Monday, May 16, 2011

Too Much... Even For Me

In the sidebar at the time of this writing, I'm listing under 'Last Watched' the 'film' Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus. I have, for the first time since starting this blog, put 'partial' after the title because I just couldn't get through it. I barely got through twenty minutes actually.

Yes. Yes.With that title I should've known there's no way the movie could be good. But I love giant monster movies, though mostly the ones I like fall under Japanese kaiju films or American and European B-movies (or Harryhausen films) from the 1950s. I can't really recall an American giant monster film I've ever enjoyed apart from the recent Cloverfield from J.J. Abrams.

But I was at least hoping for a 'so bad it's entertaining' experience. I didn't get that. Instead I lost twenty minutes of my life and untold brain cells feeding that dreck into my eyeballs. Totally drunk and with a bunch of friends wouldn't improve this. At least streaming on NetFlix lets you check something like this out without the commitment of a drive to a store or even the effort of putting it out in your mailbox.


And get this: the outfit that made it, The Asylum, specializes in these direct to DVD releases... AND this film is the second Mega Shark masterpiece. That's right, if The Asylum were thinking what most studios do with sequels... making them bigger and better this atrocity actually ups the ante over the previous Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus.

These are like parodies of movies you'd find on billboards within other films or video games.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Motherfrickin' Missile Fury

My son, twelve years old, is much more open-minded to the older 2D gaming styles than any of his friends seem to be, but the new Xbox Live Arcade title Bangai-O: Missile Fury is probably way too hard for him. He's given it a few tries, completed a few early levels here and there, but he doesn't have the patience to work out the games intricacies. And I don't blame him, it's pretty rough.

However. There is one thing he agrees on, and you'd have to be blind or an utter fool to disagree. Nothing, repeat NOTHING in video gaming compares to the sweet ultimate power of unleashing a full-power 1000-count counter-attack. It has been that way on every system that the Bangaio series has appeared on... and is doubly so now that you can pump up the size and power of your counter-attacks up to four-fold.

The above screen shot pretty much says it. The screen of your Xbox 360 will pause and then erupt in slow white molten fury as you utterly annihilate everything around you. And as often as you get to do this in the game, IT NEVER GETS OLD! Especially with the bounce laser-- a blue-white sun of destruction that leaves an afterimage on the gamer's retina.

Rest of the game's good too.
(image cribbed from Eurogamer)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nin2 Jump Pisses Me Off

Cave put a tiny new game up on Xbox Live Arcade, the score attack platformer Nin2 Jump. A big departure from their usual forte, bullet hell shooters, this download title I'd describe as the art-style of Okami mashing up with the quick and deadly get-thru-the-room play of Super Meat Boy. In addition it has mechanics that look superficially like the grapple arm from Bionic Commando. You use this 'manriki' chain tool to lift yourself over spike beds and past buzzsaws or target enemies for you to then power through.

I love the shadow play art style. I don't find the 'kids in the audience' flourish to be distracting. I'm used to bullet hell shooters so I don't find the occasions where the screen fills with stuff to be confusing. I like the quick restart and one-more-go addictiveness of the game. The bosses, like Fujiyama illustrated above, are really neat and different. There's only one thing that really gets to me, and it is kind of important.

The controls.

Wow, do they suck. I cannot, absolutely CANNOT get the chain weapon to go where I want it to. As stated, you must use this thing to get around the hazards. Sometimes you even need to do something fairly dextrous like use it to anchor and haul yourself horizontally in mid-air while falling down towards some spikes. In most games, with a little practice I find this sort of thing pretty easy. I've played A LOT of platforming games in my time with similar mechanics. In Nin2 Jump it makes me want to eat a gun. The chain does not shoot out in the same direction as I'm indicating on the controller with any consistency. The game does not register a button release (so that you haul up on the chain to safety) with any regularity. Most of the time pulling off even simple moves is sheer luck. What does it say when World 2 took ages to complete because of all the chain bullshit, but World 3 took one-quarter the time, because it has no traps, just enemies to defeat, and that requires timing and gauge management... not precise manipulations of the chain.

I'm reading online how the game is just so easy. Oooh, you'll have no trouble at all with the story mode. Motherfucker. Did I get some kind of bum controller? It isn't having problems in any other game! I'm all for challenge, but not when the challenge is inherent in control difficulties. That's like some hold over from old frustrating 8-bit games. I HAVE read one or two people say this game's controls give them fits... so I'm not totally insane.

I want to love this game. Most games from Cave make me all tingly down there. But this is just nuts!

You Remember that Carl Douglas Song? Yeah...

I'll maintain that the new Mortal Kombat has the best single player experience of any fighting game since Soul Calibur 2... maybe the best ever.

But 300 (yes, THREE HUNDRED) levels to the Challenge Tower mode is a bit much. The game already has a several hour long story mode. It has lots of fighters to toy with and play through the basic one-player fight 'ladder' and even non-fighting game activities, the Test Your Might and Test Your Sight sections.

I'm up to challenge 83 or so. Some of the challenges are easy and quick, some take a bit of time to get the hang of. But even if I spend an hour a day (and at this point they aren't so engrossing as to spend more than that) which would get about ten challenges done, that's over twenty days to completion.

THREE WEEKS. Holy crap. I want value for money, and Mortal Kombat has more than already delivered... but jeezo pete that's just too much. Seems like a dumb thing to complain about but this one of the few games where I could genuinely have enjoyed having 'done everything'. Lots of neat unlockables and generous gamerpoints.

I'll still pick away at this, but I've already found myself sliding back to spending more time with Super Street Fighter IV. That game doesn't have nearly the one-player content, but the actual fighting engine is something I like a lot better. Street Fighter IV (not Super) basically triggered the new modern happy-time for 2D fighting games. New titles (as opposed to re-releases or HD remakes) we've seen on home consoles:

King of Fighters XII
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift
Tatsunoko vs Capcom
Street Fighter IV
Super Street Fighter IV
Marvel vs Capcom 3
Arcana Heart 3
Mortal Kombat (2011)

Upcoming still:

Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
King of Fighters XIII
Street Fighter X Tekken

I'm sure I missed something in the lists above too!

Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat have definitely taken attention and traffic away from SSFIV, but the fact that Street Fighter has another update coming and is absolutely the best balanced technical fighting game means I probably have great timing to be learning and re-learning my Street Fighter chops.

Online competition is brutal for reasons mentioned in a previous post, and it is only going to get worse. But at least I find myself getting better, even if it only by inches.