The Street Fighter Alpha series started somewhere between Street Fighter II and III and served as a sort of prequel to the series. As such, I've always kind of thought of the three games as a bit of a remake of the original Street Fighter. Only if it was really good.
Even though there are three Alpha games and they're actually numbered, they were released in fast succession and feel more like incremental upgrades. In my mind, Alpha 3 is just the "best" or final version of Alpha, much like Third Strike is best or final version of Street Fighter III.
I actually have some pretty fond memories of Alpha 3. Back when my wife and I first bought our house and I finally had my own game room, I remember setting up a makeshift arcade stand with a standing desk and some arcade sticks. I can remember spending weeks playing the Dreamcast port of Alpha 3, trying to really learn a handful of characters and see how far I could get on a single credit. I was tenacious back then. And I had time to burn.
Playing the game now on the Switch Street Fighter Collection is a whole different story. At this point in my life, it feels funny that I was ever any good at Street Fighter games at all. And maybe it's the difficulty of the arcade original CPU, but oh my gosh I'm getting destroyed. It's honestly embarrassing.
But what can you do?
The game itself is still awesome. I love the look of Alpha 3. It's a beautiful looking game. Just look at a screenshot of Blanka and how awesome he's drawn in this one. And what's cool about Alpha 3 is the interesting roster, which lies somewhere between the old familiars of Street Fighter II and the kind of weirdo new inclusions we'd see in Street Fighter III. It's also a very large roster, which I appreciate.
So I spent some time last night dancing between various characters. Cammy has always been my favorite in Alpha 3, which is interesting as I never really use her in Street Fighter II. Though I did like her in Street Fighter IV. Chun-Li works okay for me if I switch it to the X-Ism (the "isms" being Alpha 3's various playstyles... it's complicated). I also like Blanka a lot here. So okay, I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist. But I also think Sodom is pretty cool.
Anyway, like I said it's a neat game that bridges a gap. Or rather it sort of makes up for the weakness of the original Street Fighter by re-imagining it as something altogether awesome and also retro-fits a lot of the Final Fight universe. And it's gorgeous looking and plays well. But... I am terrible at it. Terrible.
When I was like ten years old, a friend's dad took us to see the WWF. At the time, I knew nothing about wrestling. I had no interest really. But I went because I was invited and I thought this was the kind of stuff that boys are age were supposed to be into. I probably would have said yes to a monster truck show under similar conditions. But that invite never came. Anyway, I don't remember much about that WWF show, other than those guys The Road Warriors were there. Actually, I just googled it and apparently they were known as Legion Of Doom during this period. I don't know. Shrug.
Anyway, the point is I was never a wrestling fan, even when I went to that show. I know who some wrestling dudes are of the late 80's and early 90's because friends were into it. But I have no memory if I actually saw like Jake The Snake or Rick Flare or Macho Man Randy Savage or Andre The Giant. I have no knowledge of the history of wrestling. And it didn't really matter when I was there. Hacksaw Jim Duggan must have been there because we got foam two-by-fours that he may or may not have signed. Again, didn't care and my memory is fuzzy.
The point of all this rambling is to say - wrestling is not something a fan of. However, there are some wrestling games that got some praise over the years and because of my lack of interest I overlooked them. Having just recently acquired a Nintendo 64 not too long ago, I couldn't pass up a WCW Vs NWO cartridge when I saw it at a yard sale. I figured, hey, wrestling games are pretty much just fighting games. I like some fighting games. Maybe I'd enjoy this game - and beef up my new N64 collection on the meantime.
You guys... no. I don't like this game. Not at all.
So first things first, I didn't recognize too much of the roster. There was Hulk Hogan and Sting and I think Rick Flare. But that's it. And maybe his name is Rick Flair? I'm not going to spend any more time googling wrestling stuff tonight, so I don't know. But yeah. I guess this game came out at a time where even hearing about current wrestlers via osmosis was out of the cards for me. So not a good intro to the genre.
Anyway, I gave it a shot but oh man... boring. The main portion of the game is five-on-five matches. I couldn't even build a team of five recognizable faces here. Even worse, the matches go on for what feels like an eternity. I couldn't figure out how to end it. Do you have to pin the other guy? I don't know. And I don't have a manual. And I don't care enough to find out. I also couldn't make myself lose. So it just went on and on and on. Just me as Hulk kicking a dude and flipping him and falling on him. Just really really boring and clunky. I'm all set with this one.
I've always been drawn to the "weird" Mario games. For instance, I've cited Super Mario Bros 2 (US) as my favorite of the NES games. And that game's weird. And when we're talking about Game Boy, I'm a sucker for Super Mario Land. Also weird. I mean, there's not a lot of Mario games that use Egyptian imagery and UFO's so prominently. Is there?
I got my Game Boy for Christmas in 1989 and it was a really big deal. My parents were divorced so going back and forth between houses meant that I had different games (and consoles) at each house. But when Game Boy came out it meant that wherever I went, I could continue playing the same games. It was awesome.
Of course it would have been less awesome of the games weren't good. But luckily that wasn't the case. And Super Mario Land holds a very special place for me as the first Game Boy title I got to play. See it was just Mario Land and the pack-in Tetris under the tree, and Tetris was a puzzle game that didn't appeal to me at that age.
But Mario Land? Woah. Mario Land was amazing. It was a new Mario platformer you guys! It was a whole new game. It was familiar enough to really sell me on how incredible this new handheld device was, yet it was a whole new game to dig into instead of just a stripped down version of one of the NES games. It was mind-blowing in 1989. For real.
As I've said, it was also weird. Flowers don't give you fireballs; they give you a bouncing ball thing. And there's a couple of auto-scrolling shmup stages. In a Mario game! And also there's only four worlds in total, which feels brief in 2009, but thirty years ago it felt just fine to showcase this new portable system.
Admittedly the game is not perfect. The controls can feel a LITTLE loose at times. But as a launch title for GB, I've got nothing but admiration. And you can argue all day that Super Mario Land 2 is the better game - and MAYBE it is... technically. But I'll always prefer to play this first one, myself. Oh, and also the music is excellent here.
At any rate, it's not a long game at all. And I'm not sure if it's easy or if I've just played the hell out of it, but I ran through it in around forty minutes last night. It was cool seeing those credits roll again for the umpteenth time. It brought me back to being a little kid and showing my mom, "look! I beat it! There's credits like at the end of a movie!" Such a good game.
The Ubisoft era of Ninja Turtles games was brief but interesting. Take for example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up. It's inspiration is right there in the title. You could just call this "Turtles Smash." Ubisoft even went so far as to hire various folks who worked on Smash Bros Brawl. And at least their intentions were good.
I ran through the arcade mode last night which was... brisk. It's not bad. It plays like any number of Smash clones. I'm just not sure why we need so many Smash clones. But then again, I'm a HUGE fan of Ninja Turtles games, so whatever. I have this. I'm glad it exists. At any rate - good intentions aside - the biggest problem with this game is the meager roster. I mean we're talking about a Smash-style fighting game in 2009, and it starts with only seven characters available. Do the math, four of those seven are the Turtles themselves.
Now you can unlock more fighters for a total of a "whopping" sixteen. But if you're a TMNT fan (which, you must be if you're bothering with this game), then you'll be bummed to see the final roster. SPOILERS: Splinter, Shredder, Casey Jones, and April O'Neil are all in the game. As is a foot soldier. And then a couple of less cool characters. There is no Bebop or Rocksteady. There's no Krang. No Baxter Stockman. Basically nobody from the 80's cartoon. Which would have been fine if they'd managed to draw a cool and fleshed out roster from the on-going comic series. Instead, we're given TWO different Rabbids to unlock. Really? That feels like a slight on Usagi.
The fighting is... fine. It's standard Smash stuff, really. But I managed to complete the arcade mode in less than a half hour - WITHOUT really knowing what any of the buttons even do. So, yeah. I don't think there's much challenge there in the single player campaign. Which is fine. These kind of games are generally meant for multiplayer. I'm just not doing much of that these days.
There are other modes to mess with, but I think I've seen enough. This game will stay in my collection pretty solely because of my love for the franchise. And maybe once in a while it'd make a fun "party game." But I can't imagine spending much more time on it. I will say that the cut-scenes between the arcade mode's fights are beautiful drawn by Jim Lawson and Eric Talbot and written by Peter Laird himself. So again, this is a game worth owning for Turtles fans to some degree.
But again, this is a TMNT Smash clone with a mere sixteen characters. And two of them are Rabbids. Two of them.
When I was a young lad of sixteen or so, me and some friends started a band. It was the first of many revolving door bands that this circle of friends would form and break-up throughout high school. And besides our musical proficiency, that first band's biggest roadblock would be Tekken 2. Once a week after school we'd pick up fast food, get together at my buddy's house (because he had the drum set), and more often than not we'd play Tekken 2 instead of actually jamming.
It's funny that Tekken 2 was such a big hit with our group of friends, because I don't think any of us had played the first Tekken. And when more sequels rolled out, we had moved on to other games. For whatever reason it was just that second game that grabbed us.
Years later I explored the series a little more. At one point I picked up Tag Tournament on PS2; another time I actually played Tekken 3 on Dreamcast via the Bleemcast disc. Heck, I even enjoyed Street Fighter X Tekken - though with the caveat that I only liked playing as characters from the Street Fighter roster. So there you have it - I'm about as casual fan of the series as you can get. I LIKE the games just fine, but it's fairly low on my list of fighting series.
That said, I remembered playing Tekken Advance some years back and thinking it was pretty impressive. So I decided to fire it up again last night in the short period of time between my wife and daughter falling asleep and me going to bed. And y'know what? It IS impressive.
Tekken Advance is BASICALLY a port of Tekken 3, arriving three years after its Playstation release. It is missing a couple of the characters however, which I gather is a limitation of the hardware. But what's included really does work well on the system.
Through some technical trickery that I don't really understand, they've made sprites out of the original 3D models. Is this sort of like what Rare did with Donkey Kong Country or Killer Instinct? Maybe. But I'm not going to take the time to go read about it right now because I just don't have the time. Whatever they did, it looks really cool. I mean honestly, this LOOKS like a Playstation game running on the GBA. Which is neat.
But looks can be deceiving and this is effectively a 2D fighter here. Of course the controls are going to be dumbed-down or refined or however you want to look at it. So now you've got Kick and Punch mapped to the face buttons, while the shoulder buttons manage Throws and Tags. It's basic, but it works. Before too long I was starting to string together some combos and feel fairly comfortable with the controls.
At the end of the day, Tekken is not my chosen fighting game. It's cut from the same cloth as more technical games in the genre like Virtua Fighter. I mean, I understand the appeal but I've never had the time nor energy to really understand these kinds of games' systems - never mind get good at them.
But Tekken Advance is a solid portable fighting game. And it's something I'd hang on to and revisit again in the future. I'll probably be impressed with it again next time I play it as well.
Back in the day I played a little of the original Goldeneye 007 at a friend's house, but only in multiplayer. I never touched the campaign. My buddy was way better than me in the multiplayer since it was his game. That, coupled with the fact that I've never been a fan of James Bond movies means the game never really had any nostalgia for me.
I remember back in 2010 when the remake was first announced, my wife and I were sitting in Red Robin eating lunch. We had walked over after going into Game Stop so I had a flyer of some sort with me and the waitress saw it and commented on how excited she was about the Wii reboot. I just kind of shrugged and smiled.
Nine years later, it's a pretty great time to pick up Wii games. I'm finding all kinds of cult favorites for under $5 randomly at yard sales and the like. So somehow I obtained a copy of Goldeneye 007 and figured, "why not?"
Now unfortunately my time for console gaming is fairly limited these days. It's much easier to play things in small bursts on a portable with a small baby in the house. But sometimes when she's napping on the weekend, I can sneak off to the game room and play a little bit on an actual TV. And that's what I did.
As I said, I have no memory of the original game, so I don't know how closely the plot of the campaign follows in this remake. But... I'm enjoying it either way. It's a totally linear experience, and honestly, it just reminds me a lot of Call Of Duty's gameplay. But that's fine. It's definitely fun.
It was cool to get through that first mission and then see the game launch the intro credits reminiscent of an actual Bond movie. That was well done.
My one complaint so far is that in spots, the game is super dark. Like, I had trouble making out where doors were in a couple of darker rooms. I even turned the brightness all the way up in the options menu but it didn't help. Oh well. It's not game breaking, but it can be annoying.
Anyway, I haven't played much yet, but I feel like I'll want to get back to this one when I have some more time to spend in the game room.
Now here's a weird one. Back in the 90's, before he was a spokeslizard for Geico, Gex was launched as the ever necessary animal-with-tude mascot for the 3DO. And when that didn't work out, his game was ported over to Playstation and Saturn as well. Still, Gex wasn't a hit. But for some reason, two more games were made in the series.
Gex 2 was released under the title Enter The Gecko, and since 3DO's were now $700 paperweights, this sequel was released on Playstation, Nintendo 64, and oddly enough... Game Boy Color. The home console game was a 3D platformer, while this GBC version was an entirely unique 2D game. And while I'd certainly label it an INTERESTING release, I can't by any means tell you that it's good.
I say it's interesting because it actually reminds me a lot of some Apogee DOS platformers of the day - both graphically, and in how it plays. Rather than linear levels, there are sprawling, branching levels with different paths to play. However, the goals are unique to the levels. Mostly it's "collect these things," which... I kind of hate. I also find the level layouts rather confusing.
The biggest downfall is in how the game plays. First of all - strike one - the jump and attack buttons are inverted. Is it really possible that the unspoken rule of two-buttons wasn't firmly in place by 1998? I mean, c'mon. Thanks to the GBC's slightly updated hardware, the framerate is fine and Gex can jump around nicely. However, his attack (whipping his tail) is meh and has a really small hit diameter. And what's worse is that he starts running automatically after several steps of walking. This can really screw up platforming as you'll run off of one when you think you're about to jump. Gex can also do a higher pogo-style jump, but only after jumping once from running, which means you need to find ample space and plan out these higher jumps. It's quite cumbersome.
So I mean, not to judge a book by the cover but look at that cover. We all knew this game was going to be bad, right? I guess I did. But like I said - it's interesting. Just not good.
There's a long running misconception that all licensed games are shovelware. I've never subscribed to this. There are some truly wonderful licensed games out there - many of which are hidden gems. Unfortunately, I don't count Toy Story as one of them.
This sucker was released on Game Boy in 1996, which might seem late in the system's life except we all know that it just kept on ticking until the GBC rolled around in 1998 almost a full decade after the GB launched. Crazy!
At any rate, this monochrome port had to compete graphically with its SNES big brother and while it tries admirably, it fails. Don't get me wrong, the sprite work is impressive. When I knocked over a tub of tiny toy soldiers, I was shocked to see that these minuscule sprites had their own little personalities. However, all the work that went into animating this game is to its own detriment as the frame rate is like molasses.
Yup, your boy Woody jumps like he's in space. So maybe it should have been Buzz Lightyear as the star, haha! When you press the B button in hopes of making him whip is lasso go ahead and take a sip of something. You've got time.
But I tried to play it. I did. The first level is a little confusing. At the start of each level you're given a mission briefing with multiple steps. I felt like I should write them down or something. So first you need to find the toy soldiers and free them, then you need to find them a baby monitor, then you need to meet up at another baby monitor to finish the level. I found the baby monitor and stood in front of it. Nothing happened. So I thought maybe it's the wrong one? I went looking for another. No dice. Ultimately I checked a walkthrough and found that standing IN FRONT of the baby monitor was no good, I had to get on the table it's on even though it's a low enough table that it looks like you're supposed to just stand in front of it since you're touching the monitor. Annoying.
However, it was the second level that had me pulling my hair out. It's basically just a puzzle where you need to find several toys around the room and open up their paths so they can get put away before Andy comes into the room. This would be fine - and fun even - if it weren't for the strict 150 second time limit. I tried and failed multiple times before finally rage quitting. Sorry, this game just isn't fun for me.
I've never been a big fan of the Killer Instinct games. I remember back when the first one was released on SNES, I thought it was impressive looking given the hardware. Though, we'd already seen some of these tricks with Donky Kong Country. And besides, the whole focus on combos was just not my thing in a fighting game.
Over the years I've dabbled a little in the series, but I've never gotten sucked in. And going back and revisiting this Game Boy port of the first game is doing the series no favors for me.
I guess it looks OKAY on Game Boy. It's missing a couple of characters, but the ones available are at least recognizable - if not exactly detailed. Backgrounds are also extremely sparse.
Of course the most important thing here is HOW DOES IT PLAY? Well... It's not bad. But let's be straight up: nobody is purposefully choosing to play this version over the console big brother. Nobody other than me anyway. I'll be honest, I don't know the arcade original enough to remember what the button layout was, but I'm sure it was more than two buttons. That's all you've got here: "kick" and "punch."
My experience playing this game again on GB was reminiscent of most of my attempts to play any Killer Instinct game. That is, I just mashed the buttons a lot and hoped for the best. Which worked fine for like three fights and then I started getting wrecked. I don't know any of the special moves. And with the rather sluggish performance of this port, I don't care to spend any time learning them.
Look, I think it's cool (and FASCINATING) that so many ambitious games were ported to the low powered hardware of the Game Boy over the years. But that doesn't mean they're all going to be fun.
I've never been a fan of Sonic & Knuckles. Which is kind of weird, because I am a fan of the other early 2D Sonic games. The first game was why I wanted a Genesis at all as a kid. And the second game was huge - I wore my Sonic Tuesday pre-order shirt proudly back then. And then there was Sonic CD which may actually be my favorite. I know I'm in the minority there. But man, EVERYONE seems to think that Sonic & Knuckles is like the best in the series. And I just can't seem to enjoy it.
But y'know, tastes change, so I decided to give it another try this past weekend. Now oddly, Sonic & Knuckles is not included on the Genesis collection on Switch. Luckily, it IS on the Sonic Mega Collection on Gamecube, so that's how I played it. I'll tell you this - I miss my Wavebird controller. That thing was amazing, but in a move of stupidity, I got rid of it a while back in a purge.
But that's neither here nor there. Sonic & Knuckles is... just not a game I'm into. If I play as Sonic then it just feels like ANOTHER Sonic game except I don't really care for the level design. I don't know. They feel too long and just don't flow well for me. And if I play as Knuckles - which I think is kind of the point, right? - then I have even less fun because I find him totally clunky to play with. I know people like his climbing ability and all, but I just feel like I never really get comfortable with how he moves or floats or whatever.
So I don't know. I got up to the third boss and saw a Game Over and just had no motivation to start again. I'm all set. I guess I'll never really care for this game.