Tag Archives: GBA

New ways to celebrate mediocrity with The Incredibles

gd incredibles playstation2 impressions

I ended up getting a copy of The Incredibles videogame for the PlayStation 2 last summer as part of a small birthday celebration for myself. Please note, I also snagged Suikoden Tactics and Star Ocean Till the End of Time with this, and, of the three, it’s the first one I’ve actually put into my system to play since that package arrived. Yup, some seven months later, I’m just blindly trusting that these used videogames from Amazon arrived in working condition. I mean, yeah, I’ll find out eventually.

Anyways, The Incredibles is my favorite Pixar film. I say that now, in 2015, with total confidence, and have been saying it since the movie saw release in 2004. Y’know, a decade ago. I also suspect that I will continue saying this for many more years, possibly all the years. There’s a lot of reasons why The Incredibles is incredible, and I’ll list a few for those in the know: Brad Bird, monologues, subsurface scattering, Syndrome’s hair, that little kid on the tricycle, capes, no capes, the colors, 1960s homages, the mysterious Mirage, and so on. It’s a funny story about superheroes, but also about family and what it can cost to stay together, to be happy. I watch it every few months as it is one of my top 31 favorite ways to eat up time.

I promise I’ll talk about the letdown that, so far, is The Incredibles on the PlayStation 2, but I first need to lay some groundwork. First, the movie. I was in college and saw it on or around its opening weekend with a girl I was dating then, who we will call the Giraffe, and it instantly blew me my mind. Like, sure, I understood the concept of a “children’s film for adults,” but here was something else, something bigger. It didn’t dumb itself down for the wee ones, and it kept the serious moments super serious. Fast forward a bit, and I’m on my way home from a Spring Break trip in Las Vegas, NV, unfortunately taking a red-eye flight back to Camden. Now, I’m already terrified of planes, and so while everyone else slept, I sat staring at the back of the seat in front of me, sweating like a pig. Until I discovered my girlfriend’s GameBoy Advance and a copy of The Incredibles for it. It didn’t pass all the hours, but it definitely helped; alas, the GBA version is quite different from those released for consoles, playing it as a straightforward side-scrolling beat-em-up, and you can see it in action over here.

I knew that The Incredibles for PlayStation 2 was not the same game I had played on that flight many years back, but it still seemed promising. The movie’s entire makeup is perfectly designed for a videogame: you have a small cast of characters, each with varying special powers, ending up in dangerous situations, all trying to save the world from a man-boy gone mad who has an army of goons and robots to toss at you. Alas, it turned out to be a vapid, uninspired retread of the movie, with an out-of-nowhere difficulty spike, which forces one to use cheat codes to get through it. Hate to remind Syndrome of this yet again, but you do need special powers to be super.

Here are my biggest problems so far with The Incredibles, and mind you, I only just completed stage 8 (of 18 total), meaning I’m a little bit over one-third of the way through it, but boy howdy I’m not thrilled about what’s to come.

It’s boring. The levels are extremely linear, and the one or two occasions it allows you to explore reveal nothing, save for maybe a single “secret bonus item” unlock collectible, which devolves into uninteresting concept art. It’s certainly no this. At this point, I’ve played as Mr. Incredible six times, once as Elastigirl, and once as Dash. Wait, real quick–the game and its manual seem to go out of its way to never refer to Elastigirl as such, calling her Helen or Mrs. Incredible only, strangely stripping her of her identity, even labeling her this in a level that takes place before she gets married. The levels for Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are of the action adventure style, with slivers of variety, such as a turret sequence, and the Dash level was an atrocious free-runner style thing that I’ll have more on in a sec.

It’s confusing. Look, I know the movie inside and out. I have to imagine anyone coming to this game also knows the movie pretty well or would at least see it first before playing the action game based on it. If they didn’t, well…this will make zero sense. Small, condensed scenes from Pixar’s film are used between levels to bridge the gaps, but it does little to explain why so-and-so is here, doing this, wearing that. One level you are playing as an overweight Mr. Incredible in his old-timey blue costume, and the very next level you have him looking fit and all donned up in Edna’s new design. I know how he got there, but many won’t if they are relying on this for plot. Also, you rarely get told what to do in a level or where to go next, though there are only so many options at hand.

It’s too difficult. Maybe this is my fault, coming to The Incredibles and assuming it was a child-friendly beat-em-up with additional elements, but certainly something easy. Most levels, based on a quick scan of YouTube replays, take about eight to ten minutes to finish, while I was averaging more around 30 minutes. This is due to many deaths, but also frustration at overly difficult sections, sequences I just can’t imagine a young gamer getting through without repeated tries or external help. In some levels, if you miss a platform jump, you have to return to the start of the scenario yourself and start again, and it doesn’t help that the camera makes it challenging to tell how far a jump is. In that level where Dash has to race the school bus, the checkpoint systems seems oddly tiered, often working against progress. The only way I was able to beat the Omnidroid in stage 8 “Volcanic Eruption” was to spam health replenish and Incredi-move cheat codes. I don’t know, maybe I’m just terrible at games, thinks the dude that did beat Yama on a Daily Challenge last year.

The short of it is this: The Incredibles is not as incredible as the movie. I’m going to finish playing it, because that’s who I am, but like that tricycle kid hanging around the Parr’s driveway, I’ll still be waiting for something amazing to happen.

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2013 Game Review Haiku, #22 – Mario VS. Donkey Kong

2013 games completed mario vs donkey kong

Collect the gold key
Save mini Mario toy
Give Donkey Kong his

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

A maze of magic mirrors in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror

kirby and the amazing mirror GBA impressions

Well, we can add Kirby and the Amazing Mirror to the list of games with maps that I absolutely hate. Others on that list include Fez, LEGO Lord of the Rings, and Fable II, if you’re curious. For good maps, check out Costume Quest or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and love how easy they are navigate. Also, Minecraft.

A map should be both functional and follow-able, a handy accessory to help with one’s journey. For maps, I like to see markers for special spots and things to do, as well as the ability to place my own destination marker. Also, show me what direction I’m walking in or facing at, not just where I am currently standing. For 3D realms, seeing which direction I’m facing is vital to knowing where to continue heading forward or side-stepping to the left instead. Without that help, it’s just aimless wandering. Unfortunately, the map in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is beginning to feel like the type that requires a long and detailed review of maps to ensure that all rooms and paths have been taken.

If you skip the little intro cutscene for Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, you miss nearly all the story beats. Which I did in my eagerness to begin playing. Oopsie. Evidently, here is what is happening: a sinister presence has invaded the Mirror World, which sits high and mighty above Dream World, and all the mirrors are now reflecting bad things. Meta Knight goes off to fix things, eventually disappearing in the process. Later, Kirby is attacked by a shadow Meta Knight, splitting our friendly pink puffball into four. They all then hop on a  Warpstar to chase after him. And that’s all the set up you get.

It plays like every other Kirby videogame, with you sucking enemies into Kirby’s mouth and eating them to gain powers, like lasers, swords, stone, and Cupid. You can puff yourself up to fly and shoot little things of air. Also, um, you have a…cell phone, which you can use to teleport you back to the mirror hub level or call in help from your colored counterparts. You traverse levels going from left to right, right to left, down to up, and sometimes from up to down. Everywhere you go, there are mirrors, which are doorways to other levels, and many of them are hidden or locked behind a barrier that requires the right power Metroidvania style to access. Alas, this means pre-planning and carefully keeping your power from several levels prior, which I’m bad at. It’s not difficult gameplay, just the kind that requires a lot of back and forth and awareness. Also, bosses I’ve fought so far include a lightning cloud and angry tree. So, y’know…Kirby.

If hopping in and out of mirrors isn’t your thing, there’s also three minigames in Kirby and the Amazing Mirror. They are cute, but you’ll play them once, see what they are about, and never go back. At least, that’s what I did. They all require a single button press. In Speed Eaters, you wait for a pan to reveal whether it has apples or bombs; if it’s the former, press A before any other Kirby, and you get the apples. Fill up your hunger meter first to win. Crackity Hack has you powering up a super punch to break a crack in the ground, seeing if you can go the farthest. Lastly, Kirby’s Wave Ride has you surfing and catching waves for speed bonuses. Again, they are exactly what they are called: mini-games. Nothing more, nothing less.

Right now, I’m around 17% complete, with two mirror shards found and put back into place. Gotta hop back through some mirror gates with the right powers on Kirby to find more. I wish you could at least store a second power somewhere. Like, deep within Kirby’s cheeks, hamster-style. Think about it. Oh well.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #26 – Metroid Fusion

More planet peril
Bosses that mean big trouble
A woman betrayed

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Nintendo 3DS gets a price slash, and 3DS Ambassadors get 20 free games

The Nintendo 3DS has not had a stellar ride so far, skirting the edge of failure and occasionally dancing with the promise of success. From its initial system launch in March 2011, the pricey handheld ($249.99) has had to compete with things like smartphones and internal delays of vital applications such as the eShop, Netflix, and video hub, and while it does have a working gimmick of offering “3D without the glasses,” it’s not been enough to push the system into everyone’s hands like the previous DS did.

Nintendo is looking to shake things up with a hefty price slash, dropping the Nintendo 3DS to $169.99 on August 12; this is probably the fastest I’ve seen a newly launched system drop in price, which says a lot. The company is scared and trying to hurry up and make the 3Ds shine a little more, and they now have everything else in place to make the 3DS more than just a gimmicky block of plastic; you can surf the Internet on it, watch 3D videos, take photos, stream movies, and play games.

But what about sucker-chumps like me that dropped $250 on launch day, with slim pickings like Pilotwings Resort and Nintendorabbits? What does a price cut ultimately do for us but create grumbling sounds in stomachs? Well, early adopters of the system are now coined 3DS Ambassadors, meaning they are special, prized, and worthy of free stuff. Hey, I like free stuff. Especially great free stuff.

First, 3DS Ambassadors will get 10 free Virtual Console games from the NES era, including Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and The Legend of Zelda. The other five have not been announced. Additionally, they will also be treated to 10 free Game Boy Advance titles, including Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Again, the other five have not been announced…but yowza, that’s already quite a gathering of freebies if ever there was one. And from what I’ve read, these GBA titles will not actually end up on the eShop, meaning they are exclusive to 3DS Ambassadors.

It’s unclear when these games will be available to 3DS Ambassadors; I’m guessing some short time after the August 12 price slash. Or maybe right before it? I dunno. More details to come, I’m sure. Really looking forward to the free titles as I was just complaining to Tara about my disappointment with the 3DS, my severe lack of caring for it thanks to the delays and cancellations of desired titles. This helps…a bit. I’m still not in love, but filling up my 3DS with tons of oldies, but goodies is a great start to a better relationship.

Ambassador, out!