Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Game 805/1001 according to the list

Genre: Adventure/Puzzle
Platform: Wii
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Another day, another Capcom game. Yet… we’re not bored yet. Gimme a high-five Capcom…*crickets*Fine, we’re never going to be invited to a game unveiling where we can rub shoulders with Capcom execs whilst we pocket the Hors d’oeurves and avoid the fire-eaters but we can dream.

Ever since we played Drop 7 we of Pong and Beyond have been attempting to limit the number of puzzle games we cover since we had already covered more than we had meant to. I missed them so much so I’ve been really looking forward to the titular mouthful that is Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure. Golden money ‘an all.

Our Thoughts

This title just looked strange from the start, and having played it, it has only become stranger. There were reportedly about 200 names drafted up for the game and this is the best they came up with. On the one hand I can see what they did there since it makes sense on a number of levels. It namedrops the two protagonists as do games such as Ratchet & Clank, Banjo-Kazooie and Jak and Daxter, it describes exactly what the game is and it has great kid appeal. It ticks all the boxes and it misses the point completely. Whilst in Japan the childish, anime-feel has universal appeal the name and cover art only really appeals to those under twelve. Thus it has remained largely unsuccessful in the West – much to the chagrin of critics and Capcom-fans who really fell for this game.

When you play the puzzles you can see their point as their complexity ramps up very quickly to the point where very lateral thinking is needed. I would love to see the eight year old who could solve all the puzzles without a visit to an online walkthough… or not as they would be some kind of wizard. In fact, while we might have worked it out ourselves more often, in the interest of time we used one once or twice. Part of this is due to the strange mechanics this game sometimes offer. In particular, the animals transforming into items when you ring the bell that’s called ‘Wiki’ (it somehow eventually makes sense) seem random. While a mole turning into a drill makes some sense, a boar into a hammer is harder to understand, and a bat turning into an umbrella simply seems insane. The thing that really helped with this game is having another person playing it with you to offer a fresh perspective on a puzzle. An advantage we obviously had.

The thing that makes this game really interesting is that it is a very rare example of a well executed console-based point and click adventure game, which actually makes this the first within that genre we have covered. Somehow I thought it would have been either Broken Sword or Sam & Max (there’s another eponymous duo) but that’s what happens with borrowing. Not that I’m complaining… I’m not… I really enjoyed this game despite the fact my arm ached from the fishing minigame. Some of the funniest and most clever games in that sense are still coming up… to the point where Sierra’s offering was mostly ignored in the list in favour of most of the Lucasarts catalogue.

One of the good things about this game appearing on a console is that it makes full use of the Wiimote’s capabilities. Aside from the pointing using the Wiimote, a lot of actions you take are actually movements made using the controller. This is rarely strictly necessary – turning a key might as well be a click instead of you actually doing it – but it  makes it a bit more immersive and clever. It is still, however, used for good measure in a few puzzles, such as defeating a fish by trying to reel it in, as well as a music-based minigame that comes back on several levels. There are very few games made by third-party developers that have used the Wii controller in such a versatile fashion. True games like Okami and Dead Space: Extraction have also been praised for good Wii controls but neither contain as much variation in Wiimote movements that can be found in Zack & Wiki. And while they may seem gimmicky at times, they’re still better than the ewww-factor implicit in the Wiimote use in No More Heroes. Even if there is a half-naked man in the top-right hand corner of the screen shaking the Wiimote like an empty ketchup bottle. True, it’s close, but the graphics make everything look a lot more innocent.

The graphics, as so many things in the game, are quite Japanese – anime-like. There’s an element of kiddishness in there, cute and cartoonish. They’ve even kept the original ‘dialogue’ noted by Wiki’s occastional cry of “Zakku!” Something that was easy to do as they were mostly cries of ‘Alright’ and similar.

One thing we have neglected to mention is that this game is pirate-themed. Something that was just falling out of fashion upon the game’s release and which makes it more surprising that this was not commercially successful.  Who, on some level, does not like pirates? It’s not a big part of the game – it has no impact on the actual game, and really only influences the look and feel of some parts – but it makes it fun.. And in a way cute, when you consider Zack looks rather young. That isn’t helped by the fact that he chomps on a chocolate bar whenever left idle. It was added as an afterthought, and you can see that sometimes. Even so, it doesn’t make the game any less cute, and it certainly helps give him a reason to collect treasure… what more could you want there?

Final Thoughts

So our little pirate guy? Aside from the fact that it’s a pretty good game, it’s also a good adventure. It’s not entirely like the original point and click games – the story is fairly flimsy and not the main drive of the game – but it has some interesting (and at times obscure) puzzles to work out. It’s also a very nice-looking games with some very strange and fun environments – the water slide in particular making me want to go down them.

The controls have their issues and make the game harder to control sometimes, but most of the time, when it works, it works well, and out of everything, it’s the use of the Wiimote that truely stands out during this adventure. That and the cute bell-monkey. He’s just adorable. Ding!

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Game 68: Shadow of the Colossus

Posted: July 11, 2011 by mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , ,

Game 671/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Team Ico
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

I will be completely honest here: this was a game I was hoping to save for a more landmarky sounding number. Instead here it is at lucky sixty-eight.

Few games sit in the same position as Shadow Of The Colossus; a critical and cult hit that most game-buyers are unlikely to have heard of. In fact it probably reached it’s widest audience after a rare favourable review on Zero Punctuation. The sad fact is that because this game is so beloved in the cult world it sells for a large amount of money for an old PS2 game. Thanks again Kat… but we’ll have to get our own version of this one day.

Our Thoughts

There’s some games you know are epic, but where you keep finding the lesser bits between the gold, and they take over occasionally. I think Shadow Colossus felt like one of those. I think the shorthand for that is “flawed masterpiece”. If you wish, I just thought it was better when descriptive. The dividing line here is somewhere between the colossus battles and the long treks to get there.

To start with the latter, the environments are gorgeous in this game, but there’s a lot of nothing to travel to. Even that’s okay, except that the controls work against you here sometimes, and getting past them can be timeconsuming consider they’re the bad part. The thing about the battles and the long searches on horseback is that they provide a great deal of contrast. I mean this can be seen with the soundtrack which is light and airy as you gallop around the rolling hills and then becomes far more intense during the battles. In a way it prevents the game from feeling like a one-trick pony and instead greatly contributes to the games atmosphere.

Before we go further here is the crux of the game: girlfriend dies, you travel to a forbidden temple to have her ressurected by some evil spirit, kill 16 ancient colossi to achieve your goal, the end… ish. It’s a tale as old as time but, in the end, there is a great deal of moral ambiguity to this as you play along.

In the end none of these colossi are malevolent and the first only attacks you after you present yourself as a threat. After you hack away at his shin and eventually fell the giant moss covered golem word basically gets out and the remaining 15 attack you in self-defense. Even then they rely more on strength than guile and you mostly win by outsmarting them. This is the equivalent of mass genocide where the victims are the Ents from The Lord of the Rings. After destroying colossus number three I actually began to feel pangs of guilt about what I was actually doing.However, you are keen to progess because the designs of these massive foes are so fantastically beautiful that you want to see what comes next. Especially since you need to concoct unique methods to destroy each of them. Which is the point where the adventure/puzzle part of the game comes in.

While your magical (ancient) sword can show the weak points of the colossus, you need to find out the specifics on where and how to get on it. For example, with one colossus you need to get it to beat down on a stone circle, which destroys a ring on its arm preventing you from climbing up to the weak spot. Some of these are more obvious – and easier – than others, but because they are all different, each of the 16 battles is a different battle that requires different strategies. This means that while there may only be 16 battles in the entire game (ignoring a small amount of hunting you can do), they are 16 big, epic battles. These shine in designs, graphics and complexity – I know no other games where you use your foe as battling platform, outside some particular platformers where this is only barely the case. Here, the creatures move and try to shake you off while you hold on for dear life, trying to reach that one spot.

Some are cuter than others, and all are this strange mix of furry animal and stone artifact buildings, which makes it a bewildering experience. This isn’t helped by you not getting much story information. You don’t know why they’re there, what they’re doing, who created or bred them, if anyone, or else what their ancestors are, you just know they’re there and you need to kill them.

The main problem with this game is that it can be immensely frustrating. The fact that your health gradually regenerates is a godsend but it does not counter-act the pounding your head against a porcupine-style moments than being flung off of a colossus for the upteenth time. It’s not particularly difficult since you can run in circles until your health gauge fills up but be prepared that battles can take in excess of half an hour… and there is no mid-battle saving point. I also got annoyed by a particular jumping puzzle that took ages – due to bad camera handling and the fact that you had to swim back after falling and climb back up to a great height, which took a few minutes every time it happened.

At least they were able to get the proportions feeling suitably epic. I mean the world appears to be massive and the colossi  are… well… colossal in stature. As your character clambers up their leg he really looks like the ant getting ready to ruin your picnic. Except with what’s apparently a very powerful sting. It’s a suitably epic game, occasionally flawed, but very much giving the epic fights that make any game great. And its focus on just that works great.

Final Thoughts

Okay okay we’re officially bad people for killing these innocents. We might as well fund a game that simulates water-boarding now where you use a Kinect controller to hold virtual buckets of water…. or am I going overboard.

In the end this is a game which truly justifies the term ‘flawed masterpiece’ and really provided a flashpoint in how games were made. Nothing out there is quite like it… so just play it for yourself.

Game 956/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Activision

If you ask us officially, we’d say that the enemies of this game are sort of zombie-like, fitting our current games theme (and we promise this is the last, as we’re already pushing it quite far with this game). You’re Alex Mercer, a prototype human who has to fight the other mutants, the military, or both, in a semi-representation of Manhattan. He’s dressed to last – clearly it’s not summer in the game, considering the many layers he wears.

Anyway, this guy runs up buildings, creates claws, swords and whips from his own whatever he is, and eats people. Don’t you just love it?

Our Thoughts

Yes, I do love it. Nice attempt tying this to the recent undead theme… but I don’t think mutants derived from experimented-on girl really fits the bill. I recall you using it as the original argument for doing the game next… but then again, I guess we deserved a lot more about the story anyway. Or you did, considering how much time you have been spending on the game. I think it is safe to say that this is the most I have been addicted to a game since Bayonetta way back when. In a way I am now sorta glad my old Xbox 360 packed in as it gave us an excuse to buy a new game or two to go with it. It’s one I have been looking forward to for about a year and it really has lived up to my expectation.

In essence, Prototype is a mixture between the free-roaming nature of Spider-Man 2 with the killing sprees available in Grand Theft Auto. And the upgrades of, well, many an action/RPG. Ah the upgrades. There are a large number of different powers that can be unlocked during the game. All of which have been beautifully realised with their own pros, cons and uses. Some of these are quite straightforward, like faster runs and higher jumps. Some are transformations – changing your hands into claws, whips or the iconic big sword. And then there’s the big devastator attacks where you shoot spikes out of your body in all directions that kill mostly everything near you. The whip-fist is possibly the most impressive of the lot since you are able to take down helicopters in a single hit without even breaking a sweat. Then you can upgrade it even further so that you whip it around you in a circle and cut everyone around you in half. Then there is the musclemass upgrade where you reduce people to a bloody mess in a single charged punch… with the exception of a disembodied foot.

It seems incredibly violent, made a bit stranger by the fact your innocents are easily harmed. Of course, if you don’t, the infected are likely to get to them first, if they’re not killed by the army in the crossfire. So, to be blunt, everyone is pretty much screwed. The further you progress in the game the more the infection takes a hold over Manhattan. There are certain streets where you will just see burnt out cars and dead bodies strewn about the place. Really gives the city a certain macarbe ambience. This is further enforced by the game playing as a flashback. Your tutorial takes place on the 18th day of the infection, where you have all your powers. You then go back to the first day as you play through the game while the infection spreads further, leading up to what you know is the inevitable conclusion. It’s a fantastic way to introduce the controls since you are thrown right into a chaotic Times Square with maxed out mutations. I actually played this twice since I enjoyed chopping things in half with my arm-sword. The most awesome power, which of course is unlocked as one of the final possible powers.

It may take you a long while to get this far since it is just so much fun to wander around the city killing armymen. It is also rather satisfying using the absorption power so that you can later use their form to hide from the filth. This power is heavily used both in missions and outside of them since, for extra XP, you can infiltrate army bases and stealthily kill everyone inside then blow it up with a hijacked tank. OR you can decide to take down the hive locations belonging to the infected. Anything to increase your powers eh? Or do both and get a double return… they’re both bastards, really. Absolutely, all’s fair in war and mutation. One thing I had slight issue with is the sidequests… or the fact that the idea of taking part in a gliding race across Manhatten doesn’t exactly fit in with the apocalyptic feel of the game. They are common to these sort of games, but it is one of those disadvantages of putting so much time pressure on a main quest. As well as a rather annoyingly emo main character who always has the hood of his jacket up during the entire game. To be honest, not always a bad thing, his face somehow seems a bit off. In any case, he looks… and at times is rather emo. Then again if I was experimented on and the government wanted to kill my sister and love interest I would probably be rather emo. I’d be emo if my sister were my love interest. (Two different people) (Scratch that)

Lastly I think we need to mention the Web of Intrigue feature. As a side-effect of your absorption power you are also able to take on the memories of certain people that you meet during the game. This then forms a ‘web’ which acts as a rather unique story-telling device. Therefore the only way you can completely understand the game’s backstory is to absorb every one on your hitlist. Now, this obviously doesn’t happen with everyone, and in a way getting to part of the web is a side quest where you can get more sections as you absorb more characters, but it allows you to learn more about the side story without it being in your face through forced cutscenes. It also allows for more branches in the story, rather than the linear story you normally get. Cutscenes you can easily skip through if the only reason you are taking on this feature is to end up with 100% completion. And at some points you probably will, but the small fragments can be incredibly compelling to track. In the end this game excels with the amounts of freedom you get. It makes me really want to buy a Playstation 3 as soon as possible so I can compare it with Infamous.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, this is a very good game, as said. There’s a good story here, that you can follow up through great missions, with plenty of fun sidequests – either direct events, but also finding people for the web of intrigue, landmarks and hints that you can all find as long as you do plenty of exploration.

Graphically, this game looks lovely and good – as we’d expect by the year this game was introduced in. The AI is good, working different for individual monsters. And you yourself become an incredibly awesome character. Worth playing, absolutely worth it.

Game 391/1001 according to the list

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Nintendo 64
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Upon it’s release The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was dubbed by the gaming industry as the greatest computer game ever made. It was one of those gaming landmarks that only comes around one or two times in every console generation.

Previous to this the Zelda games was already one of the most respected franchises in the gaming world with titles such as Link’s Awakening and A Link to The Past made giant steps for Nintendo. It took nearly five years to make and has been making waves ever since.

Our Thoughts

It’s strange. On one hand, this game took the Zelda series to 3D and introduced a lot of new concepts, including the songs we saw in a number of subsequent games. On the other hand, this game really sticks to the old concepts and feels like it fits in, just with a more flexible camera. It’s changed far less than, say, Mario‘s transition to 3D. I guess that’s because in the previous Zelda games you still moved in what could be thought of as three dimensions whereas Mario was classically a side-scroller. Therefore Mario needed a far larger overhaul when it was brought to the Nintendo 64 compared with what Legend of Zelda required.

In a sense true, but also in basic gameplay the game stays more true to its roots. While in Mario, you went from a level-based structure, one after the other, to the mission-based structure of Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time works the same as the similar games, exploring the world that gets progressively unlocked. Why mess with a formula that’s proven to work well? I mean Link’s Awakening pre-dated Ocarina of Time and is arguably their best outing on a handheld. Oh, it’s absolutely a good move and I’m glad they did it – the series does make the transition to 3D very well – but I still find the contrast between the two series interesting, and it rarely happens that a series makes the transitions while staying this close to the original. With the exception of fighting and sports games I know what you mean.

In a way they were able to change the game from being purely dungeon based to being based a lot around the sweeping scenery. I remember my first venture into Hyrule Field many years ago, I was truly taken aback. Mario became cartoony platform 3D fun, Zelda became breathtakingly cinematic. Absolutely, and while it felt part of that was already present, it integrated beautifully. It’s certainly not a 2D game made to be 3D, it makes the best use of it that it can; including plenty of puzzles making use of the 3D setting, from having to get around fences to crawling through small holes, and jumping down holes with precise aiming.

It also works with the stealth missions… which ranks as one of the most frustrating mini-games introduced to this long running series. Something we also touched on in our Majora’s Mask discussion. I understand that it breaks up gameplay but it feels unnecessary. That’s the main reason it’s in there, another reason to get through the game rather than constantly battling. But they’re simultaneously more frustrating than a dedicated stealth game like Metal Gear Solid, and simpler with less options to get through there. It makes good use of the time features since the guards have their own schedules more or less and it is easier to sneak around when it is night-time. Always a helpful, and something you’d expect. Not that you can just change the time around until you get through the first stealth part.

I always did enjoy the use of the songs in the game to unlock new features or to further the plot line. Something I guess I missed a little bit in Twilight Princess (where, if I remember correctly, they generally abandoned the use of magical music altogether). It could be, that’s of course one of the games I haven’t played yet.

Even the camera angles (something we have majorly quibbled about with its contemporaries) are well executed. That’s possibly the biggest compliment we can give here – we didn’t really have any trouble with the camera, so we had no reason to complain about it. And that’s the way that should be.

Now, we played the Gamecube port (available with the first release of The Wind Waker), so I’m not sure whether the graphics were upgraded there, but it felt not – they feel less detailed than Majora’s Mask, but at the same time the simplicity seems to have allowed for larger, more integrated areas of the world, making the game seem smoother and larger. I disagree completely. Granted the time constraint in Majora’s Mask mean less exploration was available but it was by far a larger and lusher world when compared to Ocarina of Time. Yeah, that’s true. My point is not that Ocarina of Time’s is larger, it’s that Majora’s Mask world is divided in more smaller areas (such as the main town having small sections), where Ocarina of Time’s are larger and more joined together – I get the feeling Ocarina of Time’s first town has one area the size of three sections of Majora’s Mask’s.

I guess that was helped by the restricted AI and graphics lent to the NPCs. It was interesting that in Link’s hometown you could see their fairy counterparts before the NPC themselves. I guess it saved a lot of loading time. Yeah, that’s one other odd thing that makes sense from that point of view – the characters themselves weren’t shown until you were quite close. It saved loading time… and probably allowed them to be more impressive elsewhere. Then they were able to improve this with Majora’s Mask by creating the large world outside of the city which leads to all the areas with randomly generating enemies as well as other Hyrulian style paraphernalia.

It’s pretty apt that these two games are usually compared to one another because there is such a kinship between the two (with Majora’s Mask being a direct sequel) but I guess that in terms of features I alway felt Majora to have the edge. Even if the three-day time limit can be brutal. Absolutely true, the three day limit is… somewhat annoying, but as the sequel, it’s clearly better in nearly every way.

Considering the 3D action/adventure was still very much in it’s infancy as Ocarina of Time burst onto the scene it is easy to see how it was dubbed by many as the greatest game ever released. There was nothing out there quite like it and it played a lot like your own personal fantasy movie. Even if the graphics have dated immensely the fundamentals still play like an absolute dream.

Final Thoughts

This is the penultimate game from the first batch of Kat’s games meaning that, as we decided after finishing our write-up, we will be targeting more obscure games (granted Quadradius and Drop7 are fairly unknown but that’s by the by) as well as some interesting looking arcade games like Lunar Lander. Personally I am really hoping that we get to Second Sight and The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis pretty soon as they have been resting in our to do pile since early December.

Game 37: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Posted: March 10, 2011 by mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , , ,

Game 527/1001 according to the list


Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2002
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Time again to visit the land of Hyrule and indulge in a little Zelda action. Today my friend Kat’s game collection takes us to the 2002 classic game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker which was the console-based sequel to the earlier covered Majora’s Mask. Despite these games being released one after the other they really are worlds apart. The lush landscapes are now replaced with a vast expanse of oceans and the graphics underwent a direction which no fan of the series could have expected.

Our Thoughts

So here’s another Zelda. Now the Gamecube’s Wind Waker. No fart jokes today, we promise. I am so embarrassed with you for that remark. Seriously, you just needed to go there. No, I’m just saying we’re not going to …and I’m an ovum. I haven’t noticed that yet…

The Wind Waker will always be special to me as it was the first console game of Zelda that I ever owned (not counting Ocarina of Time which was packaged with my copy of The Wind Waker). This is similar as to how Link’s Awakening will always occupy a soft spot in my heart as it was my first on a handheld. Since I had previously played Majora’s Mask at a friend’s house I was already aware of the graphic style of the typical Zelda game… something which The Wind Waker famously deviated away from.

For those who cannot remember, or did not pay attention, to the controversy leading up to the release of this game (Link’s first foray onto the Gamecube) I guess a brief explanation in order:

Normal console Zelda games had always attempted to have some degree of realism to them whilst also being able to allow for the fantasy elements of staple races such as the Deku. Here in The Wind Waker the developers instead opted for a cel-shaded animation feel where 2-dimensional sprites were found in the 3-dimensional world. This later caused the game to be dubbed as Celda (and caused many Zelda-purists to denounce the game before it’s release).

Thing is… I never found a problem with the graphics. I have always been a fan of stylised graphics in a game as the look and feel of it is far less likely to age when compared to it’s contemporaries. If you’ll allow me to interject here, yeah, the graphics are clearly a different style, and I can see how it bothers people. The thing is that the simplification in graphics did not have the same effect on gameplay or story – this is still a difficult game – but its looks are deceiving here. Thing is, between the different games in the series, the graphic style already has its changes, and the SNES Link to the Past already had a similar change in graphics, so I can’t see exactly where it comes from. The main thing that bothered me is that because it looks this way, Link actually look quite a bit younger – which can be a bit weird. You have this ten year old kid fighting bosses and running around volcanoes. He might have been intended of a similar age in previous games, it looks weird.

This age relates to the beginning of Ocarina of Time where Link starts out as 10 and then ends up at 17 after the time jump… if I remember correctly. He is definitely in his late teens in Twilight Princess. Making him younger than most games in this one… and it feels weird. Anyway, it does mean that his emotions look a bit more exaggerated. He looks very determined just sidling past a ledge. The look of concentration on his face is just darling. He also throws a mini strop if you stop playing for a while; he gets a little bit bored and sways back and forth until you start playing again. Yeah, he’s a sweet young kid, I suppose.

What’s interesting about using a cel-shaded look (apart from making it look like an anime) is that there is a bit of a contrast between the violence and the childlike surroundings. Very true, actually. The NPCs look funny and sweet. At the same time, the enemies are dark and somewhat frightening at times. At the same time, the environments work in the same way. You have bright environments in the towns and cities, and then in the dungeons it’s dark, filled with skulls, with just torchlight lighting up some of the areas.

An aspect where the cel-shading helps make it slightly creepy is the eyes. No matter how dark it gets the eyes of Link and the NPCs still stay fully lit. With Link it’s cute, with the rats and bats it’s rather macabre. This can make the game rather jumpy at times; e specially during the (rather un-Zelda) stealth parts. Those early stealth parts really did shake me, this was helped incredibly by the use of incidental music. Yeah. Not helped by the fact that you have no weapon or anything else to defend yourself with it. Add to that that getting back after that takes a long time, making it awkward, complicated, and frustrating. It’s very tense.

There is also a great freedom in this game which comes from your need to sail between the islands (using the Wind Waker’s power to bend the breeze to your will). Yeah, they creating a feeling of a large world without boundaries, where you actually need to cover some ground before you get somewhere. At the same way it does remove the more detailed overworld with stuff happening as you travel between parts of the overworld, which is (mostly) replaced by endless oceans. All without a loading screen, which was impressive considering the size of the area related to the consoles processing power. That’s true. It’s all seamless, so they never break immersion. It’s smooth and simple.

Last thing I’d like to say, a fairly small thing – the voicing. I’m sorry, but not only does he look cute, Link sounds even cuter in this game. Adorable, that’s the only word I have for it.

That’s the thing; The Wind Waker does feel adorable which probably stands as the reason that is rarely mentioned in the same heartbeat of Zelda console games as Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. It’s my favourite game of the Zelda series since I feel that they were able to contribute a great degree of gaming depth with some very distinctive graphics. It has it’s own identity separate from the rest of the series (minus Phantom Hourglass) and while that is The Wind Waker’s greatest strength it is the sole thing going against it in the annals of gaming history… it visually looks a bit too much like child’s play. And because of that, the best way to do this is probably that this is a great game… just possibly not the best example of a Zelda game. Although to just hold its graphics against that would also seem… petty. In gameplay and difficulty, it’s worthy of the name.

Final Thoughts

So that’s Wind Waker, the second Zelda game we’ve covered here, after previously covering Majora’s Mask. (Ocarina of Time is coming up Very Soon too, so keep an eye out for that). Looks-wise, sound-wise, it’s more kidsy, cuter at times than the other installments, but at the same time it’s challenging. It’s far from impossible, but it’s at that right level of difficulty where it’s challenging, but you know you can beat it.

Is it perfect? Personally, I have a few issues with the sea mechanism, but that’s mostly due to me comparing it to the other Zelda games – it seems better than just randomly warping somewhere clicking on a location on the worldmap – at least for a game like this.

Game 31: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Posted: February 20, 2011 by mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , , ,

Game 454/1001 according to the list


Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Nintendo 64
Year of Release: 2000
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

There are certain gaming series that have a large number of games on the 1001 list. So far we have made a sizeable dent in the Mario games (although to be honest there is a hell of a lot more to go) and we have a Metroid and some Final Fantasies on the way but now is a time for the first in a long line of Zelda games.

Since we are still whittling away titles from the first batch of games Kat lent us we have decided to first play Majora’s Mask. Whilst I have played this game before the main thing I associate with it is this song. If you click the link and fail to see the link then I don’t blame you. When we first got Sky there was this channel called Game Network which had a program which consisted of clips of video games set to music. As you can now guess Majora’s Mask was paired with the Eurodance song To Be You by Kim Lukas. Strange combination really.

Our Thoughts

If you had 3 days to stop some masked entity from crashing a demonic moon into your hometown what would you do? Other than looking for someone else to fix it? Probably ask for a present for my spouse in exchange for the deed to my spot on the market. Well he does jump ship… well fly away in the way a Deku is accustomed to do. I do doubt he would be able to outrun the moon though at his usual speed and predicted trajectory though. Fair enough, I suppose, but it’s what happens.

Let me note here that I personally don’t like time limits in games as a way to make it more exciting, and I was quite worried until we got the method to reverse time in the game. I could feel you tensing up as the time ran out. You were really getting annoyed and (to be honest) it was beginning to bug me.

I actually think that although the 3 day cycle adds a heap of restrictions it is a fantastic idea that was able to make sure that Majora’s Mask was set apart from Ocarina of Time. When you are coming after a game that was hailed as the best ever made it is important to implement a true game changer. I know that it bugged Jeroen as he is a real dab hand at taking his time and exploring the worlds (probably why he is much fonder of point-and-click games and RPGs like the previously reviewed Planescape: Torment).

In contrast there is me who likes to do a bit of exploration (which is why I lost so much of my life to exploring the entire map of GTA: San Andreas) but if there is too much of that in a game it gets boring for me. Then there is Majora’s Mask which, as a Zelda game, had to strike the balance between the time constraint and the exploration, a tough tightrope indeed.

Many complaints about the game were centred on the shorter dungeons and that there are fewer of them compared with other games in the franchise. Contrary to that is a much larger focus on side-quests which embraces the 3 day cycle. With this you have to keep a notebook of side-quests based on the movement patterns of people within Clock Town. A feature that I have only seen repeated in a game of a completely different genre: the survival horror cult classic Gregory Horror Show. And you seem to need it, although I’ve not yet seen enough of that.

Aside from the time limit, which is indeed a personal preference (and one of those things I change early before playing other classics like Fallout, who were quick to fix it in their patches), the game is well done. You can tell that they’ve had more time to work out what they can do with the N64, which shows in graphics, gameplay, the amount of options and things you can do (28 masks? Lots of sidequests, lots of other stuff to do) and it makes it a very good game to play. And you need the shorter dungeons and such – having to go through larger parts again and again because you ran out of time or have a side area to explore would detract from the fun part of the game.

That’s the only downside of the game really. Like a fool I wanted to stop playing and I reset the clock. But before I could get back to the dungeon I had to do all the other mini-tasks in order to be able to reach that area. I am so thankful that they included an option to slow the passage of time meaning that you get an extra 20-30 minutes before the 3 day cycle is completed. You seem to need it – and yeah, that’s part of where my complaint comes from, really. There’s ways to make it easier, but had I have to go through any longer, the repetitiveness would have made this even more exhausting. But enough on that, time for the praise this game absolutely deserves. Well yes, the readers of GameFAQs apparently named this the best game of the last decade so we really should sing the praises. As you’ll see, obviously I won’t agree with them, but then again – that’s the opinion of the averages anyway, where it could work if it were everyone’s second favourite.

As I said, the graphics are nice. The characters are given character through it, putting on certain masks looks like it hurts, and most of the environment are quite pretty in their own way. How about the music? Just like the other games in the franchise Majora’s Mask has a beautiful soundtrack. Even the short repetitive tunes you play on the ocarina to change time or to open the doors to the temples sound beautiful; very simple yet very effective. And a number of them are familiar tunes associated with the series for some time longer especially the incidental music which is something that a long-running successful franchise is able to do.

Yeah, and I’m sure it fits in here – I’m honest, I’m looking forward to trying other games and put it in perspective too. That is the problem with us first tackling such a late game in the series. Something we had to do because we need to play though all the games Kat gave us before Easter. Later on we will be able to refer forward so I guess it will all balance out. Yeah, so keep looking out for that. We have two more to do from Kat’s pile (including the Gamecube port of Ocarina of Time which, when I think about it now, would have been probably been better to do before this one) so there will be come franchise comparisons coming rather soon.

So yeah, while the time system can have its doubts, in general the game is good fun and very well put together and certainly worth a try, if you can still get your hands on it. It’s available on the Virtual Console for the Wii so it’s very easy to find. Ah, I did not know that. Then that’s worth going for.

Final Thoughts

This marks our last venture in Nintendo 64 gaming for a few weeks until we play the port of Ocarina of Time that came with The Wind Waker. The last few weeks of gaming have really made me miss my own console and games.

I guess it’s one of those things with trade-ins. In my time I have sold off a lot of games that I am now beginning to regret and will now start to peruse eBay and Amazon Marketplace to find such lost games like Gregory Horror Show, Pikmin, Pikmin 2, Bully and Kingdom Hearts.

Game 21: Lego Star Wars

Posted: January 21, 2011 by mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Game 657/1001 according to the list


Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Eidos Interactive/LucasArts

It’s the game that came as a result of the accumulated wishes of every lonely child the union between the genius Lego toys with the now legendary Star Wars (the original trilogy… since the prequel trilogy wasn’t exactly classic filmmaking). However, what the people at Traveller’s Tale were able to do was take a series of films people take very seriously (some would say too seriously but I could not possibly comment) and find a way to inject it with a fantastical sense of humour which would then become the trademark of a highly phraseworthy series of games (with Lego Batman being their magnum opus in my personal opinion).

Our Playthrough

The copy we own is actually the Complete Saga edition meaning that we will have played through sections of both the original Lego Star Wars as well as those of the prequel trilogy. We’ve more or less played through all the episodes so we should have a good grasp on both games… seeing how the 1001 list specifically mentions only one game we’ll be focusing on that in our write up.

Our Thoughts

I guess we’ll have to look at the Star Wars experience later, but I think it’s worth going over the general qualities of these games first – as said; all of the games in the series are brilliant. It’s just a pity that Lego Batman didn’t end up on this list somewhere, it’s awesome beyond measure… but we digress.

 

It really is a gaming combination that shouldn’t work, especially since the idea of a Lego computer game is a touch strange. They’ve managed to pull it off brilliantly. To be fair, the Lego parts of it aren’t what you’d think – there are no conventional building things and putting them together in any arbitrary manner (except for two characters you can design yourself in most of the games). However, almost everything is made of Lego, and building predefined objects with them, or using the Force to create them, or anything like that, is a large part of the gameplay and in fact, destroying all these Lego objects is part of the fun of the game.

Similar fun can be derived from having Chewbacca pulling the arms off of the adversaries with the apt comic side-effects of course. Yes, or your protocol droids (C3PO & co) losing their limbs one by one as they get shot or damaged. I still think the best noise is when you use Jedi powers to push R2-D2 off the edge of something (tee hee). For those of you who know Darths & Droids… it is very much deserved too.

One thing that is remarkable in this is how close they remain to the overall story of Star Wars. Granted bits have to be fleshed out to create adequately paced levels, but they don’t actually play with it as much as you would expect so in that way purists were not too annoyed. Yeah and the cutscenes aren’t serious and boring copies of scenes from the movie, but, through the humour in there, are lovely to watch as well. (And to come back to that, in Lego Batman this shows off even more, as it doesn’t follow an existing story. Instead there’s a simple original one, which allows for a lot more charm in the cutscenes. Robin is lovely in it and will steal your heart. Get a room you two.)

A really good feature is the gaming hub where unlocked characters run around and it’s fun to create a brawl (even better in The Complete Saga where you can repeatedly slice JarJar Binks in twain). Not just that, aside from allowing for repeated studs collection from features in there, it serves as a nice way of using a lot of mechanics and have some battles with each other as well.

The extras are a remarkable mix of incredibly useful to incredibly idiotic. All are great fun to try out but there is only a handful which you can make regular use of. Yeah, and some are easier to use than others – from just getting extra studs when you kill someone, to your blaster shots exploding when you hit someone – not something you want when you’re close to it. That was so annoying, especially since you need those exploding blasts to break through certain shiny obstacles. Not necessarily – you can get characters later that make things explode through bombs, those are easier to handle and less necessary in fights. Ah yes, sorry about that… so, we’ve covered how faithful the game is to the movie series, their great sense of humour and collectables. Onto gameplay which is not perfect.

 

The camera can get particularly annoying when playing with a friend as it will go to any lengths to keep you both in shot, even if it means forcibly dragging your co-player into a ravine. Of course they then re-spawn falling into the ravine and you’re screwed in terms of stud collecting. Not just that, sometimes when you want to get a good view, to fight enemies or do tricky jumps, it zooms in to an awkward angle where it’s hard to see where you’re going… or the camera moves just as you need it stable to judge where you’re going. This isn’t a regular problem, to be fair, but when it does happen it is extremely annoying, like the driving levels they insist on including.

These are worse here than they are in other instalments like Lego Batman (so this is worth remembering). The controls don’t work well, the camera problems are made worse and it’s hard to see how what you’re doing has any effect. They realised there was something good, but they just needed to tighten the camera and controls for later games. I guess it’s near perfect by the time they started developing Lego Harry Potter where I assume its broomstick levels rather than driving (minus the obligatory double-decker bus in the third film). Something I am more and more looking to finding out, although I’m tempted to wait for its inevitable Complete Saga version, when all the levels are in there.

I really hope that they choose to do an Alice in Wonderland one or one involving plenty of fairy tales. That would be hilarious. There’s plenty of options still available, both movie franchises and otherwise (and I’ve mentioned Star Trek as an option I’d personally love). In any case, even if Star Wars isn’t your option, it’ll be worth trying out one of these games. I don’t even like Star Wars that much and I thought it was brilliant.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, this serie of LEGO games are a lot of fun. Lego Star Wars is great – although it’s probably worth going for the Complete Saga by now – but Lego Batman works just as well, and while we haven’t had a chance to play them yet, the Indiana Jones and Harry Potter games are said to be as good. Try which you like best – we think they’re different and innovative enough to fit in on this list.

Last, while it’s far from the same, there’s a Lego Star Wars 2.5 – the Quest for R2-D2 – available for free online. It might be worth a try to see whether you like it. It’ll be good fun anyway.

Game 13: The Last Express

Posted: December 28, 2010 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

Game 356/1001 according to the list


Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1997
Developer: Smoking Car Productions
Publisher: Brøderbund

“The best game nobody ever played”, a commercial failure, and yet it’s found in the book. What’s up with that? Well, The Last Express is an adventure game that takes place in real-time. You’re Doctor Cath, who’s been asked to help out with a secret sort of mission on the Orient Express.

The characters all have their own schedules and interaction and life goes on regardless of what you do – although your actions do influence this. The graphics are based on live recordings, edited to create animation that suit the game’s atmosphere.

In other words, a special game.

Our Playthrough

We’ve done our best to play through the game. We’ll see how we do with the game, but with some luck we’ll make it quite far through the puzzles, enjoying the environment at the same time.

Our Thoughts

Here’s to the first game on the list (other than Peggle) that we actually completed *raises glass*. Cheers! Cheers! Yeah, and an interesting one too, very immersive. (forgot about Bayonetta… but I only completed it after posting it.) Yeah, the second completed while actually playing it for the blog, rather than afterwards.  Not that it’s a simple game. Quite the opposite really.

The time-dependent events, people living their lives on the train around you while you try to solve the mystery and the sometimes quite devious solutions make it interesting and quite complex at times. And makes you wonder what does and does not happen. Exactly, the great thing about it IS that you could be extremely lazy and sit in your cabin and do nothing whilst murders, bombings and concerts go on around you. You really have to get stuck in. Not entirely true, as the police event shows, you need to get out. Granted… the only time in geek history where hiding in the toilet is not to escape the local bullies… That depends on your definition of bullies and your overall experience. Yeah (Never have)

I love the complex storyline involved, it shows a true love of history. And that alone makes it replayable, as a second playthrough might be welcome to help you understand more of what’s going on. That’s one of the issues with everything being so time sensitive. You feel that you need to speed through things in order to get everything done that you need to do. Yeah, even though the pacing allows you to take your time anyway. Further helped by the ability to rewind the clock whenever you want incase you missed something. Yeah, up to a point. It’s easy to catch up if you have to.

Something else is the art and animation. The procedure is interesting and worth reading up on in other places, such as Wikipedia. It’s when you get to certain cut scenes (or when people pass you in the corridors) that it looks really impressive, especially when you consider it was all rotoscoped. Yeah, It looks nice and works really well for the game and it has been a lot of work.

The budget for this game was huge, in part because of the art, for the time… and for the number of games sold. So much so that is basically bankrupted the studio. Yeah, apparently only 100 000 games were sold, on a development cost of a few million (6 million, it’s rumoured). Kinda sad really. There is one thing bankrupting yourself with shit… but not with a really impressive title. Yeah, it should’ve done better with the game’s quality.

I’d love to be able to play more games like this. Since we have a lot of adventure games to cover I am sure that your adventure itch will be scratched… unlike my beat ’em up itch… which is yet to be tackled. I’m sure we’ll get to many more of those. While there will be more adventure games, one as complex like this, with the amount of work and AI that has gone into this, including all the possible interactions that take place and can take place, will not be as common. I think the closest we’ll get is that fantastic Gregory Horror Show… which is like this if it was set in a haunted hotel with strange anime animals. That sounds like it will be a great deal of fun! 🙂 Just remember it’s a Survival Horror Adventure 😉

Final Thoughts

The game itself plays like a thriller made in the 1940s (unsurprisingly there are rumours of a film adaptation) and does make you feel like one of those old fashioned heroes in the Alfred Hitchcock style. Although point and click adventures are not usually my cup of tea this somehow ticked all the right boxes. It is just such a pity this was not a big success at the time… it could have been the beginning of a rather promising series.