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Weekend in Review – Weekends Happen Once a Year

posted on March 18th, 2011 by pat and jay

Sometimes Pat and Jay hang out and play video games. These are the chronicles of Pat and Jay hanging out and playing video games. Here are some of the old chronicles of Pat and Jay hanging out playing video games: Some month a long time ago, some month less a long time ago.

Project Berkley – No obsessive Shenmue fan’s collection is complete without the Japanese release of Virtua Fighter 3tb, since it came with a disc of scenes and interviews about the making of Shenmue (codenamed Project Berkley during development). Neither of us speak Japanese, but we were lucky enough to be joined by Jay’s girlfriend, who also doesn’t speak Japanese.

Pat: Not much to say. There is some good character concept art, and the Shenmue music always makes me wistful, but without knowledge of what Yu was saying this almost felt more like something we should do than anything else.

Jay: I think seeing Suzuki’s games in order again reinforced the fact that he has made three games in his life. Hang On, Virtua Fighter, and Shenmue. Why couldn’t the 50 million dollar game be the one with constant sequels/reiterations?

By far the best part of the disc was the (possibly marble) busts of Ryo and Lan Di behind where Suzuki sat. I will add stealing them to the list of what to do next time I’m at the Sega of Japan building, right after ‘give the President a capsule toy whilst tears stream down my face’.

What’s Shenmue – No obsessive Shenmue fan’s collection is complete without this free Japanese demo. We didn’t manage to learn Japanese in the half hour between Project Berkley and this, but we do know Shenmue gameplay and were able to complete the short demo-like mission.

Jay: Also the detailed English walkthrough that came with the game from a generous eBay seller helped.

Pat: It did. That sort of reminded me of renting a Genesis game or borrowing one from a friend in that the game was often accompanied by passwords, codes, fatalities, etc. In What’s Shenmue, most of the streets are blocked off, but it was nice to be back in Yokosuka, talking to citizens and ignoring Nozomi. Among the more surprising things is how good the game still looks after 11 years; the graphics hold up and the level of detail is amazing by any standards. While much of it is done with textures, the effect is still very nice.

Jay: Even after seeing images of the end online, seeing the Sega executive and all of those stacks of unsold Dreamcasts still made me sad. With stuff like that and Segagaga, they seemed to be quite aware of what the future held.

Michael Jordan Chaos in the Windy City – Released in 1994, when the genre “Platformer” did not require the modifier “2D” and no one could think of any reason not to throw mascots, movie characters or apparently basketball players into them, MJCITWC pits the eponymous hero against evil forces that would seek to prevent a charity basketball game from happening (BOOOO!).

Pat: I like 2D platformers and wanted to like this game. It does a few interesting things to remind you that Jordan is a basketball player, like replacing chests or crates with baskets to dunk on, but the controls are just too loose and the levels too bland and barren for the game to be any good.

Jay: Maybe it would have gotten much better after the first stage, which we never beat. Next time you make a 2D platformer starring a basketball star, do not open with a sewer level. Also, don’t make a 2D platformer starring a basketball star.

Charlie’s Angels – Notable for mostly for its inclusion on various “Worst Games of whatever time period” lists, Charlie’s Angels is a very very shallow 3D brawler that creates excuses to dress our polygonal heroines as skimpily as possible.

Pat: This is one of the few games I’ve ever seen gamefaqs have zero walkthroughs for; of course that’s because the only advice a walkthrough could impart would be: “hit kick 10,000 times”.

Jay: This game is terrible but not really up to worst game ever standards. Without the hilariously bad Charlie’s Angel dressings it would just be a really boring and basic beat em up. This doesn’t even begin to approach the awesome badness of games like Virtual Hydlide and Superman 64.

Pat: This is true, the game has little to offer, but the controls more or less do what they should, and you can tell what is happening on screen.

Jay: I do hate Lucy Lu for no apparent reason, so that helped.

Pat: Hate her enough to spell her very-short-and-easy-to-spell name wrong, apparently.

Revengers of Vengeance – Great title or the greatest title? Or the worst title? Revengers of Vengeance is a RPG/Fighter/Vertical Shooter for the Sega CD.

Pat: I can confirm that this game has RPG sections and fighting sections. We will have to trust them on the vertical shmup sections since we never accumulated enough money to purchase a quest that would have let us try one. Bizarre genre hybrids are up my alley, but I am terrible at fighting games and this one barely gives you a chance to get your feet wet before destroying you. A typical session: 20 minutes prepping and training in RPG Town; 3 minutes loading the fight (Sega CD remember) once you leave the town; 10 seconds of my opponent beating me senseless; game over, repeat. Also the disc probably wasn’t in great shape since the fights would only load about 75% of the time.

Jay: Yeah, the scratched disc really put a damper on this experience. I found a fighter I was pretty good with but it just wasn’t worth the pain of the Sega CD’s amazing 1X speed drive. Generally, it was tough to tell when the game crashed versus when it was just loading forever. I think we should buy the game again because it sucks in the right sort of way to be just the kind of game I like. What is a revenger?

BeyBlade Let it Rip – Our decision to buy and subsequently play this game was inspired by this NeoGAF thread (which I recommend reading) in which a viral marketer is exposed in about ten seconds. Needless to say, our short time with the game was replete with mentions of the fact that BeyBlades are made of metal.

Pat: There seems to be some depth to this game, in that you can change various components of your spinning/fighting top in order to better equip it to win battles in the BeyBlade arena. Fortunately or unfortunately, we didn’t have to explore any of that since we beat the game (or at least saw the credits roll) after about 15 minutes of playing with the top you start with.

Jay: The game gives you a slight amount of control on the spinning BeyBlades (which are made of metal) which ends up being worse than having no control. A pure simulation would have made the game less frustrating and there’s certainly enough crap to buy to make it worthy of a sim. We will need to compare Let it Rip to the new PS3 game. Sure it will have better graphics, but will it have: “What a great launch!”?

Pat: “What a weak launch!”

Fighter Maker – Promising to make your dreams of creating a crappy 3D fighting game a reality, Fighter Maker was released in North America in 1999. Another blockbuster from Agetec, following in the giant footsteps of Virtua Athlete 2000, Bass Landing and Evergrace.

Jay: Playing this was my idea and Pat sort of resisted. I’ve put many hours into RPG Maker variants over the years and pretend to be a game designer so it seemed appealing. The videos online seem to agree, but it certainly isn’t a weekend game. The depth of options and number of sliders hurt my brain. Just watch this, I’m sure it’s the best thing to come from the game.

I can’t wait to get the shmup maker on Saturn.

Pat: This game was basically opaque to me. I fiddled with it for a while but if I made any changes to anything it was unclear. Maybe given enough time I could do something that amounts to something, but besides this specific game sucking I personally don’t have the desire or patience to create fighting game characters.

Mansion of Hidden Souls – Not to be confused with its sequel (are you reading this, Wikipedia?), The Mansion of Hidden Souls on the Saturn, Mansion of Hidden Souls on the Sega CD is an FMV adventure game, with a plot gamers are by now all too familiar with: boy has to save his sister from being turned into a butterfly in a mansion that only appears during full moons.

Pat: I generally like story-heavy adventure games, even those (like this one) that are slow and barely interactive. The plot may be silly, but its at least comprehensible, which puts it probably in the top 10% of all video game plots. In most adventure games you advance by gathering items, possibly combining them, and using them to solve puzzles. In this game there are about 8 total items, some of which have no gameplay associated with them, and only about two or three scenarios that could legitimately be called a puzzle. Regardless, completing this was two hours well spent.

Jay: I definitely have a soft spot for this type of game – adventure games, not terrible games. It is quite terrible but for some reason still compelling. The atrocious graphics actually add something unsettling to the experience, though the voice acting is only comical. A Russian butterfly I can live with, but a Southern Bell butterfly is just too much. If the game were, as Pat vaguely implied, “story-heavy” it would probably be better. Beyond the handful of butterflies there is a single scene with an antagonist, whom you do not have to actually confront, defeat, outwit, sneak by, or really anything other than listen to for 20 seconds. There is at least a time limit to keep the game tense, which is telling since time limits usually make games worse.

Pat: Be honest Jay, you also have a soft spot for terrible games.

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor – This sequel to Treasure’s excellent 2000 (released in North America on Virtual Console in 2007) rail shooter Sin & Punishment appears to have some lore associated with it (Creators? Nebulox?). That this lore is impenetrable has no bearing on the high quality of the level design or the terrific shooting.

Pat: This game is awesome. I contend that while I am no great shakes at video games generally, or shmups in particular, I would have sucked less at this had I not been playing drunk at 4 am. Either way, great shooting, nonsensical plot, fun co-operative play, basically everything I loved about the first with a new (probably improved) control scheme.

Jay: Everything but running levels. I guess the original game still exists so if I want to play those stages, I still can. But then I am left with a paradox. If wanting more of what came before is silly because what came before still exists, should I be glad this sequel was made? I want original games and also more of what I like. I want real life problems I face every day and also far out situations involving robots and magic powers.

5 Comments

  1. Chris O said on March 18, 2011:

    Jay, I think I can sympathize with that last bit, as I too want far out situations involving robots and magic powers to become my real life problems.

    Great review, though I doubt I’ll ever get around to playing any of these, barring my secret life as a beyblade champion. Although I think I would really like to find myself a poster for Revengers of Vengeance, because that title…I just really like what I think it implies.

    Also, I think it bears repeating that the Beyblades are mostly metal and more dangerous than ever. It’s basically a win-win for the whole family, regardless of the mind-blowing speed at which I’m assuming the gameplay extremely operates.

    One final note, I was recently reminded of playing Breath of Fire (I want to say III?) with the two of you maybe fifteen years ago in Pat’s basement. For whatever reason, I can still hear you (Jay) saying of the 2nd boss in a trio of otherwise difficult and imposing bosses (you may remember him, he kept “hitting” me with potions), “He’s killing you with kindness!”

    Still makes me laugh, and to this day I can see in my mind’s eye that fat bastard inexplicably attacking me with healing potion until the point where I killed him. Good memories.

  2. pat said on March 19, 2011:

    could that have been 15 years ago? how old am i? you must have been a baby. wiki says…bof 3 (it was definitely bof3) came out in 1997; my guess it was something like 12 years ago. i do remember that sequence though. i think they must have used that “boss” instead of giving you an inn and save point in the middle of whatever tournament or boss rush you were doing.

    i would also like to take this opportunity to take credit for the fact you have good taste in games. you are welcome.

  3. Cunzy1 1 said on March 21, 2011:

    All of those games suck. Not a one has a cover mechanism.

    Seriously though though, next time you do one of these weekends let me know and I’ll bring Rosco McQueen and I’ll be damned if we can’t get that last ending on Broken Helix.

  4. jay said on March 21, 2011:

    After I posted this, Pat asked if I could include that we are taking requests and I said no. I changed my mind, so as of one minute ago we have both Rosco McQueen and Broken Helix.

    In unrelated site news, we are now taking requests for games to play on our weekends.

  5. Cunzy1 1 said on March 22, 2011:

    FINE. Be like that.

    My real name is Johnny Flame. Now can I join your group?

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