EarthBound Beginnings

As it stands, however, EarthBound Beginnings is merely average. In its best moments, it comes off as a rougher – yet charming – outline of a concept that would find its full maturity in the Super Nintendo; at its worst, though, it is badly hurt by spikes in difficulty that make a lot of its combats seem unfair and by an absence of direction that can easily cause one to get lost in its pleasantly vast and open world. Due to those shortcomings, the game becomes worth it only to those who are huge fans of the saga or to RPG lovers who can take the constant grinding without being overcome by frustration or boredom. Without those thorns, EarthBound Beginnings could have been thoroughly lovable in its strangeness and heart; with them, it becomes a quirky and moving tale that is obscured by a lack of much needed polish.

Full Post

Advertisements

Playing Miyamoto – Part III

With the arrival of Super Mario Maker 2 and its pretty spectacular level-making component, there also comes the opportunity for us fans to wear our Shigeru Miyamoto hats in order to try our hands at some level-design – an activity that ends up revealing itself to be not only rewarding, but also quite hard. So, like I did the last time around, I decided to gather the stages I have constructed so far in a post to share them with those who visit this space as well as to talk a little bit about what went into their creation.

Full Post

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

There are plenty of complaints that can be throw at Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Save for the lack of polish exhibited by its wild jumps in difficulty, though, none of them are significant enough to hold the title back; and even in that case, it is possible to look on the bright side to see this excellent remake as a racing title that contains a magnitude of challenge that succeeds in pushing even the most skilled players to the very edge of their abilities. Everywhere else, the title shines as one of the strongest entries in the genre, achieving notable positions in the amount of content it sports, in the sheer depth of its demanding mechanics, and in the impressive variety of modes it has. And due to those awe-inspiring qualities, the frustrations that are bound to rise from the occasional encounters with absurd AI behavior are likely to come off as situations that can be overlooked in favor of the chance to appreciate the considerable achievement in kart racing that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is.

Full Post

Cadence Of Hyrule

Cadence of Hyrule is as great as it is unlikely. And although much of its excellence can be attributed to the high quality found in the pieces that constitute it, the addictive gameplay of Crypt of the NecroDancer and the prowess in adventure of The Legend of Zelda franchise, the biggest reason for the experiment’s success lies in how it fuses those parts to form a quest that is similar yet different from the products that inspired it, forging a game that would have not existed otherwise. Its focus on quirky rhythm-based combats and its reliance on randomly generated environments hold it back from being universally recommendable, not just because of its peculiar mechanics, but also due to how some may end up perceiving it as repetitive. However, it is undeniable that Nintendo and Brace Yourself Games found an incredible middle ground between the global appeal of the properties of the former and the straightforwardness of the output of the latter. And Cadence of Hyrule reaches for greatness from that territory, smoothing out the roguelike grind of Crypt of the NecroDancer while boosting it with the visual and musical proficiency of The Legend of Zelda as well as with the franchise’s knack for birthing well-designed adventures, making it hard to conceive the partnership between a giant of the industry and an independent studio could have yielded something better.

Full Post

Resident Evil Zero

Resident Evil Zero is, much like its chronological sequel, a flawed game, with the shortcomings it exhibits being of a magnitude and frequency that make them very hard to ignore. At the same time, though, its prowess in matters of tension and fear is absolutely notable, because playing it is being constantly surrounded by sheer dread, whether stemming from an unshakable feeling that something horrifying is always about to happen or originating in its sometimes overwhelming shortage of resources, and that ability is boosted by a fairly original gameplay setup that finds its own signature both in a slightly heavier focus on action and in the presence of a duo of protagonists that must work together in order to survive. And it is thanks to those excellent features that the game justifies its existence, for although it does not succeed either in improving on the chapter that it works as a prequel to or in satisfyingly filling up the blanks it left, Resident Evil Zero plays sufficiently different but also pleasantly familiar to it, and even if such proximity does not continuously work for the best, it ends up being more positive than negative.

Full Post

Kid Icarus

Without so many sources of overwhelming frustration and points that reveal technical inconsistence, Kid Icarus could have been hailed as a classic upon its original release and still hold that status until the present day. As it stands, however, it is a game that, albeit good, has to be tackled with patience and willingness to overlook its rough edges. Its mixture of platforming and shooting is remarkable, and it is even more engaging due to how the adventure offers rewards to those who are efficient in the killing of enemies. Additionally, its gameplay variations, which include dungeons of The Legend of Zelda inspiration as well as stages that scroll sideways and upwards, keep it fresh and entertaining all the way through. Because of that, although it is understandable the franchise was kept for so long in a limbo, it is also slightly sad Nintendo temporarily abandoned the unique formula, in both gameplay and mythological theme, they uncovered with the title. Just like it deserved a shot at modern stardom with a new installment, Kid Icarus also deserves to be played by a contemporary audience; even if not everyone will make it to its end, the game has enough quality and flexibility to hold some value to a wide and varied public.

Full Post

Metroid

Given it has a remake that gets rid of nearly all its frustrating issues and that makes its adventure, which is in essence quite good, accessible and fun to modern gamers, revisiting the original Metroid is only really justified by the curiosity to catch a glimpse of the franchise’s start in its pure state. Those who choose to do so, will be able to witness how an NES game was able to succeed in creating an astoundingly immersive atmosphere inside a technically limited scope, and they are bound to find the game’s mixture of action and non-linear exploration to be engaging to a certain point. Nevertheless, they are also likely to come across a myriad of issues in presentation and design that severely harm the overall experience. Metroid is a strong game, and it is certainly one of the system’s most alluring efforts, whether one takes into consideration the franchise it spawned or not; however, time has not been too kind to it, as it has amplified the problems that existed on the day of its release and brought new shortcomings to light.

Full Post

Resident Evil

The immaculate and horrific atmosphere of Resident Evil is clearly the product of a game whose every single piece was designed to serve its ability to create tension. Sometimes, that subordination works for the best, as it is the case of its frightening scenarios, its calculated soundtrack, its obscure and fragmented storytelling approach, its controlled yet open-ended exploration, its ominous puzzles, and its dedication towards putting players in situations where life is only maintained through grueling survival. Sadly, that focus also causes a couple of considerable slips, which come to the surface in its constantly shifting and fixed camera angles as well as in the extreme implementation of its inventory system. As big as these problems may be, though, Resident Evil is just too successful in mixing genuine horror with engaging gameplay to be contained by any of that. Once it starts, its infectious suspense breaks through whatever physical barriers stand on its way, quickly surrounding gamers and immersing them inside a thriller that tests one’s capacity to both be resilient and not look away.

Full Post

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

In spite of both the big and small steps it takes in the direction of getting away from comparisons to the giants that Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World are, the game simply cannot escape them. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is fun, and it occasionally exhibits signs of great originality and excellence, as it does in its stunning scenario variety and in its absence of linearity. Still, the fact that it does not really shine where it matters the most – that is, in its level design – and that its focus lies on gameplay that is way too similar to that of its console counterparts holds it back considerably. It is, by all means, a major improvement over the content presented in its prequel; and it appeared as a sign that the Super Mario line of handheld games was advancing quickly. Nonetheless, a major burst of creativity was still missing in order for the saga to truly find its footing in the portable world.

Full Post

Super Mario Land

Based around a format that, throughout history, has time and time again proven itself to be quite efficient, it is hard to call Super Mario Land a bad game. And its mesmerizing commercial success at the time of its release certainly shows Nintendo did quite well in bringing the world’s most popular platforming series to a handheld system for the first time ever. Nonetheless, although its status as the game that opened up the floodgates for that sort of transition is preserved, the value of its gameplay has been heavily eroded as time has passed. In spite of how it is certainly thematically weird, its oddity is not enough to make it remarkable; and despite featuring a couple of noteworthy detours, they have neither the prominence nor the frequency to turn Super Mario Land into a must-play. For those reasons, the plumber’s first portable entry stands solely as a curiosity for the character’s most avid fans; because anyone else is bound to be rather unimpressed by it.

Full Post