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shadowman

Member Since 25 Feb 2009
Offline Last Active Nov 23 2017 02:19 AM
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Topics I've Started

Cuphead

01 October 2017 - 02:22 PM

Its finally here, after being announced what feels like a lifetime ago this ambitious looking 2D boss rush game is finally out. And it doesn't disappoint.

 

So just to be clear - the game is mostly made up of bosses. There are some more traditional run n gun levels, but these are few and far between. With only 7 in the game, compared to the 20 odd boss fights. 

 

The run n gun stages in the game though are all very unique and creative. They aren't rushed or phoned in for the sake of more content - all these levels have exclusive enemies and obstacles that really help make them feel fresh. And they continue to get better as you progress, the first two feel very safe, while the levels included in Isle's II and III are far more creative and really fun.

 

Now the bosses themselves... I love boss battles in games, one of the two main reasons I like Mega Man so much is the boss battles so I had high hopes for these (since they are the focus of the game).

 

And they are really brilliant. Each Isle has several bosses you'll need to clear in order to progress to the next area. Each of the bosses (from killer vegetables, boxing frogs, queen bees, an angry Zeppelin, an even angrier dragon etc.). Each boss has several phases to deal with, each of them proving to be pretty tough at first. You'll need to learn all the attack patterns if you want to survive each encounter - thankfully its fairly easy to see each attack coming, since all the bosses are animated so well so as long as your paying attention you should be fine! The boss patterns and phases are all really well thought out with some genuine laugh out loud moments at points. i've found myself lose a life or two simply down to admiring the wonderful transformations and animations on display, plus some of these boss ideas are things I've never really seen in games before - for example an early boss against two boxing frogs takes a turn for the weird when they transform into a giant slot machine. The entire boss fight feels like a mash up of several Mega Man moments (which really just makes it more awesome!) And later bosses get even more creative. I don't want to go into too much detail as it'd spoil the surprise, but trust me they are done well.

 

The animation in the game is simply second to none. Its all hand drawn, which for any 2D game these days is a rarity, but its even more impressive when you look at the quality of animation on display here. Its pretty much the most impressive looking/animated 2D game I've ever seen. Each boss is completely unique and has between 3-4 unique phases, complete with tons of different attacks. So that's a ton of animation on display! And the music doesn't let it down either - the soundtrack is composed in a way to complement the 1930's style of animation. Its top quality stuff, its a soundtrack I can easily see me listening to many times over.

 

In terms of difficulty - yeah, it is difficult. I'm getting through things fairly ok, managing to get A ranks as I go for each boss, but that's probably partly because I love these kinds of games, and because I've replayed each boss several times over already. There is a "simple" difficulty that reduces boss health and the number of phases the boss gets, but also prevents you from accessing the final area of the game. Even so, I can't recommend the game enough. Its a beautifully created 2D action game with some of the best bosses in the genre (or any genre for that matter). The difficulty level might put some people off but I'm pleased that they didn't make this easy, makes victory feel all the sweeter. I'll definitely be doing a second run on the harder difficulty once I've gotten all the A ranks in the normal difficulty.


Metroid Samus Returns

19 September 2017 - 09:57 PM

Its been a while since I've played any Metroid games... I think the last one I touched was the original NES Metroid while working through my retro backlog a few years back. But I have cleared Metroid 2 back in the day so I was interested to see what Mercury Steam's updated take on the Gameboy title would be like.

 

And from the first couple of hours of playtime, I'm very impressed. While this is a remake of Metroid 2 it seems as though they've changed up a few things here and there - the combat itself has been overhauled to give Samus access to a melee counter attack. Its really easy to do with super lenient timing and is the best way (especially until you get the wave beam) to quickly dispatch enemies. And all enemies/bosses so far have super obvious tell tale signs so its really easy to know when you need to counter them. However the game isn't exactly a pushover, as damage output from even early enemies is really high, so you can only take a couple of hits before you'd be in trouble! 

 

So the main aim of the game is to destroy all the Metroids on the planet. As with the GB original for every few you take down, additional areas become available so you can travel deeper into the planet, reaching more dangerous enemies, bosses and more useful weapons/powerups. Mercury Steam have given you a power up where you can do a scan of the surrounding few rooms to your location. This uncovers blocks that can be destroyed, hidden items and doors. I personally love this, the original Metroid especially was insanely ridiculous in terms of hidden/false floors so being able to know where items/hidden areas are is a huge benefit, it eliminates trial and error and some backtracking. Of course if you don't like the sound of this you can just not use this power up and play the game old school

 

I guess my only criticism is the fact that the game is on the 3DS. I don't particularly like the system, much prefer my Vita and Switch. The game looks... well like a 3DS game. Low polygon graphics instead of gorgeous 2D pixel art, and the game is 30FPS - the frame rate isn't a deal breaker for me, its still plenty smooth enough but I do imagine how much better it'd look/run on the Switch... if this gets a port in the future to Nintendo's new hardware I'd definitely double dip.

 

Its the best Metroid game released in quite some time, and a great remake as well. Its supposed to have new content as well past the previous final boss, but I'm nowhere near that point yet!


Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

09 August 2017 - 07:45 PM

Another day, another Capcom remaster/port/collection is released on current gen consoles, only this one is something I've been looking forward to for a while...

 

The first Legacy Collection gathered the first 6 Mega Man games (the NES games) and especially when patched it was a darn decent collection. They looked good, didn't seem to have any lag in controls and had an awesome fun new challenge mode which kept me glued to the games for a long while.

 

The second Legacy Collection gathers Mega Man 7, 8, 9 and 10. A motley crew of releases that span the Snes (MM7), Playstation (MM8) and Wii/PS3/X360 (MM9&10). My number one concern was emulation/port quality especially for 7 and 8 and thankfully these worries were unfounded. This collection seems to be of fairly high quality. Games have 3 screen modes - original/full/stretch. Original I guess is pixel perfect versions of the games, but it only takes up a fraction of my TV screen... full has the games run in a 4;3 looking ratio, which is just what I was looking for - graphics look fine and not stretched at all. And stretch I assume gives you a full 16:9 image but the graphics will be stretched. No thanks!

Also included is a "TV Filter" which basically gives you a CRT/Scanlines filter and it looks excellent. Its a fairly subtle effect that makes the graphics look perfect in my opinion.

 

The graphics and lack of lag in controls are especially pleasant in 9 and 10. Back on their original releases the games on PS3/360 had this awful blur filter and notable control lag. The fact that this collection has neither of those issues automatically makes this a way better version (worth noting the Wii did not suffer these issues, especially if you played them on a CRT with RGB cables, they looked perfect).

 

So the games themselves...

 

MM7:

This one I'm starting to appreciate more. Its the only mainline numbered release for the Snes. Graphically it has some really nice, large sprites but the flow of the game feels slower than the NES games. Enemies also feel stronger compared to NES games which I guess also makes it feel slightly slower. Music is a mixed bag, with some tracks being fairly awful, while some (Shade Man, Bass, wily Fortresses) are among the best in the entire series. Speaking of Bass, this introduces your rival character, who is host to some pretty awesome boss fights. The game itself also has tons of secrets - weapons can be used in stages to activate hidden areas (of which there are quite a few, including a pretty awesome secret boss fight). Unfortunately, for whatever reason Rockman & Forte was not included in this collection, that game was basically Mega Man 8.5 and was released late in the day for the Snes (1998) and used sprites from MM8 and was pretty darn hard! 

 

MM8:

The only main numbered classic game for the Playstation, and its the one I have the most mixed feeling about. Like 7 it feels slower compared to the other classic games, its levels are very hit and miss for me (too many gimmicks and stuff that isn't platforming, you have a shoot em up section, mazes and slightly more puzzle based levels, just stuff I don't really like in Mega Man games).

The graphics are really nice though, music is ace for the most part and the boss battles are among the series best.

 

Unfortunately its based on the Playstation version and not the Saturn (probably because its easier to emulate) so no Cut Man/Wood Man fights for this collection :( Also it doesn't feature the extra graphical touches that the Saturn port had. But it does let you change the region to use Japanese voices which is an enormous plus! 

 

MM9:

I loved this game on release. It goes back to MM2 design - so no slide, charge shot. It also reverts back to the NES look which means it looks and plays like a NES game - namely much, much faster than 7 and 8 and boy does it feel good. Bosses are all excellent, soundtrack is excellent, level design is excellent (seeing a trend?) and the way the game is done is that you never feel as if you miss the slide move. Its pretty much the best game in the series, it was a surprisingly good move on Capcoms part to go back to what made the classic series great.

 

MM10:

Much like 9, it follows the same template and basically looks like an NES game. Only this one is more detailed compared to 9 (in terms of backgrounds, music and even boss fights). It doesn't feel quite as awesome, maybe because it doesn't have the novelty of it being the first MM game released in quite a while but its a solid entry and definitely one of my favourites. They also added difficulty options (easy mode that redesigns levels in a genuine attempt to make things more accessible) and playable Proto Man right from the get go (he's DLC in 9). There is also a pretty cool challenge mode and other DLC (more on that in a mo).

 

 

Challenge mode:

It follows the same idea as the first collection - run through parts of stages while trying to beat target times. The only difference being the challenges separate each game out, and the portions of stages are longer. It just feels less fun than the first game, especially as between the four games they should have had enough decent content to chop together quite a few challenges. Most of the challenges in this are just (mini) boss fights and it seems much easier. Still fun, but just not as good as I was hoping. 

 

So the other great thing about this collection is that it includes the DLC from 9 and 10. 9 had Proto Man as a playable character, Hard and Super Hard modes, a brand new stage and boss fight and "endless" mode. 10 ups things and gives you Bass as a playable character, 3 brand new stages based on the Gameboy games where you fight against Punk, Quint and Enker (the special GB bosses) and endless mode makes a return.

Hard and Super hard modes in 9 are ok, it only ups the difficulties of the stages and not the bosses, so its a bit uneven difficulty wise.

Endless mode is a fantastic, addictive mode where you have to survive as many screens as possible. And Proto Man is a well designed character that has you playing the game in a different way to account for his strengths and weaknesses. The only issue with the new stage is its length - its really, really long and it kinda gets a bit boring after a while to be honest. Excellent boss fight though.

 

10's DLC is better in that Bass is a great character (has everything bar his double jump far as I can tell), Endless mode retains the same idea, and is just as fun as ever and the DLC levels are really well done, with some excellent bosses. The stages have music and stage design that is close to the GB games but takes liberties here and there.

 

 

So really the only issues with the collection are the menus. They don't look that nice and some of the challenges are hidden away in sub menus. That and the challenge mode not being as good as the firs collections. But those are really my only complaints (bar the missing Saturn content for 8 and ). Also good news is that the game is getting a physical release, so I can finally have physical versions of 9 and 10 in my collection. 

 

Some vids:

MM9 Concrete Man:

 

MM7 Challenge mode:

 

MM8 Challenge mode;

 


DJ Max Respect

07 August 2017 - 08:54 AM

I first got into the DJ Max series thanks to the Vita, so this is really my first "classic" DJ Max game I've played, so its great news that its basically a "best of" package from the earlier PSP games... 

 

Its pretty straight forward in terms of modes - arcade mode which is your standard "pick 3 tracks to complete", free play mode which lets you play any unlocked music on any difficulty, mission mode which pits you against tough challenges (clear X songs while only missing 10 notes, get a certain % completion score etc.) and an online mode which I believe has you face off against other players in a score attack style mode. I've not tried that last one yet though.

 

In fact, I've barely scratched the surface of the game. For starters, there is a lot of stuff to unlock. I've just about hit level 30 and I'm still getting pop ups after songs that tell me I've unlocked new songs/gallery items/videos etc. There's around 140 base songs in the game comprised of DJ Max Portable 1, 2 (PSP games) with around 40 of the tracks being all new to the series.

 

 

And the difficulty options... You can select from 4B, 5B, 6B and 8B - basically choosing the number of buttons you'll be using in the game. 4 button mode is "easy" mode, you only need to focus on left and up on the D Pad, and triangle and circle face buttons. 5B introduces right on the dpad and square face button that are used to hit the same note, with 8B introducing shoulder buttons into the mix. I've only dabbled with 4B and 5B so far, can't imagine how hard things will be on anything else! In addition to these modes you have normal and hard modes for songs and some even have an even harder mode if you hate yourself that much! So yeah, good luck finishing all the songs in a timely manor!

 

And that's it really, I've mainly been trying to get my timing down (S ranks are pretty tough to get at the moment, I've got a handful and can feel myself getting much better, but I can't imagine I'll get many outside of easier 4B songs). DLC is coming to add further games tracks (like Technika Tune) to this game, which I absolutely can't wait for. Oh, and the trophies are incredibly hard - good luck getting combo trophy for this one, you'll need to get a free play combo of 999,999 (not a typo!)