Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

SNES vs. Genesis: Part 1 – Action Games

Here begins the ultimate showdown between the SNES and the Genesis. This part, Part 1, will focus on action games [fighting games, beat ’em ups, and 2D shooters will be analyized later]. As multiplatform titles are basically a wash for both sides, only exclusive titles will be considered.

Sega Genesis

Alisia Dragoon, James Bond 007 – The Duel, Shinobi series, X-Men, Dungeon Explorer, Contra: Hard Corps, General Chaos, Mercs, Landstalker, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Alien Soldier, ESWAT, Blades of Vengeance, Mega Turrican, Popful Mail, Target Earth, Beyond Oasis, Crusader of Centy, Guantlet IV, Gunstar Heroes, Vectorman, Chakan, Toejam and Earl, Red Zone, Rolling Thunder 2 and 3, Strider 1 and 2, Pirates! Gold, Heimdall, and Altered Beast.

SNES

Super Metroid, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, King of Demons, Alcahest, Front Mission: Gun Hazard, Pocky and Rocky, Super Star Wars, Super Castlevania IV, Demon’s Crest, Mega Man series, The Fireman, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Neugier, Gunforce, Holy Umbrella, Super Turrican, R2: Rendering Ranger, Taloon’s Great Adventure, Gunman’s Proof, Metal Warriors, EVO – The Search for Eden, Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Equinox, Contra III, Magic Sword, Wild Guns, and Cybernator.

Both systems bring quality and quantity in the action genre, and I threw in some action/adventure games as well. Some classics on both sides, but how many? Over the course of the next week, or longer if I feel like it, I will pick the most promising titles from each console’s genre offering. At the end of that time period, I’ll make a decision on which console has the best games.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Console Wars, Games | , , , , | Leave a comment

Culture Talk: Console Warriors

All gamers go through a phase where it’s “Us” versus “Them”. You’re favored gaming company or hardware against their favored gaming company or hardware. Arguments are waged and lines drawn. Members are quickly drafted, taught the rules, and then thrust into the middle of that hellish firestorm that is forum debate. The goal of all this is to “win”, with winning meaning the eventual admittance of defeat by the other side. The only problem is that there never is any victory because the rules are constantly changing.  What might be touted by one side can be quickly swept away following a decision by that side’s company of choice to take things in a different direction. In a word: pointless.

The argument might be made that console wars are no different than sports. One side wants their group to win and the other side wants their group to win. There the similarities end. In the game industry, both sides can win because, while the two are competing with each other, the is enough room for both to flourish and make profits. This forces the console warriors to adopt increasingly obscure determinations of victory. Another problem is that there are no official rules to determine who wins. It’s up to the warriors to figure that one out and both sides have different ides of what constitutes victory. To further distance itself from the sports analogy, each team in sports offers virtually the same experience. Both teams are playing the same sport. That’s not entirely the case with game companies. Each company may offer a very different experience and that experience is readily available in all territories. One company might excel in RPGs, while another excels in platforming titles. Very different experiences. While there might be gamers who chose one over the other, many gamers will play and enjoy both.

Therein lies the problem with console warriors: they miss out. If you’re a true console warrior, you’ll stick to your console of choice and ignore the others. By doing that, the console warrior knowingly cut himself off from a supply of quality entertainment all because he, or she, wants to win an online battle, which, as stated before, will never actually ever be won.

Why then do we fight? Validation, simply put. We want to convince ourself, and others, that we made the right choice by picking one console over the other. Every time the other console loses an exclusive or sells poorly, it’s a victory for us because it gives us one more notch in our belt. It’s not about playing and enjoying games, it’s about posturing, about back-patting, but without the eventual championship victory of your favorite sports team.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Games, Random Thoughts | , , | Leave a comment

Review: Just Cause 2

The original Just Cause, developed by Avalanche Studios and released in September 2006, put players in control of CIA agent Rico Rodriguez as he fought to overthrow a corrupt government that controlled a series of Caribbean islands. The games noteworthy for its massive gameworld and near-limitless freedom. The player was free to do missions as his or her leisure or simply cruise the various islands causing havoc. Just Casuse 2, now set on a series of islands in Southeast Asia which is also under the control of a corrupt government, is very similar in its setup.

Story

Well, the game HAS a story, it’s just not a very good one. Or important one. Rico’s at it again, taking down a corrupt government by helping local factions expand their influence. There’s also something about a rogue agent. That’s the story. There’s a number of cutscenes scattered around that give you some more details about various things that you don’t care about. Overall, the story’s simple and unimportant. You can skip the cutscenes and not feel like you’ve missed anything at all. 5/10, but only because the story exists.

Gameplay

Here’s where things get good. As in the first game, missions are available to you all over the island and you’re free to take them on at your leisure. Or simply roam around and destroy things, get into fire fights, and fly over tropical jungles and mountains. You are given a wide array of weapons, vehicles, and real estate with which to make your mark. Gunplay is a bit weak, but it’s not something that really gets in the way of the fun. It could be better, but it’s not something I’ve been frustrated with too often. The strong point of the gameplay is rolling into some outpost and laying waste to it with whatever weapon you have on you, stealing the helicopter they send out to kill you, and then clearing away anything that was left over from your ground assault. Everything is very seamless in this game and the world is wide open following the initial, introductory mission. The free-roaming nature of the game may turn some people off and the inclusions of scripted missions may turn others off, but it strikes a delicate balance between the two that still works very well. 9/10

Sound

Music is sparse, but changes to fit the mood. Pulse-pounding for action-packed shootouts and moody for those moments when you’re actually sneaking into an enemy base. The massive concussion of nearby explosions and the dull, echoing pop of distant explosions are all handled very well and sound great. Overall, it games that sound good in virtually every facet, barring the cringe-worthy voice acting. But you’re skipping the cutscenes anyway, right? 8/10

Graphics

Simply put, it’s one of the best looking open-world games ever. Even playing at medium settings on the PC, everything about this game looks stunning. There’s no popup to speak of, textures are sharp and vibrant, all vehicles are highly detailed, and the way that shadows play across the 3D objects in the world looks amazing. As stated before, it’s all seamless. You can go from the ground to thousands of feet in the air within seconds and the engine accommodates this move with ease. The only aspect that doesn’t look too hot is the character models, which look a bit flat when viewed up close. It’s not a big deal in-game, but the cutscenes suffer from this. And one aspect that really shines is the explosions. The way they distort the air and fling fragments of build and flames into the air is truly a thing of beauty. There really aren’t too many ways that this game could look much better. 9.5/10

Verdict

A very fun game, there’s really no other way to properly describe it. It’s a blast to play and just run around doing random things. If you want highly-scripted, story-driven gameplay, you’re not going to find it here. But if you want freedom and the ability to play at your own pace in a great looking sandbox, then this is one game you’ll want to pick up.

Final Score

8.5/10

Specs: Developed by Avalance Studios, Published by Square-Enix. Available in North America and Europe.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Games, Reviews | , , | Leave a comment