Backloggin’ – 26/07/2012

Man, it’s been far too long since my last update – almost a whole month! I’ve been working a lot lately with my summer job and all, but I’ve still had time to play video games – just not as much as I’d like, ideally. Since it’s been so long though, I don’t think I should mention every game I’ve been working at since my last update – no, that would be too much. Instead, I think I’ll just focus on what I’ve played semi-recently and what still has left a lasting impression on me, even if I did beat it a week or more ago.

Xenoblade Chronicles – I lost my taste for this one, admittedly, since my last update. I think it was due to my realization that Xenoblade is a long-ass game, and that in being long, the pacing is a lot slower than other, shorter, games. For comparison, I also played Metal Gear Solid these past weeks, which took me around 13 hours to complete. MGS is a very plot-driven, cutscene and dialogue-based experience, and as such, a mere hour with the game feels like a long time because so much of the game’s story is unfolded. Xenoblade is different – you can play it for an hour and get very little done, maybe at the most a few side quests or you might advance the story by one step. All in all though, a play session with Xenoblade feels a lot more underwhelming than what a faster-paced game would provide.

So upon realizing that, I started to lose interest in playing it. I mean, it is summertime, so I want to try and finish as many games as I can – but it feels like Xenoblade is slowing me down. That being said, I hopped back into it a few days ago and really enjoyed it again, and that made me realize that maybe being a long game isn’t a bad thing. After all, I’m quite interested in seeing the next 70 or so hours of Xenoblade’s story unfold, since the sheer scale of what has happened leaves me wondering what other characters and evil metal-faced Mechon bosses I’ll come across. Xenoblade isn’t a predictable game at all – in fact, just knowing I’ve barely seen past the tip of a very large iceberg is quite sensational. The conclusion to the story is far, far away – and you know what? I’m okay with that. It’s simply a testament to how large this game really is, and just knowing that the story could go in any direction, or multiple, is quite the sensation.

Put simply, playing through Xenoblade or any similar JRPG (I’m guessing) is the equivalent to watching an entire anime series, whereas playing through something like Metal Gear Solid – which I’ll get to soon enough – feels like watching an action movie, one you could easily complete in what feels like one sitting.

So yeah, quite the difference. But I’m sticking with Xenoblade, especially knowing that the ending is nowhere in sight, but that the near-future is an intricate web of storytelling possibilities.

Plus, y’know, smashing evil robot dudes is awesome and hasn’t really gotten old yet.

Space Invaders Extreme 2 – Okay, so this is really an arcade-style game and as a result I guess you could say I “beat it” on the same day I bought it. I’m actually surprised I didn’t mention it in the last update post I did for that exact reason – but eh, whatever.

This game is seriously awesome though. I’m going to try and avoid using the totally over-used “it’s X on crack!” descriptor here, but SIE2 really is Space Invaders taken to a whole new level. The whole thing has been overhauled to play as more of a fast-paced, score-based kind of game. You’re still an anonymous tank-looking-guy at the bottom of the screen(s), shooting upwards at incoming invaders. They – the invaders – still move slowly and impractically towards the ground, but there’s more enemy variety than you would think. Take that, throw in multiple new temporary weapon power-ups, UFOs that trigger fever modes, spastic, colorful backgrounds, and an electronic soundtrack – and you have Space Invaders Extreme 2.

The original Space Invaders plays at a snail’s pace by today’s standards, but SIE2 is upbeat and fast-paced. Due to the plentiful weapon upgrades, you’ll blast through waves of enemies in mere seconds, and timing the individual cannon-blasts from your standard tank is a thing of the past. With the pacing cranked and the overall experience feeling like something out of a epileptic night club, SIE2 is the way Space Invaders should be. It’s fast, it’s satisfying, and it’s downright addicting. It’s also miles ahead of Infinity Gene, which Taito put out for iPhone a while back.

Even if you’re not one for Space Invaders, or even score-based games, I’d totally recommend at least trying this one. It’s faithful to the original enough, but goes way beyond the boundaries of the 1978 classic – and the end result is something purely magnificent.

TMNT games – Of which there are three:

I’m a pretty big Turtles fan, and have been for a while – since about 2nd or 3rd grade. It’s definitely my all-time favorite franchise – next to ponies, of course), and it’s one I’ve followed closely since originally discovering it as a kid. From there, I discovered the internet, and I would spend hours looking through pages and pages on the original Ninja Turtles website (which now redirects to Nickelodeon’s TMNT page). I just soaked in every little bit of info I could get off of that site, of which there was a lot – it covered everything from the comics, to the shows, and the games and toys with detailed descriptions and countless pictures.

Anyway, I’ve always loved the TMNT games, too – especially the arcade-style ones from the 80s and 90s. But, I noticed I didn’t have much experience with the more modern TMNT games, so I got these for decent prices off of eBay and EB Games, and planned to finish them as a part of my Summer gaming priorities list.

Well, I did. Because these games are in no way equals in terms of quality, I’ll be impartial and start from the left.

TMNT (GBA) – Based off the 2007 CGI-movie, this one is a classic beat-em-up sidecroller modeled closely to the original Turtles arcade games, and developed by Ubisoft Montreal, who later did the Scott Pilgrim game – I mention this because they feel very similar to one another. This is easily the best of the three though. It’s short n’ sweet, with great brawling, slick animation, great sprite work, and it just feels extremely polished overall. This is the TMNT game I would recommend if you’re wanting to play a more recent game in the franchise. It’s damn-near perfect, especially because it follows the movie quite closely.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2k3, Xbox) – Okay, a bit of a switch in tone here because quite simply, this game f*cking sucks. It is easily the worst TMNT game I’ve ever played. A shame, because I really, really wanted it to be good. But it’s not. At all.

Oh yeah. You can probably tell already how I feel about this one.

Unlike TMNT on the GBA, the combat in this game is flat, and boring. There’s three attack buttons, but there’s no real reason to use anything but what I call the triple-A attack (A+A+A for a quick three-hit combo) other than to mix things up. Mixing things up is something this game never friggin’ does, and that’s why it sucks so much. All it does is put you it poorly-designed, drab environments modeled after the show, and you fight wave after wave after wave of the same enemies. The enemy types seem to only vary when you change stages, and sometimes the game will throw both mousers and Purple Dragons after you – but the designers just didn’t seem to know when to quit.

Even for a beat-’em-up, this game is way too repetitive – and I almost never have that complaint about games, especially beat-’em-ups. You fight so many of the same enemies over and over again with nothing to break-up the fighting, that it’s like they didn’t even try. It was impossible for me to want to play more than one stage per sitting because of just how uninteresting the game is when you’re actually playing it. If you bring a friend along, it becomes slightly more enjoyable – but it didn’t take more than five minutes for my brother to lose all interest in playing this with me. He only stuck around because he’s a good guy and I needed his help several times. It’s like if the classic TMNT arcade games made you stay in one area for a good 3 minutes, fighting off wave after wave of Foot baddies before giving you the green “GO!” arrow. If those games were like that, they would totally suck – but they don’t, because they have excellent pacing. You don’t spend more time in one screen for very long at all. This game, however – throws that right out the goddamn window. It just doesn’t f*cking know when to quit and move on.

Expect to do this again. And again. And again. No, it’s definitely not as fun as it looks.

But the worst, most offensive part about this game is that it pretends to be an arcade game. It wants to be an arcade game so bad, right alongside classics like Turtles in Time. But it can’t because it quite simply sucks so bad and it refuses to accept the fact that it’s a home console game. What am I saying here? Well, this game features a lives system, where if you lose all six of your lives, it kicks you back to the main menu. Okay, fair enough. That’s not so bad. I’ll just start off from where I was with my previously saved progress – that’s how Vexx worked, and Vexx was a great game.

But, no. This game isn’t nice about Game Overs. At all. It’s a spiteful, attention-whoring dick. It forces you to start at the beginning of the stage you were on, and each stage comprises of multiple levels – which means you lose 30-45 minutes, or possibly an hour even of your button-mashing headway. No continues, no nothing – do it all again.

And that right there is what pisses me off the most about this f*cking lousy excuse for a game, let alone something with the Turtles on it. It’s the game’s way of demanding more of your attention, because it still thinks it’s an arcade game – but the truth is, it’s the deformed, idiotic, arrogant and stubborn little shit-child of Konami’s best TMNT games, and it deserves no one’s attention. Easily the worst game I’ve played in a long while. Stay way from it – stay far, far away.

Okay. Whew.

TMNT (Xbox 360) is much better of a game. Also made by Ubisoft and based on the 2007 movie, it’s mostly a Prince of Persia-type platformer with some fighting segments here and there to keep the pacing up. And that alone makes it millions of times better than that shit-fest that is TMNT 2k3 for the original Xbox. This game actually cares about the player, and as a result, it’s pretty fun to play-through the whole way. It’s reasonably short, but overall I had a good time completing it, and it served as good entertainment for one of those days I was stuck at home after getting my wisdom teeth out. The combat isn’t great or anything, but the platforming is – and it’s extremely satisfying to race around the levels as fast as you can, jumping off rooftops and swinging on poles as your favorite Turtle. It’s a whole new acrobatics-focused approach to the Turtles games, and I respect it for that, especially because traditionally, TMNT games have been all fighting and little else. This one feels fresh.

Worth a play if you can find it cheap. TMNT (2007) GBA is better, but I’m glad I gave this one a shot.

So yeah, that’s this week’s update. Stop by next time when I write about my time with F.E.A.R. – possibly one of the coolest, most frighteningly atmospheric games I’ve ever played.



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