Alphabest: GameCube – K

K is for Killing Me Softly

In which we discover yet another letter the GameCube doesn’t exactly excel with. Bear with me.

K

Honestly, there are some great letters coming up. Really there are. Until then, let’s have a look at some K stuff. Starting with Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade, a hacky-slashy arcade adventure game which feels a little like a precursor to Dark Souls. It’s visually pretty impressive (albeit very brown), and the combat is surprisingly good, but it’s nothing special in the gameplay department.

Kirby Air Ride would, you’d expect seeing as it’s a Kirby game, be fantastic. Sadly, it is not. No, what we have here is a sub-par racing game. A cute one, but with limited long-term appeal and ultimately a waste of a licence. It’s no F-Zero or Mario Kart, certainly.

Before EA’s Fight Night, that mostly well received boxing series, was Knockout Kings. Knockout Kings 2003 is the only entry that appeared on the GameCube, and is boxing. Boxing is rubbish. Especially when it doesn’t have the great stick-per-hand controls of Fight Night, so it’s off the list.

Joining it, and also boxing related, is the very definition of generic animal-based platformer: Kao the Kangaroo Round 2. It’s a kangaroo wearing boxing gloxes because of course it is. Even Rayman is better than this. Hell, even Gex 3D is be…oh, maybe not.

With those out of the way, we’re left with the best of K.

killer7Killer7 was originally intended to be one of Capcom’s GameCube exclusives, which also included Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil 4. It’s a stylish, on-rails first person shooter with the usual Suda51 hallmarks – violence, ladies, an incredible soundtrack and a nuts plot. It was somewhat repetitive and perhaps a bit limited though, and perhaps hasn’t aged well.

kelly slater's pro surferKelly Slater’s Pro Surfer is exactly what you’d expect to get if you took the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater engine and applied it to, well, surfing. Certainly that limits the scope somewhat, but amazingly Activision managed to make it work. Just as much fun as Tony Hawk, in some ways more focussed and “cool”, just a bit less replayability. And better sunsets.

And the Alphabest?

Obviously you’re all expecting me to say award winning, critically acclaimed classic Killer7 here, aren’t you? Well, I’m not. It absolutely is a great game for many, but I just couldn’t get on with it. I constantly wanted a lightgun, and it just wasn’t as much fun as Kelly Slater.

That’s right. I’m putting Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer down here as the best K game for the GameCube. Ahead of Killer7. Suda51 might be cool, but surfing, man, that’s more cool.

L next time. Join me then for more lists. Woo!

Alphabest: GameCube – J

J is for Jay

Where would we be without J, eh? Ancient Rome, that’s where. Ho ho. Let us see what one of our more modern, relatively speaking, letters has brought us.

J

Good grief. What a pile of tripe. It’s going to be hard to pick something even decent from this list, let alone anything good.

Let us start by discounting Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 9. And Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 9 Chou Ketteiban. And Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 10. And Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 10 Chou Ketteiban. And… you get the idea. Nine of these baseball games graced the GameCube, in Japan at least, one every 6 months or so. I’m sure they’re great baseball games. They might even be the very best baseball games. But they’re baseball games.

Then there’s Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which falls in the category of Dire Nickelodeon Licensed Trash (I think that’s a real genre, actually). It won’t be winning any prizes sat there, I can tell you.

Which brings us limping to The Best J Has To Offer. Hold onto your hats, kids!

Jeremy McGrath Supercross World is a cross country motorbike racing game that just loves brown. Do you love bikes and brown? You’ll love this then! Maybe. Actually, it just looks a lot like that boring brown track on Mario Kart 64. But still – it’s not terrible. Well maybe a bit. Mmm, brown.

judge dreddJudge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death is a first person shooter with quite nice cartoon graphics. It’s no XIII, but it does let you arrest perps (and/or shoot them in the legs) and say I AM THE LAW. And pretend you have the largest chin in the world. OK, so you bounce up and down like you’re on a space hopper as you walk, but dat chin.

And the Alphabest?

I’m pretty sure this is the worst collection of games for an Alphabest so far. Even the very best is poor at most. But! A winner must be decided, and I’ve decided it will be… Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death. Mainly because it has Judge Dredd in it.

Everyone pray for K.

Alphabest: GameCube – I

I is for Iori

Hello and welcome back to the wonderful, pointless world of Alphabest! It’s been a little while, but now it’s time to return. And what a letter to return with!

I

Actually, there probably isn’t a more underwhelming letter than I on the GameCube. So few games! Even fewer good ones! What a disappointment.

We begin with two games based on The Incredibles (that Pixar film, remember?): The Incredibles, and The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer. As licenced dross, they’re coming nowhere near the good games. Joining them is The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which bucks the trend of licenced games bu actually not being terrible! Unfortunately, it isn’t that great either. Ah well.

More licenced dross includes Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and The Italian Job. The former could never hope to be decent, but the latter could have been so much better. Racing Minis in sewers? Yes please! But not like this of god not like this. Imagine Midtown Madness, only crap. That’s The Italian Job.

And I-Ninja. You all remember I-Ninja, right? Of course you don’t. Especially since it never came out on the GameCube in Europe. One good thing about it, however, is that it initially came with a copy of Pac-Man Vs, which is by far the better game.

Finally, in the “bin” pile, are International Superstar Soccer 2 and 3. Certainly, back then, the football series that essentially became PES was much better than rival behemoth FIFA. Sadly, it’s still football.

Which brings us to the sad realisation that “I” is just:

intellivision livesIntellivision Lives!, which is included here mainly because of the sheer number of games in included, is a compilation of Intellivision games. The Intellivision was like the Atari 2600, only arguably more powerful and with no good games. Making this entry here somewhat pointless. It was no Atari Anthology, to be sure.

ikarugaIkaruga is a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up, and one of the very best examples of such a thing ever to exist. Apparently. I mean, I liked it an stuff, although the game it is a followup to – Radiant Silvergun – was better, I thought. Not that I’m a fan of shooters anyway, but both games were something quite different, and have a massive following.

And the Alphabest?

Oh let me guess. Or you guess. Actually, nobody guess because it’s bloody obvious: it’s Ikaruga. Fans of shoot ’em ups absolutely have to have it, and people like me who aren’t absolutely have to try it because it challenges the way such games are played and perceived, not least because of its clever black and white damage and immunity mechanic.

You can see that the GameCube has just one, one, decent game beginning with I.

J next time. Please, let it be a better selection…

Alphabest: GameCube – H

H is for Halphabest

Who’d have thunk it? H comes after G? Incredible.

H

At first glance, there’s a reasonable number of games for the GameCube that start with everyone’s favourite dropped consonant. At second glance, it’s clear there are a lot of Harry Potter games. Five of them, to be precise. And what do we say to Harry Potter games? We say “No” to Harry Potter games.

I completed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was a mistake. What a terrible game that was. Should have said “No”, you see.

There was a Hitman game for the GameCube. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin was presumably sent out to die like most “mature” games for the console, but as the only Hitman game I’ve ever really enjoyed is the first one – and even that only because of the sniping bits – I can’t include it in the shortlist. It isn’t a bad game, just not for me.

The Hobbit, Happy Feet and The Haunted Mansion are generic licenced tat, so we can ignore those, and the two Hot Wheels games failed to impress anyone so they’re off too.

Which leaves:

bonk's adventureHudson Selection Vol. 3: Bonk’s Adventure 1 is a mouthful and a remake of the great PC Engine title. There are actually four games in the Hudson Selection series (all Japanese releases only) with Lode Runner, Star Soldier and Adventure Island 2. making up the quartet. They’re all pretty good, but Bonk’s Adventure is most enjoyable. Blue skies and stuff, innit.

hello kitty roller rescueHello Kitty: Roller Rescue is legitimately excellent. So many people have told me I’m wrong in the head for saying so, but have they played it? No, they have not. It’s fun, it looks fantastic, and Hello Kitty skates around smacking things with a magic wand thing. How can it not be incredible? I’m serious.

harvest moonHarvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is one of three GameCube Harvest Moon games, but the only one officially released in the UK. It’s also one of the better Harvest Moon games, with a nice split between arable farming, pastoral farming, exploring and dating. It isn’t perfect, but it is relaxing and doesn’t have as much busywork as earlier titles nor complexity as later ones. And you have a horse!

And the Alphabest?

It’s very easy to determine a winner here, because although all three are happy fun blue skies piles of loveliness, one is impossible to play without a massive grin. And that game, is Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue. Not only is it the best GameCube game starting with H, it’s also possibly the best Hello Kitty game on any platform.

Next time, O Lovers of Letters, is I. Are I? Is I? I. I.

Notes:

  1. Technically, it’s PC Genjin, but that doesn’t really matter here.
  2. Or “Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima”

Alphabest: GameCube – G

G is for G G G G-Unit

And you all thought (hoped) I’d forgotten about this series, hadn’t you? Well, no. To prove it, here’s the next one!

G

What a difference a couple of generations makes. For the Mega Drive, there were a fair few decent games starting with G, but for the GameCube? Very few. Actually, none.

Which makes things a bit difficult here, but I’ll give it a go. The worst offenders include licenced tripe The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Gotcha Force. Sort of licenced, but not quite, is Go! Go! Hypergrind which uses characters created by Spümcø (you know, John K? Ren and Stimpy?) in a dire skateboard/accident game.

Definitely not trying to cash in on the popularity of the Gladiator film, Gladius is a strategy role-playing game where you have control of a load of gladiators at gladiator school. Imagine Fire Emblem only with gladiators and awful graphics.

Grooverider: Slot Car Thunder never came out in the UK so I know every little about it. I do know it has nothing to do with Grooverider, the DJ, and therefore is rubbish. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent similarly has nothing to do with GoldenEye (although it certainly thinks it has), and isn’t even as good as other GameCube Bond games Nightfire or Agent Under Fire, let alone the Big Dog.

Finally, in the list of “games that won’t make it” is Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, which carries on the long-standing tradition of being a crap Godzilla game.

With them all dissected for scientific research, we’re left with these specimens:

GunGun is a Western themed GTA style action game, not unlike – in premise and execution, at least – the well respected Red Dead series. It’s also one of the few games Neversoft did that wasn’t Tony Hawk related, before they were subsumed as part of the Guitar Hero and later Call of Dooty chaps. Gun is decent enough, but Red Dead Revolver already existed (albeit not on the GameCube) so it’s a bit surplus to requirements.

Gauntlet Dark LegacyGauntlet: Dark Legacy vaguely follows on from the classic original game, but changes the gameplay to be more loot-based and Diablo-like. It didn’t garner great reviews, but in multiplayer mode most of it’s flaws can be easily overlooked and it’s really rather good fun. Single player, though, is slow and tedious.

GeistGeist, made by n-Space who are perhaps better known for 3DS ports of Activision games, developed this “possess-’em-up” reminiscent of The Haunting and Messiah. You, as a spirit, can take control of things and scare the bejezus out people. Or you can just shoot them, as it’s a hybrid of the two game styles. It’s good, but I found it very difficult.

And the Alphabest?

G isn’t exactly the strongest letter for GameCube games, it has to be said. Although the three I’ve picked out as the best titles aren’t poor, they’re still pretty mid-tier and wouldn’t end up in anyone’s best GameCube game lists. Of course, that’s not the point of Alphabest, so I can only work with what I have.

The winner, therefore, is Geist. It’s a close run thing, but the slowness of Gauntlet and the not-quite-Red-Deadness of Gun mean Geist gets the point. It deserves it anyway, for being unique (very few games have its mechanics), being exclusive to the system, and probably the best put-together of the three. Maybe that’s down to Nintendo being so involved in the development? Anyway.

Next time, hopefully without such a wait, H! From Steps!

Alphabest: GameCube – F

F is for Fish. Michael Fish. Licence to Kill.

It’s the letter F, so you know what that means! FIFAs all up in yo face. So many FIFAs. FIFApocalypse. If only one of them was any good. Ah well.

F

So that’s the many FIFA Soccer games gone then. Six of them, at my count, and then two “FIFA Street” games which are sort of like NBA Jam for football, but in fact aren’t. They’re just FIFA in a playground. That’s half the Fs wiped out in one go.

F also brings F1, and although neither of the F1 titles for the GameCube (2002 and Career Challenge) are terrible, they’re hardly the best racing games around. Or even the best F1 games, actually. I won’t be including them.

Remember Frogger? Well, for the GameCube, three Frogger games were released. Of course, they’re not the Frogger game (although I think that made it out in a compilation), they are instead stupid platformers with a frog in. Much like how none of the Pac-Man platformers work, neither do the Frogger ones. Oh, spoilers for P, I suppose.

Rounding off the rest of the crap are a number of film and TV tie-ins. It’s rare these are ever any good, and the selection here hardly push that stereotype. Finding Nemo, Fantastic 4, Flushed Away and a pair of The Fairly OddParents games all occupy this space.

Fight Night Round 2 surprises on many fronts, by 1) being a not crap sports game, 2) being a not crap boxing game, 3) being a not crap EA game, and 4) being actually rather fun. I know! I was as amazed as you when this dawned on me. It’s not good enough to make the final, however.

Which brings us to this set of three:

fire emblem path of radianceFire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a turn based strategy role-playing game, in the same way the many other Fire Emblem games are. If you’re not sure what that means, then think of Xcom, Advance Wars, Mystaria, Shining Force – those sorts of games. It’s also one of the few UK home console releases of the series. If you’re into the genre, it’s essential, if pretty difficult.

f-zero gxF-Zero GX is a somewhat divisive game in the F-Zero series. It seems many people like the N64 F-Zero X, or the GameCube F-Zero GX (which was actually developed by Sega’s Daytona team!), but not usually both. Personally, I’m on the GX side of the fence. X was a little too plain for me (and is so intentionally, to keep the speed up), and GX is fast AND gorgeous. It’s far too difficult though, and some of the tracks have truly evil turns and jumps.

final fantasy crystal chroniclesFinal Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is a role-playing game which marked the return of the series to Nintendo home consoles. Only it didn’t really, as name aside, there’s very little relationship between the Crystal Chronicles series and Final Fantasy. It’s more action based, with real-time battles, and is as much about exploring as fighting. It’s still pretty good, but those expecting a true Final Fantasy will be disappointed.

And the Alphabest?

Three very different games listed there, and it’s hard to compare them. However, as good as Crystal Chronicles is, I can’t shake the false Final Fantasy badge. F-Zero GX is undoubtedly a fantastic racing game, but it was too hard for me to fully enjoy (or complete), so there’s that against it – although some will relish the challenge, I’m sure.

Which means the winner can only be Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. It has the excellent strategy of so many other SRPGs, but has the GameCube’s grunt to elevate it above the (also awesome) Game Boy Advance titles. It is hard, yes, but it’s rewarding and endlessly playable. And huge.

What letter will we see next time? G, of course! Are you two years old?

Alphabest: GameCube – E

E is for Especially For You

Oh dear. It was all going so well with the GameCube Alphabest series, and then E came along and ruined it all.

E

I’m hard staring at E right now. Like it’s a dog who weed on the kitchen lino while we were at work, and was now being scolded after having its nose rubbed in it.

This is how many E games are even vaguely good: One. That’s not a shortlist. It’s not technically a list at all. Still, I can at least explain why the others didn’t make it. And for fun I’m going to bung a red herring in, to make a final two. See if you can guess which it is. I bet you can.

With all the terrible sports games killed off before we begin (that’s ESPN International Winter Sports 2002, ESPN MLS ExtraTime 2002, Evolution Skateboarding and Evolution Snowboarding – all by Konami, strangely enough) not least because half of them never even came out in the UK, that leaves us with…

Eggo Mania, the tedious puzzle game. Evolution Worlds, a terrible RPG with just about the worst box art on the GameCube. And Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures which is licenced dross. Wow.

The one that made it, and the outright lie, are therefore:

eternal darknessEternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a sort of survival horror game. Each level is set in a different time period, with a different main character, and there’s an over-arching storyline that ties them together. Alex, the modern day protagonist, discovers and relives all these past events as she explores her grandfather’s mansion. A big hook for the game is the inclusion of sanity effects, which add scary moments and bizarre events – some of which are 4th wall breaking.

enter the matrixEnter the Matrix puts you into The Matrix. As in, the one in the film of the same name. The story of the game runs alongside the second film in the trilogy, and you get to control and meet characters from the series. It’s mostly a fighting game, with some gunplay and FMV sequences. Of course you can also use “bullet time” as featured in the films, which was something reasonably new to games at the time – Max Payne notwithstanding, of course.

And the Alphabest?

Go on, which game was the fake? Can you guess? Of course you can, because it is well known that Enter the Matrix was a complete mess. The gameplay was awful enough, but the game was never properly playtested and was brimming over with bugs. If you want an idea of how bad it is, take a look at my Game Over, Yeah!! play from a few years ago.

Naturally, that leaves Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem as the “winner”. It has some rough edges, hasn’t aged that well, but for sheer inventiveness in its scare tactics and plot, it’s still a remarkably unique game. Fatal Frame and Silent Hill are more modern games that are most similar, but even they aren’t that close.

Next time: Let us pray that F is better, shall we?

Alphabest: GameCube – D

D is for Doo Wop That Thing

There’s one word which makes culling the D list a lot easier: Disney. As in, He disney wanna play any of them.

D

This is because, there are one hell of a lot of Disney games for the GameCube, and it would seem that most of them begin with the word “Disney”. We can bin every single one of them along with another Disney D game which doesn’t contain “Disney” – Donald Duck: Quack Attack.

It may seem harsh getting rid of so many just because they have the misfortune of being a Disney licenced product, but really, they all deserve it. From “Disney’s Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse” (which I completed, for my sins) to “Disney’s Tarzan: Freeride”, they’re all – without a single exception – crap. Some even have the double-whammy of being Disney and sports. Disney Sports Soccer for example. No.

Some other games that won’t progress past this point include a number of Dragon Ball Z titles (these are never good, yet people keep buying them), Dora the Explorer: Journey to the Purple Planet (hopefully she never comes back), Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 (it’s no Tony Hawk), and a pair of Def Jam fighting games.

What a dark time in gaming history.

It’s not all bad though! Have a look at what actually is worth mentioning:

donkey kongaDonkey Konga is a rhythm game, starring Donkey Kong, where you use a pair of bongos as the controller. You slap either drum in time to the music as shown on screen, and it also has a microphone which is designed to pick up claps, adding a bit more variety. It is a lot of fun, although your hands will hurt after even a short play. There were two sequels, but the original has the best tracklist and in rhythm games, the tracklist is everything.

doshin the giantDoshin the Giant surprised everyone by making it out of Japan, although it never reached the US. You take control of a huge naked yellow giant who definitely has a prominent navel and it isn’t a willy at all. He can raise and lower land, as well as move stuff about, in order to help the inhabitants of the world. Or, he can turn into the evil Jashin and wreak havoc on everyone. It’s a little like Black and White, but so much better.

And the Alphabest?

It’s funny that both games involve slapping stuff with open palms – you on the bongos in Donkey Konga, and Doshin himself in order to flatten the landscape. This aside, they couldn’t be more different. Donkey Konga is frequently frantic, but Doshin is mostly laid back.

Between them, I’d have to choose Doshin the Giant. It’s such a cute looking, relaxing game to play. Even when things go wrong – like natural disasters – you never feel pressured or stressed. And of course, it’s utterly bonkers, and that’s always an easy sell to me.

Next time: E. Is the Magic Number. (But what does it all mean?)