Tag Archives: PlayStation One

Shiritsu Justice Gakuen: Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2 — 2Q2015

Rival Schools 2-10Rival Schools 1.5 is still fun

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

We here at GI are strong proponents of anything Japanese, fighting games and education. So, you can imagine the delight that is a generous mix of all three. To that end, it should be obvious by now that we love Rival Schools and its overall series Project Justice. Despite the fact that it comes from the brain trust known as Capcom, we’re still entranced by the concept of Japanese high school students fighting to save themselves.

Score-3-5-retrogradeThe middle game in the series, Rival Schools 2, is an interesting addition to the family of fighting games. It’s neither a true sequel nor a spin-off of the original game. It’s an addendum, which Capcom is notorious for pushing on the general buying public. It’s more of the original game — which we love — with some upgrades thrown in to make it worth importing. This version was never released in America, thus there are modes that you will never see. That makes importing the game worth the time and trouble.

RS2 is your standard fighting game, which doesn’t make it unique. Rival Schools 2-09However, the inclusion of the board game mode and the character creation mode that plays out like an eroge simulation are some of the goodies that we’re missing out on in the U.S. There’s also the addition of three new characters: Ran, a photojournalist who uses her camera to attack; Nagare, a swimmer; and, Chairperson/Iinciyo, who leads the charge for Taiyo High School students to defend themselves. Other than these gifts, there’s not much different here than the first game. You’re still fighting to defend your chosen school, and there’s still fun to be had in a slightly deep fighting game system. There’s not too much different aesthetics-wise, in that there are a few new stages and new stage themes. The older stages are still here and it’s fun to play against the newcomers with older characters or a created character.

JP flag w stick iconI have two caveats with recommending the game to others. The first is the fact that it’s in Japanese mostly and reading is a must to get through the character creation and board game modes. That’s a bit much if you’re not into the language or know enough to navigate through menus. The other issue is the fact that, as usual, Capcom has seen fit to deny American gamers the best of a series, shortchanging loyal money-spending fans who would pay a high price for the goodies of the character creation mode and the board game mode. The dirty truth of it all is Capcom has never thought highly of its American audience. We’re not going to see something awesome like either mode because “we just wouldn’t get it anyway.” A fun fact is that both modes were to be included in the first game but were left out in America because it would have been too much trouble to include them for Americans, according to Capcom of Japan. But we’re smart enough to make cash grabs off of for multiple version of Street Fighter, though, right?

The moral of this story is that Rival Schools and its further sequels all deserve to be played by a wider audience. Although it’s a slight rehash of the first game, RS2 was deserving of respect and a proper introduction to the American audience. Thankfully, we were allowed to see the next sequel, Project Justice. Here’s hoping for a class reunion.

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.