Tag Archives: playstation 2

FGC #306 King of Fighters 2006

Let's go, brosVideogames are subjective. Yes, that is obvious, but considering how often a review or preview boils down to, “Well, is it good?” it’s worth remembering that, for a lot of people, that’s all that matters. And “good”, practically by definition, is subjective. What’s more, videogames are gestalts. Actually, just typing that reminds me NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Automata again. I managed to barely mention the gameplay of both of those games during that article, but, from my perspective, I prefer Gestalt’s “simple” combat to Automata’s Platinum “dodge all the time” combat. I hate “waiting for an opening”, and would much rather just slam the attack button mindlessly until the giant mutant cows come home. Does this mean I think Automata “isn’t good”? No, of course not, but it does mean that I would prefer a “version” of Automata that is a little more… mindless. And do I think my opinion is “right”? Heck no, I simply know what I like. Hey, if I’m going to play through a forty hour story, I don’t want to get stuck on one stupid boss because I don’t 100% understand its dodge window.

But sometimes knowing your opinion is wrong is a tad… disheartening. NieR Automata has outsold NieR Gestalt by a roughly twelve billion to one ratio, so it’s pretty safe to say that if there is another NieR adventure, it’s more likely to feature pretty robots dodging bullets than grizzled old men clumsily waving around spears. It’s the way of things. Even though videogames are made up of many completely separate pieces (what I like most about Automata could arguably work just as well in a JRPG… or even a “light” platformer), the people that judge “what went right” often latch onto one or two tiny facets and emulate that for years. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Skyrim for its expansive world or because you really like collecting cheese wedges, the game is deemed a success exclusively for its “open world gameplay”. And then “Skyrim clones” are thus labeled because of that emulated open world, and not because they borrowed any of the other billion moving pieces found in a game that large. Success can only be one thing, and look no further than the army of Super Mario Bros. imitators on the NES to see how well that works when the game in question is “simple”. And it’s just as easy to copy your favorite part of a game as its worst.

Is it supposed to be heart?Today’s game is technically King of Fighters 2006, but, as I realized after ROB picked the dang thing, it’s a game with another name: King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2. What’s the distinction? Why does that name strike fear into my heart? Well, because this, like Street Fighter EX before it, is yet another 2-D fighting game franchise that decided to make the leap to 3-D, and forsake everything good about the good ol’ days. Delightful sprite-work? Gone for the sake of clunky 3-D models. Fireballs owning the only plane available? Welcome to sidestep city. And the beloved, honed-over-a-decade incremental improvements to the KOF franchise were all tossed out with the bathwater to make way for new characters like Kyo with a Dye Job and Butterfly Girl. The old King of Fighters is dead, long live the new 3-D king (of fighters).

And… uh… I feel kind of bad because… ya know… I actually like King of Fighters: Maximum Impact.

Fighting games, by my reckoning, are pretty much pure videogame experiences. There are no ways to “emulate” a fighting game outside of a computer simulation (you could, for instance, set up a Super Mario Bros.-esque obstacle course in reality, or just read Xenosaga: The Book and get much the same experience as the game, but the only way to hurl a fireball directly at an opponent that is attempting to dodge via a punch that launches its user three body lengths in the air is to ask Capcom nicely), and, in a manner of speaking, Poor guyyou know everything a fighting game has to offer within its first few moments. It’s extremely rare to see a fighting game that follows the JRPG tradition of “stick around, it really gets good about 20 hours in”, or the old action game chestnut of switching control to some unwanted gimmick randomly until the real game starts up again (I’m going to start calling this Batmobile syndrome). Ultimately, what you see is what you get with a fighting game, and if it doesn’t click in the first few minutes, you’re probably never going to like it. Yes, there’s the chance you’ll get better at a fighting game, or learn to appreciate it more as you discover the various systems, but that first impression is at its most pure in the fighting genre.

And from that perspective, from that general “does it feel right”, I’d much rather play Maximum Impact over practically every other King of Fighters game released before or after. And I kind of like the King of Fighters franchise! It’s no Street Fighter, MvC, or even Blazblue, but it’s always been generally fun. I played King of Fighters ’95 on the Playstation (1) roughly until about ten minutes after my eyes started bleeding, and I’d hop right back onto the Chang Koehan train if the doctors ever let me have that disc back. And, with the exception of King of Fighters 12 (or was it 13? Or both?), I have yet to find a King of Fighters game that I distinctly dislike. But, for no reason other than an extremely vague “cuz I like it”, I have enjoyed Maximum Impact from its first moment. And “Maximum Impact 2” is just MI, but with more characters (including Fio of Metal Slug!), so it’s arguably my favorite King of Fighters game in the franchise. In fact, before the release of King of Fighters 14, it was indisputably my number one KoF. King of Fighters 2006, you’re a pretty rad game.

LOOK OUTBut I feel almost ashamed to admit that. This is the King of Fighters game that is the least King of Fighters. All the little pieces that should make up a King of Fighters game aren’t here. Despite the 2006 moniker, it is forever relegated to the spin-off ghetto, where it’s forced to hang out with the likes of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and (shudder) Soulcalibur Legends. Ask any true King of Fighters fan, and Maximum Impact is bound to be derided. According to history, it’s the black sheep of the franchise, an evolutionary dead end that was later abandoned for more traditional gameplay. King of Fighters 2006 was a mistake, plain and simple.

But it’s one of my favorite mistakes, so eat it, objective reviews of the franchise. This gestalt, somehow, adds up to something great. Heck, show me another King of Fighters where I can fight a bleeding Metal Slug, and then maybe we’ll talk.

FGC #306 King of Fighters 2006

  • System: Playstation 2, and like six arcades worldwide. You know, the PS2 era was kind of weird: a game was either on every system, or only PS2. That seems odd compared to the 360/PS3 “universal” era.
  • Number of players: Only two people may become the King of Fighters. Wait, no, that doesn’t quite work.
  • Favorite Character: I really enjoy the cast of this game, as it includes luminaries from Mark of the Wolves, Metal Slug, and the ol’ King of Fighters standbys like Mai and Ralf. But I’m going to go with one of the more unique Maximum Impact characters, Mignon Beart. She’s supposed to be Athena’s “rival” character, and she’s designed to be… as annoying as possible. And she succeeds! So I prefer to see her crazy antics defeating the hyper-serious main characters of the franchise. Nobody likes you, Kyo.
  • OwieA shape of things to dumb: Everyone in the cast gets a “fun” alternate costume. And most of these costumes are pure fan service for other SNK games! And you know all of these costumes would be deemed DLC a console generation later.
  • Sideshow: This might be the only fighting game wherein the silly side games are more fun than… anything. Like, anything ever. Who wants to beat up a stationary car when there’s a Metal Slug available? Or an encroaching steamroller, so you can act out your wildest Who Framed Roger Rabbit fantasies? And there’s always the option to beat moai heads out of solid rock.
  • What’s in a name? This is Maximum Impact 2 everywhere but on North American Playstation 2s. Considering King of Fighters has always been something of a niche of a niche genre (particularly in 2006), it’s a bizarre appeal to the diehard fans.
  • Did you know? Billy Kane’s little sister makes her only playable appearance in this one. She’s basically a Billy clone, but it’s nice to see a little more female representation from the franchise.
  • Would I play again: Maybe! I mean, I like this game, but there are a lot of other fighting games out there. Maybe the next time I need to see the Beart family again, I’ll shake off the dust.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Disney Infinity (3.whatever)! Time to play with toys! Please look forward to it!

Owie

FGC #300 Resident Evil – Code: Veronica (Live!)

Let's get ready to go!Well, this went just about as well as expected.

In honor of FGC Entry #300, I decided to do a “live pick” with BEAT and FanboyMaster. In the end, the game wound up being Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, and… I’m not very good at it. Please enjoy watching Claire Redfield die a whole lot below.

Notes! With Time Annotations!

4:00 – Our first pick is… not allowed. It turns out that if you ask BEAT to choose a number between one and ten, he will choose twelve billion. Eventually, Adventure Island 3 is chosen… and then dropped due to not actually being emulator-ly available. I am not going to fight my NES for a half hour.

6:47 – The Sega Saturn Bootleg Sampler is mentioned. Despite the name, this was an official demo disc that came with new Sega Saturns. It had a playable demo for Sega Rally Championship, and a video preview of Daytona USA. Bless the short-lived reign of the racing game. Oh, and Etrian Mystery Dungeon is also picked… but man do I not want to stream that. There are no objections.

9:50 – Okay, now we’ve settled on our actual pick. Third time’s a charm! Now I just have to wander across the room to actually find the game.

14:05 – Now we’re actually playing a videogame! Sorta! I’m having difficulty even navigating the menus… and that’s a fine preview for the rest of the evening.

21:28 – FanboyMaster proves to be the Resident Evil guru around here, while BEAT learns for the first time that Claire on the game case is not the eponymous “Veronica”. Come on, BEAT, I’m terrible at this game, and I knew that.

27:13 – Let’s talk about Sonic the Hedgehog cameras while Claire is nibbled to death by the absolute earliest zombies available. What happened to the super agile Claire of the opening cinema?

Weeeeeee37:00 – FanboyMaster continues to provide excellent coaching, but I am just terrible at this game. I’ve said it before, but I cannot in good conscience complain about the overabundance of tutorials in modern games, because I do not miss nonsense like this. I’ll echo exactly what I said in the stream: I cannot tell you how many times I opened a menu or the map screen in an attempt to shoot a zombie, and, immersion or no, I’d kind of like to have an explanation of how to defend myself before I’m chewed to pieces by the walking dead. There, that’s my big takeaway from replaying a tanky Resident Evil about two decades after its release. Now we can go back to watching me die.

42:00 – There is a brief discussion regarding third party controllers. I looked it up afterwards, and, yes, the Super Advantage was a third party controller, but the original NES Advantage was first party. I’m glad I got that fact right while showcasing my embarrassing Resident Evil skills.

49:50 –

Albert Whiskers

58:00 – Please enjoy a brief discussion of Umbrella Co. bureaucracy while my brain breaks over the first puzzle in the game. I cannot imagine why I didn’t get into the Resident Evil series until 4…

1:06:00 – I am not a cool nerd: my greatest memory of StarCraft is getting a friend to eat dog food. And then we talk about projectile vomiting.

1:09:00 – FanboyMaster leaves for parts unknown, so BEAT ‘n Goggle Bob are doomed. Let’s talk about Let’s Play styles while Claire creeps closer to her inevitable death.

1:12:00 – FanboyMaster returns to discuss Phoenix Wright, Dino Crisis, Devil May Cry, and Resident Evil 4. These are all games I would rather be playing.

1:17:00 – I finally throw in the towel, as FanboyMaster reveals I’ve been trying to extinguish the wrong fire at the wrong truck. Let’s look at some VMU saves instead.

1:20:00 – Now for random excerpts of BEAT and I chatting over Sonic Adventure 2, a Dreamcast game that I actually know how to play.

REEMAIL1:30:00 – It all comes back to Kingdom Hearts as we close out the evening around 1 AM. Thanks to everyone that watched the stream live, and extra special thanks to FanboyMaster and BEAT for guesting. Obviously, a certain non-skeleton someone was slightly more useful on this stream, but a fun time was had by all. Here’s to another 300 FGCs! Note: there will not be another 300 FGCs.

FGC #300 Resident Evil – Code: Veronica

  • System: Dreamcast tonight, but it eventually returned on Playstation 2, Gamecube, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. What? It’s not on any modern compilations?
  • Number of players: The Redfield siblings are available, but only one at a time.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: Haven’t I talked about it enough!? The long short of it is that I am no good at tanky Resident Evil games, and absolutely never have been. This is another Goldeneye situation where my friends were all super enthused about this series, but I just couldn’t get into it until Resident Evil 4. As a result, what little skills I had in this franchise have atrophied over time, and, again, I’m not even sure I ever actually played this game in the first place. I remember watching friends play it, as I recall many of the plot points from the game, but the actually nitty gritty of where demon dogs lie is completely absent from my brain.
  • BURN!Aw, I wanted a real Resident Evil- Code: Veronica article, and not just Goggle Bob flailing about: Don’t worry, I’m sure ROB will choose one of the remakes eventually.
  • Favorite Button: Whichever one brings up the completely useless map, evidently.
  • I’m Consistent: Come to think of it, one of my first deaths in Bioshock was ducking into a bathroom stall that I thought was an exit, and, nope, dead-end. This seems to be a problem I have.
  • Did you know? If you’re as bad at this game as myself, you’ll be interested to know that there is a novelization of the game available. It’s fairly accurate to the source material, but (of course) does not include references to story bits added for the Playstation 2 version. Also, it adds one new shadowy badguy that is an original character, do not steal.
  • Would I play again? Now I almost feel like I have to… but I’m not going to. There are so many other things I could be doing, and most of them don’t involve steering hapless women into zombie outbreaks. Sorry!

What’s next? I’m taking the rest of the week off. There may be an article or two if I get bored, but the next official post will be on Monday 7/17, and it’ll be #301 Adventure Island 3. Please look forward to it!

FGC #298 Rumble Roses

Due to the subject matter of today’s entry, images may not be completely safe for work. Please be aware.

Here we goAnd now for a collection of reasons Rumble Roses may or may not be a straight up porn game.

David Lee Roth kicks off the festivities!

The first thing you’ll notice when Rumble Roses starts up is that there is an animated “attract” cinema. This is pretty normal, but less normal is the fact that this intro is accompanied by Yankee Rose, a song by David Lee Roth. DLR isn’t terrible, but many of his songs do seem to have a… focus on the female anatomy, and the various things that Davey would like to do to that anatomy. Yankee Rose isn’t much different, as it’s a song elucidating the virtues of “the original good time girl”. Also, the song is somehow about The Statue of Liberty, so that puts David Lee Roth in the same company as Peter Venkman, Spacehog, and other men who clearly want to boink Lady Liberty. It is… a weird way to start a videogame.

But then again…

Rumble Roses is a Konami videogame from the Playstation 2 era. After the ludicrous failure of I am the Wind back in the Playstation 1 epoch, it would make sense for Konami to try to procure some “real” songs. And this is a Japanese company, it’s not like they understand the cultural clout of the once and future singer of Van Halen. Rumble Roses features a pretty clear American “cowgirl” archetype, so this Yankee Rose song really could apply. She is beautiful all right, nothing like her in the whole world.

The protagonist is dressed like a hooker…

FGC #274 Arcana Heart

SKULLS?Gaming has grown up over the years, and the generational shift seems… oddly precise.

First we have the Atari (and whatever qualified as a videogame before that), which is the vaguely remembered toddler years. You’ve got a bunch of games that are kind of feeling out what can be done, and a lot more games that just have no idea what to do. For every Mario Bros. you’ve got about a dozen more like M*A*S*H . And, even more than that, you’ve got a million games that are “just exactly the same as that other game, but with a new set six pixels”. There are one or two luminaries in the Atari library, but, by and large, they’re all interchangeable, and only revered for being there right from the beginning.

Now the Nintendo is where we get into gaming’s real “childhood”. There is exploration here, but, by and large, this is where gaming learned to walk, and then ran with it. Super Mario Bros. led to a million imitators, but, looking at the game coupled with thirty years of gaming experience, you can see how even something today like Breath of the Wild or Overwatch can partially trace back to the adorable plumber. Much of what we consider “gaming” truly began here, and it’s as much about the gameplay as it is the franchises. However, speaking of those franchises, practically everything from this era is fairly… kiddy. Thanks to Nintendo’s iron grip and general fear of jocks, all of those classic games are cartoony, and contain about as much adult content (whether that be violence, sex, or even religion) as your average episode of Dora the Explorer. But that’s fine! This is gaming’s childhood, and it was meant for children, so it all worked out. Bubble Bobble Madcap Violence Edition would just have to wait for a few years.

Dang skullsThe 16-bit years are so tween they practically hurt to look at. Mega Man has gone from chubby blue bot to hardcore, shiny “Reploid” (“It’s like a regular robot but… you wouldn’t understand, mom.”) who worries about death and war and stuff. Link watches his uncle die (he got better), and Castlevania eventually released a game that featured blood dripping from every available hole. Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog defined this era of gaming, as it was all about attitude and violence and…. not much else. The 16-bit era was an attempt at gaming being more “its own thing” and “edgy”, but almost all of it amounted to exactly nothing. Mortal Kombat was violent for the sake of being violent, it didn’t have anything relevant to say on the subject of ghost skeletons being decapitated by ice ninja. It was just like a tween adopting their older sibling’s clothing and claiming to be “with it”. … Do kids still say “with it”? Uh, did they ever?

The Playstation One era is clearly gaming puberty. And, let’s be clear here, it’s not the fun kind of puberty that appears in 80’s movies wherein some hapless nerd trips into the girls’ locker room and participates in his first sexual harassment; no, I’m talking about the real kind of puberty, where suddenly you’re interested in the opposite (or same, it’s tough all around) sex, and last week you were totally okay with playing with Transformers, and now the most important thing in your life is that there is a pool party at the end of the week, and OH GOD IT’S GOING TO BE HORRIBLE. This would be about when gaming as a whole decided that everything that came before was crap (and far too 2-D), and everything had to be reinvented for a new, much more mature audience that is totally into skateboards. Like the 16-bit era, this was yet another example of “maturity = Lara Croft has boobies”, but it was still a gigantic change in the gaming landscape. Contra couldn’t just be a fun game about aliens anymore, now there had to be hardcore plots and 3-D glasses and… ugh. At the time, it seemed like the be all, end all of everything, but, in retrospect, it was just more gaming growing pains. Sorry, Adventure Island you’re too immature for us now.

They're so fun!Following this line of thinking, you might surmise that I would identify the Playstation 2 era as the next logical step, the “adult phase” of gaming. And that’s… kind of true. But I wouldn’t say gaming matured until basically the Playstation 3 era, when we got two important things. One, gaming got comfortable again with revisiting “childish” franchises, likely thanks to the joy of downloadable titles, so we could benefit from “arcade experiences” and other games that only last an afternoon (as opposed to a 40 hour “experience”). And, two, we got the Vita, which is all panties, all the time. And, now that the Vita is dying, it looks like we’ll be getting that same (fan) service on the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. So, hooray, horny games for everybody!

Now, to be clear, I don’t think underage anime tiddy games are adult. Far from it, in fact, and I’ve got a Wankery Week to prove it. However, I am downright proud of the fact that, after decades of acting like “sexy” is an accident that dribbles into otherwise wholesome games, the gaming industry is finally acknowledging that, for whatever reason, there are people that want to play videogames that are vaguely pornographic. We’re still not completely “there” (I could write an entire article about the sexual politics of Persona 5), but, in the same way that the XXX section of your local video store (no longer actually a thing) is separate from the “real” movies, we’ve got some actual XXX (more like XX) videogames, and no one is confusing them for E3’s game of the year.

It… wasn’t always that way.

FIGHT!Today’s game is Arcana Heart, a 2-D fighting game for the Playstation 2. Arcana Heart is a… passable fighting game. There isn’t anything too exciting going on here, just about what you’d expect from a 2-D fighter. The most interesting trait of this series is, basically, swappable special moves (which is unusual in a sprite-based fighter lacking any and all Mokujins), but it’s otherwise pretty forgettable. It’s not a bad game, mind you, simply one that doesn’t warrant much of a reason to exist. What separates this fighting game from every other Street Fighter 2 wannabe that came down the pike? Well, simple answer, it’s the women. Or “girls” might be more appropriate noun here.

Much like a certain other franchise, each of the characters in Arcana Heart seems to be tailor made to suit some manner of fetish. There’s the peppy school girl, the sad school girl, the “younger” character that is always in a child’s swimsuit (but is mentally mature, so it’s okay), the robot maid, shrine priestess, Rei Ayanami, furry, the “American” vampire, and, my personal (least) favorite, the unwilling participant that is dragged along by a decidedly male-identifying (and phallic) object. It’s a rape analogy! Hooray! Also, puke! In short, the “all female cast” of this game isn’t there to pass the Bechdel test, it’s there to titillate a male audience that is going to buy this game hoping to see some upskirt shots. Unfortunately for them, it’s going to be a long wait.

Arcana Heart is rated T for Teen, and even though the writing of its story mode relies heavily on all the tropes you’d expect to see in your average harem anime, there is no actual visual titillation to be found here. Now, I’m not the type to ask that every game out there include the exact right number of exposed panties, but, fun fact, in a game that seems built to deliver the fan service, a complete lack of it seems almost… insulting? This isn’t even “softcore”, the visuals for this game are completely chaste. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more erotic imagery in Wii Sports (my Mii has some amazing legs).

Really bitesBut this is basically where we were in the Playstation 2 era. We could have something like God of War that just incidentally included an off-screen sex scene, or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas which dummied out a sex minigame at the last moment, but if a game was about sex/fanservice/a thirsty audience trying to get off, then it had to be cleaned up to the point of irrelevance. It was if you had to clear some kind of artificial “maturity bar” to include anything sexual in your game. Soulcalibur has tear-away clothing and a create-a-character mode that allows for all underwear fighters, all the time? Well, that’s just for the sake of the in-depth story of swords and souls, and I guess the tiniest bit of T&A snuck in as an afterthought. There can’t be games for perverts! That would mean gaming is for perverts!

I’m glad we got over it.

But, in retrospect, I suppose this does paint the Playstation 2 and its Arcana Heart-alike releases as the… awkward young adult phase. Yes, sex is okay, everybody does it, blah blah blah, but… can we not ever address it? I… don’t really want to make eye contact with the idea that people do want to see half-naked people… even though we’ve got half-naked people running around everywhere. Look, uh… yeah, I look at a Playboy once in a while, but I only read it for the articles. I’m not really… doing… that thing… Hey, lay off, man.

Arcana Heart is a time capsule of gaming’s awkward early adulthood generation.

FGC #274 Arcana Heart

  • System: Playstation 2 and arcade. Though not any arcades in family-friendly communities (like, ya know, America).
  • Number of players: Two anime girls enter, only one leaves. Until the next round.
  • OuchFavorite Character: Kira Daidohji, the previously mentioned “mature but obviously still like twelve” character wins almost in spite of herself. Her whole deal is that she controls this sentient blob of water, so naturally that means she has to be wearing a swimsuit at all times, which… really, guys? But! This means she fights with that previously mentioned blob morphing into all kinds of giant limbs and shapes, and she basically becomes MvC’s Juggernaut. And I’m always down for that.
  • Did you know? This game comes compliments of Arc System Works, the folks behind the likes of Guilty Gear and Blazblue. That usually means you’ll get an interesting fighting game… but this time… not so much.
  • Would I play again: Even if I wanted to play this wannabe anime tiddy game again, there’s now a sequel available, and we all know that fighting games only get better with improvements. Might have to see if that game upgraded the… graphics… with the console generation…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man X3 for the Super Nintendo! Alright! Let’s forget about random anime girls and move on to random robot targets! Please look forward to it!

Boo!
Are puppets a fetish?