Monday, November 7, 2011

Playlist #2

Chrono Trigger (SNES):

I made a resolution at year's start to thrust myself headfirst into the world of SNES RPGs, that me and my peers missed out on by virtue of our handicaps, mainly our being European. This idea sort of branched off and forked when I got into the Mother series, as I'd become so enraptured that I went and finished the series, distracted from the original goal. Alas, RPG-less for the first time in a while, I decided to give the much-acclaimed, supposed genre-definer Chrono Trigger a spin.

This was a good choice.

I adore the time-travel element, being a massive Doctor Who nut, and its criss-crossing. The narrative, the characters and their interactions are kind of predictable, not detrimentally so, but the game's draw is within its mechanics anyways, where I found it surprisingly breathy and living, little surprising when taking into account it's a turn-based beasty.

The score is jammed firmly within my cranium, with gems like Gato's Song and Frog's Theme now on constant rotation in the House of Misc., to such an extent, my RPG-loathing, better-half can now heard humming the tunes about the place. The visuals too, they possess this hypnotic, pulply, anime-vibe that is extremely digestable, which is to be expected, considering they were charged by Dragonball's Akira Toriyama.

Fortunately, I came to realize my affection for the game quite swiftly, thus didn't rush it like a mad-thing, similiar to other titles I've burned through this year, and so far, have managed to savour it somewhat (25 hours over the space of about 3-4 weeks). It's been a thrill having it to come home to every night, waiting like a weighty, immersive tome. Sadly, I'm almost at the end and can't procrastinate any longer, time to party like it's 1999.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mother (GBA/NES/FC)

I'm dying to find out who's responsible for this minor masterpiece. Any ideas, World?

Chronologically, this is actually the first game in the trilogy, and the last one I played. It's not all that important (a fanboy just died in indignation) as they're generally unrelated, minus a few character crossover, cheeky winks with one another and the occasional moment being made all the more relevant with a greater series knowledge, but they inform each other in different ways regardless.

This series barely made it to the West, save for its second installment making it as far as the U.S under the name Earthbound (rather confusingly, this was also the tentative title for the original Mother, thus the NES original has gained the moniker Earthbound Zero in fan circles) in the States and generally not going on to do as well as the creators would've hoped. Thus, outside of Japan, the Mother games have been dependent on fan translations as the only way to enjoy'em away from their native tongue. Oddly, the original Mother was slated for a Western release, going as far as to get a full localization, but by the time it was ready, Nintendo felt its window of opportunity had closed as a result of it being a very late NES/Famicom title and their focus on the new SNES/Super Famicom, setting a dubious precedent for the series, as Mother 2 came quite late into the SNES' life, and Mother 3 made the GBA in 2006, just as the DS was truly picking up momentum.  The cartridge of Mother/Earthbound-Zero went unreleased, outside of high-priced auctions of the prototypes.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Just dropping in with a couple of titles that are currently on rotation. By the way, yes, I am aware there are genres beyond the versus fighter. I even play them too, sometimes. Kinda. And yes again, I even enjoy the fighter genre, even if its bosses are shaving years off my life. Such are the follies of having two left thumbs and the reflexes of an alcoholic tortoise.

Power Stone (Dreamcast):

When I got my Dreamcast, a lot of folk pointed towards this game and swore it, in no small part, justified the Dreamcast's continuing legacy as one of the best and rewarding gaming systems in all creation (hmm, the smell of fresh hyperbole in the morning). Needless to add, I felt a bit anticipative as I loaded up the DC's suppossed, if not only, premier 3D Arena brawler. The feeling it left me with was one of someone throwing a ping-pong ball into the Grand Canyon and saying 'fetch'. I'm finding it be a bit of a clusterbomb . While I've been having a fun on multiplayer, this doesn't extend to main quest where the CPU seemingly just wants to draw out my misery before it drops Gunrock and his gut on me from great, and completely unnecessary, heights. A grower, I hope.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Super Mario Sunshine-The Series' Other Bastard Child.

Controversy typified Nintendo's approach during the Gamecube's lifespan. Whatwith Nintendo trying to reposition itself as a viable host for 3rd parties while also trying to shed its more child-friendly image, and then still appealing to said demographic- The Sega Megadrive/Sonic the Hedgehog approach, if not slightly gorier. This approach manifested itself in numerous ways, be it in first party adult orientated titles such as Eternal Darkness, to slicker, almost Sony-esque marketing campaigns, or in today's case, taking old, established favourites such as Donkey Kong, Kirby and in particular, Mario and splicing their formulas to varying degrees, be it a shakeup into more difficult, 'hardcore' oriented games or indeed, a flatout genre transplant, such as Kirby's Air Ride, being a prime, and very expensive, example. Not coincidentally  this leads quite handsomely to the subject of today's post.

Let's see how long this one lasts.

Mario Sunshine debuted in late 2002 in an effort to combat the juggernaut that was Sony's PS2.Interestingly, the first main-series Mario title to not debut with its system. The game takes place on Isle Delfino, where Mario, Toad and the Princess are vacationing only to find that there's a Mario-like creature terrorizing the island with pollution and graffiti, and guess who gets the blame? This calamity involves Mario being partnered with FLUDD,a sidekick come jet/waterpack that acts as friend, dousing-device, rocket and motor, and then promptly charged with cleaning up the chaos caused by Mario's doppleganger. Fundamental gameplay change- Controversial. Well, by Nintendo standards. It's standard Mario-fare otherwise, with tweaks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Street Fighter IV Series

Skip toward 2007, and outside of crossover franchises and anniversary editons, the 2D fighter had become a strictly hobbyist venture. Seen as a genre that had had its glory and at the end of its mass popularity. What changed that? Street Fighter 2, you say? Hold on.....

Yes, it was another installment of Street Fighter 2, this time Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix for the download-only Playstation Network and XBoX Live Arcade. What came was rebalanced touchup, updated mechanics, glossier animation and online play. Surfing on a wave of nostalgia and still relevant gameplay, the release saw a record in download sales, reaching 250,000 altogether. A success, no doubt. To such an extent, it convinced Capcom that there may just be a market for the 2D Fighter afterall...

Debuting in 2009, revised mechanics, bringing it close to being an offspring of SSF2T and SFA games. Not quite as breakneck as the former but not as subdued and defensive as the latter, instead finding its niche somewhere between. Canonically set right after Street Fighter 2 and quite a while before Street Fighter 3, it sports a wealth of familiar faces in its cast, most prominently Street Fighter 2, with the odd sprinkle of fresh blood here and there.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Street Fighter III Series

Having gotten away with and enjoying success with the prequel Alpha series, Capcom were finally tasked with conjuring up with a true sequel . In 1997, exactly that they did, to the extent that it's almost the genesis of a separate brand. Instead of modernizing the SFII engine, Capcom went for something a bit more dedicated and what came from such venture is one of most rewarding, if not slightly esoteric, playing experiences I've ever come across.

Not for the overly nostalgic, Street Fighter III was renowned for its insistence on dumping almost all of the cast from previous games, with only Ryu and Ken being spared the chopping block (and even that was only after extensive market research) in favour of a whole new cast of fighters. (Akuma and Chun-Li would eventually resurface in the 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike revisions, respectively).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Street Fighter Alpha/Zero Series

After the unprecedented game-changer that was Street Fighter 2, demands for a proper, non-revision sequel were coming from all quarters. Capcom decided to go slightly left-field and drawing inspiration from the animated Street Fighter 2 movie, went with a prequel. Tweaking the mechanics to the SFII2's genre-definer, favoring a more defense-based, slower style of play to reflect the hesitancy and inexperience of the returning, yet canonically younger cast. It retains and later builds on the specials system introduced in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, where one has a buildable bar, maxed through successful offense that opens up a super move capable of draining a far greater chunk than would be typical from the lifebar of the opponent.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Street Fighter

Much has been written on Street Fighter 2, its merits and its impact. How its deep gameplay that implores further learning, its unique casts of fighters, it being the salvation of the arcades in the early nineties and its spawning of one of the most enduring, thriving competitive gaming scenes the world has seen. Whatwith it just having seen its 20th birthday, I decided perhaps enough column inches had been written on it and that now would be a good time to take a brief look over a short series at the prequels and sequels of the biggest 2D fighter ever and show what else the franchise has to offer beyond its most famous son.

Street Fighter

It all goes back to 1987 and a novel, if not gimmicky, cabinet debuts in local arcade, sporting two joysticks and two large, pressure-sensitive buttons that dictated the strength of either punches or their kicks. Many of the series' distinctive traits find their origins here; fireballs, whirlwind kicks and jumping uppercuts. As do many of the cast, although the player's limited to only Ryu and Ken ,in one and two player respectively, the opponents host a shower of now familiar faces; Gen, Eagle, Sagat, Adon, Birdie (and perhaps even Balrog/Bison depending on how fervently you buy into fan theory) all get their first showing here. For all its novelty, the game played
awkwardly, with specials' input times so precise, it almost rendered their inclusion redundant and a difficulty curve that'd ensure you'd regret splitting with spare change.

Somehow, somewhere, some higher-up in an office decided that this game deserved a sequel.
Hint: It wasn't Pit Fighter.

Released: 1987

Available on
: Arcade, PC, Commodore 64, TurboGrafx-CD (as 'Fighting Street' due Nintendo's rigid licensing rules at the time), Amiga, Wii Virtual Console, can also be found on the original Xbox, PS2 and PSP via the Capcom Classics Collection Volume 2 and Remixed, respectively.