I’m still ticking off the games on the Sega 3D Classics Collection. Only three to go now, I think. With 3D Maze Walker, I’ve been plugging away a couple of levels at a time, and finally completed it today.
Why did it take so long? It wasn’t exactly hard, nor were there many levels. No, the main reason for taking so long was that it’s utter crap and I simply could not bear to play more than two or three tedious, boring levels in one go.
You know how I wasn’t exactly complementary about 3D Altered Beast? This is worse. Far worse. The idea is to find a key in a maze, then reach the exit. You can smack roaming baddies with a stick. You move like you’re wading through treacle. Going the wrong way is a trial because you have to play the game for longer by backtracking. It has just one redeeming feature: Excellent 3D. That’s it.
I hated every minute of Maze Walker and I’m glad it’s finished. I will never, ever, ever, play this fetid pile of dung ever again. And neither should you.
Now you see, you look at Thunder Blade and see how it’s technically quite clever, but gameplay-wise it’s awful, and then look at Galaxy Force II and see the correct way to use the technology. It’s fast, looks incredible, has very varied levels, and there actually seems to be a point to shooting down the enemy rather than just flying past them.
You’ve an energy reading which constantly counts down, dropping in big chunks if you get hit or fly into a wall or something. You can refill it by destroying enemies, with the total “collected” added to your counter after every section of a level.
Galaxy Force II is a tricky game, too. You have to accelerate through it as much as possible so your counter doesn’t drop before the end of the game, but have to weigh up the danger that causes – especially in enclosed areas. Pelt to the end, or slow down and try to wipe out as many spaceships as you can in order to “refuel”?
The 3D adds a huge amount to the game too. With it off, the game actually looks wrong, as if it was supposed to be 3D all along. Fantastic.
Only a handful of games left to complete on this 3D Classics collection now!
I’d actually started working through the Master System version of Fantasy Zone II, which is also on the Sega 3D Classics Collection, but after pausing the game on one of the final bosses, then saving the game state so I could play it later, I found I was left in an impossible situation and the only way out is to start the game again.
So instead, I started playing the 3D port of the original arcade game! It’s superficially the same, with similar levels, enemies and bosses, but the warping around system is totally different. Whereas in the Master System version the warps exist mainly just to split the level into four or five sections, here the flip between Light and Dark versions of the level. It seems that you can get different endings if you run into the bosses on just Light or just Dark areas of each level, but I pretty much just alternated between the two.
Another difference is that in the Master System Fantasy Zone II, Opa-Opa has an energy bar (which can be extended with power-ups), but in this version one hit and you’re dead. Well, one hit and you might lose your weapon, then with the next hit you’re dead.
I really enjoyed the game. Any blue skies game is always welcoming to play, and having enjoyed the first 3D Fantasy Zone a while back (which surprised me) I was pretty sure I’d like this. Now to tackle the Master System one again, I think!
Despite having played this before, a long time ago (on the Spectrum and Amiga at least, maybe once in the arcade), I was half way through Power Drift before I realised you could, well, drift. Round corners like, you know? The clue is right there in the name of the game but for some reason it never occurred to me to try.
That’s probably why I found the later tracks, on routes C, D and E, easier than the earlier ones, I suppose.
As for how the game plays, it’s incredible. Sure, the graphics look a bit rough now, and the way the road appears to be made out of various coloured logs is a little weird, but it is a lot of fun. The 3D is excellent, the faux-cabinet tilting effects add a surprising amount, and it’s so very, very fast. I think it may even be better than the 3D Out Run remake, although there’s no Magical Sound Shower so perhaps not.
To count as completed, I finished all five stages on all five courses (so 25 in all), plus two Extra Stages (where you race as the Afterburner plane!?) I unlocked. I think the lowest I placed was 2nd.
It was never the best of Sega’s arcade games. Impressive as it was, with the hydraulic cabinet and fancy (at the time) scaling sprites, I never really found it very much fun. I bought the Mega Drive “Super” version, which had neither of those selling points and it was dire. I wasn’t expecting much from the 3D update.
And I was right. It’s pretty poor. The 3D works well, and it has all the nice touches other games in the 3D Classics series have, like tilting display and “cabinet noises”, but it’s short, easy, and boring.
Much easier than Super Thunder Blade was, in fact. Not sure why that might be, but I’m sure that was a lot longer. I certainly never completed it, anyway. I don’t think I’ll be playing this again – the into the screen levels are fun but very short, and the vertically scrolling bits aren’t a patch on other shoot ’em ups.
You took a mystery and made me want it
You got a pedestal and put me on it
Number two completed from the Sega 3D Classics Collection. It started off very easy, but by stage 14 or so it was nigh on impossible. My tactic near the end was to place stuff as quickly as possible almost anywhere, then hope I’d done enough, unintentionally, to set up a few chains.
It seemed to work, but there were so many near misses and failures.
Unexpectedly, the final boss (“Satan”, although very different looking to any Satan you might think) was very easy to beat. Or I was just lucky?
No, not 3D Fantasy Zone for the 3DS, 3D Fantasy Zone. For the 3DS. This one is one of the ten games on the Sega 3D Classics Compilation, just like the other one is, but this one is a 3D port of the Master System version of Fantasy Zone, whereas the other was the arcade version.
Still with me?
Thankfully, the Master System version was much, much easier and instead of taking eight hours to complete, it took just one. It’s almost the same as the arcade version, only with a couple of boss changes and seemingly a lot more money to collect – which made stocking up on lives and heavy bombs simple to do.
All of the bosses seemed easier as well, especially the final one which took me $hlmun tries before, but just two here. It’s much slower, I think, so easier to avoid and attack.
Now to finish the other nine games! Even though I have half of them already.
Along with some other games (like Year Walk), Gargoyle’s Quest was cheap on the eShop. I don’t know what prompted me to buy it, but this Game Boy classic has always interested me, at least a little due to the plot.
Well, what I knew of the plot – Firebrand, the bad guy gargoyle from Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, is the protagonist in this part RPG, part platformer set in the demon realm Firebrand comes from. You quest is to defeat the even-more-evil-than-every-other-demon, the King Breager who is going to destroy Firebrand’s world.
How this plays out is surprisingly reminiscent of Zelda II on the NES, with overland travel – where random battles take the form of very short platforming sections – villages to visit, and “dungeons” which are side-scrolling platforming bits of substantial length. Firebrand upgrades his abilities to enable him to hover for longer, jump higher, or allow him to temporarily cling to spiked walls.
Unlike Zelda II, though, it’s actually possible to complete Gargoyle’s Quest, as I proved today when I did so. It is a bit janky (with lots of slowdown in sections), a couple of areas are incredibly frustrating (timing drops past spikes, in particular) and bosses that don’t get harder (the end boss is the easiest in the entire game). It also suffers from terrible dialogue, complete with spelling mistakes.
All that said, it’s a fun little title that was probably excellent when it was released, but hasn’t really aged well. I’m glad I played it though.
How do you get Pikachu on a bus? Threaten to knife him.
A brief history of my time playing “main” Pokémon games:
1997: Pocket Monsters Green, a badly translated ROM on a Game Boy emulator. I had returned to university early from a holiday in order to spend a few days revising. Instead, I spent a few days playing Pocket Monsters Green, non-stop, reaching the Elite Four and realising my chosen team were no match for them. I never beat them.
1999: Pokémon Blue, on a Game Boy. I obtained the first 4 gym badges, then stopped playing. I don’t know why.
2001: Pokémon Gold, on a Game Boy Advance. As with Blue, I obtained the first 4 gym badges. Then I stopped playing.
2003: Pokémon Sapphire, on a Game Boy Advance. Once more, after obtaining the first 4 gym badges, I stopped playing.
2016: Pokémon Y, on a New 3DS. Completed!
After the earlier false starts, I’d given up on playing any more in the series because I assumed they’d all go the same way. After 13 years, however, and my 7 year old daughter wanting to play Pokémon X, the time was right to get back into the main series Pokémon games.
It was fun playing alongside her, mostly progressing through at a similar rate, with me occasionally helping out by sending her Pokémon or using O-Powers to augment her abilities temporarily.
Since the last game I played, things have improved greatly. The graphics, of course, but also there has been a lot of streamlining. Early on in Y, you obtain an item that allows you to share XP with all your party, meaning you no longer have to start with a Pokémon you want to level up and then swap them out immediately. Item management is easier, and trading your Pokémon is so much easier – and can be done over the internet. There’s even an online “swap shop” for them, where you can browse “wants” or offer your own Pokémon up. Or, you can do random trade matchups where you don’t know what you’ll get. I’ve used this a lot with duplicate creatures, and obtained some great stuff, like a high level Pikachu, a Shiny Oddish, and plenty of others I’d not seen myself at all.
All that is great, but the core game is the same as it ever was. Travel the region, fight the gym leaders, Be The Best. No bad thing, especially to someone who hasn’t played Pokémon in such a long time, and there are so many ways to make it easier (the trading, the online “Pokémiles” shop, the XP sharing, O-Powers, Mega Evolutions) that the frustration of grinding – perhaps a reason I gave up on the earlier games – doesn’t happen. Indeed, I beat the Elite Four, the Champion, AND the *spoiler* with my team of mainly Legendary level 100 monsters (and level 90+ Greninja and Charizard) taking down every opponent Pokémon (bar one, who was Sturdy) in a single hit each without taking any damage in return.
Too easy? Possibly. Did that matter? Not at all. Did I complete it before my daughter finished X? Hell yes. And isn’t that all that is really important?
Which are easier to catch, cold cases, or pavements?
After finding out this was by the same ex-Cing folk who did Hotel Dusk and Last Window, I was really looking forward to Chase: Cold Case Investigations. It appeared on the eShop this week and of course I pounced on it immediately.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I thought I’d be getting some sort of point-and-click adventure game with a mystery attached, but what I actually got was a very short (90 minutes or so) interactive novel with some slight Phoenix Wright crime scene leanings. Not only that, but it ended on a cliff-hanger, implying there are more episodes to come.
None of these are bad things, as it turned out, but I was a little disappointed to begin with. Thankfully, the plot took a turn at the half-way point and what seemed to (purposefully – it mirrors the main character’s feelings) be slow and boring became interesting and I want to find out more (also mirroring the character).
I can’t in all honesty recommend it yet, sadly. On its own, there’s not enough there and it’s frustrating that we don’t even know if there are later chapters to come (let alone when), so holding fire until they materialise might be wise. It’s just a shame that buy not purchasing Chase’s first episode that they may not get enough sales to warrant releasing the others – assuming others are planned. Catch 22, innit.
The longest of the new batch of StreetPass games, and the one most based on luck, StreetPass Chef becomes the last one for me to complete.
Like most of the other titles in the range, it’s pretty simple. Every colour of StreetPass visitor brings a different ingredient, and you cook meals to order using those ingredients. Initially, you’ve no recipe to work from, so your real-life cooking knowledge (or guesswork) comes into play. The closer to the ideal combination you cook, the more strength your diners are given as they set off to rescue the royal family from the evil monsters.
That’s right – it’s the StreetPass Quest game, only from the point of view of a local cook. I can continue to play and find the remaining dishes for my recipe list if I want, but I’m not sure I’m that bothered. Maybe another time.
Perhaps the weakest of the five new StreetPass games, and certainly the most preposterous. The plot in-game is some nonsense about defeating warlords by being naked, shot out of a cannon, and grabbing kites flown by your StreetPass chums en-route to landing on the baddies’ faces.
The game comes from lining the kites up so they match your trajectory, and the more you collect (and how accurately you do so), the more powerful your attack and defence are once you hit. Different levels mix things up by adding things like wind or clouds which make lining up the kites harder, but it remains very easy to progress and ultimately win. Like I did.
Completing it unlocks Hard Mode, which I don’t think I’m going to bother with. The other games so far have made me want to keep playing past the credits, but not StreetPass Ninja.
See, I said I thought I’d nearly completed another one, and verily it came to (street) pass that I did. StreetPass Explorers uses the distance your collected chums have walked, rather than their favourite colours, to determine how far you can explore a map.
Dotted around the map are bags with items in, wild animals who want to eat you, rocks to break through, snowballs to jump over and magic treasure to collect and piece together. It’s pretty good, although maddeningly frustrating when you run out of steps just before reaching your goal and on your next turn, complete with a full compliment of 10 explorer helpers, travel three pixels and waste all their steps. As happened lots of times to me.
Like the other new StreetPass games, play is swift and the game overall isn’t too long. There’s also more to do, again like the other titles, once it’s complete.
That’s two of five down already! These new StreetPass games seem quite a bit shorter than the previous ones, so far anyway.
StreetPass Slot Racer is basically Scalextric. You play by holding down A to go, and letting go of A to slow down – and you need to time doing this on corners and jumps correctly in order to get the best speed boosts. There are a fair few courses to work up through as you rank up, and the final “boss” is a head to head race with Iceman, the world champion slot car race driver.
This final race was actually really easy, but unlocking him was hard as one of the challenges before him needs you to finish in under 46 seconds. THREE TIMES I managed 46.07. So frustrating!
There’s more to do now though, and some new ranks have opened up, so like Trader I’ll keep playing. It’s looking like the next one to be completed might be Explorers, so watch this space.