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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Begging for Switch Ports is Stupid

It has come to my attention that some game publishers think we should beg for games to be ported to the Switch. By "some game publishers" I mean Bandai Namco. The very notion that gamers should have to port beg for Switch titles is absurd.

Bandai Namco encouraging gamers to plead to on social media for Project CARS 2 to receive a Switch port is downright laughable, especially after the crap they pulled with the original Project CARS on the Wii U. For those that are unaware, the first Project CARS was going to be on the Wii U and owners of that platform even threw money towards the game to make it happen on Nintendo's previous home console. When all was said and done, Bandai Namco cancelled the game, saying it was too much for the Wii U to handle. Bandai Namco also said that Project CARS 2 would not be on the Switch. This was before the system came out and started making a killing.

Now all of a sudden Bandai Namco wants us to do some free advertising for Project CARS 2. If we bombard the developers of the game, maybe the publisher will consider releasing it for the Switch. No, you are not reading that wrong. The publisher, as in the ones that can easily release the dang game on the Switch, want us, US to hound Slightly Mad Studios for a Switch Port of Project CARS 2. 



This whole situation reminds me of Dragon Ball Fighter Z. I cannot wait to play this game and it can run on the Switch no problem. The only thing stopping it from coming to the Switch is Bandai Namco. If Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does well on the Switch, they might consider bringing DBFZ to Nintendo's console/handheld hybrid. Yes, even after the Switch has sold like crazy, we've still got publishers testing the waters. 

The Wii U could have used a good racing sim, but this this is the Switch we're talking about, a system that mind you, hasn't even finished out it's first year, is hardly starved for games. Between the physical releases and the stuff on the eShop as of this writing, there's a plethora of titles to choose from on the Switch. Switch owners aren't gonna die if Project CARS 2 never sees the light of day on the console.

Bethesda is bringing Wolfenstein and Doom, freaking Doom to the Switch. They see that the Switch is a money maker and they want some of that dough. The best part about those games coming to the Switch, aside from it making other third parties look inept, is that gamers didn't have to beg for them. That Switch money talks and Bethesda clearly likes the language it speaks. I'm not sure what Bandai Namco is on but I'm not begging for a Project CARS 2 port and you shouldn't either. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Zoned


As I was working on one of my Favorite Tunes post, I came across this album. The cover made it look like a soundtrack that came straight out of the 1980s. Naturally, my interest was peaked, so I took a look. Man, am I ever glad I did.

Zoned is a Sonic the Hedgehog based arranged album. If you like funk then you're in for a major treat because this album is heavily rooted in it along with electronica of the '80s variety. As a big lover of that era, I certainly approve of the direction of this album, but then, this is the usual style of Opus Science Collective (OSC), the ones behind this bad boy. This is the first I've heard of these guys and while I'm really late to the party on this one (it was released in December of 2016), I'll be keeping an eye on future projects from them.

The music featured on Zoned covers the Classic era of Sonic games. Of course, Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2 and 3 get love, but I gotta give OSC major credit for paying tribute to Sonic's 8-bit games. Sonic Chaos, and the 8-bit versions of Sonic 1 and 2 get arrangements on this album. Sonic Chaos' Turquoise Hill Zone even leads the charge at being track number 2. Throughout the album are bits from various interviews sprinkled in from the people such as Masato Nakamura. It doesn't interfear with the music as much as you might think and it lends itself well to the type of music.

Zoned is a name your price download so you can throw some money at them or get it for free. If you're unsure about downloading this one, as always you can listen to each track on Bandcamp before going through with a download. This one is worth taking up a tiny portion of space on your computer, though, so just download it already.

Zoned

Friday, October 6, 2017

Re-Releases You Should Play Part 4

Hoo boy, I did not mean for this series to be MIA for over a year, but looking at the date of the last post, and that's exactly what happened. Anyway, welcome (back) to Re-Releases You Should Play. In this fourth installment, we've got Mega Man, an SNK shooter that is not to be missed and freaking robot ninjas!

Aero Fighters 2 (ARC)


The NEO-GEO was a killer home console, powerful enough to deliver arcade perfect versions of coin-op SNK games. Unfortunately, the cost of the system ($650) and the games (usually $200) meant that very few people could actually afford it. Getting your hands on SNK games these days won't break the bank and that's a very good thing because they've made some outstanding titles. While the Samurai Showdowns and Fatal Furys may be the ones that pop into your mind first, Aero Fighters 2 is certainly one to pay attention to.

Known as Sonic Wings 2 in Japan, Aero Fighters 2 is an old-school shoot 'em up that isn't quite bullet hell, but there are times when there are a moderate amount of bullets on the screen to make you sweat. There are a total of 10 stages, more than most shooters (even for 1994), but the levels are pretty short so they never overstay their welcome. While not revolutionary by any means, Aero Fighters 2 gets tons of replay points by offering you a whopping eight playable characters to choose from, each with their own abilities. Robo Keaton is a beast when it comes to rapid firing, Hi-En has an aircraft that comes equipped with guided missiles, Mao-Mao is the speediest of the bunch, you get the idea. The cast of characters is also quite the diverse bunch. We've got ninjas, cyborgs, dolphins and apparently, even babies can pilot a fighter jet. They all have something to say after clearing a stage, giving them a bit of personality.

Aero Fighters 2 is good, retro SHMUP fun that isn't too frustrating. Hamster has brought it to the Arcade Archives line so you can play both the English and Japanese version of the game, Sonic Wings 2. Being an ACA title, you can also adjust the difficult settings, input scan lines and all the perks that come with ACA games. It makes for an excellent Switch title.

Available On: PS4, NS

Undertale (PC)


By now, pretty much everyone on the planet has heard of this game. It is a game that is popular to hate due to the toxic community, but you shouldn't let that deter you from playing it. Undertale is filled with loads of lovable characters, innovative combat and a story that you'll ponder long after you've completed it. You can kill every opponent you encounter or not harm a soul, leading to different endings. The soundtrack is a mix of modern music and chiptunes with a main theme that is arranged so often in different ways that you'll never tire of it. After being on PC for two years, Undertale finally got a console release.

Available On: PS4

Mega Man 9 (Wii, PS4, 360)


When Mega Man 9 was originally announced in 2008, it was no small thing. At this time, there had not been a brand new classic Mega Man adventure since 1997's Mega Man 8. The game was returning to it's 8-bit NES roots, which delighted fans that were turned off by the differences Mega Man 7 and 8's visuals style brought about. Mega Man plays the same as any other Classic title in the main line series. There are 8 Robot Masters to battle, you can go to them in any order you wish and after you emerge victorious, you get their weapon. This game actually has some of the most useful weapons of the entire Classic series. Black Hole sucks up enemies, Tornado Blow elevates Mega Man and blows enemies off screen and Laser Trident is a pretty damaging weapon, even capable of going through the shields of those pesky Sniper Joes.

While Mega Man 9 is pretty awesome for the most part, it isn't without it's faults. Sure, Mega Man games have always been designed to be tough, but this game really lays it on thick, a title too thick. There is an over reliance on spikes for difficulty and by "over reliance," I mean they are everywhere. Some enemies can come out of nowhere, catching you off guard, resulting in some cheap deaths. Mega Man 9 also wears it's love for Mega Man 2 on it's chest. Jingles are ripped straight from Mega Man 2 and the remove of the Slide and Charge Shot was done to make the game more in line with the second entry. This makes Mega Man 9 feel like it's trying to be another Mega Man 2, rather than it's own thing. But even though it might be trying to be another game, Mega Man 9 is still more than worth your time. After nearly a decade, Mega Man 9 was finally given a physical release in the form of the Mega Man Legacy Collection 2.

Available  On: PS4, XBO, PC

The Ninja Warriors (ARC)



The story goes that Mulk is sick and tired of the President's less than idealistic rule of the world. To combat this, he builds two robots, Ninja and Kunoichi and sends them out to eliminate the President. Mulk's approach may seem like overkill but the President is being a real jerk, what with issuing nation wide Martial Law and letting the military run wild. Dude pretty much has that well deserved shanking comin'. Besides, I'm not gonna turn down the chance to play as a pair of badawesome ninjas and robot ninjas, no less!

Other beat 'em ups occasionally let you arm yourself from time to time. In The Ninja Warriors, you always carry a weapon on you, kunai, meaning you always get to cut someone and there are no shortage of fools to slice and dice. For long range attacks, you have a limited amount of ninja stars. Unlike a lot of other games in the genre, you don't have eight way movement. Instead, you can only move left and right. This may seem a bit limiting but you do get some more attack and defense options. You can crouch for low attacks both with the kunai and shuriken. You can also block, a features most beat 'em ups don't even give you and this is essential for certain enemy types.

While pretty much all of the mooks head straight for you, which may lead you to get cozy in your attack style, but after a while, they get a bit smarter and change their approach. More often than not, you'll attack the dogs by crouching. Do this too often and they'll start leading their attacks by jumping. Do standard high attacks too much and soldiers will attack by crouching. Try to block everything they throw at you and the game will start sending out Kite Man wannabes, forcing you to get on the offensive.

The Ninja Warriors can be very repetitive, even by beat 'em up standards, but it is still an aboslute thrill to play. For 1987, the sprites look really dang good and it feels great to dish out cyborg ninja justice on the world's oppressors. There's nothing quite like the feeling of your kunai connecting with an enemy soldier, ending his pitiful existence. Hamster delivers some of the best arcade versions of old games, making the Arcade Archives versions of The Ninja Warriors the best one available. Move over Sega CD version, you've been replaced.

Available On: PS4

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Favorite Tunes #199: Back in Action

Oh, wow. This is number 199 on Favorite Tunes. Next up will be another milestone for this (usually) weekly feature. OK, so FT may not be that huge of a deal, but I love video game music and talking a little bit about some of my favorites each week is always something I enjoy. This week's selection comes from Ristar, Metroid, The Ninja Warriors among other darlings.

Surface of SR388 - Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)


If you're one that isn't buying Samus Returns because you want to stick it to Nintendo for getting AM2R taken down, please, uncross your arms and buy this game. It looks, feels, plays and sounds like a Metroid game. To turn your nose up at this game after clamoring for more Metroid games would be a huge disservice to one of 2017's best titles. On top of arrangements of themes from Super Metroid, what little music there was in Metroid II has been completely redone and it sounds so dang good.

Ending 1: Star Humming - Ristar (GEN)


Among the many characters that SEGA fans would love to see get another game but never will is Ristar. This 1995 gem that was created by Sonic Team is among the best looking and sounding game's on SEGA's 16-bit baby. Among Ristar's composers were Naofumi Hataya a d Masafumi Ogata, of Sonic CD fame. As one might expect, Ristar's soundtrack is funky, catchy and very bouncy as a result.

Main Menu - Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 (DS)


Next year's upcoming Dragon Ball Fighter Z will hardly be Arc Systems first time with Goku and company. While Fighter Z is more geared towards creating a lightning paced three on three fighter, 2005's Supersonic Warriors 2 aimed to replicate the look and feel of fights from DBZ. It succeeded and then some. Fights were fast, you could zip about the stages in free flight and there were tons upon tons of energy based attacks. The music was also pretty sweet. Starting up the game and getting this theme always assaulted my brain's pleasure centers.

Are You Lady? (Stage 2) - The Ninja Warriors (ARC)


The most famous track from The Ninja Warriors is Daddy Mulk, a jam so famous, even those that haven't played the game have probably been exposed to it. Even beyond that super memorable tune, The Ninja Warriors soundtrack is outstanding. I wouldn't expect anything less from ZUNTATA. The Ninja Warriors was recently re-released under the Arcade Archives line on the PS4's PSN store. After you're done listening to this killer beat, go buy it.

Desolate Highway - Mighty No. 9 (PS4, Wii U, XBO, PC)


The release of Mighty No. 9 was... less than spectacular and that's putting it kindly. This game ended up being one of 2016's biggest disappointments with many major gaming websites and YouTube channels ripping it a new one. But for all of the game's faults, Mighty No. 9 has a surprisingly good soundtrack. Even if you have no intention of playing the game, you should at the very least, hear the music.

Nemesis Ridley - Metroid Other M (Wii)


If ever there was a polarizing game in the Metroid series (along with Federation Force) it is unquestionably Other M. This 2010 release was quite different from the Prime games and was more story driven than any other Metroid title. The backlash this game received is so huge than many fans say there hasn't been a good/true Metroid game since 2007's Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. If a die hard Metroid fan like SomeCallMeJohnny didn't write the game off as complete trash, then the game can't be all bad. One of the game's most memorable music pieces is an arrangement of Super Metroid's Big Boss Confrontation theme. Of course it was given to Ridley.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, September 29, 2017

How About We Wait Until the Game Releases Before We Call it Bad?


I'd be lying if I said being able to hear from fans and fellows gamers much easier and more often thanks to YouTube was a bad thing. However, with it now being child's play to get your voice heard, well, there are some drawbacks to this. These days everyone is an armchair analyst and they've been going to town picking apart Sonic Forces, the subject of today's editorial. With each new bit of info that gets drop, more and more videos are hitting YouTube, most of them being negative. The latest cause for Sonic Forces being bad is the plethora of rings strewn about the levels we've seen thus far. 

Sonic Forces is doing what a number of modern platform games are doing these days and eliminating lives, so this  is one purpose they won't serve here. Rings do still function as a hit point, so if you get hit while you have rings on you, you won't die. What is different about losing rings in Sonic Forces, however, is that when you lose your rings, they are gone for good. Get hit and you won't be worrying about the rings you lost, you'll be worrying about finding some new ones. Damage boosting bosses will be a thing of the past, and depending on how challenging the boss fights in Forces are, losing rings could make boss encounters a lot more troublesome. 

Casino Forest, the latest level in Sonic Forces to be
revealed... and the reason for more complaints.

With rings being so plentiful or at least from the levels that we've seen so far, it looks like you won't be sweating bullets too often. Having played Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 on the Game Gear, I can tell you with the utmost assurance that being a one hit point wonder in act 3 of those games really bites. Since lost rings can't be reclaimed anymore, having a huge assortment of them could be Sonic Team's way of negating the new ring loss system. 

Other complaints about Forces center around the level design in that, from what we've seen so far, the levels appear to be very linear. I don't think I will ever understand the obsession the Sonic fanbase has with non linear levels. Levels that are non linear are great and all but just because a level has linear level design, that doesn't automatically make it bad. On the opposite end, a level can have multiple paths and still be designed poorly. Sonic CD is a game that encourages exploration with multiple level paths but a number of that game's zones are so frustrating to go through because the level design is atrocious. Non linear level design is not an automatic win and you can have levels that use linear design and still be good levels.

You may have noticed I've used the words "so far" numerous times throughout this editorial because, well, you know, the game has not come out yet. We have not seen everything Forces has to offer, so it's more than a little eye rolling to see videos hit YouTube saying that Forces will suck, that rings ruin the game, or that it is objectively bad. Not only have we not seen every bit of the game, most people doing the griping haven't even done the most important thing: play the dang game. 

Forces pre-release situation reminds me a lot of Paper Mario: Color Splash, a game that got a ton of hate before it released because it resembled Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a game many consider the ruination of the Paper Mario series. It wasn't just that, though. Color Splash was yet another Paper Mario game that didn't look like The Thousand Year Door, what many consider the best Paper Mario game. Color Splash was not only gut bustingly funny, it was worlds better than Sticker Star. Sadly, some people still haven't played it because they decided to label the game as bad based off of what they saw.

At the end of the day, I can kind of understand why some fans are approaching Sonic Forces with a heavy degree of skepticism. There have been some huge stinkers in Sonic's 3D history and the last 3D Sonic game to be released, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was compared to Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, one of, if not, the worst Sonic game of all time. As I said above, we haven't played the game yet and as I mentioned in a previous editorial, Sonic Forces is being developed by the same team that brought us Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, two of the best Sonic games (that critics and even some fans seem to have forgotten about all of a sudden). So instead of saying "X reason is why Sonic Forces is bad/ruined/awful" how about we wait until the game comes out, play it and then judge? Hoo boy, November 7th needs to hurry up and get here already. Not just because I'm really excited to play this game but because one way or another, all this pre-release criticism will end.

Samus' Triumphant 2D Return


If the general consensus is to be believed, Nintendo won 2017's E3. The Big N's presentation was the shortest of the bunch, showing games that will be released next year as well as this year. They also dropped the tactical nuke that is two, count 'em two Metroid games. Metroid Prime 4 is in development for the Switch and Metroid II: Return of Samus was at long last getting an overhaul in the form of Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS. September 15th has come and gone and I've spent some time with my special edition version of the game (that pixel key chain is so cute and I love the reversarable classic GB Metroid II cover). I hesitate to jump on the "Samus is finally back!" train because I don't think Other M deserves all the vitriol it gets and Federation Force was a harmless spinoff. Now if we're talking 2D or more appropriately, 2.5D, then yes, Samus is definitely back, baby.

One of the best things about a Metroid game is the world around you that you travel. Areas in Samus Returns all sport their own color palette, looking different from one another with detailed background and foreground imagery. Sometimes I can see creatures moving in the background as I'm making rounds and that makes me uneasy as I think they may attack me. Thus far, everything I've seen has been territorial, so I've adopted a "If it moves, kill it" mindset for this game. Thus far, no alien life forms in the background moving about have taken a swipe at me. At least, not yet.

We all know the federation troops that were sent to investigate SR388 are all dead, but the game is none too shy about showing you their corpses as you explore this hostile planet. Seriously, it looks like the locals and Metroids went to town on some of those poor saps. Their dead bodies are some of the first things you see when you arrive on SR388 and it serves as harsh reminder of what can happen to you if aren't on your feet at all times. The regular enemies hit hard, sure, but the Metroids are the true heavy hitters.

If you're unfamiliar with the Metroid series, saw the amiibos and thought Metroids were all cute, jelly, squishy things, well, you're both right and wrong. The jellyfish like appearance is their larva state. The bulk of the Metroids you encounter in Samus Returns are the mutated kind, prime nightmare fuel that look they stepped out of Alien movies. The Metroids are big and take a hit. They can take several of them, actually. Most of the game overs I've gotten have been at the hands of the numerous Metroid types. There are 40 of these freaks and if you wanna beat the game, you gotta kill 'em all. My first few hours, though, they were the ones killing me.

Samus Returns is the most I've died in a Metroid game probably since I first started playing the series in the early 1990s. Yet, despite all my deaths, I never wanted to give up or throw my 3DS in frustration. With every failure, I learned to get better with the free aim, when to counter and just improve overall. Metroid fights are now among some of my favorite parts of Samus Returns. The Metroids change up their attacks with different types and encounters. I found out the hard way that some can electrify entire platforms and some shoot lasers for big damage. When you get the patterns down, though, fighting these guys and ending the battle without damage feels frickin' great.

For all the time I spent playing the original Metroid II, I never did complete that game. I think I got down to 29 or so Metroids before I would always get lost due to so much of the areas looking similar and the lack of a map. Real shame, because as a kid, I loved Metroid II. Samus Returns has areas that all look different with surprisingly lush, detailed backgrounds. Some scenes sport pouring waterfalls, blazing infernos (yes, there are a number of hot spots) and plants that brighten up otherwise drab areas. Sure, Metroid games often have dreary environments but they can still have en interesting look about them and Samus Returns has that in spades. The areas in this game are so teeming with TLC that it was rare for me to realize that I was in a place that was a vastly touched up area from the original Metroid II. Samus Returns truly does feel like a brand new Metroid.

Samus Returns is a wonderful return to 2D form for Metroid (and for those that were soured on the past entries, a return to Metroid in general). Mercury Steam did a bang up job developing this game. I hope we get more 2D Metroid goodness and there should be little doubt towards them for handling future Metroid projects if given the opportunity. If you haven't picked up this game, what are you waiting for? Fulfill your duty and give Samus your support.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Favorite Tunes #198: The End of Summer

The leaves are changing color. Children have gone back to school and the temperature is starting to drop. Summer has ended and we are now officially in the fall season. Summer was a blast for me and while I am gonna miss some of that warmer weather, some of my most anticipated games are releasing in the next few months.

Solitude (Main Menu) - Tekken 7 (PS4, XBO, PC)


Supposedly, Tekken 7 is supposed to end all of the Mishima drama. Kind of a shame, really, but at least we see that Heihachi wasn't quite as bad as we thought. Tekken 7's soundtrack may be pretty loud in a lot of places but there are some good tracks in it. I find myself listening to Solitude, the game's main menu piece for a few minutes before jumping into battles. So peaceful.

The Last Dungeon (Version 2) - Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (PS4, NS, XBO, PC)


You begin your quest in the Dragon's Trap in an area called The Last Dungeon (ironic, no?) with a ton of hearts. By the dungeon's end, your reduced to one heart and you're no longer a member of the dominate species. Once you gain "access" to a few new forms you can return to the now destroyed Last Dungeon. There are some goodies to be found. Also, the music is a bumpin' arrangement of the original tune.

Rock It - Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy (PS4)


When I first played Crash Bandicoot 2 ages ago, I blazed through it, beating the game in two days. I wasn't going for 100% completion, I was just trying to see the ending. Playing the game via the excellent N. Sane Trilogy, I'm amazed I beat the game as fast as I did so many moon ago. Even if you aren't trying to get everything, the game still has some fiendish levels. The controls of the jet pack are also just as terrible in the remake as they were in the original. At least the music in the jet pack stages is really dang good.

Conflict of Dragons - Breath of Fire III (PS)


Released in Japan in 1997, Breath of Fire III made it's stateside debut in the summer of 1998. When so many titles were going the polygonal route, Breath of Fire III stuck to 2D sprites with environments that could be viewed in a 360 angel. The bright, upbeat visuals contrast a story line that can get quite dark. This track plays during one of the most gut punching boss fights.

Mech Monster - Rage Racer (PS)


In the summer of 2001, I spent quite a bit of time with Rage Racer. Between upgrading my numerous cars, time trial and going for golds, I probably spent the most time with Rage Racer than any other game in the Ridge Racer series. I'd love for Bandai Namco to make another entry in the style of Rage Racer. Mech Monster isn't my favorite Rage Racer tune (that honor goes to Industria), but it certainly is fun to rock round the track to.

End Of The Summer - Sonic Runners (Mobile)


I know the blue hedgehog has been featured quite a bit in Favorite Tunes lately, but his music is pretty boss so I don't think people will mind too much. The effort that was put into Sonic Runners music is nothing short of astounding. Tomoya Ohtani, served up a console style Sonic soundtrack for a mobile Sonic game and I cannot thank the man enough for putting so much TLC into it. Sonic Runners is no longer available so do yourself a favor and listen to this soundtrack when you can.

Favorite Tunes Database