Tag Archives: playstation

FGC #233 Bubsy 3D

What a magnificent catHere is a partial list of things made worse by Bubsy 3D:

• First and foremost, videogames are worse, as a medium, thanks to Bubsy 3D. No matter what happens, whether we see the true Citizen Kane of gaming or if a videogame somehow rescues a starving boy from a well, people will be able to point to Bubsy 3D and say, “Yeah, but Bubsy 3D happened.” Stupid biased facts.

• Cats. Bubsy Bubsy Bubsy Bubsy Boooooooobcat is, technically a bobcat, but that’s close enough. I used to be a cat person, but Bubsy has made me a dog person through association. Sorry, my furry friends, you’ll have to chase your own red dots now.

• Bobcats. I mean, duh.

• The entire Third Dimension. It was a wonderful experiment, guys, but I’m pretty sure we should go back to some manner of flat world, because it’s pretty clear we can’t be trusted with depth and the perception thereof. I realize becoming 2-D in response to one lousy videogame may seem like overreacting, but can we really risk another Bubsy 3D?

• Jumping. This one is gonna hit the plumbers right in the overalls, but jumping is also another failure. Remember when Mario went 3-D, and he was granted a punch, because it was blisteringly obvious that jumping on moving, 3-D targets was going to get really old, really fast? Yeah, Bubsy didn’t learn that lesson, and even the most motionless monster is impossible to properly bop. And once you start running into those mobile UFO things? Nope, jumping was a mistake.

Move along, cat• Walking. Bubsy 3D somehow makes the simple act of walking a terrifying ordeal. Bubsy controls like a tank/Chris Redfield, and thus must be “steered”. Bubsy can only move forward or backward, and adding any sort of angle to that equation requires rotating like a bobcat on a BBQ spit. This is less than ideal on a good day, but the dark gods responsible for Bubsy’s existence decided to add another fly to the ointment: many pathways zig-zag. Walk forward, turn slightly, walk forward, turn slightly, walk forward, turn slightly, whoops, didn’t turn enough, fall to your death. No game should include a “walking challenge”.

• Water. Delightful, life giving water spells only death for Bubsy… which kind of makes sense, because we’re dealing with a cat, and they have legendary hydrophobia (and my grandfather has the scars to prove it). Except… Bubsy 3D has underwater levels. And, brother, if you thought nobody liked water stages in good games, you won’t believe the level of terrible going on in this abomination. So with water being either instantly fatal at the slightest touch or the basis for entire stages, Bubsy 3D can’t even be internally consistent with its insanity. Stupid water.

• Oxygen. The water stages run on Sonic the Hedgehog rules, and you must ration your air supply. At this point, not breathing is just easier than relaying the rest of that horror.

Won't someone think of the children!• Aliens. The “plot” of Bubsy 3D is that Bubsy accidently stowed away on an alien spaceship (presumably the same creatures from Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind), and is now wrecking up their alien planet because… he’s a dick? This isn’t self (yarn) defense anymore, he’s just attacking aliens because they’re there. If you think this is a “Oh, that silly Goggle Bob is making a mountain out of a molehill plot” thing, consider that the intro of the game features a panicked alien populace shouting, “What are we going to do!?” Bubsy looks bad, aliens look bad, and, somewhere, Steven Spielberg has a headache, and doesn’t know why.

• Cars. Cats should not be allowed to drive.

• The Mighty Atom. Despite being the building blocks of all matter in the known universe, and, incidentally, really really tiny, Bubsy attempts to use generics atoms as projectiles in Bubsy 3D. I say “attempts” because they are difficult to aim, will detonate and damage Bubsy if he holds one for too long, and, for reasons unknown, will boomerang and hurt Bubsy if they don’t hit anything. In short, atoms are the worst “powerup” in all of gaming. Imagine if a Fire Flower lit Mario ablaze, and you basically have the gist of it.

• Yarn. It doesn’t appear much in the game, but I don’t think I’m even capable of dealing with another yarn pun.

• Puns. No explanation necessary.

• Western gaming. You don’t see Japan cranking out crap like this. Well, you do, but usually it’s wrapped up in some kind of random sexual perversion, so at least you can admire their dedication to their craft. Incidentally, that “craft” is “panties”.

What even just happened?• The Sega 32X. This game was originally planned to be on the 32X, possibly one of the most under-supported gaming systems ever released. Star Wars, Doom, and that hummingbird game. There was a Sonic the Hedgehog game… starring & Knuckles. Sonic couldn’t make it. Doing his hair. Bubsy was originally slated to appear on the 32X, but his handlers decided that 32X wasn’t selling well enough, so the game was ported to Playstation. The Sega 32X wasn’t good enough for Bubsy. Forget After Burner, the 32X already has more burns than it can handle.

• The Playstation. No matter how much Sony owns the console market, it will always be the company responsible for allowing this game into our homes. The Playstation is worse for it. And, what’s more, since the Playstation brand had backwards compatibility up through the Playstation 3, Bubsy 3D is technically playable on three different systems. That’s three more systems than should have ever been allowed!

• The Sega Saturn. This was the second system to be snubbed by Bubsy 3D. Despite initial plans to ship Bubsy to Saturn, that trip was permanently delayed when Bubsy 3D was received about as well as a bobcat visiting a preschool. Under normal circumstances, not hosting Bubsy 3D would be a good thing, but the Saturn marks the second Sega system to be snubbed by the bobcat. That’s, like, how big of a failure do you have to be to be ignored by Bubsy twice?

• The Whole of Human History. In a way, we all responsible for letting Bubsy 3D happen.

And now a complete list of things not made worse by Bubsy 3D:

• Bubsy. Seriously, after his previous adventures how could he get any worse? The bottom is a lonely place, and, apparently, it’s home to a bobcat.

FGC #233 Bubsy 3D

  • System: Playstation, where it should stay contained.
  • Number of players: Oh yeah, there’s a 2-Player “death match”. Please don’t ask me to explain how that works in a shoddy 3-D platformer.
  • Just play the gig man: I can barely notice the insipid music, but the constant “cartoony” sound effects in Bubsy 3D are cause for alarm. I thought Scooby-Doo had poor sound design, but I had no idea.
  • Say something nice: The doctors tell me that my vision will return shortly, so at least the horrid graphics of this adventure do not cause permanent blindness.
  • How about some nightmare fuel? Sure!
    MELT AWAY TO NOTHING
  • Did you know? This was Bubsy’s creator’s return to Bubsy. He claimed that Bubsy 2 had damaged the Bubsy brand, and this was going to make Bubsy all better. Bubsy never headlined another game again.
  • Would I play again: If I do, that’s your sign that I have been replaced by some manner of replicant. If that occurs, do not hesitate, and please use a bazooka on “me” immediately. It’s better for all of us.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… House of the Dead: Overkill for Nintendo Wii! Hey! That might actually be fun! Who doesn’t like shooting zombies? Please look forward to it!

Serously?

FGC #232 War Gods

Let's get ready to be War Gods!I never fault a videogame for being formulaic. Okay, that’s probably a lie, I’m sure some of my loyal readers are anxious to remind me of all the times I’ve mocked a game for being predictable. Heck, I’ve got that “plagiarism” tag going for a reason. Regardless of whatever I said last week, though, I am aware that videogames require an awfully high number of moving pieces to simply produce a playable experience, and, if you’re already experimenting with a new graphic style, plot, or even just an interesting gimmick or two, then why reinvent the wheel? People liked the last game that did x, why not do x, but this time with, I dunno, dogs or something? People love dogs! Why don’t we make a Zelda game, but starring a dog? It’ll be a best seller!

On the other hand, every once in a while, a developer decides to throw any and all creativity to the wind, and just make the same game twice.

Hey, kids, did you like Mortal Kombat? Well get ready to love War Gods!

War Gods is, initially, a good idea. It’s a fighting game, and it’s of the faux-3-D variety like Mortal Kombat 4 (really like MK4… we’ll get to that). This is a fine excuse to start a “new” fighting game franchise (or it was in 1995, at least), and, frankly, “war gods” is a great concept. Gather up the most… angry looking gods from throughout history, determine which ones aren’t immediately owned by Marvel Comics, and then toss ‘em all into a fighting ring, and see who wins. In a way, it’s not too far off from Darkstalkers’ approach to “what monsters we got?” but with, you know, gods. And gods have a built in identifiable appeal. Guile and E. Honda were basically just “USA Soldier” and “Sumo Wrestler” before later Street Fighter games shaded in the details, so you could totally hit the ground running with “Egyptian God fights Japanese God”. Oh, and like Eternal Champions, the “gods” concept allows for a lot of cross-time hijinks, so if you want to throw a Terminator or Nuclear GI Joe in there too, then have at it. The heavens are the limit!

Unfortunately, that was the last original idea that ever festered anywhere near War Gods.

FATALITY... seriously?War Gods is a fighting game. The buttons are High Punch, Low Punch, Low Kick, High Kick, Block, and a “3-D” button that allows 3-D movement. If you crouch and press high punch, you will perform an uppercut. If you press back plus low kick, you get a sweep. Back plus high kick is a mighty roundhouse. At the end of every bout, the winner is told to “Prove yourself!” and, if you enter the right combination of buttons at the right distance, you will perform a fatality. And, to be clear, that isn’t a “No Mercy” or “Death Blow” or whatever other euphemisms are available out there in fighter land, this is straight up called a “Fatality”. And if you decide to tackle one player mode, you’ll fight through a tower of other opponents, a mirror match, a battle against a boss ogre with insane proportions, and then a final boss that presides over the tournament. And then it’s time for an ending that shows like one happy render and some text about a plot that may or may not make any sense at all.

Thanks for playing. Thanks for playing Mortal Kombat.

And this one is a really unusual case of plagiarism. Midway, producer of Mortal Kombat, is responsible for War Gods, so at least it isn’t full-blown IP theft. On the other hand, Boon and Tobias don’t seem to be anywhere in the credits, so thanks for the gameplay concepts, dudes. Additionally, while there may have been some level of crossover if War Gods were ever successful, it seems like WG has been completely dropped from the Midway pantheon. While even the worst Mortal Kombat game seems to see random rereleases throughout the generations, I want to say War Gods never saw the light of day ever again. Despite being a Mortal Kombat game in all but name, this god game is ignored so we can experience yet another port of Pit Fighter. Nobody has ever wanted to play Pit Fighter!

RAWRAnd, to be absolutely clear, this is not a situation wherein War Gods borrowed a few control schemes or gimmicks, but otherwise presented itself as a totally new game. As an easy example, Anubis, the Egyptian God of Getting Biz-ay, has three unique special moves: a charging ram (that somehow allows him to impale an opponent on his widdle doggy ears), a “pyramid net” that works exactly like MK3’s Cyrax’s net, and a teleporting uppercut that is straight out of Smoke’s repertoire. It’s… blatant, and makes you wonder why they didn’t just decide to release a 3-D Mortal Kombat with all the same, familiar characters. Or did they decide that Kabuki Jo would be that much better than Jade at impaling a dude on a stick and calling it a fatality?

And, even weirder, Mortal Kombat 4 was finally released two years after War Gods, and, despite claiming that there were focused attempts to “learn from War Gods”, absolutely nothing was changed by the time MK hit the 3-D plane. Mortal Kombat 4 is easily the worst of the Mortal Kombat games (even gray scale Gameboy Mortal Kombat had the decency to at least seem like a MK game), and… it’s worse than War Gods? I mean, they are still practically the same game, but MK4 decided to go the extra mile and include voice-acted cutscenes that are, even today, legendary for their terrible dubbing. At least War Gods knew that nobody wanted half-assed movies at the end of their silly fighting games.

Big ol' bellyAnd I think that’s the moral here. War Gods was lauded as a graphically amazing game at its release, but it was also quickly forgotten and forsaken for practically every other fighting game available at the time. When Mortal Kombat 4 was released, it aped War Gods’ “3-D” dynamics, and, even though practically nothing was changed between the two releases, Midway somehow expected MK4 to do better. It didn’t. Mortal Kombat 4 crashed and burned as badly as War Gods, and, when Mortal Kombat “came back” a generation later with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, it barely resembled Mortal Kombat at all. War Gods could have been a fun experiment to test what would work for Mortal Kombat in the 3-D world, but it wound up being a lame copy that was then lamely copied to the “real” franchise.

In the end, War Gods failed as an experiment, and was superseded by the game it copied in the first place. There is no place for War Gods in our modern world. War Gods is dead.

FGC #232 War Gods

  • System: N64 technically for the review, though all my dates and suppositions about releases were based on the arcade version/timing. War Gods wound up being practically a simultaneous release with Mortal Kombat 4 on the consoles. Oh, and it was on Playstation, too.
  • Number of players: Two gods enter, only one is worshipped.
  • Why I remember War Gods: Vallah is a Valkyrie War Goddess that is clad in a pink/purple battle bikini. And a hat. And I’m not sure if her battle boots count. She appeared in roughly in 12 billion Gamepro advertisements, and I think even Nintendo Power gave her a pretty sizable spread during their coverage of the game. I was… right about the right age to notice that kind of thing.
  • Burn!Favorite fighter: Tak, a big rock golem, seems to indicate that this game might have had a playstyle slightly different from the “everybody is the same” of early Mortal Kombat games. He’s more… Goro shaped than everybody else, and his walking and idle animations make him appear to be more like a classic Grecian wrestler than a Lin Kuei assassin. He still winds up playing like every other War Gods/Mortal Kombat character, but there’s the tiniest promise of something different there.
  • I don’t even know if this is racist: Voodoo is the one Caribbean on the roster, and he’s simply named “Voodoo”, not “Lao” or any other “voodoo god” name that could have been uncovered after ten seconds of research. And he has weird, elongated fingers. Is… is that like a tarbaby thing? Is it racist? I have no idea. Oh, wait, he has a special attack that is named “pimp slap”. There. That’s racist.
  • Did you know? Like Mortal Kombat games of this era, there’s an “easy fatalities” code on the console versions. I never quite understood the point of such a thing, because, if you’re already acknowledging that fatalities are a pain in the ass to enter, why not, I don’t know, just make them mandatory or easier? Is memorizing some archaic button sequence that much of a sign of Kombat mastery?
  • Would I play again: With God as my witness, I shall never worship these false idols again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Bubsy 3D for the Playstation. ROB, seriously, did I do something wrong? This has been your worst batch of picks in forever, and I’m frankly concerned for you. Did that ditto break up with you? Why are you choosing the worst games? Why, ROB, why? Oh well, please look forward to this inevitable and unavoidable suffering.

What?
And I’m not even going to address… this.

FGC #206 Bushido Blade

Slashy slashyBushido Blade is the most prominent evolutionary dead-end in fighting game history.

One fun aspect of the FGC has been playing videogames from all over gaming history, and experiencing the various quirks and signs of the games’ respective times. It’s easy to say that “fighting games” have been practically unchanged since Street Fighter 2 first hit the arcades, but, depending on the console generation, you can see the exact fluctuations and gimmicks that have grown over the epochs. Combos started as practically a glitch, but then dominated the late 16-bit/early 32-bit era. The emergence of the “super bar” and “rationing meter” became more important as time went on, and the main trait of 2-D fighters just a few years ago seemed to be “all teleportation, all the time”. Even items on the backend of fighting games seemed to evolve, from codes to access hidden characters, then insane unlock conditions, and now season passes and microtransactions. So now, whether you’re playing Blazblue, Mortal Kombat, or Street Fighter, you can expect to see many of the same “moves” and “features” across franchises, and half of those innovations didn’t exist a few years ago. Fighting games have evolved, but it’s only through playing old and new side-by-side that one sees the differences.

And Bushido Blade influenced exactly none of those games.

I guess Bushido Blade is a 3-D fighting game, so maybe I should be comparing it to the likes of SoulCalibur or Tekken… but Bushido Blade seems a lot more 2-D than its theoretical 3-D contemporaries, at least in the “fighting” department… Maybe that’s the first problem. Bushido Blade is truly 3-D, and allows the fighters to completely explore the wide open arenas of its stages.

And… there’s never any reason to that. This is a fighting game, not Zelda. Climbing vines should only ever be a last resort!

OwieEven if this were Zelda, though, at least that franchise has the decency to provide a heart meter. There is no fight timer or life meter in Bushido Blade. Conceptually, this is interesting. Rather than constantly scanning the top of the screen to interpret an abstract bar that is meant to represent the accumulated damage of a thousand jabs to the face, the fighters wear their wounds on their sleeves (literally, in the case of arm attacks). Limbs may be damaged, so the big bruiser might get stuck crawling around on dummy legs, or the favored samurai might wind up with unusable arms. Of course, that will never happen, because it is really easy to land an instantly mortal blow. And I do mean instantly.

The thing everyone seems to remember about Bushido Blade is that the weapons work like, well, weapons. This is not Battle Arena Toshinden, a game where you can soak a few chainsaw blows; no, a well-placed sword strike well abruptly end a match with the tiniest nick. Sorry, dude, kinda chipped an artery there, and now you’re bleeding out before the match even really began. Hell, you can literally end the battle before it begins by metaphorically lobbing your opponent’s head off while the sucker performs a welcoming bow. Never show your neck to a guy brandishing a sword.

But don’t worry! A “dishonorable” player will be punished for sneaky actions. Bushido Blade, as one might expect, holds true to the Bushido Code, which I’m moderately certain wasn’t something invented after the fact to make samurai movies more interesting. Even though you can kill your opponent instantly, you shouldn’t, because it is far more honorable to drag it out and maybe suffer a debilitating injury for the sake of everybody playing fair. It’s the Bushido way. If you’re playing the one player “Story Mode”, you’ll find your journey cut short by a chastising message should you recklessly manslaughter your way through the game. A samurai should be noble and…

And…

Uh…

OuchDammit. Bushido Blade doesn’t actually tell you the Bushido Code at any point, nor does it offer any immediate “you weren’t supposed to do that” messages when you’re playing the game. So, while this morality system is fun an’ all, it’s kind of inscrutable without a FAQ or manual. Why do I even have the ability to throw dirt in a dude’s eye if I’m not allowed to use it!?

And there’s a Beat ‘em Up mode! Hey, that got used by a lot of future fighters! Does this qualify? Well, no, because everyone involved is just as fragile as ever, so it’s less Final Fight and more Survival Mode, a thing that has existed in fighting games practically since Dhalsim breathed his first fireball. Good try at relevance, though.

Finally, there’s the most bizarre artifact of them all: 3-D First Person Mode. Perhaps in an effort to ape the First Person Shooters of the time, Bushido Blade offers a First Person Fighting Mode. It’s not mandatory (thank God), and it plays more like a “tech demo” than a full-fledged “mode”, but it is there if you want to experience a fighting game from the perspective of the fighter. Even though the mode itself seems limited, the actual second-to-second of it seems well considered, as you have a little “dummy” in the top right displaying your character’s current stance and movements. What is even happening?Considering this thing would be completely impossible without such a guide, it makes sense that such a visual concession is there… but considering the rest of Bushido Blade, I’m kind of surprised this FPF works as well as it does.

And that’s basically Bushido Blade in a nutshell. It works… but only on its own terms. You must follow the code of Bushido (even if you have no idea what it is), you must explore the open arenas for secrets (even if there doesn’t immediately appear to be a reason to do so), and you must survive the onslaught of potential instant kills (even if some of the fatal blows seem completely arbitrary). It’s not hard to see why future fighters didn’t follow in Bushido Blade’s footsteps when the average player probably never had any real idea what was going on.

Wait a tick, you explained why the game was an evolutionary dead-end, why was it the most prominent evolutionary dead-end?

Oh, right. Because hitting your buddy with a sledgehammer until he can’t stand up is always going to be fun.

FGC #206 Bushido Blade

  • System: Playstation. It apparently had some rereleases digitally in Japan, but I can’t find any evidence that that was released in America. And by “evidence” I mean “I searched the Playstation store once”. We all know that really means nothing.
  • Number of players: Two samurai enter, one samurai leaves. The other one leaves, too, but there is probably limping involved.
  • Favorite Character: I feel like there isn’t a lot of distinction between the characters in this game, which is a serious black mark for a fighter. I’m going to choose… Red Shadow? That sounds right. It doesn’t really matter, because…
  • ShinyFavorite Weapon: Here’s where all the distinction in Bushido Blade lies. Yes, the sledgehammer is the most… murder-y weapon, but it does feel the most like cheating. So I usually try the broadsword, which offers all the heft of the sledgehammer, but at least it’s an actual sword, and not masonry equipment.
  • Did you know: Unlike some games, blood was actually added to the NA version. A fatal blow just creates yellow whatsits in the Japanese version, but us bloodthirsty Americans get a healthy spritz of body goo. Maybe this was because Mortal Kombat was and forever will be a thing, but whatever the reason, I vastly prefer the bloody version. Makes everything more… visceral.
  • Would I play again: As a novelty between friends, yes, but I’d much prefer it to be available on a modern system. Hint hint, Sony/Square/Whoever!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past! Good job, ROB! Don’t be late to the party with this link to the past! Please look forward to it!