Tag Archives: video game reviews

the “games i’ve beaten” list. for matt, mostly.

okay. matt recently made a post asking for lists of completed video games. i’ve played exactly 1,000,582 games in my lifetime, so the idea of making a complete list of every game i’ve beaten made me feel a bit FAINT. (also… i have a really bad memory for stuff like this) instead, i’ve decided to make a list of completed games IN MY COLLECTION.

let’s go!!!


the adventures of link: i only just beat this game a few months back. i remember hating it as a child. i think mostly because it wasn’t much like the legend of zelda. however, upon revisiting it in my old age, i’ve decided that this game is really really good, and i wish that nintendo would make another zelda game in this same style. it won’t happen, but i would play it if it did.

bionic commando: one of my all time favorite games. it’s just great. they’re remaking this for xbox 360. check it out/watch the trailer.

castlevania II: simon’s quest: i didn’t remember beating this one, but after seeing ryan beat last month, i feel like i actually had beat it back in the day.

contra: such a fun game. i’ve beat it quite a few times.

deja vu: i’ve beat this one a few times as well. i used to love these old adventure games.

jackal: the classic drive-around-in-a-jeep-and-shoot-things game. very few can compete.

the legend of zelda: beat this one FOREVER ago. either late 80s or early 90s. i want to pick it up again sometime soon

maniac mansion: oh boy! i think i’ve beaten this game every way possible.

metroid: i beat this game back when i was really devoted. also, i didn’t have the internet. i drew my own maps throughout the game. i may still have them laying around somewhere.

nintendo world cup: does this count? do sports games count?

shadowgate: i’ve beaten this one a few times too, but always with many years in between each conquest. the latest was just this year, and i had forgotten almost everything about it. that’s the beauty of a poor memory, i guess… it makes old things new again!

spy vs spy: this is probably more fun as a two player game, but when you’re young and only have a handful of games, you take what you can get.

super c: like contra, this game is great for picking up whenever, and it really doesn’t take much to beat it.

super mario bros. 2: this was one of the favorites as a child. and then mario 3 came out…

super mario bros. 3: probably THE BEST game ever made for the nes. i’m sure there are people who will debate this, but for me, growing up when i did, super mario bros. 3 was so fucking great that all other games pale in comparison. the guide that i got through nintendo power was read to death. i remember taking it everywhere. at the end, it was being held together with a million pieces of tape.

tmnt 2: the arcade game: this is another game that is way more fun with 2 players. playing it now bores me. jump kick, jump kick, jump kick, etc., but back when it came out, this game was the bee’s knees.

tmnt 3: the manhatten project: basically a continuation of tnmt2, but with some special moves. blah blah blah.

uninvited: another kemco/seika adventure ported from the macventure collection. not as good as deja vu or shadowgate, but still quite fun.


some nes games i’m pretty sure i’ve beaten, or at least got very close to beating:

castlevania III: dracula’s curse: i like this game.

double dragon: i think i may have only beaten it on the sega master system, but… maybe…

mega man 2: i’m pretty sure i beat this one, as well as a couple others, but they all run together in my head.

mike tyson’s punch-out: i know i’ve GOTTEN to old iron mike, but i honestly can’t tell you if i’ve beaten him myself.

ninja gaiden: dunno. just dunno.

ninja gaiden II: i’m pretty sure i beat this…

wwf wrestlemania: i don’t even remember if there is a definitive end to this game, but if there is, i can gaurantee i’ve made it.



secret of evermore: i remember really enjoying this game, but at the same i time, i remember parts of it being rather time consuming and tedius. i probably will never try to beat it again, but if you have time and patience, please give it a try.

final fantasy II: this was one of those “summer vacaction games”. we didn’t have strict bedtimes during summer breaks, and by this time i had an old tv in my room, so i would stay up all night playing rpgs while a cool summer breeze blew in through the open windows. because of when i played it, i don’t remember this game having any music.

actraiser: i always liked the mixing of genres in this game. it’s a pretty quick game, so give it a shot.

super castlevania IV: this was one of the first games we had for the snes. that being said, you can imagine that i’ve beaten it quite a few times.

contra III: the alien wars: contra games are good!!!

disney’s goof troop: a very short puzzle/action game. i got this a couple years ago because it was on sale for zero bucks or something. it’s quick and easy, but it is fun. i think allison would like it at least.

donkey kong country: when it came out, this was THE GAME to have. so we got it. and i beat every aspect of it. but i never really got into the sequels. maybe i burnt myself out.

judge dredd: i liked the comics, and i found it on sale. not the best game, but it’s fun. probably wouldn’t play it too much these days.

killer instinct: another “GAME YOU NEED TO GET” when it came out. and we got it. i think i’ve played this game more than any other fighting game ever. not cuz it’s the best or anything, but cuz it was the only fighting game we had at the time.

lester the unlikely: this was a game that i’m guessing didn’t sell very well. i got it at KAY-BEE toys on sale. it’s one of those action/adventure games like prince of persia or flashback or whatever. the one thing i really liked about it was that as you progress through the game, your character turns from a weak, dorky guy into a rather fit, capable guy. the end.

ranma 1/2: hard battle: i really liked anime back in middle school/early high school. especially ranma 1/2. that’s probably the only reason i played this game so much…

shadowrun: this was another “summer vacation game”, but this one was a different year, and the tv was in the basement. i spent a lot of hot summer afternoons playing this while listening to “maximum perversion” by the mephiskapheles and hellcat records’s “give ’em the boot vol. 1”.

super bomberman: great game. it’s bomberman. so… it’s like most of the other bomberman games

super bomberman 2: another great game. etc.

super mario world: OH LORD!!! i talked about a couple other games being “THE GAME TO HAVE”, but none of them compared to this one. i’ve beaten this game quite a few times, and it’s a game that i wouldn’t mind beating again. it’s just great.

super mario all stars: meaning, the lost levels. i like it better than super mario bros., i think.

super metroid: oh wow! i love this game so much. seriously. everyone needs to play it. it’s beautiful.

street fighter II: i don’t think i necessarily beat THIS version of street fighter II. i think it was turbo or super, but regardless, i’ve beaten it with multiple fighters, etc.

tmnt IV: turtles in time: more arcade style fighting. this is a VERY short game, and one i probably won’t care about playing again, unless i’ve got an excited buddy to play with.

zombies ate my neighbors: i really like this game. but it’s another game that is more fun with 2 players. give it a shot.

the legend of zelda: a link to the past: quite possibly my all time favorite snes game. i don’t think there’s anything about this game that i DON’T like. it’s just so very good. ryan meier doesn’t know shit.


some snes games i’m pretty sure i’ve beaten, or at least got very close to beating:

flashback: the quest for identity: i know i got pretty far, but i’m not sure i beat it. this was all during one weekend when we rented it. i haven’t played it since then.

ken griffey jr. presents major league baseball: dunno if you can “beat” this game, but i remember playing it a lot. doing the seasons and stuff. blah blah.

the legend of the mystical ninja: i really doubt that i BEAT this, but i know that we got pretty far, and i remember really enjoying it. give it a shot.

nba jam: can you beat nba jam?

super adventure island: pretty sure i beat this. it’s not a hard or long game.

starfox: i don’t think i beat this every possible way. i know i beat it at LEAST one way.

wwf royal rumble: not sure you can “beat” this game either…



super mario 64: my all time favorite n64 game. fuck you if you don’t like this game.

shadowgate 64: yeah… not sure why i beat this. it’s really not worth the trouble.


some n64 games i’m pretty sure i’ve beaten, or at least got very close to beating:

starfox 64: who knows?

star wars: shadows of the empire: i remember playing this a lot at friends’ houses and renting it, but i can’t remember actually BEATING it.

mischeif makers: pretty sure i beat it. coulda just got distracted near the end, though.



contra hard corps: i have only beaten this one way, and that isn’t the “complete every level” way. so i don’t know if this counts?


some genesis games i’m pretty sure i’ve beaten, or at least got very close to beating:

mega bomberman: i think so! it has animals you can ride!

revenge of shinobi: pretty sure. the game’s tight cuz you fight spiderman, batman, and a cross between the hulk and the terminator



bushido blade: if this game has an ending, i can gaurantee i got to it.

fear effect: i remember enjoying this game. it’s an action/adventure sorta like a resident evil or something. probably won’t bother playing it again anytime soon. and if i do, i doubt i’ll bother trying to beat it again. HOWEVER… you could play it if you want to.

rival schools: united by fate: i beat this quite a few times with different characters. does that count?

super puzzle fighter 2 turbo: this is one of my favorite playstation games. it’s also my favorite puzzle game.


some playstation games i’m pretty sure i’ve beaten, or at least got very close to beating:

brave fencer musashi: i can’t remember the ending of this game, so that makes me think i didn’t beat it, but i know i spent a lot of time on it.

castlevania: symphony of the night: i think i beat it, but not COMPLETELY beat it. like… no inverted castle…

echo night: i don’t remember an ending.

front mission 3: i don’t remember an ending for this either. makes me think i probably didn’t end up finishing it.



metal slug 4/5: this is one of those games where you just have to hit continue a lot. so… it’s not a really great accomplishment or anything, but i like metal slug games.

katamari damacy: natalie and i just beat this a couple weeks ago. very fun game. very addictive. also very unique. A+



-AM- Errrrrrrrrrrrrviews: Hot Diggity DOS version

All right, Tighty Whiteys, here are some old DOS games I’ve been playing lately.

Game: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Platform: DOS
Developer/Publisher: LucasFilm Games (known today as LucasArts)
Year: 1989
Also available for: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Fujitsu FM Towns

This is one of those LucasArts adventure games I mentioned in this blog awhile ago. This game is well-regarded in the adventure game community but not quite considered to be in the top half of LucasArts adventures, according to adventuregamers.com. I played The Secret of Monkey Island awhile ago and this game is quite similar to it, made only a year earlier. I’m still pretty unfamiliar with classic PC gaming so some elements of this game proved pretty alien to me. For instance, unless you somehow have the original manuals for these kinds of games you’re going to HAVE to use an online guide at some point. Why is that? Because back then they were so scared of piracy that certain portions had elements that require you to consult the manual to find the information to proceed.

I’m not too familiar with adventure games but this game seems pretty linear to me to be an “adventure”. In most situations, there is a specific solution required to advance without many alternatives. If you do something that’s not in the basic “script” of how events should play out, the game won’t even let you do it. For instance, if you want to do something as simple as set your whip down on a table top you’ll get a message from Indiana Jones like, “No, I don’t think I want to do that.” To actually find all the solutions on your own requires much more in the way of PROCESS OF ELIMINATION than logic or brains, which kind of sucks.

And how does the game succeed as an adaptation of the movie it’s named after? Also a mixed bag. The plot of the game follows the plot of the movie rather closely. The prologue adventure featuring a younger Indiana Jones is just an opening credits movie but when the game begins Indy is at his college in NY, then meets with Donovan, goes to Venice, visits the Castle Brunwald, heads to Berlin and finally to the temple at Iskerunde. While the plot is identical the particulars are quite different. Remember the library scene where Indy notices the big X and moves onto the next scene? In the game, the clues are much more complicated and pretty vague. Meanwhile, cool scenes like the tank battle in the desert are completely gone. The Jones boys just stroll into the temple. The other thing holding back the game as a translation of the movie is the tone: it’s just too silly. Lots of jokes, stupid gags, corny dialogue.

In spite of my criticisms, if taken on its own merits this is still a pretty decent game. The art is very attractive, the sound is decent, and some of the puzzle areas are pretty cool and actually make sense. I feel they would have been better off working with an original story instead of making this adaptation, which they eventually did with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The grade for this game isn’t going to be awesome, but I liked it well enough and will probably play the sequel.

Grade: B-
Conclusion: Don’t believe the hype!

Game: Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Publisher/Developer: Broderbund
Platform: DOS
Year: 1990

Ah, yes, the classic. OR IS IT?! This version is actually a graphical update of the famous game released 5 years earlier. I had the game for Commodore 64 when I was a kid and I thought it was pretty cool but maybe that’s because I was really stupid and bad at geography. If you have decent knowledge of geography the game is a cinch because there are only about 16 countries in the whole game. So you basically end up going to the same places over and over and hearing similar clues. As you keep playing the clues get SLIGHTLY harder but it’s still easy. I’m not sure how long you have to play to “beat” it or if you even can but I’ve solved about a dozen cases with no end in sight. It has its charms but it’s not very engaging.

Grade: C+
Conclusion: Curse you, childhood!

Game: Oregon Trail
Developer/Publisher: MECC
Platform: DOS
Year: 1992

Yes, that’s right, 1992, which means this sure ain’t the original version. I’m not sure if it’s just a graphical update or if there’s more to it. The original version came out in the mid-1970s and was strictly text-only but the most famous version is the Apple ][ version from the 1980s. This review applies only to the early 1990s DOS version.

I’d like to say that I think this is a great concept for a game. It’s kind of an adventure game, kind of a strategy game, and there are even action elements in the hunting sequences. I’d also like to mention that this game is PRETTY EASY, which blows my mind because I thought it was so hard when I was a moron kid. I played through the game 3 times over the last few days, each time much more quickly and easily than the last. I never died or failed. The first time I played as a doctor, which I later learned gives you the benefit of a lot of money and quick healing times for your party members. I played it somewhat conservatively until I realized I was so slow I wouldn’t get to Oregon before winter. I played as a teacher on my 2nd playthrough. The teacher only has 20% of the money the doctor has and no special skills. I played pretty conservatively and relied on hunting for food. 2 of my party members died, one with NO WARNING AT ALL. Grrrrr. Still, we eventually waddled our way into the magical Oregan valley and won. I started to realize that hunting is really the key to beating the game, at least this version. So the 3rd time I played as a teacher and bought nothing but bullets and oxen. Nothing conservative this time – we travelled at the fastest speed and ate like kings. I hunted constantly and we traded surplus food for whatever supplies we needed. I still had 2 assholes die but we made it to the end in record time and spent the rest of our lives loafing and fucking in the fertile valley. The End.


-AM- How Nintendo Has Cheapened the Mario/Donkey Kong/Yoshi/Wario series by outsourcing

Today I learned that a Certain Someone bought a copy of Wario: Master of Disguise for DS. This game is absolutely awful and I now feel the need to inform people, especially those that might be getting into the Mario series, about the watered down, 2nd-rate Mario-related platformer/action titles that Nintendo started releasing about 5 years ago.

History: From 1981-1993, all games in the Super Mario and Donkey Kong series were produced in-house by Nintendo’s own studios. In 1994, Nintendo began publishing Donkey Kong games developed by Rare. These games were of a high quality and very commercially successful, as their development time and investment warranted. In 2003, Nintendo started farming out Mario-related games to outside developers in what can only be called a cheap, money-grubbing move. Most of these games have rather low budgets. Even the games that turn out well could be called unnecessary as they explore old themes. Here they are, the outsourced Mario/Donkey Kong/Yoshi/Wario games . . .

2003, GameCube, developed by Treasure

Treasure has made some awesome games and some mediocre. This falls into the latter. It completely ignores the great play mechanics and ideas established in the Wario Land games and instead becomes a BEAT EM UP. Some things are awesome, like the music and the bonus levels but most of it is just okay. Like many of the games on this list, if feels like Wario was just thrown into some unrelated game.
Grade: C+

2004, Game Boy Advance, developed by Nintendo Software Technology Corporation (aka Nintendo of America)

This game was technically not farmed out but the Nintendo STC, based in the US, has no connection to the Japan-based studios and this game shows it in spades. It’s actually NOT a bad game but COMPLETELY fails to capture either the Mario or Donkey Kong feel. It’s an attempt to continue the gameplay ideas of the 1994 Game Boy Donkey Kong but I’d much rather see the original studio oversee such a project. Still, a decent game on its own terms.
Grade: B

2004, Game Boy Advance, developed by Artoon

The critics ravaged this game but it’s nowhere near as bad as they say. Still, it’s nothing awesome. It uses an experimental technology with a motion sensor in the cartridge. When you tilt the GBA one way it tilts everything in the game. Yoshi and Mario-related characters and settings are mostly half-assed and could have easily been replaced by something else.
Grade: B-

2005, Game Boy Advance, developed by Paon

Oh, neat, an interesting new idea. In this game Donkey Kong doesn’t run around and jump – instead, he swings from pegs. Not a bad concept and not a bad game but definitely a short one. Some of the levels are challenging but overall it feels like half a game. Maybe they can do something cool with a sequel?
Grade: B-


2006, DS, developed by Nintendo Software Technology Corporation
Apparently someone at Nintendo STC sat down and said, “That last Mario vs DK game was decent but how can we improve on it? We can’t? We’re not talented enough? Okay, let’s rip off Lemmings.” That’s what this game is, a Lemmings rip-off. Nintendo STC has plenty of experience developing games from other companies’ licenses (Bionic Commando, Crystalis, Ridge Racer), they may as well have just licensed Lemmings instead of force the concept on a Donkey Kong game.
Grade: D

2006, DS, developed by Artoon

When I first heard about this game, originally called Yoshi’s Island 2 I almost shit my pants. Then I found out Artoon was developing and not Nintendo Entertainment Analysis Division (Miyamoto’s studio) and I almost became constipated. BUT in the end, the end product was really beyond my wildest dreams – and almost totally unnecessary. On a system that can produce Nintendo 64-level graphics we are presented with a game that slavishly recreates the look of the original Yoshi’s Island for Super NES. The gameplay is 90% the same. Not much new. STILL, I have to give credit in a couple of key areas: 1) they really nailed the Mario/Yoshi feel 2) the game plays very well, is long, and is challenging.
Grade: B+ (points off for lack of originality)

2007, DS, developed by Suzak

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Until this game came out I was a blind Super Mario loyalist and would play any side-scroller starring him or his crew. This game ended all that. What a piece of shit this is. It basically attempts to use the current Castlevania style of exploration and item-retrieval and does it very boringly. There are no elements from the Wario games here at all – no enemies, settings, powers, etc. It forces you to use the stylus in contrived ways to horrible effect. Worst of all, it’s just plain fucking boring. Feels like they just put Wario in an unrelated game that was originally intended to star SpongeBob SquarePants or Hannah Montana.
Grade: F

2007, DS, developed by Paon

The sequel to King of Swing. And it SUCKS. It’s just plain BORING. Big spaces without enemies or anything in particular to do. Aimless wandering. Argh. Cemented my new lack of faith in Mario-related titles.
Grade: D

At the moment, Nintendo doesn’t have any more games of this sort scheduled for release so maybe they’re selling poorly. Wario Land Shake has been announced for Wii but the developer has been named. Will it appear on this list?!


Reviews – Xbox 360 edition

So I decided once again that I hate money and I bought an Xbox 360 a couple of weeks ago. I bought 3 games, Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power (both 360 launch games by Rare and dirt cheap) and the acclaimed title Gears of War. What I’ve really been taken by is the whole Xbox Live Arcade thing. I’ve downloaded a bunch of arcade demos and purchased a couple of the games and I’ve downloaded several demos of full-fledged disc releases (like Beautiful Katamari and Dead or Alive 4). Here’s what I’ve played so far . . .

Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Microsoft
Year: 2006

The only non Live Arcade game I’ve played so far. This game received muchos accolades when it came out and I can KINDA see why. While playing it I was sometimes reminded of Resident Evil 4 and I later read that Epic Games was indeed influenced by that game. If you’re familiar with RE4 then you might think of Gears as a squad-based version of that game. The soldiers in the game reminded me a lot of Bill Rizer and his Contra compatriots – huge, hulking badasses with huge guns fighting horrible monsters. Most of your enemies are actually gun-toting grossouts that have body shapes similar to yours. On more than one occasion I mistook an enemy for one of my colleagues. In fact, once I stood next to one of them for several seconds before realizing he was an adversary – largely because he was making no attempt to hurt me. My partners sometimes suffered from poor AI as well, making no contributions at all to certain gunfights. The graphics are very slick but I guess you should expect that. Some of the monsters are pretty intimidating and horrifying but the game lacks any of the suspense of a Resident Evil game. In spite of all that I just bitched about, the whole adventure is really solid with gunfight after gunfight. There is a simple but realistic duck-and-cover mechanic that allows you to take cover, expose yourself to get some shots in, and return to cover. Oh, yeah, and your gun has a CHAINSAW BAYONET. BOO YAH!

Grade: B+

Developer/Publisher: Namco
Year: 2007

I didn’t mention this game in my Pac-Man article because it technically isn’t released in arcades but it’s definitely the latest “true” sequel in the Pac-Man series. The changes made seem simple enough but they really improve on the Pac-Man formula in every way. It kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t make these changes back in the early 80s. Basically, the maze is twice as wide as the standard Pac-Man maze and divided in half. Clearing the dots on a side produces a fruit on the other side – eat the fruit and a new arrangement of dots appears. These arrangements occur in a set pattern, sometimes with power dots and sometimes without. In spite of the larger maze, there are still just 4 ghosts, so you have more of a chance to navigate than in the past. There’s a time limit, too – the game’s all about the score attack. It’s not about how long you can survive but how many points you can get in 5 or 10 minutes, depending on the mode. There are six modes and each are actually pretty unique. In some modes the shape of the maze even changes as you progress. It’s addictive and quite a bit of fun but $10 is way too much considering they re-use the sprites from the 1980 original in a lame, nostalgic move.

Grade: B

Developer: Gameloft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year: 2007

This is a remake of the original Prince of Persia from 1989. I’ve played both now so I can make an accurate comparison – this new game is much more playable thanks to much-improved controls BUT they made it much easier by providing hints about your next move and removing several puzzles. When I played ‘Classic’ I hadn’t played the original so I had no basis for comparison which allowed me to appreciate it on its own terms and I really loved it. The graphics are modern but the gameplay is 2D, consisting mostly of jumping, exploring and swordfighting, which all comes together very well. Do it.

Grade: A



Game: Onimusha Warlords
Developer/Publisher: Capcom
System: PlayStation 2
Year: 2001

This is a pretty interesting game if you’re really into Resident Evil or samurai. Onimusha uses the same game engine as Resident Evil 1-3 which means the controls are totally unintuitive and the camera angles are fixed in place. I actually attempted to play this game before, about 2 years ago, and was totally turned off by the faults I just mentioned. Now that I’ve spent a lot of time playing RE I was totally fine with it.

Here’s the basic formula for this game: Resident Evil – zombies + demons – SWAT team + samurai – guns + swords – bad voice acting + good voice acting. It’s also missing all the tension and suspense of RE, replacing it with more hack and slash type action. It’s enjoyable while it lasts but it only took me about six hours to finish. If I’d paid $50 back in 2001 I would have been pissed! Everything looks pretty good for a 1st generation PS2 game. Even though it’s feudal Japan, modern sensibilities interfere as one of the main characters is a female ninja who predictably wears a somewhat impractically sexy uniform.

Do you like RE? Feudal Japan? Try it!

Grade: B
Personal conclusion: Doesn’t live up to potential

Game: Super Dodgeball Brawlers
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Aksys
System: DS
Year: 2008

VERY MIXED FEELINGS. If you’re a veteran of the series, you’ll be happy to know that Brawlers feels like a genuine Super Dodgeball game through and through. That’s a good thing. You’ll aso be pleased to know that the gameplay has been mixed up to some degree. Random objects fall into the field and can be used to damage opponents even when you don’t have the ball. You can also make short forays into the opponents’ court to land punches and kicks. Unfortunately, the overall package is somewhat underwhelming.

The graphics, as is typical for so many DS games, are totally underwhelming. They basically look like they could have been pulled off on the SNES. Retro is nice but so many of these old franchises simply stagnate on the DS rather than innovate graphically. The music is slightly better but somewhat nondistinct. What really hurts Brawlers is the game modes. There is a tournament mode just like in the other games but it’s EEEEAAAAASY and not particularly long. In playing through the game on Normal and Hard modes I NEVER LOST A MATCH. Come on! I should have at least lost the first time I made it to the championship. Where’s the challenge and where’s the motivation to keep playing?

On top of all that there’s no Wi-Fi. This is exactly the kind of game that should let you play against strangers half-way across the world and the option is totally absent. There is a beanball/brawl mode like in the NES game but it’s a dead end – there’s no tournament mode associated with it. It’s just a one-off time-killer. Overall, the package is underwhelming and disappointing and it COSTS THIRTY DOLLARS!

If you’re a fan of the series, wait until you can get it used somewhere for $10.

Grade: C
Personal conclusion: Goddammit

Game: Grand Theft Auto III
Developer: DMA
Publisher: Rockstar
System: PlayStation 2
Year: 2001

I have to admit, I did not finish this game. I just didn’t feel like it. I looked in one of them online walkthroughs and it appears I’m about 3/4ths into the game but I just don’t have it in me. This must be the most overrated game ever. Its average score among professional reviewers is about 9.3 and I really can’t see why. The open environment of the city truly is something special. It’s a lot of fun to kill cops and crash cars into old ladies but that’s where the fun ends. The real meat of the game consists primarily of runnin FUCKING ERRANDS for mob bosses. For instance, they’ll say, “Go kill this guy” and you drive all the way across the city, which takes five minutes, and then engage in some lame gunfight or lame car chase. It’s quite boring. And the reviewers eat it up. This is one of many examples of ways in which the whole game reviewing industry is fucked up. It’s not a bad game but just not very well thought out. And the graphics are pretty terrible, too.


Things That Really Matter #13: Reviews


YEAR: 1999

DK64 is a game that immediately invites several comparisons. First off, how does it compare to Super Mario 64, released three years earlier?  Second, how does it compare to Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie, an N64 3D platformer released by Rare in 1998?  And finally, and perhaps most importantly, how does it compare to Donkey Kong Country, DK64’s prequel on the Super NES?  Unfortunately, DK64 falls short when compared to each and all of these games.

The entire Donkey Kong Country series is clearly Rare’s take on Super Mario Bros., and DK64 clearly uses a modified version of the Super Mario 64 engine.  Perhaps by ‘modified’ I really mean ‘mangled’.  For reasons I can’t fathom, almost any object that’s more than, say, 10 feet away is invisible.  Take another step toward it and *pop* there it is.  This was not an issue in SM64.  Second, the controls are very floaty.  Mario controlled perfectly and he moved quickly in his 64 game.  DK and his partners float slowly through the air when they jump.  They take a long time to land, even though most of them can’t jump anywhere near as far or high as Mario.

Banjo-Kazooie was a very creative game, with manic enemies and horrible, yet distinct humor.  Its motifs were unique but something about the feel of the game invoked memories of DK Country.  No wonder, as the DKC creative team was largely responsible for its development.  Unfortunately, DK64 was created by another team within Rare.  Oops!  It shows, too, as any consistencies between DKC and DK64 are merely forced, like the occasional mine cart race and the occasional Kremling.

So how does DK64 rate on its own merits?  When not compared to anything, DK64 can be viewed as pretty good but only in small doses.  DK64 is a ridiculous collectathon and this sort of gameplay wears away at enthusiasm and energy.  You must alternate between five different apes/monkeys.  On many occasions you will see an item but you can’t pick it up because you’re NOT THE RIGHT MONKEY.  So you have to go far away and switch to the other ape and return to that area.  This is ridiculous as most of these items have nothing to do with a unique skill related to each monkey.

The levels are huge and semi-interesting but fail to invoke the sense of wonder that SM64 accomplishes.  And exploring them is basically a chore unless you happen to be controlling Diddy Kong.  This game seems to have all the pieces available but put in the wrong place.  If you’re obsessed with 3D platformers or Mario you should check it out but only in small doses.  And only after you’ve beaten SM64, SMSunshine, SMGalaxy, Banjo-Kazooie, and even the Sony platformers. 

Grade: C+
Personal conclusion: Pretty disappointing!

YEAR: 2000

This game has a horrible glitch. It’s absolutely incredible that BCEF was put into mass production with this glitch. But it’s there in almost every copy. Basically, if you save and then continue to play the game freezes up. And your save file will never recover. What an INCREDIBLE failure of quality control. There is one practical way around this, though: play straight through without saving. Just like you have to do with the original Bionic Commando on the NES.  Now on to the game itself . . .

Played Bionic Commando on NES?  Then you know what to expect with this game.  Swing around, climb, shoot guys.  But it’s a lot better than it sounds.  The gameplay is almost exactly the same.  The setup is the same (leveling-up, bonus Commando-style levels, giving orders between levels, etc.).  The graphics are completely new, though, and are very fluid for a GBC game.  The levels and bosses are also.  Besides the graphics, though, nothing is exactly improved; slightly different, perhaps, but not really better or worse.  And there are no neutral zones!  The original had areas where you just walked around and guys said stuff like, “Do you wanna fight?”  Not here, unfortunately.  Still, the action is solid and more challenging than the NES original.  If you like hardcore, old-school games and have 5 hours to sit down and waste, do it to it.

Personal conclusion: Satisfactory

YEAR: 1990

Yo, remember that awful Ghostbusters 2 for the NES by our dear friends/enemies at Activision?  Boy, that game was the dumbz.  Well, this is DOES NOT BE THAT GAME.  This is a completely different game, created by those Japanese rascals at HAL Laboratory (creators of Kirby’s Dream Land and Super Smash Bros).  This game actually follows the plot of the movie very closely and almost all of the enemies are ghosts that are seen at some point in the film, even if only for a few seconds.  The character designs are adorable and Zelda-ish.  The action is viewed from overhead, as well. 

The gameplay is fairly original and a good attempt at creating action similar to that found in the movies.  You control two Ghostbusters at once and run around buildings, one floor at a time, zapping all the ghosts with the first dude and then trapping them with the second.  This idea gets an A for creativity but a C for implementation.  Too often the 2nd dude is just a real pain in the ass, failing to keep up, getting caught behind objects and getting jumped from behind.  Each dude has his own life bar and the 2nd dude almost always runs out of life first.  For some reason, the 2nd dude becomes awesome and invincible during boss fights, so you can basically hide behind him and fire off shots.  The game is short and sweet, without any saving or codes.  It’s all or nothing!  But achieving “all” will probably only require an hour and a half of effort.  It’s just not a terribly long game and once you figure out how everything works you probably won’t have too much difficulty. 

This is a fun game for people that like Ghostbusters or games where you go around clearing all the villains off the screen before advancing, like Bubble Bobble.  The action is generally fun but mindless.

Grade: B
Personal conclusion: Interesting

YEAR: 2005

First off, this is, on the surface a 3D fighting game. The fighting is pretty different from most fighters, though. There’s no jumping and you don’t really have freedom to run around. This turns out to be an interesting move as the directional inputs cause your character to duck and sway in different directions. So think of it as a boxing game with kicking and grappling added to the mix.  The fighting is much more realistic than most fighters and the pace is rather slow, like a real fight.

What really makes The Con interesting are all the things that happen outside of the fights.  You have a crew of three fighters and you act as their manager between fight dates.  You schedule bouts, training sessions, hospital visits and rest days.  Before each fight you wager a certain amount of money, which is where the title comes in.  You may choose to hustle the audience by starting off a match crappily while the bets pour in against you before ramping it up and pulling off a win.  Conversely, you can bet on your opponent and let them win, as long as you do it convincingly.  Unfortunately, none of this is really necessary as I earned enough money by simply betting on myself to win without much hustling at all.  If you schedule bouts against higher-ranked teams and beat them you’ll move up through the ranks, occasionally entering into boss battles. 

Sadly, this game is far from perfect. For one thing, the final tournament is completely cheap. Due to the fact that I did not allow a boss to join my team earlier in the game, one of my fighters was forced to sit out the final match, meaning the final bout was 2 against 3. At no point was I informed that my decision could carry such ramifications. Fucking cheap and lame. Thankfully, I won, anyway, but just barely.

The graphics are way below the PSP’s standards. At its best, the PSP looks like a slightly lower resolution PS2 but this game looks more like a PS1 game but without the fuzzy resolution. And the load times. CHRIST. Everything takes forfuckingever to load. Each time you fight you’ll probably sit through 30 seconds of load time. And you fight many times. In the final tournament you fight about 20 times. If my estimate is right, that means you sit through about 10 minutes of loading during this period. And that’s just a small part of the game. I think I developed several nervous habits while I waited, including playing with my fingernails and pushing my tongue against the roof of my mouth.

So is this game worth it? Yeah, if you really like fighting games or boxing games. Otherwise, spare yourself the load times. I personally found it very addictive which did a lot to offset the load times. Even now I feel like picking it up and playing through it again with new characters but I’m sure I’d end up without hair or fingernails by the time I finished.

Grade: B-
Personal conclusion: So close yet so far away


Things That Really Matter #11: Reviews

Now it’s time for some reviews of games that I’ve recently finished. First I’ll provide a school-like grade and then a more personal “conclusion”. Read on. Or don’t.


This is an upgraded port of a year-and-a-half-old PlayStation 2 game. Is it worth purchasing in spite of that? I would have to say YES, as long as you don’t already own the PS2 original. There are some new missions, characters, blah blah but what really makes the Wii version awesome are the controls. Swinging the Wiimote and the Nunchuk attachment to beat people up on screen is very fun and rewarding. This game was quite controversial on release but it’s nowhere near as violent or vulgar as the Grand Theft Auto teams, developed by the same company. This game has a lot of personality, tons of characters, and exciting missions. Did you hate jocks/cheerleaders/nerds/bullies/greasers/burnouts/etc. when you were in high school? This is your chance to beat them all up. Enjoy!

Grade: A
Conclusion: Surprisingly good


If you’ve played the previous Mario Karts you may be wondering what’s new in this game. Here’s the list: 1) 12 competitors in each race instead of 8 2) The option to use motorcycles 3) A steering wheel controller that comes with the game 4) A horrible “rubber banding” system to keep the races close.

Adding four more contestants to each race is a nice touch and makes things even more chaotic than usual. Unfortunately, the motorcyles are nothing special and don’t add much. The steering wheel peripheral sucks and you’re much better off just using the old-school controller scheme. The rubber banding is obvious and awful. If you’re familiar with the previous games, one of the items is a blue shell that goes straight for the 1st place racer and takes them out. They appear in overabundance in this game and maintaining a 1st place position is more of a liability than it ever should be. The Bullet Bill item returns and is also cheaper than ever. It turns you into a Bullet Bill and zips you along, sometimes from 12th place all the way to 1st. Ugh. Unfortunately, unless you’re a terrible racer you’re much more likely to be hurt by the rubber banding than benefit from it.

Mario Kart DS introduced a missions mode that even had boss fights. Sadly, that mode did not make it into this game. Combine that with the fact that the graphics are barely better than the GameCube Mario Kart game and you have an unfortunate product. Still, it’s Mario Kart and it’s competently designed, with 16 new tracks and 16 classic tracks. It’s a lot of fun 75% of the time. The online mode works well and there are many great characters to unlock (except for Funky Kong, he’s a nerd).

Grade: B
Conclusion: Mildly disappointing


If you’ve played House of the Dead, Virtua Cop or Time Crisis then you’ll know what to expect from this game, as it features first-person, on-rails light-gun action.  You don’t control where your character goes, just what he or she shoots at.  Umbrella Chronicles is divided into four main chapters.  Chapter 1 is a light-gun adaptation of Resident Evil 0, Chapter 2 adapts Resident Evil, and Chapter 3 adapts Resident Evil 2.  Completing these chapters opens up new scenarios that feature new side stories featuring various villains and allies.  Chapter 4 is a brand new story in which the heroes from the original Resident Evil invade a factory in Russia.  It’s all good stuff and fairly challenging.  There’s a lot of variety for a light-gun game and it’s much longer than most of its peers.  The graphics are easily the best I’ve seen on Wii so far.  I’d highly recommend this game to fans of light-gun games or the Resident Evil series but others might not be that impressed by it. 

Grade: A-
Conclusion: A pleasant surprise


I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this game because I haven’t really played the revival Ninja Gaiden game for Xbox. As it turns out, most of the connections with the classic NES Ninja Gaiden games have to do with theme and characters but not gameplay.  Dragon Sword is essentially a beat-em-up or hack-‘n-slash with minor puzzle elements.  Control is provided almost exclusively by the stylus.  This means you spend most of your time frantically swiping the stylus back and forth, which somehow results in a bunch of bad guys dying. 

The game looks very nice by DS standards but the audio is largely forgettable.  The storyline is basically the same as every Ninja Gaiden game: go save some girl.  The action can be tedious at times but the boss battles are usually pretty fun.  Overall, this adventure is a mixed bag.  For some reason, the story scenes are expressed with lame anime-style drawings that contrast with the fully rendered 3D presentation of the in-game graphics.  Also distracting are the main villainess’ breasts in these drawings; they’re unnaturally large, of course, but they sit about 3 inches too high.  Not appealing!  This game was made by the same pervs at Tecmo that make the Dead or Alive games and supposedly the impetus for Dragon Sword’s production was a request from the producer’s kids, who wanted to play one of his games on their beloved DS.  Awwwww.  God, to think that the guy that introduced breast physics to the video game world and made an entire game that revolves around bikini girls lounging around, exchanging gifts, and playing volleyball (DOA Xtreme) has kids is unsettling.  He also wears sunglasses indoors so . . . . yeah, you know.

Grade: B-
Conclusion: Mildly disappointing