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Old 09-29-2004, 10:19 AM   #826
Icarus4578
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Grapple THIS!

Bionic Commando - NES - Rating 7
Of all the NES games which Capcom produced, Bionic Commando is the one which people have requested a sequel to the most. And it's easy to see why -- with solid action gameplay and an inimitable style, this game did for action gaming what Metal Gear did for stealth just one year beforehand. (I personally would like to see a sequel to Gunsmoke. ) You play as Ladd, the 'Bionic Commando' who has a mechanical arm which acts like a grappling hook. Your mission is to rescue P.O.W. Super Joe from the enemy, discover their secret plans and put a stop to their maleficent plot.

"Pay your dues now."

The game is simple to understand: You'll ride around in a helicopter from area to area on a small map and choose either to descend into an area or transfer to another. Areas act like stages in any other action game, only you must locate communication rooms to receive messages and wiretap the enemy. This is necessary in that these open up boss rooms so that you can complete the area. On the way, you'll be shooting enemies such as soldiers and spiders into kingdom come, performing death-defying maneuvers with your grappling arm, obtaining health, and, very often, losing lives. Yes, BC is difficult, but should be conquered within 2 & 1/2 hours. Note that the best time recorded is 22 minutes! :yikes: Wow.... Just wow....
There is no save feature in the game; you'll have to earn credits in order to continue. So don't pick it up if you don't have the necessary time on your hands to complete it.

"Get out of here, you nerd!"

I must bring up the grappling system. You don't jump; instead, you use your bionic arm to latch onto ceilings and such to swing across chasms or hang from them while shooting away at enemies. Your arm is also used to climb up to higher platforms, catch yourself while falling, and to knock enemies back. Almost every area provides Ladd with unique challenges which just seem to get tougher and tougher, requiring tremendous timing (moreso than even Castlevania!) and more hardy adversaries. As said before, each area has its own boss. However, you don't actually have to kill the boss in any circumstance, save for the final boss, because your main target is always going to be the central core of the machine present in every boss room.

"It's too early to feel safe. I'll kill you here."

Whenever you begin an area, you're required to select from an inventory which consists of your weapon of choice, special items and a receiver. As you complete areas and search through others, you'll obtain new weaponry and items for use, these including a rocket launcher, cross, bullet proof vest, and several receivers. Receivers are important because if you enter an area with the wrong one and enter one of the communication rooms, you'll only receive gargle, "Ga-ga-ga-ga....", and will not be able to confront the boss. If you make a mistake, don't fret! Simply hold A, B and Start together to exit the stage (*note* this is also useful for instances where you know you're about to die ;)).

"You transported Joe?"
"Yeah, over to the disposal area. Heroes always look good."

There are two action scenes: Stadard side-scrolling stages (areas) and over the top zones (when you encounter a truck on the map). This latter type of stage resembles Commando and Ikari Warriors. There are a few different types of these zones depending on the route of the individual truck you encounter. They're all easy and short, so it's not worth going into detail.
The graphics look good for an NES, like a more detailed Rush 'N Attack, but not as good as Contra titles. The backgrounds are nice and varied, such as sewer-ish areas where ooze comes through vents which Ladd gets stuck in while it's travelling (actually necessary later on), and a rocky mountainside with strange plant creatures, spiders crawling along the walls and even huge moths flying about. Of course, you'll come across enemy bases and such, including one with a massive fire pit. Enemies are well designed and varied across stages: You'll encounter soldiers riding tractors, huge guys that throw spiked balls around (think Donkey Kong), laser-spewing mechanisms which move across the ceiling, and even soldiers with a bionic arm just like yourself!
You'll hear a number of nice tunes here and there throughout the game but nothing which really sticks in your head. Least, not in mine.... Sound effects are generally good, but some explosions--particularly the "final explosion"--leave something to be desired.

And that's Bionic Commando in a nutshell. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that this game features, without a doubt, the most gory ending ever put onto an NES cartridge. It's really something. Me? Eh, I prefer the Contra series to this, but BC does earn its place as 8-bit memorabilia.

It's bionic baby.
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Old 10-02-2004, 08:51 AM   #827
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Name's Lloyd.... housewares.

Tales of Symphonia - GC - Rating 6
Is it just me, or is this game a bit overrated? As I recall it, back when Tales of Destiny I & II came out for the PSone nobody really gave them so much as an afterthought, yet now that there's a 3D installment on the GameCube, a platform not renowned for its RPG lineup, all of a sudden it's a Godsend? I'll tell you what -- seeing as I have experience with both the Super Famicom original Tales of Phantasia (ToD for short) and the second Tales of Destiny (ToD) outing, I'll give you an informed viewpoint for a change. Phantasia sports some of the cleanest, most beautiful graphics ever to be seen on a 16-bit console, featuring lush character and background artwork, great enemy design, tons o' parallax scrolls, and a deep, enjoyable quest. Its only major flaw was the amount of random battling. I've already reviewed ToP as well as ToDII not so long ago, so I've certainly got the pedigree experience to handle Namco's "new" adventure.
The main factors which decide an RPG's fate are its presentation, storyline and characters, battle system, and the music. I suppose we'll begin with the presentation. Symphonia packs quite a punch visually. This is the first Tales title to take the series into full 3D. Indeed, it looks like it could be the spiritual brother to Skies of Arcadia. Characters are designed with a lighthearted anime look, and the game as a whole resembles that Jet Grind Radio cel-shaded look in numerous ways. The rendering of environments and enemies is very well handled, though when some enemies turn in place, especially land-based ones, it looks really stupid because they don't tend to actually move their legs. Bosses are asthetically intimidating, which comes as little surprise given Namco's credentials in the realm of 3D gaming. However, the spell effects struck me as being generally unimpressive. After awhile, the game's environments tend to become deja vu, which tells me that although Namco has done a fantastic job creating a 3D engine drenched in rich watercolors, lush hues and neon lighting, they just didn't have enough imagination to really take it anywhere special. With ol' Square fumbling so often these days, it's easy to look past any of Symphonia's shortcomings, but I'm not that naive.
Speaking of naive, most of the characters' personalities can be summed up in one word: Naive. Yes, it's true--most of the interaction between party members looks like a bad reenactment of a high school play. Characters stumble, fumble, trip, and make stupid decisions frequently, and this takes away from much of the attempted drama. One must wonder what is wrong with Namco's creative team when they essentially lift the scenario and settings from ToD, transform them into 3D and call it a day. The characters themselves are rather bland in design and execution. Lloyd acts like the stereotypical "hero by accident," having set into motion hostile events which caused him to be exiled from Iselia, and the characters who support him throughout the journey (or, I should say, support Colette) are tired cliches that either act immature or act as if they're some higher authority. Ok, so it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be, but it's still regretful. There is some comic relief to be found at times, and sometimes there's interesting dialogue. The best character in the game is Zelos, without question. But you won't meet up with him until much later on.
The actual story involves The Chosen of Mana (Colette) and her quest to restore mana to Sylvarant while becoming a full-fledged angel in the process. ....Hmmm. Sounds like Final Fantasy X and Secret of Mana, doesn't it? Much of Tidus' quest revolved around escorting once-dignified-but-now-commercial-trash Yuna around the world in a similar fashion and for a similar purpose. I cannot get over the uncanny resemblance that exists between the Tower of Salvation and Lunar 2's Blue Spire. It's like Namco just syphons this-and-that element from currently existing RPGs and then doesn't believe that anybody else will notice.
Namco decided to string the quest with random Z-button triggered conversations between party members, and, to make matters worse, you'll actually need to do this to learn certain important skills. I got a little sick after Lloyd and Colette gave their thousandth apology, and Kratos gave his thousandth lecture as to how Lloyd is supposed to become a better swordsman, always pointing out Lloyd's supposed "mistakes", this despite the fact that I had Lloyd at a higher level than him and I could outperform that loser on the battle field anyday.
Of course, what's a story about world restoration without an evil group (Desians) antagonizing the party along the way? What's with all this 'non-aggression treaty' nonsense? Why do most of the characters dress like Star Trek rejects?? What is a quince!?!?! A food that starts with the letter Q!

My point is really simple ---- who cares?

No Japanese RPG is complete without a new 'system' or two, so of course Namco has to provide a new one of their own: The Multi-line Linear Motion Battle System. :annoyed: .....Now that we've assessed that Namco is actually a crackhouse, let's see if I can explain to you in plain English the simple differences between this Tales title and former ones. Instead of just running up and attacking the enemy of your choice, you now have to hold the R trigger and "lock on" to the enemy so that whichever character you're controlling will go after that particular enemy on the battle field. This isn't done just for 3D's sake; attacking enemies from different angles produces different results. Let's say an enemy is guarding often and you're having a tough time breaking through its defenses. You could wait for (or command) a party member to run interference from the front, get behind the enemy, and attack to perform a Guard Break. Or, you could always simply jump over/run behind the enemy, considering it's not too big or too fast for you. There's also EX Skills, Unison Attacks, Over Limits, and more. These I won't bore you with. Suffice to say, it's just a more elaborate way of describing techniques which aren't really new or impressive. And yes, you can choose to have complete freedom of movement in battle by switching to Manual. ToS's battle system is essentially like playing an average action game, just like the other Tales. Nothing special here, but you may find it to be comfort from the affliction of having too many menu-based RPGs.
One thing Symphonia definitely has going for it is the amount of involving puzzles. You can look forward to new puzzles and set-ups in every dungeon area you encounter.
I was rather suprised by the soundtrack as there are some very good pieces spread throughout the journey. Though far from the majesty of, say, Final Fantasy III, Symphonia can at least boast that it has one of the better RPG soundtracks of this generation of consoles. The voice acting..... GACK! It's almost bad enough to make me regurgitate the recess from my lower intestines! To be fair, the voice acting is better than the suffering that is Tales of Destiny II's, though it's still very amateurish. Good sound effects help bring the action and events to life.
With Tales of Symphonia you get what you see: A decent RPG romp with solid graphics and a fairly decent battle system. GC owners don't have much other choice, but I'm willing to betcha that Paper Mario RPG 2 wipes the floor with this title. Take your pick--decide what your money is worth. And I'm out.

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Old 10-02-2004, 04:55 PM   #828
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Tales of Symphonia is a puzzle game with a story and some battles. No more. I am not a big fan of puzzle games. Motoi Sakuraba (Granada, El Viento, Shining the Holy Ark) did the music and he did a pretty good job. I got bored with this game after about 47 hours or so. It keeps making you think it's about to end, then it just keeps going and going and going. I got sick of that sh!t. It's like a movie that's too long.
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Old 10-02-2004, 05:57 PM   #829
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There actually is a very tragic ending in the game. I wouldn't want to get it though.

Paper Mario:The Thousand Year Door won't be beating out TOS as far as I'm concerned. Namco has been doing great this gen. Can't wait to play Baten Kaitos!

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Old 10-03-2004, 01:58 AM   #830
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Joe ~ "Motoi Sakuraba (Granada, El Viento, Shining the Holy Ark) did the music and he did a pretty good job."

That explains a lot of things. BTW, what's Granada? If you meant Grandia, didn't Noriyuki Iwadare do the soundtrack? Oh, and for those who don't know, Iwadare is not Game Arts' in-house musician--they merely freelance him to do soundtracks. And he never took one theory lesson in music. Instead, he studied the works of the composers he enjoyed.

Vert1 ~ "Paper Mario:The Thousand Year Door won't be beating out TOS as far as I'm concerned. Namco has been doing great this gen. Can't wait to play Baten Kaitos!"

Namco has been doing so-so, I think. Klonoa 2 was cool, but Tekken 4 was mediocre, Soul Calibur 2 wasn't quite as good a sequel to Soul Calibur as SC was to Soul Edge (Blade), and ToS doesn't have as much meat on its bones as ToDII. And don't get me started on the pain that is Ridge Racer V. Baten Kaitos might be good.... We'll see.
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Old 10-03-2004, 03:51 AM   #831
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No I mean Granada. Didn't you used to have a Genesis? It was a cool tank game that was released by Renovation in the US and was made by Wolfteam.
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Old 10-03-2004, 03:52 AM   #832
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I've never even heard of that title. Heh, learn something new everyday.
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Old 10-03-2004, 04:10 PM   #833
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarus4578

Namco has been doing so-so, I think. Klonoa 2 was cool, but Tekken 4 was mediocre, Soul Calibur 2 wasn't quite as good a sequel to Soul Calibur as SC was to Soul Edge (Blade), and ToS doesn't have as much meat on its bones as ToDII. And don't get me started on the pain that is Ridge Racer V. Baten Kaitos might be good.... We'll see.
I've heard Namco's Katamari Damacy is like the best game for PS2...
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Old 10-07-2004, 12:52 PM   #834
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Work is in progress on the Index. I'm linking each game to the actual reviews. This will take awhile, perhaps a few days. I'm also prepping for my Astro Boy review. Then comes Fable and SVC Chaos. Oh yeah.
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Old 10-07-2004, 05:04 PM   #835
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Can't wait for your Fable review!
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Old 10-07-2004, 06:06 PM   #836
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My Fable review:
Moleyneux sux. Always has. Sloppy programming. VERY sloppy. Lot's o' loading. Short. Lame.
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Old 10-07-2004, 06:10 PM   #837
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Uh oh... looks like we've got another Nintendo fanboy on our hands!!


Icarus may be right on Paper Mario:The Thousand Year door being better than TOS...or so the reviews seem to suggest.

-edit-

Played the demo today and it pissed me off. In fact TOS pwns Paper Mario:TTYD now just because of how ****ty the demo was.

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Old 10-10-2004, 01:03 AM   #838
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That's it. I'm seeking help---officially! Seriously, this can't possibly be the 21st Century. Apparently, nobody knows what a calendar is over at Treasure. ....Nope, not even close.

Astro Boy ~ Omega Factor - GBA - Rating 8
Before this review even begins, I'd like to thank Sega for having the clear perception of wisdom to call upon Treasure to develop this little pile of gaming joy. And here I thought that I was playing an old Konami game. Silly me! It feels so much like a Genesis title (albeit a great one) but with SNES-quality visuals. I mean the sprites, the effects, the colors.... all scream 16-bit Konami/Treasure to me. You get the works here: Incredibly varied stages overflowing with gorgeous color and shading, parallax scrolls, richly detailed characters, tons of bosses, some of which zoom and rotate. And then there's the soundtrack. Ah, the soundtrack! This is 16-bit gaming resurrected from the.... no.... I can't bring myself to say it. 16-bit will never die. :bigsmile:
Astro Boy is more than an action game. It is a testament to the power that is Treasure. You see, this game was completed in roughly the same amount of time as Aladdin for Genesis, or basically three months. :yikes: And yet it can more than hold its own with the best of 'em. Say it loud and say it proud: "Go! Go! Treasure!?" I'm spoiled. Go figure.
I seriously don't know what to say anymore. This is baffling. Do any of you remember that old TV show "In search of..."? They should do one show on Treasure because I think something's going on behind the scenes, something too fantastic to believe. Do you recall looking in your old game mags at all those pretty-looking games, always optimistic about the future? This game would've fit in perfectly. In fact, I'm willing to wager that it would've more than likely have won the Game of the Month awards in EGM, GameFan and elsewhere.

Ok, ok. You want to know more about the actual game. I hear ya. You begin by creating a file (from out of three) and the difficulty. Then the game begins. After a brief opening cinema and tutorial, you are thrown directly into the action. Start out by beating the tar out of some robots while indirectly destroying the windows of the building you're standing in front of. POW! KA-CHANG! Pierce forward and you're attacked by a group of bees. SMASH! PIFF! Keep it up and take on some more robots of various colors, including ones which fly about. CRUNCH! BLAM! (And you thought the original Batman & Robin TV show was action packed!! )
Astro Boy is packing some serious power behind his childish exterior. Tezuka Osamu, the creator of Astro Boy, obviously has a fun-filled imagination judging from the insanely colorful, diverse characters of his. Stylistically speaking, the cast bears a stunning resemblance to the cast of a very famous game series.... Mega Man! Of course, Astro Boy existed well before the Blue Bomber, so we can properly assess which one was influenced by the other. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. Anyway, Astro can run, jet (dash), punch, kick, use his finger laser, and use any of three EX Attacks: Arm Cannon (R-trigger), Shot Weapon (L-trigger) and EX Dash (A+B). You're given a life bar and an EX meter. Similar to a Darkstalkers game, you can store up multiple levels of EX power by attacking enemies and objects or collecting a heart which will also restore health. The harder you set the difficulty to, the less EX power you'll be allowed to hold and the harder it is to actually fill the meter. There's that, and there's also the fact that enemies and bosses become a seriously daunting challenge. However, you have unlimited continues and you auto save, so go figure....
Astro will transverse a city, an underground base, the Antarctic, and more. Stages have Astro jet blasting in every direction, plus there's several side-scrolling shooter stages to add some variety. This isn't done just for novelty's sake. Everything was well-planned and executed to please. This reviewer thinks that all Treasure games should come with a warning on the box ~ "Warning. May cause fits of rapture." :bigsmile:
The way the storyline progresses simply has to be seen firsthand to truly be appreciated. The game is split into two time slots: Birth and Rebirth, and in order to access Rebirth you must first beat the game and get the bad ending. Don't worry, this is the way it's meant to be. You'll understand why when you play it, and believe you me when I say "You'll buy this game," because if you don't then I'm gonna come looking for you. Perhaps I'll be hiding inside of your closet. Perhaps I'll be waiting for you underneath your bed. Maybe I'll even be hiding in your mattress. You'll never know. But no matter how I decide to show up, you'd best put on your game face 'cuz I'm gonna bring a copy of Astro Boy with me, and you're gonna experience 110% gaming bliss whether you want to or not.
As you progress you'll inevitably encounter new characters, called "Tezuka characters," both good and evil. Some show up at certain instances, some only show up depending on whether certain circumstances are fulfilled, some are hidden. You'll want to find them all because each new character you meet gets stored in Astro's Omega Factor which is the equivalent of a human heart, only it's stored in his brain. You can view the Omega Factor during the game at anytime simply by pressing Select. However, note that certain characters will appear as black & white until you've learned more about them. Why do this? Several reasons. Firstly, for each character that goes into your Omega Factor, you can choose which of Astro's powers to make stronger. Secondly, to ensure that every possible event is found, thus fleshing out the complete storyline and, oftentimes, allowing access to more events. And finally, because completing the Omega Factor grants Astro something 'special' indeed.
There's excellent visuals, challenging foes, great play mechanics.... and a wonderful soundtrack. Astro Boy has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a long time. As I sit here writing this review, I'm replaying the end credits theme in my head simply because it's so delicious that it would make a fine dessert in its own right. All throughout the game, I was impressed with how old-school the soundtrack was, actually incorporating concepts foreign to most game soundtracks these days (heck, even albums) such as, oh, I dunno.... MELLIFLUOUS MELODIES and NICE ARRANGEMENTS..... let's see here--it doesn't try and disguise crappy composing skill with ambience and/or typical Hollywood-ish filler. There's video game music here. Good thing because I was starving for some more of that. It's fun and often quirky. If you wait at the title screen long enough you'll get to hear a rendition of the cartoon theme. The staff roll song is my favorite. Without ruining anything, the actual ending itself forced me to recall to mind Strider, and when "THE END" came zooming up to the screen I immediately recalled to mind Space Harrier and shed a tear.... quietly....
When I first turned on the power and started playing I couldn't put it down--I had completely forgotten about the concept of time! It was already late at night when I had shut the power! I had forgotten to do things like eat and shower, or at least had put those things on the backburner. You can spend an endless amount of time just trying to figure out how to access one or two events because the game is keeping track of them all and you can always watch the ones you've already found. What a fantastic game! I don't know if Sega realizes what they've got here but, speaking as a gamer, I sure do. As I laid back, watched and listened as the credits rolled by, I could faintly recall the taste of the magic that gaming had at one time granted me. Astro Boy is a classic. Thank you Sega/Treasure for reminding me what gaming is supposed to be about.

This site pretty much speaks for itself ~ http://www.astroboy-online.com/

When you watch the true ending and "THE END" zooms up to the screen, don't press anything. Just let it sit for about 2 or 3 minutes to watch an extra event. You'll need to do this to fill in one of the characters in your Omega Factor.

Catch you later.
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Old 10-10-2004, 01:13 AM   #839
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So Astro Boy received the same score as the original Sonic...:yikes:

I am in need of a GBA game...
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Old 10-10-2004, 01:15 AM   #840
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Indeed. Nice avatar, by the way.
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