Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Super Metroid, Ninja Combat & NCAA Football

Thanks to my 3 year old son waking up at 5am I ended up playing a lot more yesterday than I planned.

At the early hour I was looking for something to keep him occupied and so I purchased Ninja Combat through the VC. Of course Ninja Combat is a bad game. The voice acting is horrible, the game becomes ridiculously hard after the 3rd level, showing its arcade eating roots, and there are balance issues throughout (such as the weapons that can be picked up that are completely useless). Still, I've always enjoyed the game. It's a good game for Co-Op play as you really need two people to do well, and with two good players, the result is satisfying, at least for 3 levels.

Speaking of bad games, after playing Super Metroid for the first time, I jumped back into NCAA Football, which despite its many shortcomings has been a game I've really enjoyed. Just like real NCAA Football, if you disregard the old men deciding who is the champion by voting on it and just focus on the action of each game individually, it can be a lot of fun. I really enjoy the all-play controls and the sense of accomplishment when I thrust my remote down and my player lays out the opposing QB. The graphics are just flat-out bad, there are AI issues all over, and there aren't many modes, but I've been really enjoying NCAA on the Wii, despite it not being a great game. It's just fun, and if you go in not looking for realism or depth, you'll find a decent arcade-y football game.

So I should end with the one 'good' game I played yesterday, my first foray into Super Metroid. I'd planned on getting it a long time ago, but then it was released on the VC the same time as Metroid Prime 3, so I put it off again. The demo in SSBB got me interested again as I loved the pixel-work. My first impressions (I got as far as the charge beam) were that I can see why the game is so well loved, but it didn't suck me in like the Prime series (at least 1 & 3 of that series) has. The slighly un-smooth movement of the parallax made me slightly nauseated, and the controls definitely take some getting used to. In the end I feel like it is a game you need to play a lot over a short period of time, which really doesn't reward my random play habits, making me think it will likely take awhile for me to get through it. It certainly didn't suck me in with its magic like Lost Winds did, but over time I expect I'll become more aware of Metroid's goodness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

VC: Streets of Rage & Gunstar Heros

Didn't have much time to play yesterday, and whenever that happens I always end up playing one of the too many to fit on the Wii's small memory VC games that I have. Yesterday it started with Streets of Rage, which always impresses me (apparently not enough to try the sequel) and Gunstar Heroes, which always just floors me.

Gunstar Heros, is without a doubt one of the best side-scrolling shooters ever. Of course it isn't easy, which means I don't get to play with my kids and so I have to miss out one of the best features of the game: Co-Op. IGN talked about Gunstar Heroes being a secret weapon of the Wii when it was first released, and unfortunately, I think people just missed the ship on this one.

If you don't have Gunstar Heroes on your Wii, you absolutely should. The visuals are fantastic, the weapon stacking keeps the game interesting through a million replays, and the levels offer variety and progression that is seldom seen. It's a wonderfully orchestrated game that is one of those hidden gems in the mountains of VC garbage.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First-Impression: Dragon Quest: Swords

Dragon Quest: Swords is a game I was excited about as I still feel like I'm an RPG lover, even if I never have the time to play such long games anymore. On that note, it seemed like it might be a perfect game as it was sure to be shorter than any other RPG game.

The game starts out very slowly, as is common with RPG games, and I found myself wanting to skip all the dialogue, which in the early going is entirely voiced and of decent quality.

I've never played a fighter on rails before, the closest thing I could compare the game to is Ghost Squad or Time Crisis. That comparison is also where my misgivings of the title came into play. The Wiimote is used for swinging your sword. You can swing in many angles or jab the screen. The imprecision in doing so, however, was disappointing. It was pretty common, especially in the early going, to swing and miss the enemy because you swung sideways and you needed to swing down.

I got the feel for it after awhile, but what I didn't get was a strong sensation of satisfaction with my swings. The occasional swing felt 'good' like hitting a homerun ball, but for the most part I didn't feel all that connected.

The other issue I had with the game was the pacing, which I would thus far call dreadfully slow. My least favorite enemy type is the projectile type. You use your shield to block, and being able to move it all around the screen is somewhat cool, but the time it takes to block all the shots fired at you is painful. Most turn-based battle systems would be an upgrade. That same sense of pacing is found throughout the game, where getting to the action seems to require a long walk through tedium.

So far I'm about an hour in and I'm not sure I'll be playing much more. Playing the game does make me want to get my copy of Tales of Symphonia back out, but it didn't really make me itch for the next level of Dragon Quest.