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[ref]Technically, it’s PC Genjin, but that doesn’t really matter here.[/ref] 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[ref]Or “Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima”[/ref]. 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.

Let’s Play! The Official Father Christmas Game (Again)

Ho ho HOHGODNO

In a way, this is cheating because I’ve used this game for a Friday Let’s Play once before. However, that was six years ago and in that time Java has become a naughty word, the world has moved on, and the embedded emulator to actually play it has long since become unusable.

The game is still terrible. Just look at the inlay!

official father christmas
“Save the Children”? Presumably from “Santa” there.

Anyway. To “win” you have to rebuild The Official Father Christmas Sleigh, and find all The Official Father Christmas Presents. Presumably you then have to avoid getting drunk on sherry and diabetes from two billion mince pies.

Imagine you got this for Christmas one year. Urgh.

Continue reading “Let’s Play! The Official Father Christmas Game (Again)”

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!

Let’s Play! Hungry Horace

I can’t believe it’s not Pac-Man.

Following on from last week’s Definitely Not Frogger/Ski Slalom game Horace Goes Skiing (And Traffic Dodging), today I bring you another from the Horace Trilogy: Hungry Horace. Which definitely isn’t Pac-Man.

Actually, that sarcasm is a little unfair. There are quite a few differences to Pac-Man, not least the fact that there are various mazes. Some have tunnels. You can move onto the next maze without collecting all the dots. There aren’t as many ghosts (or park keepers, or whatever they’re supposed to be in this).

It’s also a lot harder, especially this screen:

hungry horace

Getting to the top right, avoiding the two baddies, is not only hard, it’s almost impossible. And the bell that allows you to “eat” the baddies? You have to get past the baddies to get to it!

Can you beat it? No, you can’t. But would you like to try? No? Sod you then.

Continue reading “Let’s Play! Hungry Horace”

The Atari Jaguar Controller

Hanging on the telephone.

(This suggestion from King of Suggestions, @JayTay)

the Atari Jaguar controller

A few months back I did an expansive post on which controller was the best, and it was clear then that the Atari Jaguar pad was never going to be in contention. As I said back then:

The Jaguar controller is just stupid. It is superficially like a Mega Drive pad, only with a telephone numeric keypad glued underneath. That might have been fine back in the days of the Atari 2600 and Intellivision when games would make use of them (remember those maths titles?) but on the Jaguar it was a waste, especially since so many Jaguar games were just ports of Mega Drive and SNES games that already didn’t need those buttons. At least you could have game-specific overlays on the controller, I suppose. Yay?

It was big and didn’t have enough buttons where it actually needed them, especially when you realise that by then the Mega Drive had a 6 button pad. No shoulder buttons, when the SNES had them already and the PlayStation and Saturn were just around the corner, were a mistake: One thing the Jaguar did well at the time was 3D games like Doom and Alien vs Predator, and shoulder buttons would have made strafing and/or turning much easier.

All those buttons at the bottom, though. I suppose somebody, somewhere, thought it was a good idea – after all, it worked for a very small number of Atari 2600 games – although not a single title for the Jaguar uses them effectively. Most of them are impossible to reach mid game, and if you lose the paper overlay things are made more complicated.

On the plus side, they’re not as uncomfortable to hold as they appear, and they’re quite light due to being mostly empty.

There are worse controllers. But not many first party ones.

Let’s Play! Horace Goes Skiing

Snow problem.

Just what the hell was Horace anyway? He’s some sort of blob with legs, but are those arms or flippers? And are they eyes on his front, or holes? Is that his actual head, or should his head be on top?

horace goes skiing

Look at him. He’s creepy.

In case you weren’t aware, Horace was a popular character in some 8bit computer games. Horace Goes Skiing is probably the best known of his titles, and is a game in two parts.

The first is not entirely unlike Frogger, where you navigate Hellish Freak Face across a busy road, avoiding the traffic, in order to reach the Ski Shop. Once there, you buy some skis, and have to cross back over the road.

Why the ski shop didn’t think to either a) position itself on the side of the road where the actual ski slope is, or at the very least b) lobby to have a crossing of some sort put in, isn’t made clear. Needless to say, Horace gets run over a lot. Ironically, most frequently by an ambulance.

horace goes skiing
See? Pesky ambulances. And then you have to pay them!

If he successfully reaches the ski slope with skis (and himself) intact, he gets to slalom down the mountain, trying his best to weave between the flags and avoid the trees. How a ski slope like this operates with damn trees all in the route I don’t know. They never had them on Ski Sunday.

Avoid trees.
Avoid trees.

Manage to reach the goal, and you do it all again, only harder!

Bonus Fun Fact: In my house, this game caused an argument when my parents were adamant that “skiing” only had one “i” and the game was wrong. Apparently no words have a double “i” in them.

Anyway. Let me know how well you do.

Continue reading “Let’s Play! Horace Goes Skiing”

Play Want Bin Expense: 2016-11-28

Nearly up to 104 now…

Wow – another week of completing ALL the games. And most of them were great! One, however, was not. Can you guess which one?

Play

Pokémon Y (3DS)
Some people are very generous when it comes to trading. I offer up something reasonably easy to come by, like a Froakie, and ask for a legendary Pokémon, and guess what? People trade! Lovely, lovely people.

Pokémon Go (iOS)
I hit level 25, thanks to a few days of Double XP combined with a lucky egg-powered evolving spree. Quadruple XP FTW.

Apartment 666 (Mac)
Barely worth downloading, truth be told. Rubbish game. Completed it though.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PS4)
Beautiful to look at and intriguing to play. Very good indeed, and I completed it in a single sitting.

Super Fantasy Zone (MD)
Lovely, just like all the other Fantasy Zones. Why did I never pay the series any attention before? It’s brilliant! This was the easiest so far, and I completed it (of course).

sonicpocketadventure-1127-100257Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (NGPC)
It’s been a long time, Neo Geo Pocket Colour. A very long time. Having figured out why Retropie wasn’t playing NGPC games, this was the first one I played – and completed – and it is fantastic. A Sonic 2 port with a cursory glance, but it’s actually a remix rather than a remake.

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium (NGPC)
And while I was in the mood for NGPC games, I played and completed this too.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)
I’ve only played the intro so far, but what I have played as been fun! No actual battles yet though, and that’s where the bulk of the game is…

Want

A copy and paste: Zelda (Switch), Sonic Mania (Switch), Pokémon Sun (3DS), Paper Mario (Wii U) and a Switch. And Shenmue 3 (PS4).

Bin

Apartment 666. That was awful. It didn’t even have any toilets in it.

Expense

For the most part, my two posts on Mystery Game Roulette cover this. As well as that, a single pound on the Humble Bundle, getting me copies of Volume, TIS-100 and Legend of Grimrock 2.

 

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?

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