Tag Archives: lickalizard

Chrono Cross 01: Introductions

Looks niceIf you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

… Which is not how we normally handle our opinions on Even Worse Streams. But I can attempt to parlay some kind of understanding with Chrono Cross through brief essays related to a night’s stream.

It’s… kind of like apologizing! To a 20-year-old video game! That maybe doesn’t deserve it!

Whatever. Let’s talk about Chrono Cross’s excellent opening.

And, no, we’re not discussing the in medias res “final battle with Lynx” that kicks off from the moment you start a new game. The true opening of Chrono Cross features Serge, Leena, and a healthy amount of lizard genocide.

Serge awakens in pastoral Arni. It is a fishing village populated with friendly folks, a giant dog, and a patient chief that is willing to teach anyone about synthesized magic. The goal for the player is evident (meet girlfriend, find way to bribe girlfriend into happiness), but the scale of what can be done within the confines of a scant few houses and two open areas is daunting. You can learn about a man’s dreams of being the best fisherman around, and how that has influenced his standing in his family. You can listen to an aspiring poet recite her works while waiting tables. You can steal from one yappy puppy to give to a two-tailed dog with a speech impediment (who, it should be noted, is the first talking dog in this universe). The only combat available here is the previously mentioned magic tutorial, but there is so much to do that doesn’t involve Serge drawing his swallow, you would be forgiven for assuming Chrono Cross is not your traditional battle-based JRPG.

Slash and tearBut fighting is available soon enough. Leena tasks Serge with a mission to hunt down lizard scales, and hunting is literally involved. Lizards and Nu-like Beach Bums haunt the place, and you are welcome to hone your physical skills on a respawning army of ineffectual “monsters”. Poshul the Pink Doggy can come along, too, if you want some practice involving a partner in your ecological assaults. And there is treasure to find! It is everything you could ever want from a JRPG… but with one important difference: it doesn’t matter.

At the start of Chrono Cross, Serge is not saving the world, his town, or even that all-important girlfriend. He’s just… doing some junk. Running errands. Talking to townsfolk. He is performing the exact same actions as many JRPG heroes, but he is doing it for the most miniscule of purposes. He’s just “doing stuff”. He is being human.

And in a game where eventually Serge is going to conquer every monster across two different dimensions and potentially all of time, that is pretty impressive.

This is JRPG 101, of course. There are any number of games, from Breath of Fire 2 to Final Fantasy 15, that initially establish a polite, safe world before everything goes to absolute hell (sometimes literally!). But Chrono Cross does go out of its way to create the potential for a “pacifist” JRPG. There can still be combat. There can still be treasure. But it is in pursuit of… simple goals. No world saving. No big bad. Just your peaceful little village, someone to care about, and doing what you can to make her happy.

And then everything does go to hell… But at least your hometown survives! In two dimensions! That’s not bad!

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 1

Original Stream Night: April 5, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Poshul
  • Leena
  • Lucky Dan

Random Notes on the Stream

  • This starts as the absolute original Chrono Cross, played on a Playstation 1 disc in a Playstation 2.
  • It will be seen again, but the intro for Chrono Cross is aces.
  • … And then the PS1 game fails when it has to “load” dialogue. Oh well!
  • Enjoy seeing a quick sorting of my PS1/PS2 digital memory cards as we load up PSN Chrono Cross.
  • This is not a jokeAgainst all odds (well, 6%), we have the exact same party as the first PS1 playthrough.
  • BEAT notes Spec Ops: The Line has the best in medias res intro.
  • I apologize for not naming Poshul “Snoop Dog”… but it would not have fit.
  • Wouldn’t save points in real life be fun? Or we would never get past Sunday…
  • Our first “discussion” of the battle system notes that percentage odds are lies.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog 06 Final Boss Victory Music is mentioned. Let’s call this foreshadowing for a future stream.
  • BEAT notes that Time Spinner is something that might be worth looking into.
  • Here is the shake slide:

    Yes, I am responsible for those shake pictures, too (well, technically just one shake picture).
  • Lucky Dan causes a brief discussion about palpable faith.
  • Thanks to a Save/Load issue, we are going to spend the last twenty minutes of this stream in the Bend of Time screwing with Triple Techs that will never again be seen on the stream.
  • And before this night’s finale, please enjoy seeing what I named all my Chrono Crossers back in 2000.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Let’s steal from the richest guy on the island! In HD!

If only

FGC #352 Bloody Roar 3

RAWRBloody Roar 3 is a fighting game about human fighters that may transform into anthropomorphic animals at any given moment. But are all animals created equal? Hell no. Here are the power rankings for the animalistic fighters of Bloody Roar 3.

Alice the Rabbit

Let’s start with the biggest loser in this cast. Alice is, like so many other women in fighting games, here exclusively for the fanservice. She’s been a fighter since the first game, appears in every sequel, and never, ever does anything useful in the plot. She’s a nurse, so that’s a fine excuse to squeeze her into a sexy nurse costume (never scrubs, which, take note, game developers, can actually be sexy) or a sailor fuku, because, hey, gotta compete with Dead or Alive somehow. Alice is here for every horny male in the audience, and, given the general demographics of Playstation fighting games, that might be the entire audience.

And, to further the fanservice, Alice transforms into a giant bunny rabbit. On one hand, it’s supposed to be sexy, as it’s a clear reference to the Hefner/Toriyama bunny girl of yore. On the other hand, she turns into the Easter Bunny, and, barring that one time in Reno, nobody has ever wanted to have sex with the Easter Bunny. I don’t care if she’s wearing a short skirt; the cold, dead, red eyes are a deal breaker. Bunny ears and a poofy tail can potentially be sexy, but hopping feet are a bridge too far. Ugh! I’m not going to be able to eat a Cadbury Egg in peace for the rest of the week!

Oh, also, bunnies? Not known for the fighting prowess.

Busuzima the Chameleon

Addressing Busuzima on the power rankings almost feels like cheating, as he is clearly intended to be the “joke” character of the game. He’s a lot more likely to win a tournament than Dan Hibiki, but his introduction still involves him mooning the camera, and his general fashion sense is laughable (hey, wait, we own the same shirt). Addressing the fact that the goofy scientist that can transform into a lizard might not be as strong as the lion commando is obvious from the moment he appears on screen, and I may as well be making bold claims like “Luigi will never marry Peach” or “Stryker might not be the champion of Mortal Kombat this year”.

LICKHowever, I have to address the cold-blooded elephant in the room: a chameleon is the worst choice for a fighting game. What is the chameleon’s one amazing skill? It’s a stealth monster! And what’s the one thing that that is never useful in a fighting game? Stealth! It’s a one on one match! You can’t “hide” from your opponent! Just ask Reptile! Turning invisible always sounds great in theory, but it’s not the easiest thing to control your imperceptible fighter. You’re a lot more likely to start punching air than actually achieve a hollow (ha!) victory.

And, yes, having a tongue whip is pretty cool, but there are other lizards out there. Are there any alligators in the cast? Dinosaurs? Come on, guys, we can do better.

Stun the Insect

Another one that is hard to judge. Let’s face it: Spider-Man has crapped in the hot tub, and now every other anthropomorphic insect has to take a poo bath. Spider-Man does everything a spider can, and he has “the proportionate strength of a spider”, so every insect or arachnid hero is expected to be on the same level. And can we really maintain that echelon of insectoid power? Of course not! If Spider-Man actually punched Doc Ock with the same power that could lift a Volkswagen, they’d be scraping up Ock brains over in Queens. Similarly, if Stun the Rhinoceros Beetle punched a random human with rhino beetle strength, we’re going to need the official Killer Instinct mop.

So once you drop the cool powers, what’s left for a giant insect? Not much. I guess being part of a hive or rolling around dung is cool an’ all, but it doesn’t really make for an interesting fighting character. And after that, you’ve just a got a head, thorax, abdomen, and not much else.

You know what would be cooler than a rhinoceros beetle? A freaking rhinoceros!

Xion the Unborn

“Unborn” my ass. That is a mantis, and I will waste no more time on yet another dumb bug.

Stupid bug

Jenny the Bat

Bats used to be cool. They’re nocturnal flying masters of the night, and man has feared their skittery advance for eons. They are the basis for any number of myths, and you’d be hard pressed to find a single vampire tale from the modern age that doesn’t include our favorite flapping fiend. And the blood sucking! Nobody is afraid of mosquitoes, but we’ve got a thousand Jungian archetypes surrounding our greatest naturally enemy, the bat.

And then we hit the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. And now we know that bats are adorable.

I am the nightHave you seen the videos? You’ve seen the videos. Everyone has. Bats are basically highly mobile puppies. Did you see that one with the milk bottle? Or those three that were hanging upside down on a dude’s finger? Bats don’t strike fear into the hearts of the weak and cowardly lot, they’re about one step removed from being helper animals. They should give bats to disabled vets. Oh man, can we train seeing-eye bats? That would be delightful!

In conclusion, bats are not scary, and I don’t care if Jenny wants to cosplay as a vampire.

Bakuryu the Mole

Here is the opposite problem. Despite appearing to merely be the bane of golf courses, moles are kind of vicious. Have you ever tried to dig… anything? It’s hard work! Just moving the tiniest bit of dirt is a tremendous effort. But for a mole, that ain’t no thang. Digging the deepest, darkest hole is second nature to those little dudes. And why? Because they have shovels for hands. Sharp shovels. They’re basically born with sword fingers, but everybody treats ‘em like some manner of subterranean squirrel. Squirrels can barely deal with acorns, moles could ruin entire continents if they deigned to dirty their knife hands.

KARATE MOLEBakuryu the Mole thus becomes our first combatant that really chose an excellent animal form… and he gets no respect. Sure, he’s got a cyborg clone, but he’s not exactly the marquee character of the franchise. Typical. You choose one of the technically more impressive animals available, and you’re outshone by the freaking bunny girl. It’s all politics.

Yugo the Wolf

Wolves are scarier in packs. One wolf alone in a fighting tournament? Probably going to mess you up, but only a little worse than the giant bugs. Yugo only gets this position because I really can’t see a mole consistently defeating a puppy, left alone its more feral ancestor. It’s probably the vision advantage.

Uriko the Half-Beast

Uriko is another misnamed creature, but there’s a plot reason this time. In the original Bloody Roar, Uriko was a science experiment gone wrong, and was transformed into a Chimera. The Chimera is obviously queen of the roost, because, in a game about random animals fighting, the winner is the animal that is the most animals. Three in one? That’s going to do it. Unfortunately (or fortunately for her hopes of getting into a decent college), Uriko was “cured” of this chimera-ness at the end of Bloody Roar 1, and now the unfortunately named Uranus picked up her discarded goat/snake/lion powers.

Of course, nobody stays retired in fighting games, so Uriko was conscripted back into action, now with a “lesser” version of her Bloody Roar ultra beast form. Now Uriko is known as the “half-beast”. But in truth? She’s a kitty cat. She’s been demoted from final boss to our second fanservice character, and given the mysterious title “half beast” because it sounds better than Uriko the LOL Cat. Can she has cheeseburger?


She can!

Though I suppose you’re asking why the character that barely even qualifies for beast citizenship is so high on the list. This is because Uriko is a cat, and cats are terrifying. Yes, they can be adorable little balls of floof that bounce around after laser pointers and lick all sorts of crazy things; but they’re also monsters that play with their prey, destroy the furniture, and occasionally sleep on your head in an effort to obtain an earlier breakfast. Basically, if cats could ever get out of that one place where the sun shines and get their tails together, they’d have the planet conquered inside of a week. And then it would be us humans being dragged to Petsmart for a manicure.

And a cat with human intelligence? Frightening.

Long the Tiger / Shenlong the Tiger

Double tiger backfire. Disqualified.

Gado the Lion

Imagine all the cunning and intelligence of the common house cat, but in a body that could topple a car. Now imagine that same beast attaining human intelligence, and, I don’t know, maybe it has hair like Cloud Strife. And it can smell fear.

MrowGado is a mercenary or soldier or something (does the United Nations have foot soldiers? They do in this universe!), and he can turn into a freaking lion. There’s no stopping that! Part lion, part warrior is the exact thing we have been fearing since that one Mega Man episode, and here it is after it got a gym membership. Gado was the final boss of much of Bloody Roar 2, and that’s no surprise when you’ve got the king of the jungle running around. The Lion is the winner. There’s only one apex feline so powerful, so fear-inducing that it could possibly top…

Shina the Leopard

Nope. Article over. Not thinking about this game ever again.

FGC #352 Bloody Roar 3

  • System: Playstation 2 almost exclusively, though there is an arcade version in Japan.
  • Number of players: Two bloody animals.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: It’s a Playstation 2 fighting game that is more or less a lot closer to the Playstation 1 fighting game mold (ala Tekken 3). This isn’t a bad thing! It might not be advancing the genre or anything so lofty, but it’s a fun time, and the whole beast mode system incorporates a very natural handicap into the gameplay. Really kicking butt? Try not morphing, and let your opponent recover some of that lost health while you’re more defensive. More fighting games should allow for such an obvious “gimme” (and also the ability to turn into a lion).
  • Favorite Character: Uriko the Half-Beast, because I like the fast, easy to use characters. And I’m a horrible person.
  • Sexual Dimorphism is a Scourge: The first Bloody Roar seemed to have the most robust, varied roster in the series, and among its members was Mitsuko the Boar. Mitsuko was Uriko’s mother, and she was the extremely rare “heavy” female fighting game character. And she was rad! She was a basically a lady Zangief, and a boar is a pretty imposing animal form. Aaaaand she was never seen again. Bunny girl has appeared in every game in the series, though.
  • Did you know? There was an official Bloody Roar Chia Pet. Don’t laugh! There are Guardians of the Galaxy Groot Chia Pets, so it’s clear these guys know how to capture the zeitgeist.
  • Would I play again: There are so many fighting games on the Playstation 2, and, while this is the only one where I can control a mole-man, I don’t think we’ll see this one again. There’s a fighting lizard man in Mortal Kombat if I get in the mood.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Metal Slug 3! Get ready to shoot every damn thing between here and Mars! Please look forward to it!

Hey, I used all the images for once

FGC #121 Chameleon Twist

Lick it goodThe Nintendo NX is on the horizon, and it seems like every gamer in existence is scrambling to explain exactly why the WiiU failed. First of all, the WiiU did not fail, because it can play both Super Metroid and Super Smash Bros 4 WiiU, and that’s just super. But if you want to subscribe to the “WiiU failed” philosophy, a popular theory states that the WiiU never went anywhere because third parties refused to support the WiiU gamepad with any sort of consistency. Or, if there was support, it was half assed and did not enhance the play experience at all. The WiiU is a failure because no one ever figured out how to use its central gimmick, and, naturally, the public followed suit and didn’t buy the device, metaphorically and literally.

First of all, bull$!&#, because a good game no more needs a system’s gimmick than Super Mario Galaxy needed Fluzzard. If the games are good and plentiful, people buy the system, same as it’s ever been.

But more importantly, here’s a fun fact, no game developer has ever understood Nintendo innovations.

Look at the Wii. How many third party games effectively used the WiiMote? And how many third party games just implemented some useless “waggle” function? Do you think Castlevania Judgment was released on the Wii because that was the only system that could support the raw masculinity of Grant Danasty? Or was it because the Wii was the bestselling system of the generation, so, ya know, install base? I’ve said it before, but even Nintendo was incapable of surpassing the promise of its flagship system’s launch game, so what hope did everyone else have? You can only masturbate Travis Touchdown so many times before you realize that something has gone terribly wrong.

But the Wii still sold like solid gold cocaine at a Billionaires Anonymous meeting, so nobody had to sit in their thinking chair and figure out how to make this gimmick “work”.

Similarly, there’s the N64. I can hear some of you young’uns now, throwing up your newfangled cellular telephones in anguish and asking, “What gimmick? The N64 had no gimmick!” And to that I Lickaphobiaanswer with the age old adage, “Yesterday’s innovation is today’s standard, and get off my lawn.” The analog stick was once all new and all different. The N64’s analog stick was an invention that had previously only been seen in novelties that were as limited as light guns and dance pads. Yes, the Atari had its big ol’ control stick, but it had been a decade since anyone saw that as standard. The Sega Saturn would try its hand at the analog game shortly after the N64, but even there, it was only intended for one (albeit very good) game. The analog stick would eventually become as standard for every system as the cross pad before it, but, when it was released, the N64’s controller was a new paradigm.

And developers… don’t tend to deal well with “different”. A number of N64 games ignored the control stick’s advantages (Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and Mischief Makers spring immediately to mind), or simply used it as if it were last generation’s crosspad. Yes, games that were biting on Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time used the analog stick to the fullest… but is it that hard to figure out how to use a “gimmick” when you’re stealing from the best?

One could probably claim that Chameleon Twist is yet another third party N64 game aping Mario 64. You’ve got your choice of four differently colored (but exactly the same) cartoon mascot creatures (Davy, Jack, Fred, and Linda… Linda is the girl!) exploring a fantastical polygonal 3-D world that also seems to be home to a number of deadly whatsits, like porcupines, spiders, and man eating chipwiches. Run, jump, and use your chameleon’s natural acrobatic prowess to conquer the worlds and escape this fairytale universe.

But Chameleon Twist has one gimmick all its own, and it’s right there in the title. Your chameleon of choice has a long, sticky tongue that has completely absurd reach and strength. Open that lizard maw, and out extends an organ that, depending on the size of the level, can reach from one end of the screen to the other. But this tongue isn’t just there to depress the KISS ArmyPainful, no, your chameleon can use that tongue for the most obvious reason (in a video game, anyway): to gobble up items and enemies. Or use it for more amazing feats, like dragging Davy and his friends across wide gaps and into conveniently placed wooden stakes. But wait, there’s more! You can even swing around these poles by your tongue, like some kind of licking-based Matterhorn. And, if all else fails, there’s always the option to shoot that tongue straight down, and taste the ground as a pole-vaulter. Who knew so much was possible when you have a tongue that’s ten times the length of your body?

Of course, all of these moves are nowhere near unique. Yoshi, for instance, has been licking up enemies since the 16-bit days, and, while the use of a tongue might be a little distinctive, all the lassoing style abilities have been performed with a length of rope by other video game protagonists, generally stiff Belmonts included. But what’s different here is how the tongue “controls”. From the moment you hit the… tongue button, you have 100% control over the direction and extension of that chameleon tongue. What’s more, thanks to the N64 analog stick, that tongue controls smooth as silk, so, if you can master walking, you can perform complicated tongue maneuvers (lickneuvers?). Sure, you could probably try to make a similar game on a system with a crosspad, but it just wouldn’t feel right. Tongues aren’t meant for sharp angles; they are meant to twist.

So what can we learn from Chameleon Twist? Well, I suppose the most obvious answer is that it doesn’t take Nintendo or an AAA studio to produce a game that So latecan properly utilize Nintendo’s latest gimmick hardware. Chameleon Twist isn’t an amazing game by any means, but it feels right, and I can’t imagine it on any other system from its parent era. In time, the analog stick would become standard across all systems, but Chameleon Twist was bold enough to find a use for it well before it was a part of every wireless controller. In its epoch, CT was a rare spin on a gimmick, and it licked the competition.

So when the Nintendo NX hits, I guess we should call Sunsoft. Maybe they’ll come up with a game that will give the new hardware an interesting… twist.

FGC #121 Chameleon Twist

  • System: N64. It seems like every time I type that, it’s after an article that mostly talks about the N64 hardware. I guess it was a pretty distinctive system.
  • Number of players: Four, actually, because there’s a Versus Mode that allows everyone to play, basically, king of the hill. It’s… weird, but not completely unwelcome. Between the multiplayer mode, polygonal graphics, and analog control, Sunsoft was really playing to the N64’s strengths.
  • Liking Sunsoft now? Well, they were responsible for Blaster Master and Waku Waku 7, two of my favorite games at random points in my existence. They were also responsible for Fester’s Quest and Aero the Acro-Bat, though. At least their games were generally… eclectic.
  • I will call you ChipFor the sequel: Chameleon Twist was continued in Chameleon Twist 2, which featured practically the same plot, but slightly modified chameleons. I find it odd that this game was enough of a hit to warrant a sequel, but it’s not like the N64 had a wealth of options…
  • An End: The Western release of Chameleon Twist doesn’t really have an ending, aside from the fact that your chameleon is just trying to get home, and I guess the credits are supposed to imply that happened. The Japanese release, though, involves an “epic” exploding final boss, and a triumphant escape sequence. Good thing Youtube came along a decade later to fill us in on that amazing revelation.
  • Did you know? It sounds like some playground rumor, but if you beat the game once, there will be a star on your title screen. That star goes away if you play the game again and get hit by anything. However, if you beat the game again without ever taking damage, a secret code will be displayed on the title screen. This code… does nothing. Seriously. People are still trying to figure it out.
  • Would I play again: It’s a neat N64 game… but it’s still an N64 game. Man, that system has some ugly graphics. Pass.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Bravely Default for the 3DS! It might have a stupid name, but it’s not a stupid game. Please look forward to it!