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.
Yes, I made a Prince meet Trigger reference. Bow, mere mortals.
Point Blank (DS):
I took a fit of nostalgia and hankered for a bit of old-school arcade-shooty, high-score mini-game brillance (technical term, I believe). I resolved to escaping to the nearest arcade possessing it, only to find the cab in a wreck, with a borked sensor and boatloads of lag when a hit did register. Shameful stuff, people. I couldn't get the home version, as my television is of the LCD variety, thus rendering the PSone ports null and void. Seemingly, a nostalgia craving would go unsatisfied.
Then, one morning, whilst reading the Wikipedia article on the series, I found that there'd been a DS remake/mash-up of the original trilogy. Dr.Dan and Dr.Don live! (well, if you want/you're skilled enough). What followed was surprisingly faithful to its pink & blue gunned older sibling, to such an extent there's now three very noticeable scratches on the face of my DS' touchscreen. Namco expertly transfering the skills of click, click, click, to tap, tap, tap, with thimble full of skill at the higher levels of play.
It gets addictive, fast. It's stocked with sizeable add-ons too, like brain-training, a parody of the Dr.Kawashima fad, digitial renditions of old fair attractions such as Crabs, Gators and Namco's Clay-Hunting, coupled with the original arcade-mode and individual score-attacks modes for each level. I've not put it down for some time.
One complaint I'd levy against it though, is that in the Arcade Mode, beyond a certain point, getting a high-score is based on sheer chance, as the mid-game mini-game of shooting a floating chest for a random, concealed bonus can be the difference between a high-score and an unranked one, regardless of the outcome of the main Arcade score.
King of Fighter XI (PS2):
It really wouldn't be a post of mine if there wasn't some SNK fighter causing my blood to evaporate. KoF XI is the latter half of the 2003/XI couplet, and the 2nd chapter in the Ash Crimson trilogy. Which introduced tag-team play, over KoF's usual queued team order. This renders it something closer to a balanced, grounded, less-OTT version of Capcom's versus series. The speed is mighty, which is a welcome break from the usual paced and methodical nature of KoFs of yore, that's not to say it loses its calculating qualities, just that SNK went and smoked a rock of crack and this is what came out of it. Good times, people, good times.
There's a whole lot of character changes and mechanical tweaks too, majority of which will be lost on anyone coming into the series for the first time. Really, I use Kyo, Iori and Terry, sometimes Ryo. All I've needed, ever.
Of course, the big, bad boss of the Arcade Mode, Magaki, is so broken, even SNK has gone on to note that he's overpowered. Needless to add, if an SNK boss is exceptionally difficult relative to SNK standards, you're sure to be firmly in 'Kill yourself, it's less hassle' territory. Observe below, in all its blood-curdling, teeth-gnashing, thigh-stabbing glory:
one of the more successful attempts you'll see