Tag Archives: Playstation 2

Some relatively recent games that I didn’t like

The Warriors (2005)
developer: Rockstar Toronto
publisher: Rockstar
system: PlayStation 2
GameRankings score: 83%

Like Manhunt and Bully, The Warriors uses the PS2-era Grand Theft Auto engine.  However, the gameplay is totally different.  Warriors is basically a linear, story-driven beat-em-up, supplemented with tedious graphitti assignments.  I didn’t hate this game but, like 90% of beat-em-ups, the fighting mechanics are too simple.  The characters are all totally unlikeable and mindless rampaging is actually difficult given the closed nature of this release.

Resident Evil 5 (2009)
developer/publisher: Capcom
system: Xbox 360
GameRankings score: 86%

This was a really big disappointment, especially since the dipshit critics gave it such a relatively strong score.  I swear that there is industry bias for and against certain series and I think Resident Evil is on the better end of that deal.  Going into this game, it appears to be a continuation/extension of the game mechanics introduced in the excellent Resident Evil 4.  Well, looks can be deceiving.  Yes, there’s an over the shoulder view but almost every other element from RE4 has been trashed.  The controls, everything from running to fighting to simply restoring your fucking health has been totally clunked up.  The old Resident Evils were clunky due to design/technology limitations.  In this game the clunkiness seems to be based on stupid, intentional decisions.

You may have heard of the controversy surrounding this game, which involves a great white hero gunning down armies of black zombies in Africa and how Capcom attempted to address this problem by adding a “black” sidekick character.  The sidekick is a complete failure.  She gets in the way, she holds you back, she’s annoying and she appears to be at most half-black, with very caucasian facial features.  This game was a real letdown.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)
developer/publisher: Nintendo
platform: GameCube
GameRankings score: 96%

I don’t hate this game but 5.5 hours in I don’t feel like playing it any more, which in my mind is a pretty big indictment for a Zelda game.  Naturally, the critics loved it but why?  Remember the first Zelda game?  A dude gives you a sword and bam! you’re off on an adventure.  Within an hour you’ve found the first dungeon.  This fucking game spends the first couple of hours on linear fetch quests that take place entirely within some dump of a village.  You can’t enter the main overworld until you’ve found someone’s cat, found someone else’s favorite baby basket, rounded up some goats, ugh.  Everyone sits in their exact spot in the village saying their exact same thing like we’re still in the Super NES days.  Link is saddled with an annoying sidekick elf/monster/whatever thing and he sometimes turns into a wolf.

The game has a great look to it but just seems to come up very short in the category of personality.  Its predecessor, The Wind Waker, had a lot of issues but it was bursting with great personality and it looks great.

Left 4 Dead (2008)
developer: Valve
publisher: EA
system: Xbox 360
GameRankings score: 89%

I bought this game because I really liked Valve’s The Orange Box compilation for Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Portal.  I did not give a flying fuck about the online-only multiplayer-only Team Fortress 2Left 4 Dead looks a lot like Half-Life but it’s about as deep as Team Fortress 2.  In other words, it’s basically designed for you to go online, turn off your brain, and play through its rather short missions over and over.  I can’t think of any other game with so little content that was given such a high score by the critics.

Prince of Persia (2008)
developer: Ubisoft Montreal
publisher: Ubisoft
system: Xbox 360
GameRankings score: 80%

All of the games on this list have pretty good visuals but this game definitely takes the cake in this regard.  I love the look of this particular PoP game, much more than its PS2/GameCube/Xbox predecessors.  Unfortunately, the gameplay took some really stupid steps backwards.  There are a lot of little changes that mostly feel like they were made for the sake of changing something, anything.  In the Sands of Time trilogy games, the trigger buttons were used to dash along walls in a very reliable and tightly controlled manner.  Now, you kind of jump at a wall and hope the game understands that you want to run along the wall and not jump off of it.  The fighting has been completely retooled, completely for the worse.  The one thing that very obviously improved in each Sands of Time trilogy game was the fighting, but that’s been abandoned for a hilariously stupid, slow-motion, scripted battle mechanic.  It’s too bad the action in this game sucks because the Prince seems pretty likeable, as opposed to the sad cunt found in Warrior Within and The Two Thrones.

Zelda clones and offspring

As you may have noticed from a previous post, I recently finished The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, which means I have beaten 10 Zelda games and have 3 to go (not counting the Four Swords spin-off games or the awful licensed games for CD-i).  Now, finishing 3 Zelda games is no small task and it’ll probably be awhile before I’ve actually done so, but I can’t help looking to the future.  When I’ve beaten all the Zeldas, what will I do when I want a Zelda fix but don’t want to replay a previously finished game?  Well, fortunately, there are many Zelda clones out there.  I’ve assembled this list for myself as much as anything but I’ll share it here for those other forlorn gamers that have rescued Hyrule as many times as possible. Note: I am ONLY including the games that by reputation are considered worthwhile. I’m not including any that are generally considered crap because I don’t want to play them!

Note 1: Before we start, bear in mind that I have not played most of these games. So, if I categorize a game incorrectly, just let me know!

Note 2: With each game I will list 2 ratings. The first rating, from GameFAQs, represents scores from amateur reviewers. The second rating, from GameRankings, represents scores from “professional” reviewers. Okay, let’s go!

Part 1: A rose by any other name . . .

Unapolagetic, Unabashed CLONES! These are the games that make little to no effort to hide their Zelda-ish-ness.

Golden Axe Warrior (Master System, SEGA, 1991)
what a terrible cover illustration
I have to start with this game because, OH, GOD, just look at the screenshots!

Yep, this is a major rip-off but fans seem to like it for what it is. Interestingly, this game came out in 1991, five years after the original Zelda was released in Japan. What made SEGA think that, after all that time, they needed their own Zelda clone? And for the Master System, no less, when the SNES/Genesis war was well underway? And how did the Golden Axe property get mixed up in the whole thing? Another interesting note – SEGA never bothered to release the game in Japan.
GameFAQs: 8.3 (3 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Neutopia (TurboGrafx-16, Hudson, 1990)

I mainly started with Golden Axe warrior because it was so blatantly derivative. However, Hudson beat SEGA to the punch by one year with a slightly less derivative offering, story and all. See fo’ yo’ self.

GameFAQs: 8.0 (6 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Neutopia II (TurboGrafx-16, Hudson, 1991)

Hudson didn’t waste any time releasing a follow-up. Both games are supposed to be pretty good in spite of their shamelessness.

GameFAQs: 7.0 (1 review) GameRankings: N/A

Crusader of Centy (Genesis, NexTech/SEGA, 1994)

Unlike the previously-mentioned games, this one supposedly has some original and unique aspects in story and concept, like some sort of animal training and monster philosophy. However, just LOOK at those screenshots.

GameFAQs: 7.6 (7 reviews) GameRankings: 8.0 (1 review)

Part 2: I’m Breathless: Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy

This section contains games that take the Zelda formula and wrap it up in new clothes. These games have enough of their own feel that they have established their own fan bases, unlike the games in Part 1, whose only legacy is “play this if you want more action in the style of the first Zelda game.” However, all of the games in this section are usually described as, “it’s like Zelda but . . .”

The Battle of Olympus (NES, Infinity/Imagineer, 1988)

“It’s like Zelda but in ancient, mythology-inspired Greece.” More specifically, it’s like the Zelda black sheep, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Reputedly, it’s a bit more action-oriented and less RPG-oriented than its inspiration. This game has some pretty rabid supporters, too.

GameFAQs: 8.3 (12 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Willow (NES, Capcom, 1989)

Oh, look! One of the few games on this list that I’ve actually completed! A year after the film of the same name was released, Capcom managed to finish off this beauty. “It’s like Zelda but in the world of Willow,” which isn’t exactly all that different from the world of Zelda. However, this game is far from derivative and very much has its own identity. There is a lot of item acquisition and there are dungeons, but there’s less of an overworld/dungeon/overworld/dungeon process. The setup is a bit more RPG-ish than most Zelda games. I thoroughly enjoyed the music and revisited certain areas just to hear it.

GameFAQs: 8.5 (11 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Crystalis (NES, SNK, 1989)

“It’s like Zelda but more RPG-ish and with a storyline.” This game does look like Zelda on the surface but its fans, and there are many, claim that it is superior to the original in every way. Maybe so!

GameFAQs: 9.3 (29 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

StarTropics (NES, Nintendo, 1990)

“It’s like Zelda but in a modern setting and with a yo-yo instead of a sword.” This game was developed by Nintendo’s Punch-Out!! team and wasn’t released in good ol’ Japan.

GameFAQs: 8.6 (30 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Zoda’s Revenge: StarTropics II (NES, Nintendo, 1994)

This little-known sequel was released four years later and only in the USA. Poor guy.

GameFAQs: 8.8 (16 reviews) GameRankings: N/A

Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy, SquareSoft, 1991)

Oh! Another game I’ve actually beaten! “It’s like Zelda but in a Final Fantasy world.” This is actually the first game in the Mana (or Seiken Densetsu) series and bore the title, Final Fantasy Gaiden: Seiken Densetsu, in Japan. At first glance it looks a lot like Zelda but the overall feel is pretty different, with that darker Final Fantasy tone. There are many RPG trappings like leveling up and magic points and the items/weapons acquired throughout the game are more destructive than what you’d normally find in Zelda games (like blades and clubs on chains). I understand the SNES Mana games are less Zelda-ish but this one certainly belongs in Part 2 of this article and I would definitely recommend it.

GameFAQs: 8.8 (26 reviews) GameRankings: 8.2 (6 reviews)

LandStalker (Genesis, Climax/SEGA, 1992)

“It’s like Zelda but with an anti-hero, platforming, and an isometric viewpoint.” This one also has pretty rabid supporters.

GameFAQs: 8.7 (15 reviews) GameRankings: 8.7 (2 reviews)

Beyond Oasis (Genesis, Ancient/SEGA, 1994)

“It’s like Zelda but in a middle-Eastern setting and with brawling.” One reviewer described the game as a mash-up of Zelda and the Streets of Rage series. Sounds like a nice change of pace!

GameFAQs: 8.1 (13 reviews) GameRankings: 8.4 (3 reviews)

Legend of Oasis (Saturn, Ancient/SEGA, 1996)

The sequel to Beyond Oasis, but now with “Legend of” in the title to make the Zelda connection clearer. Thank you for that!
Now that's a big kick!
GameFAQs: 7.7 (3 reviews) 7.8 (3 reviews)

Alundra (PlayStation, Matrix/Sony, 1997)

“It’s like Zelda but in 32 bits and with some jumping.” The main character is even elfin in appearance.

GameFAQs: 7.9 (32 reviews) GameRankings: 8.5 (11 reviews)

StarFox Adventures (GameCube, Rare/Nintendo, 2002)
Dinosaur Planet
If you hadn’t already guessed, this game is “like Zelda but with the StarFox cast and conventions.” Here’s how it came about. In the N64 days, Rare had made something of a habit of making high-quality “clones” of Japanese Nintendo games. Super Mario 64 begat Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 and Mario Kart 64 begat Diddy Kong Racing. Eventually, Rare decided to make a Zelda game for the N64, entitled Dinosaur Planet. Shigeru Miyamoto got a look at it, noticed the protagonist was furry, and commanded Rare to convert the game into a StarFox installment for the GameCube. Anyway, the gameplay is Zelda 64 to the core, with the L-button aiming, button mapping and auto-jump. After this release, Rare and Nintendo divorced.

GameFAQs: 7.7 (66 reviews) GameRankings: 8.0 (80 reviews)

Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube, Eurocom/THQ, 2003)

The general consensus is that this game is like Zelda but in ancient, mythology-inspired Egypt. The main innovation is the addition of a jump button.

PlayStation 2 version – 8.6 (8 reviews) 7.9 (33 reviews)
Xbox version – 8.0 (2 reviews) 8.1 (21 reviews)
GameCube version – GameFAQs: 8.0 (9 reviews) 7.9 (25 reviews)

Beyond Good & Evil (PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube/PC, Ubisoft Montpelier/Ubisoft, 2003)

The protagonist is a photographer of some sort and the setting is kinda sci-fi. I don’t know much else but it’s always described as a Zelda clone. It has developed a really fervent cult following and was respected by the critics. Supposedly, a sequel is on the way.

PlayStation 2 version – GameFAQs: 8.1 (34 reviews) GameRankings: 8.7 (57 reviews)
Xbox version – GameFAQs: 9.1 (27 reviews) GameRankings: 8.8 (52 reviews)
GameCube version – GameFAQs: 8.9 (33 reviews) GameRankings: 8.8 (43 reviews)
PC version – GameFAQs: 8.9 (9 reviews) GameRankings: 8.3 (23 reviews)

Okami (PlayStation 2/Wii, Clover Studio/Capcom, 2006/2007)
doggy
Unlike most of the games on this list, Okami enjoyed a pretty healthy marketing and hype push. Interestingly, it came out in the same year as a high profile Zelda release, Twilight Princess, and the reviews often described it as a “Zelda-killer” or as having “out-Zelda’d Zelda.” Pretty big talk! So, yeah, it’s like Zelda but in an ancient, mythology-inspired Japan, and the protagonist is a divine dog. The game was especially praised for its beautiful, painting-like visuals. This was the last game Clover Studio developed before Capcom dissolved them and the principal members left to form Platinum Games. There’s a sequel on the way for DS.

PlayStation 2 version – GameFAQs: 9.5 (52 reviews) GameRankings: 9.2 (75 reviews)
Wii version – GameFAQs: 8.9 (27 reviews) GameRankings: 9.0 (47 reviews)

Part 3: All in the Family

This section is a quick overview of games that bear superficial similarities to Zelda and are probably influenced by Zelda but are not by any means clones and that break out of the mold in several meaningful ways. Perhaps I will write more about these games at a later date but for now I’m including the following in this category.

Mana series, including Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3, Sword of Mana, and the bastard stepchild, Secret of Evermore.

SoulBlazer series, including SoulBlazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma.

Shining series, including I’m not even sure which games el oh el.

Zenonia series, the series that’s dominating on iPhone of late.

END

I’m glad that all these clones exist because there are too many elements that the Zelda games hold onto with unnecessary stubbornness.  Why is the setting always medievel-Europe-looking’?  Why is the star always a little, elfin, blond boy?  Anyway, you have your orders. As for me, I still have to beat three more Zelda games before I can seven dig into the list. If you disagree with my categorization, let me know. If you love one of the above-mentioned games and think I should play it first, let me know. Goodbye.

National Game Registry Sidebar: Arcade Compilations

This article features the best console-based compilations of classic arcade games. The included collections were selected based partially on quantity of games and especially on quantity. Most of these compilations include around twenty games each but this article focuses only lists games of NGR-level quality.  Video game publishers love to milk their classic games with re-release after re-release, often spreading games from a single series across different retro collections.  The compilations buck this trend to some extent and provide the best overall value.

Capcom Classics Collection Boxshot

Capcom Classics Collection (PlayStation 2, Xbox)
There are only six NGR-worthy games in this collection but they’re of very high quality and rather lengthy by arcade standards.

1942
1943: The Battle of Midway
-1943 Kai
Final Fight
Ghosts ‘n Goblins
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Street Fighter II
-Street Fighter II’ Champion Edition
-Street Fighter II’ Hyper Fighting

bonus: Rounding out the Ghosts ‘n Goblins package, the collection includes a the followingg SNES release:
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

Taito Legends (PlayStation 2, Xbox)
This compilation boasts a long list of games and enviable variety.

Bubble Bobble
Rainbow Islands
Rastan
New Zealand Kids
Zoo Keeper
Super Qix
Volfied
Plump Pop
Jungle Hunt
Phoenix
Space Invaders
-Space Invaders Part II
Return of the Invaders

Taito Legends 2 (PlayStation 2, Xbox)
Although not quite as strong as its predecessor, this collection features several great but relatively unknown games.

Majestic Twelve: Space Invaders Part IV
Space Invaders DX
Space Invaders ’95
Qix
The Fairyland Story
Don Doko Don
Liquid Kids
Bonze Adventure
Bubble Symphony (Xbox only)

Atari Anthology (PlayStation 2, Xbox)
A fairly comprehensive release featuring all of the classic pre-1984 Atari games that one would expect to see.

Asteroids
-Asteroids Deluxe
-Space Duel
Centipede
Millipede
Pong
Super Breakout
Battlezone
Missile Command
Warlords

bonus: Dozens of Atari 2600 releases are also included, with ports of many of the above titles, plus the following highlights:

Adventure
Yars’ Revenge

Midway Arcade Treasures (PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube)
In spite of the title, all of the best games in this collection were originally released by Williams and Atari Games, companies that were later absorbed by Midway.

Defender
Stargate
Robotron 2084
Blaster
Joust
Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest
Smash TV
Marble Madness
Rampart
Klax

Namco Museum Virtual Arcade (Xbox 360)
This collection is rather comprehensive for Pac-Man and Galaga fans with the only glaring ommission being Gaplus.
Pac-Man
Ms. Pac-Man
Super Pac-Man
Pac & Pal
Pac-Mania
Galaxian
Galaga
Galaga ’88
King & Balloon
Dig Dug
Dig Dug II
Mappy

bonus: The non-arcade content in this compilation is really impressive, including three update/sequels originally released in Namco Museum Battle for PSP as well as three sequels that debuted in Xbox Live Arcade.

Pac-Man Arrangement 2005
Dig Dug Arrangement 2005
Galaga Arrangement 2005
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Galaga Legions
Mr. Driller Online

Notes: With the exception of Atari Anthology, none of the Xbox releases are compatible with Xbox 360.

Why you don’t want your favorite video game publisher to be purchased by another video game publisher EXHIBIT A

In previous posts, I’ve provided explicit yet romantic lists of video game publishers that are now under the control of other video game publishers. However, one thing I’ve failed to mention is that this usually turns out poorly for longtime fans of the purchased companies. Here’s the shocking evidence!

Exhibit A: Squaresoft
Some will see this first listing and immediatley exclaim: “No! Square MERGED with Enix! No one controls Square!” I’m sorry to inform you that the board at Square didn’t come together one day and decide to team up with Enix to form RPG Superteam Company. Instead, something called Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within happened, and Square lost $100 million. Enix absorbed Square and the latter’s shareholders received less value for the new company’s shares than those of the former. With this unholy union came a desire to make lots and lots of money, mostly from Final Fantasy. In fact, the bulk of Square Enix releases have been Final Fantasy-related while Enix’s own Dragon Quest franchise has only been exploited slightly more than pre-SquareEnix levels.

blanda dumb spinoff

There are some Final Fantasy fans that will say, “There more the better!” and never have their fill, regardless of quality. And in truth, the main Final Fantasy installments have retained their high level of critical acclaim. However, the market is now flooded with spin-offs of middling quality. There are mini-game collections starring Chocobo, a whole series of Nintendo-exclusive (big whoop) games called Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, all of which are pure saccharine. There are also several sequels specific to older FF releases. Admittedly, this practice began before the merger but with Final Fantasy X-2, a sequel to the then-recently-released Final Fantasy X. However, Square Enix is now releasing cell phone-based sequels to games originally released 18 years ago. NOW they’re releasing these fucking things incrementally so you can enjoy the thrill of paying for each section and waiting for the next section to be released. Some of the sequels, like PS2’s FFVII: Dirge of Cerberus have been very poor efforts, too.

a bad game

Did anyone really need an overpriced castle-defense game with FF archetypes slapped into it on WiiWare?  And a FF fighting is just silly.  Square’s Mana series has fared much worse, first with a boring dungeon crawler and then a very poorly-received strategy game, both on DS.  The biggest insult was Dawn of Mana, supposedly the first ‘main’ entry in the series since the SNES’s Seiken Densetsu 3.  Unfortunately, the consumer has trained publishers that they will buy anything as long as their stupid beloved franchise characters are thrown in.

a really bad game

The Peoplez rest . . . for now.

-Matthew Bert Goode

Editorz note: The writer of this article is actually interested in some of the sequels to old FF games but he is not interested in playing Super Final Fantasy Bros.

2009 Game Releases For Which I Have Cautious Optimism

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Rockstar – Nintendo DS

It’s a brand new entry made specifically for DS.  The runs in full 3D but the standard camera view is overhead with 360 degree movement.  It takes place in Liberty City (again) and focuses on all them crazy East Asians I hear so much about.  Supposedly, the game’s been in development for over 2 years and hopefully the result will be high quality.

Grand Theft Auto IV: Lost and the Damned

Rockstar – Xbox 360

This new installment is a downloadable expansion for GTAIV.  It uses the same environments and all that jazz but features a new story, characters, missions, etc.  It’s kind of stupid that it’s not being released for PS3 but that’s the nature of today’s insulting exclusivity contracts.

Dragon Quest IX: Protectors of the Sky

Square Enix – Nintendo DS

I haven’t really played much Dragon Quest but I can’t help being intrigued by this release.  Akira Toriyama’s art looks fun, as usual, and I like playing RPGs on the go.  Plus, by the time it comes out the game will have been announced 3 YEARS earlier.  With that kind of development time, it had better be awesome.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Atari – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2

Why am I excited for this game?  Let me count the ways.  First, it was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, the homies what writ the moviez.  Second, the characters are all voiced by the actors that starred in the movies.  Third, this ain’t just some game.  This is the script that was meant to be Ghostbusters III aka Ghostbusters Go To Hell.  Yeah, that’s right, the GBz go to HELL in this game.  Now, none of that has anything to do with the actual gameplay but it’s enough to make a mediocre game at least pretty enjoyable.  But if the gameplay is there then this game will be awesome.  PS – The X360 and PS3 versions will feature realistic graphics while the Wii and PS2 versions will have more cartoony visuals.

Street Fighter IV

Capcom – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Hey, it’s the latest game in the Street Fighter series and actually looks like a new game with a really distinct art style.

Resident Evil 5

Capcom – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Well, RE4 was a great game and this looks like more of the same in a good way.  This time, the action takes place in Africa and it has black people.  Still, even with a solid game engine, Africa, and black people, most of the people that made RE4 great have since left the company.

Bionic Commando

Capcom – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

My optimism for this game is extremely cautious for several reasons.  First, there haven’t been very many previews of this game yet.  Second, I know very little about the developer, GRIN, although they did do a very good job with the 2D Bionic Commando Rearmed release last year.  Third, this will be the very first 3D Bionic Commando game.  Most series made the 2D to 3D transition about 10 years ago but old BC is a late bloomer.  On a final note, Mike Patton, one of my favorite singers/musicians/composers is providing the voice of the main character.  Hopefully he will use the money to make another Tomahawk album.

Lord of the Rings Conquest

EA – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

I’m really not very fond of the LoTR films but my interest in this game stems more from the development team involved.  Pandemic Studios were the force behind the 2 Star Wars Battlefront games, which I actually liked a great deal.  If you’re not familiar, it’s basically mayhem with dozens of troops running around waging a battle.  When the guy you’re controlling is killed you just take over another dude and keep fighting until a side wins.  So the game will probably be fun even if it does have orcs and that kinda garbage.

Madworld

SEGA – Wii

Remember the RE4 guys I previously mentioned that have left Capcom?  This is their first game for SEGA and it looks like a doozy: it features visuals that look like they were ripped right out of Sin City, ridiculously bloody action, and a Running Man-style storyline.  The development team, now known as Platinum Games, made one of my favorite over-the-top PS2 games, God Hand, and I demand more of the same, God bless them.

The PS2 Grand Theft Auto Trilogy

Last night I finished Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and have thus finished the three GTA games that were developed for PlayStation 2. Since I am so cool I will now answer a couple of questions that were recently put forth to me.

QUESTION 1

Ryan Curtis Meier asked, “Why was (the recent PS3/X360 release) called GTAIV? Why doesn’t GTA: Vice City count as the fourth GTA game?” (NOT A DIRECT QUOTE. RYAN SOUNDS MORE AMERICAN THAN THAT)

The explanation is simple enough. The three PS2 GTAz represent a lateral progression, not a forward movement. Each release uses versions of the same game engine and plays largely the same. A veteran of any of the three will easily be able to pick up one of the others and be right at home. DMA Designs (now known as Rockstar North) introduced this approach when they released Grand Theft Auto Mission Pack #1: London 1969, a companion/follow-up to the original GTA.

QUESTION 2

Allison Michelle Payne asked, regarding the PS2 GTAz, “Aren’t they all the same? Is there really any difference between them?”

That’s a good question. Thank you so much! At the core, the games are quite similar but the release of each of them is definitely warranted. They’re certainly not more of the same. When I think of more of the same I think of Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels, Donkey Kong Country 2 & 3, any Capcom sequel, any Madden NFL game, etc. This really isn’t the case with the PS2 GTAz. I think an appropriate comparison might be Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, and Banjo-Kazooie for Nintendo 64. These games all used the same game engine and basic format but so many elements were different. Such is the case with PS2 GTAz. Each of the games takes place in a completely different location, features different characters, and new situations. There’s a real sense of escalation from one game to the next. GTA III consists primarily of completing mission after mission to get through the game but Vice City introduces the empire-building concept consisting of buying legit businesses to serve as fronts for your criminal enterprises.

And then there’s San Andreas, which really blows the roof off everything. The game world is gigantic – a whole state with three major cities, dozens of small towns and isolated settlements, mountains, forests, countrysides, etc. etc. Plus fighter jets, jetpacks, karate moves, swimming and even the fucking L.A. Riots! So each release is actually pretty ambitious. San Andreas may be the most epic game I’ve played. On the same note, San Andreas is also something of a culmination of the previous efforts and may make the previous efforts redundant for many gamers. I DUNNO OMG.

ERRRRRRRRRRRRVIEWS (Electronic Arts edition?!)

Final Fantasy VI Advance
Square Enix
2007 (original version 1994)
Game Boy Advance

This is a GBA port of the game that was originally released in the United States as Final Fantasy III for Super NES. As far as I know, the GBA version is pretty much the same game but with a few glitch fixes and changes in the text translation. Anyway, the game . . .

I have previously played through Final Fantasy I-V and I would definitely give FFVI the prize for best 2D FF. FFVI is much less linear than the previous games, resulting in a lot more freedom to do what you want when you want, especially in the second half. The down side to this is that it took me a lot longer to beat than the previous FF’s. In fact, it took about 45 hours of playing time. Considering my short attention span, I definitely didn’t blaze through this one. Rather, I took SEVEN MONTHS to slooooooooowly make my way through although you could probably do it in just a few weeks.

Anyway, there is a large cast of characters that you can rotate in and out of your lineup. They do have specialties but they all have the potential to become good fighters, good magicians, whatever. So, if you want to be super safe in the final battles, you can level everyone up and make everyone a badass and a healer. This is where I sank a lot of my playing time, actually. In previous FF’s, I entered the final dungeons/battles underpowered and usually had to try over and over to beat them. This time around I spent way more time than necessary leveling everyone up and just coasted through to the end.

The music is pretty great and has a lot of variety. The designs are nice but typical 2D FF. The story is pretty detailed, deep and only slightly cheesy. Do it to it.

Grade: A
Conclusion: I can’t believe there are RPGs that are 2-3 times as long as this one.

Boom Blox
Electronic Arts
2008
Wii

SUPPOSEDLY, this game is the result of a collaboration with Steven Spielberg, credited as ‘creative director’. I don’t believe it. This game doesn’t bear ANY hallmarks of Spielberg’s past works, sensibilities, style, etc. Regardless, this is a pretty enjoyable game. The game consists of dozens of puzzles and scenarios that require to do various things with various items. Sometimes you throw baseballs or bowling balls, sometimes you fire a gun, sometimes you fling things around on a sticky string. You set off explosions, shoot goblins, collapse towers, so and soforth. As you might expect with the Wii, if you’re throwing a ball, then you use the Wiimote in a throwing motion.

Some of the puzzles are pretty clever and will require a lot of thought while other levels consist solely of reflex-based play. There are “worlds” with themes like “escort the Mitten Kittens home on Halloween without being killed by monsters”. These themes are just pretty ways of dressing up the gameplay to add visual variety. After awhile, things start to feel a bit too similar and interest wanes. There’s a party mode that I haven’t tried yet but this does definitely feel like a social type of game but by one’s self it’s better in spurts.

Grade: B
Conclusion: This is EA trying to be Nintendo/Namco/SEGA/etc.

AFL ’99
Electronic Arts
1998
Windows 95

I recently dug this game out of the closet after years and years of neglect. I used to play this game quite a bit and for good reason: it’s a very fun and challenging simulation of Australian rules football. Aussie rules is one of the few sports that’s as simple as soccer. The game basically consists of punching and punting a ball to your teammates attempting to score goals between giant uprights. Hard tackles are allowed. That’s about it. Sometimes the simple things are easiest to fuck up but this game pulls everything off most of the time. The kicking, the catching and running all work fine. Sometimes the punching (aka handballs) is pretty goofy, though, so I wouldn’t rely on it. Everything is fast and furious and the commentary is even decent for a 1998 game. Some aspects don’t work perfectly on Windows XP or Vista but the main game works fine.

Grade: B+
Conclusion: EA should make new AFL games

Rugby
Electronic Arts
PlayStation 2
2001

This game is very clearly a port of a PC game that came out a couple years earlier and it shows. The players are very blocky for a PS2 game. Actually, the graphics look like PS1 but in higher resolution. The gameplay is decent but pretty jerky as the players move fairly unnaturally and take about 500 years to change directions (no Barry Sanders in this game). The breakdowns (the parts where big guys push each other around) are somewhat luck-based and frustrating. The one area where the game really shines is in the running game. If you can get a good series of passes going you can really do some damage. With all the faults, though, EA proved they could do much worse with the following year’s Rugby 2004, which changed everything and was awful.

For those that care, the modes in this game are 6 Nations, Tri-Nations and World Cup (but not the official licensed version of any of these tournaments).

Grade: C+
Conclusion: Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.

kicknz