Tag Archives: playstation 4

FGC #276 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

Zip alongMuscle memory is a hell of a drug.

While I’ve become something of a videogame glutton over the years (now celebrating my 70th purchase of a port of Tetris), when I was a wee Goggle Bob, my inventory was severely limited. If memory serves, by the time the Nintendo was being retired (which, reminder for you young’uns, the NES kept on trucking well after the release of the SNES, as companies didn’t quite know when to stop back in the day), I owned a whopping thirty NES games, and considered that dirty thirty to be more NES games than anyone would ever need. After all, I had Mega Man 1, 2, and 6, why would I need anything else?

But the flipside to this titanic collection was the rolling “neighborhood” games. I was a Nintendo kid, and my best friend was a Nintendo kid, and that one guy down the street was a Nintendo kid, and… you get the idea. We had our collected collections, and, pooling our resources, we created a sort of neighborhood library of Nintendo cartridges. Ultimately, it was no different from trading baseball cards or…. What do kids today play with?… Pogs? It was just like trading pogs, only with videogames, and, ya know, there was a significant expectation that you’d get the game back. And if not, then it was time to tell mom, because I wasn’t the one that blew fifty bucks on Wizards and Warriors 2. And speaking of mom, it was clear the parents of the neighborhood were on to our little NES black market, so it was very common for birthdays and Christmases to see complimentary games across the region. I got Ducktales, and Jon got Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. And when we’re both done, guess what’s going to happen? Trading time!

Of course, not all games are created equal.

Ducktales is a great game, but it’s a “kiddie” Disney game, and I have always been a totally, radically mature soul. So, right before Christmas, I changed my vote, claimed Ducktales was stupid, and convinced my parents (errr… Santa Claus) to purchase some other Nintendo game. I want to say it was TMNT: The Arcade Game, but it’s entirely possible it was any other videogame on Earth. Unfortunately, my best friend Jon’s parents didn’t get the memo (or didn’t care), so he still wound up with the “matching” Chip ‘n Dale. This, I figured in my young mind, was fortuitous, as it meant I got to play excellent Disney Capcom gaming just as easily when he was inevitably done with the game and I’d borrow it away to my Nintendo. Everybody wins! The only hang-up was a few months later when I discovered that he wasn’t ever going to let it go.

MeowChip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers is a two player co-op game. What’s more, it’s a two player co-op 2-D sidescroller on the NES, meaning it was released at a time when that kind of thing was almost completely unheard of. If you think about it, that’s really weird, as 2-D sidescrollers were all over the place, but I guess Super Mario Bros. was 2 player alternating, so that’s what everyone aped. In a way, this made CnDRR a magical unicorn in a field full of tubby cow ponies. But even more than that shining bit of rarity, CnDRR was just plain fun, and it was just as fun to play with a buddy as it was to play alone. Yes, two player “cooperative” might lead to a few more deaths by Chip scrolling Dale right off the screen, but it also meant instant respawning, which was fairly essential in some of the later stages/bosses. This all Voltroned together to make CnDRR the first “Smash Bros.” in my memory: if we were getting together (what today might be referred to as a “play date”), we were going to play Chip ‘n Dale, because it was fun for the whole (two people) gang. It didn’t matter if it was a joyous Saturday afternoon or ten minutes after Great Aunt Bernie’s funeral, it was time to hurl red balls at Fat Cat.

So the good news was that we had found a fun game that was going to dominate all of our play time for at least the next year, but the bad news was that Jon was going to continue to be the keeper of Chip ‘n Dale, and I could borrow the cartridge roughly around the same time that Monterey Jack gives up cheese. So I, poor wee Goggle Bob, was forced to only play this excellent game at Jon’s house, and never in the relaxing luxury of my own basement. Mine was a harsh childhood.

But this lead to an unusual phenomena.

Out!As previously mentioned, I had a collection of Nintendo games as a child. And, as you might expect, I am very good at these games. I’m not breaking any speedrun scores or however we judge Nintendo skill, but I’m pretty sure I can clear Quick Man’s stage on one life (don’t hold me to that). That said, many of the games from my childhood collection, whether through nostalgia or some manner of drive to learn the classics, I have played and re-experienced as an adult. To use Mega Man 2 as an example again, I’m likely to replay through the entire Mega Man franchise at least once a year, and most of the time that isn’t even because they just released yet another Mega Man collection. It’s just one of those things that happens, like an inexplicable urge to once again conquer Giant’s Imaginary Hallway in Final Fantasy.

But that never happened for Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. Maybe it was because I played it so much in my childhood (and it’s not exactly a complicated game), or maybe it was a side effect of always considering the game to be “kiddy”, but, one way or another, I never really got back around to playing CnDRR. I don’t feel like this is something I have to apologize for, I mean, there are other games on my backlog that have been sitting unplayed since the late 90’s (I’ll complete you one day, Castlevania 64)… Though, on the other hand, I do feel a little bit of guilt at not playing a game that had so completely ruled my childhood. What’s that? There’s a new Disney Afternoon Collection by the same folks behind the most recent Mega Man collection? And it’s available now? Oh, let’s do this thing.

And that’s about when I learned that that game you played over and over when you were seven might just stick in your brain.

YummyI plowed through Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers in about twenty minutes. I didn’t get hit at all during the first stage. The majority of the bosses (save that damn caterpillar) never touched Chip. Gadget was rescued, Fat Cat was trounced, and the day was saved, once again, by the indomitable Rescue Rangers. Also, I got that P bottle, and I’m still not completely sure what that does.

And… should I be surprised? I haven’t played the game for twenty years (low estimate!), but it’s like riding a bicycle (sidenote: bad simile, as I am terrible at riding a bicycle. Don’t ask). I didn’t think videogame “skills” were that pervasive in my unconscious mind, but, just like I can still open my high school locker in a few twists (assuming they haven’t changed the combination in fifteen years), I can beat Chip ‘n Dale inside of an hour. One whole game condensed to some part of my brain that will always remember exactly when to duck into a box. My conscious mind boggles.

Muscle memory: horrifying and useful.

FGC #276 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

  • System: NES, and now, against all odds, available on the Playstation 4, Xbone, and PC. Yay!
  • Number of players: Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Favorite Boss: Even though I usually skip his stage, this really is the game where Mega Man X3’s Volt Catfish got his start. Bless you, Capcom, and your unending reserves of electric catfish.
  • ChuggaUseless powers: Also, that same stage includes “the raft” and a hammer that may be used to clobber your way through dirt blocks. That makes two completely unique items in a completely skippable stage. What was going on there?
  • Chip or Dale: I always choose Chip, as he is the leader. And he has a cool hat. I decided to go with Dale for the FGC article, though, in the name of trying (absolutely not really) new things.
  • Further Childhood Memories: I remember being at Disney World when I was like five, and I asked my dad how to tell the difference between Chip and Dale. He replied that there was no way to do that, they’re just chipmunks, move on. Then a helpful Disney employee explained that Chip has a black nose “like a chocolate chip.” I was impressed with this knowledge, but even more than that, I remember my traditionally stoic father lighting up like an enthusiastic Christmas tree at this new information. See? You’re never too old to learn new facts about chipmunks.
  • Did you know? The flowers are supposed to provide 1-Ups after every 50 pickups (according to the manual), but it actually requires the more NES standard 100. There’s apparently a beta version of CnD floating around out there, though, where the fifty thing stays true. I can understand the change, at least, not like this game needed to be easier.
  • Would I play again? Probably! Just might take another twenty years. Let’s see how good I am at this game then.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS! Coins! All the coins for Mario! Please look forward to it!

DAMN BOXES

FGC #256 Pac-Man 256

Wakka wakkaPac-Man 256 is great because it’s the first videogame in the Pac-Man franchise.

Pac-Man is unbelievably iconic. In some ways, it was probably a happy mascot “mistake”; many early videogames didn’t really feature a hero (we love you so much, Pong Paddle!), but Pac-Man was, ya know, Pac-Man. Yes, he’s a yellow circle with a mouth, but, in a time when your protagonist can either be Nondescript Blob or Triangle Dude, Pac-Man stood out. And everything combined perfectly (if again, maybe accidentally). The dot munching created that lovely “wakka wakka” noise that could be interpreted as Pac-Man’s “voice” (that must be the explanation, nobody likes the sound of a glutton eating), and the monsters’ expressive eyes were simply meant to indicate their directional intentions, but it inadvertently gave the impression that those ghosts are a little more personable than the cold, unfeeling antagonists of Asteroids. By the time we found out that Pac-Man was married with a Jr. on the way, it was pretty much a given that this “Puck Man” had gobbled his way into our hearts.

Oh, and I guess his starring vehicle was pretty fun to play, too.

I don’t need to explain Pac-Man, do I? My father is no fan of videogames (too many bad memories of goombas), yet he enjoys the occasional game of Pac-Man. My mother played it quite a bit. I’m pretty sure my grandfather (the first person in my ancestry to ever own a videogame console) got my grandmother to try it once. It’s just so simple! Guide this little pizza-man around the maze, avoid the monsters, and maybe turn the tables on your adversaries with a power pellet. Or try Ms. Pac-Man, the same game, but with new mazes! Or Pac-Man Jr., which involves scrolling for some God-awful reason! Or the one and only Super Pac-Man, where Pac-Man can use keys to unlock doors, and large power pellets to become swole. Think of all the different ways you can play Pac-Man with all those wonderful sequels!

YUMMYExcept, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: were Pac-Man released today, the many, many “sequels” to Pac-Man would be considered nothing more than DLC expansions. You can’t just add one new power-up, or two new mazes, and call it an all-new game! You have to create… let’s see here… a full new eight power-ups and accompanying Robot Masters to make a sequel! And maybe add a dog, too! No, Pac & Pal doesn’t count! And when you separate out all the random gimmicks and subtitles, all you’ve got is… Pac-Man. One man, four monsters, a bunch of dots, and four surprisingly powerful dots. That’s it. Forever.

Pac-Man is a videogame, yes, but it’s from the Dork Ages of the medium. When games were limited to a number of bytes roughly on par with the amount of memory my modern computer uses to sneeze (most computers have terrible allergies), games had to be all of one “screens”, and the only way to gauge progress was the humble score counter. There was no final boss. There was no log of all the collectibles you’ve found. If there was a second player option, it was the same character as the first player, just maybe (maybe!) with a fresh coat of paint. Your only goal was to see your name at the top of the high score table. There was no ending. There was no final stage.

Except… Pac-Man did have a final stage: Level 255. Thanks to those previously mentioned limited bytes, the original Pac-Man arcade game couldn’t “draw” a new stage after reaching Level 255, so Level 256 was a glitched, imperceptible mess of pixels. One way or another, 255 was the end of the road for Pac-Man.

So it seems appropriate that Pac-Man 256 finally brings Pac-Man into the 21st Century.

Never look downBefore we go any further, I want to note that I’m well aware that Pac-Man doesn’t need to “get with the times”. I’ve enjoyed Pac-Man since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed Pac-Man CE in my adulthood, and, yes, I will still occasionally hit the ol’ Pac cabinet at a local arcade (I have local arcades!) or diner lobby. Pac-Man may be primitive, but it is a perennial favorite. Nobody needs to update football, tennis, or chess for modern audiences, and Pac-Man could easily keep on pac-ing in the free world.

But sometimes it’s nice to see what Pac-Man would look like if it were designed today.

Pac-Man 256 started as a cell phone game, which, let’s face it, is the first sign of its modernity. The next sign? Pac-Man 256 is never ending like its forefather, but there is a very distinct “goal” here. The glitched nonsense from the original Pac-Man Level 256 is eating the bottom of the screen, so Pac-Man must escape “up” in an endless maze of dots and monsters. Progress is logged in every conceivable way: high scores, maximum combo of dots eaten, maximum number of ghosts defeated, and even total number of raw dots consumed. And all those dots pay off: in one version of Pac-Man 256, Pac-Man can trade dots for new powerups… which kind of raises questions about Pac’s dot feeding. I have… concerns about his digestive system. Oh, and in some versions of PM256, it’s “freemium”, and actual cash money can be traded for powerups. Hey, it’s probably still cheaper than 3 lives for a quarter…

But those powerups are the real showstopper here. Pac-Man may still consume a power pellet so as to necessitate monster consumption, but now that ability is joined by fire trails, ninja stealth, tornados, ice magic, and, my personal favorite, LASER MOUTH. Freeze fire?And those are only the powerups I feel like naming at the immediate moment, don’t even get me started on crazy Bomber-Pac-Man. And powerups are all earned through playing the game (unlocked, if you will), and earning better and better scores and combos. Get better at the game, get more stuff. Easy peasy Blinky squeezy.

And it’s amazing how much of all of this comes from modern innovations in videogames that are standard now, but weren’t even considered back in the days Pac-Man ruled the arcade.

Multiple, “whacky” kinds of powerups? Check. Monsters follow very deliberate patterns? Check. Combo meter? Check. Play more to unlock more? Check. Multiple “skins” so you can customize your Pac? Check. Online leaderboards? Double check. Multiplayer? Yep. Random reference to Super Pac-Man for nostalgia’s sake? Oh yeah.

But the important thing isn’t the innovation on display, it’s that it all blends together perfectly. Basic Pac-Man gameplay married to modern novelty and game design thinking doesn’t create some horrible lumbering Pac-Monstrosity; no, what we have here is a effortlessly fun Pac-Experience. Pac-Man 256 brings Pac-Man into the contemporary era, and, for the first time in gaming history, creates a true Pac-Man sequel.

Pac-Man 256 is the videogame that we always knew Pac-Man could be.

FGC #256 Pac-Man 256

  • System: Mobile devices, and then modern consoles, like Playstation 4 or Xbone. I would be very happy if a Switch version were to appear.
  • Wakka wakkaNumber of players: Four, and I’d like to try that out sometime. Only issue appears to be that I don’t think I’ve… ever used my PS4 for couch multiplayer.
  • Favorite Powerup: I’m sorry, did I not already mention LASER MOUTH?!
  • Favorite Monster-Ghost: Everybody seems to have very “set” patterns in this game, save the always industrious Blinky. Though I’m going to say Funky, the green ghost, is my favorite, as he seems prone to traveling in packs. That’s the way to do it, Funky!
  • Did you know? The “chicken” skin of Pac-Man 256 is actually based on Crossy Road, a sort of “Endless Frogger” that was designed by PM256’s creators. Considering the pattern here, it looks like an “Endless Space Invaders” is right around the corner. Wait… is that just Gradius?
  • Would I play again: Yes! Though, I want it on a system that is portable and has a proper joystick. I realize that’s kind of ironic considering the mobile origins of the game, but the hearts wants what the heart wants.

What’s next? Random ROB is still rebooting, so we’re going to go with a game I never thought would legitimately see American consoles… Waku Waku 7! It’s super dynamic anime fighting time! Please look forward to it!

FGC #247 Gravity Rush

WeeeeeGravity Rush is a game that is… a might confused about its intentions.

Gravity Rush is only available on Playstation Vita (currently owned by six people) and the Playstation 4 (currently only owned by jerks), so I’ll forgive you if you haven’t played it. In short, the gameplay of Gravity Rush is based on the magical skills of Kat and her cat (oh, I just got that), Dusty. Kat has the ability to twist the horizon to her will, so she can, at any given moment, “rotate” gravity so she can run up walls, across sewer ceilings, or just haplessly “fall up”. It’s a simple, easy to control mechanic, and it’s a testament to the designers that an entire city and all the “stages” contained therein work so well with Kat able to spider-crawl all over the city.

Oh, also, it’s fun as hell.

There has always been an unusual amount of debate over “sandbox games” (aka GTA clones) and whether or not it’s even possible to make a modern, city-based sandbox game and still be a good guy. Grand Theft Auto (3) set the standard with its rotating cast of psychopaths, and the likes of Saint’s Row refined the concept with superpowers and aliens (aliens make everything better), but even in games where you’re a “good guy”, you still kind of come off as less Robocop and more Judge Dredd (hi, Crackdown!). And, while it’s always fun to watch someone attempt to play GTA while obeying every traffic signal and only stealing cars when absolutely legally appropriate (huh?), nearly all of those games are based around “the fun is in the mayhem”. Heck, I’d argue that the absolute worst parts of any of those franchises are when you’re forced to follow the rules, and maybe not launch your date into the stratosphere just because she’s taking too damn long to get in the car.

WeeeeeGravity Rush has a very GTA-esque setup with its four main “districts” that comprise one giant city, but you’re a law abiding citizen. And, while you can damage property, kick pedestrians, or “accidentally” gravity-hurl soldiers into the next zip code, there are no rewards for doing so. There’s no penalty, either, so you’re not going to summon a tank because you’re causing too much mischief. It’s just you, Kat, and some gems to collect that are mysteriously hanging upside down off that Space Needle-wannabe. The only “things to do” around town are complete missions, collect gems from weird places, and maybe try to discover a secret or two hidden around the nooks and crannies of the city. That’s it. No stand-offs with the police. No vehicle theft. There isn’t even a single weapon available beyond Kat’s own limbs (and maybe tossing a trash can around). This should get old fast.

Yet, I could “gravity rush” over this city for days.

It’s difficult to even try to put into words, but there is a simple joy in running all over Hekseville. And I do mean “running all over”, as I’m pretty sure I left Kat’s footprints on every last surface in town. From way down in the depths to the tippy top of that clock tower, Kat gets around. And there’s no penalty for being… shall we say… careless. Kat does not experience fall damage, and, presumably because her spine is made of some manner of jelly substance, there’s never a single complaint even when the gravity gauge inopportunely runs out while our heroine is a mile up. You even are safely deposited back on terra firma if you manage to fall off the edge of the world. This is essential to the game, because, if there were a penalty for “improper” gravity rushing, then you might carefully conserve those gravity powers and not, ya know, have fun with it. With very few penalties for falling (okay, it might be a pain to get back to where you were if you plummet particularly badly), you’re always encouraged to gravity rush around, and, yes, it’s a rush.

It’s just a shame the rest of the game doesn’t quite understand that.

BoooThere are two sides to Gravity Rush: the exploration and the combat. This is pretty normal for a video game, because I could describe, say, Super Metroid in exactly the same manner. You’re using a different skill set when you’re getting to Ridley than when you’re fighting Ridley, and, while there is some overlap, they’re very different experiences. Gravity Rush is no different, and, while the exploration of Gravity Rush is new and exciting, the combat is rote and, frankly, archaic. You’ve got a basic melee attack, a dodge roll, a jump kick, and a dash attack. Hm, we’re barely a step above Final Fight here. But you have gravity powers! And you can use ‘em to hover high in the sky, and then deliver a devastating dive kick. And… that’s about it. You have a few other gravity powers, but they’re all extremely limited by a sort of “magic meter” that will refill just in time for the battle to be over. So you’re stuck dive-kicking over and over again, which is fun for like five seconds, but if I wanted to play a game that was dive kicking all the time, I’d just play some dive kick based game like, I don’t know, Street Fighter.

Oh, and did I mention that there are a number of flying and “tall” monsters that absolutely require all dive kick, all the time? Yeah, it gets old.

And, unfortunately, Gravity Rush’s combat leaves such a sour taste in my mouth that I made this chart describing my time playing the main campaign:

VISUAL AID

It wouldn’t even be so bad if there wasn’t so much of an emphasis on bosses and monster mobs. Or if the bosses/monsters worked as intended, like, at all! I can’t tell you how many times I attempted a dive kick on some random monster, and somehow rammed into their underside, or some random bump on their model, or something, and, whoops, no, Kat is just hovering there doing zero damage for no reason now. There’s even a special “drill kick” homing attack that is really powerful… but half the time I used it I got stuck on a tree or a wing or whatever, and the attack petered out to nothing. That’s always fun! Let’s make the worst parts of this game take even longer!

Tiamat?And it’s a damn shame, because replaying the city “free” bits for this article, I was reminded just how overwhelmingly fun this game can be. Like a good Metroid or Mario game, there’s joy just in playing around, not necessarily working toward the next goal, but shooting around this enormous playground and enjoying your time in this world. And then there are the missions that, overwhelmingly, suck. Or, even if they don’t completely suck, they at least drag down the fun to a monotonous level. And that’s no fun at all.

So, hey, people that made Gravity Rush? You made an amazing, innovative game here… How about you let me play that?

FGC #247 Gravity Rush

  • System: Playstation Vita and Playstation 4. The PS4 version contains all the additional Vita DLC, for the record.
  • Number of players: It’s Kat against the world. Or with the world. Depends on the day.
  • Port-o-Call: I own this game for both systems (yes, I’m a jerk), and, frankly, I don’t think I could go back to the Vita version. Everything feels so… cramped. This game kind of needs the widescreen, movie-theatre treatment, because, seriously, when you’re shifting the horizon, it should be life-sized.
  • Favorite city division: Who decided to put the red light district next to the largest school in the city? A genius, that’s who!
  • Like Mario?Aesthetics Corner: Is there an art book for this game? There should be, because, damn, I could look at Gravity Rush art for at least 200 pages or so. That said, whether it’s deliberate or not, I feel like the first area of this game is its ugliest, which provides a poor first impression. Or maybe I just don’t like yellows…
  • Cats always land on their feet: Oh. Just got that, too.
  • Did you know? This game was the brainchild of Keiichiro Toyama, previously best known for Silent Hill. However, according to interviews, he had the idea for Gravity Rush well before the creation of Silent Hill, and it was partially inspired by the comics of Moebius. If you’re unfamiliar with anything in this bullet point, please check out the output of both of these men immediately.
  • Would I play again: I would play the “completed save” again, but I’m not so sure about the actual game-game. I’m even looking sideways at those side missions…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Cruis’n USA for the N64! Let’s see the sights at 90 MPH! Please look forward to it!


Weeeeeeeeeeee!