Street Fighter Alpha 2

I really suck at fighting games. My strategy consists almost exclusively of jumping into range and then punching. It never works. As soon as I get within range, I get special-moved into infinity. Let me rephrase my original statement: I really suck at Street Fighter games. And so I hate them to a certain degree. But it’s only to the degree that I’m sure these games hate me.

Street Fighter games are analogous to the story of Goldilocks. In that story, the heroine, Goldilocks, puts in a lot of effort for very little return. Yes, she may get to eat the pudding and sit in the chair, but in the end she gets attacked by three angry, and seemingly anthropomorphic bears. My question has always been, if the bears are sophisticated enough to decorate a house, make porridge, and display some fairly western family values, why do they immediately go ape-shit when they see Goldilocks; they try to eat her! Seems like an overreaction, but I guess she did break your chair, little bear. The message seems to be that you can take the bear out of the woods but you’ll just make him angry. But if Goldilocks had memorized her combos…

Goldilocks can SUCK IT!

See, Street Fighter games require an enormous amount of effort for relatively minimal return. I could learn my character’s “strategy,” but I’d actually rather not. I’m just not that masochistic. Or maybe I just don’t care about the reward.

My point here is, and always has been, that Street Fighter Alpha 2 is fun in the same way murder is fun. It’s difficult, risky, and requires a huge investment. Also, like murder, it’s not fun the first time. You have to refine your technique and learn to love your tools. Once you do that, you’ll find yourself enjoying the situation. Because it forces you to persevere in the face of minimal return, it is also addictive. So the question is, would you rather murder someone or play Street Fighter? I’d play Street Fighter. What about you?

Advertisements

Stone Protectors

Protecting his stones

I guess the Stone Protectors are supposed to be Troll dolls for boys. I can only imagine the boardroom meetings that led to their creation, and it’s weird I can only imagine because I have this completely real transcript of how it went down:

“So girls really like these Troll dolls, huh?”

“Yeah, we’re selling tons of the stupid fuckin’ things.”

“Boys don’t buy them at all though…”

“Why don’t we make a version for boys? What’s masculine? Uh, stones. Yeah, and they’ve all got powers. They have magic gems and powers and there’s a samurai or whatever.”

“Do you think boys will actually want these instead of something much cooler like [VIRTUALLY ANY OTHER TOY]?”

“Who the fuck cares? I’m rolling in goddamned Troll money right now.”

“Yeah, fuck boys!”

“Phil, that’s especially creepy coming from you.”

“Sorry.”

In Stone Protectors you can play as one of five different characters. Here’s how they’re described by my friend Wikipedia (who’s primarily my friend because they save me a whole lot of typing):

  • Clifford became a “rock climber.” He is the band’s drummer.
  • Cornelius, the group’s leader, became a samurai with an assortment of appropriate weaponry (katana, shuriken, and a pair of nunchaku made of microphones). He’s the band’s lead singer, but also plays guitar.
  • Chester became an expert at wrestling and received great strength. He plays bass guitar and saxophone.
  • Angus became a “soldier” and an expert at turning mundane objects into weapons. He plays keyboard. Angus ostensibly built up the Protectors’ bizarre attack vehicles from things like barbecues and lawnmowers.
  • Maxwell became an “accelerator” with in-line skates. He plays guitar.

The game itself is a surprisingly solid beat ’em up; I found myself somewhat shocked that I was enjoying the gameplay and music. On the other end of the spectrum, I detest the character design. I’ve always hated Troll dolls (they skeeve me right out), and the Stone Protectors share enough traits in common that my hatred can be easily applied to their stupid faces as well.

BOTTOM LINE TIME! If you enjoy beat ’em ups with a variety of special attacks and can stand to look at the melting faces of the Stone Protectors, then go right ahead and “plug in this cartridge” and enjoy the exploits of these freaky mutated Cabbage Patch Kids. Just don’t fall asleep while playing, because if these things work their way into your dreams, they’ll never leave.

They’ll never leave

never leave

never

Sterling Sharpe: End 2 End

Yeahhh boyyyyyy!

Sterling Sharpe: End 2 End
Sterling Harp: E to E
Swirling Carp: Zen to Zen
“Zerglings, ARGH!! Kerrigan!!”
Swerving Karts: Bend to Bend
Curving Arc: End to End
Circling Charts: Venn to Venn


Hurling Darts: Men in Den
Raising Tarps: Tent to Tent
Shopping Marts: $ave or $pend
Linkin Park: In the End
Melting Hearts: Boyz 2 Men

Bayz 4 Men

Sterling Sharpe: End 2 End.

Steel Talons

I am finding hard to review this game called Steel Talons. Not because it is bad. Actually it is pretty decent for a SNES flight SIM. You are a helicopter pilot and you have to shoot down targets. We will ignore the fact that the targets seem extremely random and placed just about anywhere. Overall the controls are solid and you can pilot your helicopter fairly easily with the dpad and shoulder buttons and X and Y buttons. Yes, the complex controls of a helicopter take up just 80% of your game pad.

The reason I am finding it hard to review this game is shown clearly in this screenshot here:

Warning: Loss of fuel may result in death

WHEN YOU GOT SHOT YOU LOSE FUEL! No physical damage occurs at all. You simply slowly run out of fuel. Luckily when you run out of fuel you get an instant refuel the indicated number of times. How fucking insane is that? That Is the equivalent of me getting sucker punched in the face and me losing fatty cells. Or maybe food just comes out. Like a cheeseburger.

But obviously this world isn’t the same as mine because it is super small. I mean really small. If you leave the area shown in the map you just reappear on the other side of the world. This means this fuel for health planet is only about four square kilometers. For that to be possible with all the seemingly normal gravity the density of the planet would be astronomical. Even a simple layer of rock dust covering you would be enough to crush your spine. Luckily the crushed spine would only result in you spitting out a taco.

Stargate

Stargate wasn’t a “great” movie by any means. It did manage to spawn a cable TV series that succeeded in exploiting the franchise far more than what was ever accomplished by the movie, even years beyond the point at which it ran the whole damn thing into the ground. From there, we’ve seen two more spin-off series, a couple failed video game attempts, one not-so-failed (but not-so-successful) video game attempt, and a handful of made-for-TV movies.

Movies…

…made for TV…

…based off a TV show…

…which was based off a movie.

Just…just…okay now…

Like many other movies, the release of Stargate was also not without its lovely cross-media advertising. Like many other video games based on movies, Stargate for the Super Nintendo also sucks. In this wacky adventure, you control Colonel Kurt Russell as he hunts down varying numbers of miscellaneous items, fulfilling random scavenger hunts for others and generally risking his life amidst the dangers of the alien desert while everyone else simply loafs about.

You do get some laughably poor dialog which sometimes has a fleeting connection to the movie’s plot. When compared to the actual game itself, this is somewhat of a plus.

Star Fox

I would pay good money for a new Star Fox game. It’s been some time since I’ve been able to experience partial freedom while moving continuously in a single direction. “Purposeful gameplay” is what they call that, I think. Game designers have forgotten the extent to which their audience loves to be controlled. I’m certain that, though the gaming community consistently demands “open worlds” and “open minds,” they wouldn’t pass up a good spanking or two, as long as it leads somewhere fun. I miss the games where it was like you had your big brother playing with you the whole time, going, “Shoot that! Oh, you missed it… Shoot that! Oh, you’re dead.” Most arguments for on-rails gameplay centre on the importance of the story. But that’s missing the point. The point is, people like to pay to be told what to do. With our individualistic western society that seems almost sinful, but games like House of the Dead and, especially, Star Fox prove that it’s possible to have fun with limited freedom.  And not just a little fun, a ton of fun. Star Fox is ballin-ass shit, and anyone that doesn’t think so is stupid. Hell, I could take any old kid, some kid born after the death of the Dreamcast, some kid who has never heard of the Game Cube. I could take this kid, sit him down with Star Fox and he’d be all talkin’ about how this was a revolution. That might be a stretch, but I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t trash my apartment.

So that’s all to tell you that Star Fox is still fun. Now I’m going to tell you why. It comes down to two things: characters and imagination. The first is the easier to describe, so I’ll go for that. The characters in Star Fox expect something from you. Right from the first training mission, Falco will rag on your ass if you ain’t doin’ it right, Slippy will encourage you, and that rabbit thing will say something insane. Probably something about carrots. I know how much he likes those. Anyway, this sets up a situation where you actually want to impress these characters. Hell, the characters don’t even have voices. They just say “bip bip bip bip” or “slurp slurp slurp” or something, and you’re still saying, “Oh shit, sorry” if you steal their kills. Except Falco; he’s a douche and I’ll steal his kills when I want to. But this game is perhaps the only game that successfully captures the magic of Top Gun and the last 14 minutes of Star Wars. Banter and shooting planes. That’s about as good as it gets.

The second point begins with an acknowledgement of the graphical limitations of this game. To be fair, the graphics are certainly better than anything else on the Super Nintendo, but that’s saying very little at this point. Let’s face it, you’re shooting geometric shapes. But what makes this game amazing is that it forces you to imagine the object behind the geometric shapes, and does it quite successfully. Let’s take, for example, this screen shot.

That’s like a frickin’ abstract painting man! Do what you want with it! It’s pretty apparent that it’s supposed to be some sort of walking thing, but the specifics are hazy. And that’s the beauty of it. For me, this guy was a giant robot carrying an equally giant piece of plywood. Maybe he’s building a cottage. Maybe he’s rehearsing some slapstick comedy. Either way, I killed him dead. All of the enemies and buildings in Star Fox are like this. They force you to invent the parts that the engine isn’t capable of rendering. You might say this is pretty similar to the argument against gratuitous CGI, and it is. It’s the same thing. Congratulations. And to make a quick analogy to the film industry: watching Star Wars: Episode 1, it’s hard not to notice how dated the CGI is. That was made 11 years ago, and it shows it. A New Hope, made in 1977, holds up because there’s a reliance on the imagination of the viewer.

The point is, Star Fox is an incredible game. Easily as incredible as the version for Nintendo 64. It probably one of the only games on this list that people will still play in ten years. It goes beyond nostalgia.

Star Trek Starfleet Academy

The thrilling space adventures continue

Have you ever dreamed about being at the helm of a spaceship? I know I have! Granted, the helm of the spaceship was really secondary to the main thrust of the dream (naked alien ladies), but it was still an exciting and enjoyable experience. Star Trek Starfleet Star Trek Star Star Academy Bridge Star Simulator Trek is not an enjoyable experience. It’s boring. Really boring. Allow me to explain. Please?

One of the potentially enticing aspects of commanding a spaceship would be the thrill of spaceflight, taking the role of a starblind pilot winging their way through barely navigable fields of planetary debris, death a few inches away.

In this Star Trek game you get to fly slowly around rainbow buoys*. So there’s that. There’s also a combat simulator, where you can attempt to get a ship to appear in a field of black so you can miss it with green phaser(?) blasts. Fantastic.

Sooner or later I’m going to have to sit down and just watch some Star Trek. I’ve avoided it all these years in an irrational and stubborn manner, adamantly refusing to watch it because I “should have” done so already. I never saw the appeal from the few episodes of the various series, but maybe I need to sit there from the beginning to understand why people find the show so appealing. Human-looking English-speaking aliens seems like the most boring way to go in a show set in SPACE, but whatever. It couldn’t be more boring than this game, surely.

This is the most overdue review ever. I don’t know how to finish it because I have nothing to say about this game. My words, for once, fail me. All I can say is that if you’re a Star Trek fan, you might find something to keep you busy here. If not, you’re not going to want to play this at all.

Why do Klingons have ridges on their heads?

* If you tell people that you were just “flying slowly around rainbow buoys,” they might ask you to stay away from their children.