Posts Tagged ‘King’

Sonic Storybook Series

April 24, 2009

At first, I planned to cover Sonic and the Black Knight. However, I felt like I wanted to mention Sonic and the Secret Rings, as well. So, I decided to mesh them into one blog and talk about them both.

First off, the gameplay for both games is quite similar. In both games, you are running through a level, though the game, rather than the player, steers Sonic. Your only options as far as controls are concerned are forward and backward and strafing from side to side. In my opinion, I think this was a pretty good idea, considering the level layout. If the controls were  completely manual, the player could get lost. So, the game focuses more of “Race to the finish!” than actual exploration of the level. More levels appear as you complete them. Some are required missions, while most of them are optional. Lastly, there’s the gimmick part of the game, which I will talk about next.

In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic gets to use a special ring that gives him different abilities. You can also level up that ring in order to equip more at one time. This was one of my favorite features of Sonic and the Secret Rings. A customizable Sonic allowed me to achieve Golds more easily than I could before. On the other hand, Sonic and the Black Knight uses a sword that plays a strong role in combat, though this can be a burden on Sonic fans, as he, most of the time, has to stop and and attack enemies, rather than slice right through them. It wasn’t easy using the Wii Remote to swing the sword, either, as there can be a delayed reaction, costing you either time or rings or both. The sword, like the ring, is customizable, but to a much smaller extent. The sword you use earns new abilities as you earn more stars. There are also three different modes of play for Sonic. The first one, which you start with, balances speed and swordplay. The other two either emphasize one or the other. All three modes of play give Sonic different abilities to unlock. Sonic, himself, can also level up in rank as he gains followers for completing levels. However, this only benefits the item identification system, rather than Sonic’s actual skills, as it increases ID points to use at the end of the level. Both games use a special meter to execute special moves. Sonic and the Secret Rings boasts Time Break and Speed Break moves. Time Break slows down time for Sonic, and Speed Break makes Sonic insanely fast. Sonic and the Black Knight doesn’t really have names for their moves. One move acts like Speed Break. Another move is a lock-on move that sends Sonic to the closest opponent in an effort to launch a critical hit. Lastly, unlike Sonic and the Secret Rings, at some point in the game, you will be able to use other characters to go through the levels, though many of those levels are Sonic-only. They can earn new weapons with different abilities by obtaining certain items that, when used at the blacksmith’s shop, can be combined to form a new sword.

Now, it’s time to talk about the levels, themselves. Sonic and the Secret Rings’s levels are nicely varied, environment-wise, while Sonic and the Black Knight’s levels are a bit less-varied, due to the fact that Sonic is roaming through the countryside and not through specific chapters. So, Sonic and the Black Knight can get a little monotonous. Also, I want to add that sometimes, there are simply too many enemies in Sonic and the Black Knight, considering the emphasis on swordplay, that while you’re attacking one enemy, another might attack you.

Though I probably should not talk about this, regarding spoiler reasons, I want to talk about the final forms, as well. Both games end in a similar way, as far as final battles go, but both games take slightly different directions on reaching them. In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic had to go search for the remaining rings to unlock the final battle. In Sonic and the Black Knight, the storyline pretty much forces you into the final battle. As for comparing forms, in Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic becomes Darkspine Sonic, whose spines look a bit like Knuckles, as well as a white line down the center. Sonic’s pupils disappear, and his attitude changes from heroic to rude and arrogant. However, considering the rings Sonic absorbed contained feelings, it’s only natural that Sonic would end up that way, and in the end, I thought he was pretty cool. In Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic uses the power of the swords to obtain Excalibur and golden armor. His most well-known name for this form is Excalibur Sonic. His attitude does not change, however. As far as abilities go, Darkspine Sonic does gain the ability to gather energy for his Break meter by spinning. However, Excalibur Sonic does not gain any new abilities, really. Both of them do have one ability in common: flying.

Lastly, I’ll talk about the controls. When people think of Sonic and the Secret Rings, the first thing that often comes to mind are the awful controls. However, I believe that despite the fact that you tilt the Wii Remote to run forward and backward and stuff, the game still had great potential. The rest of the game was undermined by the bad controls. In Sonic and the Black Knight, the controls are much better. In this case, the control stick is used to move Sonic. However, if Sonic and the Secret Rings ever had the same control scheme as Sonic and the Black Knight, I would choose Sonic and the Secret Rings over it.

I think Sega should continue the storybook series for Sonic. Not only do they have the potential to become good Sonic games, but they also introduce a different super form of Sonic other than the usual Super Sonic. I think hunting for the required items to become super (such as the secret rings) should return, as well as Secret Rings’s ability system. However, the final boss strategy may need to differ a bit more. I found Black Knight’s final boss fight to be a bit too similar to Secret Rings’s. I wonder what the next storybook Sonic might be. Sonic and the Three Kingdoms? Sonic and the Demon King? (Cookies for those who get both references) Nah. Maybe the next Storybook Sonic would be based on Greek mythology. Imagine Sonic fighting a Hydra! I’d love to see that!


Retro Game Challenge (Nintendo DS)

February 20, 2009

I am a big fan of 80’s games, most notably games of the NES era. The graphics may have been simple, but the challenge was gold. Retro Game Challenge is an attempt to bring back some of the awesomeness that came from the NES era. Although some of the 80’s feel did not seem to be there, I still enjoyed this game for what it is. Being a collection of games, rather than being a single game, in itself, I’ll briefly review the game outside the games then get in-depth with each game within, if that made any sense. 😛

Retro Game Challenge contains 8 games that are inspired by real NES games from that era, including Galaga, Dragon Warrior, and Bubble Bobble. These games also include challenges thrown at you one at a time by the Game Master, who has sent you back in time to the 80’s, when the Famicom was the current-gen console. The challenges are, however, quite easy, and it may not take an experienced gamer very long to breeze through all of them. A few added bonuses to the games are their own manuals, game magazines, and a memo to take notes of any cheat codes or secrets you find within the magazines. The magazines are entertaining, but there is a slight bit of potty humor contained within the magazine, as fictitious people with names, such as “I.P. Freely” appear in the magazine to ask questions, not usually about the games, though. Young Arino can be fun to talk to, except you might not bother chatting with him, much. The game cheats, themselves, are pretty big, not like the wimpy cheats you might find in a game, nowadays, if there are any in-game cheats. Some cheats give you infinite continues, while others give you automatic powerups, invincibility, and even a warp to the final level of the game! Now, for the games, themselves.

Cosmic Gate is the first game you will encounter, and hopefully, you are already familiar with this game, as it is heavily based on the classic shooter, Galaga. The game spans 64 stages, with asteroid stages appearing every three stages. The difficulty is quite light, however, due to the fact that racking up big points is quite easy, making it even easier to earn extra lives. There is one powerup within the game, and it changes your ship’s shape and it allows you to fire a laser-missile-laser combo. The missile cuts straight through the enemy ranks, allowing you to score good points. The asteroid levels are pretty much bonus levels, as shooting asteroids racks up tons of points, including the large asteroid, which gives you 15,000 points. Now, back to the difficulty. So, you’re probably wondering why I call it light. Well, apart from the fact that there are no kamikaze fighters as in Galaga, getting into a corner is actually an advantage in this game. I have actually gone through all 64 stages, without warping, and I didn’t start actually losing lives until stages 60-64. Of course, I lost lives earlier on, but I easily won them back with points. Thankfully, the developers added a Hard Mode to the game. The difference in difficulty will be tough to judge until I go through all 64 stages again.

Haggle Man is the second game, and the one you will be familiar with the most throughout the game. The game is a platformer with several enemies and doors about. You are Haggle Man, robot ninja, and you can attack these enemies with doors, your shuriken, or by jumping on them. Personally, I don’t use the shuriken much, as they usually stun enemies, rather than kill them. Besides, what other game allows you to kill enemies with moving doors? You can also pick up scrolls to summon allies. However, I don’t usually bother with those, since if you pick up all three scrolls, the ally is summoned automatically. Haggle Man 2 is not much different from Haggle Man, except that the stages are bigger, the enemies are tougher and more abundant, and the challenge has increased. I personally like the second game more than the first, mainly due to the stages’ ability to scroll up, down, left, right, anywhere it sees fit.

Rally King is your generic top-down racing game, with the ability to Drift Boost, much like in the Mario Kart series. There are four courses in the game, and each one gets tougher as you go. There are rival cars on the track, but they seem to serve a bigger purpose in giving you damage, rather than actually racing you. As a matter of fact, the courses are more threatening than the rival racers. I understand that this game is based on the NES/Famicom era, but I can’t help pointing out that top-down view just doesn’t work well for me. It’s like racing in Mr. Magoo-vision. Thankfully, the geniuses at Nintendo created Mode 7 on the Super NES, allowing games like Mario Kart and F-Zero races to be displayed as they should. In my opinion, without Mario Kart and F-Zero, the racing genre could have died off before the N64 era. As for the the “Special Edition” Rally King, Rally King SP, it is really not worth getting in a contest. It is basically Rally King with more obstacles on the course, blue deserts, and advertisements, lots and lots of advertisements. This game may have been inspired by a special edition Gradius game, whose only real overhaul were the advertisements.

Speaking of shooters, Star Prince is next up on the list. The game was absolutely beautiful in terms of a shooter. There was plenty of stuff to blow up, not just the enemies. There were multiple types of powerups, and the Cosmic Gate feature, ship-transformation, reappears, as well as the 1-Up Tomatoes. The game spans eight levels (the last four being harder versions of the first four), filled with enemies and destructibles, and the bosses were huge. Then again, the bosses were mainly a defense system with a bunch of projectile-shooting weaponry, a starship that appears at the end of each stage, save for the final stage, and a surprise attack from a huge robot that is in the process of assembling itself. I end up getting blown up one too many times when the bottom part darts onto the screen. One feature I really liked was the ability to create a projectile-absorbing shield by holding A, then releasing a storm of projectiles when three projectiles hit the shield.

Guadia Quest was the RPG I was blazing through the game for. The game is heavily inspired by the Dragon Warrior series, and the unique feature in this game is the ability to form pacts with Guadia monsters, who will increase their power to fight against you for the pact. I was slightly disappointed with the frequency of levels-up. Unlike Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior I, where even one level up made a big difference, the levels increase quickly, and the stats rise more slowly. However, the side quests aren’t that bad. The only real challenge in Retro Game Challenge appears in this game: you must defeat the first boss. As easy as that may sound, the first boss is hard and can attack twice. He is also found pretty deep in the dungeon, so level-grinding becomes a must. Oh, one last thing. Your weapons, along with base damage, hit with varying attack power, depending on what shape stops over the enemy when your character attacks. This can affect the tide of battle, especially boss battles, when you are relying on good shots.

The last game is Haggle Man 3, a game much different from its previous incarnations, while still keeping the core gameplay intact. The game reminds me of Ninja Gaiden, and the story is darker than in the previous two games. Doors in this game do not defeat enemies, but they do lead to shops and hints. Haggle Man can equip powerups, which come in three different sizes of gears. That, along with large levels that involve exploration, give Haggle Man 3 the Metroid feel. My only con to this game is that most of the bosses are the same: a giant wall of who-knows-what with three faces on them that you must destroy, with minor differences in terms of defenses. I believe this is the best of the Haggle Man series, and possibly the best game in the list.

Overall, my experience with the game has been quite satisfying. However, I am looking forward to seeing a sequel released here in the states. There is a sequel to be released in Japan, and I have seen one game that looks like a Mario platformer, only it seems that you can use enemies as skateboards, kinda like riding a Koopa shell. Hopefully, Retro Game Challenge will sell enough for XSeed Games to localize the sequel over here.