Alphabest: GameCube – L

L is for Les Dennis

Was it worth the lengthy wait for L? Without wishing to spoil it for you before we even begin, after recent letters, a definite yes. Yes it was.

L

But before we get onto that, there’s the important task of shunning a handful of wrestling games. Because unless they’re Fire Pro, Cutie Suzuki, or the arcade Wrestlemania game that I used to play sometimes, they ain’t winning nothing. Toodle-oo, Legends of Wrestling and Legends of Wrestling II.

Adieu aussi to some licenced tat: Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Actually, Lemony Snicket isn’t as terrible as you might suspect, but I have no fondness for the source material and as you’ll see, there are far worthier contenders to come.

Three Lord of the Rings games get the chop too. Two of them are middling-to-average hacky-slashy titles which, if it wasn’t for the licence, wouldn’t even get a second glance. The third is a middling-to-average role playing title, which, if it wasn’t for the licence, wouldn’t even get a second glance.

The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning is an arrogantly named platformer. Spyro is not, and never was, any sort of legend. Like the other Spyro titles, this is dull, generic and bland. Bets thing Spyro ever did? Appear in Skylanders. That tells you a lot about Spyro.

There were two (count ’em) Lego Star Wars games for the GameCube. At the time, I didn’t like them. I don’t know why. The repetitive gameplay, the lack of interest in Star Wars, or the bugs? Later, I came to love the Lego games series, but these were not the best and aren’t fondly remembered. Even though I did 100% one of them.

So that’s what’s not. But what’s not not? What?

lost kingdomsLost Kingdoms came at a time when the GameCube really needed a role-playing game. But did it need this one? Well, no. But it was something different, meshing RPG dungeon-crawling with a real-time card battling mechanic. It took some getting used to, but get this: it’s by FromSoftware. Where are they now, eh? There was a Lost Kingdoms II, but sadly, it wasn’t as good.

zelda wind wakerThe Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the best Zelda game on the GameCube. Aside from re-releases, which don’t count. Sure, it was unfinished. Certainly there was a lot of pointless boating and some horrible stealth sections. But those colours! Those facial expressions! That art style! I’m no big fan of 3D Zeldas, but as 3D Zeldas go, this was pretty special. Twilight Princess? Snore.

luigi's mansionLuigi’s Mansion is the GameCube launch title nobody knew they wanted. Disappointed by no actual Mario game, many ignored Luigi’s Mansion for obvious reasons, but as it turns out, it was fantastic. No other game before it had such a well developed atmosphere, as you explore a mansion solving puzzles and hoovering up ghosts. Sure, it was 90% Luigi humping furniture, but it was clever and different and it was a shame it took over a decade before we got a sequel (on the 3DS).

And the Alphabest?

You know, I’d probably put Lego Star Wars II in shortlist if I expanded it to four entries, but then where would the madness end? Not that it’s the Alphabest, of course. Just a comment.

The best L game for the GameCube is obvious. Luigi’s Mansion was a surprise, did something new, and – importantly – didn’t have tedious boating sections. Wind Waker was alright, but Luigi was best. And not just because of his scared “Mari-oooooo?” sound clips.

Next time, whenever that might be, I’ll tackle M. Mmmm, M.

 

Play Want Bin Expense: 2017-05-01

Wonder Boy: Oracle of Assassins (um, down a well)

Another Zelda-heavy week. But no Breath of the Wild at all.

Play

oracle of agesThe Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3DS)
Which I’ve now completed. I posted my thoughts up on my Gaming Diary, but to summarise: It’s still excellent. It’s still one of if not the best Zelda games. It was full of puzzles, the combat was hard, and the two fire buttons of the GBC does age the item swapping mechanism somewhat. It took just over 17 hours and I loved it.

dragon's trapWonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch)
Another game from years ago, although this one has been tarted up graphically and sonically. It’s also fantastic, and I also completed it – something I could never do back on the Master System all them years ago. I was very pleased with myself, I have to admit. It did get me thinking though: Which other games would benefit from a similar type of reskin? Can we have Wonder Boy in Monster Land next, please? Also, that Monster Boy game that’s coming out soon has a big task ahead of it now.

syndicateAssassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)
Into the latter stages of the game now. I’m halfway through Sequence 7, but Sequence 8 appears to be optional and I think it only goes up to Sequence 10. Mostly, the game is currently playing out like this: Jacob cocks up, Evie repairs the damage. Playing as Evie is still a lot more fun than as Jacob too. As for how good the game is, I’m really enjoying it. I don’t know if I’m enjoying it more than Unity, but it has grown on me a lot since I started. I’m even having fun mopping up the territory take-over side quests.

Downwell (Vita)
Just a bit here and there. It’s hard.

Want

All the same things as ever, Sonic Mania (Switch) in particular, but I’m also starting to get interested in the next Assassin’s Creed game – Empire, if rumours are to be believed. I also want some other Switch games that are already out, like Lego City Undercover and Mario Kart.

Bin

Sore as they still are, my fingers/skin/entire being hasn’t been quite so bad this last week. I’m not cured, but it has been a little less annoying.

Game-wise, Claire can go in the bin. I briefly tried it again, it crashed twice, and I gave up. I ain’t got time for that.

Expense

Nothing! Not even free stuff.

Play Want Bin Expense: 2017-04-24

Not a single Korok in sight.

This week, a different Zelda. A better Zelda. No, really.

Play

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3DS)
I’ve long enthused about how the Oracles games are the very best Zelda games. Many people say Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time are, but they are Wrong. Some people have also said that Breath of the Wild is now the best, and although I can see why they’d say this, they’re also Wrong. Not least because it isn’t a proper Zelda game. But, doubting myself, I thought I’d play Ages (and then Seasons, I expect) through again. I was Right. It’s great. Some of the very best puzzles Zelda has to offer. An incredibly well designed world, where map areas are unlocked as you progress. Is it linear? Yes. That doesn’t matter.

Picross e7 (3DS)
Still nowhere near finishing this, but I was pleased to see that one of the puzzles was a toilet. Any game with a toilet in it is a big plus for me. In fact, if Oracle of Ages had toilets in it (and it might yet, although I don’t think it does) it could be the best game ever.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch)
So good. So hard! There’s some black magic involved here too, as there’s no way the screens can be just re-skinned versions of the Master System originals. They’re too pretty, too slick. Yet, if you press R, there’s yer proof. It’s incredible. In terms of how much I’ve played, I got to Pirate Dragon and he’s impossible.

Yandere Simulator (Mac)
Curiosity pushed me to play this. I stabbed someone, which caused minor alarm, but then I was expelled because I had blood on me. Odd. Then I played again, stoved a girl’s head in with a dumbbell, then threw her off a roof. Once more, terror I did a murder, but only punishment for having blood splashes on my clothes. And maybe because I had a toy sheep on my head. I don’t know. Oh! Some great toilets, even if you can’t use the sinks in there to wash.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)
Jacob’s ladyfriend turned out to be a wrongun then. That’s a spoiler, by the way, but hardly a big one. I saw it coming anyway. A bigger spoiler is the bit that happens if you go to the big helixy thing on the right of the map. That was… odd.

Puyo Puyo Tetris Demo (Switch)
Sort of want the full game now. But since the demo does all the stuff I’d want of the full game, I’m not sure I need to buy it.

Claire: Extended Cut (Vita)
This was a hassle to get working, because my Vita appears to be knackered. Crashes all the damn time. Had to restore everything. Twice. ANYWAY. It wasn’t worth it as the game isn’t very interesting and is far too dark to play properly. And the map is a horror, reminding me of the one from Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. I’ve no idea where to go, what’s going on, and can’t see a thing.

Want

Sonic Mania please. And some other stuff, but mainly that.

Bin

Fingers. And toes. And just skin in general.

Expense

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (Switch) – £14.39

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…

Let’s Play! New Year 1985

Kupi predmete koji padaju

I think there’s a pretty high chance than you’ve never played this game before. In fact, I’m quite certain the vast majority of people have never even heard of it.

New Year 1985 is a (reads notes) Bosnian Spectrum game. As a result, the words used in it are completely alien to me and also, I would expect, to a sizeable number of people reading this. But, the title of the game includes the phrase “New Year”, and today is very nearly New Year’s Eve, so it sort of works.

new year 1985
99 green bottles, standing on the wall.

The aim, so much as I can gather, is to guide your… man?… left and right to collect apples and bottles. As we all know, this is normal practice for Bosnians over New Year, and so New Year 1985 replicates the tradition well. Probably.

Continue reading “Let’s Play! New Year 1985”

The Best Video Game Magazine

Dead Tree Media

(This suggestion from @JayTay)

the best video game magazine

The answer to this is obvious, but before that, let us explore some other great magazines, shall we?

your sinclairThe first games magazine that I ever started buying and reading regularly, was the incredible Your Sinclair. I had a Spectrum, so it made sense. I’d picked up a handful of old-ish issues, and decided I wanted to get it every month. The first one I got this way was the one with Vigilante on the front cover (issue 40), and I continued to buy it until around issue 72, by which time the actual game coverage in the magazine had dropped to almost zero. Somehow, despite there being almost nothing Spectrum related, it carried on for nearly two more years!

I loved the writing style and humour, the in-jokes and references, and there’s never been another magazine quite like it. Zero, Amiga Power and Sega Power tried to carry the style forward but they never really worked as well.

Before I got my Mega Drive, and while I was still buying Your Sinclair, a weekly multiformat magazine called Games-X came out. Its coverage of the Speccy was slim at best, but it was funny and I enjoyed seeing the games on other systems. I recall Rolling Ronnie was a reason for wanting an Amiga, but it was the reviews of Mega Drive games that made me want one of them. Games-X didn’t even last a year, but by then I had my new Sega console and so I started buying…

sega powerSega Power! Similar in many ways to Your Sinclair (and often featuring some of the same staff), I used to love it. The mini-reviews of piles of games in the back of every issue was often pored over, and dictated many of the games I bought over the years. In fact, one of these glowing recommendations was why I ended up with Phantasy Star III – still my favourite RPG and pleasingly, the reason I got a Sega Power T-Shirt: I wrote in with a solution to something in the game, and they printed it!

Unfortunately, changes in staff later in the Mega Drive’s life meant the magazine went to pot. The review of Street Racer was enough for me to cancel my subscription and I never bought it again. Not long afterwards it became Sega Saturn Power or something anyway.

Around this time I also bought many issues of Mean Machines Sega, Megatech (which was just about the best magazine – artwise – at the time) and Official Sega Magazine. They, along with CVG and Nintendo Magazine System, all shared a similar style, probably due to staff cross polination, which I warmed to. They were a bit more grown up than Sega Power (which had become crass and childish), and for a couple of years Official Sega Magazine was my only regular purchase. I was even featured in a couple of issues – Phantasy Star III hints again, and cribbed from EGM passwords for Universal Soldier, I think.

Then I was off to university and so magazine money was tight. I’d moved on to buying the odd music magazine instead anyway, and since I was still using my Amiga and Mega Drive while magazines for both formats were dead or dying, games magazines were a bit of a waste of time.

That was it for a long time. I remember picking up some copies of NGC, CVG and others, but in the early 2000s I had a PC and had moved onto non-gaming stuff like .net and PC Plus.

For the last few years of it’s existence, I really enjoyed my subscription to Official Nintendo Magazine. Unfortunately, it died because like most games magazines it just didn’t sell in big enough numbers, and I’d imagine since Nintendo is generally seen as for kids, the kids were buying Pokémon magazines instead.

retro gamerWhich leaves my current (only) magazine – Retro Gamer. I enjoy the varied topics, the reminders of forgotten gems from my gaming past, and the stories behind companies and titles from way back when.

Over the years I’ve also picked up (mainly second hand) and enjoyed Amiga Format, Amiga Power and Sinclair User, but the magazines that really stick with me are Your Sinclair, Sega Power and Retro Gamer. So which of the three is the best video game magazine?

ugvm, of course.