Saturday, April 27, 2013

#46: Contra III: The Alien Wars

I don't really have a lot to say about Contra III. I really liked this game as a kid. I really liked playing this game in University. And I really liked playing it again on an emulator. There was a controller quirk which frustrated me, but that's a problem with the emulator or my controller and not the game itself. (The system interprets the right trigger and left trigger on my xBox controller as being the same button. So while I can hit both of them just fine and it can tell the difference I can't hold them both down at once. Which meant I couldn't do the awesome spinny attack. I tried remapping the buttons but I'm too used to using the right bumper as a screenshot key.)

After playing so many games in this little adventure I've started to gain a real appreciation for well built, smooth games. Contra III definitely falls into this category. It's hard, but it's definitely fair. Everything works the way it feels like it should work. And it's fun!

One twist the game has is it puts you into a top-down mode for a couple of the levels. It's like you're playing Super Smash TV, except it's well done. You can rotate the screen, there are little indicators showing where you need to go, and you can still use all the weapons from the normal mode.

Contra III also has excellent multi-player. If you want to do well you need to share the limited power ups. If you're like my brother and I instead you learn where the good power-ups will appear and make sure you get there first. I'll take the spread weapon... You can have crush!

Rating: S-

Saturday, April 20, 2013

#45: WWF Super Wrestlemania

Eat your vitamins, kids!
I have always been a WWF/WWE fan. I rarely find time to watch on tv anymore, and I haven't seen a Pay Per View event in many years, but I still enjoy tuning in from time to time. As a big gamer who likes wrestling you'd expect I'd like this game...
You'd be right! I used to play wrestling games in the arcade, and on the SNES, and a ton of them on the N64. I definitely played a lot of this particular game as a kid. It has a survivor series mode where each team has 4 characters on it, and I definitely had to give that a spin. My team was captained by The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and was rounded out by The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) and The Macho Man Randy Savage. Snap into a Slim Jim! The computer chose Hulk Hogan, Sid Justice, and The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal).

Wrestling games eventually evolved with lots of bells and whistles. Characters would get access to their signature moves. You could get steel chairs from the stands. This game is before those times, but was still very fun. The controls are relatively smooth and make sense. They use 6 buttons, which is great! The characters may not have special moves but they do look the parts at least. The Million Dollar Man and Earthquake were my two favourite wrestlers as a kid, and I hated Hulk Hogan, so it was a good blast of nostalgia to be able to take Hogan down with Earthquake.

I haven't played a new generation wrestling game, and now I'm tempted to try to track an xBox 360 one down...

Rating: A

Saturday, April 13, 2013

#44: SmartBall

Happy Ball!
I'd never heard of SmartBall before today. The word smart at the front makes me thing that maybe this will be a neat puzzle game of some kind. Unfortunately that turned out not to be true. SmartBall would actually seem to be an interesting but confusing platformer.

Wall walk!
I take on the role of Jerry, a cute little ball of goo. He can run, and jump, and contort his body. His down to squash things you're standing on. Hit up to turn into a spike of sorts to impale things above you. If you hold the run button down you can climb up walls, and you can run along ceilings. There are little pipes you can crawl down. There are balls you cal pick up which end up floating inside you as if you were a gelatinous cube. Turns out if you hit the L button you can shoot those balls out. I found this out after failing to find a way to hurt the first boss. The boss would periodically throw out more balls, so I figured there had to be a way to use them. I hit all the buttons again, and L did the trick.

I did a bit of reading afterwards and it turns out there's this big story about how I'm a prince that got turned into a jelly bean thing by someone who was jealous of the princess. This was all in the Japanese version, but Sony cut it all out for the NA release. I guess they figured we couldn't handle a bit of plot to go with our weird platformer. It would also seem that there's some sort of issue with the words Jerry and Jelly. I don't know if it was an intentional play on the Japanese accent or just a brutal mistranslation.

It would also seem a sequel was pretty much completely developed but by that point Sony and Nintendo hated each other so Sony didn't release it. Instead they went and made the PlayStation.

At any rate, the game only used 3 buttons, which makes me a little sad, and it chose to use L instead of a face button for shoot, which made me more sad. The complete removal of any sort of story frustrates me. The character is cute, and the music was enjoyable, but the game seemed to be built around the whole idea of sticking to walls and ceilings and the implementation was a little wonky. In particular, jumping off of them was awkward.

On the plus side, when I went game over it let me start again on the current stage and there didn't seem to be a finite number of continues. That makes me suspect if I'd played this game as a kid I would have played it through to completion.

Rating: B

Saturday, April 6, 2013

#43: Pit-Fighter

I remember renting Pit-Fighter as a kid. Once. I don't have terribly fond memories of the game, but I didn't really remember it as being abysmally terrible. Turns out my memory isn't great.

Alas, poor Buzz.
Pit-Fighter is a 3d ring fighting game. Punch, kick, jump, do some throws. That sort of thing. MMA before there was a real MMA. I know you can punch, kick, and do throws because that's what Exec up there was doing to me. He even got me in a piledriver! For my part I was hitting buttons, which seemed to randomly flail in bad directions, and then getting killed.

What game?
I took a look on the internet to see if I was missing something, but it seems like no. Maybe the game is better with 2 players since then both of you flail around randomly until one of you dies. I'm sure that's how we played when we rented it, so maybe the issue is just the AI is too good. I don't know. Pit-Fighter was apparently ground breaking in that it used footage of actual actors to build the fighters. Also it was an arcade game that got ported around. If there's one thing I'm learning it's that arcade games that get ported to the SNES are _terrible_.

Rating: F-