Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WTF Wednesday: Heroic Brutalities

This week's WTF Wednesday goes to Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, for its use of "Heroic Brutalities". These are basically what the DC heroes do instead of committing fatalities. Check this out:

First of all, that’s going to kill you. You can’t get hit with such force on the head that you get driven into the ground up to your waist, without suffering, at least, a concussion. Baraka only felt the first blow or two. After that, the internal bleeding finished him off, no questions asked.

Second, no one wants heroic brutalities, DC. It’s a snoozer. We want to be able to rip someone’s head off with superman. Or to rip an arm off and beat someone to death with it. Next time, let Midway use your characters to kill some bad guys. But neither Superman or Batman will kill? No problem; I’ll do it for them.

Third, this is just unfair. Neither Sub-Zero or Raiden are going to hesitate to decapitate batman. Batman is capable of finishing people off just as well as any of the Mortal Kombat players, if Midway had only let him. This heroic brutality thing puts Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash at a real disadvantage to the other characters when it comes to the spectacular finish.

My WTF Wednesday goes to Heroic Brutalities in the Mortal Kombat vs DC game for the XBox 360. No one wants Superman, or Batman, to be a pussy. We want them to take care of business in Mortal Kombat the same way all the other characters do. And that means blood; that means death.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Top Ten Mario Games

UPDATE: I missed something. Apparently, it is possible to play Luigi in New Super Mario Bros. The game will show you how after you beat it the first time.

I want to thank PsychoDuck for catching my mistake.

Top Ten Mario Games

10. Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door

Super Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door is just straight up fun, and quirky. Although, in this case, I can’t really say I speak from so much experience. My girlfriend liked this game so much that she wouldn’t let me play. Actually, I did get to play, but it was a few weeks after we originally bought the game. The thousand year door worked really well because of the colorful and interesting story, and the extensive cast of characters that Mario got to keep as sidekicks.

9. Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land is on the list because it was the first time that the classic mario formula went mobile. Now, you could play Mario in the car! I’m a little ashamed to admit that due to restrictive parents (My Mom thought my super nintendo was already rotting my mind) I did not get the chance to play this game until very recently. In fact, when I told my girlfriend I was going to write this blog. Her response, “You simply have to add Super Mario Land.” I’ve been checking out the game since, and she’s not wrong. It’s got the same addicting mario feel that made so many of his other games classic.

8. Super Mario Bros.

This is the classic. Not the original mario game, but the one that set the lovable plumber on his journey to international stardom long before American Idol ever aired. This game was so good that every nintendo fan of its day not only had it, but played it extensively. Add in that it came paired with the second most addictive Nintendo game of its day, Duck Hunt, and you simply couldn’t go wrong. In this game, the Mario formula was created, but it would not be perfected for some years later.

7. Super Mario Kart.

When I started this list I meant to include all games that primarily starred Mario, but ended up making a list mostly of his greatest platformers. Sports games are notably absent because Mario’s athleticism, though impressive, has failed to truly excite the gaming crowd the way his classic games have. The exception, of course, is Super Mario Kart. Super Mario Kart was fun in a couple of ways. First, there was the classic Grand Prix in two speeds, and four separate cups. Second, there was racing against a partner. Third, there was the ability to race against your own best times. And fifth, and everyone’s favorite was Super Mario Kart’s Battle Mode. My ass still hurts from all the green shells my father pelted me with.

6.Super Mario 64

I know, I know. This is at least five spots to high up in the list. Not that this wasn’t a great game. It really was. I liked a lot of it, but somehow Mario in 3-d did not seem a realization of Mario’s potential in the same way that Hyrule in 3-D was. I was happy to play this game, and excited about the idea of 3-D video gaming, but something about Mario had me still in love with the 2-D platform star he had always been. On the other hand, this is better than what I thought was going to happen to Mario. If you could have heard me talk in the late nineties you might have heard me say that 3-D was going to be the death of Mario as the top video game star. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Super Mario 64 offered a lot of expansive worlds to explore as well as a lot of extra things to find. The difficulty was amped down a little bit, but the challenge of finding all the stars in the game more than made up for it. This was a great game, and definitely one of the better releases the N64 had to offer, but it still isn’t good enough to break into Mario’s top five games of all time. Still, this is one worth checking out more than once; just don’t let the Monkey steal your hat!

5. Mario Kart DS

Until the very recent release of Grand Theft Auto ChinaTown Wars, Mario Kart DS held the esteemed position of highest ranked Nintendo DS Game on Gamespot with the ranking of 9.2. It received the same ranking, but was bested by a few other games on IGN. Mario Kart DS more than deserved such high praise. This was Mario Kart brought to a perfection even greater than the original Super Mario Kart. The graphics were impeccable, easily one of the most visually pleasing games on the DS. The sound was just as impressive, it’s one of those games that is more fun to play the higher you put the volume. The three grand prix modes were a lot of fun, and the redone classical courses were some of the most fun, and easily the most nostalgic, parts of the game. And if that weren’t enough, add on wifi capability so you could play with a friend. Fans of mario kart are hoping that Nintendo will release another Mario Kart for the DS or DSi. One that will include new race tracks, even more nostalgic courses, and a more extensive mission mode. But for now, we’re not only satisfied with this DS game; we’re so addicted we cannot put it down.

4. Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars

It pains me that a game as good as Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars comes on any list as number four, but such has been the greatness of the Mario series. Seven Stars was the second greatest RPG of the Super Nintendo Era, barely cutting out EarthBound for the number 2 spot, but falling to Chrono Trigger. Seven Stars had an interesting story, with challenging baddies, and enough puzzles to keep everyone entertained. And if that weren’t enough, add more than a couple interesting characters and you have a formula for Mario’s success in RPG form. But Mario RPG stayed consistently Mario, not a straight RPG. The timed attacks, especially with Mario’s long jumps definitely made it seem like a Mario game, as well as his ability to jump while away from the battle screen. And as if that weren’t enough Seven Stars was one of the first video games to introduce the concept of an UltraBoss, the boss more difficult to beat than the main boss. In Seven Stars this boss is known as Culex, and if he doesn’t waste your party in a couple of turns, then you are a much more impressive Seven Stars player than me. This type of boss worked really well to keep players interested and entertained long after the main quest had ended. Super Mario RPG is easily one of the best Super Mario games of all time, and is a real steal for eight dollars for anyone with the Wii and access to the internet.

3. Super Mario Galaxy

As I’ve said, Super Mario 64 was a great game, but it was Galaxy that really proved Mario in 3-D for me. First, there were the worlds, seemingly huge expansive. Second, there were the controls. The shake to do your punch was awesome, and jumping again became a matter of precision (after the F.l.u.d.d. of Sunshine made it more about button mashing.) The Overworld was huge and a lot of fun, and the challenge of finding all 120 stars still has me entertained. At first, I thought finding stars in Mario Galaxy was going to be a little bit too easy until the comets came into effect. The daredevil comets made things particularly difficult in really fun, addicting ways. Also, the power ups Mario had were both interesting and incredibly varied. However, Mario Galaxy failed to take the top spot because of a couple of major flaws. First of these, was that one or two of the power-ups felt like a power-down. A bee costume in which you can’t even touch the water, no thanks. Second, the lack of a Yoshi world. This would have been really easy to put into this game, and would have elevated it to the level needed to potentially steal the number 2 spot on this list. As it is, however, number two belongs firmly to...

2. Super Mario Bros. 3

This was easily the best game on the Nintendo Entertainment System, bar none. Its graphics were best. Its audio was one of the best. Its game play was the best. So good, in fact, that it still translates into one of the most fun games today, without any remodeling of its graphics or its gameplay. The worlds were impressively large, with many levels to get through. But Super Mario Bros 3 really shined in the power up suits. It wasn’t just Big Mario and fire Mario this time. There was froggy mario, and stone mario, and Raccoon Mario. The power ups made Mario so much more interesting than he had been previously and allowed him to take on challenges in new ways. This game is also available on the Wii’s virtual console, and it really is a steal at a mere $5.

1. Super Mario World

This is Super Mario done right! This game is near perfection right down to the tiniest details. First, their is the main quest. Seven incredibly fun worlds, each with their own terrifying dungeon controlled by one of Bowser’s seven children. One incredibly cute, super fun dinosaur named Yoshi as an ally. The Fireflower and the Super Cape as power-ups. The powerful Bowser to defeat at the end of the game. As if that weren’t enough, finding and completing the star world and the special section as well as finding all 96 exits in the game and every single Yoshi Coin. There’s simply so much to do in Super Mario World, which is incredibly impressive seeing as it came out in 1992. Super Mario World also adds a lot of brilliant little details such as the ability to throw shells, the challenge of stringing together enough jumps to get a one up, and an extensive variety of enemies and you have a game that is a class all its own. Super Mario World not only ranks as Mario’s ultimate adventure; it is easily one of the best video games of all time!

Notable Exceptions:

1. Super Mario Sunshine-Parts of this game were good, but it did not get the top ten as the Fludd device made missing jumps no big deal in this game. Mario is a jumping protagonist, when he misses jumps bad things are supposed to happen. Besides, the idea that Mario needs a little jetpack for assistance seems contradictory to his previous video game heroics.

2. Yoshi’s Island- The only issue I had with Super Mario World is that the bosses were too easy. Yoshi’s Island would fix this by making bosses much more complicated, and much more varied. Unfortunately, it failed to string together worlds like Super Mario World, and was not as deep a game. But it would have been included on this list, except that to most, myself included, this is more a Yoshi game than a Mario Game.

3 .New Super Mario Bros.-This game was too much like just a newer version of Super Mario Bros, which is what it professed to be. But some of the power ups were ridiculous powerful, to the point of being no fun to have. Further, in the main player mode one could only play Mario, making its title frustrating (differentiating the two characters and letting us choose would have been better.) Finally, the notable lack of Yoshi are really any kind of ally characters kept this Mario off the list.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: Street Fighter IV

New School Review: Street Fighter IV

In a way, I almost feel sorry for Capcom when it comes to Street Fighter IV. That is, until I think of all the money they are going to make off this game. They are in a very difficult position because of how well previous Street Fighter games have worked. Change the Street Fighter formula too much and fans are going to shout and cry about how Capcom failed to make another Street Fighter Game. Don’t change it enough and critics are going to call this game just a better looking Street Fighter II. Street Fighter IV managed to avoid either of these two problems, but it did it with the cost of a few new minor problems that together seriously hampered the effectiveness of this game.

That’s not to say, however, that Street Fighter IV is a bad game. Indeed, there are many parts of it that are very good. Unfortunately, this is one of those games that was a victim to its own hype. No matter how good Street Fighter IV was it couldn’t live up to what fans thought it could be. Further, a lot of smaller mistakes, and a lack of interesting modes keeps this fighter from entering the conversation about the greatest fighters of all time, and it certainly doesn’t occupy that position itself.

The Good:

A lot of fighters. We start with sixteen selectable fighters, and nine unlockable characters there are obviously a lot of players to choose from. Not only that, but all of the classical characters that we have grown to love including Chun Li, Guille, Ken, Ryu, Bison, and Zangief are back.

A tight tier list.

For those who don’t know, a tier list is a list of the strongest fighter down to the weakest fighter in a fighting game. Unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl and other fighters from this year Street Fighter IV boasts a really tight tier list. That is, there is no one on the list of fighters who is unbelievably better than everyone else (like MetaKnight in Brawl) nor is there anyone who is so much weaker than others that they can’t compete. There is still a tier list, like all fighters, but you can tell that the makers of this game really worked to make it tighter than other contemporary fighting games; an effort greatly appreciated both by fans and tournament goers.

Excellent Gameplay

The six button formula has worked well for Street Fighter series since Street Fighter II. Street Fighter IV is no exception. Most of the gameplay is really excellent. The controls are tight and responsive, and it’s never been so much fun to kick the shit out of your friends when not playing against the computer.

Unlike previous games you can really see how these are the premiere fighters in the world. From Zangief’s chest to Chun-Li’s calves, these fighters don’t look like the kind of people you would want to mess with on the streets.

The Bad:

The Super Combos: These, I hated. You could be winning a fight and all the other person would have to do is a super combo to take you out of the game. Or you could be losing badly, but pull one of these off to come back. And they didn’t feel like a strategy to use either. Like, in Soulcalibur you have to strategize about how to knock someone off the ledge if you are losing miserably. Super Combos were just a matter of luck whether or not they landed well, or at least, they felt that way. The game would have been improved considerably if these had been left out.

A General Lack of Modes

Seriously, Capcom? You’re going to release a fighting game in 2009 with only arcade, “challenge”, survival, and time attack modes? No story mode? No team battle mode? This is more than surprising. It’s downright disappointing. Add unto that a simply terrible challenge mode, and this game is a lot shallower than a fighting game in 2009 should be. The challenge mode was just a function of using all your special moves against a stationary opponent. Great for learning how to do the more difficult things in the game, but a challenge? Hardly.

The Story:

Just garbled and bad. Unlike Mortal Kombat which actually found an interesting way to explain why grown men were trying to kill each other, and how they could throw fireballs, the street fighter story continues to make no sense to me. Some fighters who want to prove they are the strongest, and others who are launching an investigation, and then still others who are trying to do magical things. It was so muddled that halfway through the game all I could think is “Why does this game need a story line anyway?”

Bottom Line:

Capcom’s Street Fighter IV is an excellent game. It’s fun, especially when you have a friend. The gameplay is almost as tight as Street Fighter II, and the graphics are stellar. Unfortunately, a few gameplay issues and limited ways to play keep this game from standing out as one of the greatest of all time as some others have contested.

Graphics 10/10
Sound 7/10 (What was up with some of the wimpy song choices for this game?)
Gameplay 7/10 (Needed more Modes)
Lasting Appeal 9/10
Overall: 8

Final Say: Great Game, but not even in the top ten fighters of all time.

Awesomely Bad Game #1: Pokemon

The Best of the Bad:
Awesomely Bad Game #1


What makes Pokemon so bad? Nothing except of level of cruelty so bad it should make members of Peta shit their pants. Not only do you pit creatures against each other in horrible battles that look extremely painful (I’d like to see you take a lightning bolt to the forehead and see how much you like it) when you’re done, you put the gigantic monster into a little ball that can fit into the size of a poorly dubbed cartoon character’s hand.

And if you think after putting any kind of animal, or monster, in one of those terrible little prisons they’re going to come out and fight for you; you’re dead wrong. Especially when they’re so powerful. When I play I’m just waiting for Charizard to come out and fry my ass. It’s no less than what I deserve.

As if that weren’t enough let’s add how slow the game is. We can read Pokemon; and those kids who can’t are just skipping over the text anyway. Get a move on with it, would you? I want to hit my enemies Pokemon with another lightning bolt, and I don’t have time to sort through all of your words.

Finally, what makes Pokemon really bad is that when a monster loses a battle he “faints”. I just hit that motherfucker with three lightning bolts and fireball. He’s dead. No, he’s more than dead. He’s a fucking pile of ashes right now. He’s fried like an egg. He didn’t faint; don’t pretend like he did, let’s just call it a fatality and be done with it.

Pokemon gets my nod for awesomely bad game of the week for its cruelty to the creatures involved, the painfully slow and boring text, and the fact that monster’s faint rather than die after they’ve taken enough abuse to be killed ten times over.

But I know you’ve gotta catch ‘em all anyway. So, go ahead you sick, sadistic bastards. I hope you get what’s coming to you.