Confessions of a Classic Gamer



Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Subject: THE LIST

Now Playing:
Gradius Gaiden (PS1)
Gradius Galaxies (GBA)
Phantasy Star Online Episode 1 & 2 (Cube)
Viewtiful Joe (Cube)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Cube)
King of Fighters 2000/2001 (PS2)

Okay, so that's what I played yesterday up there. A lot has happened since the last time I posted. I got a lot of new games. I even got a new system.

I'm making this short and sweet. I got a lot of new games, and I'll try to list them all here, if possible.

PSO Ep. 1 & 2 (Cube)
Viewtiful Joe (Cube)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Cube)
Metroid Prime (Cube)
Pac-Man VS (Cube)
King of Fighters EX2: Neo Blood (GBA)
King of Fighters 2000/2001 (PS2)
Romance of the Three Kingdoms VII (PS2)
Karnov (NES)
Snake Rattle n Roll (NES)
Street Fighter 2010 (NES)

There are probably some I missed, but those come to mind.

No I'm not going to review them. ^,^

Anyway, I plan to have another Gaming Log, over at Gaming Journals

I'll probably have it parallel this one. Maybe posting in two places is pointless, but oh well. ^.^

Beni - 12:17 AM

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Subject: Nostalgic Blue and Ginyu, Too

Now Playing:
Sword of Mana (GBA)
Dragonball Z: Budokai (GC)
The Immortal (NES)
Solstace (NES)
8 Eyes (NES)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)

So, when does nostalgia end and truth begin?

I decided over the last few months to get serious about contributing to the gaming community. I decided to apply for a position to I applied and I was declined. It sucked, yes, but they offered me a chance to try again. I choose not to, though. See, I wrote a review for Contra Advance, which was great when I got it, if only because it was mostly like a portable Contra III, but the flaws in the port to GBA screwed the pooch. The problem they had with my review was as follows:

"The writing is ok, but I don't think he covers the
flaws with the gameplay at all. He seems to consider
the original SNES version some masterpiece, but
besides the issues with the port there are plenty of
downright piss poor aspects to the gameplay itself. It
seems to be a very sugar coated review that's hinged
on nostalgia, despite the moderately bad score. The
text just doesn't do much except to say that the port
was lazy."

Now, after this, they offered to let me change my review to reflect the above statement. If I could address the issues presented, they'd look at it again. Ahem. I asked if I could instead write something else, and they haven't replied yet. I think it's for the best. I'm not writing for them anyway.

What does that say to you? The statement I quoted? Let me break it down...

I think that Contra III actually [i]is[/i] "some masterpiece". That fact is hinged on nostalgia in some fashions, but I see nothing really wrong with Contra III. In fact, the part I hated the most (the overhead levels) have even been taken out of the GBA port... So in a way, they took care of the one problem I had. Unfortunately, they took out more than just those levels, but I'm not doing another port review here. :)

The bottom line is that they are asking me to describe these "piss-poor aspects" which I don't feel exist. If they can't accept that one of their reviewers may not share the majority view of a game, and possibly could love a game that so many others hated, then that makes them just as biased as anybody. To ask me to address issues that I don't feel exist wouldn't reflect my opinion of a game, and therefore I see no reason to lie to myself (and to the gaming public) by publishing a review that features opinions that are not my own. They have room to put multiple reviews of the same game up so that you can get the perspective of multiple reviewers. What's the point of that, I ask you, if their opinions are all subject to "creative difference" with the lead staff? I see a wide range of views in the reviews when they are for the same game. Why is it that when my very first submittal is put under scrutiny, I'm given the option to change my opinion so that they'll like the review.

I don't feel it was "sugar coated", either. I honestly love Contra III. I intensely dislike Contra Advance now that I've discovered it's many flaws. Still, it was steeped in some serious nostalgia... If only due to my somewhat sappy introduction. I felt the rest of my review was fair. Still, none of that bothers me. What bothers me is being asked to address issues that, to me, don't exist. I don't have a problem with Contra's gameplay. I like it. It's natural and the game is challenging. I mentioned these things, but apparently my opinion is not as important as whoever decided not to accept the review. That's fine. It's their perrogative. I just felt inclined to at least let my opinion be stated here, in my own personal space.

They still seem to be a good website, even if their hiring methods are a little sketchy. I doubt I'll ever make that attempt again. I don't think I'd feel comfortable working for a website that had a problem with my opinion on a game. Geez, isn't that what they wanted to hire me for in the first place? Seems counter-productive. Anyway, on to bigger and more important things.

I picked up a few new titles these past few weeks. I have been satisfied with all of them. Some are old, some are new, but I'm very happy with them. Here we go!

-Dragonball Z: Budokai (GC)-

Okay... DBZ is sometimes a sore subject with me. I mean, I was into it before most people who watch it now even knew what 'Kamehameha' meant. And that was 'KA-ME-HA-ME-HA' not 'KAMAY-YA MAY-YA'.

In other words, about 7 or 8 years ago, I was bootlegging Japanese episodes and playing imported Super Famicom games on my modded SNES. Those kids didn't even know who Gohan was (either one of them!). Before then, almost every country in the world had DBZ. It took us so damn long just to get it. When we finally did, though, it was chopped all to hell and "kiddified". Whee!

Still, I loved the manga, the Japanese version of the anime, and any merchandise or game I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, on the game side DBZ was like an ugly, redheaded step-child. He was hideous and annoying, sometimes to the point of being downright stupid, but you loved 'em anyway. This was the shape of DBZ gaming. A series thriving on action and well-designed characters, destined for a life of mediocrity at the 'Butchering Hands of Bandai' (tm).

So, when I heard an American company was going to be producing a DBZ fighting game, I thought the worst. How do you make a game based on an immensely popular Japanese series produced by a Japanese toy company that sucks serious ass even worse? You allow an American company to produce it instead!! That was my thinking, anyway.

Still, the very nice reproductions of famous scenes of DBZ lore and the improved English cast (still not 100% perfect, but they do a decent job) made me give it a second look. It seemed to me that the game captured the essence of DBZ, and that made me want to try the game. Alas, it was only on PS2... At least until recently. So, when I was looking for something in the $30 range for me and Jess to play together, that seemed like a likely choice. After consulting with her, we grabbed it and were on our way out the door.

My first impression of the game was an instant rush of nostalgia. The opening to DBZ (of course, the stupid American 'Rock The Dragon' song was playing instead of 'Head Cha-La') was faithfully reproduced (though slowed down) in 3D glory. Cute in a lot of ways, but still somewhat impressive in others. I was happy with it (other than the song).

Let's skip ahead, shall we?

The Story mode is how you do it here, as in, unlocking the characters and such. I went into Story with no idea of how to play. The game reproduces much of the major battles and scenes in the first three story archs very well, filling in some gaps and showing alternate paths in later trips to the mode. The graphics and sound are both very impressive. The voice acting is good, if a little forced and off-sync. Still, not a bad effort.

The game itself plays like a cross between Psychic Force and 3D fighters like Tekken. It's got a slow pace like PF, and also with the trajectory flying (no dashing in other directions, unfortunatly. A feature I feel should be added), but it has the dial-a-combo style of Tekken. I was also reminded of Mortal Kombat, in that most characters feature similar moves aside from the very special ones. This normally bothers me, but it fits this game somehow. Maybe it's because other than their signature attacks, each of the characters did fight really similarly in the series. Anyway...

As far as a fighting game goes, it's so-so. As a DBZ game goes, it's jizz-in-your-pants amazing. I've never seen the characters look so good, and have the fighting game actually be fun to play. It's not SC2 deep or anything. It's pick-up-and-play fun, and with the feature of collecting capsules and modifying/editing your characters, it makes for some nice customizable fun.

The fun part for me is getting to play characters that have previously been unplayable and overlooked in almost every single game. Raditz, Nappa, Recoome, Yamcha, Krillin, Android #19, and several others. Finally, a chance to play as favorite minor characters! I was always surprised by the omission of Krillin and Yamcha (being so integral), but I always wanted more villians like Raditz and Nappa to make themselves available. Same with the Ginyu force. I have a special place for Recoome in my favorite characters list... Same with Ginyu himself. I'm glad I get to use them, as they work so well in this game.

The gameplay revolves around Combos. It's required to pull off just about everything. The only thing that doesn't require it is transformations, which are great. It's nice to see the ability to actually, manually, turn Trunks Super Saiyajin... Or Super Saiyajin 2! It's nice to have first-stage Frieza, even if he skips right to the final form. Then, there's Cell, with all three of his forms. Nice, nice.

The game is full of fan fun. The fighting leaves a little to be desired, with a somewhat wonky movement system that doesn't always do what's intended. Having to use combos to pull of a Kamehameha seems odd as well, and the regular Ki Blasts are nearly pointless, especially agasint the computer. The AI is maladjusted, truly. One minute stupid, the next, near perfect. The guard system needs work, as well as the 3D movement system. In the end, these issues should be resolved by the sequel, just releasted on PS2. Guess I'm waiting to get that one, too, hm?

Once you understand the gameplay, though, if you're a DBZ fan, you'll be hooked for hours.

My final verdict is that, as a fighting game, I'd probably give this one a 6.5. However, as a DBZ Fighting Game, it gets a resounding 9.

-Sword of Mana (GBA)-

Have I mentioned how much I love the Mana (Seiken Densetsu) games? I know I have, so I'll drop that.

Getting the remake of the original GB game was an exciting prospect. I had been watching the official Japanese website for months, practically salivating. I had a pretty 'Heroine and Mana Tree' background for a long time, and I would stare at it forever, wishing I had the game right then.

So... it's finally here. On Tuesday I nabbed my copy at Gamestop, and had it in my Gameboy Player the moment I got home.

The music is great. You know how much I love the music in Mana. Excellent. However, the songs repeat a lot. So far, that's not a problem.

The graphics do the job. It's no Legend of Mana, but hey, that was on the PS1. They are nice for GBA for sure.

Gameplay? A cross between the original and 'Legend'.

So, what's the problem?

I don't have one.

I love the game. However, it appears that nobody else does. =) Oh well. More for me then.

I'm not really writing a review for Sword of Mana because I don't think I need to. 10/10. Love it. However, I feel that something kinda cool is happening, and I'd like to say it.

It's been brought to my attention, both through the botched application at GBA Central and through discussions about Sword of Mana that my nostalgia might be getting in the way of my good sense. I've had similar experiences when watching movies that everyone else hated (Matrix Revolutions). That wasn't nostalgia. It was just having an open mind.

Somehow, someway I've become less jaded. I've opened up a bit and can enjoy something for what it is, instead of concentrating on what it isn't. Isn't that what it's all about?

I got The Immortal, Solstice, and 8 Eyes. Ironically, I rented these three games nearly simultaneously back in the day. Inextricably linked in my mind. Bought them on the same day. Nostalgia.

I don't know. Hey, look... I know what I like. That's just who I am. It's too bad that people don't agree with the things that I say, but that's tough cookies. Oh well. They don't have to agree. I don't need that. I just want someone to say, "Hey, our opinions are different, but that doesn't make you wrong."

Let's see... Recap time:

I've opened up a bit and can enjoy something for what it is, instead of concentrating on what it isn't.

They have a single word for describing that sentence above.

Beni - 1:21 AM

Friday, October 17, 2003

Subject: The Roots Run Deep

Now Playing:
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)
Kabuki Quantum Fighter (NES)
Arkanoid (NES)
Kirby's Adventure (NES)
Gradius Gaiden (PS1, Import)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)

I suppose there's no denying your roots. I had found solace in the classics back when I started this whole thing, and now I've come full circle.

I got myself a GameCube, and I've bought many games for it, which have been documented here. Over the last few months I've spent a lot of time with the 'Cube, some time with my GBA, and nearly no time with my classic systems. I was having fun with my new games: Animal Crossing, Ultimate Muscle, Mario Golf, Soul Calibur 2, Wrestlemania XIX, etc. What I didn't realize is that pulling out my NES on a whim and popping in Yo! Noid would make me actually put my GameCube away. I mean, right now it's in a drawer. I try not to keep my gaming area too cluttered considering the limited amount of space in our place. The decision to actually put the GameCube away wasn't a hard one, but I was sort of chuckling to myself as I did it.

Don't you think it's somewhat symbolic? Maybe that's reading into it. It's just ironic. It's nothing that I didn't expect, of course. The 'Cube was nothing more than an addition to my collection, not a replacement. Even still, that's primarily what I've been playing, so in a way, I suppose that it did replace my current systems for a while.

It's good to be back. I've finally gotten through most of Kabuki Quantum Fighter now. I was hung up on the third level for a couple of days, but I'm past it now (I wish that game had a password system). Got much further in Kirby. I'm near the end of the game again. I bought Arkanoid and Kung Fu Heroes. I forgot about KFH being one of Culture Brain's first offerings. I dislike it intensely compared to their later releases, but it was a rare find, so I nabbed it. Arkanoid was great, though. I finally bought it because I found a good looking copy. Nearly new, actually. Good stuff.

New game-wise, I actually went out and bought two copies of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance this week. One for Jessica, earlier this week for her Birthday, and one for myself yesterday. "Time to actually buy it", I told myself. Great game so far, but I've already mentioned all of that. It's just nice to have it in my hands. I dedicated a couple of hours on a single day to the emulated version, but I had just wanted to try it out since I couldn't purchase it yet. Now I'm ready to sit down and make progress. Progress on the emulated version would have been pointless since I never planned to do anything with it. Despite the fact that I've used my GBA emulator a couple of times, I still don't see the point in emulating GBA games. Half the point is the portability. To me, an entire computer isn't pocketable.

A cool thing happened at Gamestop the other day. While picking up Arkanoid and Kung Fu Heroes, I met a guy who was probably 17 years old. He was rifling through the SNES section. He saw me carefully picking through the NES games and started asking me questions. They were quite simple, as most of them were about popular games. He was asking my recommendations and seeing 'which one I would buy' and such. It was nice to see someone who grew up with a Playstation going back to see where it all started. For me, it was a matter of returning to my own gaming beginnings, as I've never been a collector of Atari games or Commodore games or anything: the true console roots. For me, it's always been the NES, SNES, Genesis, Turbo, Gameboy, etc. It was nice to meet someone so young who was interested in the classics.

And on that subject: there have been some employee changes over at Gamestop that I've not been happy with. Now I see more WOMEN working there. Not that there's anything wrong with GIRLS working at a Gamestop, but these are women in their 30's and 40's, and if you think I'm being sexist, well, you'd be dead wrong. I'm speaking based on experience. Women that age rarely know anything about games. They have seemingly replaced our very knowledgable red-headed Manager guy with a slow, uneducated blonde woman... for no apparent reason.

First of all, the store is being rearranged in a non-sensical fashion. All of the GBA games (whose section I thought was too small to begin with) are now in a smaller section. All of the GBA accessories are crammed into a little place, items piled in front of completely different items. The PC games are all on a rolling shelf. I'm interested in what they are going to do with the wall that now has nothing on it. Probably more X-Box games. Makes sense, considering the fact that they already have a big section, and both the 'Cube and the PS2 are outselling it. My sarcasm knows no bounds.

Now, I have seen this woman a few times, but now is the first time I've had to deal with her directly. I stand in line with some new GBA cases (had to rifle through the piles of accessories to find it, whereas it was in a perfectly logical place the day before), and there are two people ahead of me. The first person is looking to buy a PS2 game, and the woman takes about five full minutes to find it. She then has trouble processing his check. He leaves after she can't accept his payment. The next guy also wants a PS2 game. She takes about ten minutes to find it. Now, five or ten minutes may not seem like much time on paper, but if you count it up in your head, that's a long time to wait while just standing there watching her scratch her head. I had time to thumb through a couple of anime mags. As I would find out later, though, it wasn't because she hadn't been working there long or anything. It's because she knows jack shit about games and had no idea what she was looking for.

When I finally got up to the counter, I asked for a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. This game just came out. It's a highly anticipated release that had some serious preorder activity. She's been there for a couple of months, and she's also the Manager. Despite that fact, she had to ask me what system it was for. Then she had to specify that it was for the 'little' Gameboy Advance. It took her over five minutes to find me a copy of a game that filled half a drawer. I actually watched her have it in her hand two times, but waited out of morbid curiosity to see when she would realize that she had it. Finally, I had to say something when she actually pulled it out of the drawer and had it in her hand, but was continuing to look.

They should require people who work at Gaming stores to know what the hell they are doing before they hire them, especially as management. I'm going to have to stop recommending my local Gamestop to people now, out of respect. I'm severely disappointed.

At any rate, here we are. I've come full circle and everything is peachy. I'm back on the boards, and life is good. Let the retrogaming commence, and may it continue forevermore...

Or... just forever.

Beni - 9:43 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Subject: Time To Blow They Minds

Now Playing:
Kabuki Quantum Fighter (NES)
Arkanoid (NES)
Tetris (NES)
Kirby's Adventure (NES)
Yo! Noid (NES)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)
Gradius Gaiden (PS1, Import)
Soukyugurentai (PS1, Import)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)
Advance Wars (GBA)

Now NOT Playing:
WrestleMania XIX (Cube)

Feels good to be back in the saddle. Yeeeeehaw! *whipcrack!*

Big update tomorrow, guys. You have been warned. It's time to blow they minds!
Beni - 10:26 PM

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Subject: Wrestlemania XIX - One Month After

Now Playing:
Wrestlemania XIX (Cube)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)

So... It's been exactly one month since I aquired WMXIX, and I have yet to post my impressions. It's one of those situations where I spent so much time playing it, I simply didn't want to take the time to review it.

Here we have another dilemma. It's hard to review. I could write a ten-page review on it, nice and thorough, but my opinion on it is somewhat biased. Obviously, I'm a wrestling fan, so it comes from that perspective, and I find it hard to adopt another stance. I will, however, go over some general likes and dislikes about the game in order to convey my impressions. This review is very nit-picky, though. Truth be told, I play it every day and I love it, but it's only fair to warn readers of my issues with the game.

First of all, the gameplay is fantastic. The game's control set gives you an almost 'No Mercy' degree of control over your character, though the game is paced faster. I've not played a smoother wrestling game. Even though the number of things you can do is immense, the controls remain simple enough so that almost anyone can pick it up and hang within about 5 minutes of playtime. For the more intricate details of gameplay, a lengthy tutorial is available, and it covers nearly all of the possible moves and situations in the game. Bottom line: the gameplay is superb. I wouldn't change a thing, except I would have liked the ability to perform specials off the top of the HIAC or a Ladder.

CAW is supremely important when it comes to wrestling games, and this system is definetly the most detailed CAW system I've seen yet. The problem I have with it is the fact that certain options that should have been included were mysteriously omitted. First and foremost is the ability to use custom logos on female characters. Obviously this was to prevent horny adolescent youths from creating a nude skin-toned shirt with nipples so that they could have a nekkid lady. Robbing me from being able to use a logo or custom shirt on a female wrestler is stupid, especially for that reason. Second is the inability to use custom logos on short tights. I wanted to make the Val Venis "V" symbol, and was unable to do so.

Speaking of Val Venis, if WWE owns the rights to his theme song, why isn't his theme in the CAW section? All they have are the themes from the wrestlers pre-existing in the game (sans Matt Hardy, The Dudleys, Victoria, Los Guerreros, Rob Van Dam and Kane), plus 6 so-so original songs. What bothers me about this is that they have CAW animations and moves that are obviously meant to be used to make characters that weren't included in the game. They have every right to use characters' themes. They could use Val Venis, Shane McMahon, Kevin Nash, Jeff Hardy (maybe on this one), and many, many others. They could include classic themes, or old versions of other people's themes. I would kill for the DX theme, or X-Pac's theme. No reason in the world why they aren't included. Very much limits what you can do musically. Another musical complaint is the addition of sound effects and intros to songs, with no option to turn them off. In other words, if you want Chris Jericho's theme, you have to include the sound effects in his Y2J Countdown (the ball going through the tube and everything), even if you don't have his titanitron sequence. Same with the Rock and Matt Hardy. Even if I wanted the stupid muzak version of Matt Hardy's theme, I wouldn't use it because every time my character would come down the ramp, it would be to the sound of a clacking keyboard. Very poor choice.

Next is the inability to make a proper looking sumo. I cannot make a character look properly round enough to pass as a super-heavyweight. I can get close, and I'm fairly satisfied, but with all of the other extreme stretching you can do (like grossly oversized or undersized heads, extraordinarily small limbs, etc.), it's bewildering that you can't make Yokozuna without it looking like he went on a major diet.

The next two problems are really big issues with me, and they are issues that are unresolvable and unreconcilable.

Firstly, is the inclusion of a feature that was, in my eyes, to replace the ability to create multiple costumes for your created wrestlers. It's called the "Locker". It allows you to save upper and lower body costumes with names so that you can quickly hop in and change a characters' costume. Brilliant. Instead of No Mercy's four costumes, you could have many, many to choose from. I was very excited, and instantly made 3 different colored costumes for my high-flyer, "The Blaze". To my horror, when I loaded up the costumes to show Jessica what I had done, I discovered that absolutely none of the color settings had been saved. I used a full set of custom colors, and since the costume didn't change, just the color settings (think Rey Mysterio), I had simply saved the same costume three times. It's just as difficult to recreate a custom color as it is to pick a shirt and apply a logo. In other words, they only solved half of the problem, and in my opinion, it's not a very difficult half to solve on your own. This omission of color setting saving made the Locker utterly useless to me.

Finally, my biggest beef not only with the CAW system, but the entire game, is the inclusion of a paltry SIXTEEN create-a-wrestler slots. Yes. You read that right. SIXTEEN. No Mercy, a game made on a cartridge for the N64 nearly four years ago had nearly twice that. I've never seen such a small number of CAW slots, especially not for such an intricate CAW system. There's no excuse for this. The 'Cubes memory cards are very efficient. If you buy the 256 card, it will take a lot of games to fill it up. I have every game I own saved on one card, and I haven't even used up half the memory. Having only 16 slots is just plain empty-headed. If they had included the ability to spend an additional 20 or so blocks on the card to dedicate to an additional 16 slots, then that would have been great. Right now I'd have about 50 Created Wrestlers instead of 16, plus the one CAW that I wrote down the (lengthy) formula for just to take it off the game for more room. Deplorable.

But... I love the game. The match types are great, and despite so many negative reviews on it, I love 'Revenge' mode. I just wish they had included it in addition to a story mode, and not in leiu of one. That having been said, any wrestling fan with a Gamecube should pick this one up. Even with it's flaws, it's still a great wrestling game. Long live the Wrestlemania series.
Beni - 10:58 PM

Monday, September 08, 2003

Subject: The Soul Still Burns... I guess that's why it feels just like the last time

Now Playing:
Soul Calibur II (GC)
WWF - No Mercy (N64)

Voldo is God.

I just thought I'd get that out of the way.

So, I told you guys I'd be getting SCII and posting my impressions of it last Wednesday... but I didn't get around to it because I was too busy actually playing it... and No Mercy. So yeah, I'm a lazy bastard. Here's your review you bastards.

I've played a lot of games that didn't meet my expectations. SCII succeeds in meeting my expectations, but unfortunately it didn't surpass them at all. Things went exactly as I expected, and there was nothing in the game that surprised me, pleasantly or otherwise.

I'm glad that my favorite characters (Voldo, Maxi) have some new moves, but the changes to the remaining roster from Soul Calibur were pretty slim, with the exception of a couple of characters, who got a veritable overhaul. I find that unfair, but in the case of Voldo, it was hard to improve upon perfection. The addition of the Wyrm moves and the addressing of some priority issues made Voldo a better character overall, so I can't complain at all.

They included another favorite character, Sophitia, though she is largely unchanged from her Soul Calibur incarnation. I've also been playing a lot of the console-specific characters, Link and Necrid. Both are nice. I think that if anything actually took me off-guard, it would be how fun Link was to play. Very well done on Namco's part.

The Weapon Master mode was too easy, and the ability to buy the weapons from the shop was nice, but it made the mode even easier. The lack of third costumes for each character was bothersome, as I think it's more of a popularity contest among the Namco staff than anything. The lack of a third costume for Necrid is odd, as all the other console-specific characters have three (four in the case of Link, but that was just a color swap). I was also upset at a missing third for Maxi, but that's simply because it's Maxi. Many of the other characters were deserving of thirds, and I honestly think it would have been best just to let all of them have three, but that's something I doubt will ever happen. It's not like they don't have enough costume designs to pull from. Blech.

The gameplay system remains much the same as it did in Soul Calibur, which brings me to the subject of this post. Indeed, this game is awesome, and there are many things I love about it, but the bottom line is that I simply don't see much in the way of innovation in the Soul Calibur series. More of the same isn't such a bad thing in fighting games, but as my interests swing more towards Wrestling games and further from most fighters, I see so much evolution in those types of games, and the stagnation in fighters is becoming more apparent.

Soul Calibur II has recieved nothing but praise from me in the past, and honestly, I doubt I could say a truly bad thing about the game or the series in general. Still, I've taken much time away from this game to play No Mercy, as usual, and only Wrestlemania XIX will tear me away from it.

As I've said before, Soul Calibur II, as good of a game as it is, remains nothing more than a speedbump on my way to Wrestlemania.

In closing - Soul Calibur gets an 8.0 in my book. Great game. Nothing wrong with it. Come Tuesday, you can watch it collect dust.

Beni - 12:10 AM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Now Playing:

No Mercy (N64)
Wario Land 4 (GBA)
Animal Crossing (Cube)


I mean, I love my Cube games. Played the hell out of Mario Golf. Made about 25 CAWs for Ultimate Muscle, after unlocking everything. I've been playing Resident Evil, too. So why is it that I haven't picked any of them up in a week? I mean, I've only played WL4 here and there, and AC only to update myself and check the shop. All I've really been playing is No Mercy, as usual.

Who would have thought that the best wrestling game of all time would be on a system most people thought was ludicrous? It's like the biggest secret in the world, only everybody knows about it. Yes, I know that made no sense, but hey, I've actually been doing nothing but playing No Mercy on the long-term, so can I really be sane?

I think a lot of it has to do with my incredible anticipation for Wrestlemania XIX. September 9th can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned. I've got Soul Calibur 2 coming out next week and I'm barely cognizant of the fact. I mean, of course I will play it. I'm still excited about it. Just not as excited as I am about WMXIX. Can you blame me? Have you seen it? Holy crap, I need booze. I could break my wrists typing about it.

Let's go over the basics. First of all, the system is based off of No Mercy, with weak/strong grapples and a similar control scheme. So if my recent playing habits are any indication, that's a good thing. I loved the location-specific damage in No Mercy, as joint manipulation and submission holds are my favorite types of maneuvers. It's even more advanced in WMXIX, even so far as to have a whole 'joint manipulation' stat in the CAW system. The CAW in WMXIX is amazing, and is by far more detailed than I ever imagined. Fully customizable entrances. Thousands of moves. Amazing. It's going to rock.

A cool-looking Story Mode called "Revenge" is the central mode in the game, where you've been kicked out of the WWE by Vince McMahon. You have to perform missions in various city locales in order to cost Vince money so he's forced to sell the company to Stephanie McMahon, thereby getting your job back. Maybe a little hokey in theory, but in execution, it looks like it's going to be a blast.

The pacing of the game is somewhere between the stiff, slow style in No Mercy and the overly quick and jerky style of the Smackdown series. It seems they are aiming to please fans on both sides of the spectrum, and early footage indicates that they might have succeeded.... at least partially. While the movement and grappling are no longer nearly as stiff as they were in No Mercy, the characters seem to have that quick, jerky quality that made me hate the Smackdown series when striking. In one vid, I saw Shawn Michaels stomping a police officer (Revenge Mode). While stomping, the guard was facing one way on the ground. He started to get up, and Michaels kicked him again. Suddenly, he was facing the other way. It's a bit glitchy, but I'm not really complaining. What wrestling game isn't a bit glitchy? I'm just excited because of all the improvements they're making over WMX8. If they can pull this off the way it's playing out in my head, I should be playing this game for a looooong time to come.

No reviews for now. Stay tuned, for I'll have my impressions of the GameCube release of Soul Calibur 2 this time next week.
Beni - 11:47 AM




As gaming sinks further into mainstream mediocrity, I choose to step out of that vile mookish black hole... Going back to a time when we gamed for gaming's sake.