Tag Archives: PC

FGC #265 Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

MajesticWithout whipping out the chart, there’s a clear geek hierarchy out there. Sure, I play a lot of videogames, but at least I’m not one of those nerds playing MMORPGs and letting their lives be dictated by party raids and random character nerfs. Ha ha! Those nerds! They’d never have time to write about three separate videogames a week and then do a yearlong Let’s Play of a decade old videogame franchise nobody likes! Losers! Everybody hold up, I have to go put the finishing touches on my Allen Ridgley cosplay.

Things get even weirder when you examine the nerd hierarchy in the comic book world, though (or, maybe, as a videogame nerd, I just think it’s weirder because it’s not my specific fandom). Batman, for instance, is always going to be popular. Superman, too, for that matter. Then you get into some of the lesser heroes, but, good news, many of them have movies coming up. Get ready for Aquaman aquaing around Aqua Town! … But real nerds don’t like those movies, because they’re too serious, or not serious enough, or Oedipal complexes are too complex, or whatever. No, the real place you want to see your heroes is… on the CW? No, that can’t be right… though I did once encounter a perfectly normal woman at the DMV excitedly telling her friend, “Oh my gosh, Flash is a new episode tonight! That’s awesome!” Yes, I suppose there are literally thousands more (popular) people that could identify Felicity Smoak than Oracle. But then you get into the animated nerds, that learned everything they need to know about Batman from Batman The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited, or maybe Teen Titans Go. Hey, Dr. Light appeared in 66% of those productions, so they’re all valid ways to learn about superheroes and superteens randomly yelling. But then, there at the bottom, the nerdiest of the nerdy, are the geeks that actually, ya know, read comic books. Can you imagine? You have to use your hands! Like a baby!

Also… obviously… I’m one of those nerds.

WhoopsBut I know it’s crazy! I’ve discussed it before, but following “comics continuity” is basically a never ending trap. Here’s how it goes down: You’ve got A-Man, champion of the letter A. A decent writer and artist combine in some mystical fashion, and write one good comic series for A-Man. Everyone, yourself included, is talking about A-Man, and check out this great run, and A-Man is doing what A-Man has never done before; and it all gets bolstered by the fact that A-Man comics drop once a month, so this “one story” gets magnified by half a year of speculation and discussion. By the time the inevitably disappointing A-Man #6 hits the stands and finally ends the arc, everyone is disappointed, but that anticipation of “what’s gonna happen next” lingers, so, naturally, you pick up A-Man #7 with a brand new creative team. Here’s your Goggle Bob sports metaphor for the year: If a soccer team wins the World Series, and then everyone involved quits or gets reassigned to other teams, do you expect the “new creative team” to score enough touchdowns to win that Stanley Cup again? No, that would be silly, but comic book fans follow that “same” A-Man over and over again, until, finally, A-Man’s reputation is so terrible, “he” is selling about two issues a year. So then it’s time for a reboot! Toss out everything that doesn’t work (which is usually something like a decade’s worth of stories), start all over again, and maybe get someone half decent on the writing staff. Hire Alex Ross for a cover, and we’re back in business. A-Man is reborn (in an issue likely literally called “A-Man Reborn”), and we’re right back at the start of the cycle.

This is fun and all, but it can create some… hiccups. For instance, with the exception of the titans of the industry (not the Teen Titans, to be clear), it’s very difficult for a superhero to hold on to a supporting cast. Let’s use CW’s comics shows as an example here: can you imagine The Flash without Cisco? How about Legends of Tomorrow without Gideon? That disembodied voice is an integral part of the cast! Meanwhile, most comic books identify this “we need a supporting cast” problem, fill the hole, make some of the supporting characters I am the nightmore interesting than the boring hero who has to save the day every week, and then… well, sorry, there was a reboot, so that character doesn’t exist anymore. Oh, she was your favorite? Sorry, time to move on. Heck, Powergirl can barely hold on to her cat (and people love cats!), so I wouldn’t get too attached to her superhero understudy with the rock powers that gal palled around with her for like ten issues.

And this kind of “hiccup” can really annoy fans. And, to be clear (and I hate that I have to be clear about this), I’m not talking about “fans doxxing every women in the tri-state area”, I’m leaning more toward “unlikely to ever read a new issue pertaining to a previously beloved character ever again”. If you’re reading Blue Beetle because you really like his close family ties and friends that remind you of real friends you have in your life, and then, next month, those friends don’t exist anymore… that gets kind of annoying. And, again, it’s not like a fan is putting their foot down and demanding a boycott (which, of course, does happen), simply that when you enjoy something for a particular trait or cast member, and then that thing you loved is completely dropped, then why read it anymore at all? Reboots are feared by comic nerds because they have taken so much from us!

WetThis winds up being an exclusively comics problem, too, because, unlike other entertainment mediums, comics aren’t allowed to end. Somehow, some way, there must always be the Batman. He’s the hero we deserve. And there’s going to be a Joker, a Robin, and maybe purple gloves somewhere in there. Batman is always going to be “Batman” in the comic book universe. There is no “NuBatman” or “80sBatman” to differentiate, no, Batman is just Batman, because if he’s being identified as a “Batman variant” then that means this story isn’t important, and if the story isn’t important, then why the hell are you reading it? To enjoy it? Bah!

And then something like Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure comes along, and it’s salt in the wound.

Scribblenauts Unmasked contains an incredible DC Comics glossary. You want John Constantine to fight Swamp Thing? Cool, we got that. You want the NU52 Agents of S.H.A.D.E. (featuring Frankenstein and an immortal Asian schoolgirl)? We’ve got that, too. Want every damn Green Lantern concept that Alan Moore sneezed into existence? There’s Green Lantern Groot right there. All of your old friends are here: Wonder Woman (with or without pants), Batman, Superman, and Doctor Midnight. If you can name a DC comics character, they’re likely in here, and possibly with variants.

And it’s a damn shame, because it reminds the player of all the toys available to DC Comics that just aren’t being used. Depending on the week, the entire Justice Society, the heroes that fought in World War 2 and are the “grandpas” to the heroes of today, may or may not exist. And the Justice Society is a great concept! And they’ve got kids! And I like those kids! Mostly just Jade! But, nope, those toys are stuck in the closet, because DC determined it would be more interesting this week if Superman was the first superhero ever, and he’s macking on Wonder Woman for some reason. Oh, wait, no, he’s dead, now there’s the old Superman who loves Lois, and he’s got a kid of his own. Wait… does he remember the Justice Society? Can he bring them back? Please? Oh well, at least I can still pit Alan Scott against Larfleeze in Scribblenauts, a game that has no impact on anything.

ORANGEAnd that’s what really gets my goat about Scribblenauts Unmasked: I want to see these toys be free. Maybe I’m at the bottom of the nerd ladder for this, but I believe that, when you’ve got the potential for unlimited interesting stories, you take that potential and grab it. Don’t limit yourself to one universe, don’t limit yourself to one fandom, and be more like Scribblenauts, and include everything available. You’ve got nearly a century worth of interesting toys to play with, so play with ‘em all.

FGC #265 Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

  • System: WiiU, 3DS, and Steam. Really? That’s it? I’d expect a greater range here, but I guess the stylus/keyboard part is kind of necessary.
  • Number of players: Just the one. Which is also surprising, as the whole “plot” is basically about dueling scribblenauts, so you’d think they’d find a way to make that more playable.
  • Favorite Adjective: Moist. Moist for days. Mooooooist.
  • Favorite DC Hero: Matter Eater Lad popped out without so much as a suggestion. I mean, ya know, Mon-El had a problem, so I had to summon the luminaries of the Legion of Superheroes, right? Bouncing Boy was my second choice.
  • Con man... get it?Did you know? John Constantine once got a drug-addicted ex-girlfriend hooked on hallucinogenic magical sand that nearly destroyed the entire universe. And here he is in a Nintendo WiiU game about randomly summoning Tomorrow Gal. Go fig.
  • Would I play again: I prefer the less story-driven Scribblenauts games. As much as I love a toy chest containing the entire DC universe, I still like solving problems exclusively through T-Rexes more.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy for the Atari Jaguar! That… can’t be good. Please… look forward to it.

FGC #216 Code of Princess

Nice hairThis is a videogame blog, but not a videogame website. Why do I make that distinction? Because, if you’ve noticed, in 200 or so entries about videogames, I have barely ever even referenced “videogame strategy”. I might write a quick aside regarding the Konami Code or “boy, is this game hard”, but I’m not so much into telling my loyal readers exactly how to defeat the boss of world five (Clawgrip?). With the exception of articles where I’m examining the gameplay for the sake of the gameplay (like when toads or giant robots are involved), I save strategy discussions for the other guys, and stick to the artsy fartsy nonsense you can expect from Gogglebob.com.

But why? Why do I avoid videogame strategy discussion in my blog? Well, the answer is simple: I don’t think I’m good at videogames.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I play videogames to relax. Yes, that might seem kind of ridiculous when you consider that I’ve been writing complete essays about every old school game I’ve played for the last year or so (a feat that would have made my high school self weep with anger at an uncaring world that made videogames homework), but, when you get right down to it, I play videogames to not think. As a result, in fighting games I have a tendency to “main” the most powerful but least combo-heavy character, in action games I find the most destructive attack and never deviate, and in JRPGs I often discover some way to min/max early, so as to never have to think again. Now, I’m not a complete Neanderthal when it comes to gaming; if I like a game, I often revisit it and “play for real” with stimulating setups and innovative job finagling (most Final Fantasy games get a replay with this in mind), but, nine times out of ten, how I play is, “Wow, the Fire Rod is really powerful and kills everything in a few hits… I better never use anything else ever again!”

Die, monsterAs a result, despite the sheer number of games I’ve beaten, I often feel like I’m not really “playing right”. I have this mental image of the rest of gamers out there (my readers included) as delicate maids, carefully dusting and vacuuming and flipping the mattress every week after properly washing the sheets. Me? I spray Febreze on the smelly bits, hope I remembered to empty the Roomba, and pray any company that might unexpectedly arrive has no problem with the fact that my couch might best be described as “crunchy”. Yes, my videogame skills are passable, but Pokémon got EVs, Street Fighters got aerial combos, and Sonic the Hedgehog has something called “S Rank”. What could “S” even stand for? Doesn’t matter, I’ll never see such a thing.

But I do know how to beat Code of Princess, so I may as well share such valuable information.

Code of Princess is, essentially, a beat ‘em up. Okay, no doubt about it, it is a beat ‘em up, but it has one very distinct mutation in the formula that almost drops CoP into another genre. Code of Princess is a beat ‘em up that is almost entirely 2-D. Your hero (usually a princess) is pretty much stuck on one plane of existence, and “moving up and down” is right out. As a result, this beat ‘em up feels even more limited than most games where you beat up the same guy over and over again. But! CoP recovers gracefully with an eclectic cast of enemies and combatants that would even put a D&D Monster Manual to shame. There are goblins, and, like, bigger goblins? They’re totally different creatures. Oh, and there’s a dragon! Sometimes two! You’re always going to have a good time when you punch a dragon.

But the other significant thing that separates Code of Princess from its Final Fighting contemporaries is the pretty robust RPG-esque system involved. Like in your typical JRPG (also a series of games where you fight dragons), your four-person party has access to a gigantic collection of equipment and items, and your heroes level up. While the equipment is pretty straightforward (+2 sword is better than +1 sword… I think), the leveling system can seem pretty overwhelming, as every level up offers bonus points, and those points may be redeemed for increases in any one of six stats. Given the length of the bars involved, it seems like these stats may be embiggened from zero to something in the department of twelve billion, so the choice of what to increase is likely a difficult one for many new players.

So here’s the Goggle Bob official Code of Princess strategy: don’t worry about it, you’re here to hit things.

Stats!

There are six different stats that may be increased. Let’s look at those. Speed is likely to catch your eye, but ignore it. This is an action game, and, unless you’re playing as Earl, you’re already fast enough to get around the screen and dodge attacks. If you weren’t, this would be a pretty lousy game, and no amount of pumping up that stat will eventually turn you into a teleporting monster. Then we’ve got Defense and Mind. Oh, this is one of those games where there’s a DEF and MDEF stat? Screw that noise. If you think you need to live longer to survive the battlefield, just pump those points into Vitality, the HP stat. That covers both bases, so if you encounter a magical or physical-based boss, you don’t have anything to worry about. Finally, there is Piety and Attack. Piety influences your magic attack, but magic is a consumable resource. You can run out of magic, and, even though it will eventually refill, what are you going to do if you’re facing the Black Knight, and you’ve got to wait for a recharge? Gesture rudely? Where’s your piety now? No, you want to pour all those points into Attack, because you can always swing your weapon around like a lunatic, and there’s no MP gauge for wholesale whacking.

So what have we learned? Put all those level up points into Vit and Attack, and call it a day.

Stats!
I got confused and added a little extra defense.

And this technique applies to other games, too! Look at any action game with level up choices, and then analyze what you “need” to win. Is this a game where there’s a regular attack and a limited special attack? Well, focus on that regular attack, because, unlike real life, in 90% of videogames, you don’t have to account for contingency plans. Yes, you might imagine there’s some world where you’ll eventually need your speed, magic attack, or charisma stat to do something, but, nope, nearly every videogame out there wants you to eventually win, and will not throw up an insurmountable brick wall because you didn’t acknowledge your piety. And, with the exception of a few WRPGs, attacking is the only way your digital avatar knows how to interact with his/her world, so screw everything else, it’s time to become the best swordsperson in the universe. Those increased murder stats might not be so useful once peacetime comes, but this ain’t Harvest Moon.

SpookySo the next time you’re faced with a choice in a videogame (and especially Code of Princess), stick to the bruiser path. You’ll find it’s the easiest way. It’s certainly the Goggle Bob way.

FGC #216 Code of Princess

  • System: 3DS, and then, mysteriously, a PC version. Guess that makes it a lot more likely to get some multiplayer going.
  • Number of players: Four? Two? I don’t know. I think it’s four, but I’ll probably have to get that PC version to score even a second player.
  • Rated T for Teen: This is somehow the second beat ‘em up with scantily clad heroines I’ve reviewed in recent memory. Code of Princess is slightly less overt about it than Dragon’s Crown… Well, assuming you ignore the fact that our princess is wearing the ol’ battle bikini. Necromancer Zozo is also pretty underdressed, but she’s supposed to be a literal walking corpse, so I think that only appeals to a distinct subset of viewers.
  • Tell me a story: Code of Princess appears to take place in a typical medieval magical land. However, it is eventually revealed that “our society” grew too decadent, so the gods introduced magic and monsters to the world to throw humanity off its ozone destroying ass. At the finale of the story, Princess Solange has the choice of destroying all magic (and potentially dooming humanity to the Information Age again), or letting it fester so an unstoppable evil can be reborn in a millennia or so. I’m guessing the canon is that she destroyed all magic, because Solange’s piety stat is atrocious.
  • Winners!Favorite Character: I rarely go straight for the title character, but Solange Blanchefleur de Lux’s preference for giant swords captured my heart. The sword is called DeLuxcalibur? That’s neat, now keep hitting things until they fall down.
  • Have a laugh: I also have to note that Code of Princess is a generally “funny” game. The voice acting is a big factor here, and I’m really quite glad for its English dub. Yes, some of the characters are annoying, but it’s all worth it for Zozo’s deadpan delivery of… everything.
  • Did you know? Like a certain other famous beat ‘em up, you can eventually unlock a playable version of practically every character in the game. Playing as the dragon sounds pretty impressive, but walking vegetables are available if that’s more your speed.
  • Would I play again: Probably not, unfortunately. I like this game, but its gameplay seems kind of limited, and I’m not going to spend all day trying to make the numbers go up on that battle nun until she’s a viable character. I’d certainly pick up Code of Princess 2, but until that’s available, I’ll probably play something else.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! Why? Well, because… Oh, you get the idea. Please look forward to it!

Owie

FGC #189 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

October is a crowded month. Most significantly, it is LGBT History Month, which, seriously, get on that, people, it’s not like we have any LGBT commemorative holidays (is Lincoln’s Birthday still a thing?). October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Bullying Prevention Month, Cyber Security Awareness Month, and Disability Employment Awareness Month. I’m not going to get into it, but all four of those things I am very aware of. It’s also Polish American Heritage Month, and, ugh, I guess this means it would be in poor taste to make a Polak joke. October is also the general home of pumpkin spice and the great holiday of Halloween. And I guess Columbus gets a holiday somewhere in there, too? Was he gay? I feel like we’d know if he was.

Incidentally, August isn’t bloody anything.

But, thanks to the capricious choosing of a random robot, I’ve got one more for October. I propose that October be Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles Awareness Month. I have prepared a FAQ for your inevitable questions.

Why Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles Awareness Month?

Because StH3&K is a game that should be celebrated. It is the finale of the Sonic the Hedgehog Sega Genesis glory days, and, in my humble opinion, it’s one of the best Sonic games in existence. Sonic the Hedgehog has its share of problems, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is great, but it contains those hateful half pipe bonus stages that preclude Super Sonic’s involvement for all but the most dedicated players. It also lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that only a belligerent It's... kind of fun?echidna can bring to the table. StH3&K is one of the few Sonic the Hedgehog games throughout history to feature a final boss that is anything but a grueling slog of memorization or tedium, too. And I’m pretty sure there are like four final bosses in this game, so that’s kind of an accomplishment.

How are there four final bosses?

Well, there’s the final boss of the Sonic 3 portion, the final boss of the & Knuckles portion, the “secret” final boss that can only be fought by Hyper Sonic, and the final boss of the Knuckles portion, Super Metal Sonic. I realize this may be confusing, but we have an entire month to work out the details.

What’s this about portions?

StH3&K is a hybrid game. In the beginning, there was simply Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and it was good. Then Sega begat Sonic and Knuckles, a game with hitherto unforeseen lock-on technology, which allowed the two games to combine into one shining gestalt of a gigantic adventure. Once combined, the two games allowed the player to play through every level in both games, collect double the chaos emeralds (well, technically the same number of emeralds, the emeralds just got bigger), and play the stages as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, all with slightly different gameplay styles. This effectively made Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (the completely combined form) its own game separate from both Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.

ARGHDoes this make StH3&K some kind of perfect, super game?

Not quite. There can be issues with combining two comprehensive games. Related to the multiple final boss “problem”, there is a definite climb in difficulty to reach the final stage of Sonic the Hedgehog 3… and then you’re right back at the relatively easy difficulty of the start of Sonic & Knuckles. And, while S&K may be a shorter, faster game than StH3, it still feels rather limiting to conquer the Death Egg and Heavy Arm, only to float down to a stage that is roughly as difficult as cooking ramen. And I don’t care what anyone says, it sucks to arbitrarily lose Super Sonic/Knuckles between games because you’re trying to earn Hyper Sonic. I want to run around at the speed of sound right now! Oh, and somehow the two games contain two zones that are mostly ice stages, and that’s one ice stage too many.

So we should be aware of StH3&K just because it’s a mostly good game?

A chief reason the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles Awareness Campaign exists is that it seems like Sega itself randomly forgets about StH3&K. Sega has a tendency to rerelease Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles separately, but offer no way to combine the two games. This is preposterous! Yes, there are versions (on Wii and Steam, if memory serves) that allow for that all important lock-on, but there are many compilations and downloadable releases that forsake the game’s greatest contribution. We must be aware of StH3&K because, unless we are ever vigilant, Sega will again forget to release the greatest entry in the Sonic canon. As it currently stands, it would be akin to Nintendo repeatedly releasing Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and World, but never 3. Do you want to live in a world like that? No! What’s the point in breathing if you can’t steer Knuckles through Marble Garden Zone? And the idea that you wouldn’t be able to revisit Mushroom Hill Zone as Hyper Sonic? Preposterous.

So it’s all about bullying Sega into releasing the game you want?

Well… Yes. But there’s more to it than that. It’s because we must never forget.

Have you gone insane?

YAYI’m not talking about that. I’m talking about properly remembering the past, and not just conveniently forgetting the ugly parts.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a famously incomplete game. It was originally intended to be the whole of StH3&K from the get-go, but a Christmas season and Sonic’s unbridled popularity pushed the game out the door before it was truly “done”. Sega made lemonade out of these lemons, though, and released Sonic & Knuckles and its lock-on technology shortly thereafter, thus making the game complete with the kludgiest of kludges.

And we, the good little Sega brats of the day, had to buy an entirely new game to get one complete game.

If this kind of thinking sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s very similar to how DLC works nowadays. Released an incomplete game? No problem! We’ll patch in the whole version later, and you can download ten gigs of updates to make the fractured whole. Maybe extra levels cost some extra dough, maybe you’re getting a new story mode for free because the original game is so lacking, but, one way or another, developers know they can release “partial” games, and make it up to the player later. Hell, it might even help with that damn used game market. Hang on to that copy of Street Fighter 5 until it’s actually a viable game, kiddies!

But, as much as anyone ever complains about DLC or developers releasing incomplete games, it used to be so much worse. If your copy of Pokémon Red kept deleting your save file because you surfed into a Missingno, bad news, that’s not getting better. Boobeam Trap is the worst part of Mega Man 2? Well, there’s no patch coming that makes that better, it’s a scar forever. And you say you’d step over your own mother just to get Like Saturnmore Super Mario Bros. 3 levels? Well good luck there, the next Mario is going to have completely different gameplay, though you might get some new challenges through playing cards in about a decade.

There are more levels available for Sonic the Hedgehog 3? And a new playable character? That’s great! You only have to buy an entirely new game. Hope it’s in your budget to buy the same game twice!

So the next time some new game promises the full experience with additional DLC, or an Assassin’s Creed is released without faces, remember that that used to be it. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles is proof that, even going back to the ol’ 16-bit days, sometimes a game needs a little more time in the oven to be perfect, but how that “update” gets to the player (and its cost) can change drastically. Which is worse: “Game of the Year Edition” or “Buy an Entirely New Game”?

I think that’s something worth remembering.

So why not Old DLC Methods Awareness Month?

That doesn’t include Knuckles the Echidna, now does it?

FGC #189 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

  • System: In honor of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles Awareness Month, the only systems that support the full game are: … Okay, there’s too many to list. Sega Genesis, Wii, and Steam are relevant to this article, but I’m also going to include the Sonic & Garfield Pack for PC.
  • Number of Players: One real player, and a second Tails that can do whatever he wants. That should be in more games
  • Favorite Character: Knuckles gets the respect knux.
  • Sonic 2 & Knuckles: You may also combine Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic & Knuckles to get Knuckles to play through Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It’s not that exciting, but it makes that one bit in Chemical Plant Zone a lot more tolerable. … Has this “version” ever appeared on rereleases?
  • It gets in everythingFavorite Zone: I realize that this is most people’s most hated zone, but Sandopolis Zone is my favorite. I love how the pyramid puts an emphasis on “gotta go fast” without some lame timer or generic flooding segment. Sand flooding is a totally different thing.
  • Just play the gig, man: Famously, Michael Jackson did or did not contribute music to Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It apparently got downplayed thanks to… personal matters… in Mr. Jackson’s life, but he did at least contribute background tunes for… Carnival Night Zone?! That’s that worst one!
  • Did you know? You may access the “locked to a character” stages through the debug cheat code. This means that Sonic can fight Super Metal Sonic, and Knuckles can explore the Death Egg. Wouldn’t recommend taking Tails to the Doomsday Zone, though.
  • Would I play again: Well, now I have to every October, right? I can live with that.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Street Fighter EX 3 for the Playstation 2! That’s… not Street Fighter 3, is it? Why is everybody so blocky? Oh well, guess we’ll find out. Please look forward to it!




That’s better.