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I've warmed up to this one a lot since my first playthrough. It's probably the easiest of the first four Contras (1-3 and Hard Corps, not 1-4) to pick up and play. Not lenient by any means, but definitely the easiest and most fun of those. With savestates I'd recommend all four of these to anyone, but especially this one despite being second to Hard Corps imo.
This is easily the most boring capcom IP that Sega's in-house team brought to genesis, and yet it has the most polish and new content of any of them, what the FUCK were they doing.
The arcade original is ported over well but the highlight is the new scenario with remixed levels and stat progression. You swap between 5 recruited soldiers and each one has their own life bar ala Shadow Blasters. Lose 'em all and it's game over. It's fun to immediately build up one team member to max power and speed, then totally sweep.
Every tank enemy is fucking horrible and ruins the game. Their hitboxes are somehow impossible to read despite being giant ass tanks, it's like you have to hit a weak point located on another weak point. They deal obscene damage back to you and the trajectory of their fire is really inconsistent. They throw a bunch at you as early as stage 2 in arcade mode and they were a big enough pain in the ass to make me drop it years ago.
Glad I returned to this but damn if only this treatment was given to ANY other capcom gig. Coulda put captain commando or fuckin, three wonders on this shit. maybe give three wonders a proper third game instead of funny bunny land shenanigans.
More fun than a bus full of cheerleaders, Ratchet Deadlocked on PS2 felt like the developers recognizing that they've expunged their creative motivation to make new entries involving Ratchet and Clank exploring vast planets with a healthy mix of platforming and blasting (case and point: R&C 3), and decided to embrace the direction they've been leaning towards with every sequel, which is BLASTING, BLASTING, and MORE BLASTING!
Despite its initial lukewarm reception, Deadlocked is easily one of the best games the series has to offer. While it can be considerably one-note, it sings that note with absolute expertise using its dense enemy-count, banging tunes, amusing commentators, and explosive weaponry!
Where people saw absolute reduction in the environmental variety, weapon-count, and characters, I saw a tighter, more-focused direction in these aspects, making for very charming interactions throughout regarding the narrative and characterizations, and fun-filled action regarding the raw gameplay.
Speaking more on narrative, I adore the stronger, slightly sharper bite this story had regarding fame and corruption that tends to follow with that lust for admiration and profits. It's all still cartoonish and funny, but perfectly serves the slight edge this game has compared to its predecessors.
With that said--and looking back at this game more than 15 years later--this is the last real Ratchet & Clank game in my eyes. It felt like a perfect series finale to everything the stories before it represented. Helps that it's a fun game too.
It's interesting to bring the summer vacation game formula to full 3D, but I'm not sure if borrowing so heavily from open world-isms was the way to do it. Something more in the vein of Yakuza games or A Short Hike might have been more effective, especially because this game doesn't have the sandbox mechanics that are needed to make open worlds 'work'. Still, it's cool to have a full 3D map to explore for summer vacation things, it's just too big. The idea of there being multiple towns in the world you can take a bus or cross a mountain to is neat. I also appreciate that the character design is nontraditional. The story I didn't play enough to get in to, but what I read seemed charming in its best moments and involves a travelling circus staging performances (and you get to help in deciding the performances)
This review doesn't have anything to do with the quality of each game, and I've actually reviewed them all separately on this site. This is more in regards to the collection itself and its presentation.
For the absolute bare minimum a port collection needs to be, it clears it perfectly well. This is the least I expect from M2, who are absolute porting wizards. I also appreciate the inclusion of the Japanese and European 'Probotector' versions of their respective games, as well as making said EU versions 60hz in order to make these games function the way they were supposed to. And as someone that doesn't agree with the notion of a rewind function being necessary for ports of 2D games, I'm perfectly satisfied without it. If I really want to practice a stage, the single save state they provide for each game is enough for me.
Regarding extras, it isn't anything groundbreaking, but the extensive interview with Nobuya Nakazato was greatly appreciated! He may not be the creator of Contra, but he IS the reason it evolved into an action-packed run-n-gun monster, being the director of Contra 3, Contra Hard Corps, and Contra Shattered Soldier! His insight and look back on these games was very refreshing, and I'm happy to see he's still active and thinking about Contra.
A complaint I have is the fact that Contra Hard Corps' controls weren't changed at all. I know it just takes getting used to, believe me. I've legitimately cleared the game multiple times with no save states. But it's hard when the majority of the games in this series are closest to Contra 3, a game that utilized a 6-button pad. M2 has been known to tweak and improve small things in the games they're porting/remastering, so I wish they were able to do something in that regard. Of course, it could be a deep level of programming I don't understand being the reason it wasn't possible under them. So I won't give them much flack.
One more complaint--and something I do find necessary for these collections--is the cover art. I think they should always bare a new cover art celebrating the history of whatever game it's a collection for, whether it be a new artist or previous returning. Instead, they just used the Tom DuBois piece from Contra 3's US cover. However, a new cover WAS made . . . for the Limited Run release. Fuck Limited Run. Thanks for reading.
Def Jam: Icon
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