Saturday, February 22, 2014

#89: Blazeon: The Bio-Cyborg Challenge

blaZeon is a game I'd never heard of, but from the name it sounded like it was probably a racing game of some kind. Turns out it's a side scrolling shooter ported to the SNES from the arcade. That hasn't gone very well thus far in this adventure...

This game has a twist on the standard kill things to get power ups to become viable and then die once and get screwed thing. There are no standard power ups at all. Instead every now and then a gigantic mech will come out and attack you. You have a stun pod you can launch at it which turns it blue. Then if you fly into it you become the giant mech! Interestingly if you do any damage to the mech before you stun it your captured mech keeps that damage so you need to just stun it, never hurt it.
What? I don't even...
I got to the boss of the first level, lost my mech, and then had to try to win the fight with my remaining 2 lives and basic ship. I failed. I tried again. I failed.

The problem is this game was originally an arcade game. It wasn't built to be fair, or beatable. It was built to convince you to pump quarters into it. I'm generally pretty good at 'bullet hell' but this boss was something else. I really think he was just designed to kill you over and over. Want to get back to being awesome in a mech? Pay more money.

Man... Were original arcade games pay to win?

Rating: D

Saturday, February 15, 2014

#88: Battle Clash

Battle Clash is a game that requires the use of a Super Scope. My emulator crashes when I try to set it to Super Scope mode, and I wasn't able to find my own Super Scope from 22 years ago, and even if I did I don't have a CRT TV, and even if I did I don't have a copy of this game...

All of which is to say... I can't play this game. I never played this game as a kid, so I really don't have a whole lot to say. But it's a game in the SNES library, so it deserves a post.

Jabba the Hutt!
I did some reading on Wikipedia and apparently this game came out in the US before it did in Japan which is an interesting twist on the way games normally went. The Japanese release had a much better name: Super Bazooka!

The game itself is a mech combat game. You're in a team of two. The AI controls your mech movement and you control the mech guns with your Super Scope. You need to optimally decide between using rapid fire attacks or charging up your next shot, and you need to choose if you want to damage the enemy or shoot down their incoming attacks.

It actually sounded like it could have been fun.

Rating: INC

Saturday, February 8, 2014

#87: Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White

I always liked watching Wheel of Fortune when I was a kid because it made me feel really smart. Of course it turns out the show was set up that way so being better at Wheel than the people on the show didn't actually mean I was very smart at all. If the producers actually thought you were reasonably smart and had a sufficient personality for TV they put you on Jeopardy instead.

My avatar is _really_ excited about spinning something that wasn't bankrupt. I like how they actually got the right look onto Kim beside me. She's clapping because they told her she had to but she's really not very happy. She wants me to spin bankrupt.
What's in the box? IT COULD BE A BOAT!
This game actually did a pretty fair representation of Wheel of Fortune, complete with all the banal wastes of time. When the AI was taking their turn they'd sit there with the 'spin power' meter moving just like how people on the show would get a big wind up. Then I'd get to watch the wheel spin around and around and around. Slowly move to pick a letter... Then watch Vanna slowly sashay across the stage turning letters. There was no way to speed things up.

This game definitely featured Vanna White as she took over Pat Sajak's role of asking people for letters. They actually used speech to do it, which was a nice touch.

I had to reset at the start because the game made player selection options in a weird order. It asked me how many players, and then how many computer players. I picked 1 of each and it turns out that meant the game was played with just 1 person, controlled by the AI. I didn't get to play at all. Though in retrospect maybe that's a good feature. You could get the real TV show experience by setting up 3 AIs against each other and then shout at the screen and be better than them!

I feel like this game was too slow to be fun and way too easy to be challenging. But it really is what it says it is. This is Wheel of Fortune featuring Vanna White. There's no bait and switch going on. They even had a picture of her with an autograph and everything on one of the title screens.

They even had a really bad midi version of the theme song. If I didn't know how awesome a game like Final Fantasy VI could sound I'd think that was the fault of the SNES. No, I'm pretty sure Gametek's sound engineers just weren't very good.

Rating: C+

Saturday, February 1, 2014

#86: Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart and then its sequel Mario Kart 64 were played a _LOT_ in the Page household when I was a teenager. Racing alone. Racing against each other. BATTLE MODE! This game was everything one could want in a non-realistic racing game. I know there are people who like hyper realistic stuff like Gran Turismo but just driving a car never excited me. Drive a car, as a princess, while wielding turtle shells and lightning bolts? Sign me up!
Rust? What's that?
Shortly after the game came out Nintendo of Canada put on a competition of sorts where they drove to malls and had people play a time trial mode of Bowser Castle 3 trying to set the top time. I won one of the days at the Riverview Mall. I have the t-shirt to prove it! Apparently the 'Atlantic Super Mario Kart Challenge' was put on by the IWK Children's Hospital, the Janeway Children's Hospital Foundation, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System if the logos on the front of the shirt are any indication. There were some other things in the prize package like tickets to a WWF show. I went with my mother and she was impressed by the size of Yokozuna's butt. I remember being really bitter that Papa Shango came to the ring spewing smoke/incense because the Moncton Colisseum was a no-smoking arena and he was breaking the rules and that's just wrong.
Ok, that's what rust is...
I looked the game up on Wikipedia and the claim is that this game was ground breaking and created the whole cart racing genre. It also created the whole concept of having Mario star in games completely unrelated to platforming. And it's not hard to see why... Even 22 years later it was still a fun game. Guinness even listed it as their top console game of all time. But then they also had FFXII at #8 and FFVII at #20 so I don't know what they're really talking about. Although... I can't really think of any flaws in this game, especially since it really did create a new genre. I don't think it's the best ever, but it definitely deserves a really good rating.

Rating: S