Monthly Archives: February 2011

DEMO IMPRESSIONS – LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

LEGO Star Wars started it all in terms of popularizing the idea that LEGO elements + videogames = addicting fun. Unfortunately, that well dried up quickly after two games, which covered all six movies. You rescued Padme and fought Count Dooku and saved Princess Leia and blew up the Death Star and played around with a bunch of ewoks. What was left? Well, evidently the TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars was ripe enough for LucasArt and Traveller’s Tales to make a third game, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, and a demo recently popped up on Xbox Live the same day as that shoddy deal-breaker we know as Dragon Age II.

Anyways, wars…in the stars. To be honest, I’ve never once watched that titular TV series, and so a lot of what is happening story-wise is a bit lost on me. I mean, I guess we’re somewhere between Episodes 2 and 3 here, but where exactly is any Wookie’s guess. So feel free to mock my inaccuracies; I promise not to throw a lightsaber at your neck.

After some classic scrolling yellow text, the demo opens with Padme Amidala and C-3PO looking a bit worried, and that probably has something to do with General Grievous taking them prisoners. It’s up to Obi-Wan, R2-D2, and Anakin to save those dunderheads. We can walk down a straight chamber, destroying items for studs, slaying generic enemies, and solving puzzles by using, none other, the Force. At one point, the gameplay does mix it up, requiring Obi-dobbi-doo to actually throw R2-D2 across a huge gap to gain access to a new section. Otherwise, the demo plays out as expected for these LEGO games, with the only new curve being that, when the reunited group eventually gets split again, we can switch between them at whim to help solve more puzzles.

I eventually got to a sort of bridge room, where I was trying to move something in the middle to…uh, do something. Except the Force was being extra finicky. Couldn’t figure out where to place it or how to get it to do a magical dance. Yeah, I didn’t even understand what I was supposed to do, and the fact the enemies constantly respawned in the room left me little to no time to experiment. That’s when I hit PAUSE and exited out of the demo.

I dunno. It’s definitely got a lot of that solid, fun LEGO gameplay, but I’ve already done this before. Y’know, sliced through troopers, moved things with the Force, blocked incoming shots with my lightsaber. Doesn’t seem like there’s much originality here, and if I had to do it all again, I’d rather go back to the original trilogy. Think I’ll just let this one pass on by and wait for LEGO Pirates of the Carribean or LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7.

Games Completed in 2011, #7 – Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game

I grew up on a decent diet of beat-em-up titles, such as Streets of Rage 3, Double Dragon, and Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. This genre was perfect for me at the time, a boy not very interested in reading or learning about stats, as well as a kid often mooching off friends’ systems on the weekends, and brawlers like such were made for two players. Beat-em-ups are as simple as their namesake, and all I knew was that there were some bad guys that needed beating up and mashing the buttons often worked well. Good enough for me, and–many, many years later–good enough for Scott Pilgrim.

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game is, besides a mouthful, a downloadable 2D side-scrolling brawler. It’s based way more on the book series that inspired the movie than the movie itself, which is a golden surprise to many, I’m sure. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series is brimming with videogame tropes and nods, even more that Edgar Wright could fit into the theatrical release, and a good number of these references make their way into the game. And what a game it is. First, we have sprites and animations done by the legendary Paul Robertson; second, we have a bouncy, chiptastic soundtrack from Anamanaguchi; and third, we have a strangely fun mix of River City Ransom and The Simpsons Arcade Game.

SPVTWTG is also extremely difficult. I think that should be evident from the fact that I downloaded this around the time the movie dropped (early Fall 2010), and only got around to finishing off Gideon last week…on the EASIEST difficulty. The game starts out really hard, gets easier once you’ve gotten some EXP and food to go, and then gets hard in a cruel way for the final boss battle. Some of the designs in here are pretty retro, like having to start an entire level over again if you lose all your lives. It’s not enjoyable, but it makes sense.

SPVTWTG, like many brawlers, features co-op play. This is good and bad, and I’m speaking from experience here, as playing with a second character does not necessarily make things easier. Why? Well, Scott can punch Kim or accidentally pick her up or have to constantly reanimate her fallen body. It can be a distraction, and yet it can also be a blessing, but the majority of time the two characters end up hurting each other more than helping. We can also blame the lackluster d-pad on the Xbox 360 controller, which doesn’t make manuevering like sailing on butter. Because of this, the final boss level became extra frustrating, and I eventually had to tackle it solo (sorry, Tara!) after I had leveled Scott up as far as he could go and discovered the secret code for the Sword of Love.

I still don’t understand or love the RPG elements here. Gut Points and Heart Points and shopping for EXP instead of getting it from kicking evil henchmen’s asses. It’s a little odd, and sadly encourages grinding for coins. Thankfully, the punching and kicking and throwing and hyper combos are a lot of fun, and the enemy designs extremely varied. I personally loved all the crazy robots in the Techno Base level, even if I was sick of fighting them at that point.

So, I’ve beaten this once, with Scott. Supposedly, if you complete the game with the remaining characters (Kim, Ramona, Steven) you’ll unlock Nega-Scott as a striker. Don’t know if that’s enough incentive for me to try again, especially considering how long it took me to do this one time. We’ll see…

Nintendo 3DS launch lineup launches itself into facepalmery

Launch lineups are pretty important. They are the weapons console systems wield to club consumers into submission. They are limelight dancers. They are reasons for being. And alas, for the Nintendo 3DS, the launch day titles are weak beyond belief, and all that hype over the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake, Starfox 64 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Metal Gear Solid something or other, and a new Animal Crossing game were just that, hype. Sure, they’ll be released eventually, but so will every other great game being created. What matters currently is what is available at the time of purchase, and brace yourself, dear Grinding Down readers, it’s not looking good.

First, let me say that I’m 90% sure I’m going to pick up a Nintendo 3DS. I have a Christmas bonus burning a hole in my sock drawer, and I think that the updated hardware is gonna be great. There’s built-in minigames, a camera, a music thingy, a Street Pass function, Mii maker, and plenty more. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a DSi for some time, but this is a much better jump. As a glasses-wearer, I’m also downright curious to see this 3D in action and love the fact that it can be turned off completely. Most likely…it will. As for the games I want to play on it come Day One, well…

Here’s the three from Nintendo itself, and yes, you’ll notice none of the titles contain the name Mario:

  • Pilotwings Resort – Set on the same tropical Wuhu Island from Wii Sports Resort, players go on an aerial adventure by using airplanes, hang gliders, and rocket belts.
  • Steel Diver – This is…a submarine game. Players will control the sub’s speed, depth, and pitch, as well as fire torpedoes at enemies.
  • Nintendogs + Cats – Pet sim. Now with bonus kitty action!

The rest of the launch titles for the Nintendo 3DS are third-party titles. See ‘em here:

  • Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition from Capcom
  • The Sims 3 from EA
  • Madden NFL Football from EA Sports
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami Digital
  • LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars from LucasArts
  • Ridge Racer 3D from Namco Bandai Games
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D from SEGA
  • Bust-A-Move Universe from Square-Enix
  • Samurai Warriors: Chronicles from Tecmo Koei America
  • Asphalt 3D from Ubisoft
  • Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D from Ubisoft
  • Rayman 3D from Ubisoft
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars from Ubisoft

A lot of remakes and ported games. A lot of titles with 3D tacked on the end. Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D sounds like perfect shovelware, and I can already see a hundred copies floating in those Best Buy “hey, whatever, man” bins they got from time to time. Yeah, it’s all a bit underwhelming. Go ahead and sit there for a bit, I won’t mind. I wonder who at Nintendo dropped the (Super Monkey) ball (3D) on this one? Tsk tsk. I mean, all we, as gamers interested in gaming, needed was one strong title, whether it be a new Mario sidescroller or maybe a different take on Metroid or Kirby or, y’know, one of those mascots Nintendo has in its vaults. But no, we’re reduced to slim picking.

So, which game am I gonna get to make my Nintendo 3DS even more enjoyable?

YOU WANT BREAD? NO GAME FOR YOU! NEXT!

I’ll just wait it out until the newest Animal Crossing drops.

DEMO IMPRESSIONS – Dragon Age II

Sigh. More like Dragon Age II jumps the ogre-shark. Where do I begin?

The demo opens up with a typical RPG choice: who do you want to play as? Dragon Age: Origins offered a solid selection of races (human, dwarf, elf) and classes (warrior, rogue, mage) to pick from. Here, you can either be a male or female warrior/rogue/mage. No more pointy ears or ale-stained beards for you. This is one of the sacrifices BioWare made to streamline the sequel and focus on a tighter narrative.

Anyways, after selecting a female mage, the demo moves into cinematic territory. Varric, a dwarf, is being heatedly questioned by a templar. This woman is trying to hunt down Hawke, the legendary hero of Kirkwall, “the Champion” as she puts it.

Varric is an unreliable narrator, and his retelling of Hawke’s rise to fame is full of embellishing. According to him, Hawke’s story begins with her family fleeing from Lothering, making for Kirkwall. Alas, they are quickly surrounded by Darkspawn, and it’s here that the demo teaches you the basics of combat. The “A” button serves as your primary attack, with the rest of the face buttons designated for assigned abilities, just like in Dragon Age: Origins. Holding the left-trigger brings up a radial menu for more options. However, the most dramatic change has to be combat speed; it’s fast, and when I say fast, I mean Devil May Cry 3 fast. No joke, at one point I thought Hawke was going to knock a Darkspawn into the sky and finish it off with an air combo. So yeah, you fight a couple waves of Darkspawn and feel like you’re playing an entirely different RPG series.

After Hawke rips an ogre apart with her bare hands, Varric is called out for embellishing the story too much. The demo then jumps ahead to a later portion to allow the player to experience combat at a higher level. Here we fight some more Darkspawn and gain new companions. Dialogue is handled via a chat wheel akin to what’s found in the Mass Effect series, and I think it’s a step down. Now it clearly shows when you are being evil or good or sarcastic instead of letting you figure it out for yourself. Let go of my hand, BioWare devs! LET GO!

The demo is more of the same thing over and over again. Fight some Darkspawn, fight some more, talk, fight a boss. The boss ogre at the end killed all my companions fast, and then Hawke fell shortly after. I didn’t bother trying again. In fact, I went and deleted the demo off my Xbox 360, content in knowing that I had seen enough. The changes are too dramatic, and from what I’ve read, party companions are no longer as customizable in terms of armor and weapons. Only Hawke. This is not good. This is basically Dragon Effect II for pigeonholding purposes, and I’m not slamming Mass Effect II here as I know many love it and accept its streamlining as a good thing, but why couldn’t BioWare have the best of both worlds? Y’know, one streamlined sci-fi RPG and one deep, engrossing fantasy RPG for D&D fanatics.

Curse the Maker.

I guess, ultimately, if I want more of what I like about this text-heavy RPG series I’ll have to pick up Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening.

Games Completed in 2011, #6 – Super Scribblenauts

I once mused if it’s even possible to complete a game like Super Scribblenauts, a game that is an unending as one’s imagination, but I must sadly say that, yes, it is finishable. I mean, it has an end boss and credits and a set number of levels. And I saw all of that jazz so I’m calling this one completed even though it’s going to stay in my travel case for a good while so I can continue to play in its sandbox.

Super Scribblenauts is the follow-up to Scribblenauts, a Nintendo DS game that stood on its premise of “write anything, solve everything.” Players had to collect a starite, a floating or hidden star, in each level by writing in the solution. Sometimes it would be wings to fly up to the treetop or maybe a chainsaw to cut it down. The game hosted a large dictionary and numerous levels, as well as a play-away start screen where players could waste hours away thinking of things to write. Scribblenauts was unfortunately hampered by a wonky physics and a terrible control scheme, causing our dear leader Maxwell to fall to his death often. Everyone was pretty bummed out as it could have truly obtained greatness.

Enter Super Scribblenauts, a sequel that worked extra hard to fix the problems in the initial game. Players can switch between a touchscreen-only control scheme or use the much welcomed d-pad. In addition to all the words from the original entry, new words are added as well as numerous adjectives. That pegasus can now be a happy pregnant pegasus; that sword can now be a large flaming sword; that house can now be an angelic polka-dotted house. And so on. Not every level requires adjectives used, but they do help to spice up the words you’ll continually spawn. And speaking of levels, Super Scribblenauts has about half of the amount in the original (120 instead of 240 or so), but this isn’t a bad thing. These new levels are much deeper and many can still be replayed three times in a row for a bonus challenge.

[AHWOOO SPOILERS AHEAD BLOOP BLOOP BLOOP]

But let’s talk about the last level of Super Scribblenauts: 10-5 (Follow the UFO!). I went into it expecting nothing more than a normal puzzle level that, when completed, would round out the last constellation. Nothing more, nothing less. The level opens up with Maxwell’s doppleganger hopping into a UFO, stealing the last starite, and zipping away to space. We’re told to follow him, so I wrote in a UFO of my own, and off we go! Once in space, the constellation shapes we unlocked earlier from completing levels form on the bottom screen with stars. By touching them, they fly up to the top screen to attack our enemy’s UFO. Do this a few times until the doppleganger crashes. Alas, the planetside crash ends up destroying the starite. What’s a boy to do? Well, I then wrote STARITE, collected it, and BEAT THE GAME. Credits began rolling instantly.

Hmm…yeah. A bit like a bucket of cold water to the face. I literally sat unmoving as the credits rolled by, but maybe that was because the credits are actually enjoyable to watch. Maybe. But yeah, it’s a little out of left field to have a boss fight in a game like this, especially when there was nothing foreshadowing such a thing all along. I mean, there’s no story. Are we supposed to care about this doppleganger? I happen to think he’s pretty cool and would get along with Maxwell just fine in the same fashion that Scott and Nega-Scott can bond like brothers. 

[END OF SPOILERS BWOOOOOOOOP]

Did Super Scribblenauts achieve the greatness the former game missed out on? No, not quite. It just feels like the game we should have gotten from the beginning. Still, a fun time, and one I’m definitely gonna revisit from time to time. I do love creating a friendly purple dragon and riding it into the sunset.

Radiant Historia and history as it should be

According to the GameStop guy, I was the fourth person to pick up a copy of Radiant Historia yesterday. I should’ve asked him how many fratheads came in for their copy of Bulletstorm, but I forgot. Either way, it’s safe to say that this new RPG from Atlus is either going to sell slow, but steadily or fall victim to being too niche for the industry to pay attention to. I mean, my local GameStop didn’t even have boxes out for it yet under the NEW RELEASES section. Good thing I pre-ordered it.

Greg Noe wrote about the game’s first hour, and I’ve played all that and 30 minutes more at this point. Nations are at war, and the world is in clear danger of being turned into a desert. Two time- and space-bending figures, Teo and Lippti, attempt to try again to save it all by putting history’s chances on a soldier named Stocke. Last night, after saving an allied spy, Stocke had to make his first crucial decision, and I’m curious to see how it’ll play out. If it doesn’t go well, that’s okay. The great thing about wielding the White Chronicle is that Stocke has the ability to travel back in time to key events and try things differently.

The first sixty minutes of the game, the time that encompasses the Prologue, is very tutorial, which isn’t a horrible thing, but I am eager to get out there on my own and figure stuff out as I go. A good portion of Radiant Historia‘s beginning is spent talking and pondering, and thankfully the story and writing is strong. Heck, one of the villians even used the word cacophonous, warming the fire burning deeply in my heart. It is also quite refreshing to see a protagonist that is not silent, that is more like Mass Effect‘s Shepard, that is not a bumbling idiot led by his partymates, but rather a leader, a decision-maker.

However, not all is perfect. The sound of Stocke’s footsteps begins to grate, the overuse of cliche JRPG bubble emoticons, and for some reason I find Stocke getting stuck in the strangest of places when running around. Like against NPCs or behind a treasure chest. Something about the collision detection is off. Minor stuff, but irky stuff nonetheless.

Still, the story and battle system have their hooks in me already. I want to desperately know what happens when I side with character X over character Y, and even though the game’s opening only had a few fights to it I can clearly see them really becoming headscratchers. These are not fights one can simply auto-battle their way through. Turn order is vital. Planning and precision are also equally important. That’s like the total opposite of Dragon Quest IX (post-game currently) where all I do in that one is run around, spam the attack button, gain experience and coins, and do it all again–all while watching an episode of The Office or something.

I think I’m really going to love Radiant Historia. Thanks, Mom.

A million Claptrap parts is still not enough for Patricia Tannis

I used to love Claptraps. Y’know, those adorable, dancing robot thingies that would give you more inventory space or provide you with access to hidden weapon caches. I even drew them from time to time. And now the romance is over, thanks to the mission flow in Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution, the last bit of DLC for Borderlands.

Upon arrival in Tartarus Station, players meet up with Tannis in her secret workshop. She’s trying to build something and needs claptrap parts to get it done. Thus, you’re given the first mission of the DLC:

  • Patricia Tannis needs parts to build her magnificent…something. Head down to the Hyperion Dump and search the scrapped claptraps for parts and bring them back to her. (Clap-Components: 0/5)

Okay, five parts. That should be easy enough, and it is. You head off to the Hyperion Dump to shoot up seemingly endless swarms of angry Claptraps. As their robot bodies explode, they drop parts like gears, wires, and motherboards. Five are quickly acquired, but picking up extra parts don’t add to your collection. In fact, you can’t even really tell how many you have as nothing is actually listed in your inventory. Which sucks considering the next quest from Tannis is this:

  • Tannis needs some more parts to complete her creation’s Infinite Improbability Drive. If you can’t find any lying around, just rip them out of some claptrap spines. (Clap-Components: 0/42)

That means any extra parts you previously picked up are nulled. There’s no point in gathering more than what is needed. Kind of stupid in terms of a design process, but whatever. It’s not like we’re gonna have to collect a stadium-load more of these things, right? On to the next quest!

  • Tannis needs more parts to ensure the protection grid holds on her device’s ecto-containment unit, safeguarding against total protonic reversal, which would be extraordinarily bad. (Clap-Components: 0/75)

Dammit. Enter Hyperion Dump, shoot Claptraps, exit Hyperion Dump, enter again, rinse and repeat and feel bored. Gee, I wonder what the next quest will be?

  • The “popcorn” setting on Tannis’ device is malfunctioning. Well, it’s not so much malfunctioning as creating deadly mutant corn. A few more parts should fix that! (Clap-Components: 0/100)

Oh boy. Good, good. I haven’t collected claptrap parts in ages.

  • Just a few more parts and Tannis’ magnum opus shall be revealed! Tremble in fear at the might of Tannis and her fearsome…what is this thing, anyway? (Clap-Components: 0/150)

Go sleep with a badmutha skag, Tannis. You suck.

Let’s do some math. That’s a total of 372 claptrap parts collected. The most frustrating aspect though is that you simply can’t collect claptrap parts as a collectible. Only during these missions do they matter, and once you’ve acquired your target number, the rest are voided of purpose. I know for sure I could have cleared a few of these missions out faster if I’d been allowed to use the previous parts I found while out on the hunt. Would it really have been terribly hard, 2K/Gearbox, to design a slot in your inventory for claptrap parts? Me thinks not.

So, the first five missions in the DLC are a straight collect-a-thon, and not a very fun one at that. And all that work results in Tannis building an android version of herself so she won’t be so lonely anymore. Um…what?


The Collector (50G): Completed Tannis’ crazy request

Crazy disappointing to be more exact.

[Intimidate] You will simply love this post about intimidating in Dragon Age: Origins

I’ve been working very hard at Dragon Age: Origins recently. In fact, just the other night, Natia, our hard-as-nails dwarven Grey Warden, preserved the Anvil of the Void, sided with Bhelen to get the steel men on our side, and then had some decent sex with Leliana after listening to the bard prattle on and on for, lack of a better word, ages. That’s all well and good, but what I was more excited to see Natia accomplish was the following:


Menacing (20G): Succeeded at 10 difficult Intimidate attempts

See, Dragon Age: Origins is all about the dialogue options. That’s BioWare’s thingy. Mass Effect allowed you to go down the paragon or renegade path by choosing different ways to answer folks. The same thing exists in Ferelden. Characters can either be persuaded or intimidated, the former being the nicer route and the latter a little more direct and threatening. On my first playthrough, I went with the nice personality, and quickly got the persuasive Achievement. This time around, I knew I wanted to go after the intimidate one, and so I made sure to construct Natia in the right manner. The odd thing was that I’m positive I did well over 10 intimidate options before unlocking this Achievement, which leads me to believe that some are classified as more “difficult” than others.

And here’s where the problem sits: how does one know if it’s a difficult intimidate option or not?

I mean, the dialogue option that helped unlock Menacing was about forcing a scared little boy to give us a key to a treasure chest in his mother’s bedroom. Pretty sure the nicest, sweetest, kindest old man in Orlais could intimidate a youngling like that. However, it was a “difficult” attempt. Guess it has more to do with behind-the-scenes dice rolling than anything story-related, but still, I’d like to know a bit more before trying out anything. Fallout: New Vegas handled it decently if a bit perfunctory for its skill checks, and Dragon Age: Origins could do it in the same vein, with a percentage of success or a visible indication that there’s no way the option will work.

At least going forward on Natia’s quest to save Ferelden from the darkspawn, I won’t feel compelled to immediately select the intimidate option. Sure, I might…because roleplaying her as a cut-your-throat badass dwarf (with a hidden soft side) is a lot of fun. If only I could intimidate Alistair into getting down and funky with a dwarf; I think I missed my chance to woo him as he’s disapproved of a lot of group actions. Wah.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind

The 1990s were a crazy time. I mean, two of the biggest mascots were a plumber and an anthromorphic hedgehog with super speed. And gaming companies left and right were vying for their own position in mascot mecca. Some faired better than others. Remember Rocky Rodent? Chester Cheetah? Boogerman? Cool Spot? For your sake, I surely hope you don’t.

Accolade, Inc. entered the mascot gauntlet in 1993 with Bubsy, a bobcat that…uh, was full of catchphrases and snark. Starring in the awkwardly titled Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, the bouncy bobcat is on a mission to stop a race of fabric-stealing aliens called “Woolies”; they have stolen the world’s yarn ball supply, but more vital is that they stole Bubsy’s personal collection, the largest yet to be seen. Yes, we all know cats love balls of yarn. However, Bubsy is a bobcat, and I think they like to maul small animals. Just a minor difference in the end.

Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind takes place over five unique worlds, each with three levels. The Woolies and accompanying enemies change their look with each world, but otherwise the gameplay remains the same: a lot of platforming. World 1 is sort of a generic homelands, focusing on houses and water slides and underground tunnels. World 2 is an amusement park. World 3 stars a train in the Wild West setting. World 4 is something akin to national wildlife park, with trees being chopped down and gysers spouting. And naturally, World 5 takes place in outer space.

My least fond, but most strongest memories from adventuring with Bubsy are  1) that he would just not shut up and 2) that the game’s soundtrack was a bit of mess. First, let’s talk about talking. At the beginning of every level, Bubsy made an attempt at being cute or catchy. Here, check ‘em all out:

  • What could possibly go wrong? – Cheesewheels of Doom
  • Did I mention I don’t like heights? – Forbidden Plummet
  • More like a bridge too short. – A Bridge Too Fur
  • Hey, whatever blows your hair back! – Fair Conditioning
  • Hey, I thought I saw Elvis back there! – Night of the Bobcat
  • Shouldn’t that be ‘fearless’? Uh-oh… – Our Furless Leader
  • Well, it worked for Clint. – The Good, The Bad and the Woolies
  • Go ahead, make my day! – A Fistful of Yarn
  • My contract does not mention pain! – Dances with Woolies
  • Hey, I didn’t write this stuff!!! – Beavery Careful
  • Next time, I get a stunt-cat! – Rock around the Croc
  • Is there a veternarian in the audience? – Claws for Alarm
  • That’s it! I’m outta here! You can’t make me. – Eye of the Bobcat
  • What, and give up show business? – No Time for Paws
  • Somebody dial 911!!! – Lethal Woolie
  • Whoah, are you still playing this thing?! – A Farewell to Woolies

Man, look at all those puns. Really, I’m not against them. As a writer, I’m bound by an unwritten law to at least admire puns. However, hearing Bubsy constantly crank out these sayings can really drive one batty. Especially since, back then, I never got past the second world (at least that I can recall), that meant hearing the first five or six sayings over and over again. Go ahead and say “What could possibly go wrong?” in a really nasily voice ten times in a row and then tell me you love life.

Now for the music. It was bubbly and erratic, and suffered greatly from changing tones on the drop of a dime. For example, Bubsy is just bouncy along, collecting yarn to some chippy tunes when all of sudden he’s fallen into a waterslide part, and the soundtrack changes dramatically to the ilk often used to represent TOTAL DOOM. The strange thing is that hopping out of the waterslide does not deter the music, and it will continue to follow Bubsy until the game believes all is well in Woolieland.

That said, I really did love platforming with Bubsy. Bouncing really high into the air in any level and then floating down to the unknown was always thrilling. In fact, it’s one of the very first things you can do in the game, using a tree’s branch at the opening screen to shoot directly into the sky. Sometimes you’d land safely on the ground; sometimes you’d drift over to a secret area full of collectible yarn balls; and sometimes you’d fall into an open slice of water to drown. Bobcats can’t swim. It’s true, just ask Animal Planet. I also loved all the hidden areas and ways to move forward, like using the interlinked cave system or simply running forward. The graphics were extremely colorful and fun, offering a variety of enemies and items to go along with each world’s setting. It taught me a good amount about judging jumps and taking chances.

Alas, finding an actual SNES copy is probably pretty hard. And after the trainwreck that was Bubsy 3D, the franchise fizzled and was forcibly forgotten by all involved. There’s not even a downloadable version available via the Nintendo Wii. To answer Bubsy’s question from the very last level of the game, no. Sadly, I’m not.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

FIRST HOUR REVIEW – The Hobbit

If you’re an attentive Grinding Down reader, then you’ll clearly remember me picking up The Hobbit (GameCube version) recently. Well, I’ve now played the first sixty minutes of it, and you can read about all the exciting stuff that happened during said time over at The First Hour: http://firsthour.net/first-hour-review/the-hobbit

When asked if I’d continue playing, I answered “yes.” Alas, I’ve yet to dive back into The Hobbit and sneak past those three trolls, but I will. All in due time. Hey, Frodo didn’t destroy the One Ring in a day after all!