Monday, October 27, 2014

Backlog Blitz: NES, Week 1, "The Rainbow's Curse"

In an age long past, I reviewed things in a humorous and unobjective manner which would cause your average GamerGater to have an aneurysm. This is a return to that glorious tradition. These blogs were originally posted on GameInformer Online, a wonderful games site.

There are a lot of games over the years I missed out on due to ignorance or lack of cash or simply being too young to know of them or buy them. I’m going to rectify that. And you get to watch me slowly go insane over the course of around two thousand video games. It should be fun!

Obviously I don’t own every single one of these games—I’m not filthy rich—but at some point or another I had quite the collection. My older consoles are dying, so I’m playing anything non-PC on an emulator. It’s not ideal, but I don’t like trying to duct-tape a cartridge into place every time I want to play a new game. I’d never advocate visiting places like Vimm’s Lair and emulating old games otherwise. That would be unethical and immoral. (Side note: At first I couldn’t find the screenshot button, so for a while I’ll be stealing screenshots from Almighty Google. This means they're going to be a bit inconsistent in size compared to the ones capped from my awesome emulator. Deal with it. Also, I used JNES to do most of this.)

Pictured: Google's first result for "social life." Seems legit.
I have limited free time (college and work and having a social life all take up a lot of time) so unless a game is amazing or should be experienced in full, I’ll probably only be spending around 30 minutes with each entry. For the early generations of games, at least. Later generations will get more commitment as they’re less likely to be locked by impossible skill barriers. That said, if I’ve gotten a solid feel for a game in five minutes, and that feel is AWFUL, I’m not going to waste my time. And if I’m having fun, well… My approach here is being heavily influenced by Rock Paper Shotgun’s Wot I Think articles—play long enough to get a feel, write a VERY subjective blurb, and move on. This is more intended as a humorous diary or “Hey, have you played this?” rather than the be-all-end-all of reviews. So let’s get started! 

I…I think this is a skateboard time-trial challenge? But I can only ollie? The controls feel tank-like, even for an isometric skating game that uses the d-pad. So far I’ve bailed every time I so much as jump on flat ground. Oh, wait! I landed a ju—nevermind. Three notes blare over and over in the background. The composer could have learned variety from the Ramones. When time runs out , a floating skull hunts me down and zaps me into a cloud of ash. That’s both unexpected and surprisingly grim. I can see the origins of later skating games—especially the isometric Tony Hawk games for the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance—but this is still pretty awful. Would it have killed them to put in SOME sort of goal? Like a bit of text at the beginning of the run that said “Get 10K points?” Or, you know, a level that didn’t resemble the generic skate park I used to frequent as a kid? Seriously, flat plazas with a couple ramps isn’t much in the way of cool stuff.  Or, you know, a trick besides an ollie. Please? Pleeease?

Alien 3
Oh no. LJN. I’ve watched The Angry Video Game Nerd. I know what the rainbow holds, and it’s not a pot of leprechaun gold. Immediately, I had to turn off the music. It’s an awful cacophony more fit for Terminator than Alien. It’s not often that I notice how the screens move in a sidescroller/explorer, but this is atrocious. Fast-moving Xenomorphs are charging in from every direction but the screen moves so sluggishly that I can’t see the buggers in time. Properly implemented, something like this would be cool—maybe have the rest of the area dimly lit, with only a circle of light around the player—but as-is it’s just aggravating. Speaking of the player: I THINK I’m playing as Ripley? It’s hard to tell because of the awful graphics. Either I’m Ripley in a green jumpsuit or I’m a man in Army green fatigues. Oh, and the gameplay? It’s a rescue mission. (At least the first level. I couldn’t get any further). And it’s TIGHTLY TIMED. Did these people watch Alien? Or Aliens? Or…any horror movie ever? Making me rush could have worked (particularly if the level were darker and I had to balance moving fast with not getting ambushed by facehuggers), but as is it’s just me trying to memorize the exact path to each hostage in the right order so that I can make it to the exit in time. Oh, that’s right. The timer doesn’t end when you rescue the hostages. You have to get OUT of the level in whatever time you have left. GAH. GAH. GAH. WHY. There’s no reason to rush after that! Especially since I killed 50 Xenomorphs! There can’t be THAT many. Mainly what disappoints me is that this game could be good. Reduce the lighting. Make it more of a stealth-puzzler a la Metal Gear. Make the Xenomorphs an actual threat rather than a 2-shot kill. Speaking of shots, where is Ripley storing her five guns—SMG, assault rifle, a grenade launcher deal, a flamethrower, and some other thing? Anyway, it’s LJN. What did I expect?

Soooooo this is just Breakout, right? I mean, it’s fun. The graphics are solid, the sound is solid, the gameplay is solid. I’d happily play to kill some time. But bouncing a ball at some bricks and collecting little powerups is not the kind of game I’d pay more than a buck or two for.

Cripes! Talk about tank controls! (I feel like I’ll be talking about tank controls a lot…) This is bloody awful. Astyanax (at least I think that’s the character’s name) jumps like a white man and moves like Jabba the Hutt. Combat isn’t terrible—reminds me of Zelda II with garishly-painted Greek influences—but movement is painfully slow. Also, in a platformer where you’ve got a limited, no-take-backs jump, enemies spawning on platforms only once you’re committed to your pitiful hop? Just cheap.

That's all for this week, folks! Tune in next time for more of my slow spiral into insanity!