Tag Archives: 2002

Collecting the Evolution Series

Evolution North American Box Arts

While I wouldn’t consider myself a massive fan of the short-lived Evolution series, I have managed to accumulate a respectable collection of related products, perhaps everything released in North America, as a matter of fact. Continue reading Collecting the Evolution Series

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Kingdom Hearts Final Mix [PlayStation 3] – Review

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix - PlayStation 2 - Japanese Box Art

Up until my recent playthrough of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, I hadn’t touched a game in the series. More than anything, I just never started. The prospect of diving into a notoriously convoluted series of games was honestly daunting, especially considering my desires to experience the whole of a property when I dive in. Well, the hype surrounding the release of Kingdom Hearts III, the long in-development conclusion to the core trilogy, got to me. Continue reading Kingdom Hearts Final Mix [PlayStation 3] – Review

Evolution Worlds [GameCube] – Review

evolution worlds - gamecube - north american box art

My memories of the experience are faint, but I can still recall renting Evolution Worlds from the local Blockbuster in the final months of junior high. Although I spent hours dungeon crawling, I never managed to complete the game. Even after purchasing a copy and replaying it a few years later, I failed to reach the finale. Since these playthroughs, I’ve viewed the game through a nostalgic lens, joyously recalling days gone by, and looking forward to that point in the indeterminate future when I set aside time to play it again. Well, last year was supposed to be the year I replayed it, as I was cherry-picking those games I always wanted to play or return to. I wound up not getting around to it then, but it was top of my list this year. After fifteen years, I’ve finally beaten Evolution Worlds! Continue reading Evolution Worlds [GameCube] – Review

Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest [GameCube] – Review

Cubivore - GameCube - North American Cover

An ecological game with a sense of humor, Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest is endearing in a loveably bizarre way, despite frequent battles against an unanticipated foe: the camera.

Developed by Saru Brunei with assistance from Intelligent Systems, it was originally intended to release on the Nintendo 64DD before winding up on the GameCube. Nintendo published it in Japan in early 2002 but opted to forgo a western release, prompting Atlus to localize it for North America, where it launched on November 5, 2002. Continue reading Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest [GameCube] – Review

Random Game #6 – Super Monkey Ball 2 [GameCube]

Super Monkey Ball 2When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

During the sixth generation of video game consoles, the Sam’s Club in my town gave budget games a good name. Every time my family made a shopping trip there, I tagged along in the hopes of picking up a GameCube game for about $13. One of those games was Super Monkey Ball 2. It’s a weird game from a unique series. Most of the games task players with tilting stages, aiming to navigate monkeys in Wayne Coyne styled hamster balls to an end goal. The game had a fast pace to it, in part because nearly every stage needed to be completed within a minute – a holdover of the series’ arcade origins. I played much of it back in the day, but it grew too difficult for me at the time. Yet another game I need to return to.

Super Monkey Ball 2 was developed by Amusement Vision. It was published by Sega on August 25, 2002 exclusively on the GameCube. Like its predecessor, it was headed up by Toshihiro Nagoshi – a man with an impressive resume at Sega, one that offered him the opportunity of becoming their chief creative officer and a member of the board of directors.

Random Game #2 – Turok: Evolution [GameCube]

Now how could a teenage boy resist that cover?
Now how could a teenage boy resist that cover?

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Turok: Evolution was one of the first games I got hyped for. It was released soon after I started paying attention to video games and to the teenager that I was, it seemed too cool. A first-person shooter set in a dinosaur world? How could I have not been interested? Looking back now, I remember the campaign’s diversity and different environments the most. The multiplayer saw more than its share at my house too, although it played second fiddle to the likes of TimeSplitters 2 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. This was a favorite of mine back then and I have nothing but good memories of it.

Turok: Evolution was developed by Acclaim Studios Austin (formerly known as Iguana Entertainment) and published in North America by Acclaim for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube on August 31, 2002. A PC port was released exclusively in Europe on October 24, 2003. Lastly, a Game Boy Advance version was developed by RFX Interactive and published on August 26, 2002.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem [GameCube] – Review

Eternal Darkness Sanity's RequiemSilicon Knights has come to be known for many things, mostly negative. One of the reasons they became so notorious though, was due to their former success. Without question, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was one of the studio’s highest highs. A survival horror game, published by Nintendo for the GameCube, the game met high praises upon its release in 2002, and is still fondly recalled. I recently played through the game, and while enjoyable, I didn’t become a rabid fan. For all of its uniqueness, the game feels pretty dated twelve years after its release.

Alex discovering the Tome of Eternal Darkness in her grandfather's secret study.
Alex discovering the Tome of Eternal Darkness in her grandfather’s secret study.

The game’s primary protagonist is Alex Roivas. Her grandfather was just murdered and she’s now the last of the family. Edward dealt heavily in the occult and as Alex searches for answers to his murder, she becomes embroiled in a struggle between good and evil that dates back at least two-thousand years. Center to her quest is the Tome of Eternal Darkness. As Alex discovers pages to the Tome, scattered about Edward’s mansion, she is taken back in time and relives the struggles of her ancestors as they work to prevent the revival of evil ancients. This facilitates an interesting storytelling mechanic and a wide cast of characters.

I don’t care who you are, time travel is always interesting. Personally, I think of it in context of futuristic science-fiction, so its usage in the game was something different. Alex’s reading of the Tome was translated into individual sections of the game, where I controlled characters as diverse as a Roman centurion, a Cambodian slave, and a World War I soldier. Those characters, as well as many more filled out the game. The environments were as varied as the characters themselves. This is an astonishing fact as there were only a handful of settings. The locales were revisited through the ages, and while they were mostly identical, they remained fresh by virtue of the aging process and the period pieces I’d obtain and use in them; unlike say, Devil May Cry 4.

Hugs and kisses!
Hugs and kisses!

As the game dealt with many time periods and characters, the items and weapons I’d come across naturally fit the setting. Generally, each character gained access to multiple weapons, with the majority of them being swords. These highlighted the inventive combat system well. I had the ability to target different portions of an enemy’s body – head, torso, or upper appendages. I almost always went for the head as it was the quickest way to deal with an enemy or cope with a crowd, although striking appendages was helpful in many circumstances too. Besides swords, I came across many guns and long range weapons. In my experience with the game, these were useful against only one enemy and one boss. Don’t get me wrong, I could use them on anything, I just didn’t find them effective. Ammunition wasn’t an issue, unlike other survival horror games of this period.

Finishing enemies boosted a character's sanity.
Finishing enemies boosted a character’s sanity.

Another aspect that differentiated this game from its peers was its distinct lack of tank controls. No matter the character, I was able to freely move them about. Coupling this with what I perceive as an enhanced focus on combat because of the targeting system and lack of inventory/ammo management, and this game skews more towards the action spectrum of action-adventure. However, like games of this ilk, there are plenty of items to find and puzzles to solve. Or…, association puzzles, as I’ll call them. These are what I found in the Mansion games and Juggernaut. Through exploration, I’d stumble across something I could interact with, generally nonworking; for instance, a telescope missing a handle. Eventually, I’d find the handle, and putting them together, I’d be able to advance the story.

These types of “puzzles” were never too difficult, although this game stumped me more than once. Or, it stumped my friend and me, as we played cooperatively. Yes, more than once we flat out got stuck and had to source GameFAQs. In these few instances, the solutions were obvious, but for whatever reason, we didn’t crack the game’s logic. An example: playing an archaeologist in Cambodia circa the 1980s, we roamed the entirety of an ancient ruin not knowing what to do. We had examined a handful of spider webs earlier, which spurred the archaeologist to think they might be obscuring something, but we believed that a nonstarter. We thought this because it was clear there was nothing behind them when they were examined. WRONG. In his inventory, he had a brush that we used earlier to clear away dirt. When used on the spider webs, an important item was discovered, allowing us to progress. There were a few other instances of this, and it was extremely demoralizing.

The writing in the game - the story and descriptions - was so good. Very atmospheric and dark.
The writing in the game – the story and descriptions – was so good. Very atmospheric and dark.

My time with Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem started strong. An impressive narrative wrapped around an inventive storytelling mechanic and large cast of characters served well to draw me in. The unique combat system and strong playability were nothing to scoff at, especially considering its peers. However, the weak puzzles and sometimes confusing internal logic required to progress grew tepid. AND, there are sanity effects that I didn’t even mention! Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed by them because I always kept my sanity meter high. By the end of it, I was more jazzed than ever to see how the story culminated, but I was ready to finish playing the game. It’s still a very impressive game. But, it was more impressive twelve years ago, just like Silicon Knights.