Tag Archives: Sega

Sonic: Lost World (Wii U & 3DS)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team & Dimps

Publisher(s) – Sega & Nintendo

Director(s) – Morio Kishimoto & Takao Hirabayashi

Producer – Takashi Lizuka

PEGI – 7

Sonic: Lost World takes the franchise back to basics with 2D side scrolling elements as well as including certain elements from later 3D platforming titles in the series. After playing, I thought it was an OK game, but I found myself having the same old complaints as I have whilst playing older games in the rest of the series.

Graphics – 7.5/10

To begin with, the visuals of the game aren’t too bad. I think along with being in lieu of Sonic the Hedgehog tradition, Nintendo’s involvement in the series has at least had some positive influence in this respect, with the game including some pretty diverse settings and creature designs. It’s also interesting to see what look like the triforce from the Legend of Zelda on the roads in the dessert levels. What I can’t say the same for, however, is how the Deadly Six characters were designed. The way I see it, they all look pretty generic, and below par of what either Nintendo or Sega are usually capable of.

Gameplay – 5/10

Over the years, I’ve always had issues with how Sonic the Hedgehog games play out. I’ve always felt that though Sonic’s speed was put in place to add more intensity to the game compared to others, that there’s hardly anything to do with it and very little space to use it. This game is no exception, unfortunately. To me, high speed has always taken away any fluency to any of the Sonic games, and a lot of the time, make them pretty annoying to play through. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 2D side scrolling sequences, where there is only one direction to go in anyway, making high speed pretty redundant in my own personal opinion. Though interestingly there is influence taken from the cancelled Sega Saturn game Sonic Xtreme, The 3D sequences don’t greatly encourage exploration either; as I hope will be present in Sonic Boom when it comes out.

Controls – 9.5/10

Though the controls are straightforward enough, I did find it annoying to turn from left to right in the 2D side scrolling sequences; like the analogue stick took far too much time to respond to what I wanted the character to do. But otherwise, there were no other issues I found whilst playing.

Lifespan – 3/10

Considering that Nintendo have already put out quite a few games a lot like Sonic: Lost World out on not just the Wii U, but for every other console before it, it seems much shorter than either New Super Mario Bros U or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The game can be done in less than 3 hours, most probably due to the lack of side quests compared to the other two aforementioned games. But nowadays especially, that short a time makes for a very fleeting experience even for a 2D side scroller; let alone any other kind of video game.

Storyline – 6/10

Sonic’s latest adventure has him and Tails pursuing Dr. Eggman, who has captured their animal friends to be used to power his robot army, whilst they must also fend off Eggman’s primary henchmen; the Deadly Six. I was pleased to find the story much less predictable than I’d initially anticipated. There are a few twists and turns towards the end to keep thing interesting for the most part. That’s the kind of thing that the Wii U needs to have in order to make their games as interesting as possible in my opinion, and not to include the kind of predictable stories than many of the Mario games have nowadays.

Originality – 5/10

There’s not much new in this game. Although it has a new and unique story, repetitive gameplay to me, has been a problem come every time Sega have tried to revive the franchise since mid-way into the sixth generation.

Niiutral

Niiutral

In summation, Sonic: Lost World isn’t a bad game, but there was definitely room for improvement for me. There’s nothing to suggest to me that this game could have renewed interest in the series, and predictably, it hasn’t to any substantial degree.

Score

36/60

6/10 (Average)

Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Takashi Lizuki

Producer – Yuji Naka

PEGI – 7

Though I don’t believe it to be a great game by any means, I think Sonic Adventure is certainly the best direction that Sega has taken its long-running franchise. It’s the most enjoyable to play in my opinion, and also has the franchise’s best story attached to it.

Graphics – 8.5/10

From a technical standpoint, the Dreamcast was a gaming generation ahead of its time, with the most powerful graphics engine ever included in a home console. By that token alone, the visuals in Sonic Adventure were cutting edge. Though there were a few glitches left unpolished, nothing like had ever been seen. Conceptually, the game is a little bit weak, but for the most part, it’s as compelling as any other Sonic the Hedgehog game was before it. There were also some particularly enjoyable boss fights and enemy designs thrown in for good measure.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

What I like best about Sonic Adventure is the RPG element that was added to it in the form of multiple playable characters. Besides playing Sonic, players can go through the story as Tails, Knuckles and Amy as well as two new characters to the series: Big the Cat and E-102 Gamma. However, compared to other 3D platformers, I wish much more could have been added for how big the in-game world is and how much of there is to explore; especially as there was a lot more than this in many other games featuring primary video game mascots at the time, such as Mario or even Crash Bandicoot.

Controls – 8/10

Again, I found myself having the same issues with the controls as I had done in most other Sonic games I’ve played throughout the years. It was pretty annoying in this game, as players can move around the open world environment particularly quickly, and are consequently prone to banging into things very easily. It’s especially a problem whilst playing as Sonic, but it’s nowhere near as bad whilst playing with other characters, such as Big or Gamma.

Lifespan – 5.5/10

The entire game can be complete within around 7 to 8 hours, which is particularly underwhelming given that it’s a semi-open world game. Again, I’d put it down to players not having much to do outside the game’s main objectives, and there was definitely room for more to make this game as entertaining and as immersing as possible. It wasn’t as if side quests were unheard of even at the time, and I would point it out as the game’s most standout flaw.

Storyline – 7.5/10

Sonic Adventures follows Sonic and company as they resolve to collect the seven chaos emeralds before Dr. Eggman, who plans to use the emeralds to restore the monster Chaos to it’s full power and destroy the city of Station Square and build his own city. Though the story is simple in basic premise, there are certain sequences and individual character narratives that really stand out, such as E-102 Gamma’s own part in the game, for example. But what lets it down mightily is that the voice acting is particularly weak to say the least. There are moments in the game whereby the dialogue was embarrassingly scripted, and it makes the game at times pretty difficult to take seriously.

Originality – 6/10

Though it stand out from other 3D platformers in the way that there are so many playable characters and gives the game a considerable amount of variety in gameplay, it is overall fairly generic compared to other 3D platformers around even at the time. I can’t help but feel that if the lack of side quests had been addressed during development, Sonic Adventures could have been much more than what it turned out to be.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Sonic Adventures is without a doubt the best game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but it was easily improvable. I think the best and most effective way to revive the series would simply be to make another game like this, but to taior it in the manner of a typical sequel; have everything bigger and better than the former game.

Score

43/60

7/10 (Fair)

Mortal Kombat II

Developer(s) – Midway Games, Probe Entertainment & Sculptured Software

Publisher(s) – Midway Games & Acclaim Entertainment

Designer(s) – Ed Boon & John Tobias

Producer(s) – Ken Fedesna & Neil Nicastro

PEGI – 18

One of the first examples of a video game appearing on prime-time news across America, Mortal Kombat II gained media attention for it’s use of excessive violence compared to other video games at the time, but was also met with a high level of critical and commercial acclaim. In my opinion, it was certainly a positive departure from the first game, and a massive improvement to it.

Graphics – 9/10

One of the main improvements made to the series with the advent of the second game was that since the developers weren’t pressed for time, they added a plethora of new characters to the roster, such as Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Noob Saibot, Smoke and Kung Lao to name but a few. People will argue that this was point in which the developers got out of hand using palette swapping to create new characters, but I think the point where they got truly out of hand with that was with Ultimate Mortal Kombat III, when not only new characters were made with this technique, but more or less every other previous character had been added to the roster as well.

Gameplay – 7/10

The core gameplay concept remains largely the same as in the first instalment, but it was made a lot more diverse with the second, since the multitude of different characters also provided players with a lot more variety in terms of not only fatalities, but in different character abilities too. Indeed, having Shang Tsung as playable helped a lot in this respect, as well introducing such characters as Jax and Kung Lao.

Controls – 7/10

Before Street Fighter II came along and properly introduced fans of the fighting game genre to the concept of pulling off combos, things started out relatively primitively; especially given how poor the original Street Fighter was. Fighting games relied on combining attacks in a much spaced out and precise manner than combo system of today, which in fact started out as a glitch; and it was all fairly well handled in Mortal Kombat II.

Originality – 8/10

Since it’s inception, the Mortal Kombat franchise was particularly unique for many different factors, such as its core story concept and selection of characters. But the second game took all that to the next level, so to speak, introducing not only different characters, but different direction in which story went at the time, or where it would go in the future. Ever since, there have been spin-off films and TV series’ of the game, and I think the second instalment proved to be a huge step to making a lot of all that happen.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Mortal Kombat II, though not the perfect fighting game by any stretch of the imagination, was a massive improvement over the first, and one of the more standout games of the time. It would have inevitably been difficult for a fighting game to hold up after the release of Street Fighter II, but Mortal Kombat II did that very well.

Score

31/40

7.5/10 (Good)

The House of the Dead 2 (Arcade, PC, Dreamcast & Wii)

Developer(s) – Wow Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Sega

PEGI – 16

Released three years after the original game, House of the Dead 2 received a mostly positive reception from critics; most seemingly in agreement that it made significant improvements on the first titles in the series. Personally, I do have to say as a prerequisite that I spent a lot of time playing this game when I was younger, but looking back at it now, I realize many of the core faults with it.

Graphics – 7/10

Despite a number of glitches here and there, the visuals were very much ahead of their time, since it was ported to the Sega Dreamcast as well as arcade cabinets, and the Dreamcast was capable of rendering much more advanced visuals than both the Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation. The conceptual design was fairly well handled for the most part, with the game being set in Venice, Italy. But the game also takes the player to different locations as it progresses, such as a colosseum in Rome, and a once-thriving modern city. Those levels are set in broad daylight, however, and because of that, the game loses much more of it’s horror factor towards the end the way I see it.

Gameplay – 7/10

Despite the many faults this game has, the one aspect that was enjoyable at the time, and is still enjoyable to this day, is the gameplay. A first person rail shooter, the objective is simply to kill every zombie or monster that may block the player’s path in order to progress through each level, and defeat the various bosses waiting for them. When I was growing up, I was always lukewarm to rail-shooting games, but after the likes of Halo and Half-Life came to home consoles, they blew games like this out of the water, since there was much more to them. Nevertheless, it’s only in terms of gameplay that I feel this title does hold up to a small extent.

Controls – 10/10

The control schemes in rail shooters are much more simple and self-explanatory than even a first-person shooter, so consequently, there are no issues that will arise in this respect whilst playing it. The only functions players must grow accustomed to, are simply aiming, shooting and reloading.

Lifespan – 3/10

In lieu of the tradition of the genre, one playthrough of this game will only last an average of forty minutes. But what longevity there is in playing this game comes from the fact that it was designed to be played a multitude of times; especially since there are a few alternative endings to unlock, dependant on certain circumstances throughout the game. I do feel, however, that much more could have been added to make it last at least twice as long, or even an endless mode could have been added to the home console versions of the game.

Storyline – 2/10

The worst thing about this game is undoubtedly the storyline. Even though the industry was still in the process of getting out of the mindset that video games didn’t necessarily have to tell a story in order to be good, there were many different factors making this story especially bad. It follows AMS agents James and Gary trying to get to the bottom of a zombie epidemic that has broken out in Venice, and is threatening to spread across the planet. Aside from the plot being extremely typical of most zombie films to have been released prior, the voice acting is particularly poor and embarrassing. Anyone who may have thought the original Resident Evil may have bad voice acting, they haven’t heard anything yet until they experience what this game has to offer. It also now seems pretty stupid that the developers chose to keep the name The House of the Dead attached to the project, since the setting contradicts the name greatly, as its no longer set in a house. Personally, I would have given it a more relative name, and just stuck with the same text font, so that people would have recognized that it was from the same series of games, but alas, the developers settled on what they did.

Originality – 4/10

Aside from the story being very unoriginal, the gameplay, whilst enjoyable, didn’t really bring anything new to the genre; essentially playing out like a carbon copy of the first game, as well as other games in the genre, such as Time Crisis or Virtua Cop. Although the reload mechanism is much more accessible than in Time Crisis, there wasn’t anything beyond that which made it stand out from any other rail shooting title.

Angrii

Angrii

Overall, House of the Dead 2 was a decent game maybe 15 years ago, but now, it seems like that much less enjoyable an experience for those many reasons. With so many zombie-based shooters finding their way into mainstream gaming these days, it would be hard for Sega to make another game in the series, unless they do something drastic with the story as well as the gameplay.

Score

33/60

5.5/10 (Below Average)

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation & Sega Saturn)

Developer(s) – Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo & Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya

Publisher(s) – Konami

Director – Toru Hagihara

Producer – Toru Hagihara

PEGI – 12

Symphony of the Night is often regarded as the commercial and artistic pinnacle of the entire Castlevania series. At the time of its release, 2D gaming was going out of fashion, and 3D gaming was considered the next best thing; the future of the industry. For a lot of people, Symphony of the Night served as a reminder that traditional 2D side scrolling video games can still be played and enjoyed regardless of what style might be the more popular, and it also left a lasting legacy behind, as the release of the game prompted the coinage of the term Metroidvania, for the style of play that involves 2D open-word exploration. After finally playing this game, I can say that I haven’t been disappointed, although it did leave me wanting more at the end.

Graphics – 9/10

Symphony of the Night also sent out a significant message to do with visuals in video games; that they should be judged not by their level of graphical advancement, but by their artistic merit. And this game certainly delivers on artistic merit. The environments in this game are wonderfully designed, and add to the atmosphere very effectively. A lot of gloomy and scary-looking locations such as the library, as well as the outlandish roster of enemies throughout, certainly make the game look original as well as excellent in terms of conceptual design. I think the most annoying enemies in the game are the flaming ghosts, that make particularly annoying sounds when they die, but that’s not down to visuals at all, but the sound. And the game certainly makes up for that in it’s stellar soundtrack.

Gameplay – 9/10

As this game coined an extremely popular gaming term, it was always going to have at least some depth to it; and I wasn’t disappointed. As I said, it’s rare that I’ve seen this level of freedom in a 2D side scrolling game, and it makes me regret that I didn’t try when it first came out. In terms of combat, the game is fairly challenging in lieu of the franchise’s tradition, but the true satisfaction to be had is from levelling up the character as the player progresses. It’s that RPG element that the makes the game evermore appealing to me. Although it can seem repetitive at times and that it does get somewhat easier later on, I’d rather have it that way than it be impossibly hard like the original trilogy was.

Controls – 10/10

In terms of controls, I’m happy to say that there are no problems with them. Players should not experience any difficulty with them as far as I’m concerned. This game was released at a time when countless 2D side scrolling games had been released prior, so it was to be expected that there would be no issues with the control scheme, and there aren’t any.

Lifespan – 6/10

In my opinion, Symphony of the Night doesn’t last anywhere near long enough, and like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it left me wanting a whole lot more. A first playthrough may take around 15 hours to complete, which to me, for the amount of depth there is in gameplay, is unacceptable. Although that is fairly long for a 2D side scroller, I’m confident that more could’ve been more added to it.

Storyline – 7.5/10

Whilst most entries in the series before focused solely on the Belmont family resolving to defeat Dracula, Symphony of the night follows Dracula’s son, Alucard, who is questing to stop Dracula’s resurrection and finds himself in various different situations throughout Dracula’s castle along the way. It’s a positive departure from what was typically found in previous entries in the series in that the story has a lot more depth to it. The one bad thing I would say about it is that the voice acting is pretty bad in some instances; even in the latest versions of the game, which were re-dubbed by different actors and actresses.

Originality – 8/10

A portion of this game’s staggering level of uniqueness can be found in its conceptual design, and in the multitude of different enemies to fight, but of course, the main reason why this game stands out well among other is in it’s gameplay. The reason why it has left behind such a legacy is that its considered its own genre by some; Metroidvania. Although Super Metroid, the other game that this term stems from, came first out of the two, Symphony of the Night in effect kept the 2D side scrolling genre alive, and helped to inspire the development of many future games of its kind after it had been abandoned for some time.

To summarize, whilst it doesn’t last anywhere ear as long as it should have done in my opinion, Symphony of the Night is most definitely worth playing through at least once or twice. It’s an important piece of gaming history as well as a particularly enjoyable title.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Billy Hatcher & the Giant Egg (GameCube & PC)

Developer(s) – Sonic Team

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Shun Nakamura

Producer – Yuji Naka

PEGI – 3

Billy Hatcher was developed by Sonic Team as a possible fresh start, amidst the beginning of the decline of Sonic the Hedgehog’s commercial popularity compared to what it was during the 16-bit era. There are positives I can point out about this game, but I don’t believe that it’s worthy of the success that Sega were possibly banking on it to have had.

Graphics – 6/10

In Billy Hatcher, there is no shortage of vibrant and colourful environments once the main objective of each level is complete and morning is restored to go along with the unusual chicken motif of the game. The manner of which this happens is very reminiscent to a game, which would come out three years later; Okami. But Billy Hatcher is nowhere near on the same artistic level as Okami. Another negative I can point out is that a lot of the enemies are very generic and similar to one another. A lot of seem to simply be palette swapped, like a majority of the characters in Mortal Kombat 3, in fact. The game’s opening FMV was very nicely done, but another thing I dislike about this game is it’s opening theme song, featuring singing children, negatively adding to the notion that Nintendo games are exclusively child-appropriate.

Gameplay – 7/10

Whilst it can be described as mediocre in terms of visuals in my opinion, the game is fairly enjoyable to play, with quite a bit of variety in gameplay, with quite a vast selection of power-ups to collect along the way, multiple characters to play as with their own individual quests and one further standout side quest of hatching every different type of egg in the game. The formula combines elements of 3 distinct styles of play to have been incorporated by Sega in the past; the ball-rolling mechanic from Super Monkey Ball, the ring-travelling mechanic from the NiGHTS series, and the multiple playable character feature of the Sonic Adventure games. Since this is the first game like this, it can be somewhat confusing to start off with, but once players get to grips with it, it can make for something unexpectedly memorable.

Controls – 8/10

The mode of transportation in the game, though unique, can present problems. It can be pretty awkward at times having to use eggs to get around and reach certain areas of levels, and this, in turn, can add unnecessary difficulty and frustration to the game overall, I found. I think Sega took a gamble by trying to cram so many control elements in the one game, and it didn’t entirely pay off, the way I see it.

Lifespan – 6/10

With the side quests taken into account, Billy Hatcher can only be made to last about ten hours maximum, which in my opinion, is particularly disappointing given how much substance there is in gameplay. It was all very well and good adding additional side quests for each character, but even with them implemented, I don’t believe the game lasts anywhere near long enough.

Storyline – 5/10

The Story of the game tells of a young boy called Billy Hatcher on a quest to save the morning world from the evil Dark Raven and his army. It’s all very straightforward; even for standards in video game storytelling at the time, when video games were only starting to be recognized as a valid art form. Aside from that, though, this title is also obviously directed at kids, so by that token, there was never going to be any great amount of substance in story. As I alluded to before, Nintendo, for a while now, have had the problem of misleading people to believe that they’re all about appealing to the youngest demographic possible, and it was game like this that added to that problem.

Originality – 8/10

One thing I mustn’t fault this game for its level of uniqueness. Though it does comprise of a number of gameplay elements from previous Sega titles, all the elements come together fairly well to create something, which is extremely memorable.

Niiutral

Niiutral

To summarize, Billy Hatcher is an OK game, but it seems to me that Sega needed to give it that extra boost, and unfortunately, I don’t think they even tried. That this was the first of what could have potentially become a franchise, it was always going to be a question of trial and error, but I think there’s just a bit too much error attached to it to stand out any more than what I believe it does.

Score

40/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Aliens: Colonial Marines (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC)

Developer(s) – Gearbox Software

Publisher(s) – Sega

Designer – John Mulkey

Producer – Brian Burleson

PEGI – 18

Whilst playing through Aliens: Colonial Marines, I came to believe that the game does not reflect on it’s positions on the sales charts, unfortunately; especially since it was developed by Gearbox Software, who for some time have been known for creating one of the best first person shooters of the seventh generation; Borderlands. I found that the most interesting thing about this game was a few facts about its development cycle. A previous title of the same name was being developed by Check Six Games, and published by Fox Interactive, but it was cancelled in 2001 before its release on the PlayStation 2. Even the story was supposed to be extremely similar to the one in the game released last year, but was to be set in between the events of the films Aliens and Aliens 3, whereas the game that was released takes place after the trilogy. But even regardless of these damning similarities, Gearbox have since come out and said that both games are unrelated. After I played it for an hour or so, however, I was much less intrigued.

Graphics – 6.5/10

Conceptually, the game is as what anyone would expect, really. It stays as true as possible to the source material of the films; futuristic but gritty settings, coupled with the frequent appearances of the iconic extra-terrestrials synonymous with the original film trilogy, such as the xenomorphs. Several actors from the original films even reprised their roles. But the way I see it, the overall atmosphere of the game is nowhere as scary or even as dark as I would have liked it to be. That’s one way whereby the game hasn’t stayed true to the spirit of the films, and I thought it to be pretty disappointing; as that’s what I think the best thing about the film trilogy is. On top of that, the game is extremely glitchy, and a lot of graphical polishing should have done before this game was put on shelves. I also found that there was not much added to this game by the developers in terms of concept, and my asked myself what the point of that was. After all, why would developers take an already existing license, and not add any flare to it to try and it make it their own? Doing so worked for the Batman Arkham series after all.

Gameplay – 5/10

For a linear first person shooter, I found it to be moderately enjoyable at the very best, and I don’t believe it would have endured anywhere near as much success as it has done if it didn’t have the popular Aliens license slapped all over it. The lack of substance in gameplay would not help if the game’s visuals and story were comprised of an entirely new concept. I think what Sega tried to do was to create a title that was evolutionary, and not necessarily revolutionary; and I believe they failed to do so miserably.

Controls – 10/10

I’m glad to say that there are no problems with the game’s controls scheme, but I think if there was, then I would have some even more serious problems. How hard can it be to get the control scheme of the first person shooter right? Especially nowadays, when the market is flooded with them. I found that the shoot button is R1 as opposed to the traditional R2, but honesty, that’s semantics.

Lifespan – 3/10

Another source of frustration I encountered whilst playing through this game was that it only lasts about 4 hours on average, which is short even for an average first person shooter. It’s a lifespan on par with Halo 4, which doesn’t do this game any favours. Most other modern linear first person shooters, such as Halo: Reach or anything in the Call of Duty or Battlefield franchises last for about 6 to 8 hours on average, but unfortunately, there isn’t enough gameplay substance in this title to even make it last that long.

Storyline – 4/10

Taking place after the events of the Aliens trilogy as I said, it follows the story of the Colonial Marines conducting a rescue mission on the planet LV-426, as they are caught between both the iconic aliens and the Weyland-Yutani corporation and find themselves fighting for their own survival. As readers may suspect, it does indeed work better for fans of the series than it does to newcomers, but even if you happen to be a fan, certain plot threads can become quite predictable. For example, any fan knows what will soon happen after a character has had a xenomorph on their face for several hours, and they claim they’re alright after it falls off their face and dies.

Originality – 0/10

I found that with this game, there was nothing to differentiate it from other games either in terms of gameplay or general concept. It’s based on an existing license, which has been prominent since the late 80s, and there’s nothing about it that makes it stand out in the first person shooting genre either; which is, as I said, very unworthy of Gearbox Software.

Angrii

Angrii

To summarize, Aliens: Colonial Marines is nowhere near worthy of the attention and commercial acclaim it has garnished since last year in February. Gamers may expect an atmospheric and enjoyable game, as indeed I did to a certain extent, but it’s mostly a disappointment… mostly.

Score

28/60

4.5/10 (Mediocre)