Saturday, February 23, 2013

#37: Nolan Ryan's Baseball

Celebrity endorsed!
With a player the calibre of Nolan Ryan on the title screen I had high hopes. This is the third baseball game in 37 total games, which seems like a lot, but it was the first one with an actual player on the front. One of the previous baseball games got a C rating, the other is currently third overall in my rankings. How would this one fare?
Ooh, cutscenes for close plays!
Well, let me put it to you this way... I played three innings and decided to quit. I couldn't bring myself to even finish a single game. You'd think with a pro player in the title that the game would actually play like a pro game. You're playing in a big stadium with a huge crowd. You can play a full season. So why does the game feel like it's being played by players at my baseball skill level?

Other than hitting homeruns, that is.
The players all look like little kids on the field, and they play like them. The computer hit the ball right at my shortstop. He tried to throw the runner out at first base. He threw it in a big arc, and the ball had to bounce before it made it there. The runner was safe by a mile. This is exactly how my last few years of baseball went. I didn't have any arm strength at all and I simply couldn't throw the ball all the way from short to first. It made me a terrible, terrible player and no one should have wanted me on their team. How this pro game can feel like it can get away with having me play third base is mind boggling.

It doesn't stop there. Most hits couldn't make it out of the infield, and only one (the home run above) made it to the wall. As a result hitting was an exercise in frustration. Fortunately the computer seemed mostly incapable of putting the ball over the plate so I scooped up walk after walk by simply refusing to swing. This, again, is how I played baseball as a kid. I'm sure I lead the league in walks the year I kept accurate stats for my own team. I had something like .920 on base percentage. By never swinging. Because I knew I couldn't hit the ball hard enough to get it out of the infield. And when you're 9 years old maybe that makes sense. When you're in a pro baseball game, not so much.

The computer was no better at hitting the ball, or in figuring out when to swing. I found that if I threw a fastball right over the outside corner of the plate he'd never swing but it would be a strike. So if I found the right position each at bat I was guaranteed to get a strike out. This isn't fun. It's incredibly boring.

Fielding also worked counter-intuitively. Normally in a baseball game when the ball is hit towards third base your thirdbaseman would go and get the ball and shortstop would automatically cover third base. You'd be controlling the thirdbaseman. But I'd try to control the thirdbaseman, actually be controlling the shortstop, and run him the wrong way. While the thirdbaseman happily jogged to third and ignored the ball HIT RIGHT AT HIM! GAH!

I almost feel like I should be a little lenient with the rating because it does have a lot of nice league features. You can play a full season, you can trade players around, you can even make your own players. I do like these sorts of things, and normally those would be the features that would push a game over the top for me. But pushing a giant pile of garbage over the top doesn't really help you out. You're still standing behind a giant pile of garbage. I feel bad for the poor people on the other side of the hill... You're just going to be dumping garbage on their heads.

It also doesn't use nearly enough buttons. I could only find a use for A and B, and those uses were reversed from how most games work.

I didn't play this game as a kid, and I am incredibly thankful for that. This game sucks.

Rating: F-

Saturday, February 16, 2013

#36: The Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Spooky font!
Legend of the Mystical Ninja fits a fairly unique niche for me. It's a game I didn't play as a kid, but had played before this little adventure. I don't remember much of the game but I know I played a Japanese rom at some point in University. I didn't understand what was going on. I didn't even make it out of the town and quit, but I did play it at some point! I was actually surprised to see an English version.

One of the things I'm really noticing when playing these SNES games is how little effort goes into the plot for most of these games. Even though this game had a lot of text before I could start playing it didn't actually explain anything. There's a hot girl ghost who lives in a temple and is causing trouble or something. So I guess I need to go find a temple. I start in a town, right outside my house, and am immediately attacked by my fellow townsmen. Sometimes when you kill people they drop a fish, sometimes they drop a cat. Fish hurt you. Cats upgrade your weapon. What? Oh, and sometimes a townswoman would show up instead, but if you tried to hit her with your yo-yo you'd lose $100. I don't understand why the men in this town are trying to kill me but the women are dainty and fragile.

This may be the weirdest continue screen I've ever seen. Where do you want to continue?

I definitely see the ghost part...
The actual dungeon itself turned into a more traditional 2d platformer. With a gimmicky boss fight. It took me a full continue before I figured out how to hurt her, and by then I was too low in life and ended up dying anyway.

I feel like the platforming part was reasonable but unspectacular. I really didn't understand what was going on, though, and that makes me sad and detracted from my desire to start over when I ran out of continues. I probably could have gotten into this game back in the day if I'd rented it, but for now it is nothing special.

Rating: C

Saturday, February 9, 2013

#35: Super Scope 6

AKA: Blastris/LazerBlazer
This is the game that came bundled with the Super Scope accessory. The NES had a pistol add-on, the SNES took it up a step by having a shoulder mounted rocket launcher add-on. Reading about the science behind the Super Scope is interesting. And pretty much all I can do, since I can't possible play the game. The emulator I'm using crashed when I tried to turn on the Super Scope mode. I used to own this game, and actually went looking for it, but the Wiki article makes it clear that even if I had found it I wouldn't be able to play it. The Super Scope requires a CRT television and I don't have one of those.

I do remember playing the game, a lot, as a kid. Even though I wear glasses which made it tricky to use the eyepiece it was a lot of fun. It's called Super Scope 6 because the cartridge had 6 different, though similar, games to play. One of them was whack-a-mole!

I'm actually disappointed that I can't play the game because I remember liking it. But I don't have a CRT tv and have no plans to ever get one. I don't feel like it makes sense to assign a grade to this game if I can't give it a spin, so it gets the first incomplete grade of this little adventure.

Rating: INC

Saturday, February 2, 2013

#34: Wanderers from Ys III

No real title screen for this game, somehow...
Wanderers from Ys is a game name that has stuck with me for 22 years, but I can't remember a single thing about it. I know it was available for rent from Midnight Video and that means I must have rented it at some point but I don't know what it is. Even after playing it a bit today I can't remember having played it before. But that name is pretty sweet, huh? And apparently this is the third one? A brief look at Wikipedia claims the Ys series is actually the second largest jRPG series after Final Fantasy. Huh. I'd have guessed something like Dragon Warrior. Apparently it has two animes and an MMO!

I see you, bug thing!
The game plays out as an action-adventure game where you play a red headed hero who is wandering around aimlessly with his buddy. His buddy gets a scary fortune told which portends disaster in his home town. We have nothing better to do since we're wandering aimlessly anyway so we go back to his home. Where my buddy immediately locks himself in the inn and I'm stuck wandering around town. Turns out some monsters have attacked the quarry and the mayor is trapped. I volunteer to go save him. I start the game with 1000 gold and no gear... Why? I seem to recall Lagoon started the same way and it just seems stupid. I have enough money to afford a full set of gear at the shop. I'm an adventurer! Why am I walking around naked? Heck, in the intro movie my character even kills a wildcat with his sword... Where is that sword?

I didn't end up making it very far. All the early enemies took two hits to kill and I mostly couldn't find a way to hit them without getting hit back. So I took a hit from every ground enemy and some of the flying ones. Then I made it to this guy who seemed to do more damage or something since I died almost immediately. Maybe I needed to grind on bugs at the start of the mine until I leveled up? Go back to town and spend some of the cash on healing potions if they exist?

Combat was pretty uninteresting (I had a jump button and a short ranged attack button that I just held down) but I was willing to give it another try. Except it forced me to start at the beginning, including watching the intro speeches again. And wander through town buying my gear again. And there didn't seem to be a decent way to speed through dialogue. The game didn't interest me enough to do that, so I'm done.

That said, there was a save feature and I probably could have saved before going into the cave. Grinding for experience and cash may be a bit of a foreign concept now but it's certainly the way the RPG world worked back in the day and I could see myself having liked this game enough to keep trying back then. Combat seemed pretty smooth and quick and I probably could have gotten better at it, so this game felt better than Lagoon did.

I wish I knew what/where Ys was. The intro didn't explain that at all. I bet this is another case where the backstory was listed in the manual. Oh well.

Rating: B