Tag Archives: fanboymaster

Brave Fencer Musashi 3: About Time

Spin it my friendSo maybe the good old days weren’t always good. Particularly when days would last forever…

Even back at the beginning of the medium, videogames have continually utilized a timer system and/or day and night cycle. Many older gamers remember the first time they had to wait for a guard to leave his post at sunset, or when they were alerted that it would soon be a horrible night to have a curse. Brave Fencer Musashi utilizes a similar system once you get past the first “level”, and managing your time in this kingdom is an integral part of your adventure.

But sometimes things get a little too complicated.

Musashi’s first real challenge was scaling a mountain and fighting a skull-insect. The good news about outdoor activities is that, while they might be more annoying in the dark, a mountainside is always open. Our second significant challenge is a dungeon that has been excavated from beneath a restaurant. This makes things more complicated, as the restaurant is only open during certain hours. What’s more, these hours are strictly tied to the evening, and if you stumble out of that dungeon poisoned and in need of healing, you are going to have to wait for daylight until you can purchase an energy refill. After you’ve been topped off… welp, looks like you must wait for nightfall again, because that restaurant closed when the sun came up. And, I’m sorry, immediately after you complete the bulk of this dungeon, you have to go to church at exactly 2 AM? Brave Fencer Musashi, what kind of layabout do you take me for? If I wanted to spend all my time twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next big event to occur, I wouldn’t be burning my time playing a videogame!

This is the worst church everIn Brave Fencer Musashi’s defense, a lot is done to mitigate the timing issue. Sleeping is integral to the quest, and managing Musashi’s “tired meter” is a requirement that gives you ample reasons to fast forward the clock as a natural part of gameplay. Additionally, the majority of “timed events” seem to occur in the town area, and that is a perfectly safe place to spend some time at the inn, or sleep in the nearby fountain. Maybe you could occupy your time being productive, too. Go find some minku poop or a hidden bincho diamond while you have some downtime. After all, what is the point in having a whole, big world to explore if you can’t traverse it while you are waiting for the local eatery to open again?

But waiting for a door to open at an exact time does get old fast when you are trying to make progress…

This would not be the case for practically every game released on the opposite side of the 21st Century. Already by the time of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link was employing music to speed the sun along. When we hit the much more time-based Majora’s Mask, the Hero of Time practically had a top ten list of time controlling ditties. Future games of all shapes and sizes would employ similar “spells” when time was a factor, or even forgo any illusion of gameplay, and add fast travel-esque options to switch day and night. Need to see this town under the cover of darkness right now? It is only a menu click away!

But we do lose a certain something when we don’t have to wait. When controlling the very concept of time is as easy as changing your hero’s equipment, you don’t experience the same weakness in the face of an uncaring universe. Musashi is just a little dude in an unfamiliar world, and he is subject to the whims and capriciousness of waiting for the vambees to come out and play. He has to wait, and you, player, have to wait with him. It is a bonding experience for you and your digital avatar.

But it is definitely a situation where this player enjoys modern conveniences.

Even Worse Streams presents Brave Fencer Musashi
Night 3

Original Stream Night: August 23, 2022

Random Notes on the Stream:

  • Please enjoy the names and addresses of all our loved ones as we start night three with BEAT, fanboymaster, and Jeanie.
  • Gaze in amazement at hot, sleeping action!
  • Ample Vigour stops by and provides an excellent Soda Popinski impression.
  • Oh! I relay the story about how I couldn’t pronounce “Cruz” when I was 12. Still sad about that!
  • Continuing our Meatloaf discussion from a previous night, we’re back to talking about Jim Steinman.
  • As I complete the first section of this enormous dungeon, we discuss the stupidest ways to be racist (which is already pretty stupid).
  • DONGAjvark shows up as we’re talking about Adult Swim getting new management. And now we have a jujitsu weather report.
  • Let’s discuss the handsomeness of Ernest P. Worrell.
  • “Musashi, move your sad, poisoned ass.”
  • Caliscrub joins as Musashi takes another nap in the fountain.
  • Yay! Block pushing puzzles!
  • As Musashi absorbs spirits, it is revealed that ham cubes are my favorite part of salad bars. I apologize for nothing.
  • “Somehow this dungeon has lasted 800 million years.”
  • Sidenote: Caliscrub is not in a church right now. Musashi will be later.
  • Would Steve Urkel be into crypto? Would Stefan Urquelle? … Oh, hey, we earned the double jump.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi is supposed to be a time loop for the legendary treasures and Musashi. That is just like Square likes it.
  • And we finally get the water scroll as we discuss Tekken and rollback.
  • Let's bowl“Don’t fuck with me, Square. Between this and the Spirits Within, that’s why you’re Enix now.” I hate carrying bells, and I don’t care who knows it.
  • Relic Keeper, our boss of the night, is a geek according to Musashi.
  • We close with Pooch making an excellent joke at the expense of whooping and there it being.

Next time on Brave Fencer Musashi: The Battle at the Beach

SBC #03 Donkey Kong & Donkey Kong Land

Donkey TimeBack in the day, videogame stories were only available through their attendant instruction manuals. The manual for Donkey Kong Land opens with this plot excuse:

Cranky Kong, ageing video game pioneer and primate patriarch, swayed back and forth in his rocking chair as he harassed his grandape, Donkey Kong and his little buddy, Diddy Kong.

“Well, I’ve got to admit, your last adventure was a bit more successful than I ever thought it would be…” he jibed. “Course, put a few fancy graphics and some modern music in a game, and kids’ll buy anything nowadays…”

Donkey and Diddy tried to discreetly cover their ears as they stared out into the jungle surrounding Cranky’s cabin. The old ape continued his taunting.

“Back in our days, understand, we had an extremely limited colour [sic] palette to work with, and we still made great games… No way you could duplicate that feat today, Donkey my boy! No siree!”

Cranky had been going on and on like this for what seemed like hours, and Donkey Kong had finally had enough.

“People liked Donkey Kong Country for more than just the ‘fancy graphics’ you old coot!’” he snapped. “The number of colours [sic], the resolution, it doesn’t make a difference. It was just plain fun!”

“Yeah, and we worked hard fighting K. Rool and his goons!” Diddy chimed in. Both he and Donkey still had the bumps and bruises to prove it.

Cranky nodded his head knowingly. The two youngsters had predictably risen to the bait and swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

This look familiar?“So you’re saying that an adventure like your last one would be a success even on an 8-bit system, like… Game Boy, for example…” Cranky said slyly.

“That’s right!” DK exclaimed without hesitation. Diddy joined him in accepting the challenge.

“We’ll even let the Kremlings steal the banana hoard again, and this time we’ll get it back on Game Boy!” Diddy boasted. “Hey a golden opportunity to get out of DK’s ridiculous guard duty training,” he thought to himself.

“I’ll believe it when I see it!” Cranky scowled.

And, with that, Rare laid down the gauntlet: Donkey Kong Country was a success because it was a great game with amazing gameplay, and not just because it had fancy, “next gen” graphics. If Donkey Kong Country were “demaked” onto a less powerful system, it would be just as powerfully popular.

And thus did Donkey Kong Land actually prove that graphics and gameplay do go hand in hand.

Very gnawty?Against all odds, Donkey Kong Country was one of the great momentum-platformers of the 16-bit era. When Super Mario Bros. was released, it inspired a cadre of imitators that all tried to capture that Mario charm, but generally fell short of the mark. Mario controls in a very particular way, and, when you don’t understand the exact physics of a portly plumber, you wind up with a dozen platformers that can all be described as “slippery”, “clunky”, or “dogshit”. When Sonic the Hedgehog dominated the discourse and entertainment centers a few years later, those same copycats came out of the woodwork to make the same crappy games, but faster (and sometimes with an obnoxious animal). Donkey Kong Country could easily have fallen into similar traps, but, in the deft hands of Nintendo and Rare, the big gorilla came out as something truly unique and extraordinary. Donkey Kong is definitely not Mario or Sonic, but he was something special all the same.

The best verb for Donkey Kong is, appropriately enough, “barreling”. DK initially feels slow, but, as is proper for a powerful primate, once he gets going, there is no stopping this king kong. Donkey Kong Country is at its best when DK can barrel forward: rolling, bouncing forward off enemies, and sometimes even using that roll to dip down into a pit and leap off thin air in some mimicry of a double jump. What is important is that Donkey Kong feels great when he is moving forward at high speeds, but also feels different from when a certain blue hedgehog pulls off the same general moves. There is an omnipresent weight to Donkey Kong, and steering that weight ahead to the level goal feels genuinely attractive. The usual Donkey Kong Country stage has neither a timer nor a reason to rush, but it always feels like you are being rewarded when DK is continuously barreling.

Then there’s Donkey Kong Land. This miniature adventure somehow does not understand its titular star.

Here we goIf you think you are going to make progress as a barreling ape in Donkey Kong Land, you are sorely mistaken. The pre-rendered, pea-green sprites of Donkey Kong Land are delightfully large and chunky, but that means there isn’t much screen real estate to actually maneuver. And, given your average Kremling exists exclusively to bonk into our heroic apes, this translates to a whole lot of damage incurred by lizards, vultures, and the occasional flying pig that will spawn right on top of our protagonists. And this limited space doesn’t only lead to reptile-inflicted injuries: Donkey Kong Land has a bevy of pits and moving platforms that would be passable on a larger screen, but are now all but unavoidable due to a complete inability to see what is below your monkey’s toes. Any way you slice it, unless you’ve been preserving your clairvoyance skills for 90’s Gameboy games, you absolutely cannot play Donkey Kong Land with any kind of speed.

And everybody involved knew this, too! This tip appears plainly in that same instruction manual:

“Take it slow when you first explore a level. Some of the enemies are well camouflaged and might be hidden, waiting to spring out at you!!”

Memorize every trap and trick, kiddies, or you’re going to have a bad time!

That other game...And this is all such a tremendous shame because Donkey Kong Land did go the extra mile and create a new, separate experience from Donkey Kong Country in every other way that mattered. Donkey Kong Country was already a game loaded with ideas (your main hero could run, jump, and even swim!), but Donkey Kong Land added some interesting concepts that seemed to only exist within the confines of the Gameboy. Sunken ruins! Bosses that feature “counter” gimmicks! Nemo the whorly thingy! An entire level featuring some kind of weird “turn your K-O-N-G letters into platforms” dealy bopper! And some of the locales and features of Donkey Kong Land were later adapted to future Donkey Kong Country concepts. Gangplank Galleon and whole areas devoted to climbing around rigging got their start here. Kremlantis the half-sunken ancient temple and Monkey Mountain both feel like areas that would be right at home while exploring the wilds of Donkey Kong Country 3. And Big Ape City and its reliance on construction sites seems to be the only spot in the Rare-era of Donkey Kong history wherein OG Donkey Kong is referenced as heavily as it would by the future of Mario & Donkey Kong titles.

But it is also inconsequential before the fact that Donkey Kong Land is a bear to play.

Clam upThe Swirlwind is an excellent example of the issue here. This mobile, miniature tornado initially appears as a typical kongponent, but leaping on it will reveal that it is practically a mobile trampoline (or tire, as is proper to the gorillas). This can lead to some interesting level design, as the added height from a shifting (and potentially dangerous) object means a lot in a world where your playable character has jumps that are best described as “hefty”. And this is the kind of object/enemy/tornado that would appear in future Donkey Kong Country adventures to great success. But here? The screen is so limited, every time you get a perfect “high jump” off the whirlwind, you don’t know if you are going to be landing on solid ground ever again. And when they combine this moving object with its best friend, the moving platform, you are all but guaranteed to watch ape-death again and again. You can probably guess where it would be best to land, but odds are good that a Krusha or bottomless pit is waiting for you. And the end result here is that every time you see the Swirlwind, something that should guarantee a new and interesting challenge, you just sigh, because you know you are going to have a pile of gorilla corpses in front of you by the level’s end.

And that’s Donkey Kong Land in a nutshell: a lot of fun ideas smooshed onto a screen that absolutely cannot support them. Cranky was right! Donkey Kong Country was good because of its “newfangled” graphics! Because without the Super Nintendo, Donkey’s island goes from thrilling to tedious.

Donkey Kong Land deserved colors and a better resolution. But what we got just proved why graphics and gameplay are as inseparable as Donkey and Diddy.

SBC #03 Donkey Kong & Donkey Kong Land

Donkey Kong in Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Pretty Kong

  • He any Good? He’s the original heavy in the cast, but he is never as heavy as you think. I would venture to state that Donkey Kong’s bulk is evidence that the weightier Bowser was planned for the original, but didn’t make the final cut. In the absence of a barrel tossing special, his signature now seems to be a bevy of helicopter punches that are surprisingly effective.
  • That final smash work? At this point, we simply have a generic punch flurry. This is a tremendous step down from his previous DK Bongo Blast, but one can forgive the emphasis on a final smash that doesn’t switch to an entirely different gameplay style. At least both of these moves directly reference Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.
  • The background work? DK Kong Jungle has a delightfully moody sunset, and includes a mobile barrel. It doesn’t get more Donkey Kong Country than that!
  • First Appearance: He was a slow guy before they even figured out how smash attacks should work, so he might be the worst character in the original Super Smash Bros. But, hey, sometimes you just want to make a comeback after suffering 150% damage, and carry a victim off the stage.
  • Classic Mode: Donkey Kong journeys to New Donk City by recruiting Diddy, banishing K. Rool, and then fighting a series of “partner” duos, culminating with Mario & Luigi before defending the city against Master Hand. So I guess the moral of Donkey Kong Country is that Donkey Kong always has a buddy?
  • Smash Trivia: Was Donkey Kong the first Super Smash Bros. boss? He appears in the original one-player mode with a gimmick like any of his original eight contemporaries, but his stage is a 3 vs 1 fight with a gigantic gorilla. Considering this appears on the hit list before Metal Mario or Master Hand, this could be read as the series’ first big bad. He is at least big…
  • Looking good, guys

  • Amiibo Corner: Looks like we have three Donkey Kong Amiibos. Turbo Charge Donkey Kong is a used car salesman. Super Mario Series Donkey Kong has goofy bulging eyes to look like a muppet. Dynamic jumping Smash Bros Donkey Kong has a cool open mouth. That’s the pick of the primates right there.
  • Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? Donkey Kong is primarily based on his Donkey Kong Country incarnation, and everything about that game was designed in a cooperative parallel with Donkey Kong Land, so… kinda? Smash Bros Donkey Kong is like the more successful brother to Donkey Kong Land’s weird dude that never left his parents’ basement. Or always left his parents’ basement? How does that work with a portable game…

Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong Land

  • Monkey BusinessSystem: Gameboy initially, with full Super Gameboy support. It also saw rerelease on the Nintendo 3DS, which theoretically ups the odds it will appear to menace us again on the Nintendo Switch Online service.
  • Number of players: Nobody bothered to cram link cable support into this one, so just one monkey at a time.
  • Support Network: Other than the rhino and the ostrich, every other buddy from Donkey Kong Country does not appear in Donkey Kong Land. There is no Funky Kong to usher you between levels, no Cranky to offer advice (outside of the manual), and nary a giant frog to be seen. The forgotten Candy Kong’s save ability has even been replaced by saving being tied to collecting the K-O-N-G letters. It is difficult to imagine a weirder choice than forcing the player to scour a level repeatedly just for the ability to turn off their Gameboy.
  • Say something nice: The Donkey Kong Country game pak is banana-yellow. I always appreciate a uniquely colored cartridge.
  • Donkey or Diddy: It feels like they didn’t quite get the distinct momentum differences between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong 100% correct in this game, so Donkey wins due to being able to bounce off bigger Kremlings. Sorry, Diddy, he’s just built different.
  • Favorite Level: Big Ape City is the clear winner here. Vaguely urban environments have been a part of the series since DK first ventured through a Kremling factory, but swinging across chains over a skyline feels special.
  • Watch it, Buddy: We played Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong ’94, and a variety of other, not-gorilla based games on Even Worse streams back in February. You can watch the stream right here:

    Original Stream Night: February 7, 2023

    This was based on a vote as to which Donkey Kong game I should play, and I did technically play the winner for a little while. But I also have the attention span of a gnat, so this kind of thing happens.

  • An End: King K. Rool is responsible for all this misery, and once you beat the guy (who has a jumping splash that now has an outlet outside this game), you get… credits. That’s it, folks! Not even a Cranky denouement!
  • Just like SmashDid you know? According to interviews, Paul Machacek of Rare advocated for Donkey Kong Land to be its own game (and not a simple port) due to the success of the original-to-Gameboy Battletoads game. This is the first I’m hearing about Gameboy Battletoads being successful… or.. uh… existing as its own game at all, so it is debatable on whether or not Donkey Kong Land was grounded in a flawed premise from its inception.
  • Would I play again: Not on your life. There are better Gameboy platformers out there (Super Mario Land 2 springs immediately to mind) and better Donkey Kong Country games (like, any of them). Slumming it with Donkey Kong Land is good to see what’s cooking, but it is not ever going to be a filling meal.

What’s next? Pyra is going to be featured, but Mythra will have to wait a week after that. Please look forward to it!

Can we move?

Brave Fencer Musashi 2: Toys!

Crumble alongYou just can’t buy ‘em like this anymore.

Like many videogames, Brave Fencer Musashi has a currency system, and shops that sell valuable items. Fight monsters, get hit, defeat monsters, earn cash, buy stuff to heal from getting hit. It’s an RPG tradition that goes back to Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, and earlier, and it has propped up in a number of action games with “RPG Elements”. Sometimes it is more disguised (Zelda 2’s experience system was secretly a currency system), sometimes it is more prominent (see Dragon Quest 4 sticking a merchant in your party) but the basic concept is always the same: risk your life to earn gold, and then use that gold to improve your life.

Or you could use it to buy action figures.

Grillin’ Village has well-considered shops. The Fluffy Puffy Breadshop works like a traditional bakery, and sells old bread at a discount at the end of the day. Hilda’s Grocery has sales on Skydays, but mostly just hawks tasty treats. Mannick’s Restaurant is open later than many of the shops, and offers a treat or two up until 2 am. At their core, all of these places are “potion shops”, or whatever you want to call the place you go to heal your status or HP. There is variety here, but they all serve the same function, just with different ways to save money or time. Additionally, there is Conner’s Pawn Shop, which is a thinly disguised “equipment shop” where your upgrades are acquired through bringing legendary items to the counter. Other than that, you can earn a couple of bucks selling dungeon finds. Not much to it.

And the only other shop is Toys! Toys! Toys! That one requires a little examination.

I like it here a lotToys! Toys! Toys! Sells models of all the characters and monsters in Brave Fencer Musashi. If you want every last toy(s!), you have to return many times over many chapters to see the new unlocks and grab some of those all-important rarities off the shelves. If you want to “catch ‘em all”, you will likely have to plan your shopping expenditures over the course of the entire game. Your rewards for shopping at Toys! Toys! Toys! are action figures of every last model, and you can sell these figures for big bucks if you are a good little collector and do not remove any of these toys from their pristine packages. Or you can roleplay as the kid Musashi clearly is and play with ‘em in your bedroom. They’ll drop dramatically in value, but they are probably still going to fetch a buck or two on the Grillin’ version of eBay.

But the kicker for this whole sidequest? You never have to interact with it at all.

There is not a trophy or achievement for collecting action figures. There is not a secret door in the last area that opens only if you have a Kojiro figure still in its box. There is not a super boss that only appears after selling all your figures at maximum cost. There is never an incident or event wherein you need to visit Toys! Toys! Toys!, nor are you ever rewarded for having a figure in your inventory at a significant time. There isn’t even a detailed model viewer on the options menu! Toys! Toys! Toys! is just there for a basic little bit of worldbuilding, and maybe the opportunity to make some extra money that you will never, ever need.

It’s a shop that exists just for fun, and absolutely nothing more.

You just don’t see that kind of thing anymore.

Even Worse Streams Presents Brave Fencer Musashi
Night 2

August 16, 2022

Random Stream Notes

  • Brave Fencer Musasho! Welcome back with Jeanie, fanboymaster, and BEAT (who may at one point leave to get tacos).
  • We’re learning about steam and climbing cliffs tonight! I will learn to hate steam…
  • This is fanboymaster’s most played “long” childhood game. Mine was Secret of Mana.
  • I get pretty mad at steam…
  • Is it hot in here?I completely flub into what is best described as a “screaming death”.
  • I’m going to stick to my complaint about wireless controllers and TV lag and claim that is the reason I can’t finish this “easy” section.
  • And I finally conquer Steamwood as we are talking about Yoshi games. Hooray for only having to do this once more!
  • “You never have to visit the action figure store.” This is why this game is fiction.
  • Brady Games still exists! Sorta! Looks like they got eaten by Prima Games…
  • We beat some Mario Party-esque mini game, then the sword started talking, and now we’re going to face our first big boss.
  • When I was ten, I thought Meatloaf was amazing because he could say “Hell”.
  • “Perhaps you were thinking of some other loud skeleton?”
  • Okay! Skullpion! This is so much easier than managing steam!
  • We beat the boss! And we have an opportunity to discuss how overtly charming this game can be.
  • Thus begins the Vambee saga! It might take a while.
  • Ample Vigour arrives for a napping, sleepy samurai. And then Caliscrub immediately after!
  • “Modern TV can never allow their audience to bust. It has to edge them.”
  • Maximum cursed phrase: Highlander: The Animated Series: The Videogame for the Atari Jaguar CD.
  • Going up?Let me blame my controller for why Musashi dies so, so many times.
  • Let us talk about Minku, Whacka, Wobble Bell, and the many animals you can menace in videogames
  • Ample Vigour provides the perfect joke. We must never hear it.
  • We all attempt Rapper’s Delight to varying degrees of terrible. Please enjoy the only rap we know that comes with its own tutorial.
  • Tim dies and becomes a Vambee (offscreen). I blame poor hit detection.
  • Take two! Who has the best Shadow the Hedgehog voice?
  • Oh boy. As a thrilling finale, saving a child nets us an orange.

Next time on Brave Fencer Musashi: Always get a good night’s sleep.

It's a plant

SBC #02.2: Sheik & The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Today’s article contains game-long spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. If you are someone who cares about the plot of this game that is all about gameplay, I understand completely. Right there with you, buddy. So, please be aware, spoilers and all that riot. You have been warned.

Falling into youZelda, I’m really sorry you missed this one.

I have been gaming for all of my life, and I have learned one important fact in that time: never listen to fan theories on a game before its release. To be clear on this rule, it is not because fan theories are often bad or wrong, it is because they can be too good. For an easy example, consider that nearly every fan theory for a future Metroid game has consistently been better than anything Nintendo has ever released (who played Super Metroid and thought “this woman needs a condescending AI buddy”?). For another obvious example, before The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was released (or even named), many people put forward the theory that Zelda would be playable in “Breath of the Wild 2”. This speculation was predominantly based on the initial trailers emphasizing Link and Zelda exploring a cave, and apparently the reason Zelda had short hair now was that she was going to be Player 2. After all, this has always been The Legend of Zelda, we were bound to have a playable titular character one of these days. Oh! And the whole thing was already referencing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword heavily, and that was a game where Zelda had her own active adventure parallel to Link. Just as surely as we would see Link diving off sky islands onto the ground, here we would see Zelda’s “lost time” when the traditional swordsman wasn’t around.

But it was not to be…