Tag Archives: 4Q2014

Mega Man X5 — 4Q2014

Photos courtesy of Gamefaqs.com
Photos courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

Duo team attack finish

Brandon-2013-cutout
by Brandon Beatty

MMX5 takes place several months after the events in Mega Man X4, during which the giant space colony Eurasia has been taken over by an unknown reploid known as Dynamo as it was undergoing extensive repairs. As a result, a computer virus infected Eurasia’s gravity control systems, sending it on a collision course with Earth. At the same time, Sigma and his new band of Mavericks have taken control of various areas that have equipment capable of preventing Eurasia’s fall, and he has also launched his own virus across the globe. X and Zero, under orders from their new leader Signas, must go to those areas to acquire the equipment needed to stop Eurasia, and send Sigma back to the scrap heap once more where he belongs.

MMX5’s gameplay remains the same as any regular action-adventure game. You can chose between using X and Zero, who Mega Man X5-01each have unique abilities. I chose Zero because of the option to use his Z-Saber and Z-Buster as more effective combat tools, and also because of his stronger jumping abilities. MMX5 allows both characters to be swapped out during the stage select screen, provided you choose before time runs out. This adds freshness to the gameplay, keeping the game from being too mundane or too comfortable for a chosen character.

I liked the fact that there are new armors in the game that X can start off with. The Gaia armor from MMX 4 is less powerful but Score-4-retrogradestill gets the job done. You can find other armor sets that will give you an advantage, with good old Dr. Light providing insight about them. He has also made a special armor for Zero that you will find later on. I also want to note that if players pay close attention, there will be some background scenes in MMX paying tribute to classic Mega Man and Mega Man X games.

The plot of the game, while a good storyline point with stopping Eurasia, may frustrate you because you would have to defeat the first four Mavericks and later be told that two were developed simultaneously without previous knowledge of both plans. I also questioned the developer’s method of stage planning when they placed Dynamo in nearly every mid battle to delay either X or Zero without any strong challenge, and I questioned why, during Duff McWhalen’s stage, it takes a huge amount of game time to fight off a sub-boss that required running and firing just to keep it at bay.

Despite some frustrating issues, MMX5 is a great game to kill time with and shows how — with proper care and fresh ideas — a gaming franchise can still be relevant. Get the picture, Capcom?

http://youtu.be/rlJKIWgdETw

Mega music

Capcom always had a creative knack for naming Mega Man adversaries. Mavericks in X5 are based off of the original band members of the rock group Guns N’ Roses.

Grizzly Slash – Slash
Squid Adler – Steven Adler
Izzy Glow – Izzy Stradlin
Duff McWhalen – Duff McKagan
The Skiver – Michael Monroe
Axle the Red – Axl Rose
Dark Dizzy – Dizzy Reed
Mattrex – Matt Sorum

Harvest Moon: Back to Nature — 4Q2014

Photos courtesy of Gamefaqs.com
Photos courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

A life that’s second nature

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

A life of farming is never simple. Ask any farmer and they’ll tell you: It’s a tough, tough job that requires before-dawn rising and at-dusk retiring that repeats itself over the course of many a day. There’s also the fear of Mother Nature wrecking your livelihood and outside forces such as other humans stealing from you and running you into ruin. But, thankfully, you can avoid all of that and experience the joy of living off the land at its finest, digitally if you so choose, thanks to Natsume’s Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. And, if you play your cards right and take time to pull yourself away from digging up your ground, you can find yourself a certain Mrs. to share the farming duties with as well.

Back to Nature is the best game in the long-running series. I say this with confidence because it’s one of the only titles in the series to have been remade multiple times with the same setup, just different characters. Every modern Harvest Moon title takes its cue from Back to Nature, as well. The main goal, which stays the same throughout the series, is to take a farm that’s fallen into disrepair and make it into a profitable bastion of hard work and success. Your character works to accomplish this by pulling up his bootstraps and putting in a little elbow grease with little to no help from anyone else, aside from the gnomes he meets tucked away in the crease of the town.

Speaking of the town, you’re tasked with meeting folks and forging Harvest Moon BTN-01some type of relationship with them so that you are considered neighborly. The town’s set schedule makes for interesting interactions and a type of schedule planning not unlike Animal Crossing. While you’re working to save your farm and chatting up the townsfolk, you’re given a third task of finding a suitable lass in town to wife up. If you can manage to put a ring on it by wooing your intended (there are five lovely ladies that you can choose from to pursue with varying likes and dislikes), you’re all but guaranteed to earn your place in the town and be allowed to stay.

Back to Nature is deep, extremely deep. So much so that it takes quite a bit of time just getting the farm up and running in a proper manner that you might make money to sustain it. And that’s Score-4-retrogrademission accomplished for Back to Nature: Get you involved and thinking hard about what it is you want to accomplish in your town. That level of interaction is simple to begin with, and with decent controls it doesn’t get too much harder to maintain. It’s one of the things that I love about Back to Nature. It doesn’t press too hard about mechanics and there’s a wealth of information within the game about crops and caring for animals that can help you maintain a comfortable way of life within the game. But sometimes, the level of comfort you want isn’t always within reach.

While I praise the controls, the effect isn’t always beneficial for you. The game is hard in the beginning, sometimes too hard for its own good. Take, for example, the fact that you arrive in town with basically nothing but the clothes on your back. You’re expected to succeed and settle down there but you have nothing tying you there very much. What’s to say that your player character doesn’t decide that it’s too much, packs up shop and goes home? It’s not very realistic with some of the things you’re tasked with doing, and starting with absolutely no money and trying to rebuild a farm is impossible with no cash flow.

My next problem comes with the cash opportunities afforded in the game. Without cheating, it is nearly impossible to become successful and well off. This leads into a larger problem with the way time is structured in the game as well. While the time aspect has to be different than real time, an entire day should not pass within nearly 30 minutes. It’s extremely hard to get much accomplished in the early going and it demands that you must have a routine in place quickly or risk being left behind. Sure, you’re given a year or two to get things together but it’s hard to make things work on the farm, court a girl and participate in town activities all at once in the short amount of time that passes as a day.

Couple it with the schedule given to the town and there’s a time management problem just waiting to happen. The controls sometimes leave a lot to be desired, too. More than once I’ve had a bucket that I’ve filled with goodies from my plot of land empty just far away enough from a bin that it went wasted. And more than once I’ve been angered by loss of income because it’s on the ground and not able to be reclaimed. But that’s a fact of life in Harvest Moon titles, I suppose.

Otherwise, Back to Nature is a great simulation of farm life. It’s a good way to play a dating sim and life sim all at once with very little consequence for poor choices. Getting back to nature is an idea all of us need to think of at least once, even if it is to digitally pair off and make a fast dollar.

Back to basics

Back to Nature, released in 1999 for the PlayStation One, has been remade several times. The first remake was released for Game Boy Advance as Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town in 2003. Friends of Mineral Town was expanded with a side story, More Friends of Mineral Town — which allows playing from a female farmer’s perspective — in 2005. These were later ported as Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl for PSP in 2005.

ChuChu Rocket — 4Q2014

Photos courtesy of Gamefaqs.com
Photos courtesy of Gamefaqs.com

An epic cat and mouse game

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

Cats in rockets trying to kill mice. As well as being weird, the age-old concept of a cat-and-mouse game is surprisingly addictive. In the form of the Dreamcast’s ChuChu Rocket, the concept manages to jump the barrier of weird and branch into the realm of entertaining.

The game of cat-and-mouse is simple: Lead mice to safety in your rocket with well-placed arrows while avoiding cats that other players will send to hunt the mice. The more mice you have left alive at the end, the better. It’s not hard to get started once you have that basic understanding of the game, and it quickly becomes an addicting exercise of frantic fun to keep mice alive.

The fun thing about ChuChu Rocket is the sheer randomness of everything happening on the playing field. There are so many factors that can affect your mice total at the end of a round that it’s Score-4-retrogradeimpossible to win by talent at moving rodents alone. One must consider the fact that only three arrows can be placed by a character at any given time. With level layout also taken into consideration, the idea that you can be in the lead for five seconds and that be enough to win is a real possibility. Throw in the power-up aspect and constantly changing conditions of the match area and there is a real recipe here for disaster disguised as fun.

It’s a good thing that the game is so fun to play because the ChuChuRocket-02graphics and the music sure aren’t going to draw you in by themselves. The game looks like a 1999 game, which isn’t to say it’s horrible, but it isn’t pretty, either. The graphics date themselves mightily, but that’s not really anything to be ashamed of, since ChuChu Rocket doesn’t exactly need to get by on the quality of the scenery. The music is nothing to write home about, and frankly, I played with it turned off for the majority of the time that I’ve owned the game. It really adds nothing to the overall experience and after a short time, it becomes rather irritating. But, like the graphics, it isn’t really what you came here for.

What you’re going to take away from ChuChu Rocket depends on what you’re looking for. In this day and age, 15 years after its original release, you can take a solid party game from this that’s a highly quirky title worthy of many replays or you can see a weird 15-year-old game about cats chasing mice with questionable game conditions attached. Rat infestation issues aside, ChuChu Rocket is a great rat race into nostalgia.

Injustice: Gods Among Us — 4Q2014

Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com
Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com

Justice takes a new form

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

There have been a few DC Comics fighting games that have taken advantage of its variable superhero and metahuman roster. Justice League Task Force and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe are among those that come to mind. And because of MK vs. DC Universe, brought to you pre-Midway implosion by the company that created that step in the direction of redemption, DC was able to foresee the fruits of making a decent game based on their properties. Enter Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Let’s get straight to the point: Marvel has had the market cornered on fighting games involving superheroes for some time now, thanks to the resourcefulness and shady undertones that are Capcom. So, for Injustice to stand a chance in the suddenly re-crowded fighting game arena, it had to be something special. Thanking those gods among us, it is.

Injustice plays much like the 2011 reboot of Mortal Kombat. The combat system is a lot like it in tone and rhythm and the animation style and framing is much like it as well. If you can play that incarnation of MK, more than likely you’re going to be able to pick up Injustice and run with it in a few short hours. And much like the MK reboot, there’s much more under the pretty coat of nostalgia. Injustice is deep, with plenty to keep the fighting game crowd coming back for more and just enough to pique the interest of casuals who don’t know much about fighting games but want to see who would win in a Batman vs. Superman battle.

Score-4-5That’s something else that’s going to draw in even the uninitiated: the name recognition. Yes, lots of folks now know who the merry band of mutants are over at Marvel, but millions more know the names Batman, Joker, Superman, the Flash, Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman. That instant brand recognition is what compels a certain part of you to come back and learn more about what’s really a good game. While you might not know who Doomsday is or why the Omega Sanction is instantly fatal to most living beings, you know the names behind the main characters for play, or at least most of them, by sight alone.

That brand recognition plays a large part in why the game is Injustice-02successful in its mission: The package around it doesn’t have to be slick and beautiful, but it is. And it’s enough to make the price to play worth it. Taking into account the work that NetherRealm Studios previously completed, Injustice is quite the step up graphically. Every background is gorgeous and lavish in the game that’s already beautiful from the outset. The graphics step up from MK vs. DCU in a way that have to be seen to be believed. And while it doesn’t seem like the game could get any better looking, then there’s the character models. Every character is accurate, down to the details from storyline arcs such as Crisis on Infinite Earths differences. However, while the graphics wow, the music isn’t great. It’s not terrible, either, but it’s not exactly turn-up-the-volume quality. It’s just there, which is highly unusual for the team known for producing outstanding soundtracks in the MK series.

I may not be able to tell you exactly who would win in a fight between Darkseid and Black Adam, but I can make the point that Injustice does the DC universe quite a bit of, well, justice when it comes to a quality fighting game featuring the Dark Knight, Boy Wonder and Man of Steel.

Which version to buy?

There are two versions to choose from: regular edition and ultimate edition. Ultimate edition, while costing considerably more, is the better bargain because it features all of the released DLC and character skins. It also comes with Mortal Kombat combatant and stalwart Scorpion as a playable character.