Last year there were some absolute corkers that I didn’t write about, incredible stuff that was all the more tragic for the lack of dedicated blog posts: Sky Odyssey (PS2), Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii), Metroid: Other M (Wii), Trauma Team (Wii), Dragon Force (Saturn), the list goes on. By comparison, this year has burnt a little less brightly. It’s not that the games haven’t been good – they have been. Apart from a few exceptions though, they’ve not left as deep an impression, not cut me to the core, in the same way as the absurd theatrical masterpiece that is Disaster: Day of Crisis. These are some of the most wonderful (and weird) games I played last year. Continue reading
“I want more objective games criticism”. You often hear this phrase and other similar sentiments echoing around the internet. In its worst form, a cry for objectivity is a plea for games journalists and critics to mirror the thoughts, opinions and expectations of the person asking for objectivity. On the brighter end of the spectrum however, calls for objectivity are requests for game critics to put aside their own personal biases and try and account for tastes other than their own. In this post, I’m addressing the latter point – and I’m going to assume that, in certain instances, these objectivity-seekers have a valid point. They’re not exactly wrong – but they’re certainly inaccurate. Continue reading
Cho Aniki: Kyuukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko (literal translation: “Super Big Brother: The Ultimate, Most Powerful Man in the Milky Way”) is an awkward and bizarre addition to the PSN’s “PS1 classics” selection that breaks with just about every conceivable interpretation of the word “classic”. And yet while Cho Aniki may not have been everyone’s first PS3 digital purchase, it was mine. Was it worth it? Well, frankly, yes, as besides being incredibly strange, it’s a – how do I put this – not-terrible game in its own right.
What’s special about this game then? Well, every Cho Aniki game is weird, but this PS1 and Saturn game raises the weirdness to new highs thanks to the inclusion of live actors. Yes, real people dressed up and posed in front of a green screen to make this game!
For the video, the entire game deserves to be here but I’d better save that – don’t want to blow my load now, do I? Instead I want to spotlight the delightful intro to the game as it doesn’t get enough attention. So brace yourself for what looks and feels like an internet meme, before memes existed.
If that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what will. There’s only one proper response to an introduction like this, surely: my body is ready.
Recently my music habits have changed. It used to be that I rarely listened to videogame music outside of playing games. For a long time the only game music I had on my iPod were a few select tracks from the original Cho Aniki game. (That’s no joke by the way – that’s a really good soundtrack!) These days though, I’m finding videogame music dominating my listening time in way it never has before. Rather than speculate on the reasons behind this shift I thought it a good idea to capitalise on it by spotlighting some of my favourite Nintendo composers and ranking them by impact! I had to limit myself to talking about Nintendo just to set myself some boundaries, otherwise this list would go on and on and on and on… as if it isn’t going to do that already. Ahem. Continue reading
My first importing experience for my first region-free console. Puyo Puyo Sun and Sexy Parodius for the Saturn. And I have learned to never underestimate the politeness of the Japanese.
As well as being meticulously packaged, the parcel arrived in five days. How is it that a parcel from Japan can arrive faster than the bank statement I recently requested from my local bank branch less than a mile from my home?
Yes, that’s a handwritten note promising the recipient green tea. And, true to word, taped behind the receipt was…
Tea. Now that’s how you please an Englishman.
Anyway, more importantly than the truly fascinating arena of packaging – the games! First impressions of both games are really positive.
Puyo Puyo Sun
This game surprised me. I wasn’t expecting too much going into it as I’m not a big puzzle game fan. Turns out this is actually my second encounter with the Puyo Puyo series, to my surprise. Similarly, I imagine, to many Westerners, I played Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine on the Megadrive/Genesis without realising it was part of an established franchise in Japan. Mean Bean Machine had a dull and overly difficult singleplayer mode but it was compelling in multiplayer. So far Puyo Puyo Sun seems to be superior, due to the inclusion of the titular Sun blocks, better music and a much more gradual and accessible difficulty curve.
The aim of the game is to line up your coloured blocks, to make chains of 4 of the same colour, which then vanish from the field. When you create a chain, and preferably combos of chains which collapse into each other, you cause your opponent to suffer under colourless blocks which rain on their portion of the screen. But whereas Mean Bean Machine has a relatively sedate pace, making multiplayer games drawn out at times, the newly added sun blocks give even the simplest chains lots of firepower, drowning your opponent’s screen in stones. It really ratchets up the intensity and makes the game much more party-friendly for it. It reminds me of Panzer Dragoon 1 and 2, and how the inclusion of a small wrinkle in the sequel – the berzerker special attack – adds greatly to the experience, making it hard to go back to the original. I can’t see myself going back to Mean Bean Machine any time soon. Even though the sun blocks are not an essential part of the Puyo Puyo experience, they seem like a great addition so far.
Bizarre bizarre bizarre. And then some. This is a cosmetically very strange and funny game, but the gameplay doesn’t strike me as odd the way the original Cho Aniki does. There is something a touch clunky and repetitive in the TurboGraphx-16 Cho Aniki levels, where it feels like you repeat the same level several times over before you abruptly hit a mini-boss or boss, which are of course always the best and most disturbing elements of the game. Sexy Parodius is very well-crafted and executed by comparison.
The game has a clever method of increasing replayability too, by giving you an objective in each level (these objectives are always the same unfortunately), which, depending on whether you succeed or fail, may result in you taking a different branch through the game. The branches are not as in-depth say as Lylat Wars/Star Fox 64, but they do offer some variety to playthroughs. Plus they help to keep the total length of the game short without making the player feel short-changed on content. As a result a single playthrough isn’t likely to last more than 30 minutes, if you allow yourself the maximum 9 lives. I should add too that the objectives are much tougher to complete if you’re playing singleplayer. They pose a good challenge even on the easiest difficulty level. Two-player mode is very fun and makes the objectives easier, with plenty of scope for failure though.
I expect I will have more to say on one or both of these at a later stage, perhaps a full review. For now let me just say that both of these games are very good and definitely worthwhile purchases at a reasonable price – I paid under £20 in total for the pair, incl. delivery costs, and they are easily recommendable for something similar. Methinks it would be worth a look into the other Parodius game on Saturn…