Tag Archives: Star Wars

2019 Game Review Haiku, #23 – LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Aimless adventure
Lightsabers, blasters–Star Wars
Used cheat codes, first time

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #65 – LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Growing up Jedi
You know what to do–get studs
Shun flying levels

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.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #43 – LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2016 gd games completed lego star wars the force awakens

BB-8, so cute
It is the best droid, true fact
Poor R2-D2

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.

Patience you must have, my young Star Wars: Commander

star wars commander intro hours

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think some new Star Wars talkie comes out this week in theaters. The Force Awakens or something like that. Personally, I’m excited for it, as I love all things space opera, but am going to hold back and wait until the crowds and madness fade, though hopefully I can remain relatively spoiler-free during those dark, lonely days. Perhaps I’ll fill that void with my massive collection of Star Wars-related videogames, of which I actually don’t have many. There’s Star Wars: Tiny Death Star on my phone, which is stellar, but mostly an elevator simulator, LEGO Star Wars, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which I’ve played the opening tutorial bits twice and never gone any further than that.

Well, let’s see what Star Wars: Commander is all about. It’s from Disney Interactive and available on a bunch of different devices. For this impressions piece, I’m hanging out with my boys Han Solo and Chewbacca on my ASUS laptop that now rocks Windows 10. In hindsight, this is not the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’ll get to why in just a bit. It’s a free-to-play strategy game in the slight veins of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 and Age of Empires, a genre I’ve had some reservations over for years, but you’ll notice I didn’t say “real-time” there, as you’ll do a whole lot more waiting around if you wanted to play it just like those games.

Here’s the gist, story-wise. In Star Wars: Commander, you must first to decide to fight for the Rebellion or Empire, train your troops, build up a bunch of units and vehicles, defend your base, and complete story-tinted missions. As you do this, you’ll level up your heroes and vehicles, battle on different worlds, and team up with friends to take on larger, more difficult scenarios. For what it’s worth, I went with the good guys, which most certainly means I’m on Darth Vader’s naughty list this year for Christmas. I can’t help rooting for the good-natured guys and girls in this universe that don’t want to see entire planets vaporized. I’ve also killed a bunch of womp rats on Tatooine already.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, which is from around an hour or so with the game, Star Wars: Commander is not great. It might be good, but probably falls more around the middling category. It holds your hand for far too long in the beginning, is too corny with its ads for rating the app and buying extra goodies with hard-earned cash, and doesn’t seem all that engaging from the get-go. This is certainly not helped by the fact that I’m playing it on a laptop, when it is clearly better suited for mobile, where one can easily check in on their base, tap the things that need tapping, and close out to get back to dreary life tasks, like blocking people on Facebook you know are foaming at the mouth to reveal Mark Hamill’s role in Episode VII.

Immediately after the game stopped holding my hand and actually allowed me to click around and spend coins/ore as I pleased, I began to explore the user interface. There’s a bunch of icons, and one should ideally know what each does before getting into the thick of things. The second icon I clicked on, which brought up a menu for purchasing resources with my precious diamond currency, nearly froze the game. I say nearly because I could continue to click the “back” and “X” buttons, but they didn’t do anything. I didn’t try actually buying any resources, though the cynical side of me suspects those buttons would have worked just fine. Eventually, I just tabbed out and shut the whole thing down, but I’m forever tainted by this experience, afraid to even open up the settings menu.

I’ll probably check in on Star Wars: Commander a few more times this week, though I don’t expect to stick with it. I was surprised by just how little you can actually do while building your base and prepping for the next mission, and so maybe I need to give Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic a third chance and start exploring the galaxy, no cooldown timer needed. Also, if you’re checking out Star Wars: The Force Awakens this week, enjoy–but keep the details to yourself. Sincerely, everyone not seeing it immediately.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Star Gladiator Episode I: Final Crusade

games I regret star gladiator 2216789-psogl2_017

It’s the year 1997, and I’m playing a fighting game set in the far-flung year of 2348 with wide eyes, unable to take in everything it is showing me. The outrageous characters, the stages with the power for ring-out victories, the zany powers, the futuristic and unique weapons, the way that one alien could grow to three times his size, filling up the majority of the screen like some Super Metroid boss. As a teenager with a ripening imagination, it was some pretty cool stuff. Star Gladiator had the honor of being one of a handful of strange fighting games I owned on the PlayStation at that time, rubbing elbows with Bloody Roar 2, Robo Pit, and X-Men: Mutant Academy.

I read somewhere once that Star Gladiator was originally supposed to be a Star Wars fighting game, and you can see the roadmap clearly in Hayato Kanzaki, the rebellious young bounty hunter who wields a Plasma Sword in battle. Or perhaps you can better see the lines blurring with Gamof Gohgry, a brown-furred alien that looks a bit like a certain non-English-speaking Wookie. If you squint, you might be able to find a few other striking similarities between the two franchises. Though Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi did eventually get made.

The plot is surprisingly convoluted and as follows, which I will openly admit to looking up. In 2348, humans have established contact with various alien civilizations, and life is good. Everyone has healthcare, the government hasn’t shut down, old age kills people, not guns, and so on. Humankind is able emigrate from one planet to another. Unfortunately, there are still some problems with several alien races, forcing the Earth Federation to create Plasma weapons to help protect the Earth from possible outside threats. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Edward Bilstein uncovers the secret to humanity’s “sixth sense,” a technique for capturing the energy of the human mind, harnessing it as an energy source called Plasma Power. Eventually, the Earth Federation learns that Bilstein experimented on innocent people, immediately arresting and exiling him from Earth, imprisoning the physicist on a satellite orbiting Planet Zeta. Four years after this, an Earth Federation army base was attacked by a small group of rebels calling themselves the “Fourth Empire”; surprise, surprise–Bilstein, who had built himself a powerful cyborg body and escaped from his satellite prison, is their leader. Panicking, the Earth Federation puts out a call for anyone able to utilize Plasma Power and put an end to Bilstein. This project is codenamed…y’know it, Star Gladiator.

Anyways, it’s a fighting game. You select a character, start on the left side of the screen, and you fight. Every character has two attack buttons for their weapon, a kick, and guard defense. You can do combos and special attacks. Battles take place on a limited 3D plane, with ring-out as possibility for victory, something that I’ve loved every since first playing Virtua Fighter in an arcade. The character’s weapons make each fight unique, and I remember enjoying Saturn’s yo-yos, Franco’s rapier, and June’s rings the most. Interestingly enough, depending on how fast you fly through the arcade mode to the final fight with Bilstein, Star Gladiator either ends with a false ending or it continues on with a special battle against an unplayable computer-controlled Ghost Bilstein. Losing to Ghost Bilstein results in both a bad ending and a game over, but defeating him will open up the character’s true ending.

Everyone remembers the cheat code for extra lives in Contra on the NES, but I also took the time to memorize another: Big Heads in Star Gladiator. After you select your character, immediately press and hold Right, Start, Circle, and Square until the match starts. Simple as that, and hilarious every time. Couple this mode with the character Gore that could grow in size, and well…my PlayStation was pushed to its limit, surely. You could also unlock Small Heads, which were not as effective in the humor department.

It’s a weird fighting game, but one I miss genuinely for its weirdness. Capcom dabbles in weirdness elsewhere, for sure, and not even in just fighting games, but Star Gladiator never took itself seriously and felt like a Saturday morning cartoon brought to digital life. Evidently, a sequel called Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein came out, but I never saw it. According to the Internet, it sounded like merely a minor update to the first game, with additional characters being more or less “mirrors” of the original cast. However, if you can, go with Episode 1, something you’ll never see me write about Star Wars.

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.

Go to the Game Room for easy peasy Achievements

Game Room…for the Xbox 360. It’s trying to be old-school and “classic,” trying to evoke feelings of nostalgia and quarter-hunting, but alas it does neither. Instead, kind of how the Star Wars prequels were too clean and pretty to be considered “old,” the Game Room is the, more or less, equivalent of Playstation 3’s Home, but with truly silly decorations and a whole lot less to do.

Upon downloading it, you are given 20 free tokens out of the kindness of the developers’ hearts. These can be used to play arcade machines after you’ve used up your “place once for totally free” card. I played some Centipede and Millipede, always a favorite, before growing bored. The games that come in the free download packs for Game Room are, alas, just not very interesting. In fact, I’d say about 75% of them were brand new to me in terms of familiarity.

What’s kind of odder, however, is the fact that Game Room comes with Achievements. Some of them don’t even deserve the honor of being thought as “things one achieves.” Take for instance the very first one I unlocked:

Show Me! (5G): Visited the Showcase Arcade

Yup. Just loading up Game Room is worthy of Gamerscore. Hmm. There’s even a few more for adding themes and decorations to your personal arcade, all of which is provided for free to you with the download packs. All in all, without purchasing anything, I was able to pop 7 of 56 Achievements. I bet there’s a couple more I could get, too, but no single classic game is calling out to me and my Microsoft bucks just yet. We’ll have to wait and see.

But wait, what was that bit before about the Star Wars prequels? Well, Game Room has a lot of shine to it. Just like The Phantom Menace. Everything is polished and reflective, the themes are elegant and elaborate, and your oddly-shaped Avatars all look like they are having a blast, running back and forth from machines. That’s not how I remember Star Wars IV through VI or arcades. They were dirty and darker, full of grit and noise, crap on the carpet. Special effects and hi-tech gadgetry were as best as they could be, which by today’s standards were nothing James Cameron would even blink at. And where’s the jerks that always lined up their quarters on the machine to let everyone know they were next?

Anyways, it was mildly fun to fool around with for twenty minutes or so, considering the gameplay of the glory day games remains absolutely the same, but ultimately Game Room is just a weird mix of old and new.