Saturday, June 28, 2014

#107: TKO Super Championship Boxing

Well, I sure know what I'm getting into from the title of this game. Some sort of boxing game. Punch some dudes, knock them out. Maybe only technically knock them out, but knock them out regardless.

Licensee name on the corners? Tacky!
TKO turns out to be a game where you can move around in a 2 dimensional ring and where you have a limited amount of stamina to use on punching before you need to stop punching. There are different kinds of punches (jabs, hooks, etc...) and different ways to dodge a punch. Unfortunately the controls are garbage and I could never figure out how to dodge at all, let alone how to choose which dodge to use. The AI could dodge though, so as soon as I got past the first couple fights and they started dodging I was screwed.
I feel like laying down some tar...
The 2 dimensional aspect had the same 'problem' as Double Dragon did, which was the AI wasn't very good at working out how to attack someone not on the same plane as them. So it was pretty easy to strafe up and down in order to attack when I had full stamina and flee when I wanted to regenerate. It worked like a charm until the AI learned to block and then I was in trouble.

The game had a neat leveling system where after each win I'd get to pick one of five ways to train which would raise a stat and make me better at something. I like this idea a lot. If only it wasn't in a game that was pretty bad otherwise...

Rating: D

Saturday, June 21, 2014

#106: Super Double Dragon

Super Double Dragon is exactly the game I thought it was going to be. It's a beat-em-up where you play one of the two dragons. Dragon brothers? Ninjas? I don't even know. The game may have had a plot on other platforms or something but there was absolutely nothing given to me in my entire time playing this game to indicate why it was I was beating up all these (presumably bad) dudes.

Hold your hand, kick your face!
There's really not much to say about this game, really. It ran smoothly without the SNES slowdown lag that sometimes plagues games of this genre. The enemy AI was pretty sketchy so it felt relatively easy? But it also felt entirely playable which is sadly a little surprising for an SNES game. I suspect it would have been more fun with 2 players but it was still fine as a single player game.

One thing that did make me sad was how trying to straight up brawl the enemies was a recipe for disaster. If they ever connected with a hit you'd get dazed which meant you were apt to get followed up on with a few more hits. This meant the 'optimal' way to play was to strafe up and down and abuse the AI's obsession with staying on the same z axis depth as you. They wouldn't attack while doing this so you could get the first hit in. Dazing them, which would allow a followup of your own or would let you keep strafing if there were other enemies on screen. It made for a rather monotonous experience.

That whole monotonous experience thing got me thinking about why I don't care much for the SNES versions of this genre yet I love DmC. DmC is set up so you have a bunch of cool moves, and then it makes you mix your play up by giving you bonuses for using a variety of moves and throwing in enemies that are weak to different things. 'Optimal' play isn't the exact same thing over and over until you win. I like that.

All that said, for the time, this is a pretty good game.

Rating: B+

Saturday, June 14, 2014

#105: Super Buster Bros.

I recognized the name of this game but I couldn't remember why. Was this one of those games where you shoot coloured bubbles? No, that's Puzzle Bobble and while the name is almost similar that's not it...
Incoming balls!
Right! This is the game where you're a dude with a harpoon gun pointed straight up and the goal is to blow up all of the balls on the screen. When a ball hits a harpoon it explodes into 2 balls of a smaller size. Eventually there's a size that is so small it just disappears instead of splitting again. There's a time limit for each stage and the strategy in the game is to keep the number of balls on the screen manageable (if a ball bounces into you then you're dead) so you ideally want to be shooting the smallest balls that you can while dodging everything. Oh, and a lot of the time there are powerups that come out when you shoot a ball so the gameplay changes on the fly depending on what comes out.
25 worlds down! At least 15 more to go.
There's not a whole lot to say about this game. It's a solid puzzle game. The music was good, the controls were simple to understand, and it's fun to play.

Rating: A+

Saturday, June 7, 2014

#104: Super Batter Up

Swing batter batter batter batter...
Super Batter Up is, unsurprisingly, a baseball game. A baseball game that was entirely new to me, even. Was it going to be good, bad, or ugly?

I start off and I get to pick from actual MLB teams. I took my favourite team from that era, the Oakland A's, and played against my hometown team the Toronto Blue Jays. And even 22 years later I still recognize most of the names. I didn't see any MLBPA logos or anything so I wonder if they were even allowed to do this? Anyway, it's certainly a good start to the game!

Jays win! Jays win!
I played a game and I got blown out. I simply couldn't score and the controls were clunky enough I couldn't really field well either. It has the standard baseball game problem where you control all of your players at the same time. So if you move the shortstop towards the ball but he isn't close enough to actually get to it you've also managed to move your outfielders out of position so they can't get to it either. The AI doesn't suffer from this problem so they were always able to get to my hits. The runners were so abysmally slow compared to actual baseball that even if I hit the ball into a gap I couldn't ever get a double. The AI got lots of doubles though because it would take so long for me to recover from my bad movements.

Pitching was also annoying. You had the option of throwing a ball in the dirt, but I couldn't figure out a way to see that the ball was going to be unhittable until it was too late. This meant I would sometimes strike out without having a chance to adapt. It also meant I could guaranteed strike out my opponent by just throwing balls in the dirt over and over again. I don't find that to be fun, so I didn't do it after I tested it out to verify I could.

The game does have tons of amazing bells and whistles. Toronto was the home team so it played the notes from the last line of Oh Canada! I tested again with Detroit as the home team and it played the end of The Star Spangled Banner instead. I think that's pretty awesome. It also played a lot of typical baseball game organ music during the game which was nice. It had an animation for the 7th inning stretch and played Take Me Out To The Ballgame. When a homerun was hit it animated all the guys who were on base waiting at home plate to high five the batter. Eckersley even pitched sidearm!

It felt like this was a game made by some people who loved baseball and were able to add lots of neat things in. But then they went and failed at making a core fun game. Oh well.

Rating: C-