Tag Archives: n-gage

Xenogears 15: People and Power

Let's go, ratToday we will (rapidly) examine people who came from nothing, but eventually obtained -the power-.

First, we have Hammer. While Hammer was friendly with one future god-slayer and one future popette, it is hard to say Hammer was ever a good person. He did good things, and he did help people in the prison of Kislev District D, but he was also an arms smuggler, which is decidedly not the most altruistic of vocations. Then, when the chips were down, he was easily coerced into threatening an innocent(ish) woman’s family. He failed at that (while incidentally killing the future holy mother’s mother), and was then rebuilt as a weaponized robot rat. Unfortunately, even with this power at hand, he still attacked his old comrades. And, when he had been summarily defeated, he found that his new masters had boobytrapped his body, and he was rigged to explode. While his former compatriots were able to escape, Hammer died bursting with agony in a pit in some forgotten cave. He came from nothing, gained -the power-, used it for selfish ends, and returned to nothing.

And on the subject of Hammer’s homicidal superiors, we have Ramsus. Ramsus was born to be something more, but was treated like trash since the womb(/tube). He worked his way up to a standing of some nobility, but then had a win-loss record of 60-1 for a solid six years with a “trash” martial artist (that would have rather been a painter anyway). As a result, despite clearly proving he has -the power- (just not all -the power-) Ramsus was convinced he was a loser, and would literally do anything to demonstrate he was something more. In a mad attempt to get the attention of his rival, he endangered an entire town of people, and even threatened to crush their holy mother (who, admittedly, was his hated opponent’s girlfriend). When that proved to be so pointless that it was barely worth mentioning, he then moved on to killing the Emperor of Solaris. And, yes, Solaris was mostly a smoking crater at this point, and it was hard to say what Emperor Cain was even ruling, but still. It was not a nice thing to do, and only served the purpose of further endangering the like sixty people that could be defined as humans at this point. Ramsus, like Hammer, used -the power- only to help himself, and even failed at that.

This is grand funBut this world is not so dark that you cannot see the light. Ramsus had a group of subordinates known as The Elements. Dominia Yizkor, Seraphita, Tolone, and Kelvena were all considered to be have-nots, as they all had disadvantages such as random etheric disabilities, cybernetic parts, or elf ears. However, they pooled their abilities to become a force that could threaten -the power-, and literally combined their strengths into a gigantic robot. And, like Hammer or Ramsus, they initially used this force to bully those that they blamed for their difficult lives. But after speaking to the woman that would shortly thereafter be manhandled by a raging Ramsus, they decided to use their vigor not for selfish reasons, but to help the man that had raised them up to -the power- in the first place. And, while this change of heart was partially facilitated by being beaten bloody by a team of giant robots (two of them piloted by former Elements that now had better jobs), everyone else mentioned at this point were defeated by Gears and still didn’t learn their lesson.

So use -the power- for good. And if you cannot bring yourself to do that, maybe use your own power to find something good. It will reduce the odds of self-exploding.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 15

Original Stream Night: May 18, 2021
Night of the Frontier of Sagas

Random Stream Notes

  • Never call me Microsoft Bob. Welcome back to Xenogears with BEAT, fanboymaster, and Jeanie.
  • And Caliscrub arrives as we are discussing super exciting spelling bees.
  • Do we have a tally of how many times we talk about Final Fantasy 7 on this stream? Let’s discuss concepts for Vincent Valentine.
  • The N-Gage is gross, but Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2’s team getting recycled in “Triple-A development” is grosser.
  • As the Elements appear, BEAT reveals he did not know the Sailor Moon cast was related to particular elements. How do you miss that?! You are experienced in JRPGs, man!
  • And then I lose power! In real life! What the heck!?
  • Who would even make this?Seeing the Playstation 3 boot screen may have been when we officially decided to play all the Mega Man Legends titles. That’s some more Even Worse trivia for you!
  • We’re back to playing the exact same thing! And talking about how Metallica proved they were squares.
  • We need more JRPG bosses like the Turks who will give up immediately.
  • And the Elements combine! Woo!
  • This was the first I heard of Voltron not being notable in Japan. It broke my heart.
  • Joe & Mac is announced on virtual console with Spanky’s Quest! Best stream ever!
  • We talk about Skies of Arcadia a lot on this stream, so let’s remember the dearly departed noises of a grinding Dreamcast as we hit our second dungeon.
  • “There are plenty of people that are just jackasses.”
  • All the puzzles ever intended for Xenogears wound up in one dungeon, and now we have to deal with that.
  • Let us all lament the loss of Hammer, the one character we unanimously liked.
  • Cain is dead. “Do we ever get an explanation for what is going on in that room?” “No.”
  • That's grossWould you take the Pope with you to fight street toughs? Would you have sex if a mascot monster told you to?
  • Yes, it was Ashley in Wild Arms 2 that got his Playstation 1 mack on, too.
  • We’re finally back at the Eldridge! From the intro! It would have been a nice dungeon! But we don’t have time for that now! Let’s take a break.

Next time on Xenogears: We kill God, and then get to some actually important stuff.

Enjoy yourself, kids
Chicka wow wow

FGC #219 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Here come the X-DorksThere has been an evolution in established property licensed games over the console generations.

In the beginning, the best we could hope for from the genre was a “random adventure” that did its best to get the character out the door and into your gaming console. Wolverine fought Magneto for some reason, Fester had his quest, and Batman generically battled Firefly. I’m not sure if it was the belief that videogames were a fad (so get your licensed property to generate some quick cash while you can), or simply that nobody had any idea what they were doing (Superman likes the Statue of Liberty, right?), but, ultimately, most licensed games of the NES era were fairly lacking in anything but “now you get to control a real life superhero (or Fester)”.

By the 16-bit era, we were at least getting plots that seemed more “built” for videogames. Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge is a terrible game, but its “Arcade built a brand new Murderworld” story adapts instantly to the eclectic stages you usually see in a SNES game. Similarly, X-Men for the Sega Genesis and its “malfunctioning Danger Room” allows for all sorts of interesting vistas from X-Men history, and also leaves room for a “real” plot (and some really confused X-Men). This was also the era that started to adapt current stories, so we saw a Justice League fighting game featuring exclusively Grant Morrison’s JLA, and The Death and Return of Superman: The Game. You too can finally play as an alien that is completely doomed!

WeeeeeThe Playstation hosted a fair few “random” licensed games (Spider-Man springs immediately to mind, and that Star Wars fighting game? Yeesh), but things were already starting to go in the direction of licensed games endorsing “something” in addition to just the featured licensed character. For instance, it’s often overlooked that the atrocious Superman 64 is based on Superman: The Animated Series. I suppose monolithic companies finally acknowledged that videogames were here to stay, and, if you’ve got a property to advertise, why not use videogames to do it? Why simply promote Spider-Man when you can promote Spider-Man: The Movie, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, or Spider-Man: Whatever Stupid Thing We’re Doing in the Comics This Week? Who knew Maximum Carnage was such a trendsetter?

This brings us to today’s featured game, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse. XML2RoA is yet another X-Men videogame, and, at first blush, it appears to be another “random” X-Men adventure. This time, mutant maniac Apocalypse is trying to take over the world (well, he’s always trying to take over the world, just it’s not somebody else trying this week), and the X-Men and The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants must team up to put a stop to Apocalypse’s plan to steal the mutant powers of Jubilee or whatever the hell is going on. The main appeal of the game is that you may now play as a great many villains as well as the heroes, so Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey can fight alongside Magneto, Juggernaut, and Gambit (okay, he’s not a bad guy, but he is a bad guy). This is all pretty basic “X-Men stuff”, and, come to think of it, it wasn’t even the first time most of this roster had come together in one game (and where’s the petition to get Bishop in Marvel vs. Capcom?).

But the Nightcrawler’s in the details, so let’s look at the blatant “signs of the times” in this X-Men licensed game.

Ultimate X-Men

NerdsThis is probably the most anachronistic item for any modern X-Fan to see in this PS2/Xbox/Gamecube title. While it’s not as “in your face” as some of their appearances, it’s pretty clear that Marvel’s Ultimate X-Men are the featured heroes (and villains) of the game. Okay, I suppose there’s a lot of “original” (Uncanny?) X-Men DNA in the story, too, but that mainly seems to serve as an excuse to get some old school villains to plump up the boss roster. Everything else: the costumes, characterizations, and character’s general ages all seem to point to “this is the Marvel Ultimate Universe”.

This makes a lot of sense, as, at the time, Marvel was trying very hard to promote its new “Ultimate” line of comics, a shared universe where all the superheroes were “new”, and nobody was bogged down with a collective forty years of continuity. It was a good idea! Nobody wants to read another story where they have to be reminded Black Tom ever existed, so let’s reduce the Juggernaut that palled around with Dazzler for some reason back to his basic, “nothing stops the Juggernaut” form. The Ultimate Universe was a good idea, and we should be happy to see it immortalized here.

Because it ain’t around no more.

Marvel should have seen this coming: The Ultimate Universe was great at its outset because it wasn’t drowning in the continuity that had existed before most of the audience was born. But that didn’t last, because modern comics gather continuity snarls like Final Fantasy heroes horde megalixers. In no time at all, the Ultimate X-Men became an endless knot of nonsense where Cable was somehow Wolverine (but from the future), Beast had died and come back and died again, and Colossus was on drugs because his skin was too heavy. Also, an X-Man had cybersex with The Blob. You don’t come back from that.

So the Ultimate Marvel Universe had… I want to say there were three apocalypses. The first one was pretty floody and bloody, then Super Galactus ate New Jersey, and then the Ultimate Universe smashed into the Regular Universe. The Regular (616, nerds) Universe had better sales, so Ultimate ejected its Spider-Man and called it a day. No more Ultimate X-Men.

So it’s funny to be reminded they existed at all in this lil’ Marvel time capsule. Speaking of which…

Age of Apocalypse

Check out the tongue“Age of Apocalypse” was a 1995 X-Men Crossover “Summer Event”. The basic concept was that Professor X had been accidently murdered by a time traveler, and, whoops, that time traveler was his kid, so paradox time, son. The Marvel Timeline convulsed and reconfigured itself until a new universe was born where Apocalypse ruled the world, the X-Men were led by Magneto, and Cyclops was actually pretty cool (and appropriately named). This crossover only lasted a few months, but it left an indelible mark on the X-Men for years, as readers just plain liked a story where half the heroes were villains and pretty much everybody died. Jamie Madrox died like a hundred times!

So Marvel, never one to let a success rest, went back to that well again and again, usually reviving the Apocalypse universe (kinda literally) every two or three years or so. There was the time that AoA turned out to be bright and sunny outside of Apocalypse’s rule, there was the time it was so crappy that someone ate a baby, and there was an entire miniseries where all the mutants were humans and I think top hats could eat people or something. None of these revivals ever seemed to stick around for longer than a few issues, but why not try to milk a little more cash out of that one successful crossover from twenty years ago?

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse isn’t a straight retelling of Age of Apocalypse by any means, but it is the annual excuse to use all your favorite AoA characters (like Sugarman! Everybody loves Sugarman!), and even pigeonhole a few good guys into their AoA bad guy roles (Hey, Beast, you’re evil now, don’t ask why). It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty clear that Marvel used this game as a way to remind everyone of that one thing they liked that one time. Kills time before releasing the movie a decade later.

And speaking of movies…

Special Guests: Deadpool and Iron Man (before they were famous)

Big scary dudeXML2:RoA was released three years before Iron Man, the movie that officially launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s possible that Iron Man was included in this game with that event in mind… but it was probably just an excuse to promote Marvel Ultimate Alliance (coming soon!). Iron Man winds up as a “hidden character” that must be unlocked through random scavenger hunt nonsense. I guess that’s appropriate, it’s not like he’s a mutant (most of the time). Similarly, Deadpool is unlocked after completing the game, and… yeah. Can you imagine saving Deadpool for a “hidden character” slot in today’s environment? He’s had more games than Cyclops at this point! And there was the best superhero movie of 2016 somewhere in there, too. You can’t stop the ‘pool!

But here are Iron Man and Deadpool, slumming it in the reserve section so you can play as such amazing X-stars as Sunfire, X-Man (PSP only, to be fair), and friggen Toad. Yes, I know Toad was in the X-Men movie of 2000, but he was also involved in the single worst line-read in cinema history, so I don’t think he should be involved in anything. Get Deadpool back in there! He has teleporting powers for some reason! Bodyslide by fun!

Let’s punch dinosaurs in the Savage Land

Oh, that’s perennial. Licensed games or no, some things are always going to be entertaining.

FGC #219 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

  • System: Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, PSP, and… N-Gage? Seriously? Okay. For the purpose of this review (“review”), I played the Gamecube version, which I bought initially because…
  • Number of players: Four! This game is basically Gauntlet with X-Men, and that’s a thing I never knew I needed so badly before X-Men Legends (1).
  • Think about itSo, got played a lot? So much. Everything is unlocked, and I think most of the characters are at some “max level” stats. This is mainly because my friends and I played this almost as much as Smash Bros (this is a lie, but the hyperbole rings true), and good times were had by all. Just watch it when someone chooses Nightcrawler while cackling loudly (full disclosure: I am that someone).
  • Favorite Character: I liked Deadpool before he was cool, dammit. Also, quick-run Professor Xavier is hilarious. Of the characters that are more easily available, I guess Juggernaut saw a lot of play, but that’s mainly thanks to a residual love for Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
  • Port-o-Call: The PSP version contained extra characters, like Cable, but made multiplayer more of a bear, so screw that noise. The PC version also included Pyro and Sabertooth… so I couldn’t care less. There was also a phone-based version of the game that was a beat ‘em up. That actually sounds like it might be interesting.
  • Did you know? The Age of Apocalypse version of Sunfire’s “costume” is still the best thing that ever happened to that character.
  • Would I play again? I have a lot of affection for this game, but, man is it rough to come back to after a decade of gaming innovations. I can barely read the HUD! Love ya, XML2:RoA, but I’ve got some modern X-ventures to play.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man X2! Or maybe he didn’t choose it, and I’m on a run of X-Mas games. Who can say? Anyway, please look forward to it!

AHH

FGC #079 Bomberman & Super Bomberman

KABLAMMOI’ve heard it said some sitcoms that are considered absolute classics would not have survived if they were released today. Cheers and Seinfeld spring immediately to mind, and the basic issue is that both shows had horrible initial ratings, and only ascended to the heavens after good word of mouth and critical praise had circulated for years. Nowadays, any show that performed that poorly on a major network would be terminated well before it had the time to grow to define language for a generation. Think of all the poor catchphrases killed before their time on modern television!

Personally, I don’t buy it, because the lifetime of a certain television show seems just as capricious and random as the lives of the humans that make them. Terriers was poorly rated and cancelled after about ten minutes, while Community never had more than twelve viewers, but somehow lasted through multiple seasons and networks. The axe was always hanging there, ready to chop Winger into nothingness, but it didn’t fall until the show finally (apparently) bankrupt an entire streaming platform. Whoops. I was really looking forward to the next season of Other Space, too.

All this isn’t to say that potentially world-changing shows aren’t cancelled before their time, because they certainly are, but in the same manner that we cannot experience a world where Hitler died in the womb, we have no idea what a world where Cheers debuted in 2015 would even look like. It’s easy to claim something like Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 could have been the next Seinfeld if given proper promotion and “a chance”, but we could also claim that we’d be experiencing world peace right now if only Friends hadn’t dominated the airwaves for so long. Ross and Rachel doomed us all.

And all this is preamble to the simple fact that had I owned Bomberman for the NES, I would have missed one of the best experiences on the SNES.

Bomberman is a Bomberman game: you’re the titular Bomberman in a Zelda-esque overhead world that requires a lot of destruction. There are blocks scattered about, and, while half those blocks are invincible, the other half will instantly vaporize in the face of your infinite supply of explosives. Blow up blocks, find powerups, and, It's a real blastwhen you’re ready, you can assault the army of monsters floating about. Your enemies, obviously, are a bit more mobile than the inanimate blocks, so you’ll have to use your wits and cunning to lure and snare your prey behind your pulsating payloads, and detonate at just the right moment to win the day. Immolate all the foes on a stage, and a door opens to the next stage, where you can do it all over again. But be careful! You’re just as vulnerable to your bomb blasts as anybody, and a novice player is likely to trap poor Bomberman on the wrong side of a bomb. Batman would not be proud.

Unfortunately, there’s about five levels of gameplay in a fifty level game, and, man, it gets old fast. There is no level variety, whether it be aesthetically or gameplay-wise, and, should you want to see Bomberman complete his quest, you’ll be trudging through level after level of mediocrity. I’m not one for disparaging a game for being too long (after all, everyone has different needs for entertainment: nowadays, I love a game that’s over within a Saturday afternoon, but when I was in junior high, I would have killed for one of those modern 120 hour JRPGS… because I only got a new game once every few months, compared to my contemporary gaming gluttony) but this is the Hanukkah of the NES: there was only enough game for ten levels, max, but they made it last for fifty! Mazel tov! Considering this game was on the same system as NOT FUNDonkey Kong, I don’t think anyone would have complained about the ol’ “infinite loop with faster monsters” trick. Fifty levels of staring at the exact same thing… geez, it’s a wonder Bomberman isn’t burned into more ancient television screens.

Now, as with any video game, there’s nothing saying you have to complete the game. It is a perfectly valid lifestyle choice to play a tenth of any given game, acknowledge that you’ve had fun with what’s there, but it’s getting repetitive, so time to move on, and call it a day. If you’re reading this, and can do that, great, I envy you, because me? I’m going to beat every last level, as I know no other way. Bomberman needs to escape his underground maze of homicidal balloons (or something), if I sit here doing nothing, knowing that the poor Bomberman is trapped down there, if I can do that, who am I? I’m Hitler, that’s who. I don’t want to be Hitler! I don’t even understand German!

So I can safely say that, had I owned or even played Bomberman as a child, I would have hated it, and remembered it as “fondly” as Friday the 13th or Beetlejuice (the NES game, to be clear, let us never disparage a Tim Burton movie). Granted, it’s not nearly as bad as those clunkers (and, yes, I’m aware there are people that probably enjoy both of those games, and I encourage you to report said people to the authorities), but its mind-numbing repetitiveness is something I would ever want to revisit, so I would have ignored any and all sequels advertising the Bomberman name.

Which would have been an absolute shame.

The NES will forever be one of my favorite systems, but it was also at its peak when I saw still young enough that the majority of my friends were the result of prearranged “play dates” (sidenote: I hate that phrase. I hate that phrase so much). As a result, I can’t say how many of my friends at the time were more or less putting up with watching me play Gradius while they waited to go out in the yard and play football (and here’s a shocker: I’m not a big fan of sports… or outside activities… or the sun). It wasn’t until around the rise of the Super Nintendo that I acquired friends that were friends not because they happened to live near me or our parents had Just trying to farm here, guyscomplimentary work schedules, but because we actually shared similar interests, like, say, video games. We were all playing video games because we genuinely enjoyed them, and, yes, it may have skewed our worldviews (the “minority kid” was the one that owned a Sega Genesis… that was how we learned tolerance), but we were having fun, and that’s an important thing to have in a childhood.

Given my childhood was framed by the SNES, you can probably guess a number of the games involved. Super Metroid was one player, but we all played it, and discussed the possible secrets and passages over many a recess (even though we eventually needed a guide to shatter that damn glass passage). Street Fighter 2 was burned into our brains (I think I still reflexively enter the mirror match code at the chime of the SNES Capcom logo), and Mortal Kombat (and more, MKII) was our contraband that we played whenever the parents weren’t watching (even if they were the only way we got the game in the first place). There were even a few licensed games spread around in there, like The Ren & Stimpy Show: Veediots, which, yeah, we were like ten, okay? Mistakes were made.

However, one game became the best “party game” before any of us even knew you could have a party outside of your birthday. Super Bomberman was pretty much a complete surprise for everybody: I asked for the game for Christmas almost exclusively for the Super Multitap, a bundled device that allowed for up to five players on the SNES… and, more importantly, a way to play the upcoming Secret of Mana with three players. Super Bomberman looked fun, though, and I did enjoy the bubblegum aesthetic of the main game, so I decided to give it a go with one of my friends. And we both So much betterhad an absolute blast, which led to an almost pathological need to get a “full” four player game going, and, from there, do that every damn day.

In truth, Super Bomberman probably only “lasted” for a year, but in kid time, it was eons. I even played through the one player mode a number of times, because I had to do something to hone my skills for the inevitable weekend bombing raids. It’s rather… confusing to play the game now, as the average versus match lasts approximately thirty seconds, and I remember doing that over and over again when I had three other preteens on my couch. And everybody said we had short attention spans…

And I know that, as much fun as Super Bomberman was and forever will be, I never would have touched it had I slogged through Bomberman a few years before. The difference between the two games is night and day, and while it would be simple to claim a similar transition occurred between Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros 3, Castlevania and Castlevania 3, or Mega Man and Mega Man… 2, I’d argue that the more apt comparison would be between the typewriter and the personal computer: they both have a keyboard, they both kinda do the same thing, but one grants you unlimited access to the whole of human knowledge, while the other requires whiteout.

Bomberman is the coal, Super Bomberman is the diamond, and I’m glad time (or Superman) applied enough pressure to make that glittering beauty. I’m just glad I never got the black stuff on my hands.

FGC #79 Bomberman & Super Bomberman

  • System: NES for Bomberman, SNES for Super Bomberman. NES Bomberman has also seen a number of rereleases on a parade of systems, including the N-Gage, which, I believe, technically, makes this the first N-Gage game I’ve touched. Way to represent a winning system, Bomberman.
  • Number of Players: One sad, sad Bomberman for Bomberman, but a dazzling assembly of four for Super Bomberman. It was the SNES game that defined four players, and I’m glad that number of controllers became standard with the following console generation.
  • Win/Loss Record: Just to be clear, I wasn’t the undisputed king of Super Bomberman, and I had my share of losses in versus mode to rival my victories. I’ve never been one to feel any need to “dominate” my friends, even if I am usually the host for such events. Video games taught me good sportsmanship… or at least not to wallow in my defeats.
  • The End of Bomberman: So the ending of Bomberman sees Bomberman graduate to… Lode Runner?
    Happy End?

    What the hell?

  • The Real End of Bomberman: I feel like the fall of 2-D spritework and “couch multiplayer” hit Bomberman the hardest. Ol’ Bomber White was so perfectly calibrated to one screen and players that had no problem seeing everybody else (but still cleverly boxed into little screen compartments to start every match) that the innovation of split screens and giant 3-D environments in multiplayer games was almost completely antithetical to the Bomberman experience… that foolishly decided to ape all the popular games. That is not their namesBomberman, we loved you just as you were, you never needed to change.
  • Artsplosion: I also feel like part of the appeal of Bomberman was how easy he was to draw. Okay, that might have been just me, but I know Bomberman hung out in the margins of my notes straight through to college. See also: Kirby, Thwomps.
  • Did you know? I only used the diamond metaphor earlier because it sounded classy, but apparently the evil final boss of Super Bomberman is named Carat Diamond, and his evil metropolis is Diamond City. I’m not sure if that information burrowed into my subconscious, or if it’s a random coincidence. Oh, and the other villain of the game is Dr. Mook. That sounds reeeeal threatening.
  • Would I play again: I tried to get some Super Bomberman LAN parties going a couple years ago… but it just wasn’t the same. I suppose we all grow up, and some games simply remain inextricably a part of childhood, never to return to their former prominence. But I’m not lamenting NES Bomberman at all, that game is terrible.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to enjoy Christmas Break. FGC returns on January 11th with… Zool 2 for the Atari Jaguar? Really, ROB? Wow, not going to miss you for the next couple weeks.

In the meanwhile… Friday, aka Christmas (you might have heard of it), I’ll be tackling my favorite (video game related) Christmas Special. Then next week, I’ll be posting a special series on a group of games that have earned special titles… but to find out exactly what I’m talking about, you’ll have to check back on Monday. So, yes, Gogglebob.com will be updating for the holidays… we’re just letting that lazy robot take a few days off. Please look forward to it!

VICTORY!