Saturday, January 24, 2015

#137: Lethal Weapon

Guns. Guns are lethal weapons.
Ok, so I know Lethal Weapon is a movie franchise from when I was a kid so I really should have seen these movies. But I haven't. I think they're mixed-race buddy cop movies? With Mel Gibson and Danny Glover? I also had never played the game before. But it probably features guns in some way...
Pipe traps... 8(
It turns out this game is a platformer where you start off as one of the cops. Play until he dies. Then play as the other cop. Until he dies too. Then you can continue up to 5 times. It took me all of my continues to beat a level. Which it turns out was level 3, since it lets you select your mission and I chose the first one I found.
Mel Gibson can FLY!
This game is not very good. Enemies routinely shot from off screen and ripped my health to shreds. You could duck bullets if you saw them coming (or if you eventually got paranoid and ducked every couple steps just in case) but you couldn't shoot or kick while ducking. Sometimes I'd duck and an enemy with a machine gun would choose to never shoot. Instead he'd just walk over to me and kill me by running into my ducked character.

Maybe if I'd seen the movies I would have cared more about the different missions? Are they even from the movies? Looks like no. The final boss of this game is the final boss of the 3rd movie though so there is a tie-in there.

I didn't really like the game, but it was still a functional game with three different buttons. So it's better than some things! It also had a decent song playing which I suspect might have been the theme song for the movies? Maybe? If I'd seen them maybe I could say for sure.

Rating: C

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#136: Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour

Hmm... Another sports game with a pro name attached to it. I've only given out 12 F- ratings so far and FIVE of those have been sports games with a pro name. D+ is actually the highest rating given to such a game (unless the name is John Madden). So I really didn't have my hopes up here.
The game actually started off with a 'training' option on the main menu. I went into it and they actually walked me through what the different buttons did and how to serve and tips on how to play well. And it uses ALL SIX BUTTONS!
Crunching the numbers!
The game has two control modes. One where you run around on your own and one where the AI moves for you and you just control swinging the racket. With your 6 different options for how to hit. And I believe you do the aiming, and the power control. So even if controlling your guy is clunky and unresponsive you could just let the computer handle it for you!

Controlling your guy wasn't actually clunky or unresponsive. It was actually really good. Pretty much the only thing missing from the controls that I would have wanted is a 'dive and swing at a ball away from you' button and I completely understand why that doesn't yet exist.

After every 2 games (when you switch sides of the net) it takes you to a neat stat screen which breaks down all sorts of things like your 1st serve percentage and your unforced errors. Stats they'd show you in an actual televised tennis match. Stats that I'm happy to see tracked by the game!

There's a tour mode which looks like it follows the actual tennis tour. You certainly start off at the Australian Open, which I believe is the first big stop on the tour. It has a system for assigning points to each tournament, and a ranking leaderboard of the 16 players. It changes the court based on the actual court types at the physical locations.

In short... This game is amazing. I'm a little worried that I'm letting how terrible most sports games have been that the fact that this one is playable and fun makes it stand out too much from the crowd. But I was really happy with this game, and I actually think I played it a fair bit as a kid. In retrospect I remember playing some game with the tour system in it, anyway.

And while putting in the developer name I realize this game was made by UBI Soft? Yes. That UBI Soft. And it looks like this may actually have been their first console game. Way to go UBI Soft!

Rating: A+

Saturday, January 10, 2015

#135: Jeopardy! Featuring Alex Trebek

Jeopardy! opens with an actual speech sample that sounds an awful lot like the actual intro to the show. I'm really not expecting any surprises from this game. Trivia questions that you have to answer in the form of a question. From 22 years ago.

I'm featured!
Alex Trebek is featured in this game. They have a pretty good likeness of him that has some animation going for him. And they have his voice! He says something to introduce the categories (not the categories themselves, but the lead in to them) and he says 'The answer is' before every single question. Just like the show, really.
The input screen is a little annoying because of how slow it is. The alphabet is in one long line. I figured out that I could hit up to go to the numbers and then down to go to the letter I (or up then left then down to get to R) which helped, but it sure would have been nice to have a better interface. An alphabet grid or something?

Despite the questions being 22 years old I was able to answer a fair number of them. I smoked the computer! Because I was able to get the Final Jeopardy question which asked about a talk show host. It was Oprah!

I had a surprising amount of fun playing this game. I know I liked it as a kid too. And now I want to see if I can't find a more recent Jeopardy! game.

Rating: A+

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#134: Gods

The name didn't ring a bell but once I started playing the game seemed rather familiar. You play a muscled dude in a platformer. Climb ladders, throw knives at enemies, collect gems from their corpses. Get some keys, open some doors. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Bird are jerks!
One of the things I often complain about is bad use of the SNES controller and this game has that covered! One button is for jump. 4 buttons are for nothing. The last button is for attacking, activating switches, picking up items, and managing your inventory. And it's particularly awkward how it decides which thing to do. If you're upright or jumping then you attack. If you're ducking and on top of an item then you pick the item up. If you're ducking and not on top of an item then you switch to a different inventory slot. Stand up with an item selected and you drop it so you actually only have 3 item slots, not 4. Note that this means there's no way to attack while ducking. Enemies often fire projectiles that you need to duck under and it sure would have been nice to be able to hit them! And then to activate a switch you need to be facing the wall, which you accomplish by hitting up. You can't attack while facing the wall, but you sure can get attacked!

This may seem like a pedantic argument, but when you get game overed you get to put your name in for the high score screen. But you can't use vowels, and you can only use 3 letters. Ok, fine, maybe it's a weird restriction from arcade machines... But then to have them use vowels and full names for the sample scores... STUPID!

The game also suffered from having enemies spawn on top of me and gank me. It has annoying clunky controls too, so enemies coming from multiple sides at once was a real pain. Both are things you could learn to deal with by memorizing the spawns and knowing when to switch directions and such. But I didn't like it.

I feel like this game would have been a fine Commodore 64 game. Those had awkward controls because joysticks only had one button. Clunky movement made sense too. But to have those in my SNES game? I am not a fan.

Turns out this was initially an Amiga game, but it came out in 1991. So the SNES port was only one year later. No excuse for not using all the buttons... 

Rating: C-

Saturday, December 27, 2014

#133: Goal!

Soccer in Sim City!
I'd not heard of Goal! before today, and was awfully wary of what I was going to get once I saw it was by Jaleco. The name certainly implies soccer, so I was expecting a mediocre to unplayable soccer game.
In actuality I got a pretty good soccer game. The button scheme was a little weird (R to change players) but once I worked out what was going on it was easy enough to know what I wanted to do and how to do it. The game played fluidly and it didn't feel like the AI was cheating. I suspect it would have been a lot of fun two player back in the day.

Rub it in, why don't you?
The game had a cup mode on top of the exhibition mode that I played. So I don't know if that's any good or not, but given that the rest of the game is pretty smooth I can't see it as being a detriment at any rate.

And as an aside... Does Canada's soccer team really run a blue and hot pink colour scheme? If so, that's awesome!

Rating: A-

Saturday, December 20, 2014

#132: Gemfire

Flame on!
When I saw this next game was a Koei game I'd never played before I was tentatively excited. On the one hand if I've never heard of it then it probably isn't spectacular. On the other hand I don't know if I've ever played a bad Koei game. I didn't know what to expect with a name like Gemfire. It sounds like a jRPG?
I wanted the pink haired girl but couldn't
say no to Jim Carrey's The Riddler.
It turns out to be Romance of the Fantasy Kingdoms. It's pretty much just a stripped down version of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series with a couple of neat twists. Every army is evenly split into 4 units. One archer, one cavalry, and two infantry units. Then each army can also bring along a fifth awesome unit. Each faction has their own wizard they can bring every now and then, and you can recruit a wide variety of fantasy creatures like gargoyles and skeletons and fire breathing lizards.

Wizards are insane!
I think this is the first game in an awfully long time where I lost track of time and just kept playing the game. Probably Soul Blazer was the last one way back at #72, so more than a year ago. The AI is not great (I was able to leave provinces completely undefended and it would take a fair number of turns before the AI would attack in) and I feel like my start in one corner province with a small army was going to end up winning the game.

The music in the game is pretty good. The graphics are not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination but it conveys the information you need to know in a pretty good way.

The game was also introduced at the beginning as being part of their 'imagination series'. I'd heard of the 'historical series' but not the imagination one. I wonder if there are any more games in it? Turns out yes, kinda. There's one other game in it, a PC only game.

I definitely would have loved this game as a kid, especially since I'm sure we would have played it two player to get rid of some of the issues with the AI.

Rating: A+

Saturday, December 13, 2014

#131: The Duel: Test Drive II

En Garde!
Here is another game I didn't know existed. The name had me leaning in two directions... Duel implies a fighting game but test drive implies a driving game. It turns out it's a head to head driving game. I'm not a fan of driving games in general so I wasn't really looking forward to this.

It's the Fuzz!
Have you ever been pulled over for speeding in a racing game? I have! In this game you pick a powerful sports car (I was in a Lambourghini and I raced against a Ferrari) and then have a race on a real road. The other car played 'safe' and only topped out at 100 miles per hour. I managed to hit the speed cap at 168 miles per hour. I'm pretty sure the speed limit would have been something like 55, so I was driving down the road at more than three times the legal speed! And it turned out getting pulled over is the wrong thing to do when a cop starts chasing you. The right thing to do is drive super fast and lose him!

Of course it turns out driving that fast on a road with other people on it is a little dangerous. They give you 5 lives so you're allowed to crash a few times.

Perhaps most importantly, the game actually controlled well. I suspect the physics of skidding when driving that fast aren't realistic, but they felt good. Not too easy to control, not too hard either. Good sound/music/speech synth as well.

I don't like driving games in general, but I really enjoyed playing this game. Well done, Accolade. Well done.

Rating: A+