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Old 01-16-2003, 12:10 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Street Fighter 3 ~ Third Strike - Dreamcast - 8
Not since Street Fighter Alpha 2 have I been so immersed into a SF title as this. Everything tried and true from past incarnations is in one way or another represented in this work. God, why does Capcom have to rule so much?
The fighting system has been given a slight overhaul from the other SF3 titles, and there's no more zooming in and out of the screen. As usual, Capcom has done a fine job of creating a polished, well-balanced fighter that is worthy of the SF name. The graphics are tremendously well done for any 2D game, although Guilty Gear titles have clearer characters due to higher resolution. The music and sound work together well too, though you may think the songs in SF2 were more memorable. There are some very memorable pieces here, and just in case you're wondering, yes, this follows the typically classic Capcom forumla of endearing songwriting and composing, if a bit too cliche in parts.
If you are as fortunate as I am you've opened up all 9 pages in System Direction, allowing you to customize the game to fit your every need. All in all, a wonderful fighting game that rewards skill by allowing more experienced players to slam down the less experienced. The only issues are that Q can do way too much damage and absorb so much that it's almost absurd, and, although Akuma can't take as much punishment as somebody like Alex, he can finish virtually anybody in just 2 good combos + a special move or so, making him a powerhouse. Oh, and Gill is the epitomy of cheapness as usual. Plus, some characters now share backgrounds, which is a downgrade from other SF titles. Still, you're getting your money's worth with SF3 ~ Third Strike.

Hey Capcom, what's taking you so long counting to four!?

What can I say?

Final Fantasy X - PS2 - Rating 0
All I can say is what a letdown! Square almost completely disregarded much of what made the series so special to begin with by abandoning the freedom of exploration and all of its merits, and indulging into crappy dialogues, boring plot (attempts), and lack of individuality between characters. You can basically customize them all to play exactly the same, thus defeating all necessity for any one particular character aside from only one, Yuna, because she can summon a full army of 12 or something summons (give me a break) and that's about as close as you're going to get to individuality.
There are many other problems too. Tidus, Wakka and Riku walk around in futuristic-wannabe hip teen clothing which comes off as repulsive in every way, and there's the fact that Auron is a blatant rip-off of a certain character from another game (I'll let you figure it out). Oh, and Tidus is basically a Disney-esque stupid version of Cloud who isn't anything worth note himself. Kimahri Ronso is Chewbaka from Star Wars after he has shaved, pulled an MJ and colored himself blue, uses a spear and now he can talk (though he doesn't talk much anyway, which might actually be a good thing). To Square's credit, Lulu is unique in her own way and Yuna isn't dressed like utter crap (that is until her starring role in FFX-2; another attempt to cash in).
The game plays like any other Final Fantasy, only now you can, throughout most of the game, keep changing characters mid-battle. Whooptie-do! Plus, after battle you'll go to the *new* sphere grid, a good concept gone awry because now every character can be customized to be virtually the same. Whatever happened to 'individuality'? The game plays like any other FF title minus the free roaming overworld, the cool sidequests of yesterday and now the gamer doesn't need to make any decisions since the entire game is linear and the game basically tells you what to do (a one-track mind). This is Final Fantasy, dumbed down. And, hence, so is the gamer. So much for inciting people to actually THINK about things, stimulate a more inquisitive nature in the gamer and to do and make decisions carefully. How sad... Final Fantasy for the mass market. This is the result of Final Fantasy 7's success. It made Square in general decide to become mass-market and abandon any complicating matters so that they wouldn't discourage the average gamer from getting into an RPG.

The strange thing is Final Fantasy VII is such a great RPG, so why deteriorate?

I must mention the music. What has happened? Seriously. Nobuo Uematsu has gone bad ever since part 7 and it shows. If you combined all the good songs from 8 through 10 you'd only have a small handful of memorable songs and all the rest would be horrid MIDI crap, baaad rock/grunge wannabe-sounding stuff, and now we get 'treated' to horrid j-pop. Jeez. Did Nobuo lose interest in good song/melody-construction and arranging and forsake that for trying to be too ambitious or something?

Somebody help me out because I just can't get a clue...

The enemies and bosses are usually well-designed and animated, to Square's credit. However, what a foolish mistake to make a last boss that cannot defeat your party. Speaking of the last boss, what sheer lameness was that! I won't describe it because, after all, this is supposed to be a review and not a spoiler. I will say this much -- the ending made about as much sense as the game: None whatsoever.
Here's what I'll think about whenever I remember playing FFX:
"But dad! I want to play Blitzball!"
"Crybaby! Cry Crybaby!"
"But dad! I want to be a famous Blitzball player!"
"Stupid boy, you'll never be able to play Blitzball because you SUCK."
"But DAD!"
(young hooded child appears in 4 corners of the screen) "It begins... don't cry."
YEAH!!!! What plot!!!! Good thing it wasn't Square who made Soul Calibur 2, otherwise I'd be reading all those posers saying "Cool! Cloud is a playable character!" Hey Square, you wanna abandon quality and pay off people with advertising revenue and other shady deals to give your games high ratings? Don't expect me to keep buying your games if you keep on sucking up to average consumers and abandon what made your previous games so wonderful. Bottom line: Final Fantasy X stole 35 hours of my life and I'll never get them back.
And oh yeah... what about my $50? What about the $100 for part 8 and 9? That's about $150 of my money wasted. I guess that's my fault, somewhat. Square raised my expectations with Final Fantasy VII and then destroyed my faith with these lackluster titles.

Perhaps the best Castlevania ever

Super Castlevania IV - SNES - Rating 10
This has to be the consummate action game. It's over a decade old, it's only 8-MEG (not even half the memory loaded into even the PS2's RAM at any given time!) and yet it's STILL far and away better than every other action game, save for a few which are close. Definitely superior to any 3D action game I've yet played. And I took it all for granted. Back then, who knew? We'd have thought that, given a decade from then, we would've already been blessed with many more superior Castlevania installments. Indeed, we got quite a treat with Castlevania ~ Symphony of the Night. Many feel that is the best in the series. However, in my opinion, even that game has to stand behind the might that is Castlevania IV.
I've played every Castlevania title there ever was, from the NES days to all the GameBoy titles and even the PC Engine Installment (which I own, fortunately), to all the newer ones. And none have done it quite like C4.
Where to start? Let's begin with the gameplay. Everything about the controls shines through in every aspect. From swinging from platform to platform, to fighting against hordes of baddies, the controls never come to falter. Controlling Belmont is simplified and yet has its intricacies which shine through in the layouts of the stages. The only complaint I have is that it's a little too easy.
The graphics, the overall look of the game really works well. Every stage is designed in a unique manner, and the enemies and bosses still are quite interesting to battle. It's apparent that Konami LOVES utilizing special effects --- rotatiing rooms, zooming bosses, transparencies, a 'room' where the walls are circling INTO the screen... all have a certain charm to them and helped make this title stand out at the time. The bosses are standard Konami quality; you know the deal.
The music is so well composed, so well done that even after all this time it astonishes me how to this day no other game soundtrack has been so well composed. Absolutely phenomenal, and not only does it fit the game perfectly, it stands alone as phenomenal music to give a listen to. Baroque, Classical and Romantic influences abound, all of which is extremely well-arranged and composed. I can't believe they fit this in along with the rest of the game, all at a staggeringly small 8-MEGS.
I just don't know where to criticize it. Perhaps it's a bit easy nowadays. Perhaps it's short by today's standards. However... since its time up to this very day no other action game, 2D or 3D, has equalled Castlevania IV. It's absolutely incredible and if you haven't played this game I just don't know what to say.
Games may get better graphics nowadays with these newer, more powerful consoles but great games never diminish. The reason this game gets a 10 is because to this day, aside from a select few (Strider, Contra 3, Gunstar Heroes), there hasn't been a game quite like it, and there hasn't been an action game (including on these new systems) as well done overall as Castlevania IV. It takes its place among the greatest achievements in gaming history.

Here's another review with screenshots from Nintendo Land ~

Time for another review! This time for the classic NES

Kung Fu - NES - Rating 6
Back around the time when NES and Sega Master System were released, there was an arcade released in 1984 by Irem that was so awesome to play, yet so damn hard that I couldn't get past the second stage. That game was Kung Fu.
Anyone who knows anything about NES has played Kung Fu. When it was first released for NES, I played it at least as much as Super Mario Brothers. To say that I love this game is an understatement; there hasn't been a game like it since. Sure, there may have been a thousand action/platformers with some martial artist protagonist, but this was (and is still) one of the most fun and challenging to play.
Controls are simple - you progress through the stages by punching and kicking all the bad guys that come rushing out, and almost all of them are Grippers; they try to kill you by what can only be described as some kind of hugging technique. And if you really get unlucky you'll wind up in a massive group-4 hug. Beware. The punching and kicking in this game has never been duplicated as well (far as I can tell) mainly because of how lightning quick all your attacks are, and all are accompanied by an all-too-familiar Bruce Lee-ish "A-TA!!!". There are 5 stages, each presenting its own problems in need of recitfication (particularly stages 2 - 4).
I must mention the bosses. They are a very diverse bunch with the magician at the end of stage 4 being the worst to deal with. All of them have a weakness towards one particular attack in general, and they have their own personal means of dishing out punishment. Where the game gets complicated is once you've beaten it a couple times or so because after you defeat Mr X at the end of Stage 5 you return to stage 1 all over again and this time the enemies are less-shy about running up and attacking you while you're trying to deal with the bosses and this can get frusturating. Add to this the fact that as you get further into it the knive-throwers all become Ted Williams and we've got a problem. I've made it to Dragon #5 (meaning I've beaten it 5 times in a row) and got wasted on, of all stages, the second (because of all those snakes! DAMN YOU ALL!!!).
And who can forget that one song that plays on every level.
All in all, this is still a fun game that will give you a hard time later on and challenge you to better your score. If you still own the instruction manual for the game it tells you how to get 5000 points from a normal enemy. But I recommend you focus on staying alive first and foremost.
Oh, and if you own a Turbo-Grafx (PC Engine) get Vigilante which was also made by Irem. That game is about as similar to Kung Fu as I have yet seen, though it's not quite as good.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 09-12-2005 at 10:17 AM.
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