Tag Archives: gaming

Super Mario RPG

Before Paper Mario and the other occasional Mario RPGs like Mario and Luigi: Dream TeamSuper Mario RPG was the first attempt at putting the short, fat plumber into this genre. How did it fare? Well, as a Mario game that furthered the story, it worked well, being actually the first of this series in awhile (Donkey Kong Country having replaced the usual second one two years before) to really further the Super Mario series. It’s got a good story, colorful enemies, and of course, lots of jumping.

It also works as an RPG… but understand that there’s some incorporation of action into it. Not a huge amount of action, but those who play just RPGs because they can’t get comfortable enough with the controller, might find this game to take a little getting used to.

Plot: 8 out of 10

After the shortest rescue of Princess Peach ever, she, Mario, and Bowser are separated as a result of by an attack on Bowser’s castle. It’s been taken over by a group called The Smithy Gang. These baddies prove to be even more dangerous than Bowser was, so upon discovering each other, Mario and Bowser become fri… enemies of enemies. Peach, a star warrior named Geno, and a “tadpole” who looks more like a marshmallow kid named Mallow also join.

But what stands out to me is Bowser having to side with Mario. For the time being, anyway. Future games prove that this changed nothing between them.

I see greed is as much a problem for the mushroom people as it is for humans.

Still, I can’t praise the story too much because this began the de-emphasis of Luigi. While Nintendo’s gotten much better about using him as of late, there was a time that Mario’s brother was forgotten. It started with this game.

Graphics: 10 out of 10

Simply put, this is the best-looking game on the Super Nintendo. A very successful attempt at a 3D atmosphere is made here. This is really the first time Mario and his supporting cast look as as realistic as they do in the promo art.

Sound: 9 out of 10

Squaresoft (now Square Enix) was once known for having the best music in video games. That probably never changed, but its godawful voice actors tainted that until the recent Final Fantasy XV. The music and environmental sounds here are very, very good. Square’s composers knew they were creating a soundtrack for a more cartoonish, humorous game than Final Fantasy and the music appropriately reflects that.

Bowser AND his ghosts as allies! How can you lose?

Gameplay: 8 out of 10

It’s not just generic RPG stuff, though generic RPG stuff is in the game. Walk around, talk to people, get attacked outside of town, fight with weapons, items, and magic).

What stands out is that hey actually incorporate Mario’s jump into this game. You can jump around to get to higher perches and travel on moving platforms.

Walking on clouds also stands out.

Another bit of action put into the RPG genre is Timed Hits. You’re supposed to Push A right before a characters hits or is hit. the magic equivalent of this varies from spell to spell, but don’t worry. the spells that require something unusual for maximum impact tell you.

It’s nothing super-tricky, but again, these two twists can be a new thing for fans of this genre to adapt to.

Challenge: 9 out of 10

The biggest criticism of this game is that it’s too easy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the difficulty is underrated. It’s not particularly brutal, but the bosses can be quite a challenge if you don’t level up a lot. Additionally, this game has mini-games, perhaps a precursor to today’s sidequests, that make things more fun.

BB pretty much typed my caption for me.

Overall: 9 out of 10

It may not be for everyone, but Super Mario RPG is a true classic in my opinion! Just be sure to expect to have to handle the controller.

Batman: the Telltale Series Episode 3: New World Order

After the good but not great Children of Arkham, the third episode of Batman: the Telltale Series takes a turn for the even better. It has shocking bleak plot twists that make for compelling viewing and playing.

With Harvey Dent the new Mayor of Gotham, he makes stopping the Children of Arkham the first priority. After an early rescue mission, Batman investigates the Children. This investigation is eventually sidetracked by romantic interludes with Catwoman and the pressures being Mayor is putting on Harvey awakening long-suppressed psychological problems of his.

Meanwhile, the controversies surrounding what Bruce Wayne’s father did so long ago are coming to a head. Wayne Enterprises’ board of directors is so suspicious of Bruce that the latter’s resignation is demanded. Bruce winds up not liking who the new head of the company is one bit.

Public humiliations make for dark stories.

This is a great story! A little too over the top in its bleakness at times, but still great. The player is enticed to keep playing to see how things turn out, what with all the suspense and whatnot!

The only issue is Harvey’s mental breakdown. Anyone who’s seen any other version of the character knows it has to happen, but to say it happens quickly is an understatement. It would have been better if some signs in previous episodes of it has surfaced. Instead, it’s just the pressures of running a city alone that force it. Not that this isn’t possible, It just somehow feels… wrong.

But things work well in the ending. It’s a surprising, dramatic finish that heads into the fourth episode with a bang!

Not unlike the bang of being slammed head-first into concrete!

This was a short review because there’s only so much I can say without including excessive spoilers. And New World Order relies on surprising plot twists. Just know that this is a great continuation of Batman: the Telltale Series.

Overall: 8 out of 10

NCAA Football 12

What happened to this series? Oh right, the players got wind of the fact that EA was using their likenesses in these games to profit without giving them any credit. The case is still in the courts. Not that the students aren’t totally in the right, but this has disappointed many because it means that Madden’s little brother is in the day care center for now.

Anyhoo, before the eventual release of another of these games (whether it’s next year or in five years), I think I’ll review one of last of them. While it does have the college football feel, it’s ultimately sunk by a number of flaws. Every problem Madden gets criticized for (grating load times, ridiculously dumb Computer-controlled teammates, etc.) are even worse here.

Not what this Alabama fan likes to see.

Plot: N/A

Graphics: 3 out of 10

The models and stadium landscapes don’t look so good. Un-detailed and unsophisticated, they look outdated even for a late PS3/X360 era title.

All this would merit a 6, except that the load times are a nightmare. I’m more patient with them than the average gamer, but even bringing the save file for your fictional scholarship or coaching career takes awhile. The Maddens of the original Playstation didn’t take this much time loading, and they couldn’t even do convincing people in the stands!

Sound: 7 out of 10

Commentary’s reasonably good. I also like the loud “smack” sounds that happen after a tackle. Very satisfying.

When you drop a pass on third down… you really drop the ball.

Gameplay: 7 out of 10

One thing to note: if you think it’s easy to score touchdowns in Madden, think again. Long runs and deep balls are not hard in the NCAA Football series. This is true to real life. Because of the simplicity and fast pace of college schemes, making it physically harder on defenses and easier for quarterbacks to figure out, 80-90 cumulative points in a close game is quite common. So it makes sense that scoring can come quick and easy here. Remember, though, that the opposition will find it just as easy to score on you.

Other than that, this is Madden with a smaller playbook. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You have less options, but you’re unlikely to be overwhelmed by these options.

Three plays. Decisions, decisions…

The one issue is starting a career as a player instead of a coach is a chore. Your computer-controlled teammates are absolutely horrible. Quarterbacks throw picks and ignore open guys, receivers don’t honestly fight for the ball, defensive backs blow coverages, ect. This is a problem with Madden, but it’s a much bigger problem here.

Challenge: 4 out of 10

To be true to life, playing a career against Computer opponents can’t help but be unbalanced in its difficulty. This is because there is a huge gap in college football parity. You see, schools are not equal in how prestigious they are and how much money they spend on the football program.

In game terms, there are opponents that are just too easy. Others are modestly challenging.

10-0 Florida in the first quarter is the Georgia-Florida rivalry, all right.

Overall: 5 out of 10

I’m sorry, but this series is way overrated. Even if you’re a college football fan (as I am), these games aren’t great. If the NCAA Football series comes back after EA resolves its legal dispute, there are definite improvements to be made.

Super Mario Kart

Although Super Mario Kart was the beginning of a series that would eventually lead to Mario Kart 8, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, nuck FASCAR! On the other, this is a really good game to play. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters. It’s the kind of quality game that a company that was badly losing the sales wars to Sega at the time needed.

Plot: 8 out of 10

Despite the use of the Mario license, this is a racing game at its core. Still, they do appropriately incorporate elements of the games have have the playable racers react to certain situations in character. So I’ll give this high marks despite the lack of much of a real plot. Also, this is the first of these spin-offs to allow those of us morally conflicted enough to pick a bad guy to do so.

Myself included.

Graphics: 8 out of 10

Not the best-looking of games, but still visually solid. Nothing is all that flashy or photo-realistic. However, it does have that “Mario” look about it. And in the pre-voice era everyone acting perfectly in character falls on graphics.

Sound: 6 out of 10

OK, this game doesn’t sound as well as it looks. The sequels are a different story, but the songs in this game sound like uninspired filler.

I always found making the cloud guy the ref to be funny.

I should note that a lot of racers half-ass it here. The idea is that because you need to focus on driving, good sound only distracts. I disagree. If you take this concept to its logical conclusion, I guess no game of any genre that requires focus and/or skill should have good music, voices, or environmental sounds.

Gameplay: 9 out of 10

There are eight racers to choose from: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Jr., Toad, and Koopa Troopa. They have varying strengths and weaknesses. For instances, Toad is slow but handles well, while Bowser is slow to accelerate and corners badly, but is the fastest of them all once he gets going.

Who believes that go-karts could handle this kind of dirt road?

The controls work very well. To shake things up, you can run over “?” tiles to get an item. Many of these items are weapons out of the main Mario games that are designed to momentarily stop an opponent. Weapons are even the focal point of the Battle Mode in which each player’s racer gets three hits before losing. As I recall, this was the most fun mode to play with a friend because of its intensity. Just remember: keep it civil.

Challenge: 10 out of 10

This game has the perfect range of difficulty: from very easy to very hard. You start with the 50cc and 100cc difficulties and Mushroom, Flower, and Star Cup tracks available. The much harder Special Cup becomes available after you get the gold trophy against the computer on all other tracks in 100cc. The 150cc difficulty is unlocked by getting the gold on all 100cc tracks. This is clearly meant to slowly warm you up.

These ghosts are a lot less scary then they would be if they attacked. This issue would be cleared up in later games.

Mushroom Cup on 50cc is easy as pie, but the difficulty gradually ratchets up after that. I still can’t do much in the Special Cup in 150cc. Someday…

Overall: 8 out of 10

A bit overrated in the SNES library, but quite playable and the beginning of a big series. Once you look beyond the obvious cash-in on the Mario franchise, you have a lot of fun playing this one. It’s still totally a cash-in, though.

Is there any hope left for Sega?

I recently watched the Trailer of Sonic Forces. What did I see? A lot of fast-paced action, but this game has the following issue: it looks like the camera will have trouble keeping up with Sonic because he’s too fast. Sure he’s supposed to be fast, but one of the biggest problems these 3D Sonic games have has been the camera being out of place because it’s not fast enough.

Although Sega is financially struggling, it does not seem to learn from its mistakes. But the question is really not why this company would learn but why anyone at this point and time would still put faith in it.

If they wanna try this shot at the messenger, the Falcons were the #2 NFL team last season. Sega’s last year of video game relevance? 1995. Don’t compare this.

If that sounds like an overstatement, look at the history of this company. Back when Sega was in the console-making business, the company survived Nintendo’s domination of video games in the 1980’s, became the top company in the industry for a few years (1991-1994), fell apart for the next several years, and became a third party developer best known for making these mostly mediocre-to-awful Sonic games, although the Football* Manager series is said to be pretty good.

*”Football” as in what we Americans call soccer, just to clarify.

So there’s nothing but a hot run an eternity ago, that still included the epic blunder of the 32X, to see this company as anything but a dumpster fire. That is not generally considered to be a good reason.

Vengeful gamers do know that Sega’s suits and the Sonic Team will retire stinkin’ rich either way, right?

I mean, I watch Youtubers and read bloggers old enough to remember the Sega Genesis expressing disappointment, but how many younger gamers give a shit about this company anymore? Sonic Boom crashed and burned in the sales. I’m not surprised, because most of the talk I’ve seen has come from the gaming vets. What do you expect? Those who know this company only by the mismanaged post-Genesis systems and sub-par Sonics will not hesitate to overlook it.

Not to mention that those who have hoped in vain for this company to rebound all these years only want it for Sonic the Hedgehog. They should face the music; they’re in the same position that Mortal Kombat fans were in a decade ago. Their best hope is for the company to go out of business and the assets to be purchased by a more competent company. I mean competent right now, not twenty-five years ago.

Apology rejected.

In the meantime, enjoy the Youtube rants on Sonic games, if not the games themselves.

NHL 17

nhl17titleSo what’s new in EA’s latest hockey game? Well, it seems that after the backlash over features being cut out of the 15 version (full disclosure: I missed 16), they put at least some of those features back in. Shootout mode is back, along with other stuff.

Other than that, it’s NHL as usual.

Plot: N/A

Graphics: 9 out of 10

These are among the best-looking games on the consoles (of course, so is NBA 2K, though not Madden). Faces are fantastic, as are stadiums and uniforms. Everything about this visual presentation is just right.

nhl17a

Comic book hockey.

Sound: 5 out of 10

Unlike in some other recent NHL games, there are no good intro and menu songs in this one. The theme song of nationally syndicated NHL games is recreated well here, but even that is compromised by Mike Emrick’s inferior, half-hearted commentary. He’s not just phoning it in for these games, either. He sucks at calling the real games as well.

nhl17b

There’s French writings in Canada? Learn something new every day.

Gameplay: 9 out of 10

The controls handle extremely well. They are extremely smooth and fluid. Becoming a hockey player in this game works just fine.

Also, it seems easier to trigger fights than in previous installments of the series.

nhl17c

They got the slogans right, I’ll give them that.

The only problem is that seasons in this game are still too long. Playing an entire career is ridiculously time-consuming because there are so many games to play before the playoffs (admittedly, that is true to real life).

Challenge: 7 out of 10

Goalies on both sides aren’t very good, but computer opponents do have great formations that make for high-scoring, modestly challenging, fun games.

Why protective but vision-hindering cage masks have their drawbacks.

Why protective but vision-hindering cage masks have their drawbacks.

Overall: 8 out of 10

I would recommend this title. As a hockey simulation, it hits the nail on the head. As a pure video game, it’s an exciting, balls to the wall experience.

Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

bigrigstitleThere are some questions I won’t talk much about on this blog. “Hardest game ever?” The clear and obvious answer is I Wanna Be the Guy. There actually can be an interesting debate if the question is rephrased to “Hardest game ever sold in stores” since I Wanna Be the Guy was not. Because then there are a number of candidates including Ghosts ‘n Goblins, the 3D Ninja Gaidens, and the Dark Souls series.

By the same token, there’s only candidate for the title of worst game ever. Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing is so bad that it doesn’t even work. It’s pretty much broken and would not have been put on the market if not for the PC gaming industry’s total absence of quality control.

Plot: N/A

Graphics: -3 out of 10

Everything is as flat as a mid-1990s 3D game. This game was made in 2003. It gets better: Vehicles don’t go with the backgrounds and among other oddities, lampposts are completely lit up, not just the bulbs.

All this might have merited a 1, but…

bigrigs1

Yes, grass grows on the road. But disappears in a moment.

Sound: 1 out of 10

I think this is the best part of the game. Why? Other than an engine hum so loud it sounds like a jet there is no sound. Can’t glitch up what you don’t do.

Gameplay: -8 out of 10

So the technical aspects are shit. But gameplay is where it counts the most. Look at Minecraft and Angry Birds. Does Big Rigs also redeem itself here? Hell no! First, the driving controls for this racing game are rather clunky. Steering without letting up on the gas can be tricky. Also, there are only five tracks, one of which doesn’t work. Pick Nightride and the game crashes.

bigrigs2

They can go f*ck themselves!

Speaking of glitches, this game is just full of them. If you try driving into the small buildings littered throughout tracks, you pass through them like they’re not even there. You can’t cross bridges. Instead, you pass through them to descend underneath them, then drive up the opposite structure to get to the other side of the bridge. That’s right, you can climb walls as a truck. Faster than driving on the road, in fact.

And if you climb the hills on the extreme sides of the screen? You’ll discover that you can leave the boundaries of the game. This is where the game goes beyond a waste of money and becomes officially laughable.

bigrigs3

The truck of the future!

Challenge: -10 out of 10

Any game that you can’t lose get’s a -10 in Challenge automatically. Because your opponent never starts his engine. Do you really need anything else? Well, OK.

bigrigs4

A grammatical error in a two-word sentence? Oh… my… God!

Overall: -8 out of 10

Big Rigs is what I would expect from a high school student doodling a free game and uploading it onto the Internet. But no, the box art clearly shows a ESRB rating. So apparently, this was actually sold in stores. I never imagined that the worst game of all time would have actually been released, but there you go.