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Old 11-10-2004, 11:04 PM   #46
Vicviper
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Damn foo! You've only owned dat game for 24 hours or so and you've already beaten it?
You crazy! But I'm glad you like it and don't complain too much about the AGS version.
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Old 11-11-2004, 01:30 AM   #47
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Yeah well the game is pretty short because of the cartridge format. There are also multi-player modes that I didn't review that we'll have to try, but I did consider their existence in the final review score.
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Old 11-11-2004, 06:49 AM   #48
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Halo 2
7/10
Xbox


I opted for the unlimited edition of Halo 2.
The Limited Edition costs $5 more.
Why would I want limitations?


Ahhh, the looooong awaited Halo 2. Halo 2 has been more anticipated, talked about and hyped than the second coming of Christ. With 3 years in the making, it should be absolute perfection in every single way possible. How is it really? Read on.

Story: 6/10
I lost interest in the first Halo before I completed it, so I never saw the ending. I guess this one continues from that. A normal looking alien gets punished right in the beginning. I guess everything that happened in Halo 1 was his fault. But the story itself isn't tremendously involving or anything. There are twists and turns just like you'd expect (thus negating any intended "twist" since it was expected). This time around, everyone speaks English, even the aliens. I can't recall, but I don't think the aliens spoke English in the first game. Regardless, most of their comments are just exhibition of 'tude, especially coming from the Marines. "You're even shorter than I am!". Nothing but elitism. Oh well. None of the characters are tremendously engaging.


The game offers a screen where you can spy on your
online friends and see exactly what they are doing at
any time. It will even tell you if they are fiddling
with a menu or some such thing! Kiss your privacy goodbye!


Graphics: 6/10
The graphics are only barely improved from Halo 1, which wasn't amazing in any fashion itself. The biggest improvement made over its predecessor is the inclusion of the much-appreciated 16:9 widescreen mode. 480p is also supported. However there are many graphical bugs in the game that bring it down significantly. The game does not run at a consistent frame rate, and frames really drop at times, especially in the cut-scenes. Also textures on objects are quite glitchy. As you approach certain objects that are in the distance, they will remap themselves with new textures as you get closer, and it is not done in a smooth fashion. There are lots of glitches in the cut-scenes as well, including the aforementioned frame drops and texture glitches. Sometimes characters will just pop in from nowhere after a scene change. The Xbox is rendering all of the cut-scenes itself. Then there is the 480p glitch. When the game is run in progressive scan mode, it moves all of the HUD objects to the very edge of the screen, and some TVs even clip off parts of the HUD. When the game is in interlaced mode on the same TV, the HUD is fine. Bungie messed up big time there. Maybe we should call them "Bungle" instead? It would be appropriate. Also, the HUD appears stretched in 16:9 widescreen mode. Other than that, the game looks pretty good and moves fairly well most of the time, but it in no way looks as nice as the "screenshots" that Bungie has been sending out over the last 3 years.


Here I blast forum member Gearhound as he drives
one of those things and tries to run over me. He missed.
And so did I.


Sound: 8/10
The game is presented in Dolby Digital, and the positioning of the sound make it easy to identify where an enemy is. If he is behind you, you will hear him from behind you, and you'll know to turn in his direction quickly. All the sounds are of high quality. Going out into space on the first level muffles the sound and it is a great effect (though I thought it was a glitch at first). Unfortunately there is no discrete subwoofer in this game, so it is only 5.0 and not true 5.1. I have heard of users reporting that they have had the sound cut out on them during the game, but I have not experienced that yet myself. I wouldn't be surprised being as how glitchy this game is. The music is fantastic for the most part, and really gets you into the game. Very thematic, well composed, and superbly performed. My favorite track is called "Heavy Price Paid" which is performed at the title screen 50% of the time. Unfortunately horrible bands like Breaking Benjamin, Incubus, and Hoobastank have "contributed" to the soundtrack. I have not run into their tracks in-game yet, but I'm sure they'll bring the quality of the game to it's knees. I have the Halo 2 soundtrack and the tracks provided by those bands are mediocre at best (the ones without lyrics) and horrible at average (the ones with singing). But for the meat of the soundtrack, Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori did excellent work!


You can get in a lot of cool vehicles in the main and
multiplayer games. I don't know here Gearhound was trying
to go here, but he will go to the grave instead!


Gameplay: 8/10
Gameplay is remarkably similar to the first with a few additions and changes made. It is a wee bit faster and it plays kind of like they added a bit of "Unreal" to the game. The campaign mode is the heart of the game, and it's by far the best part in my opinion. The things you have to figure out and do can get pretty crazy, and it is damned fun. There is always a way to get past a certain spot, even if it doesn't seem like it. And because I don't want to include any spoilers, I won't talk about other aspects of the gameplay that come along in the game. But it's pretty cool. The enemies you fight against don't vary much. It'll seem like you're fighting against 2 different enemies for most of the game (short aliens with a high voice and tall aliens with a faux-deep voice), and even later on the new enemies look fairly similar to the ones you were fighting at the beginning. But in games like Medal of Honor, you only fight against one enemy: humans. So I guess I shouldn't complain too much, even though they all have the same voice. You can take the game multiplayer by going split screen, but everyone hates split screen and President Bush has signed a bill outlawing it, so we will not speak of it here. You can hook up to 16 (!) Xboxes together at a LAN party. That would be pretty sweet, especially if you knew everybody. Then there is Xbox Live. The way the online mode is setup in this game can be a bit quirky. When you create a party for your friends to join, there is no way for other people to randomly pop into your room, which sucks. And the optimatch mode is bizarre and full of menus, so I exited out of that quickly. But your typical game modes are here, and it can be fun for awhile. But when it comes right down to it, it's basically just like playing any other first person shooter online. You try to kill others, capture the flag, etc. Nothing groundbreaking here. I will admit that I suck ass online in FPS games. I don't know why, but people can always kill me in 5 shots or less, and it takes no less than 500 shots from me to kill other people. I can strafe them as they run along, and I can see that I am hitting them, but they turn around and kill me with one hit. As such, the online portion of the game is more frustrating than anything. It's not as fun as Out Run 2 online, and nowhere near as good as Crimson Skies online. The online option adds slightly to the overall package, though. If you can fill a room with lots of people that you personally know from someplace other than Xbox Live, then I imagine I wouldn't care if I only got 1 kill per session while others get 20. Oh well.

480i

Here is what the HUD looks like in interlaced mode.
Note the position of the radar especially.


480p

And this is what the game looks like in progressive
scan on the same exact TV! Notice that the radar is clipped
off of the screen, and other HUD items have been moved towards
the edges as well for no reason. One of the many bugs in this game.


Wrap up:
This game may have been an 8 if it weren't so riddled with bugs. I guess Bungle can't be bothered with inane things like beta-testing. I really have lost a lot of respect for them due to this, as they had tons of time to actually get things right. There is no excuse for their ineptitude. Perhaps now players will realize that Bungle is not God of all game developers. But regardless, this game is worth purchasing, but it's not worth waiting in a line of more than 3 people deep for.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 11-11-2004, 11:58 PM   #49
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yeah you think with all the zillions of dollars Bungle(Bungie) made from the 1st Halo they would have been able to hire a beta testing staff, or maybe a bigger beta testing staff. But I guess Porches and huge houses are more important then quality work. I hope there plumbing sucks in their huge mansions so they know what it feels like to buy something you really want only to find out it isn't as expected.
On the other hand the game is fun as hell and as far as FPS go it's up there.

Joe, when I see you next we will have to try some of the multiplayer games in Monkey Ball jr.
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Old 11-12-2004, 12:51 AM   #50
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Yay, I just got it today (and have yet to play it). I hope I'm not in for a dull linear 20 hour ride full of repetitive killing because I loathe that sort of thing. By the way, that pic of you killing Gearhound had me shedding tears from the laughter! Good one!! :cool guy:

P.S. I'm really enjoying your reviews Joe. Great job.
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Old 11-12-2004, 01:53 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus4578
By the way, that pic of you killing Gearhound had me shedding tears from the laughter! Good one!! :cool guy:
Same here I found it hilarious. Nice review Joe.
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Old 11-12-2004, 03:04 AM   #52
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"I will admit that I suck ass online in FPS games. I don't know why, but people can always kill me in 5 shots or less, and it takes no less than 500 shots from me to kill other people. I can strafe them as they run along, and I can see that I am hitting them, but they turn around and kill me with one hit. As such, the online portion of the game is more frustrating than anything."

Funny as hell.

Good review.
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Old 11-12-2004, 05:32 AM   #53
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Tales of Symphonia
6/10
Gamecube Nintendo


This box holds 2 discs.
And lots of boredom.


Tales of Symphonia is one of like 3 maybe 4 RPGs on the Gamecube system. As such it is worshipped by Nintendo fanbois as being one of the best RPGs ever. This would be considered average at best on a system with an abundance of RPG's like the PS2. Well, the graphics would be considered damned good if they were intact on the PS2.

Story: 4/10
As with most RPG's, the story here is pretty lame and geared towards children and pre-pubescent teens. As always, the fate of the entire world(s) falls onto the shoulders of a group of whiny teens, just like in most other RPG's. The story is almost somewhat interesting at first, but it gets old and tiring fairly quick due mostly to the lack of decent writing or characters. Then it tries to throw twists at you with members of your party actually turning out to be evil and leaving you, but then joining you later in the game because they were only pretending to be evil, etc etc. The characters like to whine a lot, especially the main character Lloyd, who is about as dumb as many of the kids who frequent internet message boards these days. That's why he needs YOU to control him, because he sure as sh!t can't figure out a damned thing on his own. One thing about this game is that the story keeps going and going and going. They don't know where to end it and it becomes tiresome and dreadfully boring similar to a Kevin Costner movie or something else that is too long for its own good. Ug!


The animated intro is one of the best things about the game.
Lloyd looks like a bad-ass here ready to pound some skulls in!


Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are surprisingly good for the most part. Everything in the towns, dungeons and battles moves at 60 frames per second and looks incredibly detailed. But when you go wandering on the map, it drops to 30 frames per second for some unknown reason and everything looks simple and ugly. All monsters are represented by black slugs crawling or walking around. Touch one and you go into battle. The characters are made up of cell-shaded polygons and they look alright, nothing exceptional. This game does not support either 480p or 16:9 widescreen, so that's a knock off in the graphics department.


Unfortunately Lloyd looks like a little baby
in the actual game. He acts like one, too.


Sound: 7/10
The music was done by Motoi Sakuraba (Baten Kaitos, Star Ocean, El Viento, Granada, Shining the Holy Ark, etc) and most of the music is quite good. Typical Motoi. The sound effects are OK, and there is a lot of voice. The voice acting is a bit stiff at times, and Lloyd just loves to overact, that bastard. All of the characters get really chatty in battle as well, and I have never before heard such awfulness. It sounds incredibly bad, with overlapping voices and the tone certainly does not fit the action. Fortunately you can turn off the battle chatter. If that was not an option, the sound score would be 3/10 easily since the battles are frequent.


Battles are quite plentiful, and you can control
your character yourself, instead of via boring menus.


Gameplay: 6/10
Typical RPG for the most part, with your party wandering around, buying crap, equipping crap, battling for experience, cash, and goods, etc. What is somewhat unique is the fighting. It plays more like an action RPG in that you can actually control one of your party members as if he/she were in an action game and damage the enemies yourself. That brings things up a notch. There is also a lot of dungeon crawling, and each dungeon requires a puzzle to be solved. In fact, this game could be described as a puzzle game with a story. Besides fighting, solving puzzles is pretty much all you do, and it gets old real fast. Some of the puzzles are cool in their concept, but many are just annoying and kind of boring, actually. Expect to spend at least 45-50 hours with this game, probably more (if you want to play all the way to the end instead of finding something better to do, that is).


Lots of dungeons with lots of puzzles
to solve gets old very quickly.
At least the puzzles change.


Wrap up:
A puzzle game with a story and lots of battles. If that sounds like your game, well then, go buy it. There is also a PS2 version, but the graphics are far inferior.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 11-12-2004, 12:05 PM   #54
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Maybe I should write my ToS review, but then again the outcome will be exactly the same. Both you and Icarus point out the same things that I do, the plot sucks, the characters really suck(except Zelos), and it's overrated.
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Old 11-14-2004, 12:34 AM   #55
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Batman Returns
7/10
Sega CD




A few months after the release of the much-ballyhooed Sega CD in the US, we were graced with one of the first games to take full advantage of the new machine's graphical capabilities, and that game was Batman Returns. Originally slated to be just a cool driving game, Sega of America thought it would be a good idea to throw in the cartridge version that was released long before the CD as well. As is usually the case whenever Sega of America thinks, it was a very bad idea. The music was upgraded along with some of the sound effects in that portion of the game. The platform and driving games were intertwined, meaning that after you beat a platform mission, you'd move on to a driving mission, then back to platform, etc. Fortunately you could turn off the platform game completely and only play the driving portion, which was why everyone bought the game anyway.


The first level is pretty easy. Destroy EVERYTHING
you see on the road, even innocent traffic like Jeeps!


Graphics: 9/10
The graphics in the driving portions of Batman Returns are spectacular considering that it is a 16-bit game. The graphics in the platform portion suck ass. They are REALLY bad and have next to no animation. Stick with Sunsoft's Genesis Batman if you like platform. For the sake of this review, we'll just assume that the platform mode is always turned off! Anyway, the scaling and rotating graphics are truly a site to behold. The SNES brought us scaling backgrounds (Mode7), but the SNES could not scale sprites at all. Just about everything you see in the Sega CD Batman Returns is a scaling sprite, but the game also has scaling and rotating backgrounds (like the continue screen, etc) as well as perspective scaling backgrounds (ala Mode 7) which are used for the street. Some of the scaling objects are way larger than the screen. This goes way beyond the NeoGeo in terms of scaling capability, as the NeoGeo simply couldn't do perspective scaling nor could it handle true rotation. So Batman Returns even has the NeoGeo beat in that department! The artwork is also excellent, with contrasting gradients to the images and a very gothic look and feel. When you blow up an enemy vehicle, it's parts go scaling and rotating all over the screen, landing on the road creating all sorts of cool rubble.


The platform portion of this game looks like
ass and plays even worse if you can believe that.


Sound: 8/10
Some of the sounds were upgraded from the cartridge portion of the game (but that's always turned off, remember) and all of the sounds in the driving portion are new and well recorded. The explosions have a fair amount of bass in them and they sound great. When you blow up and enemy and its wreckage falls, you can hear each part hitting the pavement. The music is for the most part outstanding. There are a few "blah" tracks. It was composed by Spencer Nilsen, the guy who did Ecco the Dolphin CD (his best work). The music has nothing to do with the Batman Returns movie music by Danny Elfman, and many may view that as a large disappointment. Personally I don't mind, as the stuff here is good stuff!


Even objects way in the background have
rotation applied to them. Ooh yellow snow!
Even Batman can't hold it forever.


Gameplay: 7/10
As said before, the platform portion of this game sucks badly. It is one of the worst games ever created. It is nearly uncontrollable and is not fun in any way. The people who made this certainly weren't gamers. The driving portion is much, much better. It's actually fun! But it is also very, very hard. Your goal is to destroy a predetermined number of enemies driving around before the timer runs out. There are 6 stages in each level. Stage 3 is always a mid boss who can be just as tough or tougher than the end boss. But some of the end bosses are really cool. For example, at the end of the first driving level, the boss is a giant fire truck who sprays fire at you and tosses bombs. Every once in awhile ladders on both sides of the vehicle flip open, each with 3 little guys tossing bombs at you. You must ram into the ladders, knocking all 6 guys off one by one before you can actually cause damage to the truck itself. Crazy but fun! You don't play each level in the Batmobile, though. On two levels you are cruising the sewers of Gotham in your Batski which is powered by human turds. The first level you just race against obstacles and time. The second you fight enemies. Just be sure to collect enough human turds to keep your Batski movin'! The game will then give you a very lame ending. The fact that the platform game is here and more wasn't done with the unique driving portions does decrease from the overall rating.


Plenty of obstacles are in your way in
the sewer levels. The SNES couldn't do this!


Wrap up:
A great game for the Sega CD especially considering it is 16-bit. Turn off the platform portions to increase enjoyability 100-fold! This is the best console version of Batman Returns by far. Yes, even better than the SNES version, though this would be even better if the platform portions WERE the SNES version!

Download the exciting Quicktime Video!
1 Minute, 20 Seconds. 10.4 MB
Quicktime 6 REQUIRED!!!!!

Click Here to download a Quicktime video of Batman Returns for the Sega CD. Witness the better-than-NeoGeo scaling and great soundtrack. Notice how fun the game is! The Sega CD wasn't just about crappy full motion video. Watch as I play and even destroy innocent people driving to the store in their Jeeps! That's what they get for being on the road when I am. Watch as I fly through the sewers! Then watch it all again and again!

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 11-14-2004, 07:42 PM   #56
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Thunder Force II
8/10
Sega Genesis


The box art was completely different
than the artwork on the cartridge, which
was actually taken from the Japanese box.


Thunder Force II marked legendary developer TechnoSoft's entry into the home console market. Thunder Force and Thunder Force 2 were games for a Japanese computer system back in the day, and when the Mega Drive was released there they reprogrammed the second game and it became Thunder Force II MD (the "MD" was removed from the title for the US release, but if you know some tricks, you can get it to pop up on the Genesis). The game mainly concentrated on overhead free-flying shooting scenes, but also has typical side-scrolling action intertwined within. This is one of the most overlooked Genesis games, in my opinion. When people talk about Thunder Force, they never go back further in time than Thunder Force III. Well, we will here today.


The overhead stages were the bane of some
people's existence. I personally enjoyed them.


Graphics: 7/10
The graphics in Thunder Force II were good for it's time since it had multiple layers of scrolling and well drawn and designed enemies. But the side scrolling stages do lack a lot of detail. Most of the graphics detail went into the overhead maps, where you will see little glowing lights (like in stage 3) and lots of really cool design. The graphics get better as you progress, and the final side scrolling stage looks pretty cool. Everything is presented for you in 240p 60 frames per second.


The side scrolling stages were pretty
cool. Each stage had at least one midboss.


Sound: 8/10
The music is one of the best, if not THE best aspect about Thunder Force II. If you listen closely, you'll find that it is amazingly detailed. The music simply rocks, and it was the first 3rd party Mega Drive game to be produced in stereo, and the first video game I have ever heard in stereo myself. When I got it, I was playing with my Genesis hooked up with the RF modulator. When played this way, the Genesis only sends the right sound channel as a mono signal to the TV. In order to hear stereo, you need to plug into the headphones jack. Well one night a few days after I got the game, I did. And I was absolutely amazed not only with the music and the fact that it was in stereo, but all of the sound I was missing listening to the game through the RF connection as well! At the time game reviewer and editor Ed Semrad said in Game Player's magazine that this was the best music he had ever heard in a videogame (he worked for EGM at the same time). At the time, he was 100% correct. The sound effects are pretty much standard stuff, but they have a TechnoSoft unique-ness about them. Then there are the voices. In the game there is a bitchwhore who announces the weapons and power ups as you get them. She is the same bitchwhore used in every Thunder Force game, though it sounds like they added some filter or effect to her voice in this one. Most people cannot understand what she says, but I can. When she says "Breaker System On" when you get the invincibility shield, people go nuts trying to figure it out. Also the "destroy" weapon is pronounced "des-troy" and so on. Unintentionally funny. And whoever can figure out what is said at the beginning of the game should win a prize. I can decipher "Good Luck" and that's it. What the hell?
UPDATE:
Red-Cell believes the voice says "If you think you need it, luck, good luck."
Some other interpretations of the startup voice include:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Olpin
The president of Sega orders soup from the Sega company cafeteria. The chef, who is partly deaf, doesn't understand the presidents cry for help as the steaming hot soup burns the flesh off the top of his mouth.

"This is extra heated!" cries the president.
"Louder" the chef says, but then realizes that the president is probably asking about the flavor of the soup. "Good Duck." he says, knowing that Campbells would want him to say the full name printed on the can.
Quote:
"This is Extra Heated!" "Louder... Good Duck."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Procyk
"Now you need defeat the.... HARBOR.... good luck!"
Oh no! This game was programmed in Japan... is the first stage a futuristic Pearl Harbor??!!!

I'm still not sure.
Any other takers?


As you can see in this picture here,
the music is absolutely fantastic!


Gameplay: 8/10
I can't believe how much they crammed into a 4 megabit cartridge. That's 512K. That's smaller than the size of this single review once all of the images are loaded (not counting the Quicktime or the MP3 file you can download)! The side scrolling stages are pretty much what you'd expect from a Thunder Force game. They're good, fun, and a bit tough at times. You cannot adjust speed in this game like you can later in the series. But you can cycle back AND forth with your weapon array. Most people hate the overhead scenes because it is not a straight up shooter. It is very confusing at first, but I grew to love 'em. You fly in your choice of 8 directions, and you are ALWAYS in motion. You can't stop or slow down ever. Your goal is to search for and destroy the 4 large bases in each stage (except for the last stage where you must destroy a large ship). Once you are done that, the game progresses. If you learn where the bases are, it is really easy. Check out this 5.3 MB Quicktime 6 file of me playing through stage 3, an overhead stage. Look how easy and fun it is! The game begins and ends with the overhead mode, and I can see why that would annoy people. TechnoSoft ditched the overhead mode in all of its sequels. This game offers several hours of gameplay before it can be beaten. Once you have learned all you need to know, you can probably get through the game in less than 45 minutes. But it's the learning that's so fun!


Portions of this stage were paid homage in
the Thunder Force Arcade game, also known as
Thunder Spirits on the Super Nintendo system.


Wrap up:
Thunder Force II is a great and very underrated game. Hell, it's worth it for the music alone.

Last edited by Joe Redifer; 11-24-2004 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 11-15-2004, 01:59 AM   #57
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I haven't played TFII in quite some time. It's quite amazing to think that the review itself requires more size than the game itself. I've never played Batman Returns for Sega CD, but I've played ol' Spiderman. I used to think that CDs were the new frontier, that developers would use them in the future (now) for hundreds of stages and a thousand enemies. They have all that memory capacity, all that technology, and what are we left with...? FMV and CD-quality audio. Of course I realize that in order to hold all the textures and stuff in today's games there needs to be a lot of ROM and such but.... wouldn't it be nice if memory was used for expanding the games themselves instead of simply pushing 3D graphics further and further technically? Most of the best-looking games aren't even 3D. Heck, they're not even new: Sonic CD has pristine detail and clarity (sans the bonus stage, but it's still nice), Super Castlevania IV is gorgeous from an artistic viewpoint, and Earthworm Jim is still a great feat.

I guess that my point is that I value artistry over technical brilliance. I wonder if other members feel the same way.
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Old 11-15-2004, 03:16 AM   #58
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If you want to know I value artistry over technical brilliance :cool guy:

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Old 11-15-2004, 03:26 AM   #59
Joe Redifer
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The only graphical problem I had with Super Castlevania IV was the orange first level. It just looked like ass. Why orange?
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Old 11-15-2004, 05:15 AM   #60
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Maybe it was their way of making the area look corroded or something. Either that, or Konami just hates you.

Paper EXE, nice to see. However, there was no need to quote my entire post seeing as it's above yours. ;)
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