Now Playing: April 2015

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My big game this last month was Far Cry 3. I talked about my initial feelings on it during the previous Now Playing article. In an odds and ends blog post I talked about how my supplies were all upgraded. “In The Far Cry South” was about how my progress at that time was going on the southern island in the game. I finally finish up the game at 44 hours in “From Far Cry 3 to GBA.”

In that last link just above I had hoped to take some time dedicated to the Game Boy Advance. The reason being is I plan on chatting on the next Hart & Usagi Podcast about it.

I’ve recently played and finished Power Rangers Time Force. Now granted I’m not expecting an incredible game by any means when it comes to a licensed title. It was a good thing I wasn’t because I definitely didn’t get it. It’s as simple as get to the end of the stage without getting every Ranger killed. Then you take on the boss where the best way I found to defeat them was to use the super move by having full meter, hold B to charge, and then press L or R. Once the megazord battle happens it’s just as simple mash the B button until you win. Anything like “smart tactics” will only get you a continue screen.

I also played some of the GBA version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. I’ve unlocked level 2 in career mode, but I’ve been having a problem getting any farther. It goes to show, I guess, that I’ve never been very good at the Pro Skater games, but I have always appreciated them. My biggest issue with the game is the isometric perspective. I’ve never been much of a fan of this view because it’s difficult to tell aerial distance for jumps and this game is all about the aerial moves.

My next GBA games to tackle are CT Special Forces and Gunstar Super Heroes. I played the former’s sequel first back in 2004 and the latter’s Genesis classic in 2011.

As always keep gaming!

Complete In Box Fridays: The Perils of Having Standards

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Axelay, Castlevania Double Pack, and Lords of Thunder were the subjects of the last three Complete In Box Fridays articles. This week, however, I’ll be throwing out a theme instead. The theme is, oh how do I word it, complete in a somewhat crushed box? Yes, I do believe that will do. :D

The examples I have of this crushed box theme are the following three Game Boy Advance titles: Metal Slug Advance, Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend, and Dead to Rights.

My interest in Metal Slug Advance was solely because I didn’t realize the GBA had an entry from the Metal Slug series on it. It also had at least one new character who hasn’t appeared in any of the other games. I ended up purchasing it back in May of 2009 and played/finished it a year ago last January. Currently a complete copy goes for $20.50.

METAL SLUG ADVANCE: (click to enlarge)
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Because it had fairly high scores from those who reviewed it, namely IGN and Nintendo Power, I chose to buy Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend in October 2008. I played and finished the game in December 2010 where I talked at length about how my experience with the game went. Hint: better than expected. It’s difficult to find information on the price of this rare game, but it seems to go for no more than about $15 at the moment.

BRUCE LEE: RETURN OF THE LEGEND: (click to enlarge)
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Dead to Rights is a series I’ve never played despite owning the original game and its sequel on the PlayStation 2. They’re decent playing games from what I’ve read over the years. Of course I didn’t purchase Dead to Rights for the Game Boy Advance expecting anything other than the 33% rating it has received. I think it was more about me feeling sorry for the crushed GBA box I saw in Toys-R-Us in 2010. It was only $3 and I felt a need to rescue it. Needless to say I haven’t played this version yet. It’s current price is $11.

DEAD TO RIGHTS: (click to enlarge)
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Thanks for reading and please look forward to episode 36 of the Hart and Usagi Podcast which should be available sometime this weekend at the earliest.

#CIBfridays

Now Playing: January 2013

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The first game I finished for the new year, and two days in at that, was Double Dragon Neon. I was very excited for this game when it was released back in September. Sadly, I may have just waited too long to play it. I didn’t have as much fun with the game as I was hoping for.

It’s not a bad game by any means. I know it sounds like I’m apologizing for it, but I do think it was my inability to master the controls as well as I wanted to which made for a more aggravating time. The key is to activate Gleam as often as possible by performing split-second dodges of enemy attacks to be able to deal out at least double damage.

Everything else was enjoyable about the game. The graphics give that ’80s vibe and the music, redone and new, are fantastic. Skullmageddon is a fun and funny villain and his one-liners will stick with you. Now where’s my promised online co-op?

It should come to no surprise that I played another version of Street Fighter II. It’s Champion Edition on the TG-16 to be exact via the Virtual Console. It became finished game number two.

SFII CE here is another typical 16-bit port of what you’d see at the time. Compared to others on the SNES or Genesis it looks close though there are a few missing elements like the foreground fence on Zangief’s stage as an example. Otherwise the controls are tight and the sound effects sound as you’d hope for. However, the music itself is quite bad and shows why this should’ve been a CD based game. All the stage music is much less than desirable ranging from tolerable (Zangief’s stage) to don’t-choose-that-stage garbage (Sagat’s stage). It’s not hard to still recommend the SNES version, SFII Turbo, over all other 16-bit ports.

The last time I played a Crash Bandicoot game was the third PS1 game, Warped, in 2009. After the PS1 era the series saw a number of developers make titles for it. One of those studios was Vicarious Visions and the game was Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced on the Game Boy Advance.

This game, other than being in 2D, is very much mimicking the Naughty Dog titles. The sounds effects are carried over and the graphics are as close to its 3D counterpart as one might expect.

I always fancied myself as a small fan of the Crash Bandicoot games, but I think I’ve finally realized that maybe this isn’t the case. Even when I played Crash Bandicoot: Warped, it always felt like the difficulty was either too easy or spiked too hard in many instances. I didn’t ever feel there was a good middle ground. This second GBA title doesn’t change things in this regard. In fact, it might have made them worse with the new ideas for some of the levels.

If you’re more of a fan of the Crash games, then you might find N-Tranced to be fun, but other than Crash of the Titans in the future, I’m probably done.

THIS MONTH’S GAMING STATS:
* Double Dragon Neon – #1 finished; 4h35m
* Street Fighter II: Champion Edition – #2 finished; 6h35m
* Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced – Lv. 19; 39%

PSP Wish List Cleared

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I decided not to let May be another gameless month. Let’s see if I still remember how this purchasing of video games goes.

Wii Classic Controller Pro (white)
Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (PSP)
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (PSP)
God Hand (PS2)
Sonic Unleashed (PS2)
Quantum of Solace (PS2)
Power Rangers Dino Thunder (GBA)

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As it turns out I remember quite well. Alright, thanks for stopping by.

N-Tranced By Vicarious Visions

As you may remember I traded-in a stack of Atari 2600 games a couple of weeks ago. I finally got around to using the credit acquired which totaled $50. With this I ordered four games.

X2: Wolverine’s Revenge
Not so much based on the 2003 film, X2, as it is a small off-shoot story being on the GBA and all. It interested me when I looked up the developer of Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend and found out it was the same as this game, Vicarious Visions. They seemed to do some decent portable titles at the time.

Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced
The developer just mentioned also was responsible for this game as well. It’s exactly what you’d expect in a Crash Bandicoot game expect in 2D.

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RayCrisis: Series Termination
This is the third game in Taito’s shoot-’em-up series which also includes RayForce and RayStorm, respectively.

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Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero
I don’t know what to make of this game, but unlike the first game on the Wii, this looked like fun.

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Now Playing: December 2010

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As promised in my holiday update here’s my final Now Playing entry for 2010.

Right off the top I wanted to give a mention to Geometry Wars: Galaxies. I played this game on the DS and even though I included it in my finished games list for this year, I forgot to talk about it. I found the best way to control where I was shooting was to use the four face buttons over using the stylus on the touchscreen. I guess I’m too used to Smash TV on the SNES. I played until I maxed out the levels on the drones and got at least the bronze medal on all levels. My best score was 524,479,400.

I also forgot to quickly mention my final stats on Metroid: Other M. After finishing the main story you are allowed to go back and collect the rest of the items which were unreachable or simply not found before. For my game it added on roughly two hours and during that time you fight another game ending boss and race to get off the ship in traditional Metroid fashion. Check out last month’s Now Playing for more of my thoughts on this game.

Metroid: Other M final gaming stats – 10h27m; 100%; 80 missiles; 9 Energy Tanks

I played a few beat-’em-ups. With the help of Usagi704 we managed to get to the final stage of The Combatribes before all of the credits were used up. I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of this game. It was ported to the SNES from it’s initial showing in the arcade and as such was subjected to being censored at the time by Nintendo.

We also played Final Fight 3 together on the Expert difficulty setting. It didn’t seem as hard as one would expect from such a name. Usagi704 played as the newcomer Lucia and I stuck with series mainstay Haggar. He’s my favorite of the four characters because of his long range and powerful moveset. You could say I cleared it on one credit even though Usagi had to use one on the final boss, Black.

For single player action I went back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I hadn’t played it since back in January and finally wanted to get to the end. I’m still not there yet, but it’s as fun as I remember it being. It’s a fairly lengthly game and rewards you with a lot of experience points for finding hidden collectibles. It also has brief nods to World of Warcraft and Portal.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine trophies – 32 / 51 (63%)

You can check out my thoughts on other beat-’em-ups I played in previous blog posts including Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend (from Dec. 6th) and X-Men (from Dec. 21st).

I’ll leave you now with a quote from my complaints with the DS version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from December 9th.

The AI, as one review put it, was like it was in the original Doom just without them moving forward. Yes, they literally move into their scripted position and do not move once there.

Happy holidays!

I Played A Good Bruce Lee Game

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On the contrary to probably what most thought about the Game Boy Advance game Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend. It’s actually quite a good beat-’em-up. As you might have expected I do enjoy myself a quality beat-’em-up. The array of moves are somewhat impressive with additions like a block, wall jump, and several weapons at your disposal.

There are some stereotypes that one thinks of when thinking about what a game with Bruce Lee might have. I can confirm that they’re in here, but it’s still quite hilarious at times. The music and sound effects are appropriate and the levels are well designed and fun to traverse.

The stages do have some variety to them. There’s your typical normal beat-’em-up level, stealth, and hostage rescue. The stealth missions are the weakest and were a bit longer than I’d like, but were still very doable.

The game’s not very lengthy, but it does keep you busy with nine total Acts of various numbers of levels. The difficulty levels consist of Easy and Normal. I beat the game on Normal which unlocked a harder mode called Director’s Cut. Finishing that, which I also did, nets you Time Challenge. This mode requires a speed run like approach to each of the game’s levels by moving fast and skipping over killing most enemies. I’m playing this mode currently. Outfits like the iconic one from Game of Death are also available as unlockables.

I put together a gameplay video of Act 1 and the beginning of Act 7 for your viewing pleasure.

Bruce Lee: Return of the Legend brings the number of games finished for 2010 up to 40.

A quick mention of two new GBA game purchases. I found both Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age at my local game store It’s About Games a week ago last Monday. They were about $20 for both.

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Thanks for reading and make it a great holiday season!