Archive for December, 2007

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Castlevania III is a whole lot like the first game in the series with a few key differences. You’re still thrust into the role of a vampire hunter, ancestor of the guy in the other game, as it happens. You still have to kill Dracula with little more than a whip and your reflexes. But this time the world is huge… Well, huger than the original one.

At several points through the game you can choose alternate paths, and the game changes slightly depending on which path you choose. Which is kind of nice, really. The other main difference, and this is the big one, is that you can now take a ‘companion’ along with you. Through the game you’ll meet up with up to three different partners. You can take these partners with you to help you take down Dracula.

Each of the partners has a distinct ability that makes them useful to have around. Grant the pirate can stick to and climb walls and ceilings, Sypha the wizard can use fire, ice, and thunder spells (ice is really handy for freezing and then breaking enemies into lots of little pieces), and Alucard the son of Dracula can shoot fireballs and turn into a bat (he’s not really that useful). You can switch between your characters on the fly which makes the game quite a bit more interesting, even though they both share the same life bar.

Then you have the graphics, music, and story all improved over the first couple of games in the series and you have a winner. A particularly tough and unforgiving winner, but a winner nonetheless.

Blast Corps

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I only played Blast Corps twice, both times were when a friend rented the game and forced me to come over and check it out. My memory of the game might be a bit fuzzy, then. But from what I remember of the game you take control of a demolition crew who has to wreck everything in the path of a truck hauling a particularly powerful bomb. See, the truck’s somehow gone out of control and if it collides with anything it blows up, destroying civilization (and, more importantly, ending the game).

You get to go around the various regions in the truck’s path, using whatever vehicles have been left at your disposal, and destroy enough buildings that the truck can go through unscathed. Then you have the option of trying over for a faster time, destroying everything in the region, or moving on to the next.

I would have probably purchased this game if I’d had the opportunity. Unfortunately, since I didn’t actually play it until after it had gone out of print, I didn’t really seize the opportunity to do so. So, now all I have is the occasional video to remember the game by.

Super Smash Bros.

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

I can distinctly remember being bored a lot when I was in school, so I did things that any normal person would do: I created a lot of bad video game ideas, complete with backstories, maps, and diagrams. Fortunately, all of that effort is now lost to the Mists of Time, but I also kicked around the idea of combining together some of my favorite games to make some kind of Dr. Frankenstein-esque super game. This generated quite a bit of discussion around the lunch room tables, each of us throwing in our picks and such. Years later it became apparent that someone at Nintendo was doing the same thing and actually had the means to do something about it. They took some of their most memorable characters from some of their most popular games (also Earthbound) and threw them into an all-out fighting game.

Smash is essentially a Nintendo fanboy’s dream. The best characters pummeling each other to decide who’s the best? Sign me up!

Actually, this game is just about the perfect party game. Four people can play at once, and the controls are very easy to learn. You can just mash buttons and play somewhat effectively, though I don’t really know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing (Although the name “Super Smash Button Mash” seemed to stick pretty well). But it moves fast, and is almost always entertaining to watch, even when the action is so fast and muddled that you can’t tell what’s going on.

Sometimes, perhaps even more so.

Prince of Persia

Friday, December 28th, 2007

“The princess must marry the grand vizier or die in one hour” is the nebulous story behind Prince of Persia. See, the grand vizier is evil, but the sultan’s away, so he’s in charge for some reason. He gives the princess her ultimatum, and totally won’t kill or marry her if her boyfriend can reach her in one hour. Problem is, her boyfriend has been tossed into a fairly sadistic jail. Good thing he’s inexplicably acrobatic.

He friggin’ has to be. The prison and the rest of the castle is filled with precipices, spike traps, hidden switches, gigantic razor-sharp jaws, and a guard or two, all placed there to make sure you don’t go more than a couple of feet without having insta-death looming about your head.

The first level is a gimme. You’re going to fool yourself into thinking that you can take the rest of the game with little effort. Do not be fooled. This game hates you with a fiery passion. The only way to progress in the game is to memorize the location of each trap and perform a careful dance, pirouetting around the dangers and emerging unscathed on the other side. And that pesky time limit ensures that you’re going to be starting this game over many, many times.

Yellow Out

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Yellow Out is one of a series of games where you have to use your wits to try and get the odd-colored car out of a parking lot by moving the other cars in the lot. The cars can only move forward and backward, no turning for you!

Turns out that this is somehow a popular game, and I don’t understand why. I tried playing it a few times, in various incarnations, and each time manage to only play a couple of levels until I give up out of frustration. It might be because my brain doesn’t work the correct way to play and/or enjoy this game.

Give it a try here if you like inflicting pain upon your brain.

Tetris

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Several December holidays ago (Christmas around these parts), I got one of the original Game Boys. That day, the next day, and most of the following days during that holiday break from school we constantly played one game and one game only. Tetris. Never mind the fact that it was the only game I’d own for the next few months. Now when I say ‘we’, I really do mean ‘we’. I played it, my mom played it, even the drunken hobos that showed up from time to time played it.

The game has reached a saturation point now, so I don’t think I really need to go into detail about it. Shapes fall from the sky and you have to artfully arrange them to form complete rows which disappear and shrink the stack. The game is super simple, and easy to pick up and play. But as you continue it gets tougher and tougher until you just can’t take any more.

Around the same time my uncle got a Game Boy, and Tetris, which he instantly fell in love with. He played it bit more than I did, and our link battles turned into fairly one-sided stomp-fests. (It’s OK, I got my revenge years later with Pok√©mon Puzzle League).

But I really would like to see more games like Tetris, which the industry is seeming to come back to. Games that are easy to learn, tough (or impossible) to master, and have a broad appeal. I simply can’t see this as being a bad thing.

Picross DS

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

A while back I talked a bit about Mario’s Picross, a logic puzzler that just gripped me and didn’t let go until my arms had finger-shaped depressions in them. But that game came out back in 1995. I needed a new Picross fix, but I just didn’t realize that I did until I found a copy of this new DS version, simply titled ‘Picross‘.

Picross itself is a logic puzzler where you have a grid. Each row and column has a series of numbers representing how many spaces in that particular row or column are filled in, and where the spaces are. Something like ‘5 2′ would mean that somewhere in that row there are 5 consecutive spaces filled, at least one empty space, and then two more consecutive spaces filled. You have to use the clues and your wits to deduce which squares are filled in, which ones aren’t, and eventually draw some kind of picture.

So, yeah, it’s the same game, but with prettier graphics, no mascot placement to sell more copies, and has stylus controls, which is pretty nice. And you can make your own puzzles, play wirelessly with local folks and get slaughtered by playing against someone online, which is the real draw here.

Hah, draw.

I spent a good portion of my Sunday playing the thing, and it looks like a pretty solid investment so far. Inexplicably, it also uses the Rumble Pak, which is kind of odd, but I like it.

Kageki

Monday, December 24th, 2007

I do not understand Kageki. It just appeared one day at one of my local arcades. I watched the attract mode, and couldn’t really tell what it was about, but felt oddly compelled to play it. What I do know is that you play some kind of brawler, and you have to beat up a series of people in a gang. When you beat one, the next one comes in, throws the one that lost in the sewer, and then you have to fight him. This apparently continues until you can beat everyone. Then you win!

The problem I had with this game is that I couldn’t hit anyone more than once or twice before the computer completely unloaded on me, knocking me out almost instantly. Watch this video to see what I’m talking about. He turns off the invincibility cheat toward the end.

I was only stupid enough to play this game two times. One to figure out what it was, and one more time to convince myself that the controls weren’t as bad as I thought. This is the kind of game that I just don’t want to spend the time to get good at, if such a thing is possible.

Quake II

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Quake II follows the story of Quake, a game I’ve still never played. I understand, however, that Quake is very similar to Doom, another game that I haven’t played, but am at least somewhat familiar with.

Quake II is about aliens and you killing aliens with a variety of large guns. To be honest, I don’t know any more than that. I never actually played the single-player version of this game. I was only in it for the multiplayer.

I really only played this game to test out the network in my apartment. My roommate and I had just discovered networking and needed some way to try it out. Other than the Internet connection sharing. That’s boring. Running virtual avatars around virtual rooms filled with virtual explodey things on the other hand. Way more fun.

The Simpsons Hit and Run

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

I haven’t played any of the games in the recent Grand Theft Auto series, but my understanding is that I’ve played the next best thing with this Simpsons game.

Hit and Run is a driving-adventure game. And what I mean by that is that you wander around a giant city talking to people, getting missions, and then doing the missions, most of which involve driving in some way. It goes on and on like this, with you revealing a little more of the story with each mission you complete.

The story, as it happens, has something to do with a new cola, mind control, and aliens. Standard Simpsons fare.

I got pretty far in this game before I just had to quit. I had to quit because the game got too hard. But the thing is, it wasn’t the difficulty of the missions, exactly, it was the control of the cars. Your cars slip and slide all over the place, and traffic tries to hit you constantly. I guess that’s supposed to add to the realism, but it just made me angry. Especially when I had to restart a mission a few seconds from the end because some random car ran through an intersection and t-boned me.

I may go back and finish it some day, when the rage dies down.