Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I Played: Mighty No. 9

Some levels are definitely better than others, but all feel like they're from a Mega Man game.
Mighty No. 9, the much anticipated spiritual sequel to Mega Man games of yore, has had a troubled development to say the least. Numerous delays and unreasonable detractors aside, the game is now out and I've beaten it so how is the game itself?

Well, to start with the obvious, the character models are a bit too static. During the numerous cut scenes of the game, characters who are on screen barely emote and even when speaking their mouths don't move. I know this sounds like a nitpick, but it's really jarring.

Speaking of dialog, the characters don't have much interesting to say; and sometimes their lines don't make much sense considering who is talking. Early on in the game when you first absorb an enemy, the main mechanic in the game, the character who created the main character is astounded that you can absorb enemies. Of course I can, doc, you should know. Little disconnects like this are persistent and frequent. It'd be one thing if there was an option to turn off all the dialog, but there isn't.

Those are the only major complaints I have about the game though. Sure, I have other nitpicks: the choice of 2.5D graphics over 2D sprites leading to ambiguities about the environments, a few poorly placed enemies and platforms throughout the game that lead to frustrating deaths, none of the boss powers are ever that useful to the player, etc. But the core jumping and shooting gameplay is there and when you chain it together with your dashes, it just feels good.

Mighty No. 9 isn't the train wreck or betrayal that some like to pretend, but it certainly isn't the lofty heights of your best memories of growing up with the blue bomber. That said, lots of people complaining about this are remembering a specific Mega Man game and not a lot of the middling entries in the series. This is more Mega Man 8 (or 5 if you prefer) than 2. If you want an okay Mega Man type game with a fun dashing mechanic, you could do a lot worse.

You can find Mighty No. 9 on almost any platform with an MSRP of $29.99

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I Played: Boxboy

This official art explains the mechanics better than I could with words.

Boxboy is a deceptively simple puzzle platformer for the 3DS. You play as a small box with tiny eyes and two small legs who has the ability to create boxes, the same size as himself, which he can toss around as he pleases to make stairs, platforms, or hold down buttons. The game starts off slow and introduces one mechanic per set of 8 levels and though the game is extremely simple at first, by the end you'll be scratching your head figuring out how to clear some of the final puzzles.

If you're looking for a game to fill an occasional five minutes of down time, this is the game for you. With nearly 200 levels, bonus medals, costumes, and a marathon mode, there's a lot of content in this small, adorable and clever package. Boxboy is stacking boxes now on the 3DS eShop for $4.99

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Played: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures

I don't have screenshots from this game,
but it was pretty much like this.
Except we weren't this coordinated.
And we died a lot.
I haven't been able to finish a game since February. Seriously. But this past weekend I put aside time to play through The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures with some friends. We played the whole game from start to finish over two days and it took us a little over 25 hours according to the in-game clock.

It's a unique title in the Zelda franchise because it depends largely on a hardware gimmick. In order to play with four players, you need to have a Gamecube to play the game on, four Gameboy Advance units and four GBA-GCN cables for hooking everything up. If you want to go the extra mile, you can substitute the Gameboy Advance units for four more Gamecubes with Gameboy Player attachments, though each of those will need their own TV, of course. When all was said and done, we had two Gameboy Advance systems and two Gamecubes with Gameboy Players. For what it's worth, the Gameboy Players were way better for our marathon sessions and for coordination between players. Having hidden information on your own screen was rarely better than everyone being able to direct you when you got lost in a cave.

The game itself holds up fairly well, despite its age and hardware gimmick. At its best solving puzzles as a group was a lot of fun in a way that single-player entries can't pull off. On the downside, the Zelda combat system works much better as a 1 on 1 duel, where the player carefully measures his opponent and waits for an opening. In Four Swords Adventures, giant mobs of enemies are often thrown at your group and they just barrel straight towards you for the most part, encouraging button mashing and desperate hope. For my part, the game thoroughly made up for stumbling on combat with two levels that take place entirely inside towns with few if any enemies to fight; they were levels of pure puzzle solving bliss.

If you can surmount the hardware issues, I'd highly recommend grabbing one or more of your friends and playing though this game (though preferably not all in one weekend). You can get a copy of your own on Amazon starting at $32.99 as of this writing.