Cinematech Episode 276: “Handheld Madness”
An ep featuring some handheld games, such as...
Timecode: 0:57: Clips from the well-received Metroid Prime Pinball (Nintendo DS). Kind of a strange spinoff for the storied series, but I like both pinball games and Metroid Prime, so why was this game never on my radar? As an NDS game, the action takes place on both screens.
2:25: Snowboard Kids DS by Atlus, a sequel to the Nintendo 64 game Snowboard Kids. The graphics look decent for a polygonal NDS game. SK had a less generically cute art style than SKDS, and gave its characters huge, pointy noses! SKDS features teenage versions of the characters from the original SK64. Jack Frost, the mascot of several Shin Megami Tensei games, is also featured in the game, as well as his more overtly demonic counterpart, Black Frost.
6:37: Bear with me, it's a cutscene from Shrek Super Slam, a fighting game based on the Shrek flicks. I don't care about Shrek, but I think that the cutscenes from the game featured in this ep are kinda funny. This one features Puss in Boots trying to enjoy a glass of milk and a gingerbread man cookie. The actual Gingerbread Man, a sheriff, doesn't like this, and challenges Puss to a fight. When he wins, he takes a peppermint stick and plays air guitar on it.
Then, Donkey is cornered by the handsome and narcissistic Prince Charming, who is also a member of the Far Far Away PD, or FFAPD for short. Prince Charming threatens Donkey through his megaphone, telling him that if he doesn't turn himself in, him and his family will be “far, far up the river!”
- Donkey: Nobody messes with my family! Kiss my hairy hoof!Prince Charming: Over my muscular and heavily lotioned dead body!
The graphics look decent for a licensed kids' game. Shrek hasn't done as well in his other games; there was a Shrek game that launched with the Xbox and a Game Boy Color game that got horrific ratings.
8:35: The game based on the movie and book Zathura. The only reason I mention this is because of the film's cast and crew, and how prominent they would be in the years after Zathura came out. It was directed by Jon Favreau, who went on to direct Iron Man, which helped establish the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as Iron Man 2; it starred Kristin Stewart, who went on to star in the Twilight saga, and Josh Hutcherson, who starred in the The Hunger Games saga. Who would have thought that a little family movie like Zathura would feature so many successful filmmakers (for better or worse)? The game itself got mediocre-to-poor ratings.
- "The Teen Titans game, called simply Teen Titans, is a lame excuse for a game that consists of an extremely generic plot, lazy, glitch-filled graphics and an extremely disappointing ending. Pretty much every major villain from the series is randomly running rampant and the Teen Titans have to go stop them. You can choose the difficulty level, but there's no noticeable difference between them besides the too good Pong level, and there are these two levels that are dang near impossible anyway! It's not the worst licensed game ever, but it sure has its problems.""It wouldn't be that bad if it had actually been made with 2D animation instead of the ugly 3D it got, and Raven's cloak is the wrong color. The free flash games on Cartoon Network's website look better than the game's graphics.""The one good thing it had going for it was that the entire voice cast of the actual show was onboard. But even that is kind of depressing if you stop to think about it too much.""And speaking of Raven, there's a major flaw in the game's cover art: her cape is missing. It's also worth mentioning that one of Cyborg's fingers, specifically the one that's right above Robin's hair, is slightly cut off. Take a look◊!"
Several years after the TT series ended, it was reintroduced in a Lighter and Softer/Denser and Wackier form with the DC Nation shorts, called The New Teen Titans, which were later promoted to the series Teen Titans Go!. A series which has received a lot of criticism for relying on dumb humor and characters being jerks to each other, quite the opposite of the original, more serious series. In hindsight, I wonder what we fans were expecting, what with Cartoon Network's Network Decay and TTG! intentionally being sillier. Personally, I think that TTG! is decent if you have nothing else to watch, but relies too much on the vulgar part of Vulgar Humor.
Cinematech Episode 277: “The Legends Return'''
So named because it features games from the Taito Legends retro collection. Nice.
0:13: Scenes from Need for Speed: Most Wanted, one of the Need for Speed games featuring live-action FMV, like a wannabe Fast and Furious movie. There are characters like Ronnie McCrea, who kinda looks like Noah Antwiler, and Mia Townsend, named after the actress that played her. The cutscenes featured in this montage are a bit cheesy, but a little charmingly so.
2:36: Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, a Dance Dance Revolution game for the Nintendo GameCube with Mario characters, stages, and dance remixes of Mario tunes. It's a little surreal to see Mario or Luigi busting a move.
4:54: A short clip from a fencing game from TL. The player on the left scores a hit to his opponent's mask, while the opponent strikes him on the left calf.
5:05: Scenes from Trapt, the fourth game in Tecmo's Deception series. This PS2 game is unusual to the rest of the franchise. It is basically a remake of the original game on the PS1, but with a female protagonist instead of a male one. Deception is unusual in that it has female protagonists in all but the original game. I say “protagonists” instead of “heroes” because in Deception, you are not really a hero. In these games, you usually play a character betrayed in some way, or otherwise bound to an evil, or at best morally dubious force of some kind.
In the first game, you were a prince framed and executed for the murder of your father. Before you are executed, you pleaded with the devil to spare your life. Shockingly, the devil accepted your plea, and you were mysteriously revived by a blue-skinned, elegant woman named Astarte, and taken to a castle filled with traps. In this castle, Astarte worked to revive Satan. She revived you in exchange for helping her revive her dark lord. The castle attracted visitors – some good, some evil – who sought something from it. The game was played entirely in first person – a touch lacking in the later games, and you could visit various rooms in the castle, such as the mysterious room with some incredibly trippy graphical effects where Satan would slowly emerge from a mirror. Other neat features included the ability to develop and improve your own traps, furnish the castle with new rooms, and Multiple Endings, one of my favorite tropes in games. Remarkably enough, the game only got a Teen 13+ rating from the ESRB.
In Trapt, you play Princess Allura (actually named Alicia in the original Japanese version, and due to the game only having the original Japanese voiceovers, you only hear characters call her Alicia), a princess framed for the murder of her father by her wicked stepmother. Allura escapes to an enigmatic castle with her loyal servant, Rachel, but becomes bound to the castle by an evil Fiend who gives her the power to ward off intruders with traps. It has most of the same features as the other games, but feels a little cheap compared to the earlier installments. The difficulty is uneven; all hell breaks loose (no pun intended) when you have to face cheap wizard characters with homing spells. That was the point where I gave up in the game. Also, the translation is dry, stiff, overly literal, and burdened with typos; the cutscenes are not very well animated; and the game just does not feel like the upgrade that the series should have gotten with a next-gen installment. So it is surprising, then, that the game wound up on the Play Station Network as a “PS2 Classic”, if you want to check it out. Makes you wonder why they have yet to bring the other Deception games to PSN as PS1 Classics. To their credit, Tecmo, who merged with Koei in the years since, has not forgotten the series and even made Deception IV: Blood Ties for the PS3 recently. That must mean that Trapt is just a remake of the original game, and not the “true” Deception IV, despite it being the fourth game released in the series, and was in fact originally titled Deception 4 early on in development.
16:14: A brief clip of a fancier fighting game from TL where two guys in armor with shields and swords duel one another. In this game, you can knock off pieces of your opponent's armor, similar to the later Fighting Vipers by SEGA.
19:36: A clip from the CG intro of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness where the hero, Hector, argues with his nemesis, Isaac, who had Hector's wife burnt at the stake by claiming she was a witch. Belmont or no, you do not mess with a Castlevania hero's lady, unless you want him to hunt you down. However, Isaac knows that Hector will not stand a chance against him unless he reclaims his power of Devil Forgery that he used when he worked for Dracula, and so allows him to go on a journey to regain his skills. Mainly, I liked the cutscenes from Curse of Darkness because the voice acting was fantastic and hammy between Hector (Crispin Freeman) and Isaac (Liam O'Brien). There are a lot of good voice actors doing work today, but I feel that these two were the absolute best choices to voice these characters.
As a game, C: CoD is a mixed bag. I like the gameplay more than Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, but it was still kind of repetitive, dry, and weak. It was neat that you could level up and evolve your Innocent Devils depending on the type of weapon that you used to defeat enemies, but it could take a very long time depending on the level of the Devil that you wanted to evolve. There were a lot of items and weapons to collect from enemies, and a stealing system that required overly tricky timing to pull off. Finally, the graphics were a mixed bag. It is kind of sad that the game looked worse in 2005 than Lament of Innocence did in 2003. That was a gorgeous and clean game at the time. CoD did have a free floating camera as opposed to the fixed camera of C: LoI, however.
Linkies of the Damned
- Hardcore Gaming 101's overview of the Deception series