metal Gear Solid clone, up to the 'Alarm' system 'n everything. Being stopped by an enemy will make you enter 'Alarm Mode'... unless you enter another area fast enough. While in Alarm mode, enemies will pour endlessly, so you have to hide. After a while, you'll enter 'Search Mode', in which enemies will, well, search for you.... and then comes Caution Mode which lasts about 1:30 minutes and during which enemies will be extra alert. OK, first problem with the system, there are certain doors that will get locked until you go back to 'Safety Mode', which means, if you screw up, more than 1:30 minutes WAITING until the friggin' door opens. And it's not a 'fun' waiting, it means holding L1 the whole time, against a wall(Since it makes you turn invisible) until you go from Alarm to Search to Caution and finally Safety Mode, so that the damned door will open. Maybe it's not as bad as it sounds, but for someone as impatient as me, it was torture. I'd find something to read or watch as I held L1 and waited. Not fun. Oh, and even better, if you enter a new area while in 'Caution Mode', the 100-0% gauge will reset itself back to 100%, which means... even MORE waiting. Fun.

 So, it sounds like a vile rip-off, but the game does offer its own take on the formula. For starters, there's a ton more spy stuff in this one. Flares disguised as cigarettes, an electric stunner disguised as a shaver, bombs that look like band-aids! While I relied mostly on my fists and guns, I appreciate the creativity that went into designed the rest of your tools, it feels very James Bond-ish. But then again, they also took a page from Mission Impossible, by taking photos of any of the NPCs that populate each mission, you can actually disguise as them. Mind you, you can only disguise if you find containers, closets or other places in which you can enter, and if you are seen while existing, or doing suspicious stuff while disguised, the enemies will put an alert on your disguise, so you'll have to find a new one(Or wait a while. Ten minutes maybe?). And there's even a scene in which you must rappel down a wire while avoiding laser alarms... which is one of the most frustrating moments in the game, but hey!
 Moving around feels a bit stiff, particularly when compared with Metal Gear Solid(And why wouldn't you, when the game borrows so much from it!), but you can get used to it. Combat is a bit wonky though, the 2-punch, 2-kick combo is a bit finicky, so you might have to stop mid-combo in order to properly direct your attacks to your assailants. And it was never clear to me if enemies where taking damage while shot during their 'getting hit' animations or not. I know that bosses did take damage, but as far as enemies go, there was not clear indication if they were taking more damage or no. Oh, and the shooting takes a while getting used to, you either go into first person, which roots you on the spot, or hold Square, until it auto-aims and then let go to shoot. Sometimes, during the last boss battles, my character sometimes failed to aim properly as well.

 When you finally get used to the game's quirks and mechanics, and when everything works properly, the game can be a blast... however, when you are waiting for the alarms to pass by, when you are struggling with the combat, or when you try to take the story as seriously as the game wants you to... it shows just how dull it can get.
 7.5 out of 10

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Now Playing: Super Mario Land(Virtual Console)

 So there's such a thing as a bad Mario game!
 Listen, I'm a huge Mario fan, and I've fond memories of playing this game on an old bootleg 32-in-1 cart. But this game is pretty bad, it's aged pretty poorly.

 Firstly, the oddities: What's up with the enemies? Moai statues? Flying Moai Statues? Egyptian levels? Sub-marine levels? Koopa Troopa's shells explode? Whaaaaaaaaat?

 Then the bad: The physics, the overall movement is fairly slippery. It's not uncommon for Mario to try to compete with blocks for their spot on the background, before being repelled backwards. Precision jumping is pretty tough due to how slippery Mario's movement is, and how awkward the jumping is, you can somewhat alter the jump's arc but it's fairly awkward to do. The best way I can explain the game's physics is that it feels as if someone who played Mario(NES) and tried to imitate its physics but couldn't quite pull it off. Like one of those amateur fanmade Mario games.

 And what did I like?... Nothing. It's not a good game, it really isn't.

Review #277: Chrono Trigger

 One of the best soundtracks of all time.
 Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of Chrono Trigger, an era-defining JRPG made by the 'dream team', Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama, with Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu on the music front. This game was destined for greatness, and greatness it achieved. Chrono Trigger on the DS is the third time the game got ported, and it received even more extras!

 In Chrono Trigger you play as Crono, the red-haired swords-man who happens to look a bit like Goku. What should've been a merry day at the fair soon turns into a trip 400 years into the past. And then into the future. And then back to the dinosaur era(with the suspicious cohabitation of cavemen). The story is pretty straight-forward, although not without its plot-twists and every character in the 7-man party gets a their chance to shine... except the mute hero Crono, who is as boring as a plank of wood and deep as a puddle. At time's it feels like Crono is just along for the ride, he is not the princess, he is not the 'destined hero' and later in the game, you don't even need to bring him alone. One of the game's novelties, at the time, was the fact that it had multiple endings depending on when you chose to tackle the last boss, with the addition of New Game+ which carries over most, if not all, of your stuff from your previous playthrough, which is a must if you aim for some of the endings. That said, one complete playthrough(All sidequests done) lasts about 20 hours, even less if you know what you are doing. As far as RPGs go, it's rather short, but I guess it has to do with the 13+ endings you can go for.
 Back in the day, another of the game's novelties where the non-random encounters... kinda. 90% of the enemies can be perfectly avoided by walking around them, but there are a few tiles that engage pre-scripted encounters, and if you leave and then re-enter the room, these tiles reset, so not 'every' encounter can be avoided. Before you earn the time-travelling ship, going back and forth the 'Middle Ages' era can be slightly annoying since you absolutely have to fight one of these scripted encounters. As for the battles themselves, they use Square's then-famous 'Active-Time Battle'. which means that enemies can act even while you pick your attacks on your turns. If it proves too challenging, and I can see how people not familiar with the genre could find themselves overwhelmed, you can just turn it off and fight more traditional turn-based battles.

 The battling itself is fairly simple and fun. During your turns, characters can either: Attack, use spells or use items. Another of the game's novelties, at the time, where 'dual' and 'triple techs', basically, two or three characters can combine their turns and mana to use a more powerful spell... which are fancy to look at, but if you ask me, eventually it becomes more useful for each character to do their own thing on their turns. But hey, they are nice to look at! The game isn't very hard, but I did feel like enemies were a tiny bit too fast, I would get pummeled while rummaging through my spell list finding that one spell I want to cast, and mind you, I am used to Square's ATB!
 As for the DS version in particular, it adds various new extras and gimmicks that further enhance this great classic. Firstly, we get all the Playstation extras, the anime cutscenes, the bestiaries and galaries, the maps, without of the loading times that plagued that version! Even better, the maps are now displayed on the bottom screen for further convenience... not that you'll actually need the maps, since dungeons are fairly straightforward, but it's nice to have. The game also sports a new, more accurate re-translation, although some people have expressed disappointment at things like Frog losing his accent... although he still speaks in a more archaic English than the rest. Personally? I didn't miss the old translation at all. There's optional touch-screen shortcuts and controls, which I never used, but you can also use the bottom screen to display life-bars and the such, leaving the top-screen, the one in which the action happens, uncluttered. This port also introduces a weird arena mini-game, which is mostly automatic, but you can raise a critter to fight battles... it wasn't much fun. Then there's a couple of new dungeons and a new ending which ties into Chrono Cross. And here's where I've got beef. I'm pretty sure that most people getting this game have already played this game before... so whose idea was it to make the new dungeons only available on a New Game+? Most people have probably finished this game before and want to play the new content, so why would you make us play through the game twice to get to it? Baffling.

 If you ask me, Chrono Trigger hasn't aged at all, it's still every bit as amazing as it once was. Everything in the game blends into a fantastic overall game: The amazing music, the simple but engaging story and characters and the fun battles/ While I wouldn't say the new features are worthy of double dipping if you already own the game on SNES or PS1, while they are rather neat, they are also completely superfluous.
10 out of 10

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Now Playing: Spy Fiction

 Because I love starting too many games at the same time.
 Deadly Premonition made me love Swery 65, so I've been wanting to play some of his other games... turns out I had, The Last Blade 2 and Tomba! 2! But there's also Extermination, which I'll try to play this year, and Spy Fiction.

 This is a Metal Gear Solid rip-off, and they aren't even ashamed of it. When compared to, say, MGS 2, movement feels a bit stiffer, but it does offer its own take on the formula, with disguising and the Terminals, I guess.

 What I liked:
- Swery 65 flavor. I mean, 'Oh, poor baby' from Dietrich? Hilarious.
- Decent rip-off. If you are gonna imitate someone, might as well imitate the best. It's a fairly competent stealth game... at least so far.

 What I didn't like:
- Stiff. Moving around is fine, but when compared with MGS, it's definitely not as smooth.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review #276: Batman Arkham Origins - Blackgate

 The Arkham games have been great examples of how to bring Metroidvania games into the 3D realm, and after the phenomenal Arkham City, Warner knew that they had a goldmine on their hands, so they did anything a videogame company would do: Milk the hell out of it. While Home Console players got a half-baked 'Arkham Origins' game, on which Warner decided to focus on the DLC instead of the game-breaking bugs, and Handheld Console gamers got Blackgate, a 2-5D metroidvania not unlike Metroid itself.

 Blackgate takes place after Arkham Origins, after frustrating Catwoman's theft, Batman goes to the Blackgate penitentiary to foil a criminal take over. The Penguin, The Joker and Black Mask have taken over different sections of Blackgate, aided only by Catwoman, on a informer's role, it's up to Batman to rescue the hostages and catch the baddies. Again, It's a simple, straightforward story, with a few surprising appearances from other villain from the Batman mythos. For a handheld spin-off, it gets the job done. At least it doesn't pretend to have a rookie Batman take on the likes of Deathstroke and Lady Shiva, y'know, two characters that have defeated an experienced Batman, on a SINGLE night. And win. Still, the best part about the story is how they never explain just what the hell are Waynetech boxes doing in Blackgate, much less just why the hell do they contain 'Bat' items, like the Batclaw. The story is told through 2-D animated stills... and they are incredibly blurry and pixelated, symptoms of bad compression. And the art is very inconsistent. ranging from bad to, surprisingly, really good, it depends on the scene really.
 The game plays on a 2-D plane, although, occasionally, you get to move onto the foreground, plus, some roads twist and bend, which I felt was a neat twist on the strictly 2-D Metroidvanias. And the bottom screen houses the map, which is a godsend for Metroidvania games... if only the map was any good. Areas can have dozens of vents, or twists and bends, but the map doesn't make it very clear at all, so you'll have to rely on your memory as well. It took me little over 7:00 to get absolutely everything, and there's a ton of secrets to find, which is nice, although most of the collectibles unlock concept art. As for these collectibles, they come in two flavors: Cases and Waynetech boxes. Cases are actually Detective Cases, you must find, and examine, different objects to complete them, as for the Waynetech boxes they contain upgrades to your combat capabilities or Batsuit pieces. There's about 5 different Batsuits, and instead of being merely cosmetic, they grant you different abilities. You start with 1 of them, you can unlock another by finding its five pieces(Curiously, the one that grants you invincibility!), as for the other three, you can find four pieces of each, but which one you complete, and earn, on your playthrough depends on which villain you take out last!

 Now then, as with any Metroidvania, there's gonna be a lot of backtracking, but as you advance through the game you'll earn new gadgets that allow you access to previously inaccessible areas. Once you get the Explosive Gel you'll be able to destroy fragile walls, and once you get its upgrade, the sticky gel, you'll be able to deactivate certain mechanisms, just to name an example. And that's fine, that's the nature of the genre. And a nice little touch, is a that depending on which villain you take out last, certain events near the end of the game will change... not that it matters, since the three variations amount to an scavenge hunt throughout the game's 5 areas. Which is a drag, although at least the game tells you where to go, not that it makes it any less tedious. It's one thing to backtrack out of your own volition, searching for power ups or unlockables, that's actually fun, but when the game forces you to backtrack, just because, it gets really annoying. Oh, and be careful, try to tackle the Penguin first, at least play his area until you are forced to get into the lighthouse, as I've read about a common gamebreaking glitch that sometimes triggers if you do BlackMask and/or the Joker first. But I did ran across a glitch that made it so that I couldn't use the Batclaw to pull vents, forcing me to reload checkpoints or exit and re-enter an area to fix it. I also read about some rooms not loading properly, albeit I didn't run across it.... Yes, you could say that this game is a bit buggy.
 As for the combat, they tried to bring Arkham's trademark free-flowing combat, but it doesn't work quite as well. Sometimes, Batman's attack range seems a bit inconsistent, he may just punch the air even if you were aiming at an standing enemy. And the counters didn't seem to register properly, so I just started mashing it, and it worked fine. And I don't know if it was just me, but I had a hard time with the game's three major bosses(The Penguin, The Joker and Blackmask), I'm not ashamed to admit that I had to resort to guides for The Penguin and The Joker, since I didn't know just what the hell I was doing wrong, and, in my opinion, the game could've given out more hints on just what the hell you had to do. Pro tip: Even though the Joker will dodge your kicks if you try to zip-line against him, you have to dodge his attacks just before he hits you, with the zip-line, and the use it again, because for whatever reason he won't dodge the kick now. As for The Penguin, you can actually use the Batclaw to defeat his henchmen.

 Batman Arkham Origins - Blackgate is a very, very flawed game, but I had fun playing it. As a matter of fact, I kinda binged almost four hours straight until I finished it. I think the fact that I love Metroidvanias had a lot to do with it And in turn, since the game plays, on a 2-D plane, it's far closer to Metroid than its big brother on Home Consoles. Fans of the Arkham series are not necessarily gonna enjoy this one, but Metroidvania fans just might find something to occupy their time with.
 5.5 out of 10

Archile's Grab Bag - We are halfway there Edition

 A new package must be opened, because opening packages is fun.
 Resident Evil - Code Veronica X: Back when I was younger, this was the Resident Evil I got the closest to finishing. I got to play as Chris 'n everything. I'm still not a fan of the genre, but I had to take it for a ride.
 Chrono Trigger: I've been meaning to buy Chrono Trigger for a while now, the game's reputation speaks for itself. It's funny when people complain about the retranslation, since this one is closer to the Japanese script than the Wooley-fied SNES original.
 Spy Fiction: A game made by Swery 65? I gotta get in on it. The game looks like a Metal Gear Solid 2 knock off, but as long as it has Swery 65's flavor, I'll let it go.
 Rogue Galaxy: While I've never been particularly interested in this one, I ached to play some RPGS I hadn't played before, and this one sprung to mind. And after looking at some gameplay, this one might be really good.
 Final Fantasy Anthology: I couldn't care less about Final Fantasy V, but I've been meaning to own some sort of copy of Final Fantasy VI, so this one seemed right up my alley. Even when I was huge on Final Fantasy, when I discovered the SNES classic and during the era of fan translations, which was the only way to play FF V in English at the time, FF V never caught my eye. But Final Fantasy VI? This game was amazing, when I was younger, often times I would rank it up with 7.
 Chocobo Racing: 'Not huge on racing games' yadda yadda. Chocobo Racing has always piqued my curiosity, back in the day, I'd see ads on magazines for it, so I've always wanted to play it. Later I would discover that you can actually play as Squall and Cloud! Ah well, looks like a Mario Kart 64 clone.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Now Playing: Batman Arkham Origins - Blackgate

 A bit of a mess isn't it?
 So I've been doing steady progress in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and am now busy farming the Lagiacrus for the full set, and fearing that I may get tired of it, I decided I'm gonna take another game with me on vacations, but since I'm fairly impatient... I started it now, you know, took it for a test drive.

 And... It's alrightish but buggy and very very flawed. Countering doesn't seem as responsive as it is on the big consoles, nothing that mashing the X button doesn't fix, and Batman's range is fairly inconsistent, he may fly towards an enemy with a kick or... just punch the air. And then there's the glitches, the Batclaw sometimes will fail to work properly, so you have to either exit-and reenter the area, or in some cases, like Penguin's getaway or the area where you find the Batclaw itself, reload the entire checkpoint.

 What I liked:
- The same combat from the console games.
- 2-5D Metroivania, baby!
- Tons of stuff to find.

What I didn't like:
- Some of the collectibles are a bit of a pain in the butt, you have to use detective mode and scavenge the area with the left analog stick. Basically, every time the camera angle changes, I force myself to do it, since OCD and all that fun stuff.
- Countering attacks feels unresponsive, Batman's attack range is inconsistent.
- Annoying bugs.
- Low quality cinematics. Alright, you are gonna use 2D art, fine, I can roll with it. But the art is fairly inconsistent, sometimes it looks good, others... not so much. But the real kicker is how badly compressed this cinematics are! They are very pixelated and blurry, feels like I'm watching Ps1 cinematics, goddamn!
- What the hell are Waynetech stashes doing in Blackgate Prison? And why the hell do they contain the precise gadgets that Batman needs? Like, seriously.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Worst Youtuber: DarksydePhil

 So I was itching to write something, anything, so... why not write about DSP, a youtuber that I dislike the more I hear about him. So, where to start?

 Bullshit thrown his way
 Before I get into what makes him such an awful, awful person and Youtuber, I might as well start with some of the crap people give him, unjustly(unbelievably) so. So, a lot of people rag on him for being bad at games, or even blaming them for his own mistakes. So what? How does sucking at games, or getting angry at them make him a terrible person? They don't. It's not rare to find comments like 'You ruined 'X game', kill yourself' and the such. It's funny, because a ton of people give him crap for saying stuff like that to his critics, yet they say the same shit back to him. Hypocrites much? There're plenty of  people arguing with some of the 'critics', and they get downright insulted for thinking differently. Case in point:
 If you are gonna call out Phil for not being able to take criticism or what have you, ya better not do it as well. If you are gonna call out Phil for being an asshole, you'd better not be one yourself.

 Then there are the people that assume that just because Phil laughs at people, in a videogame, dying, he is an asshole. It's just a videogame. If you play GTA and start killing grannies(Them GTA III old ladies!) and laughing about it, does that make you a psycho? A potential murderer? Phil's humor is terrible, true enough, but implying that because he makes light of a situation, in a videogame, means he'd be the same in real life is just flimsy.

 And that's about the only things one can defend Phil about. But what makes him so terrible? Well...

 He's a self-centered lying hypocrite. Where to start... How about his infamous 'Five Nights at Freddy's' playthrough, which he ended saying 'This game is terrible, don't be sheep, listen to me and don't be sheep', which I paraphrased a bit, but I assure you that was his message. Basically, if you like a popular game, for whatever reason, you're wrong, you are a sheep that fell for the hype. So you should listen to Phil, he knows better! There're more instances of this self-centered righteousness of his', like the whole Earthbound/Minecraft debacle. 'People just can't appreciate good games anymore', because they'd rather watch Minecraft than watch Earthbound. Maybe people would rather play Earthbound themselves? And remember when Nintendo started taking a cut from playthroughs? Suddenly he was the voice of the people, something that only affected Let's Players, and not 'the common gamer', as he likes to call himself, but you should listen to Phil and avoid Nintendo!

 As for the hypocrisy, no better example than his whole rant against advance copies. But the second he learns that he can get in on it, he starts putting excuses like 'this is not and ideal world so I can campaign for what's right' and 'I did it to save the business'. What? Please, DSP, you were salty that you thought you couldn't get advance copies and get early views. But one of his most disgusting displays of hypocrisy came with Injustice: Gods Among Us(Great game, by the by), when he came upon a player with over 1000 matches and started calling him a no-life loser. DSP, please remind everyone what your 'job' is. When he was later questioned about it, instead of saying that he was sorry, he tried to explain why it was OK for him to be an ass.

 As for the lying, there's a very funny 'episode'... DSP called out his ex-friends John Rambo and Howard, how if you have a problem with somebody you should be a man about it and tell it to their faces... Well, this exploded on his face. Rambo and Howard, out of respect, cut all ties with DSP since he was, honestly, a lying douchebag and an all-around crappy friend, but spoke no ill of him... until DSP had to make that video calling them out. And they answered. Over an hour long podcast calling out DSP on his greedy, lying douchebaggery. And you could argue that it's word against word, but everything that John and Howard said is on point with what we know about Phil. How he'll often say things and then say that he didn't mean it, how it was 'in the heat of the moment', like that time he said an interviewer said something he did not, and when it was discovered, Phil excused himself. Pf.

 Other Youtubers/Streamers. Easily one of the things that bother me about Phil the most, he's often said how he 'doesn't watch other Youtubers/Streamers'. Yet every. Single. Chance. He. Gets. He'll compare himself to 'Other Youtubers/Streamers'. And always in a possible light. 'I don't want to be like other Youtubers that constantly beg for donations and subscriptions'. Which is funny, because, and I'll admit that I'm not huge on watching stream or Let's Plays, DSP is the ONLY Streamer/Youtuber I know that speaks so much about views. How X playthrough didn't get enough views, how the views on a playthrough dropped, etc, etc. DSP is the only Youtuber/Streamer I know that can't help himself but speak about 'Views'. And the cherry on top? Recently he made himself a Patreon, so he is constantly, constantly suggesting his viewers to donate, 'as little as a dollar per month', 'if all my fans gave me just a dollar', 'even a dollar helps'. Most Youtubers I follow, IF they mention Patreon outside the video description, will either make a single video talking about their Patreon or mention it AFTER the video ended. Not DSP, every pre-stream(Which translates into many Youtube videos) he has to remind everyone about his patreon. And how he could really use 'a dallah'. He constantly reminds everyone how it's the other Youtubers/Streamers that beg for subs and donations, but DSP is the only one I know that does it. Disgusting. And don't even let me get into his numerous guilt trips. I'm willing to entertain the idea that he doesn't realize that he does it, but there's at least a couple of instances where he mentioned how 'before fans would talk about my playthroughs and tell other people about them', y'know, when 'views were higher'.
 And speaking of how he compares himself with 'Other Youtubers/Streamers', he loves to mention how they are all entertainers, while DSP wants to be the 'common gamer' and 'maximum truth'. That's fine, but then why the hell does he play a character, as he claims, on his playthroughs? Supposedly all his rage and anger are just to entertain. Well, then you are giving the wrong impression about a game, what, the controls don't work since 'there was nothing I could do!', 'I DIDN'T PRESS ANYTHING', etc? You can't have it both ways, you silly ass. Playing a character is part of 'being an entertainer', as he likes to call the 'other Youtubers/Streamers'.

 His Humor. All right, so this is pretty subjective, but seeing the amount of hate that he gets, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who finds him completely unfunny. His humor consists on burping in front of the microphone, classy. Or making crude remarks about every single female character that appears on screen 'look at them titties' or stuff of the same ilk. It's not funny. He is a grown man using teenage-like humor and failing at it.

 Basically, DSP is not a nice guy and he deserves almost all the hate that he gets. Some of the 'haters' go a bit too far, like trolling him on his streams and what have you, but make no mistake, DSP is not a guy you want to root for.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Now Playing: Earth Defense Force 2025

 So, Earth Defense Force USA was my introduction to the series, and it turns out fans consider it a 'bad EDF game'. Well, I just started this game on co-op, and what can I say, I think I liked the other one a teeny bit more.

 So, I'm playing the Fencer, I would've gone with the flying class, like I did in the other game, but I think the class looks ridiculous in this one, so I opted for the badass guy in a suit, plus, I knew it had melee weapons... and well, it's slow as molasses. My sister is co-oping as the Ranger, and I need to equip the hammer with the dash in order to keep up! Now that I think about it, characters definitely seem 'deeper' than in EDF USA.

 What I liked:
- The different classes, different weapons, how you can have different load-outs
- The idea behind the game.
- Couch co-op.
- Gameplay is fun, very arcadey, which I enjoy a lot.

What I didn't like:
- Performance issues galore. The framerate dips. Constantly. I wonder if its better in Single player?
- Loading times are long.

Review #275: Castlevania Chronicles

 Because sometimes, just sometimes, games hate your guts.
 Castlevania Chronicles is the remake of a remake. Sort of. Y'see, Castlevania for the X86000 was sort of a remake of Castlevania NES. Sort of. Castlevania Chronicles is a compilation of both the original X86000 game and its remake.

 You see, Castlevania X86000 was brutal. It IS brutal, and it is available in all of its original glory as 'Original Mode'. But the game is incredibly hard, due to enemy placement, stiff movement and the amount of damage you take. 'Arrange Mode' is the remake, which not only offers a new sprite for both Simon and Dracula, but it allows you to customize the difficulty setting: Easy, so that you can cruise through the game, Normal, which is about as hard as Rondo of Blood and Hard which is almost as hard as the original game on the X86000. But you can further customize the challenge by disabling the timer or upping your life stock to 5. If you ask me, 'Arrange Mode' is the best way to experience the game, Original is way too hard and the pay off isn't worth it. And that's about all the differences between both versions, from now on, everything refers to both games.
 Chronicles is what I like to call a Classicvania, a 2-D sidescrolling platform game. Simon, the hero, can jump, attack with his whip or use sub-weapons on his way to Dracula's abode. It sounds simple and it is simple, X jumps, Square attacks. Unlike most Classicvanias, you can actually adjust your jump trajectory mid-air, as well as whip downwards from the air. But that's as agile as Simon gets, y'see, the game is ridden with ladders, which you climb up or down by holding, well, up or down on the D-Pad. While on stairs you can't jump off them, so you are basically a very slow, huge target for mobile enemies. Even better, holding up and pressing square uses your sub-weapons, so its entirely possible to mess up and consume your sub weapon energy by accident. And like a ton of vintage platform games, there's quite a few pixel-perfect jumps standing between and Dracula, so good luck.

 To add insult to injury, level design isn't the best. Sometimes. particularly on vertically scrolling levels, enemies will pop up from the sides without even giving you a chance to dodge them, and there's a few obstacles that will catch you off guard the first time. The funny thing, all of these will either drive you away or, if you are an oldschool gamer, entice you to try it out. Yes, the game is Nintendo-hard, and if that's your jam, this is your game.
 When it comes down to it, Castlevania Chronicles is a good, but dated game. It's definitely not a game for everyone, and not worth the high price it commands now a days. But hey, you can buy it off PSN if you are feeling for a hardcore, oldschool platform game. And if you are just curious, there's always easy mode.
 7.0 out of 10

Review #274: Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden

 'nother year, 'nother Dragon Ball game.
 Every console, but the Vita it seems, must have a Dragon Ball game sometime during its lifetime, and now it's the 3DS' turn, at least outside Japan. It's ArkSys', of Blazblue and Guilty Gear fame, turn with the franchise, after their SuperSonic Warriors release, to develop the latest entry in the 'Butoden' fighting games.

 The game offers a purely offline experience, although Japan got an update with a Training and Online Modes, but seeing how it's been a couple of months since its release... It's safe to say we ain't getting it any time soon. As for the modes, there's Z Story, a 8-part story mode made up of 10 fights each, seven of the eight chapters follows a different 'What if' scenario, the 8th being a loose, and bland, retelling of the major story arcs of the series. Then there's 'Adventure Mode', which is an all-new what-if story... which is pretty boring. Fights in Adventure Mode have different goals to complete in order to unlock assist characters. Lastly there's 'Extreme World Tournament' which... isn't a Tournament mode at all, but rather another 'story'-type mode, fights are always the same! Lastly there's VS CPU or local Players. It's pretty barebones, but for a portable fighter I guess it's alright, although the absence of a Training Mode is unforgivable.
 First lemme get this out of the way: The game falls on the same pitfall most bad licensed fighters do: It's balanced according to the series, rather than strive for a balanced character roster. This means that, say, Raditz or Kuririn are gonna have a baaaaaaaaad time against characters like Beerus or Super Saiyan God Goku. It tries to make up for it by having the tired 'Dragon Power' system, allowing you to make a team of up to 3 playable characters, or 1-2 playable characters and up to 4 assist characters, as long as the sum of the 'Dragon power' of your team doesn't exceed 35. You could fight battles one-on-one, but the game encourages using Assist characters, as a matter of fact, certain characters have moves than are uncombo-eable, as far as I noticed, unless you use assists, which I think is a terrible design choice for a fighting game.

 Characters play more or less the same when it comes to normals. Y is Weak attack, X Strong attack, A varies depending on the character and B is used for dodging. Holding the L button and pressing Y or X lets you use Ki-consuming special moves, while R is used for dashing/canceling at the cost of some Ki. In a bizarre twist, ultimate moves are actually combos. Y-Y-Y-Y-X-A is how you use them. Lastly, characters share the same 'combos', while they have different properties, they are all executed the same. Which is to say, X-A is a blast attack, Y-Y-Y-Y-Y knocks back, Y-Y-X is a knock up, etc. To be honest, I felt the mechanics where a bit limited, and some movesets where a bit uninspired. I did like the fast speed of the overall game, and it does feel different from all the other ArkSys fighters, which is I complaint I usually have with their games: They all feel the same!
  Then we come to the character roster. Dragon Ball fans are so spoiled that they will usually whine if there's less than 60 characters. Listen, animating 2D sprites is hard, much harder than animating 3D models, so a 2-D fighter having a small character roster is more than understandable. Extreme Butoden features 25 characters, which is more than what most new 2-D fighters offer. That said, there's plenty of clones. Goku, Super Saiyan Goku, Super Saiyan God Goku and Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku are basically the same character, barring the special moves. And Goku shares some moves with Adult Gohan, with whom he shares a body, as well as Bardok, with whom he shares a head. And what's up with having four Gokus? And why have Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku if they wouldn't give us playable  Gold Frieza or Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Vegeta? Since different forms are basically clones, it makes you wonder. And what's up with Bardock? Why give him a spot over more important characters like, say, Vegeto, Yamcha or Tien? Basically, I don't have a problem with the size, or even the clones, but rather some of their picks.

 The graphics are, easily, the game's biggest selling point, sprites are beautiful, and are better animated than even some of ArkSys own Blazblue sprites. If you've followed the Butoden series since the SNES games, you might even notice some familiar moves, like Piccolo and Teen Gohan's fast speed aerial kicks! And while theres 'only' 25 playable characters, they made animated sprites for over 100 characters, and they all look amazing.
 Alright, so Extreme Butoden is hardly a game to write home about, but, BUT I think it's a more than decent foundation for a second game/update. I believe that the game suffered mostly due to the developer playing it to the 3DS' strengths, which is the reason we got simple, limited combat mechanics. I'd like to see an update for the game, but on home consoles,  with the added benefit of real joysticks, and we could get some more characters. It could've also used real different modes, like a Survival mode or a true Tournament Mode.
 5.5 out of 10

Friday, January 8, 2016

Review #273: Silent Hill 3

 When humans don't behave like humans.
 I've been aching to give Silent Hill 3 a spin, for whatever reason, and now I did and... I'm pleasantly surprised.

 Firstly, you will not play this game for the story. I mean, the set up is alright, you play as Heather, who gets warped into 'the otherside' after a meeting a detective. In this 'Otherside' freaky things are out to get her, and soon she'll be involved in a cultist group's agenda. Y'know, it's alright. But... Humans don't behave like humans. Heather and the other NPCs, all behave very weirdly. Heather and the Detective come across all these creatures and they only trade a few words about it and then go merrily on their way. Or a character confronts another, and when they tell this character ' X was kidnapped and brainwashed!', the other character, instead of answering something sensible like 'Your cult is evil and X is better off now!' answers... 'X was happy!'... so what if X was happy? X WAS KIDNAPPED, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Yeah... character interaction isn't very realistic, which put me off a lot. And what about this 'Otherside'? Like, every place that Heather goes into is completely devoid of any human life, seems abandoned really, so when does she get into 'the Otherside' really? I dunno, I feel the game could've explained some things better. Silent Hill 4 gets a lot of flak, and I'll admit that some of its characters' interactions were a bit iffy as well, but it was much more believable than this game's. Just saying.
 But when it comes to videogames, it can have the stupidest, most nonsensical story out there, but as long as the gameplay is tight, I won't care. And this game passes with flying colors. Firstly, there's two forms of movement: 2D or 3D. 2D gives you tank-like controls, strafing and a backstep. But 3D gives you more natural controls(Left is left, instead of making you rotate), but the freedom of movement comes at a cost: No strafing or backstepping. It's a fair trade off, and it accommodates both players that are fond of tanklike controls or the other type. The game also offers separate difficulty settings for both combat and puzzles, further accommodating for players of different skills. Very nice. I played the game on normal(Both for combat and puzzles) and they were just fine, and read about some of the 'Hard' puzzles and... they can get pretty challenging.

 In order to deal with the many monsters that assault Heather, she can use both close ranged weapons and a few fire-arms. Combat is a bit stiff, like most Survival Horror games, y'know the deal, slow swings, short range and scarce ammo and healing supplies. That said, melee combat is more viable than on most games of the genre, as a matter of fact, Heather can block incoming attacks for reduced damage. There's another type of... danger. Cliffs. For whatever reason, Heather can fall to her death off the edges of, well, any kind of surface with edges. I found it a fairly needless hazard, that will kill you mostly out of being distracted than it being a real danger, which I found to be kinda dumb.
 The camera can be a bit of a pain sometimes. Some areas feature fixed camera angles that messes with your controls(Although I'm guessing it doesn't if you are using the Tank-like settings) if you are moving while the camera transitions. Furthermore, while you can adjust, on areas without fixed camera angles, the camera behind Heather with L2, sometimes the camera will try to snap back to where it was before. It's specially annoying if you spot an enemy, you let go of L2 and the camera snaps in front of you while the enemy approaches you! And sometimes getting Heather to interact with the right item on the environment that you want can be a bit tough, particularly when interactables are close together or on top of each other, but these happens almost exclusively on 'safe spots' when trying to get Heather to interact with the save spot or pick up a certain item, so it's just a minor inconvenience.

 I liked Silent Hill 3, I really did, but I really don't understand how Silent Hill 4 gets so much flak when it's so much better than SH 3. The story is better, character interactions are better, gameplay is better. And in no way am I even trying to imply that Silent Hill 3 is bad, au contraire, it's fantastic, but Silent Hill 4 is every bit as good, and in my opinion even better, than this one, yet it's the one called the black sheep of the series. But I digress, Silent Hill 3 is a great, if a bit short, game. It can be challenging, unsettling, and even creepy but it offers enough customization in its difficulty and controls to appeal to players of varying skills.
 8.0 out of 10

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Now Playing: Silent Hill 3

 It's goooooooooooooooooooooood.
 Lemme use my usual preface when writing about games like this... 'I am not a fan of survival horror games but...', but, Silent Hill 3 is badass. I just defeated the first boss and I think I'm in love.

What I liked:
 Heather. Heather is badass, and looks amazing. Who'd think a Japanese developer could resist pandering to the lowest common denominator and fanservicing the hell out of her?
 The setting. It's creepy, really creepy. I like it.
 Controls. Don't like tank-like controls? You can use more traditional controls at the cost of strafing and the backstep. A fair trade-off methinks.

What I didn't like:
 Fixed Camera angles. Alright, so I understand that it kinda comes with the territory, but I can't for the life of me enjoy being attacked by enemies off-camera. Particularly when Heather is looking straight ahead, so she should be able to see the threat, which in turns means I should be able to see it.
 Sloppy selection. This one is hard to explain, but basically, Heather's head turns into items of interest. Fair enough, but sometimes, for example, there might be a Save Spot above, say, an examinable bed. Sometimes it's hard to get Heather to interact with said Saves Spot instead of the bed.
 Enemies wait for nobody. Where you mashing X to get through a description and accidentally toggled it again or something? To bad, you can't move until you are done with it, but the enemies can and can attack you while you are defenseless. Not cool.

Archile's Grab Bag: Start o' the Year Edition

  A new year means a new package which means more games. And more games mean more 'This is what I think now of this game' sentences for kicks and giggles.
  Clock Tower 3: Ever since Jim Sterling(', son') some time shared a clip from the game, I've been wanting to try it out. It's similar to Haunting Ground, since that was meant to be a sequel to this game, so that's a plus, since Haunting Ground was awesome.
  Freedom Wars: I don't understand why this game dropped so soon in price, since it seems to be one of Vita's finest. It seems to have a Gods Eater aura, being very Anime and with the post-apocalyptic setting, but without needing to resort to fanservice, so I've actually got high hopes for this one.
  Valkyrie Profile - Lenneth: I loved VP on the PS1, but that version has gotten waaaay too expensive, and the PSP port is, while definitely inferior, not a bad, cheap alternative to playing VP, so why not? I never actually finished VP, which is something I plan on correcting.
 YS - Memories of Celceta: I've been a fairly casual YS fan ever since I played a PC YS game. As a matter of fact, I think this game is a remake of that remake(There's a particular game that they've been keen on remaking forever. Maybe I'm wrong). I dunno, this seemed quite decent..
 Silent Hill 3: I understand that I am putting my 'I hate Survival Horror games' reputation in jeopardy, but Silent Hill 3 is a game I've always been curious about. I probably shouldn't mention that I'm kinda interested in dipping into Silent Hill 2 again.
 Castlevania Chronicles: Another game I used to love back when I was younger. Truth be told, I've always been a fan of pink haired Simon, he looks, surprisingly, badass, in his tight, revealing leather one-piece.