About a month ago I added three games to my collection. One was a Super Nintendo game and the other two were from the PlayStation Store. The latter two first.
They are Galaga and Windjammers. Both were heavily discounted at $1.59 and $1.49, respectively. I don’t play that many games as old as Galaga, but, of them from that era, this is one of my favorites.
Up to this point I’ve never played Windjammers before. I mainly knew of it through podcasts that Jeff Gerstmann was on over the years when he would briefly mention the game. It does look to be one of the many SNK classics!
Finally, I bought King of Dragons on the SNES. This was the final of the three medieval beat-’em-ups made by Capcom that I didn’t have ported to the system. The easiest one to find is Knights of the Round with Magic Sword being a bit more rare. It was $70 for only the cartridge, but I haven’t bought many games in a long time so I had the dough to spare on this purchase.
The main game I just finished playing yesterday for the month of July was Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. It has a lot to like about it. The shooting feels good. The selection of weapons, while small, are all fun to use and it doesn’t make you think you’re missing any additional firearms.
I’m personally not a fan of the old west setting, but when a game like this one is as well crafted as Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is, even I can come around to enjoy it. I did feel the story interrupted the action a bit too often, but it was an interesting way to narrate so I let that slide. On a new game plus playthrough, however, I can’t be as forgiving.
The one aspect of Gunslinger I can’t be in a forgiving mood for is the one-on-one gun duels. These are pass or fail scenarios and while I’ll admit they fit the setting perfectly, they don’t translate into a fun experience for a video game.
It’s all about the majority of the game as a first-person shooter in Gunslinger and if you can fight your way past the duels, you’ll find a fun and satisfying romp through the tales of the old west.
Onto some multiplayer Street Fighter action against Usagi704. At first we played a number of rounds of Alpha 2, but the controls were a lot stricter than I remember or liked. I convinced him to change the game to Hyper Fighting. I had a much better time with the classic turbo update of The World Warrior. We had played about 80+ matches on that game and it was quite fun. We had also put in around 30 matches on Champion Edition too. I think my Guile skills have slightly improved from complete scrub.
I had also played Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. I’ll spare you any repeating of my thoughts here. My review can be heard in a discussion with ebbderelict on Hart & Usagi Podcast episode 66 at 2:07:50.
For the worst game I played all of last year it’d be too easy to give it to a game which I utterly hated playing. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is the perfect example of this. I didn’t enjoy that game at all, but anybody who knows me already knows I have rarely if ever enjoyed my time with a Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Two other contenders for worst game are Crime Fighters and Assassin’s Creed III. The former is an old Konami arcade beat-’em-up. It definitely isn’t their best brawler by a long shot. Their two sequels, Vendetta and Violent Storm, are much better. The latter game is the typical Ubisoft glitchfest that we’re very used to seeing these days. It’s not a big shock it isn’t good.
The winner is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I played this last January and I wasn’t impressed by the simplistic storytelling or the idea that I’m supposed to care for these characters more than I actually do. The attempt to have a heart-warming story was laughable at best. Also the fact this game was developed by Starbreeze Studios is surprising because they’ve worked on better games already. Go back to those titles and leave this pretentious work in the forgotten past.
When it comes to the beat-’em-up genre there’s rarely a video game I can’t get through. From the old school belt scrollers like Super Double Dragon to the more combo heavy games like Bayonetta, I love them all. Well most of them at any rate.
P.O.W.: Prisoners of War, the winner of my Best Retro Game category, was a surprisingly more fun game than I expected, but not the best.
Konami’s arcade game Metamorphic Force is another one of their 4-player machines like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. It has the fluid combat of other hits of their’s like X-Men. The only real problem is the Crime Fighters style of health meter. It constantly and slowly drains over time.
I went back to Sega’s Yakuza series with Yakuza 3 and while fantastic as always, it spent a little too much time on mundane tasks and chores surrounding the children in Kazuma’s care. Less of that and more busting faces in would’ve been a better beat-’em-up meal.
Finally we come to the winner of the award for my 2014 Best Beat-‘Em-Up. This selection probably shocks me more than anybody else. A game for the original PlayStation released only in Japan in 1997. Thanks to Usagi704 I was able to play co-op with him in Panzer Bandit. The quick and simple way to explain how this game plays is that it’s essentially a clone of Guardian Heroes of the Saturn. It’s a very fun chain combo experience that I’d love to play again!
A number of games I have I’ll sometimes go back to them. This is especially the case if it’s short and going to be a quick session to play through. Arcade games fit this bill perfectly. Whether it be Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Contra, Ninja Warriors on Super Nintendo, or the fun horror game Splatterhouse on TG-16 (played during my Halloween Gaming Event). It’s always great to go back to these titles.
The other two games I played I’ve yet to mention are the 1990 Batman arcade game by Atari Games based on the 1989 movie of the same name and the Konami arcade beat-’em-up Crime Fighters. Either are all that good, but at least the Batman game has the licensed property thing going for it.
Other than the Batman license, the game itself isn’t all that exciting. It is entertaining in that it roughly follows the progression of the movie. When fighting the Joker you don’t hurt him as much as push him back. This is done to knock him into the vat of acid on the second stage and, once you get a load of him, to have him fall off of the cathedral.
Crime Fighters was an early attempt by Konami to improve their beat-’em-up titles. This one wasn’t what you’d call a success. It’s a pretty frustrating game to play even once you get a handle on it. The consistent ticking down of your health over time doesn’t make things better. Luckily that same year, 1989, saw the release of a much better 4-player beat-’em-up in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
That’s all for now. Make sure to catch me on the audio side of things in a new episode of the Hart & Usagi Podcast on December 1st and then again on December 8th for Space Suplex.