Posts Tagged ‘Xbox live Arcade

23
Dec
09

Mega Man 9 – The Blue Bomber is in great shape.

I just finished Mega Man 9 on my family’s Wii. I’ve been wanting to play it since it came out a while ago, but I haven’t had access to it until now. Let’s talk about it, shall we ?

If you’re a Mega Man fan… it’s excellent. If you’re not, it could go either way.

Just in case you don’t know, Mega Man 9 is a new game in the series that is built to look and feel like an old game in the series (the 1-6 era specifically). It’s released for digital download on all the current generation consoles.

I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to Mega Man’s story, but right at the start they shake things up a bit by making Doctor Light the bad guy and not Doctor Wiley. I won’t give away where they’re going with this plot, but it was amusing enough and it didn’t dominate the gameplay. I found myself caring about it ever so slightly more than most Mega Man stories. There was also a cute reference to the other games in the series at the very end that got a big stupid grin out of me.

Gameplay though, that’s the shit that matters! Well, it’s a new old Mega Man game. For me, that’s excellent. The only real gameplay complaint I’ve heard from people is that it’s too hard. You know me, I’ll chalk this up to games getting too easy these days and so on, but come on, it’s a Mega Man game! If it wasn’t at least somewhat challenging Capcom wouldn’t have done their job.

I played through a good portion of the game trading off with a friend of mine, who wrote this guest post and one half of this guest post. It may just be fond memories or something on his part, but he found Mega Man 9 to be a huge step up in difficulty compared to previous games in the series. I argued that maybe he just thinks that because we both spent our entire childhoods becoming Aces at the earlier Mega Man games and this one is akin to starting all over again and needing to learn new things.

As it went on though, I think he might have a bit of a point (for once). All the previous Mega Man games had a few really tough parts, whereas Mega Man 9 seems to be set up to be tough throughout. Do I mind this though? Hell no! The game rules.

There is quite a lot of interesting little gameplay ideas in this game, such as section where Mega Man is floating in low gravity and he needs to fire his mega buster to propel himself in the opposite direction. Of course, this is done around instadeath spikes and flying enemies, just for fair measure.

In a bid to keep up with achievement mongers Capcom also threw in a whole bunch of absolutely ridiculous “challenges” that gamers can do to artificially lengthen their replay value. I got a bunch while playing through the first time, not knowing any of the conditions for them. I looked at them afterwards and saw some truly tough ones, such as completing the whole game without taking a hit, or playing through the game once a day for three days like it’s a damn exercise regiment.

My only complaint would be that they took out Mega Man’s slide (which has been a staple since Mega Man 3). I found myself trying to use it constantly and failing because of it. The charging mega buster I can do without, but dude… give us the slide! There was also a complete lack of Protoman in the game and in the story until the very end where he shows up in a cutscene.

Capcom, we love you. Very few other companies would do such a good job with such an endeavor. I notice you almost set the game up for a Mega Man 10 at the end though…

Get on that. ūüôā

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16
Apr
09

A Shocking Guest Post

Just last night, I had the fun of watching my roommate play all the way through Braid in one sitting. I don’t want to really skew or spin his thoughts any, so I got him to write out a guest post for me. The rest of the post is written by my roommate and fellow star of Annex’d¬†:

The newest game on my computer is Sim City 4, a story-less, open-ended sandbox game that rewards my mastery of its brutally unforgiving system by instilling in me the satisfaction of actually creating a (fake) real fucking city.¬† My ‚ÄėMy Games‚Äô folder is similarly and embarrassingly dated:¬† StarCraft, System Shock 2, Alpha Centauri, Half-Life, Star Control 2; tooting my own horn, an assemblage of some pretty literary titles that are both compelling works¬†and¬†satisfying games.¬†

Needless to say I‚Äôm about as distanced from the gaming avant-garde as you can get without being a Baby Boomer, a far cry from my teenage years where I pined for Age of Empires II and a Voodoo graphics card, and feigned sexual attraction to Laura Croft while reading ‚ÄėPC Accelerator‚Äô.¬† I remember the thrill I had playing through¬†Portal¬†two Christmases ago, not only because that damned game was perfect, but because I could now contribute to the discussion around some part of the popular gaming world.¬† I had played a trendy, innovative, concise and well-executed puzzle game. I loved it, and I could now talk about it.¬†

On that note, let me talk about Braid. 

Braid came out about 100 years ago on Xbox Live, which I don’t have, and later on PC, which I couldn’t run anyway.  From my completely apathetic outside position, the rhetoric used to deify Braid is that its forgiving gameplay, serene direction and, um, you bend time cool omg, show that the Gaming Messiah has indeed been born in a manger and not in the royal house of Gaming King Herod.  What I mean to say is this:  from what I can tell, Braid is touted as the game that will breathe artistry and innovation into the medium (medium!) of video games, forever banishing the epic fare of studios from the avant-garde in the same way the Impressionists banished the Romanticists from art which is a valid parallel because now video games are art too and also Braid looks painterly.  That’s right, all in one sentence. 

But allow me to doubt that Braid is, in fact, the son of God.  For one thing, my ideas of what puzzle gameplay could be were not shattered by the experience of solving Braid’s very cool (honestly, very cool) little time puzzles.  On the contrary, solving them felt like playing through some Java puzzle platformer on the internet in 2001; it felt like a couple of cool new ideas that lead straight back to most other puzzle games I’ve ever played.  Kudos to the Braid people, you made some sweet little puzzles.  Nothing more. 

Nothing more.¬† The ‚Äėmore‚Äô of¬†Braid¬†is its inane little meta-story that quite transparently tries to subvert Mario and other platform clich√©s.¬† Gamers, I‚Äôm about to say something important:¬† withholding exposition and having a convoluted narrative that (gasp!) parallels game mechanics does not hide the fact that¬†Braid¬†is a Grimm‚Äôs Fairy Tale re-imagined by¬†M. Night Shyamalan.¬† The art direction is impressive, but visual quality is absolutely to be expected in a world where computers are so powerful games can have whatever visual style they want.¬† And come on.¬†¬†Paper Mario.¬†Mario Party.¬†Mario subverts himself all the damned time. Here‚Äôs your medal.¬†

Braid screams out how smart, trendy and subversive it is being with the fervour of a hipster wearing a vintage tee-shirt.  At best, the story suffers from the same problem as the gameplay in that its couple of cool ideas lead right back to a perfectly familiar experience.  At worst, its smarminess just pissed me off. 

No, the worst thing about Braid was that it did not blow my world to pieces and open my mind, nor did it make me proud that I beat it and found out the ending.  I sit here today, having defeated the Zerg, the Combine, Bowser, the Ur-Quan, yadda yadda yadda, not giving two shits about Tim’s girl troubles, and not caring that I beat a video game.  Gaming world, you are worshiping a false idol.  Braid is beautiful on the surface, and is hollow inside. 

So there you have it. Braid fans, care to respond? If not… just go watch Annex’d ūüôā