Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ghost's Angry Reviews - Games That Tick Me Off

This is your standard spoiler warning.  If you don’t want … umm… whatever games I’m going to rant about spoiled for some reason then don’t even bother.

Ghost here! Glad you could drop by.

We’re in for a bad one tonight folks.  Do you ever get to a point where you’ve just had enough?  I know that I certainly do!  And if you are a fan of the gaming industry I’m sure you do as well.  There’s only so many shameful sequels, Wii Musics, Raiden and Rosemary conversations, and Duke Nukem Forevers that a person can stand before their brain just explodes all over the side of the television screen from anger.

I honestly wonder what the gaming industry is slipping into as a whole.  It’s going down a slippery slope to Satan’s front door rather quickly with all the casual pandering, useless gimmicks, lazy writing, terrible concepts, and generic First Person Shooters filling the shelves while leaving those of us who like "actual games" in the background.  Luckily this past year I’ve seen a light in the distance providing hope for us who consider ourselves gamers, with the emergence this year of games such as Skyrim, Tales of the Abyss, and a whole multitude of others that I’m too lazy to look up currently. 

That being said, just thinking about the past few years makes me rather irritated… you know what… screw it!  Since I’m in such an annoyed mood, I’m just going to make generalized anger be the theme of the day.  This review will be all about games that have ticked me off for one reason or another but don’t deserve an entire review (mostly).  No other intro into this, just a list and why they are so rage inducing.


1.  No More Heroes

 Ok now I have to admit, when I first saw this game it looked absolutely amazing.  The cover was interesting enough to get me to watch the trailer and the trailer was equally amazing.  This game appeared to be something I’d been waiting on for quite some time.  If you took John Wayne, the original Star Wars Trilogy, Scott Pilgrim, Grand Theft Auto, and Tony Montana, then proceeded to place them in a blender then pour the contents into a Wii it would still probably come in second place to how awesome this thing looked.  I mean look at this..

“BOOM HEADSHOT!!!”   Awesome

The main character is Travis Touchdown.  At first I thought the name was kind of silly but the more I thought about it and once I started playing the actual game it grew on me, and he easily made my top 10 most awesome characters list.   Why?  Check this out; he’s a video game enthusiast, general nerd, assassin who owns a rechargeable lightsaber rip-off.  Though I won’t get into exactly how he recharges his beam sword for sake of decency.


The entire introductory level is non-stop action packed awesomeness in digital form.  It was challenging, it was fun, and it told you almost everything you needed to know about how to kill anything stopping you from your goal.   It was a rollercoaster of sheer epicness.  The introductory level even had the guts to end with your first actual boss battle.  I’m not talking about one of those pathetic ones where the game pauses to explain how to “attack the weak spot for massive damage.”  No, it’s an ACTUAL boss battle that’s difficult and leaves you pretty much on your own to figure out how to beat this guy.  When you finally defeat him you feel a real sense of accomplishment and desire to keep playing.  I was stoked to keep playing to the next level and wanted the cutscenes to end so that I could continue with the action, adventure and bloodshed.  Because if the introductory level was this great surely the rest of it has to be even more awesome…..

Yeah… I wish.  It is at this point that the game hits a brick wall.  No, even worse than a brick wall.  It’s like the game is running forward then gets a face full of the Juggernaut running full force the opposite direction.  It not only halts progress, it pretty much smashes a reset button and takes you back to basic gaming 101 which is farther back than the introductory level. What do I mean by this?  Well, after your boss battle you get into a car and are told that you need to go on and kill the next assassin.  However you have to make money to even attempt to meet him to fight him.  So your informant/partner/whatever suggests you go to an agency to perform odd jobs to make money.  Now I’m no stranger to this concept as we had to gain money in Kingdom Hearts II, one of my favorite games, fairly early on in the gameplay.  However there’s one small difference here, and if you haven’t played these games the difference is Kingdom Hearts II doing everything right, and No More Heroes doing everything wrong. 

In Kingdom Hearts II, you start off the game making sure you understand how to move, talk, attack, all the very small basics of gameplay.  Then you are asked to make money and the gameplay keeps increasing as the storyline progresses.  It is a natural progression.  No More Heroes gives you that whole intro level of constant action and a boss battle, and then takes you back to the kiddy basics.  Yup, it puts you into everything, throws all it’s got at you, and then takes it all back.  I swallowed my anger for a while because I was at least going to see what sort of job you had to do.  Maybe it was raiding a stronghold where there would be more action.  So I made my way over to the only agency which was open to you at the time.  Checked the job board and what did I find?   One open job collecting coconuts.    COLLECTING… COCONUTS???!!!!!!!!!!

WHAAAATTT???  NO NO NO!!!  I refuse to believe for a single minute that this is happening!!  After an hour or two of battling the only way I can continue the game is finding and collecting coconuts???!!!  This is NOT how you make a video game.  This isn’t even how you troll people with your video game.  This is just vulgar and horrible!    I’d be OK with having that as an optional task but this is the only one, so to continue the game it is REQUIRED that you do this.  I’d also like to point out the VERY obvious here.  Why do you need money to even get a chance to seeing the next assassin you are taking out?  The opening custscene before the intro level had you bursting into the mansion where the guy is, eliminating any and all guards and resistance and just heading in to take care of business.  And Travis’ personality is one that doesn’t care about formality of procedure.  He just gets the job done.  So why are we suddenly being constrained by required meaningless tasks?  This is making no sense already in the rules of the world and character that have already been established to us.  This is unacceptable!  So I decided that this would be a good time to walk back out of that building and just mess around with the world a bit.

Sadly it was also at this time I found my second major complaint with the game, the Overworld.

Earlier I mentioned Grand Theft Auto in the list of things that should go in the blender.  That is because fans of the GTA series would find this overworld theory very similar.  Basically the overworld is a dumbed down version of GTA Vice City.  Now if the mechanics worked anything like a GTA game I’d have no issues at all and would have had a TON of fun for hours and hours just messing around with people and vehicles.  I can’t begin to tell you the amount of time I’ve wasted in Vice City just stealing cars and chasing people on the sidewalk for kicks, or even getting bored and trying to follow the traffic pattern (which is far more difficult than one would expect.)  Alas, to this games detriment, GTA Overworld this is not by any stretch of the imagination.  The first major difference is that you cannot at any point in the overworld pull out your weapon or attack anything.   You also cannot get into any vehicles other than the motorcycle you own, and you can’t destroy any property or any other cars.  You CAN however jump and hurt YOURSELF.  Yes, that’s right, if you crash into something hard enough you won’t hurt your vehicle, or the person or vehicle you crash into, but you can fly off the bike and hurt yourself!  What’s the purpose of stylizing your overworld like GTA if you can’t even have fun in the overworld.  Might as well not even have an overworld and just usher us from place to place. This is beyond asinine! 

I still haven’t picked up those coconuts because I just felt so betrayed, so disinterested, and completely unmotivated that I just refuse to do it.  I want the game that the introductory level and trailer said that the game was, not this pile of absolute trash!

2.  Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

If I decide to do a Kingdom Hearts retrospective I’ll be talking about this one in the future as well.  Now I know what you might be thinking.  How can I possibly get angry at a game in the Kingdom Hearts series I love so very much?  My answer is EASILY…especially when it’s Chain of Memories!  Oh Chain of Memories, why do you have so much potential, so much awesome hidden deep within but yet turned into such a steaming pile of roadkill in the end?  WHY Square?  Why did you do it?  Why do you keep doing it?

Kingdom Hearts is a series that I love to death but I also find frustrating at times.  The games are more cinematic than anything else.  It’s an experience more so than it is a game which is perfectly fine with me as long as the experience is breathtaking, and the portions of the game are challenging but not overly difficult, and most of all it has to be fun.  For the most part the series as a whole does this.  It relies heavily on your nostalgia for Disney movies such as Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Lion King etc, while also giving their original characters and Final Fantasy characters a good amount of work and thought as well.   I never have any problem with the writing or characters in these movies.  They just fill my heart with warmth, even the angsty Riku.
Oh I'm such a tortured soul cause of the darkness blah blah blah

The Series frustrates me because this is one of the few series in which every single game released has its place in the timeline.  Now wait a second.  I’m sure you’re thinking that’s kind of a normal thing.  Even something as bizarre as the Zelda timeline has every game in a place sort of.  While that’s true, Kingdom Hearts takes it a step further.   This series has released games on Playstation 2, Gameboy Advanced, Nintendo DS, Verizon’s VCAST Mobile in Japan ONLY, PSP, Nintendo 3DS, and soon to be Playstation 3.  That’s a lot of specificiations and formats there.  But what makes it even worse is that EVERY GAME released either progresses the story or adds backstory to the existing story, meaning that EVERY GAME IS CANON.  Nothing is there just for the fun of it.  Everything is there for a purpose and to fully understand the story you have to play EVERY game.  That’s a lot of crap to buy, but luckily some games were re-released in different formats so that everyone could play them.

I got into Kingdom Hearts fairly late in the process when Kingdom Hearts II was set to release in only a couple weeks.  So I played Kingdom Hearts and loved it.  Since the next game was called Kingdom Hearts II I figured that would be the logical next segment of the game.  NOPE!!  The first two hours of gameplay made no sense to me and I had no idea what was going on with basically NO explanation whatsoever.  Apparently a game called Kingdom Hearts II was NOT the second game in the series.  Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories was. 

So I was already off on the wrong foot with this game.  I was annoyed that I had to track down a Gameboy Advanced game to see what happens in between games 1 and 2.  The opening seemed ominous, the premise seemed interesting and I was just about to get into this game when it happened.  Point blank shot to the face with a turd cannon, and the reason why I HATE this game.

The Gameplay!

Your first ever battle in this game is explaining how to fight.  You fight USING CARDS TO ISSUE COMMANDS.  That’s right, we spent all of Kingdom Hearts, a cinematic masterpiece of a game which the combat was a button masher’s dream and very simplistic and amazing and now we're stuck having to learn how to use cards.   Well… this shouldn’t be that difficult right?

WRONG!  Just see if you can follow this.  During a battle you have to avoid damage by walking around and avoiding attacks from enemies.  At the same time you have rummage through your card deck to select which set of three cards you want to attempt to use in order to attack.  You have normal attacking cards, you have magic cards, you have item cards, and you have character summon cards.  Each of the cards is issued with a power number from 0 to 9 and the number on the card determines the power and position of the attack. The enemies are also fighting with cards and if the number of the card they play at the same time as you is higher than your card then your attack fails.  There are also combinations of cards you can use to pull of super moves but you have to know the exact combo of attack, magic, item, or summon cards to perform these intricate moves.  Once you perform the move those cards are gone from your hand until the next battle.  If you get blocked by the opposing character using a 0 card, then you still lose the cards.  OH did I mention that you can only have a certain number of cards in your hand at all times and you have to purchase new packs of cards during each world to hopefully get some combo that’s worthwhile and…

ENOUGH!! ENOUGH!! I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!  This is just FAR too much to deal with at the same time.  I understand strategy but this is like playing risk on seven boards at once and being required to do a different move on each game board.  HOLY CRAP!  And this really is a crying shame.  The cutscenes and overall dialogue of this game are brilliant.  The story is amazing; the new characters are original and some of my favorite characters in gaming history.  Namine in particular is such a fresh and awesome character with such good motivation.  Everything is set in store for this game to be breathtaking.  But they forgot the key factor.  To play a video game you have to actually make the gameplay fun and they failed miserably here.

Not only that but this game has been re-released MULTIPLE times!! More times than any other Kingdom Hearts game.  And with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 1.5 for the PS3, it’s about to be released AGAIN.  WHY would they want to continuously flaunt something so flawed instead of, you know, the games that were brilliant and worked amazingly well?  I just don’t understand it.  Now for Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix + they released Chain of Memories at the beginning of the game and gave it the classic hack and slash style of the other two games, and they FINALLY were able to get it right and do it justice…. BUT THEY ONLY RELEASED THAT IN JAPAN!!!!!   All us here in the rest of the world get stuck playing Beelzebub’s card game over and over and over, and I SWEAR KH 1.5 better not be the card gave version of this!!

3.  Sonic and the Secret Rings
This one is notorious enough I doubt I even really need to talk about it.  Any and all Sonic fans out there are grinding their teeth in anger over this stinking.  So many people have talked about this game that I’m going to keep it brief because I’m sure I’m not bringing anything new to the table. 

I appreciate that they are trying to keep a nostalgic veteran of the old gaming era alive and in a new generation’s mind.  BUT THEY’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG and this game is proof of it.  The fact that sonic doesn’t stop and go but rather in constant motion is beyond annoying, the controls are so clunky you’d probably get better results just handing it to your toddler and having him flail the stupid thing around, and certain elements are just bizarrely and insanely difficult at the most random of times such as the flying pots.  I still haven’t got past those flying pots and I’m nowhere near the end of the game.  This whole thing just feels wrong like I need to take a long shower because it’s dirty.  It’s the same problem with most of the 3D Sonic games.  Granted Sonic Heroes wasn’t bad, but it’s still nowhere near as good as Sonic should be.  He was the Sega powerhouse and now he’s basically a joke.  I applaud them for trying something new, but PLEASE, just stick to side scrolling Sonic please!

4.  New Super Mario Bros Wii

I’m going to start this off by saying I suck at platforming games.  No really, I can’t even put into words how terrible I am at platformers which is why I generally stick to fighting and RPGs.  This game however seems to be on a personal vendetta against me.  I love Mario, don’t get me wrong.  I mean I’ve never actually beaten the original game because again, I suck at these games, but I respect it for what it is, and I respect those with the skill to do it.  Games like Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy I really enjoyed fully, but this thing… just…just no.

This game has two modes, laughably simple and nuclear holocaust! I understand and expect a game to have difficulty and challenges; that’s just part of what gaming is.  Figuring out puzzles, learning to overcome difficulty, and figuring out your personal playing style to victory is part of the fun.  But the single player mode in this game is relentless.  You want to jump inside of a castle?  That’s fine let’s just send a green fireball at the exact moment so that you THINK you’ll miss it but it barely brushes the top of your hat killing you.  You think restarting the level and attempting again will help you?  Let’s just change the jumping mechanics slightly so that now instead of hitting the magic fire ball you fall into the pit of lava.  It’s like the developers decided to set the game on maximum troll mode especially once you get into World 6 and higher.  I started having trouble around World 3 mind you, but was able to continue on through sheer willpower despite the number of Mario’s I’d killed in my attempts.  But eventually I just had to throw the wiimote down and say forget it.  

So what’s this simple mode you ask?  Well that is the multiplayer.  This game boasts of its multiplayer ability where you can choose between Mario, Luigi, Toad and..um… Toad again.  Really?  Couldn’t throw in Yoshi? Peach?  Wario? I’d even take Waluigi at this point in the road.  We’re really going with two toads????  Whatever.  Well, ignoring that little bit of stupidity, let’s take a look at the Multiplayer aspect.  When this game was in development, Nintendo was going to praise this game for what all you could do with Multi Player.  It was the kind of Mario game that was intended to be played with more than one person… kind of like Mario Party except not a massive pile of Yoshi excrement.  Humorously enough though, the Multi Player aspect makes everything easy.  Your partners can save you from death, you can share lives in case someone is doing pitiful at this level, you can use each other to bounce around to reach higher goals, and honestly the game is just so much more fun with more than one person.

                   So excuse me while I go pop in the disc to go play some multiplayer online.
OH wait I forgot.  This is a game which is prided on being a multiplayer game, you know ,a game designed for more than one person to play, and it DOESN’T EVEN HAVE AN ONLINE OPTION!!!.  Exactly what was the through process here?? I know that games like this are somewhat geared towards kids (or grown up kids), but it’s like Nintendo doesn’t know their demographic at all.  Sony and Microsoft have come to grasp with their demographics and realize that video games aren’t just for kids.  Why do I say that?  Well kids are more likely to be in school with other kids who like video games, and they are more likely to come over to each other’s house and play this.  This fact would be fine if that was the intentional all along, however a game featuring Mario, one of the most nostalgic and well-loved video game characters of all time, is going to be played by old and young alike.  The likelihood of an adult gamer having other friends come to their house to play a video game is significantly less likely than that of a child.  This is why online gaming is quickly becoming the norm and a feature sought after by developers because it’s marketable and highly profitable. 

Effectively Nintendo has produced a game that is not only better, more enjoyable, and simpler when played with more than one person, but they have limited it to where I and several other adults most likely can’t regularly play it the way it was intended unless I so happen to have a gaming neighbor or a particularly skilled cat.  

5.  The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

I’m pretty sure I’ve given football head here enough of a bashing in my Spirit Tracks review, so I’ll try to keep this one brief.  Phantom Hourglass is the follow up to The Wind Waker.  Just like the Wind Waker you’re out on the ocean, but this time you’re trying to get Tetra back from this Ghost ship.  You climb on board a ship with Linebeck and travel from temple to temple doing stuff to eventually defeat the villain.  It’s your usual Zelda Scenario really.

What do I LIKE about this game?  Well I do like how they were inventive with some of the items and mannerisms of the DS.  Drawing a line for the boomerang was great, blowing out fires by blowing on the mic was good, and at one point you have to make a copy of the map…what do you do?  You close the screen on the DS to “stamp” the map from the stone onto your paper.  Now that’s pretty awesome and I have to give them mad props for their inventiveness with that.

What do I dislike about it?  Pretty much everything else.  Using the touch screen to both move and attack makes things bulky and irritating, and usually ends up sending our hero doing the exact opposite of what we wanted him to do, if not to immediate doom.  Though with the irritation levels of this game half the time I really DID want him to dodgeroll right into a spiked wall rather than safely stand near a jar and break it for health just so I wouldn’t have to play it anymore.

One of the BIGGEST issues I’ve had with this is one that most people who also hate this game have, the Temple of the Ocean King.  This temple is basically the worst thing ever created in a Zelda game.  I’d rather take 50 consecutive playthroughs of Ocarina’s Water temple than go through this stupid thing.  Anyone who thought the Zelda series was already repetitive with the dungeons and the same clichés over and over had another thing coming with this.  If those games were repetitive, this game is like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates.  You keep having to go back to this same area, through the exact same floors, with the exact same enemies over and over and over and over.  Do you get a chance to skip a section cause you’ve already completed it?  NOPE!  You keep getting stuck in the temple and need either the power of an elemental temple, or the secret item held within to get to your next section of the Ocean King temple.  Every time you exit the temple you have to do every single floor you’ve already done over again.  Meaning you’ve probably done the first five floors infinity times by the end of the game.  OH and to make matters worse, did you know there’s a TIME LIMIT???  It’s not enough that you have to re-do every single area of this temple multiple times but each room you can only stand in certain places for a few minutes before you just start dying because… magic?

I’d rather be playing a 24 hour marathon play of Zelda 2 blindfolded with Navi screaming in my ears than play this.  It’s been rotting in my gaming shelf for 4 years now and will continue to rot there and never be played again.

Well.. I feel a little bit better.  Sometimes you just have to let your frustrations out in a manner that won’t mean a thing to anyone else but saying it is half the fun. 

               Next week it’s back to basics! Until then, I’m E-Rod and I’m the Blockbuster Buster!

Wait… no… sorry been watching too much thatguywiththeglasses.com.  You know what just forget it.  I’ll see you next time.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness
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If you want to see my other Video Game discussions and reviews, click here!

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