Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wii Virtual Console's lack of Rare Games

Has anyone stopped to consider how hard this sucks? I'm going to list all the great Rare games I think of that might be available if not for the little rivalry between Microsoft and Nintendo.

Killer Instinct (Arcade and SNES Versions)
Diddy Kong Racing
Perfect Dark
Goldeneye 64
Banjo Kazooie
Banjo Tooie
That Conker Game

The list may seem brief, but these are some of the most beloved SNES and N64 titles ever produced. Thank the gods we didn't have to include the Donkey Kong Country series in those lists. I wonder how Nintendo was able to get away with releasing those games, but not some of the other titles. Perhaps it's just Donkey Kong's copyrighted namesake? Of course, he is the undisputed property of Nintendo (unlike Banjo and Conker).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Neutopia Rules!

Before I played Neutopia, I'd only played one other game that really reminded me of Zelda. That game, Star Tropics II: Zoda's Revenge, had a elements of Mario, Zelda, and Final Fantasy consolidated together into a formula that was just great. The plot wasn't exactly one you could follow up with another game, but in the back of my mind, I sort of wanted to see another addition to the Star Tropics saga.

That's all pretty irrelevant, but Neutopia also reminds me of Zelda. I totally missed out on the Turbografx-16 as a kid. Clearly, they're trying to emulate the play of the original LoZ. THey do a good job, but I wish they'd opted to make a more free-roaming quest like the original LoZ. You have some degree of freedom and exploration opportunities in Neutopia, but none of that really extends to the dungeon order. There is an order that NPCs insist you follow, but fortunately it seems to be occasionally optional.

I'm about halfway through this great journey now and loving it. Four medallions and I'm waiting for time to find five and six.

I'll end with a final note to Hudson Soft: Neutopia 3. Make it. Just clone Zelda again. It will be awesome.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Black Ops Wii (And What It Probably Won't See)

I'm sure there those (including myself) that have been waiting ever so patiently for Treyarch to release some sort of map pack for Black Ops Wii. But, it's starting to look like it's not gonna happen. Unfortunate, but why? I have a few baseless theories.

System Memory of Doom: Obviously, the Black Ops Wii DLC would be a lot smaller than the ones for other platforms. But how small? Could they get away with making the download smaller than the system's actual system memory? Imagine if someone downloaded the skimmed down map pack into their system. It's going to take up all the space. And when they go to download the original Mario Brothers or whatever, they won't have enough space! And since our sample Wii user isn't bright enough to go out and get an SD card, their Wii is now clogged beyond repair.

System Memory of Doom (Again): So, it takes so much memory for Wii to load Black Ops from the CD. Perhaps the amount of memory and/or processing power it takes to run from an SD card and the CD is more than the Wii can handle. Maybe they tried to skim it down and get it working, but the Wii's limitations just proved too much.

Wii Update: Ever since some wise souls discovered that you could hack the Wii by changing Epona's name from an SD card [in Twilight Princess], Nintendo has been giving it everything they got to keep the Wii as secure as they can. Perhaps there was a security change that proved lethal to Treyarch's would-be designs. That aforementioned bit about SD-card changes is particularly relevant.

Well, the manual only promised downloadable content, which the Wii has received. When you first try to play online, it downloads a "Pay and Play" update. I do hope that, some day, we'll be able to download Five, Ascension, and all those other good zombie maps. But until then, I'll settle for forging crackpot theories on why it isn't happening.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sega Makes the Best Nintendo Games

That's clearly an opinionated statement, but heck... it seems pretty true to me. Fifteen years ago, in the height of SNES v. Genesis mania, no one would have thought that such a strange happening would ever occur. Sonic 2 was just as good as, if not better than, Super Mario World, right? There was no conceivable way that Sega would ever stop making consoles, right? Heh heh heh.

With the lone exception of CoD: Black Ops (which, truth be told, I don't even like that much), the vast majority of Wii games I'm interested in have been developed and/or published by Sega. Sonic 4, the Mario and Sonic Olympic Winter Games, Thor: God of Thunder, the Conduit 2, and a few other titles I've seen on the shelves.

Mario and Sonic is right in the thick of Wii casual game mania, but there's a lot hidden depth in the game. It's even got a Diddy Kong Racing style "Find the hidden coins" quest. While it's certainly not the greatest Sega title ever produced (and not really worthy of a comparison to the aformentioned Rare classic), it is pretty damn good.

Sega seems to understand that a sizable portion of Wii owners want to play non-party games (I'd assume any way). I'll be keeping an eye on what few games they release for Wii as the system's life comes to a close. Also, I'm pretty sad about Sonic Generations not getting a Wii release. Like a Sonic game even needs to be in HD. :P

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Zelda II Versus Faxanadu

Alright. I finished up Faxanadu. I'd played it a little on the original nes (back when I used to have a nes game collection the size of most closets), but I hadn't really thought about playing it the whole way through until I came to appreciate the gameplay of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. In fact, I downloaded Faxanadu onto my Wii purely for playing a game like Zelda II. I was not disappointed. The gameplay in these two sidescrolling action rpgs are pretty similar. There are a lot of similarities, but there are also a lot of differences. Due to those, I thought I'd compare the games here and try to decide which one I like better.

The Story: In some alternate universe, Faxanadu is part of the Zelda canon. Had it taken place in some realm outside of a tree, you could almost mistake it for a Zelda game. It's very much the same as the more beloved titles in Zelda. The elven hero runs from town to town, finding problems and helping resolve them. He battles forces of darkness, and everyone is counting on him. In the end, he vanquishes the evil one, and his world can begin to rebuild. And just like in Ocarina of Time, our hero leaves his home world after the journey is over.

Amazingly, however, Zelda II isn't one of those common, almost recycled, Zelda plots. It's the only Zelda game that takes place in a world where Ganon recently died. Rather, this time, the Triforce storyline really begins to develop, and Link goes on his quest to find the lost Triforce of Courage. He needs to awaken a sleeping princess of astounding beauty. And in the end, his greatest enemy is himself. Although it's just making parallels with Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty, the whole thing comes together as rather "deep". Link has to battle his physically defeat his dark side in order to touch the all powerful Triforce.

I'm obviously partial to Zelda stories, but I think that AoL story wins by a hair. Faxanadu gets lots of points for the unique idea of being inside a tree, but nah, I still like AoL's story more.

Graphics: There is no comparison. Faxanadu wins here. Zelda II's graphics are pretty terrible, in my opinion, even by nes standards. Faxanadu, on the other hand, has some of the best graphics I've ever seen on the nes. Granted, now, the mist areas of Faxanadu suffered from gridlike pixellation, but that's just one area. By far and large, Faxanadu presents beautiful buildings, detailed character closeups, and pretty well drawn enemies (even though most of the enemies look a little meh).

Sound: It's close. There are some good tracks in Faxanadu (Fortress theme, Last Level theme, Mist Area theme), but some are pretty annoying to the ears (game over theme). The same could be said of Zelda II (overworld theme). I haven't listened to them side by side, but there are songs within Zelda II that would be almost radio worthy. (dungeon theme, great palace theme). I'll call it a tie to avoid Zelda bias.

Overall Gameplay: The graphics of Faxanadu make the realm more interesting to walk around. Everything from the towns to the font is nicer. Again, Zelda II looks pretty bland in comparison. The secrets in Faxanadu are also more of a challenge to find.

Just like the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II has some BS in it that makes no sense. As candles burned trees in LoZ, so too do hammers chop down trees in AoL. Fortunately, Faxanadu features no such secret, nonsensical, confounding mechanic.

Faxanadu has an astonishing series of towns. The pricing schemes actually make the player have to do some shopping around. There are little untold stories given via character placement (e.g. The absent nurse at the hospital went to a neighboring town to buy food at the food shop.) Zelda II, while it has very similar towns to those within Faxanadu, seems to have used them far less artfully.

You have a lot more control over Link than you do Faxanadu's Hero. His sword skills make your job much easier. Faxanadu's on the other hand, seems rather crippled in comparison. Ganon could send his AoL minions into the world tree and conquer the place in a day. Why? Because No one can crouch to stab the darknuts! I suppose they omitted a crouching stab to try and get you to use the magic system more (which is a very good system), but it often makes things needlessly difficult. A little spiked crawly thing shouldn't be able to sneak up and kill you because your character can't reach down with a sword!

The boss fights in Zelda II are among the most exhilarating in the series. Dark Link makes his first appearance, as does the Ball and Chain warrior that later appeared in Twilight Princess. Thunderbird is a formidable opponent if one ever existed. Even the easier bosses in Zelda II such as Barba (aka Volvagia) and Helmethead have a gimmick that makes the fight enjoyable. Faxanadu, however, uses the same tactics to fight bosses over and over again. There are so moments with Castlevania style platforming, but for the most part, it's either walk forward and stab or jump up and stab. Even the final boss of Faxanadu can be defeated by standing in place, jumping up, spamming B, and using potions as necessary.

So, in the end, I guess I'm far more likely to play Zelda II because I think it's just a better video game in terms of controls. But Faxanadu is a beautiful journey, has good projectiles, and is definitely worthy of at least one or two plays.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

An Open Letter to Konami

Dearest Konami,

Great bringers of Gradius and Castlevania, some time ago one of your games promised a sequel. That game, Axelay, was fantastic in every way, but alas, you seem to have forgotten to actually make the sequel. No worries. I do similar things all the time. Why just the other day I promised to give a debtor ten dollars and then ten more dollars, but I never got around to giving the second ten dollars. But I digress: Just know that we understand how something so important could slip your minds.

I see that you've got all those ReBirth games on the Wii Shop Channel. How is it that you can make a Gradius game and forget about ole beloved Axelay? With all due respect, Axelay kicked Gradius 3's ass, good Konami.

Speaking of the Wii Shop Channel's ReBirth games, that would be a fine style (and venue) for Axelay 2. You could even go as far to release it in the Xbox Live Arcade and whatever Sony's equivalent is. I think I speak for all Axelay fans when I say that the ReBirth games exemplify what we want out of Axelay 2! The same game.. again.. but with new enemies, weapons, and bosses!

I trust that this notification has brought you joy. Don't mention it.


P.S. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth was amazing. Loved it!