Tag Archives: beat-em-up

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse

I love X-Men, and I loved X-Men. I probably don’t love it as hard as I did as a young, lonely child with a wild imagination, but that’s okay. Not everything lasts forever, and that’s why nostalgia exists. Growing up, I had plenty of X-Men action figures, two VHS tapes–namely X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men and X-Men: Night of the Sentinels–that I watched over and over again, to the point of almost burning them up, and, of course, countless collectible cards, ranging from Jim Lee’s X-Men Series 1 to SkyBox’s X-Men Series 2 to X-Men ’95 FLEER ULTRA and even more. If you were at all like me, then you know exactly what I’m talking about; if not, oh well, move along. So it was natural for me to be excited about anything X-Men-related when it came to videogames, which brings us to X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse…for the SNES.

In X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, Charles Xavier sends five of his beloved X-Men to sabotage various operations and structures on the Genosha island complex to liberate mutants in captivity. Further investigation reveals Queen Brood and Tusk are involved in this matter and headed by the titular Apocalypse. After defeating all evil forces on Genosha, Xavier discovers that Magneto intends to destroy Genosha from his space station Avalon. To prepare for the confrontation, Xavier tests the five X-Men in the Danger Room to defeat holograms of Omega Red and Juggernaut. After passing the tests, the X-Men go on separate paths inside Avalon to face and defeat Exodus and then battle against that non-magnanimous Magneto. It’s like a multi-part string of episodes from X-Men: The Animated Series, and I was into it.

Right, so. The player takes control of five X-Men who each have their own objectives, as well as different moves and capabilities activated by certain control combinations. There is a limited number of lives that count for all five X-Men and not one individually. That said, similar to Mega Man, the levels may be played in any order. At the end of each level, you fight a boss, and the next three levels are linear and require each boss level to be defeated. This is followed by two straightforward boss battles in the Danger Room. Finally, only one of the X-Men can be selected, each one going through a different end level. Thankfully, after beating the first five stages, a password can be acquired. The game has health pickups, as well as the option to gain extra lives by collecting three “X” icons hidden throughout each stage. Otherwise, it’s a straightforward action game where you destroy anything and everything in your path, usually with mutant powers.

Here’s who you get to play as in X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse:

  • Beast – Possesses superhuman physical strength, agility, and an ape-like appearance…if, y’know, apes had blue fur.
  • Cyclops – Produces powerful, uncontrollable beams of concussive force from his eyes, forcing him to wear a specialized visor at all times.
  • Gambit – Has the ability to manipulate kinetic energy and charge objects with it. He’s also skilled in card-throwing, as well as hand-to-hand and staff combat.
  • Psylocke – She can use her telepathic powers to form a “psychic knife” from her fist. She’s also an expert martial artist.
  • Wolverine – A gruff mutant possessing superhuman senses, enhanced physical capabilities, adamantium coated bones and claws, and regenerative abilities.

For me, I was sold the instant I knew I could play as Gambit. He was always a favorite of mine growing up, and I still think there is a coolness to the character now, even if I haven’t kept up on any of his storylines. I also enjoyed Beast a great deal, hanging upside-down and punching minions in the face. The pixels were big for X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, almost zoomed in, which meant you didn’t get to see a ton of the environment around you, but you got a nice closeup of Cyclops firing off his laser blast. It definitely helped make these characters seem larger than life, which, for me at that age, they certainly were.

Now, around the same time as this game, there was another X-Men game, but it was for the SEGA Genesis. A system I did not own, but frequently played on at my then-best friend’s house. This was X-Men 2: Clone Wars, and it seemed to be the cooler-looking one of the bunch, much like how Mortal Kombat had blood on the Genesis and sweat drops on the SNES. In this one, you controlled a select few X-Men as they attempted to thwart the alien Phalanx from assimilating all of Earth’s inhabitants to their race. It played differently, and I still can’t pinpoint why I felt like my SNES title was inferior to it, but the feeling remains.

Either way, sorry, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, for trading you in. I do have a bunch of other X-Men-related games in my collection that remain untouched, shame on me, and I hope to get to them soon, as well as procure a copy of X-Men: Destiny, which might become a rarer thing down the line.

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.

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Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – 99Vidas

So, on the PlayStation 3, each game gets its own like…splash screen, music, or audio cue when you land on it in the menu selection column. This is both neat and sometimes annoying. Case in point: when you go to play 99Vidas, our topic du jour, you get this screamingly high-pitched voice saying what I think sounds like, “Oh my gawd!” Except it’s more like ohmygawd as in one word, and something about it drives me batty. Other games on my list that also play a really ear-bleeding audio bit include Quantum Conundrum, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and Siren: Blood Curse. These are not deal-breakers, as they actually push me more to play these games, because the faster I play ’em, the quicker I can remove ’em from the list.

Anyways, 99Vidas, which I believe is Portuguese for “99 lives,” is a side-scrolling beat-em-up developed and published by QuByte Interactive. The game is clearly inspired by classics of the genre, such as Double Dragon, Final Fight, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage, all of which I played back in the late 80s, full 90s, and somewhat recently. 99Vidas features six playable characters from the start–and more unlocked via multiple sessions–though I only played as King, who seems like the generic go-to dude for punching and kicking. There’s a single player story-driven campaign, as well as multiple cooperative and competitive game modes, for up to four players, which can be played either locally or online. I will admit here and now that I only stuck to the story mode for my brief time with 99Vidas.

Each character has unique attributes, like speed and strength, along with an elemental alignment (fire, water, wind, lightning, and so on), which affects their regular attacks, combos, and special moves. I believe King’s special moves are water-based because at some point I summoned a giant tidal wave to clear out multiple enemies. 99Vidas has a more modern take on the brawl-heavy genre, with characters gaining experience points by defeating enemies and collecting special items that can then be used to upgrade their abilities, combos, and unlock new moves. This makes all the repetitive punching and kicking less…repetitive, but you still end up doing a lot of the same combos because once you find one that works it continues to work as your character grows stronger.

Believe it or not, there is a story in 99Vidas, and it’s a bizarre one. Some might even call it bombastic. The game starts when an artifact known as the 99Vidas goes missing. Uh oh. Now, this artifact is believed to hold immense power possible of covering the Earth in darkness and chaos. Double uh oh. The Guardians of the 99Vidas, granted the Power of the Elements, are bound to live through the ages to protect this artifact, which means it is your responsibility to face these forces of evil, defeat the Evil Boss and his six henchmen, and retrieve the legendary 99Vidas. More or less, go beat up everyone in your path and retrieve the shiny trinket.

99Vidas seems like a perfectly fine and perfunctory beat-em-up. It has some modern elements to it to keep things fresh, but I found myself getting bored playing alone, doing all the punching, kicking, and combo-ing, and the boss fights can be a wee bit difficult if you are running this solo. I got a few levels deep into the whole affair, but it hasn’t really drawn me back in. Others might really dig it, but I for one am now happy to remove it from my PlayStation 3’s library.

Ohmygawd!

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #6 – Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

Classic coin-op port
Branching paths, monsters galore
Named my soldier Pault

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

A King’s Tale is not your typical childish bedtime story

Chances are, I’m never going to play Final Fantasy XV–and that’s fine. I’m still currently plunking away at the original Final Fantasy, trying to earn enough gil for that mythril sword, and a part of me thinks that, after that, maybe I should try tackling Final Fantasy IV again. I have it on my Nintendo DS and played for a bit way back when I got it for myself as a birferday gift, but never stuck with it. Shame on me. This is me shaming myself publicly, so no need to add to the dogpile. Anyways, Final Fantasy XV is fascinating from the outside-looking-in. I mean, it stars what appears to be an upcoming indie hit boy band as they drive around some fantasy land and slash up monsters. In one way, I appreciate that, and in another, I want nothing to do with this timesink.

Thank goodness then for A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, which I finished in under two hours. In, out, done. If only all Final Fantasy titles could be this succinct. Just kidding. I do like long-as-the-day RPGs, quite a bit. It’s just that there are currently way too many of them to eat up at once, and so they all end of sitting, untouched, painfully ignored. I believe this thing was originally a pre-order bonus for those getting in on the Final Fantasy XV action early through their favorite retailer, perhaps GameStop only, but now it has been given out to all as a free download on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Maybe the PC, but I’m too lazy to confirm that. Either way, it’s zero dollars…and not at all an RPG.

A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV takes place thirty years before the events of Final Fantasy XV, for those curious and fearful of spoilers. Young Noctis can’t fall asleep and asks his father, King Regis, to tell a fairy tale brimming with fantasy and adventure. Anything but another boring, generic bedtime story. Regis begins with a peaceful day being disrupted when monsters raid the royal capital of Insomnia. Young Regis is joined by Weskham and eventually Cid and Clarus, where they travel to the plains of Duscae only to discover a mysterious cave where their true enemy resides. Sounds like a decent setup for…a retro-style beat-em-up in the veins of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, with some modern mechanics thrown in for good measure.

Yup, you walk from left to right and beat up enemies in your way. These enemies are, of course, taken right from the Final Fantasy mega-verse, so be prepared for lots of Coeurls, Behemoths, Goblins, and so on. Plus that ever-so-cute knucklehead Tonberry. There’s a pretty deep combat system here, with combos, counters, and Regis being able to warp around the screen wicked fast to keep the action moving and avoid dangerous swarms. Certain enemies will block specific attacks, which prevents too much mashing from happening and keeps you on your toes. As you level up your combo meter and refrain from getting hit, you can call in companions to perform special attacks, and if you continue to level it up even more, eventually you can user Armiger, which brings together all your buddies for a powerful, sometimes screen-clearing move. There’s also magic spells–lightning, ice, and fire–though I used them fairly infrequently. Lastly, in some areas, you can summon Astral entities to obliterate your foes, and these obviously look pretty good, but shouldn’t be relied on for surviving the moment-to-moment encounters. For most of the game, paying attention to enemy types and what type of attacks you are using are key, as is rolling around to grab health pick-ups when needed.

The story is ultra thin and throwaway. The bedtime tale for Noctis basically ends with a talking tentacle monster trying to steal some crystals. I’m sure if I knew more about Regis and his buddies I’d have picked up on more details via their conversations, but I rushed through most of it to get to the good part–fighting. After you beat A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, you can access Dream Battle Special Challenges. These are one-off challenges, each with their own requirements and varying levels of difficulty. Some ask you not to take any damage (yeah right) and others are more focused on doing something X number of times. I did a few, looked at the remainder, and decided that it was better for me to quit while I was ahead.

All in all, A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV was a nice, short distraction from my usual mainstays on the Xbox One. I’m still not interested in digging into Final Fantasy XV, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of other Final Fantasy titles in my backlog to get to, and, if anything, I’m now hungry for another 2D beat-em-up. Shank 2, perhaps? Now there’s a game I’ve let sit ignored for far too long.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #49 – A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV

A bedtime story
Where you mash fast and walk left
Tonberry, so cute

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

I suspect Final Fight isn’t actually my final fight

final fight overall impressions

I didn’t do too deep on the latest Capcom-themed Humble Bundle, obtaining only the games in the $1.00 or more tier. Specifically, these ones: Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3, Strider, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and Final Fight Double Impact. The second tier already contains a few titles I own, such as Remember Me and Mega Man 9/10, and the rest didn’t stand out to me as must-haves. But finally having a copy of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix after all these years of only ever playing a demo version over and over and over, and for only one hundred pennies? I couldn’t resist. Regardless, those are words and stories for another post, on another game. For today, let’s talk about Final Fight.

Or, more specifically I guess, Final Fight Double Impact, which is the name of the thing I got from this latest Humble Bundle. Not really knowing much about this product, I assumed this was either a new Final Fight game in the beat-em-up series or a remake of the Super NES port. Turns out, nope. It’s a bundle, containing two arcade classics from Capcom’s history: Final Fight and Magic Sword. I have absolutely zero record with Magic Sword, and not much more with Final Fight, always being a Streets of Rage fanboy more than anything else, but know enough about the brawler through osmosis thanks to the Internet.

Final Fight‘s plot is hilariously legendary, one for the ages: the Mad Gear street gang has kidnapped Mayor Mike Haggar’s daughter, Jessica. Being a former pro wrestler and more muscle than policy-pushing man, Haggar refuses to give into their demands. Instead, he sets out to rescue Jessica with the help of her boyfriend, the martial artist Cody, and his friend Guy, a modern-day ninja. Y’know, cool dudes. They’ll do this together, punching and jump-kicking and slashing with a sword or lead pipe every Mad Gear goon and gal in Metro City, regardless of whether they are visible on the screen or not.

Truthfully, I only meant to see what this Final Fight Double Impact was and how it ran, but then I kept playing, eventually getting to Belger, the final boss, and kicking his gun-toting behind right out a window. That is, with a little help from some random online friends that jumped in and out of my game as I continued to hit continue after losing enough lives. See, I really never played many of these beat-em-ups in the arcades, save for that X-Men one, as they existed only to eat your quarters and I was more interested in spreading my quarters around, sampling a wide array of game types. Playing on a console with unlimited continues negates that mentality, and you can see credits roll in a number of side-scrolling brawlers so long as you persevere.

Final Fight is fine. The mechanics are simple yet solid, and somewhat addicting. You can punch, jump attack, pick up items like health and weapons, and even burn a little health to use a super attack that is good at clearing out a number of goons at once. I found a really good strategy of simply standing by the edge of the screen and mashing the attack button repeatedly; enemies will begin to walk into your firsts, and you can watch their life bars tick down without even putting a face to a name. Speaking of names…oomph. There are some doozies in here, such as Bill Bull, Holly Wood, and Wong Who.

In actuality, Final Fight is a great game to sort of lose yourself in for an hour and change. Yup, with unlimited continues, it doesn’t take too long to finish this fight, especially when you have the help of random online players. I went through just about every level with Guy, messing up once towards the end when I accidentally picked Haggar, but I can see myself going through this again with just Cody or Haggar all the way. This version comes with a bunch of built-in challenges, like finishing a level with only using one character or a certain number of continues or hitting a specific tier of points, and all that feeds into unlocking art and extras in the gallery, as well as trophies.

I also plan to still check out the other half of this bundle, but don’t expect to beat Magic Sword in a single go like I did here. Unless it really is some kind of magic sword. Final Fight contains a sword as a wield-able weapon, and it performs its own kind of magic in completing dominating the playing field unless you are going against those fire-tossing dudes. Anyways, yeah–this isn’t my final fight.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #49 – Final Fight

gd games completed final fight

Jessica taken
Mad Gear must pay, says mayor
Off-screen punches win

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.