sqlrob: (Default)
Game: Sam and Max, Season 1
Genre: Point and Click Adventure
Platform: Wii
Media: Disk
Price Paid: $29.99
Would Pay: $24.99

A comedy point and click, so naturally, it was a first day purchase for me. I played the original LucasArts Sam and Max many years ago, and had to try this out. The humor is still there, and you have to love the subtle Zork humor that you'd have had to play Zork to even notice. Some cheap pop culture Honeymooner references as well, I'm probably just an old fart to have noticed it.

Nothing really innovative about the game itself, it's a plain point and click. Nothing special, but nothing really bad like Syberia. My main complaint was that the number of locations was severely limited. There was the main street your office is on, as well as one other location with a few rooms for each episode of the game. It just felt too small to me, hence the $5 ding on the price. Regardless, I will probably get Season 2 when it's finally published on the Wii.
sqlrob: (link)
Time to play catch up on some reviews I've missed. I'm probably going to miss a few, but at least it's a start.

Title: Crackdown
Platform: 360
Media: Disk
Genre: Action Adventure Sandbox
Complete: Yes
Achievements: 420/1250
Price Paid: $16.99 - 10% (Used)
Would Pay: $29.99

My first finished 360 game. I expected it to be Assassin's Creed, but I just kind of drifted away from that, and into this instead.

The phrase that best describes this game is "Grand Theft SuperCop". You play a genetically engineered member of the Agency, and your goal is to clean up the city. There's little structure to the game, and the goals are very repetitive. There's three sections in the city, and in each you're supposed to kill lower level gang members to work your way up to the king pin. There's very little AI improvement as you progress, they just get stronger and more guards, better weapons, and more hit points.

The real star of the game isn't the missions, but the environment and the powers. On days I didn't feel like stressing out trying to get to the next boss, I just explored the city, trying to find the various hidden experience and agility globes, or simply trying to increase my levels by throwing cars around and/or blowing them up. Skills improved as you use them, and by the end of the game you can jump a good 30 feet and outrun cars.

I called this "Grand Theft SuperCop" above, and, much as in GTA, you can jack any car and drive it around. There are various races and stunts to do with those cars, and you can play "bowling" with the gang members. But to be honest, driving was the weakest part of this game. It was much more fun, never mind faster, to jump between buildings than to drive a car around. They were squirrely to handle, and would explode too easily. Driving was the one skill I never bothered maxing out. I became expert in Agility, Strength, Guns, and Explosives, but never bothered getting past the early driving levels. It just never really felt useful
sqlrob: (Default)
Title: Touch Detective
Genre: Adventure
Platform: Nintendo DS
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $29.99
Would Pay: $9.99

Another, very conventional, point and click adventure for the DS. Unfortunately, it took mainly the bad conventions of the adventure genre. It wasn't horrible like others I could name, but there wasn't anything for someone that isn't enamored of adventures. The interface takes advantage of the DS, but not to the gimmicky degree that Trace Memory. Many puzzles were solved by "hey, I haven't used this item in my inventory yet, and here's a new situation", and some events were triggered by arbitrary conversations with characters, and there were some pixel hunts as well. Cliched, overdone problems with adventure games, but not done quite enough to make it a horrible game. Not good for those being introduced to the genre, but at least something to try for periods of time without needing to be coordinated. The graphics are apparently hand drawn, and quite pretty for a handheld. The touch screen is perfect for the game play, but the upper screen is underutilized, just indicating the characters moods.

Please, please, please, Lucas Arts, release Day of the Tentacle and Fates of Atlantis for the DS. This handheld is just screaming for a good point and click.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Okami
Platform: PS2
Genre: Action/Adventure
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $39.99
Would Pay: $39.99

Okami is one of those games that have been getting attention from the gaming press for quite a while. Some of those are bad (Daikatana), some of those don't exist (DNF), and some live up to the hype. Okami is definitely one of the latter. It's style is different from any other game out there, as is it's mythos. It is Japanese art and legend come to life. The entire game is done in the style of japanese paintings, and you have the power to draw on these paintings to influence your surroundings. The first few hours of play made me slightly queasy, paintings just aren't supposed to move.

Game play, summed up in one word, is Zelda. You control the sun god in wolf form, trying to defeat the demon that originally killed you. Experience is seldom gained by defeating monsters, but by restoring the environment to an uncursed state and feeding animals. Killing monsters gets you money, both in the form of yen, and if done correctly, demon fangs. A large portion of the game is exploring and backtracking to open up areas as you gain new powers. This game is a definite contender for "Game of the Year", and would probably get it if it didn't have to compete with Twilight Princess and FFXII. The plot pacing brings you up and knocks you down, as [livejournal.com profile] jenbooks can testify to. Final boss already? Whoops, nope. Here we go, *now* it's the final boss. Whoops, nope, repeat a few more times. Although when I finally did get to the real final boss, the battle was epic, taking me a good hour to finish.

The game is not perfect, and would've been better if they left a few things out. They took a little too much from Zelda, and there's a Navi clone. He's not as insistent as Navi, but he's a crude bastard. You meet him as he comes out of a tree sprite's dress, and he makes rude comments to the various women in the game, such as telling one that he "doesn't like seeing her and her two friends" cry, when there's no one beside her in the room. And even Amaterasu, the main character you play, isn't free from some of the crudeness. Some abilities you can buy are "Golden Rage" and "Brown Fury" - you play a canine, so the exact implementation of those abilities is left as an exercise to the reader. I really don't need all this juvenile humor in a game like Okami. It would've been better left out, such juvenile things do not belong here.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Genre: Third Person Action Adventure
Platform: XBox
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $12.99 - 10% (used)
Would Pay: $29.99

This is Soul Reaver 3, except you get to play as both Kain and Raziel and see the storyline from each of their views. This is much closer to Soul Reaver than Soul Reaver 2. I just wish it was a little closer. The Elemental Temples were a shadow of their former selves, although getting to the Water Temple felt almost exactly like puzzles from Soul Reaver 1. It's a shame that more of the game wasn't like this.

The Kain portions were fairly linear feeling, but still fun. You could easily tell where you were going to be as Raziel, as Kain couldn't open Elemental doors and you could often catch a glimpse of one. Some of this overlap was done rather sloppily however. The events of Kain and Raziel were 500 years apart, but sometimes the later time would be cleaner and have less damage than the earlier time even though the area was abandoned for that whole time.

The voice acting and story of the Kain series (Blood Omen and Soul Reaver) are both excellent, although with all the time travel it's hard to know what's going on and who's the good guy and who's the bad guy, although that is part of the charm. The series has kept it's voice actors (RIP Tony Jay, you'll be missed) throughout, making it easy to get into one after playing the others. Although whatever you do, don't play soon after eating. The graphical effects of the underworld can make your stomach do flips.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Dragon Quest Hero: Rocket Slime
Platform: DS
Genre: Action Adventure / RTS
Complete: Yes (main story)
Price Paid: $34.99 (new)
Would Pay: $29.99

<gump>
There's small slimes, big slimes, borg slimes, hard slime, soft slime, soap slime, flying slimes, jumping slimes, hairy slimes, ninja slimes, dog slimes...
</gump>

I swear, this game hits every possible (clean) slime joke in the book. There's no lack of groaners in here at all. You play a slime from Dragon's Quest 8. Your hometown was invaded by the plob (platypus mob), leaving only you in the wreckage.

This is really two games in one. You start out wandering around, trying to find your friends. This works somewhat like the top down Zelda games, and the style is somewhat reminiscent of Minish Cap. Your main weapon is yourself. You stretch and let yourself go, hitting things like a rubber band. As you knock items into the air, you can catch them on your head and can send them to town for later. Enemies that you catch become residents of the town, and if you catch enough, they will help you out.

The second part of the game begins after you find a legendary tank. You get in tank battles at various points of the adventure. You launch ammo that the tank provides at the enemy, trying to shoot down their fire and hit them. Everything you've collected can be used as ammo, and enemies will join you as tank crew members, after you've caught enough of the particular type.

This game is extremely, extremely easy. I died once, and that was fighting the final boss. I didn't lose any tank battles, although some were pretty damn close, with both tanks down to 0 and each crew heading in for the coup de grace to the other. The initial impression of the tank battles was that they were going to be extremely difficult, I barely pulled through by the skin of my teeth. Then I gained the ability to add other crew members to the tank and pretty much dominated most tank battles. The AI of the crew leaves much to be desired, there's no way to tell them what type of ammo to use, which hurt when they loaded good ammo and the other tank launched a mirror.

Despite the games ease, there are little gems in there for gamers. Many of the slimes are puns on characters or items in DQ8, and possibly earlier. The caretaker of the tank is, in a nod to other Square/Enix properties, Cid. Although in this case, he's a platypus with a german accent. I'm still collecting items to try and finish up all the alchemy, another nod to DQ8. There is also a museum with statues of the enemies you capture, with the metal quality (I have bronze and one silver) changing as you capture more monsters. There's tank battles, run by none other than a slime named "Morrie". The main disappointment in this game is that it doesn't take advantage of the capabilities of the DS. It's nice having the two screens, but there is almost no use of the touch screen as an input device except for one mini-"game" where you can scribble.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Syberia II
Platform: XBox
Genre: Adventure
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $17.99 (new)
Would Pay: $3.99

I bought this because I wanted to see where it was going to go after Syberia. To be perfectly honest, that was a pretty poor reason to buy this. Crap like this is why people repeat the litany "Adventure games are dead". I could not bring myself to care about the characters, and the only reason I finished was that I went through so much trouble trying to find it. I simply went through the motions, referring to the FAQ more and more as I got further along. My preference is to use FAQs to the smallest degree possible, but trying to solve some of these puzzles was more of a chore than anything else. Alternating between this and Dragon's Quest may have highlighted the flaws in my mind, but there certainly didn't seem to be anything done right enough to wipe the bad taste out of my mouth. Sure, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, but that doesn't make up for the lack of pacing and kludgy interface.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Dragon Quest VII - Journey of the Cursed King
Platform: PS2
Genre: RPG
Complete: Yes (mainline quest, first ending)
Price Paid: $49.99 (new)
Would Pay: $59.99

First game that I've ever felt was really worth it at more than the prevailing price. The graphics are good, the music is high symphonic, played by the Tokyo Orchestra. The game world is huge, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

This is an old school RPG, little changed from early console games. You go around, bashing monsters to get better items and level up. There are some minor changes (an extremely useful "Heal All" menu option), but everything it is quite close to its pedigree as a console RPG. It's the classic "Teenager's town gets destroyed, goes after destroyer" cliche, but with enough twists to keep you engaged. The sideline quests that opened up after the first ending brought to a close some loose ends that were nagging (and telegraphed from a mile away), and then closes loose ends you never even thought of as loose ends. The removal of the curse ranks right up there with the revelation of the precursors in the Jak and Daxter series. (and yes, if you've played both games, this can be construed as a spoiler ;)

This isn't the perfect RPG, but it's damn good. I would've preferred a save anywhere system rather than save points, but you have to admit, they were creative with the implementation of the save points, with a save being a "confession of your deeds to the Goddess". It took me a while to get used to the monsters, many of which are bad puns (such as the rabbit with a horn - a bunicorn). More disappointing is that they frequently reused models, simply changing their coloration. The more advanced level of the bunicorn, looking the same, only darker, was the "spiked hare". There was a minor bug I ran into with my team, where if they killed a monster with a special move, the monster would happily be standing there with his animations for the rest of the battle. This was the only bug I noticed, and unlike certain other RPGs, it was only cosmetic.

If you've played and enjoyed any turn based RPGs, you owe it to yourself to get this game. I've been playing it for some 140 odd hours, so it is quite the timesink. [livejournal.com profile] jenbooks swore she hated turn based RPGs, she can't stand watching the battle going in an order when they should just be pounding the snot out of each other. She is some 60 hours in now.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Scooby Doo Unmasked
Genre: Platform
Platform: DS
Price Paid: $8.96
Would Pay: $2.99
Complete: Yes

Between this and Trace Memory, I'm starting to think that DS stands for "Damn Short". Where length was the major flaw with Trace Memory, that's not the only problem with Unmasked.

Like Mystery Mayhem, the game is incredibly repetitious. Each of the paltry three levels are do some platforming, get clues, go to newly unlocked area for the other clues, figure out which clues are real, boss battle. Go to next level.

The game is incredibly easy. I don't think enemies killed me a single time, just plenty of deaths from control issues. It was a frequent occurrence that double jumps wouldn't take, and Scooby would fall to his death.

There are some redeeming features, but not enough to give this game a recommendation. The clues aren't simply found as they were in Mystery Mayhem, you have to do some examination with tools and the touch screen to see them. The boss "battles" are an interesting little diversion. You no longer control Scooby, you perform indicated actions on the touch screen before the boss catches up to you. A neat idea, but some of these are too specific and don't necessarily register the way you intended.
sqlrob: (link)
Title:Trace Memory
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Adventure
Price Paid: $29.99
Would Pay: $19.99
Completed: Yes

My first game on the DS Lite. I had to get an adventure game, to see how the genre was going to transfer over to the new platform. In Trace Memory, it did so fairly well. Point and click is really point and click. There are puzzles unique to the DS itself. One was based entirely on the physical properties of the DS. Another was based on something completely unique to the DS. I needed to remove dust off an item. I spent time wandering around looking for something to clean it. No luck whatsoever, and the solution was simple - blow on it. Not issue the command to the character, but literally blow on it.

The characters weren't particularly endearing, you control a whiny 13 (turning 14) girl trying to find her father, but the adventure content was fairly solid. The major problem is the length. This game is incredibly short. I finished it in less than 7 hours, and it would've been even less had I been an experienced DS user. Good game, but certainly not worth list price at it's current cost.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Syberia
Genre: Adventure
Platform: XBox
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $7.99 - 10% (Used)
Would Pay: $19.99

I've been on an adventure kick lately, the past three or four games I've bought on the XBox have all been adventures.

This is much closer to the classic adventure than Dreamfall. This is both good and bad. It was nice solving puzzles and wandering the environment. However, the pacing of the story suffered for it. This didn't reach out and grab me like Dreamfall did. They tried to make the game more real, with the character getting cell calls that were mostly unrelated to the main story. It didn't work very well, being more annoying than anything else.

It took the main character far too long to become assertive. I would've pounded Oscar's head in long before she decided to stand up to him. God, he was an annoying twit.

The ending of the game was rather sudden. I expected to have to get the train through a few more stations before endgame. Instead, the person I'm looking for just decides to show up, game over.


Finally! Caught up in these reviews.


Earl Thomas Conley - Love Out Loud - The Essential Earl Thomas Conley
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Dreamfall - The Longest Journey (Longest Journey II)
Genre: Adventure
Platform: X-Box
Price Paid: $39.99
Would Pay: $39.99
Complete: Yes

I've had as long a history with adventure games as I've had with RPG's. Scott Adams, Adventure, Zork and almost all of the Infocom games, a good chunk of the Space Quest, Kings Quest and Leisure Suit Larry's, all of the Monkey Islands and most of the other Lucas Arts games; I imported Discworld Noir . With the "adventure games are dying" schtick, I go and buy most of the ones when I find out about them, since they're few and far between.

That said, this is more of an "interactive mini-series" than a game. It's fine if that's what you're expecting, but can be a turn off for some. The traditional adventure game puzzles are few and far between. The computer hacking and unlocking that would be puzzles in other games were minigames here.

You play several different characters and this is used to good effect. You get to a climatic moment of the plot, and pow, you're now playing a different character, either simply to stretch out the anticipation, or possibly rescue the character that just got captured. It can get confusing. At one point, you actually play both sides of the same conversation.

This game certainly not the ideal game. Focus is more on conversations than on puzzle solving. Choices also seem to be a magician's choice, responses seem to be slightly adjusted for what you say but don't have any real impact on the story. Graphics for the environment are gorgeous, but the people models are just freaky looking. There are also very few people wandering around the environment. This leads to an annoying quest at one point. It was the classic "fed ex" quest, going back and forth trying to get an introduction to a certain person. As soon as it started, you knew where it was going to end if you did any exploring, but you still had to go through the motions.

The worst thing about this game is the @#$*&( ending. It would be bad enough in a season finale on a TV show, but it was more than five years between the first game and the second. The next game better come out a lot faster.



The Prodigals - The Morning After - Dreaming In Hells Kitchen
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Final Fantasy I & II - Dawn of Souls
Genre: RPG
Platform: GBA
Price Paid: $29.99 new
Would Pay: $34.95 (for the cartridge)
Complete: Sort of. Final Fantasy I complete

As someone who's played RPGs for the last 20 years or more (Temple of Apshai, Bard's Tale, Dragon Wars, Eye of the Beholder,...), Final Fantasy was not something I could turn down. it's the quintessential console RPG.

Ultimately, it's a hack and slash. The story is near non-existent. It's barely enough to get you from point A to point B. There is a nice little twist at the end however, not one I expected. But this game isn't about the story, it's about the level grinding and trying to mop the floor with the next boss.

This is actually my second attempt at Final Fantasy. I also purchased the equivalent game for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy:Origins. It's a toss up which is better, because each has it's pluses and minuses. The PS version has new, nicely rendered cut-scenes. It also has a checklist of the treasures, so you know what you've missed. First and foremost, the GBA version has portability and save anywhere, giving it a bit of an edge. It also has several new dungeons. The dungeons are a nice touch, with the bosses being bosses from later Final Fantasy games. The difficulty of these are insane, as I got my ass handed to me by a couple of these bosses and I was somewhere around level 80. The payoff for these dungeons, especially without the checklist, is rather small, so after trying a couple, I just wrote off the others.

On to Final Fantasy II. From the first hour and a half, this is what began the tradition of the Final Fantasy's being different. It is much more story driven, with more strategy in the character leveling.

This was a busy weekend (for various values of "busy"), I finished another game as well and will try to get that review up sometime soon.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Lego Star Wars
Platform: PS2
Genre: Action/Adventure
Price Paid: $19.99
Would Pay: $19.99
Completed: Yes

This game doesn't really fall victim to the Star Wars curse, but it doesn't exactly break it either. I liked the demo, and when this hit the Greatest Hits collection, I just had to snag it. Lego and Star Wars, what's not to like?

Unfortunately, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. There are no camera controls, you are stuck wherever the game decides to put it. This leads to many, many deaths as you try to make a jump with screwy perspective. There are a lot of characters to unlock (I didn't bother to unlock all of them), but they are largely identical across character classes. Some characters are just plain annoying, namely Yoda. He's nigh on uncontrollable, and once you finish with him in the story mode you never want to bother dragging him out for the freeplay mode. Others, like Gonk are completely and totally worthless, just there as something to unlock. All in all, it's simply a mediocre platformer with a movie license. It has some rail shooter and racing segments, but these only detract from the experience. The best parts are the puzzle elements that you use the Force to solve, and the unique environment destruction. It's amusing to watch ships and enemies blow up into Lego blocks. The AI of the other player character is horrendous. At times it was tempting to plug in another controller and take it over so it just wouldn't get in my way. It didn't have any problems with the two person puzzles, so at least that part of it was implemented properly.

The worst part of the game was the manual. It was extremely condescending, making the assumption that only children play games. I grew up on Star Wars and Legos, so why the assumption that this wouldn't necessarily appeal to adults in at least a nostalgic manner?
sqlrob: (Default)
Title: Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Genre: Third Person Action Adventure
Platform: PS2
Price Paid: $16.98
Would Pay: $19.99
Complete: Yes

They tried to fix the shortcomings of Prince of Persia:Sands of Time, and unfortunately, for the most part, failed.

Some of the changes are intended to broaden the audience, and these destroyed if for me. The music was mostly alternative instead of Middle Eastern. It didn't work for Scorpion King, it doesn't work here. There are more battles, and a lot more boss and miniboss battles. The fighting system is more flexible than PoP:SoT, but it' still annoying, especially since they throw a boss battle in before you're really ready for it in the beginning.

They addressed the length of the original, but not in a good way. You crisscrossed the area, often in different times, but it still felt like an artificial extension, and it was boring. The routes were usually slightly different, but not different enough considering it was usually go to a time fountain, switch times, come back across where you just were. It got to be boring.

The designers tried to add tension to the game by having an indestructible demon chase after you now and again. You had to dodge him, and the environment. It's here that the camera most often got in the way. The angle choice was usually cinematic, rather than playable. Many deaths resulted from this. A nice touch though, the demon often yelled incomprehensible things at you. I caught these sessions in backwards time every once in a while, at which point they became perfectly understandable.

My biggest gripe about this game is that it is far less forgiving than the first one. Traps are touchier and many have to be evaded absolutely perfectly and it's easier to fall off of cliffs in the middle of battles. It brings the frustration level of the game far above that of the first one. I think the primary reason I persevered through it was that a review for The Two Thrones said you had to finish the first two to really understand the third.
sqlrob: (Default)
Title: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Platform: PS2
Genre: Third Person Action Adventure
Price Paid: $19.99 + one rental
Would Pay: $29.99
Complete: Yes

After finishing Shadowman 2, I needed to play a good action/adventure game. Prince of Persia 3 was on sale last week, so I picked up 2 and 3 so I could do a straight run through of the series (well, technically 4,5, and 6, not 1,2 and 3).

I rented this way back when it came out, and made it about 80% of the way through. I got stuck on one of the fights and just quit, with a day left on the rental. Up until then I was pleased with it, and picked it up when it finally dropped down to $19.99.

This game is definitely the heir to the original Prince of Persia. The feeling of agility is incredible, running up and across walls, over spike traps, rolling under a spinning blade and under the door just as it closes. There's close call after close call, with plenty of knuckle-biting moments.

The game isn't overly difficult, but due to all the apparent close calls, there's a real sense of accomplishment in getting through the traps. There's two things that drag the game down overall. The first is the combat. It gets incredibly frustrating to deal with the hordes of regenerating monsters, especially when you also have to protect Farah at the same time. I did better than the first time I played, but I think it was because I used more wall jumps this time through. The second issue is the length. This game is short, complete-able in about 10 hours, less if you're better at the combat. Tone down the combat and add a few levels to the tower, and this would have been the perfect game.

Preview: Prince of Persia 2
I'm about an hour in, and so far, I'm not pleased. More emphasis on combat, which is exactly what I didn't like about the first. Lots of possible combos, but it's also not as "safe" as the first game. I've already thrown myself off the edge of cliffs many, many times pulling off combos, and I don't recall that ever happening in the first game. As of right now, I'm not entirely sure I'll finish it.
sqlrob: (Default)
Title: Shadowman: 2econd Coming
Platform: PS2
Genre: Third Person Action/Adventure
Price Paid: $5.99 - 10% (used)
Would Pay: $4.00
Complete: Yes

This is an extremely mediocre game. Not quite bad enough to quit, unlike others I could mention, but almost. The graphics were dark and bland. Levels were either wide open or tight confined areas, even when they shouldn't have been tight. The user interface was poorly designed, taking many clicks to get to commonly accessed things, like the map.

The developers could apparently read minds, and not in a good way. When you get through a section of jumping puzzles, sighing with relief, "I'm glad that wasn't timed", making the next one timed is not a good thing. Some of the jumping puzzles were harder because of problems with games - poor collision detection, poor clipping, poor control response all piled on each other to complicate things, often in the worst way possible - narrow ledges made effectively narrower by limits on jump;many tries needed to climb a ladder in a timed puzzle, wasting time; collision detection readjusting your position, pushing you off a ledge; the sameness and openness making finding the area shown in the hint cut scene a chore. Some crash bugs near the end causing random crashes almost made me give it up. I knew I was close, so I persevered but the temptation was strong.

The feature I liked most about the game was actually slammed by the author of the FAQ I was using when lost. Dying means extremely little, you are simply placed at the checkpoint of your choice. There is no loss of any other progress, any dead monsters remain dead, switches remain flipped, and, most importantly, the bosses remain damaged. There was no way I could finish the final boss without this. If death was anything more than an inconvenience, I would've quit this game much, much closer to the beginning.
sqlrob: (Default)
Title: Katamari Damacy
Platform: PS2
Genre: ???????
Price Paid: $19.99 (+ borrowed)
Would pay: $29.99
Finshed: Yes

Katamari is one of those game successes that makes little sense. It's not like anything else out there, had little advertising, and the graphics are far from state of the art. It still sold like hotcakes, and for a very good reason - it's fun.

The game itself defies description and classification. You have to wonder how many kilograms of LSD[1] were used in the production of this game. The whole goal of the game is to roll a ball, the Katamari, around to collect of things and make it bigger. It sounds strange, and it is, but the environments are even stranger, with wacked out combinations that make no sense. A pigeon driving a shoe like a bumper car? A teddy bear flying around in a basket? A bear on a rocket bike? No matter how strange, it boils down to "Am I big enough to take this thing into my Katamari?"

The soundtrack is rather catchy too, a combination of Japanese versions of American songs like "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing", and songs that sound like they're original, written for the game. The soundtrack is on [livejournal.com profile] jenbooks' list of CDs to get, it's that catchy.


[1] For those unaware, the dose of LSD is ~100-200 micrograms. If I'm not losing decimal places any where, that's 10,000,000 doses/kilogram
sqlrob: (Default)
Title: Jak 3
Platform: PS2
Genre: Platformer (with weapons)
Price Paid: $19.99
Would pay: $34.95

An excellent entry in the Jak and Daxter saga, although I wouldn't call it a fitting end. It obviously wasn't an end, since Jak X Combat Racing was recently released, but they also left some holes open. You find out who Jak's father really is, and what his birth name is. The precursors also make an appearance in the flesh, and are rather unexpected. Their exact form has been hinted at since the first game, although not quite the way you might expect.

The difficulty of Jak 2 has been toned down quite a bit, at least in most areas. There are a few missions that hearken back to the pure platforming days of Jak and Daxter. Wheeled vehicles are new in the mix, and just don't feel as fun as the rest of the game. I skipped most of the racing side missions, and based on my experiences here, will probably not get Jak X.

The extreme difficulty of Jak 2 was toned down, but not really enough. Act III's overall difficulty was too frustrating, with many gun placement and rail shooting missions close together. Other missions in other acts took many tries, but they were rarely as frustrating as these. The others felt like you were making progress, many of these felt like cheap shots. In the first form of the final boss for instance, the hits from the boss took less than an eighth of your health. However, at random times, with no indication why, the same type of hit would kill you no matter how much health you had.
sqlrob: (Default)
Title:Sly Cooper 2 - Band of Thieves
Genre: 3D Platformer
Platform: PS2
Price Paid: $19.99
Would Pay: $39.99

This is, in one sentence, Ocean's Eleven as imagined by Chuck Jones. Because it's a game about thievery, it's by and large a sneaker. As indicated by my rating, it's still a good game despite my bias against sneakers. Everything has the exaggerated feel of a cartoon, making sneaking fun rather than a chore. Getting caught is seldom an issue, dying doesn't set you back very far. Rather annoyingly though, how much you get set back varies from mission to mission. Some missions set you back to the beginning of the mission, where others would drop you at the end of the previously completed section. There is no way to tell which is going to happen until you die.

This is one of those games that shows the rating is irrelevant to how fun the game is. It is an E (with one minor slip-up). It looks like a cartoon (even more so and is more "classic cartoon" than Zelda), but certainly should not be tossed aside by the discerning adult gamer.