Now Playing: March 2020

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Back in December I mentioned that I had played a number of racing games. This time the variety has arrived.

The big game this time was Syndicate’s single player. I enjoyed what I played, but it seemed to not allow the player to utilize the special abilities that it had available at most times. There are these armored enemies that are invulnerable to attack until disabled. The final boss (or at least what I expected) had this issue along with high damaging attacks. Any of those special abilities also can’t be used against these enemies or this boss. This lead to a frustrating fight that felt very cheap and uninteresting to finish. The multiplayer portion I played years ago still remains much more worth playing.

Trine 2: Complete Story was more of the same when compared to the first title. Because of this I felt less interested to continue after 12 stages of a total of 20. The frustration of Syndicate’s last boss fight continued with the PSP version of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. This isn’t the same game as the home console versions and I did go into it knowing the difficulty. The first boss here wasn’t hard to figure out. The game cooperating was an issue. It didn’t seem like the animation was programmed for the better.

The rest of my time was spent with the old school side of gaming.

* Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition — I played this against Usagi704 where his Lipsyncher was devastating. I also had a trial mode win streak of six. That’s the game’s survival mode.

* Super Chase H.Q. — I was able to get to the final of five stages (or rounds as the game calls them) on the allotted three continues. It’s quite tough, but it’s still a fun first person style of the third person original arcade game, Chase H.Q. Maybe some day I shall complete that fifth and last round.

* Axelay — The still fantastic looking Super Nintendo shoot-’em-up from Konami. It’s overall more basic playing than other similar shooters at the time. It’s wow factor is from the weapon switching, music, and the superb graphics. I was able to get to the very end on Easy after many tries. Eventually I used a Game Genie (the horror) to get seven lives instead of only three. This did help me in beating the game (and, yes, this still counts, you macho masochists).

* Galaga, Double Dragon, & Double Dragon II: The Revenge — These arcade classics are easy and quick ways to have fun for a few minutes. The Arcade Game Series release of Galaga has the great feature of allowing you to start on the last stage you’ve reached. Mine is currently on stage 88. No online high scores can be set this way, but that’s to be expected. The first Double Dragon can also be called “Back Elbow: The Game.” Just execute that very move on every enemy for the most damage. In Double Dragon II this move is more enemy specific plus the game is overall more challenging. I finished Double Dragon and also effectively did so with an endless game like Galaga.

Now Playing: December 2019

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The previous three months has been a trying time to find a game I can get into. I succeeded, but the percentage was low. The racing games of Hydro Thunder (PS), Burnout 2: Point of Impact (PS2), and Flatout 2 (PS2) were more of the usual rubber-banding AI opponents that can make for a frustrating experience.

Flatout 2 had the worst of this issue, but the most annoying problem was the destructible track elements that got in the way on later laps once they were destroyed the debris was laying about. Burnout 2’s deal was solely the issue of the AI being perfect. I was having fun even when not winning, but once a certain mountain area track was what I was currently racing there seemed to be no way to progress regardless of the car I selected. Arcade racer Hydro Thunder was fun, but the bare bones presentation and odd decision to lock tracks behind a currency earning progression system was where I fell off of this one.

I then went to portable side of gaming with my DS Lite and PSP. I was hankering for some Puzzle Quest, but Puzzle Quest: Galactrix was too much of a departure of what made the first game so enjoyable. On top of that they added timed puzzle to complete. This is not what I call a fun Puzzle Quest experience. It was an immediate turn this game off moment.

I had the sequel on hand so I inserted the cartridge for Puzzle Quest 2. It was much more of the traditional fun game with additions that are much more welcome. There isn’t any timed puzzled, thankfully. I didn’t complete the game, but at least I had gotten my fill of Puzzle Quest in a more satisfying way.

Medal of Honor Heroes 2 was a first person shooter, as one would expect, but it’s on the PSP. Because of this everything hinges on how good the controls are. They’re…decent. It’s not a quick reflexes style of the recent Call of Duty titles on home consoles. It’s quite plodding to be very honest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mainly suffer from AI that can aim accurately. This is bad when you’re under a time limit to get out of a base that’s going to explode! This is precisely the scenario I was in when I hung this game’s boots up and moved on.

The game I moved onto was a 2019 released game, if you can believe it. It was The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors. Not a new game in practice since the original version was from 1994 on the Super Nintendo. I love the original and this is definitely a worthy improvement. I’m not fond of the two new characters or that you can’t grab and throw the level 1 boss, but otherwise it’s excellent. The game didn’t need a two-player mode, but it’s done well enough with both players sharing the life and blaster (battery in the new version) meters.

Finally, I not only bought The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors in the last month or so, but I was also given Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night by Usagi704 for Xmas. My total new games for the year of 2019 is a big ol’ seven.

nsrofw-brotn

Hart & Usagi #94: Action In An Elevator

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In episode 94 we chat about the Yakuza Remastered Collection, Tetris 99 coming to retail stores, and our time playing select games in Taito Legends 1 and 2 on the PlayStation 2.

Enjoy and remember to subscribe via RSS or iTunes and follow the Hart & Usagi Podcast on Twitter!

TOPICS:
* Games Won’t Be Any Cheaper on the Google Stadia
* Tetris 99 For Nintendo Switch Coming To Physical Stores This Fall
* The Switch Mini Is Officially the Portable-Focused Switch Lite, Has Multiple Compromises Over Original Switch
* Bethesda’s Classic Doom Re-Release Requires a Bethesda Account
* Three New Street Fighter 5 Characters Leak Ahead Of Evo 2019
* Walmart is Quietly Removing Violent Video Game Advertising From Its Stores
* TurboGrafx-16 Mini Adds Seven More Games To Complete Lineup, Including Splatterhouse
* Phil Spencer Doesn’t Think That Cloud Systems Will Fully Replace Traditional Consoles Just Yet
* Sony Acquires Ratchet and Clank, Spider-Man Dev Insomniac Games
* Ion Fury Developer Donates $10,000 to Charity After Furor Over Transphobic Comments
* Yakuza Remastered Collection For PS4 Announced, Starting With Yakuza 3

Listen or Download (1:31:26)

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Mike: @usagi704 | Domain of Usagi704 | Instagram

@HartandUsagi

Now Playing: July 2019

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This time out the group of games I played are from April through mid-July. There’s 12 in total with only three finished. Here we go!

The first game on tap is also one of the three I beat: Ghost Squad. This home port of Sega’s arcade light gun shooter works well on the Wii. I don’t have the plastic zapper shell for the controller, but you obviously don’t need it since there isn’t any additional hardware built in. It was a very fun and repeatable three mission structure with some alternate paths to take. I particularly liked earning and using the additional weapons and outfits available. The latter can get somewhat comical at times since the player character is the only one who changes outfits with the rest of the squad remaining in normal gear.

I was looking forward to getting into a new beat-’em-up with Batman: The Brave and the Bold (also on Wii). It didn’t pan out well, however. The training before the game actually begins makes the mistake of throwing every ability at you at once. Of course, you’ll eventually forget some of them long before you’ll need them. My biggest issue was with the overall feeling of the brawling. It wasn’t as mindless fun as I was hoping for. There’s more puzzle aspects to this game’s fighting that’s often enough that it feels like the momentum of a level keeps getting interrupted. I had to check out of this game fairly early on.

Two shoot-’em-ups I played for a little bit was the TG-16’s Final Soldier (via VC) and Raiden IV: Overkill on PS3 (via PSN). The former was a fantastic time until I got slaughtered on stage 5. At least it was nice getting to that point. I can’t say as much for the latter game. I didn’t quite understand the new Overkill Mode, but the normal Arcade Mode was the typical Raiden shooting experience. In that to say it isn’t great. I enjoy the original game and the sequel, but after those (like I am with the Contra series) they don’t appeal to me as much.

Next up on the list is Ninja Spirit. The game is pretty tough until you realize that all you need is the explosive weapon 3 and it’s fairly smooth sailing from then on. I got to what I call the “ninja pit” and was stopped fully in my tracks. I don’t know exactly how to reach the bottom without being touched since it only takes one hit to kill you. It’s the last major obstacle before the final boss if I ever clear it.

Speaking of Contra, I also played, but was unsuccessful in beating Contra Rebirth. While I was able to get to level 4, I’m not exactly the best at managing the switching of the weapons. This was a gameplay mechanic that debuted in Contra III in 1992.

I’m not sure exactly what to say about Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris other than it’s available for download on PlayStation 4 and, well, it’s a Tomb Raider game. I liked it for what it was, but I definitely still prefer the traditional presentation of the series in Tomb Raider: Legend or the 2013 reboot.

More recently I’ve been playing some PlayStation 2 suggested games from readers like you. Of course, I have to already own the games because I’m not in a position to be purchasing whatever anybody suggests. First was Lifeline, the USB audio voice directed game from Konami. I knew going in I wouldn’t be playing it very long because it doesn’t always understand was you are saying. Well, I didn’t even successfully get to the title screen as my current USB headset wasn’t compatible. Oh well. It’s not much of a loss.

ICO was another suggestion and it goes without saying that this was a much better idea. I’m not into these more artistic style of games usually so I’m not going to be as impressed with it like so many others have been. I’m happy for those people, but I’m simply not one of them. I’m at the Crane section, but I needed a more action packed distraction.

That distraction was Power Rangers Dino Thunder on PS2. In this game you don’t play as the Rangers themselves, but instead as their Zoids. I think there’s 5-6 total in the game. Zeltrax is the main boss in the game that you fight twice in very similar battles each time. Unfortunately, you never seen the TV show’s main villain, Mesogog. He’s only spoken about. This was the third game I beat.

Another suggestion I’m playing a little of is the arcade version of Bubble Bobble via Taito Legends. The best I’ve done this time around is round 7. I’ve previously hit as high as round 16.

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out my podcasts over in the sidebar.

Now Playing: March 2019

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Since November I played and completed Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, which was good, but it wasn’t the amazing experience I remember the original game being. I feel it side loaded a linear game into an open world style that it never needed.

I also played and beat Call of Duty: Black Ops. Oh what a mess that single player campaign was. I didn’t feel like I needed any skill to get through the levels. They were just a cavalcade of spectacle and little else. I never felt like my actions ever had an impact on anything that was going on. The game was setup in a way that with or without the player the levels were going to play out the same.

The last game I played was Borderland 2. If you played the first, as I did, then you were in for more of the same. I was hoping for more of a change in the game’s structure, but that was not to be. Any changes or additions made were minor and meaningless. I played it long enough to realize that doing everything was having it overstay its welcome. Eventually, I only did the story missions and skipped all optional ones (which were a ton). Even then it was too long when what I thought was going to be the final battle turned out to be a fake out. I was done at that point and that’s no fake out.

I’m not sure what I’ll be playing next, but I’m sure it’ll take longer than it otherwise would because that’s how I roll. :)

Now Playing: November 2018

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So what have I been up to as far as video gaming is concerned in the month of November? Why is was Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, of course. I’ve explained some of my thoughts on the game on the Hart & Usagi Podcast recently.

I felt that the open world style doesn’t suit the gameplay of Mirror’s Edge to my tastes as much. It does work in reality, but just not as much for me. I’d rather the linear level design of the first game over this. The combat is much better in that guns are mostly absent. Faith can’t use them and only one type of lower level enemy does use them. The heavy damage dealt with an attack after a wallrun, slide, or the like really feels good. If this sounds somewhat interesting of a game to you, certainly don’t let my mediocre feelings about it stop you from seeing it for yourself.

I only bothered with one other game during this same time period. It’s effectually, what I like to call, Kid Niki 2. This is because this is the sequel on the Famicom to what we got known as Kid Niki on the NES. It’s title is Kaiketsu Yancha Maru 2: Karakuri Land. I played Usagi704’s copy and, as he said beforehand, it’s easily finished on your first try. It’s enjoyable despite being a very average game.

The only other gaming related thing I did was watch Max on Twitch play the Blackout mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. His skills along with something about the Call of Duty version of this battle royale phenomenon has been fun to view. I have no interest whatsoever to watch the other popular games or play any of them myself. Granted, I’m not that surprised I’ve watched him play this for hours and hours. In the past I’ve liked watching his regular Call of Duty multiplayer matches in previous games. So these two things are just great together. :)

Now Playing: August-October 2018

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So I’ve been playing these things called “video games” and I figured I’d tell you about some of them. :D

The Bourne Conspiracy follows the events of The Bourne Identity and adds a bit more to it to lengthen the game. You play just about every major and minor scene from the movie including the big car chase scene. That specific moment, however, is done poorly and is not all that fun. Luckily most of the game is beat-’em-up and shooting style of gameplay. There are opportunities for stealthy takedowns, but it’s not required and is the other part of the game that’s also not done all that well.

Speaking of stealthy gameplay, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus on the Game Boy Advance is much better at it than the above game. It’s also much more enjoyable than TMNT 2 on the main consoles of its time like the PlayStation 2. You have to find crystals throughout the levels, but you have to use each turtle because each have different abilities allowing you to access places the others can’t reach. The difficulty of combat is fairly easy, but it’s welcome in this way since the traversal is what keeps you wanting to play some more.

I finally got around to playing *the* Spider-Man game that gets all the praise since it’s 2004 release and that’s, obviously, Spider-Man 2. The praise is pretty much universally for the swinging abilities and it’s well deserved. But, that’s where it ends, in my opinion. The points needs to progress the story from menial rescues are very repetitive. I also didn’t enjoy most, if any, of the boss battles. I don’t dislike the game. I just wish it was as good as its reputation leads you to believe.

Of the four games I played in these last few months, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the most fun. I liked the first two games quite a bit, and I still like them the most, but this game was a step up from the disappointment of Uncharted 3. Sam is a great companion and Sully’s dry wit is as welcome as always. The overall gameplay isn’t much different and that’s okay. It was good to begin with.