For the few out there that read this blog and listened to the podcasts, know that this is for you. What you know before is gone. I have taken everything down, because, like the coming of the seasons, there is a need for renewal and change. As winter comes to a beginning, I too must begin working hard on other things. The podcast still exists in the archive of information here and I can provide any of the files for those that want them, but I encourage you to not do so as I have little self-esteem to begin with.
Instead, this blog will be changing into something more serious, a look into the review process for everything, be they books, music, movies, everything. Add to it the personal commentary on whatever it is that I feel at the moment in a highly romanticized and over dramatized manner as, if you know me personally, is exactly what I am not.
So if you want to continue to read and follow me, by all means do so. I will not leave you in the dust, but know that there are changes to be made about the format and the tone of this blog. Once again, I thank you all for reading this as I do appreciate it, you are the reason as to why I do this. Your want to read this drives me further and further into continuing it. So, thank you and enjoy.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Originally released on the PC-9821 in 1994 in Japan, Policenauts was an epic testimony to the power of storytelling in an interactive videogame environment. It took fifteen years for it to finally see life in an English translation produced by the fan community at JunkerHQ.net and with that release, came an outpouring of rejoice. For those that don’t know, Policenauts was written and directed by Hideo Kojima, creator of such amazing games as the Metal Gear series and Snatcher.
The game is an interactive drama, set in the near future as you play, Jonathan Ingram, one of the original Policenauts, which were a group of astronaut trained police men, set to protect man kinds first space colony called, “Beyond Coast.” An accident left your character stranded in the depths of space, cryogenically frozen within his space suit, only to be recovered and revived 25 years later. Now, as a private investigator on Home/Earth, you are charged by your ex-wife to find out the whereabouts of her missing husband on Beyond, uncovering a dark and disturbing plot of corruption and greed with your ex-partner and old friend Ed Brown.
I cannot even begin to describe the plot farther than that as it is the sheer essence and mystery of the game itself that draws you in. Everything revolves around the intricacies of the world itself, much like how Kojima approached Snatcher. No technology is left unturned without great and meticulous detail. You learn how daily life on Beyond exists to the smallest of nuances even on a psychological level on dealing with living in the depths of space. It truly is inspiring to see the care from classic sci-fi novels show face here in the videogame realm, an art that is mostly forgotten.
The game itself is played out in the first person perspective and resembles a point and click adventure game from the days of old. As Jonathan, you move a cursor around to interact with the environment, being able to look at almost every piece of the world numerous times over, as well as to interview and interrogate the people of interest. What makes this portion of the game stand out is how other people remember the things you have done. For example, on your flight to Beyond, you have the option to take some medicine to help with your Zero G sickness. If you do so, it stands heavily in the mind of one of the passengers you meet and see all throughout the game as they react to you more negatively for being weak. That is just one example of many, as every move your character makes can really breathe some replayability . Mixed into the game are also action sequences, where you are forced to protect yourself by shooting enemies around the screen, once again very similar to how Snatcher played out. Also, there were numerous puzzle sequences, forcing your character to break codes, disarm bombs and other unique scenarios. Although the game on the Playstation does not have light gun support like the Saturn version, it does support the mouse attachment, making for a very tight and responsive control scheme, allowing you to really make the most of the game experience.
Another thing that stands out is the sound. The voice actors are phenomenal in their execution. The dialog is passionate, heated and a continuing sense of urgency as you progress through the storyline. Everything is caught and encapsulated in the nuances of each voice actor, making their performances impeccable to telling the story. Add to this an amazing soundtrack that reeks of Mid-90’s synthesizers and modern rock, which complimented the sci-fi aspect excellently.
This game is a must play for those that want to experience true, cinematic brilliance. Kojima’s ability to tell a story shines brightly in this game, unlike anything else he has created. While there may be minor flaws in the game, like its rushed ending (which I might add is a VERY small gripe), there is no reason why anyone wanting something of true content should pass this up. Now with the translation patch, which comes only with incredibly small bugs and glitches, which only one I experienced during the bomb disarmament scene and I could not recreate, everyone should find a way to get Policenauts and experience the tale that we have waited over a decade for, it is very much worth it.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Mega Man Legends, an eleven year old game released by Capcom for the original Playstation is somewhat of a lost gem in the mixed emotions of the 32-bit era. Set in the far future of the Mega Man universe, you play as Mega Man Volnut, a futuristic treasure hunter known as a digger, hunting through long forgotten ruins in search of refractors, large crystals used as power sources that fuel the rag tag technologies of the current society. With him, is his adopted family of Gramps Caskett, an old historian and retired digger and his granddaughter, Roll Caskett, a spotter that watches his progress in the ruins from on high, giving him heads-up on traps, and oncoming enemies. With their flying ship, The Flutter, they explore the endless ocean world.
The plot of the game specifically is incredibly unique, as the setting is quite different from previous Mega Man games. Here, Mega Man and company crash land on Kattelox Island, a modern city built upon ruins upon ruins. Here they are quested to explore the various caves around the city, and unlock the mysteries of the island’s long and violent past. This is not easy, as they are constantly in conflict with a set of dastardly pirates known as the Bonnes, who are a comical cast of characters that fit the word, “bumbling,” quite nicely. There is Tron Bonne, a beautiful young inventor who hides a secret crush on Mega Man, Teisel Bonne, the leader and mastermind of their operations and Bon Bonne a child-like character inside a robotic suit, limited to only saying, “Babu!”
The game seems simple at first, but the talented storytelling devices used peel back an amazing layer of detail into the history of the world as well as a mixture of emotions ranging from laugh out loud antics, to grim and serious emotional drama. You clearly see the progression within the characters, their relationships building with the citizens of the island as well as with the player yourself. You become attached to the characters and in that attachment you are taken for an enjoyable story ride.
All of this is exemplified with smooth, crisp cell-shaded-esque styled graphics. Characters expressions are clear amidst the backdrops of bright and colorful colors on the surface, giving way to darker and more foreboding tones when going into the ruins. These stylistic choices help add to the overall presentation, which is top notch, even more so since it is an original Playstation title.
Functionally, though, the game falls into some common pitfalls. This title was the Blue Bomber’s first foray into the third dimension and with this went through a lot of growing pains. The controls seem awkward and clumsy, using the D-pad for movement, shying away from the analog thumbstick and use the right and left shoulder buttons to rotate the camera. The game also features a lock-on system that targets the nearest enemy, which conceptually is an excellent idea, although it was implemented with major flaws. Targeting airborne enemies can be difficult with more than one present, causing a glitch-ridden camera that gets flung around aimlessly, making it impossible to target anything. This would not be a problem if it wasn’t a recurring theme in the game.
This can be overlooked however, as the game features a set of robust RPG elements. Mega Man can purchase upgrades to his buster gun, adding range, fire speed, number of shots and overall damage. As you explore ruins, do sidequests, interact with citizens and partake in entertaining mini-games you can also discover various junk parts which you can give to Roll and allow her to invent new weapons that you can upgrade and use to demolish your enemies. These weapons are varied in style and abilities, ranging from short ranged energy swords to long ranged homing missiles and even drill arms. These elements add a lot of style and replayability as you approach different bosses and enemies in unique and fun ways.
With the open ended world, catchy soundtrack and somewhat withstand able voice acting, you can easily overlook the problems that lay in the controls as Mega Man Legends is a series that truly stands high in my eyes. Its characters are incredibly enjoyable and the world is full of life and possibilities. I cannot recommend this game higher to fans of a fresh take on a fan favorite franchise. Find this game and play.