Monday, October 1, 2012

My Month In Games: September 2012

In anticipation of tomorrow’s launch of Resident Evil 6, I thought I’d clear the books and get caught up with what I’ve been playing….God knows I probably won’t have much time for anything else for the next few months.  

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game – PSN

Though I didn’t think too much of the movie (too juvenile), I had a lot of fun with the game.  This old school style, side scrolling beat-’em-up reminds me a lot of the classic NES game River City Ransom in that it has RPG-like elements and a surprisingly robust move-set and combat mechanic.  The 8-bit inspired graphics, wonderful sprite animations, and high-quality chiptune soundtrack all add to the experience and the result is an extremely charming game with a good amount of replay value.

 Grade: B+

Double Dragon Neon – PSN

Alright, so IGN rated this game 3 out of 10 and called it “awful” and “clunky”, but since I’m old school (and because it was free for Playstation Plus subscribers) I still went ahead and downloaded it.  Here’s the deal: developer WayForward set out to create a “love letter” to Double Dragon fans and in that they have succeeded beautifully.  Trust me, if you dig games like Double Dragon and Streets Of Rage you will have fun with this game.  It is NOT awful.  Granted it IS maybe a little clunky here and there, but what beat-‘em-up isn’t?  It’s a clunky genre in general.  All I'm saying is "Hey IGN, save your “3’s” for games that are broken, you know?"

Anyway, this game looks and plays about how you’d expect a new Double Dragon game to look and play in 2012 and that’s just fine with me.  The graphics are decent, the action is satisfying, and the challenge level is appropriate.  In terms of gameplay, Double Dragon Neon is thoroughly competent.  That’s not exactly high praise, but it’s far from “awful”.  Where this game really shines is in its fun retro 80’s vibe.  The music and visuals come together in a way that actually makes me nostalgic for a time when people got away with saying things like “gnarly” and “tubular”.  In the end it’s a fun little brawler with a campy style that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  Is it worth paying $10 if you didn’t get it free from Playstation Plus?  Mmmmaybe not.  I’m willing to admit that I might be under the influence of nostalgia and therefore cutting this game a bit of slack, but if you’re at all curious about the further adventures of Billy and Jimmy Lee (or was it Spike and Hammer?) keep an eye out and pick this up when it goes on sale; you’ll have fun.

 Grade: B-

Outland – PSN

I wanted to love this game.  Everything from the gameplay (Metroidvania), to the gorgeous graphics, to the developer’s pedigree (Housemarque, creators of the amazing Super Stardust HD) screamed “YOU KNOW YOU LOVE ME, NICK!”, but I just couldn’t get into the groove of this game.  To be sure, this game is beautiful to look at, features tight, intuitive gameplay and controls, and has wonderful sound design.  On the face of it, there’s nothing to complain about.   It’s just that it’s, I don’t know, maybe kinda shallow.  It’s beautiful, but all the areas look the same; the controls are tight, but the moveset is limited; the ambient sounds are engrossing but minimalist.  Perhaps I’m just trying to justify my disinterest.  Maybe I’m feeling guilty about not liking a game that seems like it should be right up my alley.  Whatever the reason for my feelings, I recognize that this is a well made game and I know that many fans of Metroid, Castlevania, and NES-era Ninja Gaiden will dig it.

Grade: C+

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