Saturday, March 31, 2012

Level Up: Shadow the Hedgehog

*Level up music starts, around 5-7 seconds, static cuts in. Transitions to classical music*

Narrator voice: And now for another Bum Review, with Fester R. Bum. Today’s review: Shadow the Hedgehog.

Bum: OH MY GOD: This is the greatest video game I’ve ever played in my LIFE!
Shadow impression (rusty, like new Batman): I am the Ultimate (Normal Bum voice) SPOILERS!

There is this character called Shadow the Hedgehog. AND HE’S AN OKAY ONE TIME USE CHARACTER THAT DIED AT THEN OF SONIC ADVENTURE 2! I TOLD YOU THERE’D BE SPOILERS! But then, Shadow returned from the dead to be Sonic Heroes!

*panicking sounds* AH RUN, IT’S ZOMBIE SHADOW! He’s gonna eat you while whining about Maria! JUST KIDDING! Actually, the explanation for his return went more like this!

Kid voice: Why is shadow coming back when his story had such a satisfying end in Sonic Adventure 2?

Stuffy executive voice: Well, he’s a dark character with an interesting past and we wanted to explore that, so we

Kid voice: -interupting- And he’s a fan favorite and would sell well?

Stuffy executive: and he’s a fan favorite and would sell well.

Kid voice: that’s what I thought.

Stuffy executive: Also, we needed a 3rd person on the dark team.

Kid voice: what about Eggman? I’d love to play as him again.

Stuffy executive: well he’s the bad guy at the end!

Kid voice: No he’s not!


So anyways, Sonic Heroes comes out and the fan response was very “MEH!” So one of the problems seemed to be that there were too many character to play as, so Sonic Team decided their next game would have only one. Let’s see: who would Sonic Team, makers of Sonic the Hedgehog, choose to star in their next Sonic video game? Oh! Shadow the Hedgehog! Right, of course!

Kid voice: So why is Shadow getting his own game?

Stuffy executive: Because he’s a *kid with him* fan favorite and will sell well.

Kid voice: Not even trying to hide it this time are you?

Stuffy executive: Not even a little.

Bum: And it worked! There was MAD HYPE about this game!

Chipmunk style voice: (over excited)Oh my god! Shadow the hedgehog is coming out! He’s gonna have his own game! He’s gonna be a bad ass and use guns and ride bikes! It’s going to be awesome! I’m gonna get an X-box, a GameCube and a PS2 and 3 TVs so I can play all the versions at once! I’m gonna wet myself! (improvise more)

Bum: -interupting- Fred from YouTube, what are you doing here?

*Beat, gun cock, fire*

Bum: So as I was saying, people were-

Chipmunk voice: Oh my god, I’m bleeding! It’s everywhere! (improvise) (another gunshot)

Bum: So anyways, everyone was Super hyped about the situation, and as we all know, getting REALLY excited for something NEEEVVVEEERRR leads to disappointments. This is why Titanic is the best movie ever, Duke Nukem is the best video game ever and Venom was the best movie Spider-man villain ever!

So the game starts off with ALIENS FROM OUT OF NOWHERE! Explanation: who cares? This series aint going to bad ass itself! So Shadow starts off and he’s like:

Shadow voice: I got to find the Chaos Emeralds

But then he runs into Sonic, and Sonic is all like:

Sonic: HEY! You should kill all the aliens!

Shadow: Ok.

But then Shadow meets up with the evil alien, and he’s all like:

Dark Eye (deep): Kill all the soldiers

Shadow: Ok

I’m starting to suspect our hero is bi-polar. I WAS BI-POLAR ONCE! Wait no, I was “Binoculars” once…

Oh, and beyond just being able to be bossed around by two people, this game was also advertised as letting you use guns. Cause I remember thinking to myself as I was bouncing off robots as Sonic and having fun “Man, this would be awesome if I wasn’t bouncing off robots as Sonic yet still kinda was some how.”

So then you’re running around in confusingly similar looking corridors killing aliens with weapons found on the ground while army guys are dying all around you.

Wait, sorry, that’s Halo.

So then you’re running around in confusingly similar looking corridors killing aliens with weapons found on the ground while army guys are dying all around you. (Thank god I caught that mistake, yet totally didn’t edit it out for no reason at all).

Oh wait! Something totally different from Halo: you get to ride in vehicles that have confusing and awkward controls to them!

Wait a minute… Shadow is bad tempered, easily manipulated, violent, unable to drive correctly and I have no idea what he’s thinking or talking about. He’s not bi-polar; he’s a drunk!

Shadow voice –drunkish-: I am Shadow the ultimate- *barfs*

Seriously people do not drink and drive.

So after you beat a level, depending on who you decided to listen to, you’ll go to one of 3 levels. And because that level is normally accessible in one of 3 ways, it doesn’t always make sense plot wize. But he’s a wandering drunk, so it doesn’t have to!

Gun agent voice *Serious*: Alright Shadow, you killed all the aliens in the city, but we now have reason to believe their next target will be our government headquarters

Shadow drunk: YEAH! I’m going to Hooters!

So then you finally get to the end and you learn that Shadow is a CLONE OF THE ORIGINAL! *dramatic music* oooorrr… He’s a ROBOT! *dramatic music* oooorrrr… he was made in a lab for evil purposes. Or good purposes! I am so confused. It’s almost like FACTS CHANGE and this game has several multiple endings… GENIUS! Make everyone’s theory right! Imagine if they decided to instead have a real ending, but you’d have to visit all the fake endings first: it would almost be like you’re making the players waste their time, especially since you’d have to start the game ALL over again. But –pft- that’d just be a mean way to get more game play time out of a bad game.

So in summerizamation: Shadow the Hedgehog is really fun cause he’s drunk and I’M DRUNK!


-classical music- I just want to get myself a chaos emerald. Pft, those are thrown around so much they can’t be worth THAT much!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Level Up: Game & Watch Gallery 3

If you thought Nintendo’s first handheld games were on the game boy, then you would technically be wrong. Before the Game Boy- heck even before the NES- Nintendo had the Game and Watch series. You might know this name due to Mr. Game & Watch, a fighter in the last two Super Smash Bros. games, but I heard it first on a compilation game. Now, normally, compilation games like this would go in a “collection collection” review, but I have to talk about the history behind the series, so I have enough material here. Let’s look at Game & Watch Gallery 3 for the Game Boy Color.

The Game & Watch series is historic because it’s partially responsible for turning Nintendo from just another game maker into the giants they are today. The series itself consisted of several portable devices, each one with its own game displayed on an LCD screen. The device also had a clock and alarm built in, so we have a “Game” and a “Watch”. Though the games seem simple now, the fact that they were all portable and that most allowed you to adjust the difficulty made these quite noteworthy at the time. (Or, so my research says; I was two years old when they decided to stop production.) Several years later, in 1997, the Game Boy was going strong, and it seemed the Game & Watch series had been forgotten. However, the first Game & Watch Gallery then comes out. Not only did this offer four historic games on one cartridge, but also “modern” remakes of every game using Mario characters. This series would continue for 4 editions (dates and the number of the games change if you’re in Australia).

The first game on this collection is called Egg. The concept is pretty simple: objects will be sliding down, catch them before they hit the ground. The next one is Greenhouse, a game where pests will be after flowers and you have to get rid of them. A thing to note here is that this was originally a dual screen Game & Watch game (it’s like the DS’s Grandfather), and when playing the classic game, you can shift focus (though both screens are always visible). Next up is Turtle Bridge, where you have to try to get a package across a bridge of turtles (or birds in the modern version) that will go away randomly and let you fall if you stay on one too long. Just keep getting packages to the other side and don’t miss your step. The 4th game is actually called “Mario Bros.”, but it has no relation to the arcade game or the Super Mario series. Basically, the two brothers work on an assembly line, and each one needs to be in his proper place when a piece needs to move from one conveyer belt to the next. If a part falls, you get a strike. And lastly, there’s Donkey Kong Jr. It’s simpler than the NES game that carries the same name, but follows the same concept: avoid enemies and get Jr. to save his dad (this version has you navigating the level 4 times to free him once though).

Now, as I’ve already said, this game has both the classic and a “modern” version of each game. Not only does the modern version look better, sound better and run smoother, but there are also extra rules. For example: in modern Mario Bros, Bowser will occasionally reverse the conveyer belts.

But what incentive do you have to play the classic versions if the modern ones are all around better? Well, getting a certain amount of points on each game and each difficulty get you stars. The more stars you have, the more stuff you unlock, which include Game & Watch game info, music and more games. Yeah, Game & Watch Gallery 3 actually has 11 games total, but 6 need to be unlocked and they don’t have modern version of them. Still, it’s worth it.

I am really glad games like this exist: as the Game Overthinker once mused in his “Open the Vault” episode, it allows new gamers to easily experience older games important to the history of the industry, and I think these games are very important to remember. Despite that, they’re now so simple, it makes Game & Watch Gallery 3 into more of a Minigame collection by today’s standards, but a very good one! This edition in the series had almost double the amount of games than the previous installment and the modern versions are incredibly well made bringing a new level of fun to some already great games. Though I sometimes found star collecting to be tedious, it actually made me want to keep playing. I give Game & Watch Gallery 3 for the Game Boy Color 9 levels out of 10.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Level Up: Inspector Gadget

If you’re like me, you watched Inspector Gadget growing up: a hilarious cartoon series produced from 1983 to 1986,that ran in syndication into the 90’s. And guess what? There’s a video game based on it. It’s a side-scrolling platformer on the Super Nintendo Published by Hudson Soft and Developped by AIM. And it’s actually good… What are you still doing listening to me instead of tracking down this game right now? What else do I need to say: Inspector Gadget, Super Nintendo, platforming... If that knowledge alone hasn’t convinced you to get this game, I don’t know what else I can say… Well I guess you need a little more convincing. Here’s Inspector Gadget for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The plot is simple, but being an Inspector Gadget fan, I have things I need to talk about. The game starts with Inspector Gadget’s niece, Penny, being kidnapped by the M.A.D. agents of Gadget’s arch enemy Dr. Claw. This is done in an effort to drag out the Inspector to various locations hoping to finally get rid of him once and for all. Throughout the game, police Chief Quimby will point our hero in the direction of the next local/level. (He even gets blown up each time, like on the show!) Adventure ensues.

The first thing I want to point out is that all these events never happened on the show. However, a bit of research tells me that all the locations were used (thought the similarities here are only superficial). The reason this particular plot is such a big deal though, is because, if you watched the show, you’d know Inspector Gadget was never really the hero, and it was always Penny that secretly did all the work. So to have a game that actually allows Gadget to use his abilities to be the hero is awesome.

Another thing to note is that the plot finishes with a showdown between Gadget and Dr. Claw face to face (no spoiler alarm, I think that’s pretty obvious). The thing about this is that we NEVER saw Dr. Claw’s face. For those of you who actually play this game and get to the last fight, you’re rewarded with knowing one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of 80’s cartoons. Sure it’s only a partial view, the game isn’t considered canon and the internet allows you to find other versions of his “official” face a lot easier, but I can imagine that for an Inspector Gadget fan in 1993, this would have blown his mind.

It might not surprise you to learn that in this game you get to use a lot of gadgets. There are too many for me to list one by one, but they’re all useful in ways to hurt the bad guys, stop you from dying or just get farther in the game. However, you’ll have to bust some bricks and find the icon of some of the gadgets to use them. The good part about this is that it allows you to upgrade them: find more of that icon and the gadget gets more “powerful”. These gadgets use what I call “hat points”, which you will also find by breaking blocks. I feel I also need to mention that physical attacks use don’t need to be selected or use any hat points but can still be upgraded to the point of reaching all across the screen.

As for how this game handles, it’s a little stiff. Inspect Gadget doesn’t seem to move or jump as quickly as he should. However, this isn’t to the point of Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts. Speaking of that game, Inspector Gadget does have the same life system: if he gets hit, he’s in his underwear and one more hit means a life lost. Again, this isn’t very dignified for an inspector, but he was always about the comedy. But his hat always stays on, giving strength to my theory that Gadget’s hat is attached to his skull.

So that’s the Inspector Gadget video game, and it’s not perfect; the game engine feels a little stiff (not enough to ruin the game though) and there are a lot of moments of Engrish. The biggest problem however is its lack of memorability. Most of the game play mechanics have been seen before, and the graphics and music are only alright. It doesn’t do anything really new or “great”… Except be a good Inspector Gadget game, and I think that warrants its existence. I feel like the makers of the game played it relatively safe, but concentrated on quality here. I give Inspector Gadget for the Super Nintendo 8.5 levels out of 10.