Cinematech Episode 187: “Games of February”: All about the most notable (or infamous) games of February, 2005.
Timecode: 0:19: Clips from Nano Breaker (PS2, Konami), a game from Koji “IGA” Igarashi of Castlevania fame. This was a gory sci-fi action game about nanomachines inside of human beings rebelling and turning people into “Orgamechs”. The intro features the disturbing sight of a mother's body splitting open as the Orgamech that formed inside of her emerges, like a full-body Chest Burster. A soldier tries to escort her son to safety, but just as his eyepiece scans the boy and confirms that the boy is about to transform, the boy explodes offscreen into another Orgamech and kills the soldier.
The main character, an artificial human, is then sent in to destroy the mother computer responsible for the Orgamech uprising. Along the way, he slaughters countless Orgamechs, but don't worry, it's oil, not blood. I recall reading in a review in a magazine saying that the game has an unlockable option that turns the blood into multiple colors like a morbid rainbow. I believe that the magazine said that turning the option on made the game look “like a Skittles factory exploded”.
12:50: Death by Degrees, a brawler spinoff of Tekken starring Nina Williams, the assassin. I played this game on a demo, and it just seemed really average. The character models, especially Nina's, looked really nice, though. The game had its melee combat controlled by flicking the right analog stick in the direction you wanted to attack. The game also featured X-ray slow-mo shots of Nina breaking enemies' bones long before Mortal Kombat 9 did in its bouts, albeit to less gory ends. However, the bone-crunching blows did little to affect the enemies' fighting abilities. Gameplay and, uh, gameplay segregation?
Nina's infamous sister/rival, Anna Williams, is playable after beating the game once. Beating the game thrice unlocks Nina's character model from Tekken 2 for some retro hijinks.
Even though Episode II was considered the black sheep of the series, Episode III was much better. I didn't even play the first one or beat the second one, and I still enjoyed III. Even though I was fairly lost on what was going on at times, the game still gave me feels and the ending utterly crushed them, in a good way.
Xenosaga was originally conceived as a series of six games. Xenogears was episode five, and after beating III, I can only dream of what episode four would have been about. I presume it would have been a prequel to XG. Episode six could have been a sequel to that game!
Monolith Soft has not given up on RPGs with giant robots and titles that begin with the letter “X”. Their new RPG for the Wii U codenamed “X” looks like it could be quite incredible, and I look forward to seeing details emerge on it.
Cinematech Episode 188: “Ninjas”: Games about ninjas! Yes, my boy, ninjas.
5:26: Ninja Assault, a PS2 port from 2002 of a light gun game made for the arcades by Namco in 2000. It's about ninjas who use guns in feudal Japan. It precedes an anime with a similar premise (Samurai Gun) by a few years. The game is about two gun-toting royal guards of a princess trying to rescue her after she is kidnapped. Come to think of it, the premise is quite a bit like the first Onimusha, too, which came out around the same time. One of the guards, Gunjo, reminds me of Steven Seagal. Like House of the Dead, the dialog is a bit on the cheesy side, though nowhere near as amazing as that of Goldman, the bad guy from House of the Dead 2.
11:10: The intro to Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins (PS1), which is actually a prequel to the original game. It, like the trailer to Fatal Shadows, has some chilling, incredible, classical Japanese-style music. The game shared several voice actors from the English voiceover cast of Metal Gear Solid, hopefully providing far better voice acting than the original game did.
I always thought that the kunoichi Ayame looked kind of weird in this game, what with the baggy lids under her eyes. “Heroin-chic”, perhaps?
16:53: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (SEGA, Sega Genesis), the only Shinobi game we had when I was a kid, and as far as I'm concerned, the only one we needed. This amazingly smooth action game is my favorite ninja game of all time. This game had cool levels and bosses (a crazy brain in a jar in level three and a hideous monster in level four were my favorites). There were also some levels where the hero had to ride a horse (level two) or a surfboard (level four) and get from one end of the level to the other while fending off attacks from enemy ninja and having to jump to avoid damaging obstacles. Cool soundtrack too. Of course, they did not retain any of that music for the montage of clips shown in this episode.
17:50: Nightshade (2003, SEGA), a slightly less difficult sequel to the 2002 Shinobi reboot for the PS2. Nightshade starred a stylish kunoichi instead of a male ninja. She had a cool visor that gave her a map of the areas in the game. Not to be confused with the NES graphic adventure Nightshade.
18:58: Red Ninja: End of Honor, a PS2 and Xbox stealth action game from 2005, and the only one developed by a company called Tranji Studios. In this game, the player assumed the role of a young, crimson-clad kunochi. One of the features of the game allowed players to trick male guards into thinking that she is seducing them, when in fact she is going to kill them. Talk about a black widow! The game was unpopular and disappointed critics. The Official PlayStation Magazine in the US gave it one out of five... octagons. They had changed their rating system at the point. I liked it back when they had little discs to indicate their ratings! It set them apart and helped make them “the PlayStation magazine”.