Archive for the ‘Gamecube’ Category
This week Fred and Jam wrap up Majora’s Mask with the final two dungeons, the ending, and probably the biggest draw to the game, the side quests. It’s a lengthy discussion that goes down to the wire but definitely demonstrates a game that while not appreciated in its time but can have a second life now. Part 1 can be found here.
Riding the coat tales of the excellent Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which basically was another re-creation of the original formula that A Link to the Past had done before it only this time in 3D, it was going to be hard to top. Not only that, but there was a long four year development cycle for Ocarina and Nintendo wanted a follow-up done faster with a smaller team by re-using the engine and assets. It was determined that this could be accomplished by containing the whole game in a smaller world and on a game clock that would control the overall scope of the title regardless of what the player did. As a result, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask released in 2000, finished in less than half the time of Ocarina. Unfortunately it also garnered half as many sales (3.36 million compared to the 7+ million of Ocarina) and while critically praised, it didn’t seem to hold the attention of the many fans that wanted many of the series staples to remain intact. Majora’s Mask was recently re-released in 3D on the 3DS and it appears today’s audiences are treating one of the franchise’s few ugly ducklings with a bit more of an open mind. Is that love justified or are people just that desperate to get their hands on a unique Zelda title in hindsight?
The Legend of Zelda series has transcended time and now acts less as a genesis of the 80s and more as one of Nintendo’s long running trains through time. Like all trains, many have gotten on and gotten off over the decades and thus the original is no longer that paramount flagship title that gave way to action RPGs that it used to be. In fact, these days I can’t imagine how one not familiar with the game could get started without a guide. Where would you go? What would you do? How long until you eventually enter the first dungeon that read “level one” and would you know that it means first dungeon instead of top level of the dungeon? On the other hand there are that other half of the gaming populous that is acutely familiar with all of the intricacies of what was our first true digital adventure. I myself know exactly where every dungeon is (on the second quest too), know exactly where to bomb a wall or burn a bush, and could navigate the lost woods with my eyes closed. That’s because I’ve done it so many times that the very movements of my average run are more muscle memory than anything else. It was one of the first games I played and one of the best.
Switching It Up
A lot happened both in the talent pool of Mortal Kombat players and in the game design overall between the release of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3). For starters there was a mass exodus of on screen talent due to royalty disputes, so almost no one from the original two games returned for the third release. In addition, Boon and his team were trying to turn Mortal Kombat into a viable fighting game with things no one had ever seen before and mechanics that could compete with the massive rush of fighters in arcades. The game was completely Americanized, with all hints of Eastern influence including symbols, locales, and the soundtrack completely absent without a trace and instead replaced by urban stages, 90s hip-hop soundtracks, and cyborgs replaced the signature ninjas. These locations were now composed of pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and the character sprites were almost totally digitized as opposed to the digitized/hand drawn hybrid of the previous games. Along with it came an overhaul of the controls, including combos and a “run” button to address rightful claims that defensive players ruled the previous title. It’s all one giant 90s metaphor but that doesn’t change the fact that MK3 (and it’s update Ultimate MK3 or UMK3) stands as the moment I felt the series went into the mainstream fighter territory. Couple this with the fact that it was on just about every console that existed at the time, still dominated arcades, and had more content than rival Street Fighter II could ever dream to do with its iterations and I see why it’s creator Ed Boon’s favorite. Mortal Kombat 3 definitely upped the ante.
Platform: Arcade, microcomputers, NES, Master System, Game Gear, SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, Xbox/Gamecube/PS2/PSP (part of Midway Treasures)
Digital Release? Yes, it had a digital release on XBLA (360) but was delisted in Feb. 2010
These days there is a good chance any gamer is familiar with the “twin stick shooter”, a concept where you move with the left stick and shoot with the right. Back in 1982 when fantastic game designer Eugene Jarvis premiered the concept in Robotron: 2084, it was unlike anything we had ever seen. The merits of that game, and what it brought to video games, cannot be denied and if you want an idea of how Robotron played you need look no further than recent neo-retro release Rock Boshers Dx. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in 1990’s fantastic Smash TV, that Jarvis along with a talented team at Williams created one of the most addicting arcade games from my youth. Set in the year 1999 – oh how we thought so much was going to change with the year 2000 back then – Smash TV has you and potentially one other person shooting it out in a room-to-room TV studio playing the most violent game show of all time (Running Man anyone?). It takes the building blocks of Robotron: 2084 and brings it into the nineties by giving you a second player, having you kill tons of humans instead of rescue them like in Robotron, and of course you’re doing it all for cash prizes to selfishly grow your wealth. I loved it then and I love it now.
Fred and Brian unbox a mystery Gamecube 10-pack that could have any game in it. Check out what they find. Fred also notes a handful of Game Gear games he picked up for coverage in the upcoming weeks.
Completing a longer game in a speedrun can be not only an accomplishment but also quite rewarding. In the case of Resident Evil, completing the game in a speedrun is literally built into the programming with the expectation that after you’ve explored the game a couple of times you will jump right into it. The recent Resident Evil HD Remaster came out and while I found the game quite difficult in my recent playthrough and it took me over 11 hours to complete, I dared leap into an under 3 hour speedrun (albeit with the gracious help of a guide from GameFAQs). I also decided to capture it and offer voiceover so that you can not only enjoy watching a speedrun, but see what is done and why to somewhat bend the timeline of the game to be as short as it is. I’ve embedded the first video below and you can see the entire playlist here.
Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review. It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games. Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now. Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.
Editor’s Note: Although I love classic games as much as the next guy, few games get to be restored as often as Resident Evil 4. Therefore, the recently released Ultimate HD Edition has the most cleaned up, 1080p native graphics to date and thanks to screenshot technology being what it is we were able to grab those assets directly from the game without any quality loss. We at GH101 have decided to feature screens from this version in the interest of clarity, despite the fact that they do not faithfully represent the graphical fidelity of the many previous versions. Hopefully purists will forgive us.
The Story of the Scrapped Versions
Whenever a game sits in development hell for too long, it has an adverse affect on everyone’s feelings for the game. The examples are too many to count but a couple quick mentions are the likes of Diakatana, Too Human, and of course Duke Nukem Forever. With a few exceptions, games that take too long to make can’t help but not live up to the hype and therefore disappoint an all-too-eager audience. One of these exceptions is Resident Evil 4. Originally announced in 1999, the concept was a Playstation 2 game with a brutally strong protagonist that was more action focused per the ongoing desires of Shinji Mikami (series creator that has been trying to go more action oriented since Resident Evil 2). This new iteration was appropriately tasked to Hideki Kamiya, notable for his director work on Resident Evil 2, and in connection with Noboru Sugimura, writer of Resident Evil 2. After a European trip that netted a Gothic art style and given the goals of the game it was decided that the camera would have to be dynamic and movable (much like Capcom had started in Dino Crisis) and thus ditch the traditional pre-rendered background in exchange for a fully rendered world. Much of the development style, tone, and even Kamiya’s direction involved a what was described as a “cool” world and eventually it got so far removed from the roots of both the survival horror genre and Resident Evil series and instead integrated demons and a new protagonist, Dante. A small fraction of the Capcom Production Studio 4, named Little Devils, converted this new concept with the juggling bug this team had seen in Onimusha: Warlords and eventually renamed the project to Devil May Cry in November 2000. While it spun off to a good game and an ongoing franchise that still lives today, Devil May Cry left Resident Evil 4 in a rut without a dev team (and some hardcore RE fans still refer to the game as Resident Evil 3.5 since the core concepts remained intact).
This week we are tackling quite possibly the two most popular titles of survival horror: Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill 2. Resident Evil 2 was scrapped only a few months before completion and completely redone, resulting in many of the staples that carried the franchise forward and stands as a fan favorite. Meanwhile Silent Hill 2 waited until the Playstation 2 hit the market and with one of the creepiest atmospheres of all times redefined what horror gaming could be. We openly discuss the notable aspects of both.