Tag Archives: wayforward

FGC #396 Centipede: Infestation

GrossCentipede: Infestation is a 2011 Wayforward/Atari jaunt that sees heroic Max attempting to destroy legions of giant, irradiated bugs. It is, basically, a twin stick shooter on two different systems that don’t really have twin sticks. The 3DS version utilizes the crosspad and the traditional ABXY buttons, while the Wii employs some manner of sorcery and requires the player to point the wiimote in their desired aiming direction. And that’s lame, so just use the classic controller. Beyond the control scheme, Centipede: Infestation is basically just a shoot ‘em up with a familiar, ancient license attached. Thanks for playing, please look forward to Dig Dug: Earthquake.

But Centipede: Infestation does have the faintest glimmer of a plot, and it goes something like “sure, bugs are gigantic, deadly nuisances, but are they really the enemy?” We should love nature! And are insects the enemy for the minor crime of creeping across the kitchen counter? That doesn’t seem right! So let’s look at a few of the little buggers.

We’re going to look at real live bugs now, so you’ve been warned…

WW #04 Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

Due to the subject matter of this entire week, some items may be NSFW. We’ve got some PG-13 screenshots here, but, given everyone has a different threshold, anything potentially offensive will be behind the “Read More” links du jour. Just so you are aware

Here's everybody!I’ve mentioned my buddy Matt before. Matt has two sons, one of which is prime video game playing age. As Matt and I are both tremendous nerds, no one disparages the child’s hobby, and while Uncle Goggle Bob may have had to unlock some of the more difficult content in some games (“Thanks for unlocking the weird mushroom, Goggle Bob”), the kid is pretty good for playing games to completion. Not too long ago, Matt’s kid dug up his father’s old Gameboy, and started playing Metroid 2. And, despite the game having the same graphical fidelity as a damp tissue, he enjoyed it. So, knowing that I’m a giant videogame nerd, Matt asked me what would be an ideal, similar game for the 3DS (his child’s general system of choice). Two games came to mind.

  1. Shovel Knight, because, while it may be difficult, I know the kid also enjoyed Duck Tales, so, ya know, if he enjoys Samus Aran and Scrooge McDuck, this seems like a slam dunk. Might be a little too difficult though, so I also considered…
  2. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse which, while it may rely on the Link’s Adventure formula of exploration, was still very close to Metroid 2 metroidvania gameplay. It also featured another fierce heroine (as opposed to hero), which is probably a good thing for boys to see every once in a while.

So, after deliberating on both choices, I decided to only recommend Shovel Knight. Want to know why? Well, in, say, Metroid 2, how do you get deeper into the game? You “land” on the planet, grab some powerups, shoot some blocks, discover the Alpha Metroid, kill it, and then proceed downward past some receding lava. This is some pretty typical video game advancement, so maybe we’ll look The Legend of Zelda 2: Link’s Adventure. In that game, it’s not unusual to have to deal with a villager that is claiming they have some spell or item you need, but you have to perform a fetch quest to obtain whatever this puissant peasant wants. Go to the Deadly Cave, obtain the Trophy, drag it back to Tom, Tom forks over the Jump Spell, and then it’s time to leap over that ledge in Frightening Cave and head onto Second Dungeon. This is much closer to how Shantae works.

Actually, let’s be particular about how Shantae “works”…

FGC #217 Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know!

What time is it?I want to like this game so bad. So, so very bad.

What I like: It’s Adventure Time!

I love Adventure Time! I’ve loved Adventure Time for a long time! I started watching the show approximately at the start of the second season, and, I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a good show with a slightly off kilter view of the universe, and, frankly, it’s funny and adventurous. Jake the Dog and Finn the Human save and snicker at Ooo in equal measure, and that’s awesome for someone like me with a vague “laugh it off” life philosophy. And did I mention the mythology of the Adventure Time world? The apparently teenage princess of candy land is nearly a thousand years old, and was ultimately born of a catastrophically explosive war? Sign me the glob up!

Also, there’s Lumpy Space Princess, and that gal is always a good time.

What I like: It’s Adventure Time (for real)!

Chop chopNow, just because you’ve got the Adventure Time license, that doesn’t mean you’ve got a “true” Adventure Time game. The previous Wayforward Adventure Time game, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!!, was a Zelda 2-esque adventure game starring Finn and Jake… but it seemed to take random liberties with the characters. No, it wasn’t like Finn suddenly had the ability to fly and Jake could turn into a seven-headed hydra or something, but the whole thing stunk of “we need to randomly insert this character because he/she is popular, and who cares if it fits in the Adventure Time world”. Here’s Flame Princess… just… hanging out? Here’s Lemongrab… for some reason? And LSP becomes a world-destroying threat? Uh… okay. The game was generally good, make no mistake, but the plot and overall setting felt a lot like the licensed games of days gone by: here’s a great concept for a videogame, and we’ve quickly slapped an Adventure Time skin on the affair so as to fleece the kiddies (and adult-shaped kiddies). Again: good game, but it seems like a videogame based on an animated series that contains so many videogame influences should have had much better gaming synergy.

However, it seems the folks at WayforWard learned from their mistakes. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! got Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time creator) completely on board, and the game is, in its entirety, canon. Yes, I am the kind of nerd that believes dreaded continuity to be the devil that destroyed the comics industry (everything about that statement is a lie), and I don’t think a videogame has to be “canon” to be “real”, but here… it makes a difference. I liked AT:HIK!WYSOG?!! despite its continuity gaffes, but every single one still took me out of the experience. It’s a silly, superfluous complaint to have, but I like to be immersed in my videogames based on a children’s properties. AT:EtDBIDK! seems to more properly handle each character, and even offers additional mythology through the story and its finale. As someone that feeds on ridiculous stories, I couldn’t be happier.

What I like: It’s Retro!

HDAdventure Time has a decidedly retro flair to its aesthetics, so it seems only natural that its tie-in videogames would appear to be similarly “8-bit”. From the title screen to the cinema scenes, AT:EtDBIDK! hues closely to a pixelated style that is a fine simulation of classic games. And, no, it’s not just retro for the sake of being retro; it really does seem appropriate for this literal dungeon crawler to look similar to the dungeon crawlers of decades ago (well, the ones that weren’t just text-based, at least). There’s more than a little Gauntlet in the DNA of this adventure, so a similarity to Midway quarter munchers is practically required. The whole thing should make BMO happy. Actually, speaking of which…

What I like: Hey, an actual use for the WiiU gamepad!

This game was released for practically every system available at its launch (nobody loves you, Vita), but the WiiU version contained a special feature. Rather than just offer the option to play the game on the big screen or the lil’ gamepad (like, ya know, every non-Nintendo game released for the WiiU ever), AT:EtDBIDK! sticks BMO on the gamepad, so you get to venture through the depths with a constant, adorable companion. It’s not exactly a system selling feature (I never need to hear the phrase, “Try it with mustard!” ever again), but it is cute and very Adventure Time appropriate. It also makes every other company that claimed they could never do anything with the WiiU gamepad look like an asshole, so thank you for that, Wayforward. It’s the little things that make a game great, even when that little thing is a minuscule, sentient game system.

What I like: The other little things!

PoofThis is a very Adventure Time game, and it’s clear that there was a deliberate move to maintain that Adventure Time feeling through everything. Cyclops tears cure status ailments. Status ailments include being cursed by a Hug Wolf. There’s a kitten gun (that’s a gun that shoots out kittens, as opposed to a gun meant for shooting kittens, or a gun that is kitten-appropriate sized). There are malevolent deer. Fiona and Cake are not real. Princess Bubblegum collects tyrannical taxes. Marceline the Vampire Queen doesn’t actually “die” in a dungeon, she seems to simply get annoyed and leave. From top to bottom, this is a very dedicated Adventure Time experience.

And there are easter eggs for retro-fanatics, too! The magic wand blasts out Legend of Zelda-style magic waves. A pile of skeletons isn’t the only Castlevania reference skulking around, and Choose Goose is channeling every JRPG merchant that ever was. There’s just so much to like here!

What I don’t like: This game sucks

Despite everything, this game sucks. Character movement speed is atrocious, and the monsters are too fast or the dungeons are too big (or both). It seems to take absolutely forever to get anywhere, and practically everything feels uphill. Worthwhile loot starts at, what, 100 pieces of treasure? Per floor, you’re lucky if you find 20 helpings of treasure. By my calculations, that means it would take for-freaking-ever to purchase anything worthwhile. There’s a powerup to make everything go faster!… but it’s a rogue-like, and you could potentially lose that hard-earned ability after a particularly costly hummingbird ambush. Now it’s back to square one! Woo!

ChillyBut you know what? The slow, plodding gameplay could work. Some of my favorite games are slow as balls, so that just means I utilize that rad WiiU gamepad and play the game on the small screen while watching horrible anime or something. Oh, wait, no… while the typical dungeon floors are slow and generally innocuous, the boss fights can be difficult and based on completely different skill sets (let’s play hide and seek!), so I better pay complete attention to those events, or risk losing my every last treasure. AT:EtDBIDK! isn’t consistent with its tedium, so, rather than getting to relax and enjoy a unique adventure, I’m constantly on edge. This isn’t Silent Hill. I love Harry Mason’s adventures, but sometimes I just want to be Jake the Dog and play a fun game while enjoying an everything burrito. Is that so wrong?

Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! has a lot to like, but its gameplay completely turns me off. I really want to like everything about this game, but it is not to be. Maybe next time we’ll get an adventure where the fun will never end.

FGC #217 Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know!

  • System: WiiU is my preference, but you may also enjoy the experience on a Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, or Nintendo 3DS. I understand the 3DS version is atrocious, but I’ve never tried it, so that might just be typical internet hyperbole.
  • Number of players: Four, though I could not in good conscious ever recommend we play this game to my social circle. I still have at least one friend that is in an endless boredom coma thanks to playing Fortune Street, so I don’t want to risk the slowness of this title. Particularly when there are better Gauntlets about.
  • HUGS!Favorite character: Marceline the Vampire Queen and her rad axe are all I need. I’d choose her if she didn’t already have floaty powers, I swear. Then again, maybe I just have a weakness for vampires.
  • So, did you beat it? Nope. According to my in-game clock, I put fifteen hours into this game, and that’s about when I quit. I looked up the ending on Youtube, and the final boss fight looked… monotonous. That was pretty much the final nail in the coffin.
  • Did you know? Adventure Time has a ludicrously complicated and depressing backstory involving nuclear war and the destruction of nearly the entire human race. And it was all foreshadowed from the first second of the opening animation of every episode. Good job, Pen Ward.
  • Would I play again: Nooooope.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Skate or Die! Oh snap, I’m probably going to die. Please look forward to it! … Wait a minute.

FGC #198 DuckTales: Remastered

This game is radI don’t usually talk about a game’s music on this blog. The reasons for this are three-fold: One, I traditionally play the featured game, take a day or two to “digest” the experience, and then write. While I’m usually cutting through the video of the game at that time to make screenshots and gifs, I’m rarely actually re-listening to the music/sound at that time. As a result, unless the music is really memorable, I’m not really thinking about it while I write the article. Two, while I’m writing the article in question, I’m usually listening to my “work mix” of 6,000 or so MP3s, so, unless the game is already on my playlist, it’s not really in my head. This doesn’t apply to every game, because, completely randomly, Bloody Tears is on my Winamp (yes, seriously) as I write this right now. Go fig. And, finally, I try not to discuss the music too much on this blog because the blog is not an auditory medium. I’ve got gifs and such to remind everyone how a game looks in motion, but, short of embedding a midi into the article, the best I can do with music is throw out a basic, “hey, remember that one song?” This does occasionally make its way to the bullet point section of any given article, but even that is usually something of an afterthought.

All that said, after nearly 200 articles, I figure I can write one article about a game’s music.

Fly me to the moon, it’s time to talk about ducks exploring the lunar surface.

AlleyoopDuckTales was kind of inevitably part of my childhood. In this case, I’m talking about the series and the videogame, which, at the time, combined to be one of the few franchises that actually made sense on television and videogame console. Hey, you love Back to the Future, right? Well here’s a completely bonkers videogame version that involves bowling. What about bloody slasher Friday the 13th? Well get ready to pelt zombies with rocks! And it wasn’t any better when a mascot went in the other direction: the most groundbreaking platformer in history somehow turned into a show that closely followed the Bozo/Krusty the Clown formula, and the courageous and mute Link of the NES became an attitude-riddled teen in his animated incarnation. It took a few years, but we did finally get that Sonic the Hedgehog series where he was the forsaken prince of a kingdom and played in a rock band with his royal siblings. Point is that when the Disney Afternoon finally started churning out videogames, its offerings were actually related to the source material, and Monterey Jack or Darkwing Duck would actually be the same characters and do the same things whether or not someone hooked up a controller.

So both DuckTales and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers were integral parts of my childhood, because I watched the shows every afternoon, and played the matching games whenever available. I actually didn’t own either game, but one of my super best friends (the same kid I “saved” in The Legend of Zelda) owned both, and, yes, there was a lot of 2-player Chip ‘n Dale action. But DuckTales got its share of play, too, because, even as a one player game, there was a lot of… audience participation during our play sessions. “No, you butthead, go over there, get the diamonds! Don’t jump on the treasure chest, that’s how you get… oh, now you have to do the CHOMPlevel over. Give me the controller, you suck!” … Hm I wonder why I don’t hang out with my childhood friends anymore…

Anyone that has ever played DuckTales knows that it’s a Capcom game that, like Mega Man, offers an opening stage select. This was a tremendous boon for us Nintendo kids, because, thanks to difficulty and underdeveloped attention spans, it was a rarity to see the later levels of any given NES game. A game that started with “here ya go, take your pick” was always welcome, because it meant you could actually see almost the entirety of a game without having to restart on Level One 12,000,000,000 times. So you might think, with five options available, we’d be all over playing any and every level.

We weren’t. We only played Moon. We only went for the cheese.

There probably are multiple reasons for this. Amazon has a very “grass world/level 1” vibe, and who wants to start on a basic stage when there are more interesting options? Duckuvania and The Mines both required some focused level searching to bypass various locks, so screw that noise. And the Himalayas had that blasted snow that hampered your pogo attack. The pogo cane was the second best thing about the game! Why is there an entire level that destroys it!?

YAYBut there was always the moon level, and that got played a lot. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly. Maybe it was the space environment that seemed more fantastic than any vampire castles or journeys to the center of the Earth. Maybe it was pounding on aliens, which is always a good time. Or maybe it was simply that ten second cameo from Gizmoduck. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that DuckTales’ Moon features the best music in the game, and, arguably, all of the NES.

I am not a “music” guy. I have been in orchestral and rock bands, I have written songs, and I have, on occasion, been a human beat box. But still, throughout the years, I have never really understood what “works” in music. I can watch Youtube videos explaining the differences between minor and major keys all day, and, still, I can’t tell you, from a musical perspective, what makes any given song better than another. I am entirely a subjective music listener, and, aside from “I generally like pianos”, I can’t really describe why my favorite songs are my favorite songs.

So, uh, just believe me when I say that the DuckTales NES Moon theme is the best thing ever.

And it somehow gets better! Against all odds, a licensed game based on a cartoon property from the 80’s got a remake in the 21st Century thanks to a bunch of dedicated nerds. Capcom and Wayforward (with seemingly an emphasis on the latter) worked together with Disney to bring back the NES DuckTales game in the form of a magnificent “HD remaster”. The whole “remaster” thing seemed like a misnomer, as this was practically an entirely new game. There’s a whole new overarching plot, dialogue, and two levels. And what has returned from the original is now gorgeous with hand drawn sprites and updated level layouts. And one of the Beagle Boys gets a new hat!

No swimming musicBut the remastered music is what got my attention. The music was composed by Jake Kaufman, a man who, by his own admission, was a giant fan of the original. “”I’ve heard this stuff in my head, as arrangements, since I was 10, so I knew exactly what to do…” That sounds about right. I reiterate that I am absolutely not a music guy, and I don’t know how to describe this, but Kaufman nailed the moon theme (and every other song, but that’s neither here nor there). Whatever Moon was trying to do on its tiny little NES speaker was taken to new, otherworldly heights on DuckTales: Remastered, and, for the first time ever in a videogame, when I first reached the moon stage on my initial play of DuckTales: Remastered, I put down my controller, and just listened. I’m pretty sure I bought the soundtrack about ten minutes later. Then I hit Continue because I accidentally let Scrooge get killed by aliens. I was distracted!

DuckTales: Remastered made a great thing even greater. This description could be applied to the entire game, but for me, it’s always going to come back to the Moon. Who says there’s no sound in space?

FGC #198 DuckTales: Remastered

  • System: WiiU, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 for the initial release. It also found its way to various computers and cell phones. There’s even a physical release! I own it!
  • Number of players: You have to be smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, so there really isn’t room for more than one.
  • Favorite stage: Did you read the article?
  • Spooky!You know, you could have linked to the actual song in question somewhere around here: Oh, like you don’t know how to find Youtube. Teach a man to fish for songs!
  • Just play the gig, man: Oh! And the moon theme became a persistent leitmotif throughout the other stages. That’s pretty awesome!
  • Favorite boss: My one complaint about the Remake is that it makes the bosses very “stage-y” with repeated patterns and long periods of invincibility (i.e. why is that boss hiding in the background again). That said, I do like the Magica De Spell fight, because it’s hectic, varied, and occasionally drops some ice cream. Everybody loves ice cream!
  • Did you know? Alan Young and June Foray reprised their vocal roles as Scrooge McDuck and Magica De Spell for this game. They were born in 1919 and 1917, respectively. When they were born, there was barely the concept of “video”, left alone a “videogame”.
  • Would I play again: Yes, while anxiously awaiting that Chip ‘n Dale remake.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Tetris Blast for the Gameboy! It’s like a regular block game, but with more explosions! Please look forward to it!

Shakes
This still makes me nervous