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Found 5 results

  1. iwx Leprechaun

    Nostalgia Pays Off: Lufia II Revisited

    Whenever I decide that I want to revisit a game from my past I am filled with 2 emotions, excitement and fear. The excitement stemming from the fact that I am about to play a game that once gave me joy, that left an imprint in my brain enough that I want to play it again. The fear in the thought that the game may not measure up to what I remember, therefore tarnishing my memories. For example, a year or 2 ago, I decided to revisit Resident Evil 2, the first game to really scare the pants off me. Unfortunately the controls aged so poorly that it has tainted my opinion on the game. Yeah I still remember my 11 year old self crapping his pants when the licker bursts through a window, but a little bit of the shine has been taken off the apple. Even so, I still can't resist myself sometimes; enter Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. Lufia II was released as the SNES was nearing the end of its life cycle, so it was unfortunately missed by many. After playing it again, I can tell you that it is one of the most cliche ridden RPG's you could come across. And I loved every replayed minute of it. There is really so much about this game to love. First off, the game looks pretty great for a SNES title with vibrant character sprites, detailed monsters and fantastic looking spells. The puzzles in this game can range from the most pedestrian to pretty challenging. I've played the game before twice and still had trouble with some of them on this go around. One of my favorite things is a cliche that they broke, the "spellcaster is weak" cliche. With the exception of 1 character, your spellcasters can rock almost the same about of damage as your main character. Bosses tend to be ginormous in this game Lufia II also has a nice spin to the "secret/hidden/deep" dungeon crawling quest. The ancient cave is a dungeon comprised of 99 levels. All of your weapons, spells and armor are removed upon entering and your level is reset to 1. You must battle through the dungeon relying only on items and spells that you find. Only upon reaching level 20, do you start to be able to find "Providence" the only item that can warp you out of the cave. Here's the kicker, you are only allowed to keep the items found in blue chests and none of the grinding you do in this dungeon carries over. Even worse than that is in my playthrough, I found 6 blue chests making it all the way through the dungeon, and 4 of the items were the same thing! That said, you can get some of the best weapons and armor in the game down there, so it can be extremely addicting. Yeah... Chances are 2 of those are really hard mimics As my spoiler suggests earlier, the story is a bit cliche'd. But that's not to mean that it isn't very well written. The writing pulls you into the story with witty dialogue and develops the characters amazingly for 16 bit sprites. I found myself with as strong an emotional bond to the characters as any game today. There are enough twists and turns among the cliches to keep you interested and the ending is truly fantastic. Luckily for me, I forgot enough about the game and was able to almost witness this through fresh eyes. After playing this again, a bit of faith has been restored in replaying games. I'm glad I replayed it, it is exactly how I remembered it. Maybe it is just that turn based RPGs just age a little better. If you haven't played it, do yourself a favor and give it a shot, hopefully you won't be disappointed. That said, I really need to start working on my backlog instead of putting 70 hours into games I've already played...
  2. Some time ago, I found this great story, which tells the tale of a father playing video games with his kids, and how each generation of gamers will have their own perceptions as to what is a good game to them. Each generation of gamers will have their own classics and standards that they use, and the games that defined said standards. The dictionary defines “classic†as: 1. of the first or highest quality, class, or rank, 2. serving as a standard, model, or guide, 3. of or adhering to an established set of artistic or scientific standards or methods I started gaming during the SNES and Genesis days, when side scrolling beat em ups was the big thing, and those have really had an impact on me. Not only that, but 2D games and art in general. Those games are the “classics†for me. Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage, Shinobi III, Final Fantasy VI, Yoshi“s Island, and many more are the games that left a strong impact on me. Because of those games, I very much love the game Viewtiful Joe, and am glad that 2D has made its come back, such as Dragon“s Crown. While games have become more complex and much more expensive to develop, I have also found that there are times where I really like the simplicity of games like Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon. I don“t need the complexities of today's standards to have fun, or to be immersed in the game. The Past... ...and the Present "The gap between my gaming knowledge and that my of sons“ is vast. My oldest son recently asked me what a Dreamcast is. My kids don“t really know why Mike Tyson“s Punch Out!! is significant in gaming history.†Just like how VHS tapes are no longer around, some people nowadays don“t know what a Dreamcast is. Time and technology keeps moving forward. The new generation is out now. The Playstation 2 is 2 generations ago, and is considered old. Some PS2, Xbox and Gamecube titles are considered “classics†now, even if they weren“t franchise starters. I consider RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Lufia II to be classics, as they were my early exposures to RPGs. Final Fantasy VI showed a rag tag team with no “true†main character, while Lufia II took a simple story, made it great, and combined it with a powerful, yet sad ending. When will Final Fantasy X be considered a classic, and to whom? Final Fantasy X already has an HD remake. For better or for worse (ok, mostly better), gaming is being taken seriously on various fronts: Narrative, cinematography, voice acting, elements that were only considered for certain types of games during the early life of gaming. Now almost every game has movie like cutscenes. The option to use 2D or 3D is available, thus providing more flexibility in choices. It“s astounding how much the gaming industry has grown in such a short time. Everyone is going to have his or her own opinion on what makes a game so great. It is all a matter of timing. Is Halo a classic, or Goldeneye on N64? I can“t really give you the answer to that, but both are certainly some fun games that set their own standards. So I guess the author of the piece was right. Everyone will have their own standards as to what is a classic to them, because there is just so much variety now. The newer generation of gamers also has history on their side to make an impact on them as well as the new generation of games. They (everyone does actually) have the option of playing the new games and going back to see how things started. Good games will always come back and stand out through the test of time. My first RPG, and an amazing one.
  3. Jordan Haygood

    EarthBound eShop

    From the album: Kaptain's Gallery

    © Nintendo

  4. Cipher Peon

    Resident Evil: Director's Cut

    I finished Resident Evil the other day, in an effort to expand my knowledge of the history of Survival Horror genre. I was hungry for more good horror games, especially considering I ran out Silent Hill games whose awesomeness are uncontested. Seeing as Resident Evil "started it all", I had high hopes of a horror classic that would have me as pumped for the genre as Silent Hill 2 did. However, knowing the background of Resident Evil, I was expecting an undisciplined sort of horror as compared to the strict rules that Silent Hill set for itself in order to play with the player's expectations. Even though Resident Evil did play with my expectations of its horror, it did so in a negative way, as the horror is practically nonexistent. Although the horrors are nonexistent, the game's ability to engage the player is phenomenal and the experience is unforgettable. Taking Resident Evil seriously will only doom the player to frustration. The scares are nonexistent, the plot is a total disaster, the writing is atrocious, the voice acting is horrible, and the controls are some of the worst in any game I've ever played. Looking at the game now, I can't see how anyone can consider it a horror classic as the game is about as unscary as Dead Space (although Resident Evil doesn't seem to be trying as hard). However, after obtaining the first ink ribbons I realized that I was looking at the game in a frame of mind that would cause me to never enjoy it. The scares I were expecting were never coming. However, the gameplay for the perfect survival horror game was there, in a package of cheese instead of psychological thrills. The ink ribbons represents a lot more than a stupid gimmick that prevents players from saving their game, something which I understood the second I picked them up. The framework that the ink ribbons crafted was ripe for scares, in a way that Silent Hill approached in a different way. Ascending the importance of both the scarce ammo and health restoration items, limiting saves was the best move that the original Resident Evil could have done. It made players strategize their attacks on the mansion, fear every encounter with the garden variety zombie, and contemplate every use of a save they have. Because if they screw up, they can't restore their save and try again. It led to the exploration conundrum: "Should I explore and run into enemies and scares to find more crucial items? Or should I press on and try to tough it out and play it safe as long as I can?" which is a favorite of mine in horror. Unfortunately, Resident Evil doesn't succeed 100% in this, as you're going to explore almost every room anyway, but it still does a heck of a job doing so. Along with setting the framing device for the gameplay for one of my favorite game genres of all time, Resident Evil actually reminds me most of Luigi's Mansion of all things. Not just in face value, either. The main characters come across a mansion full of a colorful variety of monsters, environments, and areas to come back to and unlock, and there's many crevices to explore. The entire experience felt so much like Luigi's Mansion, that I dubbed Resident Evil "Luigi's Mansion, but replace the colorful cast of ghosts and charm with zombies, strict resource management, and plenty of cheese." Exploring the mansion was always rewarding and fun, and finding a new key filled me with excitement as I ran across the halls like a giggling school girl trying to find the new rooms I've unlocked. In addition to this, the main objective of Resident Evil was to have as much fun as you can, which Luigi's Mansion does extremely well (To be fair, Nintendo games are full of this). As for the cheesiness... There's not much else to say. I mean, what else can you add on top of the infamous Jill Sandwich scene?! Every line of the game is written in ironic comedic gold, as if the localization team had only a vague idea of what humans were and used The Room as their thesis on human interaction. Every character has atrocious voice acting to accompany their hammy dialogue, which leads to several highly entertaining sequences especially involving the primary use of rope. Another hilarious exchange revolved around a missing character, who was found by the playable character in the middle of the game. The exchange went like: "Holy cow, you're still alive!" "Yupp." "We were looking all over for you, where have you been?" "Be safe around here. Good bye" *leaves* No mention of where they were going or why they were gone, just poof. It kinda makes sense at the end of the game, but the fact that no one bothered to think about it worries me. Interacting with the enviornment is also incredibly cryptic à la Zelda 2, as interacting with a locked door will tell you something along the lines of "A shield". Wait, what? A shield of what? As for the environments and enemy designs, they're fantastic. Every room has different things to offer and all of the rooms are coherent in terms of "zombie riddled mansion that may or may not be evil". There's no random out of place snow area or a random rule breaking minigame. The logic that the environment sets is coherent and the depths that it goes to leads to very entertaining scenarios (like fighting a killer shark in a flooded basement or a plant that grew a mind of its own and conquered an entire shed). The player is almost always given several options to solve a particular boss, which was always fun trying to find the solution that fit you the best. Unfortunately, the extent of options did not spread to puzzles, which would have been neat to be given the option to solve a puzzle by shooting in addition to pushing blocks around. At the end of the day, I can't help but love Resident Evil. I literally can not understand how anyone could have found it scary at any point in time, but the experience was too much of a mindblowing good time to not leave from it happy. I actually prefer it to the original Silent Hill (which I found relatively spooky, like a pretty alright piece of creepypasta), but comparing the two series leaves something to be desired. The two approaches horror in different ways, and while only one succeeds in being scary, I can't say the other doesn't succeed in being amusing in how it fails in an adorable way. Like a baby wearing a traffic cone on his head. You go "Awwww, babies aren't supposed to do that!" and keep a watchful eye on them so they don't try to stick the cone up their nose. Which looking at RE5 now, I'm afraid we're too late.
  5. Hey, remember when almost every game was trying to jump into 3D? Now that trend has been reversed. Seriously, look at New Mario Bros Wii, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, and Donkey Kong Country Returns, among others. What have all of them done? They went back to their original formats that made them famous. Mario didn't have a full 2D sidescrolling adventure on consoles since Super Mario World on the SNES (not counting All-Stars, which is a remake/compilation), which was released in 1991. New Mario Bros. Wii, wasn't released until 2009. That's a good 18 years everyone! Mario's eternal rival Sonic, did the same thing. Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles were both released in 1994. Sonic 4 came out in 2010. That's 16 years before the blue blur went back to pure 2D on the consoles. Those are just platformer examples too. There are many games that have been revived, or brought back to their roots not only for the businesses to make money, but to the delight of fans as well. As a business model, this has worked well for everyone that has done it. It's a whole new marketing plan. Create an entirely new game in the format that made the game famous in the first place. The developers tons of money, and the fans get a new game. Everyone wins. What did CAPCOM do with Street Fighter IV? It went back to using the cast that made the game famous in the first place (I will admit, I think it's a lot harder for battle games to grow). Little Mac returned to the ring in the new Punch-Out!! and Donkey Kong came back with Donkey Kong Country Returns. Both of those games did very well. Nintendo has been doing this for a while, and we've been soaking up every game that decides to go back in time (gameplay wise of course). One great side of this is variety and nostalgia. Mario has been having grand adventure after grand adventure ever since he went 3D on the consoles (N64). A trip back to the old days with revamped graphics is a nice way to change things up, especially on the console market. Older fans go crazy over the nostalgia factor and get to tell the new generation of gamers that this is how things started. Developers like to make nods to older gamers, or ones that have played the earlier games with easter eggs or secrets. The new generation of gamers get to experience what they could not have unless they managed to get their hands on remakes or originals from friends or relatives. Some of these new gamers may not be used to pure 2D movement, but it should be a heck of a lot easier to adjust to that from a 3D game. Mario and friends, 18 years apart. Another great way to look at going backwards is that the developers not only please fans and themselves, but they actually manage to integrate the new with the old. The best examples of this is the new Mortal Kombat, and Sonic Colors. Both series have had games that seemed like they could have been much more if the developers had more time, or could integrate things better. Sonic's 3D and 2D sections in Unleashed were great for the daytime levels, and they were made even better for Colors. But all is not good on the horizon. Going back to their roots is a great thing, but the games that started it all only have so much substance. Is it that gamers are just that much better nowadays? Due to online capabilities, it's certainly easier to find people who are better, worse, or on the same level as you. Is that it, or is it that because of the power of the current systems we just expect that much more from our developers? The fact that we are getting such games could also be a sign that developers are low on ideas. Granted, it's been such a long time since we've had a “classic†style game for our favorite gaming heroes, (keep in mind we also need to note the definition of the word “classicâ€), so it's fine if we get a new game every once in a while in the classic format, but that could be a sign that developers are unsure of where to take the series next, even if the characters and formats work well together. If developers, by extension, keep re-hashing classic games, then they aren't so classic anymore, right? If we keep asking for more of the same thing, then doesn't nostalgia kind of defeat itself? A few bumps in the road can lead to success! As much as I love the old school, they have their place. Those games have been cemented in history already. As we grow as people, the developers grow in the way they integrate new elements into the games we know. Sometimes they have to put the series out of its comfort zone, or step away from what has made the game so successful in order to integrate the successful formula with something completely new. Sonic never had all of those powers he used during Sonic Colors. The wisps were the new gameplay element that allowed for a lot of puzzle solving and exploration that Sonic could never do before. Would SEGA have been able to come up with such an idea if they didn't have Sonic in the storybook games, and Unleashed? Without Unleashed, would Sonic have the boost ability implemented the way he does now? Without going through the bumps that he did, Sonic Colors wouldn't be such a critically acclaimed game. If it was released soon after Sonic Adventure 2, then it would be seen as a game that is very much in that same veil. Sometimes moving forward requires that you take a step back, or even actually moving back. That way we can find ways to bring the old and the new together.
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