Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Takin the day off.

I finally took my driving test and I failed. Again. This isn't the first time I took the test and I'll be damned if I fail it again. It was a let down but I don't feel bitter about failing which is a bit odd because now I have to invest another £300 in lessons and re-takes.
I'm not in the mood for a video game review this week, I haven't really played or done anything I feel like writing about. I was going to upload the art work I did for my recently finished art unit but I didn't take any photos so expect them in the near future.

Recently I have had a few ideas going around in my head for some projects I have planned, I'm not going to share them though on the off chance of someone nicking my ideas and claiming them to be their own. In case anyone is wondering how far I am into the game challenge I have completed 4 games so far leaving me with another 46 left to go. Expect the number to jump up over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Retro Game Challenge CX

I can't help but think back to what I have said these last few weeks, a year without games? A year is a long time, I had to wait nearly a year to get my PayPal account back and it was absolutely insufferable. I haven't gone cold turkey on the challenge, I'd like to finish sooner rather than later. I don't want to be doing this for the entire year.
Personal gripes aside I took on several games this week and many of them were incredibly difficult, it would have been a shame to not have a game to review, thankfully I was saved by a game I forgot I had.

Retro Game Challenge is the video game adaptation of popular Japanese TV show Game Center CX. The TV show focuses on Japanese Comedian Shinya Arino taking on difficult classic video game challenges.

Retro Game Challenge is not a video game compilation but a “1980's childhood simulator” where you live through the 1980's playing various video game challenges. Each game is different and requires its own mini review.

The evil Game Master Arino.
Cosmic Gate
The first game you challenge is Cosmic Gate, a Galaga clone. The game is almost identical to Galaga. What divides Cosmic Gate from Galaga are the bonus stages, level wraps, power up's and cheats. Cosmic Gate is a fun and easy game to get into and is one of the better titles you can play.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man
Robot Ninja Haggle man is a throwback to the arcade style of platform games where the goal was to defeat all the enemies in order to proceed to the next stage. Haggle Man is a cute game with enough charm to carry it through to the end.

It is a playing games in your living room sim.
Rally King
Rally King is a game in the now defunct Bird's eye view genre of racing games. The game is one of the weaker ones and is hard to get into at first, once you understand the controls there is fun to be had but the appeal is rather limited.

Star Prince
Star Prince is a clone of popular space shooter Star Soldier and bears an uncanny resemblance to some of the series stronger titles like Soldier Blade on the PC-Engine. It is easily one of the best games in the set.

Rally King SP
Possibly the weakest game of the lot Rally King SP is just Rally King but harder, there isn't anything else I can say without repeating myself.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2
A direct sequel, Robot Ninja Haggle Man 2 manages to be almost identical to the original while also being a better game. New features and better graphics have been added to make the game feel like a true sequel and not just a rehash like Rally King SP.

Guadia Quest
Guadia Quest automatically got the thumbs down from me for being an old fashioned JRPG in the style of the original Dragon Quest. The longest and hardest game of the lot Guadia Quest will only leave hardcore JRPG fans happy. Good thing you can skip the game with a cheat.

Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3
Another strong entry Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3 took everything established by the first two games and threw them in the bin. Cute platform games are out and action games are in. Robot Ninja Haggle Man 3 can best be described as the love child of Temco's Ninja Gaiden and Sega's Shinobi, it isn't very long but it is still one of the best games of the set.

One of the most interesting features of this “eighties childhood sim” is the video game magazines containing news, hints and cheats for the games. These magazines are almost essential and will make beating the game much easier.

Retro game challenge is one of the more interesting DS games I have come across, anyone who is a fan of classic games or the TV show should consider giving this a go.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Game Break Challenge: Week 1

For those who missed my Red Steel 2 post I have decided to take a break from video games. I have spent too much time on them, not to say it has been a waste of time. I had fun but it would be good for me to try new things and accomplish goals I set a long time ago.
I have made a series of rules for my challenge:
I must play and complete 50 games.
I must play these games to the ending.
Once I have finished I must stop playing video games for a year.

For the first week I played a game I have been wanting to play for a long time, a game considered to be the best instalment in its 20+ year history.

I should use the American boxart but I like the original more.

Though the name suggests otherwise Final Fantasy III is actually the sixth game in the series, this is because earlier instalments were never released outside of Japan, to avoid confusion in the west VI was changed to III.
Final Fantasy III follows a group of unlikely heroes who are bought together by circumstance and a common enemy. This being a Japanese RPG each team member has a unique skill and a personality trait which makes them stand out, you have the thief, the steroid freak, the old bloke, an artist, a Sasquatch and half a dozen other characters who are special in some way.

This being Final Fantasy awards were never going to be won for the gameplay. I can't say there is a great turn based battle system in games but there is a lesser of evils. With JRPG games there are three common types of turn based battles, the really long ones, the balanced ones and the ones where you die all the time. Final Fantasy falls into the middle, the battles are never longer than they should be with many battles being incredibly brief. Some may be disappointed by easy boss battles but an easy boss is still better than a tedious boss.
The turn based combat may be more balanced than in most JRPG's but it is still turn based and sooner or later you will get bored of it. Once you have the skill system down beating the game boils down to repetition, using the same attacks over and over until enemies drop dead.
Outside of the battles though you have a large open world adventure filled to the brim with secrets. If I had to walk down a corridor for 50 hours while stopping every now and then to kill something I just wouldn't bother with the game. I want a sense of freedom, I want to see a world where I can go anywhere at any time and easily backtrack to objectives. Final Fantasy III lets me have all of this.

The narrative is one of the stronger ones I have experienced in a JRPG, the narrative wasn't focused purely on spectacle and drama but a good sense of humour, Final Fantasy III finds the correct balance of Drama and Comedy needed to make the story interesting and fun.

Though there is a lot of good to be said even the positive features eventually outstayed their welcome. Come the end of the game the difficulty balance had gone and I had to resort to tedious level grinding, even with high level characters it was still a chore to finish the last area. The only thing stopping me from quitting was the promise of an epic finale, I got my epic finale but I still left the game behind disappointed about those last 5 hours.

It took a large amount of time from me but I have no regrets over Final Fantasy III, in the end there was enough positives to outweigh the negatives. The game is easily one of the best instalments in the series.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Game Break Challenge

I've recently come to a point in my life where I feel it is time to move on and try something else. This may be sudden but I want to try it at least once and see how it goes.
I've made a challenge for myself, it is called the Game Break Challenge. Starting from now I will play and complete 50 games, when I have completed all 50 I must take a year long break from video games. I know this sounds like the ramblings of a lunatic but I want to give it a chance. If I stopped playing video games I would be left with a huge void I could fill with all new things, I could take up fishing or something. If anything this would be the perfect chance to read and watch the great films and books I have dodged over the years. The challenge starts next week, until then here is the last game I played before taking on this challenge.

Red Steel 2 is the sequel to the incredibly mediocre and drab Wii launch title Red Steel. With the memory of the first game fading away Ubisoft did the right thing and rebooted the series, moving away from the Yakuza concept in favour of something more original. Red Steel 2 takes place in a setting reminiscent of the TV show Firefly where Western and Eastern cultures have fused together to create an Asian Wild West world where men battle each other with Six-shooters and Katana's. The developers rectified many if not all the issues with the original game, Red Steel 2 is better than the first in every conceivable way.

Red Steel had control issues due to the Wii remote, the aiming was inaccurate and the sword play just did not work at all with unresponsive controls deciding the outcome by chance. It would be wrong to blame all of the problems in the original Red Steel on controls, even if Red Steel had been on the PS2 the poor gameplay and design would ultimately purge the game into the Average at best category. With the motion + add on the Wii controller is only now living up to its potential, Red Steel 2 was to be the game to live up to said potential but to be honest it is only half way there.
The motion + makes your gun aim perfectly and while the sword combat is accurate it still boils downs to flinging your arm from side to side like you are at a Piñata party.

The cel-shaded graphical style of the game makes it more visually appealing and attractive than its predecessor but as far as the Wii is concerned anything aiming for a realistic style may as well not bother.
The story and narrative structure is linear with the gist of it boiling down to “go here, do this, come back for your next mission”, a repetitive structure which gives the player the same set of tasks again and again, this problem falls on the side missions with each one being a variant of “destroy x number of these, find x number of these, kill x number of bad guys”. It comes down to is the game needlessly padding itself out. Take the side missions away and the game becomes short, and not Portal short where the game is no longer than it needs to be, Red Steel 2 is the type of short where you feel there is some wasted potential.
A lot of the potential is lost in the lack of challenge provided. The upgrades can over power your character making him near invincible. The sword techniques you learn is where all challenge is lost, half way through the game you learn a move called The Tiger, a move capable of blocking all attacks and breaking the enemies guard, once you have this technique the game becomes an exercise tool for your arm, even bosses bow down to the power of The Tiger.

I do like Red Steel 2 but it often comes off as being designed by a committee following a check list. Quick Time Events are used in one cut scene just for the sake of it. Many things in Red Steel 2 seem to be there for the sake of it. Maybe the developers had to pass a cliché test before the game could be released.
Despite all the flaws Red Steel 2 is still one of the stronger 3rd party titles on the Wii.