All posts for the month February, 2010
Posted by WildcatJF on February 26, 2010
Due to some time constraints, I’m going to recycle (with some modification!) some from my old site for February’s second box art update. Will try harder next time!
Good – Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1, Square)
I think we can be honest here. A lot of the early attempts at 3D box art are pretty unimpressive now. The simplistic polygon models couldn’t really hold a candle to today’s technological marvels. I’ll happily admit, however, that Square’s cover for FFT manages to overcome that limiting obstacle with a very cool idea. The backdrop from the intro inspires a heroic “Magnificent Seven”-style vibe with the five Chocobo riders riding in a river under a bridge, and it also looks pretty cool to boot. Out of all the Final Fantasy games (and my, there’s been a lot), I think this is the best one Square’s come up with (Ed. note – that was in 2008, and it still stands!).
Bad – Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 (DC, Capcom)
Capcom had a nasty habit (Ed. note – Seen the Super SFIV NA art? Yeah. That HAD should be HAS) of releasing their fighting games with incredibly unappealing covers. Sure, I like CRMK’s MvC2 designs (I happen to think that these two stand near the top of the bunch, to be honest), but why did we not use the cool collective character art that is hiding in the background as the main focus? Did Capcom fail to realize that Guile’s head is looking down at Guile’s other head in a scolding, grumpy tone? (It’s almost the only character you can make out in the back, outside of Hulk on the left). Uninspiring. I suppose that Capcom didn’t feel the need to really trump up this cover, since most people would be buying it in name alone (i.e. fans of the Vs. franchise/Capcom fighters), but it still should have been more attractive than this clip-art+cut-n-paste job.
Posted by WildcatJF on February 25, 2010
Last I knew, there WASN’T some sort of bizarre cap on notability on Wikipedia. That’s what the site was originally about – being an online encyclopedia that people could build. Perhaps I was mistaken in my understanding of Wikipedia’s intent, however, since we’re now banning pages of video game composers who haven’t reached some level of notoriety based on an editor’s whimsy before being accepted. I thought that Wikipedia wasn’t some Hall of Fame of video game musicians, and I’d also like to think that, even if it was, that the originator of some of the most iconic NES tunes in the history of this medium is more than worthy of being in it.
This is bullshit, pure and simple, and it’s quite embarrassing for Wikipedia as a whole to have editors overstepping their bounds. If I tried to put up a page for my musical contributions, then I’d understand why I was banned – I haven’t done a damn thing. Yamashita is very different. Sadly, she’s not the only victim of this, as former Namco musician/current freelancer Shinji Hosoe and freelancer Ayako Saso‘s pages have also been deleted because of these baffling standards. Depressing.
Posted by WildcatJF on February 24, 2010
Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (Wii)
Pub: Konami/Dev: M2
ESRB: T/Players: 1
Once upon a time, Castlevania was a linear action-platform game series. It eventually morphed into an adventure-RPG affair that required more exploration and character building, and it has existed quite happily in this form for more than a decade. But Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, available for download via Nintendo’s WiiWare service, brings the series back to its original style, focusing on combat and platforming.
You play as Christopher Belmont, ancestor of the famous Simon, and your job is to raid Dracula’s castle, whipping everything that gets in your way, and ultimately taking on the Prince of Darkness, himself, in an effort to put him down for…the Count! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
The standard array of sub-weapons is at your disposal: daggers, axes, crosses/boomerangs and holy water. You can also upgrade your whip to shoot flames, but only for a limited time.
You’ll need all the help you can get, because there are six stages filled with enemies and traps between you and the final confrontation. In fact, this incarnation of Dracula’s castle might actually have the most traps of any Castlevania, so it’ll definitely keep you on your toes.
Each level also has multiple pathways that you can access by finding keys and using them to unlock doors. These alternate routes can be handy, as they are often shorter and allow you to bypass the mini-bosses. They also add variety to the game, so each playthrough can be different.
At first, the game doesn’t seem to have any method of saving, encouraging you to finish it in one sitting. This is certainly a throwback to classic gaming, but there is actually a very simple level select code that allows you to access any level you’ve been able to reach on a given difficulty setting: simply highlight the “Game Start” option and hold “right” for a few seconds. Less patient gamers may appreciate this, as the game can take around an hour to play through, and the later levels can get a little tricky.
There are also multiple difficulty and control settings. These include a “Classic” control option that limits your jumping and attacking abilities, as well as a motion control option in which you flick the Wii Remote to whip.
Although Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is named after the original Game Boy game, it is a retelling in name only, as the game actually has little to do with its namesake other than a few minor references. But as with the other games in Konami’s ReBirth series, The Adventure ReBirth is an homage to the Castlevania series as a whole, filled with fan service and obscure references. Perhaps the only reason it carries the “Adventure” name is as a convenient way to fit it into the series’ timeline.
The game is also composed of stylized retro graphics and sound that recall arcade games of the early 90’s, just as the other ReBirth games have been. Personally, I find it appealing, but I also realize that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or vile of blood, as the case may be).
What we have here is a good old-fashioned Castlevania, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 90’s. It’s straightforward but challenging, and has just enough variety to warrant multiple playthroughs. Different options accommodate for players of different skill levels, but it’s most accommodating for those looking for a retro game experience.
Posted by Nester on February 22, 2010
3. Crystalis (NES, SNK)
Brief Synopsis: A bit of a departure for SNK, this is an action-RPG similar to the original Legend of Zelda. As an unnamed protagonist awakened from a cryogenic sleep. As you progress, one of the best NES plots unravels who exactly you are, and what you need to do to prevent another nuclear destruction – you must find the four Swords of the Elements to create the mythical blade Crystalis.
Why is it Missing?: This is a rather intriguing situation. SNK published this back in 1990, and has basically left the series alone ever since. However, the curveball comes in the form of Nintendo, who worked with SNK, along with their US-based Nintendo Software Technology, to remake the title for the Game Boy Color. The port is universally accepted to be inferior to the NES original, thanks to the zoomed-in resolution, the poor music quality, and the altering of the original’s plot to a more clichéd story. However, from what I can tell, Nintendo bought the rights to Crystalis in the midst of remaking it. There’s no hint of evidence that I can find that backs this claim, but it could be part of the problem. If SNK Playmore still has the rights, they haven’t as of now released anything from their NES catalog, seemingly content with their NeoGeo ports on the VC. If Nintendo owns them, do they have the copyrights for the NES original, or does SNK? Would they put out a game that wasn’t originally theirs? As you can see, there’s a lot of questions, and no one has any solid answers. It’s tragic, because Crystalis is an excellent game that deserves a VC revival.
Other (Legal) Options: The NES original is the way to go, but it’s a little hard to track down compared to say, Mega Man or Mario cartridges. I’d recommend avoiding the GBC remake, as it’s not all that hot (and I’ve played a fair share of it, so I can say that the general consensus is right on this time).
Posted by WildcatJF on February 10, 2010
Posted by WildcatJF on February 5, 2010
There will be more of these down the road. I’ve got two more waiting in the wings that I plan to put up tomorrow. ^_^
Posted by WildcatJF on February 4, 2010
Good: Banjo-Kazooie (N64, Nintendo/Rare)
Banjo-Kazooie stands tall as one of the N64′s gems of box art thanks to its bright colors and its excellent use of its main characters. The layout is well thought out, and has a lot of small details that will take time to uncover as you look at it.* All of B-K’s major players pop up here, and Rare’s modeling work is fantastic (the in-game renders blend in well enough with the CG ones, which is impressive). It manages to convey what you’re going to be doing while you play it, which is always a plus. And ultimately, it isn’t boring, dull or drab – there’s plenty going on, but not enough to overstimulate the buyer. All and all, Rare did a fine job with this cover, as it succeeds in presenting gamers a solid view of what it delivers as a game.
(* On a sidenote, I never noticed Grunty had a N64 logo ring on her left hand until just now, thus proving my point O_O )
Bad – Mario Kart Wii (Wii, Nintendo)
Every other Mario Kart title has managed to at least have go-carts on the cover. It makes sense, as the series is called MARIO KART. Here, though, we are only teasing the aspect of karts, as their shadows are quite prominently displayed, and Mario and Luigi are certainly pretending they’re in karts well enough, but alas, there’s no sign of them here. Where are they? Did Nintendo lose their kart license? Highly suspect, as they’re in the actual game itself. Was it too hard to render karts? I beg to question that, as every other 3D Mario Kart title has had no problem showcasing the characters driving around on these apparently elusive vehicles. Nope, it appears that the real culprit behind our cover kart theft is…the Wii Wheel! Nintendo would seemingly rather shove the Wii Wheel peripheral front and center as the selling point over the title-specific Mario Karts.
Unexciting is a fitting word for this art. If the karts were actually under Mario and Luigi, and a race track was behind them, it might have been okay. It’s not like the earlier titles were stand-out boxes or anything. But this particular case highlights Nintendo’s casual gear-switch moreso than any other main franchise of theirs that predates the Wii. And to me, I think that it suffers for it. Not in sales, as they have been quite steady since its launch, but it lacks any creativity or even a trace of artistry. It’s a phone-in, and the series deserves better treatment.
Posted by WildcatJF on February 4, 2010