Follow the video game industry closely enough and you’ll hear a common refrain. Something to the effect that it’s a miracle any video game gets made, regardless of quality. Ensuing explanations cite a myriad of ways that development could have, and may well have, gone off the rails. Bearing this in mind, it’s astounding that Axiom Verge is the product of a sole individual: Tom Happ of Las Vegas. Never mind the fact that it’s a nigh-perfect action-adventure experience, paying homage to Metroid and many other classic influences while introducing mechanics that differentiate itself. Originally released March 31, 2015 for the PlayStation 4, it has since been ported to numerous platforms, including the Switch, where I played it last week. Continue reading Axiom Verge [Switch] – Review→
Gunman Clive has been installed on my 3DS since acquiring it in the first Nintendo Humble Bundle back in May 2015. It released on the eShop in December 2012 and I remember thinking it looked promising then, especially for the couple of dollars Hörberg Productions was asking for it. Nonetheless, I skipped over it every time I turned on my 3DS until yesterday. Searching for something I hadn’t played and preferably a game I’d be able to complete in a brief amount of time, Gunman Clive immediately came to mind. It satisfied both objectives and was a distinctive platformer in the vein of the NES-era Mega Man games. Continue reading Gunman Clive [3DS eShop] – Review→
When I beat Super Mario Bros. for the first time last year, I felt I had marked an item off of a video game bucket list. It was a momentous achievement not just because it’s such an influential and important game to the medium, but because it was challenging as well. It took many, many failed attempts, progressing slightly farther each time before I was able to conquer Bowser and when I did, I felt like I accomplished something! For the same reasons, I’ve recently come to the Mega Man series.
For someone who fancies himself a collector and a knowledgebase of video games, it’s been hard for me to reconcile the fact that I’ve only played one Mega Man game; not even a core title in the series either but a spinoff: Mega Man Network Transmission. With compilations of both the classic and X series, I decided it was finally time to rectify this omission. With little deliberation, I shelved the Mega Man X Collection and decided to begin where the franchise did: with Mega Man. Granted, playing the Xbox version of Anniversary Collection on the Xbox 360.
It didn’t take long to dawn on me once I’d started, but this game and this series helped define the action-platformer. In a basic sense, Mega Man plays like Super Mario Bros. with guns. It retains the precision platforming of that game while featuring more frantic action, especially with the bosses. The stages are relatively brief affairs but each one hosts unique platforming challenges. Even with their brevity, it would always take multiple continues before I could reliably reach the boss; if I didn’t decide to halt that stage for the moment and move onto another after losing my stock of lives.
Another influential aspect of this game is the open-ended nature in completing it. Before Mega Man has the opportunity to settle his score with Dr. Wily, he first has to beat six of the mad scientist’s robot masters. Their stages could be selected in any order and what’s more, once beaten, Mega Man obtained their weapon. I could freely switch between the weapons Mega Man had acquired and was rewarded for doing so as each robot master was weak to another’s weapon. After obtaining a new weapon, I’d try a stage and make it to the boss to see if it was weak to the weapon just acquired and do so until I found my match.
Once the robot masters had been defeated and the path to Dr. Wily became available, the challenge really began. I went through a decent amount of continues before reaching the Yellow Devil. This iconic Mega Man boss was highlighted to me with his annoying inclusion in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U where he transfers chunks of his body horizontally from one side of the screen to the other rebuilding itself, a difficult attack to evade. Now I know where that originated. That exact same tactic is present here and was one of the hardest video game obstacles I’ve had to overcome in recent memory, maybe since beating Super Mario Bros. last year! It took me so much time and effort (multiple sessions across a couple of days even) that I naively thought this was the final boss. Because of course it wouldn’t be DR. WILY! Come on John, think about it!
So once I’d finally conquered the Yellow Devil (which literally made me exclaim WOOHOO!), I was crestfallen to realize there was more to do… much more. Dr. Wily’s stage was four sections long – each ending with a boss fight, or set of boss fights. Each of the robot masters that Mega Man had beaten previously had to be beaten again. Thankfully, the game allows unlimited continues and mercifully, when used in Dr. Wily’s stage, they restarted me in the current section and not at the very beginning of the stage – pre-Yellow Devil. With that ability, I was actually able to make it deep into the final section of Dr. Wily’s stage when that nightmare scenario we all have while playing video games happened – I lost power. ARGH!!!
With that, I was done with Mega Man. Not just for that night but for a long time. At least, that’s how I felt for the next fifteen minutes until I had a chance to cool down. This was something I still had on my video game bucket list, something I still felt I needed to do in order to broaden my gaming knowledge. A few days later I returned and with little resistance was right back where I was pre-power outage. Most thrilling of all was the rematch with the Yellow Devil. What had once taken me an eternity to overcome I could now topple in a few attempts!
With the robot masters bested again and these sections completed, there was one thing left to do: put Dr. Wily in his place. Like the Yellow Devil, this was another tough matchup. Dr. Wily had two forms, each with an eternity of a health bar. After a few attempts I knew what I had to do: I had to cheese him.
In the original Mega Man, there’s an exploit that allows Elec Man’s weapon to damage an enemy multiple times with one shot. This weapon’s projectile is long and branching like lightning. As soon as it made contact with Dr. Wily, I pressed the back button on my Xbox 360 controller – pausing the game. Upon unpausing the game, it damaged him again as if this was the first time the projectile made contact. This exploit wasn’t removed from the Anniversary Collection and I milked it across a half-dozen attempts before the mad scientist finally bowed to Mega Man.
Although I wound up cheesing the final boss, I have no regrets. I overcame so many obstacles while testing my reflexes, dexterity, and memorization that I still feel accomplished. Besides, literally every FAQ and forum commenter I came across suggested the same thing. I’m not sure anyone’s beaten Mega Man without utilizing that exploit! Nonetheless, I can cross beating Mega Man off my bucket list and can feel a little more confident in my gaming prowess and knowledge. Foremost of which is the fact that Mega Man is a precisely tuned action-platformer that’s tough but rewarding. Now, onto Mega Man 2!
Following Wayne Holden as he attempts to remember his past and avenge his father’s death, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition features a deep science fiction background, impressive enemies, outlandish character designs, and some okay action. Developed by Capcom, spearheaded by Keiji Inafune (Mega Man, Dead Rising), and produced by Jun Takeuchi (Resident Evil, Onimusha), Lost Planet is a third-person shooter originally released for the Xbox 360 on January 12, 2007. It was later ported to the PlayStation 3 and PC.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition takes place on the frigid world of E.D.N. III. The planet is inhospitable, not only because of the unforgiving weather, but also due to a prevalent species of insects. The akrid are aggressive insects that come in many forms, most towering over the invading humans. The human race stumbled upon the frozen, insect-infected wasteland of E.D.N. III in their search for a planet to relocate to before completely destroying Earth. However, a climate change and the removal of the akrid must precede a mass exodus of Earth.
Attempts at solving these problems have been occurring over the past fifty years and solutions are in sight. The corporation NEVEC has been at the front of pioneering solutions to these problems although the rebellious snow pirates have acted as roadblocks.
As Wayne and his father hunt down a massive akrid, they get ambushed by NEVEC who kills Wayne’s father and leaves him for dead. Later rescued by a small gang of snow pirates, Wayne learns of NEVEC’s honorable plans of saving the human race through dastardly means and decides to put a stop to them. Along the way drama ensues amongst the ridiculously outfitted cast of characters.
At every turn, questions are rising over everyone’s true intentions and their mysterious pasts. As such, each and every cutscenes relays not only developments about NEVEC and their plans concerning the climate and the akrid, but also each character’s misgivings about someone else, to the point where the internal strife among the snow pirates resembled a soap opera. The drama also gets amplified by mysterious characters outside of the group who aid and hinder the snow pirates.
Besides the ongoing drama, I had another beef with the characters: their ridiculous outfits. For example one of Wayne’s accomplices, Rick, wore a set of glasses that were opaque and protruded from his face about six inches. Presumably they were some sort of technology but they looked dumb, like he was a Cyclops (X-Men) reject. His goofy haircut was in no way appealing either. The other half dozen or so characters weren’t as bad, but they still wore cluttered outfits. I will say the enemy designs of the akrid were cool, but then again, video games have featured gross looking insects from day one.
Killing the akrid, NEVEC troops, and snow pirates was done with some impressive weaponry. I usually think singling out the weapon selection of a first-person/third-person shooter as a positive aspect is unnecessary in most cases, but I really like Lost Planet’s weapons. There was a plentiful variety and my friend and I always enjoyed trying out a new weapon, but what I liked most about the weapons was their feel. I liked the feedback I got from shooting things, the overpowered shotgun especially.
A second positive aspect regarding the weaponry was the dozen or so mechs. Being that E.D.N. III is a risky place to live, mechs have become all but necessary on the planet. Most of them are in a bipedal form although multiple can transform into speedier forms. Weapons are similarly plentiful for the mechs and they’re able to be installed on nearly every one.
The mechs, as well as the controls in general, were clunky. Wayne moved around awfully slowly and panning the camera around was a chore; so much so that the bumpers on the controller were used to swing the camera around ninety degrees. This was beneficial, but speeding up the camera would’ve meant they wouldn’t have had to even offer a remedy. The stages were too long in most cases too. Averaging about a half hour, they consisted of a slow, boring slog through a usually expansive stage, battling many, many enemies until a confrontation with a usually enormous boss. The game only took my friend and me three or four hours to complete, but I don’t think that’s factoring in the oodles of cutscenes.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a mediocre third-person shooter. The story unfolded through many good looking cutscenes, but was eventually bogged down by the drama. The gameplay was solid, although a little too clunky for me to fully enjoy, and the weaponry was fantastic, but completing stages was a real slog. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was an enjoyable game but not entirely recommendable.