Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Red Dead Redemption, Iron Man 2, and a little SMG2

May 28, 2010

I’ve been pretty busy over the past week or so, with review stuff and other things, so my time to play retro related items has slid by the wayside.  At least the stuff I’ve been keeping busy with has been quite good though, for the most part. 

I’m approaching what I assume is the halfway point in Red Dead Redemption, at least according to the story.  Completion-wise I’m at 35%, and I suspect it’ll take a while to fill that up significantly.  There’s just so much to do!  I’ve obtained a few outfits, completed some of the hunter and survivalist challenges, knocked out some stranger missions, and even tackled a couple of the gang hideouts.  Still, this halfway point seems to offer up a whole ‘nother map / area, so there’s a lot to check out. 

If people tell you it’s GTA in the Wild West, they’re not too far off the mark.  A lot of stuff is cribbed from GTA, from the mini-map to mission progress and markers, down to quick travel mechanic (stagecoach instead of taxi), property buying, saving, and overall story tone.  Still, it’s improved on enough of the GTA formula that if you’ve grown bored or dissatisfied with GTA as it is now, you should probably give this a shot.  I’ve actually enjoyed the story quite a bit too, and it seems like Rockstar might be getting over the idea that “adult” signifies a lot of sex and swearing.  Sure, they still say fuck a time or two, but it’s not every other word, and the characters feel a little more like actual characters and not irritating comic relief.

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by High Voltage Studios, the guys behind the Conduit, which I reviewed for Gaming-Age if I remember right.  They offered to add me to a mailing list and send along a copy of their newest title, which was Iron Man 2 for the Wii.  I hadn’t played the X360 or PS3 version of the game, but apparently HVS was a little concerned that a lot of reviews were lumping their Wii version of the game in with the 360 and PS3 games, and they even sent along a letter with the review copy stating something along those lines.  Basically, two different developers, two different approaches, same game idea. 

I’m always willing to give something a shot, even though what I’ve heard about the game on any platform wasn’t exactly positive.  I just finished it up today, beat the last boss, so I’m ready to start working on my review.  I will say that I get their complaint, but at the same time my review probably won’t be that positive.  I’ll argue my complaints as best I can, but the game does have some serious issues.  I’d really like to know how the development of a movie licensed game impacts the overall creativity of the developers involved, like what type of limitations they faced and obstacles they just couldn’t overcome by the time the game needed to come out.  I’m fully behind the idea that NOBODY wants to make a bad game, but it seems like nobody is particularly willing to go into details on how one actually comes about. 

Finally, I’ve been playing a little Super Mario Galaxy 2, which is pretty much as great as you’ve most likely heard.  I’m only past the first world /area, but I’m really enjoying the variety of the galaxies early on.  Seems to be a lot more varied than the first game already, which is pretty nice to see. 

I’m hoping to jump back into some retro-flavored gaming in the near future, but I’ll admit to having a pretty full plate in the next couple weeks.  Regardless, I’ll try and update this a little more with whatever I’m playing, which looks to be the new UFC game (arrived today) and Blur in the near future.

What do Rocket Knights sound like?

March 24, 2010

So, as promised, here’s a quick look at some of the more standout tunes in Rocket Knight Adventures soundtrack. The soundtrack has a number of people credited to it, Michiru Yamane, Aki Hata, and so on, so getting one definitive composers take on the project is a little tough.

It’s interesting to note the overall arc of the soundtrack throughout the game, starting with the 1-1 and 1-2 areas that are far more light-hearted and upbeat to the more “serious” tones of the later half of the game. Chiptune style music can only generate so much of a dark feeling, but there’s a definite sense of foreboding in the later half of the game. Instead of feebly trying to explain this, let’s go with some examples here:

Stage 1-1:

This is a pretty solid “Let’s get started!” kind of track. Upbeat, energetic, and it gives you some sense of starting a big adventure. Definitely a good opening track, but not entirely memorable outside of a couple repeating sections at the beginning there.

Stage 4-?:

This is pretty much the last of what I’d consider the upbeat style music of Rocket Knight. Does this remind anyone else of what you’d typically hear in a Casino themed stage of Sonic? Probably not intended, I’m sure, and I think it’s more of that “twang” noise throughout, but yeah, Casino Zone for sure.

Stage 6-?:

Ok, see what I mean about the shift in tone? There’s still some lighthearted, airy pieces within this track, but starting off the song with a siren like noise and an overall heavier noise than the previous ones kind of indicates, ok, now we’re in for some serious shit people.

Stage 7:

Pretty much as ominous as you can get for Rocket Knight Adventures. Big tonal shift with deep bass like noise, the siren effect again, and just a lot of oppressive like tones throughout. Great final stage music in my opinion, really drives home that this is the end battle of all battles.

Overall, I’ll say that while I enjoy RKA’s music selections, it’s definitely not my favorite 2D action soundtrack. In fact, I know Aki Hata has done a lot better things, and while something like Light Crusader might be a little more obscure than RKA (and not particularly fun to play), the soundtrack is fantastic and worth youtubing for yourself.

Still, it’s always fun to check out the progression of a video game soundtrack in correlation to how the game feels from beginning to end, and in that regard Rocket Knight matches sound and gameplay quite well. It starts off easy enough, colorful, with lots of life, and ends with a tough as nails, dark, and sometimes punishing level and boss design. Good fit if nothing else.

Where do little Sparksters come from?

March 23, 2010

I thought it’d be a good idea to get a little in touch with where the design for Rocket Knight Adventure’s gameplay came from, so I tried to seek out a little information on the guy behind creation of the series, Konami’s own Nobuya Nakazaton.  Of course, in 1993, game magazines weren’t particularly big on interviewing Japanese developers, so finding anything from the guy that also talks about Rocket Knight was a little tough, but I did manage to find two articles, one from Gamasutra and the other from Gamespy, where they interview him regarding his involvement with Neo Contra and Contra:  Shattered Soldier on the PS2. 

 Nakazaton was also behind the creation of Contra 3:  Alien Wars and Contra Hard Corps on the SNES and Genesis, so needless to say, the guy has some 2D action chops.  Both interviews are an interesting read, and I’ll link them here.  It’s pretty obvious the guy is a big fan of 2D gaming in general, and apparently has a desire to make tough as nail games that don’t necessarily try to look pretty, but an emphasis on gameplay over graphics.  Because of that, I’m pretty curious to find out if he has any involvement in the reboot on XBLA and PSN, since it’s obvious there’s an effort to make the game feel 2D but still be accessible to HD gamers.  I have a feeling that he doesn’t have any involvement there, but we’ll see how that turns out. 

 Anyways, here are the articles:

Gamasutra 

Gamespy

 Definitely good reads though, you can see the guy has no problem with making tough games, and thinks that it’s more fun and interesting to have challenge in games in order to keep players interested over multiple plays of a particular game.  I can certainly see that applied to Rocket Knight, while I don’t think it’s nearly as tough as most Contra titles, there’s certainly a higher level of difficulty than other 2D action games that make use of mascot styled characters.  You could almost look at this as a kid friendly version of the Contra formula.

 One other thing I wanted to toss into this blog today was a couple pages taken from EGM’s June 1993 issue.  This is a two-page spread from CES of that year, with a small preview of Rocket Knight Adventures.  Nothing super interesting that’s detailed here, but I think it’s pretty fun to go back and look at older magazines and their takes on these games at the time of their release. 


 Tomorrow I’m going to take a look at some of the music behind the game, along with samples and what not, so look forward to that.

Rondo of Blood makes this week awesome.

March 16, 2010

Pretty nice surprise to wake up and find out Castlevania:  Rondo of Blood was finally hitting the Wii Virtual Console, eh? 

Trust me, I was suitably amped.  My only experience with the game stems from the remake and unlockable port from Dracula X Chronicles on PSP, and I’ve been pretty aware of the emulation problems that particular version has.  Being a fairly big Castlevania nerd, I had given some serious thought to picking up a TurboDuo at some point, and hunting down a copy of Rondo to go along with it, but man, that’s a pretty expensive venture. 

So, I’ll gladly fork over 900 points of Nintendo brand currency for the chance to play the definitive version of the game.

I didn’t have a lot of time to sit down and play it this evening, only making it to the end of Stage 2 before switching gears to other things (hello Yakuza), but I really, really like it.  Great animation, fantastic soundtrack, and it’s nice to play this on a big screen.  Pretty happy that I held off on that TurboDuo purchase at least.  This will probably be my retro-focused game this week, so expect another post or two on the game down the line. 

One thing I wanted to point out about this particular game that I miss in the Iga produced era of Metroidvania titles, is the familiarity of the castle grounds that carried over from the sidescrolling titles.  Whereas most of the games post Symphony of the Night change the layout of the castle and area surrounding it, there were generally familiar settings between all of the games produced during the 8 bit and 16 bit eras.  Rondo capitalizes on that early on, giving you the familiar outside castle grounds, the village from Castlevania 2, and the interior first area of Castlevania 1 (complete with zombies), automatically striking a chord in my old nostalgic heart. 

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to playing through this one then, and I’ll keep the updates coming.

Obviously this blog is a new thing for me, something I wanted to make and tie-in at the site that I write for ( www.Gaming-Age.com ), and this gives me an outlet for old retro stuff that I enjoy that doesn’t really fit in anywhere else.  I’ll probably touch on a thing or two outside of the old-school, but for the most part, expect the musings here to be pretty much focused on a time where 2D was king.