844 reviews liked by rapid_progres


cosmic smash sets the tone.

sonic adventure was a system seller, a response to nintendo's own 3D platformer which was sm64. however, games like Rez, L.O.L., Roommania and most importantly Cosmic Smash were political statements. it was a response not to one game but to the industry as a whole. that was sega saying "we are not afraid to experiment, and look at what that sentiment birthed".

sega gave their geniuses the platform and opportunity to shine. without worrying about money and profit, they allowed for odd and questionable ideas to become fully fletched experiences and the result was one of the best libraries of any videogame console ever. more importantly to this review is that this push of unadulterared >art< resulted in a strong and firm sense of style.

when people think of Y2K aesthetics, they're thinking of the dreamcast. they're thinking of Space Channel 5. they're thinking of Tomoko Sasaki's Serani Poji. they're thinking of Rez. but moreover, they're thinking exactly of Cosmic Smash.

a game that would give the guy who created VIDEOBALL a field day, a simple and finite one-player digital sport that gives the player set challenges that they can choose to overcome with whatever moviments they like. there's a time limit, but you don't need to worry about that when you already know how to control your character. it's ok, you'll make it. the challenges get trickier, but you get stronger, you create muscle memory and your own strategies to each stage. eventually you get a game over -- or you win, who knows -- and then, you think, "i'm gonna do it again".

all of that, of course, coated under the most clear cut and transparent display of what people would later call "Y2K aesthetics". so much in fact that it seems weird to think of cosmic smash as a part of the era and not the trend setter itself. the music, the textures, the lines, the minimalism, even the game design itself, all reek of the turn of the century. it's a more contained and quiet version of what Rez was doing, so it ends up being less eye catching but still beautiful. its minimalism also contrasts Rez's intricate design and artistic execution, being the exact opposite extreme, so it's sort of the anti-rez.

cosmic smash is an era defining statement, a tone-setter that feels like the cherry on top of the dreamcast library. anyone could play this, and everyone should.

It's not exactly a grand revelation that the retro market has been balls-deep in shit even prior to Covid making all the bored New York gangsters take all the copies of Silent Hill, there's always been special cases regardless of quality.

If I can hand Acclaim one thing, it's that they at least had the sense to add "the arcade game" to the titles of their console ports to ease the pain of all future duckduckgo searchers and Ask Jeeves users in needing to potentially look through even more games named "Batman Forever". To sum this up, it's essentially an incomprehensible beat'em up where two players can play as a duo of AI-generated Val Kilmers murdering thugs out on the street, then powering up like Broly and exploding everything around them by exposing their nitroglycerin-fueled batnipples on their batsuits. You can also get shrunk and turn into action-figure sized wee Batmen, which is humorous to watch as these little Batmen clobber normal-sized mooks. It's already better than it's 16-bit contemporaries in that gameplay won't be brought to a screeching halt as you try to solve the mystery of how jumping through holes works. It's utterly mindless, and combat is essentially divekicking all over the place and smacking the buttons in a positioning war to keep yourself from getting wombo combo'd by the CPU. It's something you boot up to play with your buddy and shoot the shit with for 30+ minutes, while making dumb remarks about the nonsense happening on screen and then you promptly don't bother playing again anytime soon, since the depth is as shallow as the person writing this review.

This is something that's incredibly stupid that I wouldn't mind buying under the context of finding at my local store's wire rack for five or eight bucks. However, this may shock you, but while the Saturn port is predictably expensive, the PS1 port is actually even more ridiculously pricey on the market and demands almost a whole Klonoa. I'm not entirely sure what happened here, but something is smelly in Pittsburgh or however the saying goes. It's at this point that if I really wanted to have this on my shelf for some insane reason, I'd feel better just going down to Big Dick's Disc Emporium and have him give me his totally legitimate copy while I print out some artwork to slap into some disposable sports game's jewel case. I mean, it's not like I'm gonna be able to tell once it's on the shelf, and it's not like some snitch is spying on me through the windows and getting ready to swat me with the Fake Ass Police to come in and try and frisk my shelf for bootleg copies. It's anything to keep me from being able to answer the question:

"Wow, you really paid an entire Klonoa for a beat'em up where Batman explodes people with batnipples and some numbnuts defaulted the jump button to L1?"

I decline this insinuation, and I hope that you do too. By the by, did you know that a Greatest Hits copy of NFL Blitz 2000 apparently sold for $2500 a few months back? Yeah.

Too long, but what a blast: charge-based attacks and dynamic grappling combine into an intense, crowd-control-y proto-God Hand gauntlet, and the fashions and music are shockingly fresh. And it's four-player co-op?!

Imagine if a weird fusion of Mega Man 1 and 2 constantly tried to piss you off. Not even color can save this one.

i don't know how to feel about this one, sometimes i'm really in the mood for it and other times i avoid it like the plague.

at the end of the day tho it has sakura and makoto in the same game

"How often do you think about Ancient Rome?"

There was a trend a month or so ago, where girls would ask their boyfriends/dads this question, and it was either a source of light teasing for being silly, or genuinely eye opening for how weirdly often it's thought about. It was a cute, innocent trend honestly, and I don't really get why some people I know got overly defensive about it. Because at its core, it is silly. Men are silly. While Live A Live does not have a chapter set in Ancient Rome, I feel like it delves into the core of this phenomenon. (I'm not going to mark this as [[SPOILERS]], though there may be a few. This is because I feel like the spoiler tag chases people away, even if they don't really care for the game.)
To preface this, I feel like there's a little bit of context needed. Live A Live is basically my personal Earthbound. Weird obscure SNES JRPG that didn't sell well and was only really discoverable via YouTube. I played this game a LOT during middle school, and a few times during my underclassman years of high school as well. I have always loved this game, and for a while it was by far my favorite RPG, maybe even game, ever. So there is a bit of nostalgia bias in my rating. I'll get into how that affects my thoughts while playing this game later.
This game is thematically heavy, deceptively so too, given its structure of 7+ extremely short stories on the SNES. This is a game about love, masculinity, and romanticism. I think any schmuck with an IQ over 3 could tell you about how this game talks about love, especially if they chose Pogo as their MC. So for that reason, I'll be focusing on the last two that I mentioned, and how the awkward and censored translation of this game ruins a few moments. (This is not a review just to bitch about the bad localization, we all know it sucks.)
Every chapter takes place throughout historical periods. You can be a cowboy, a mecha pilot, a robot, a ninja, etc.. These periods already have a strong sense of romanticism towards them, I find it difficult to believe that you guys have never imagined being big Grug beating up sabertooth tigers or being a master at Kung-Fu. This alone makes the game a young boy's dream game. You can be all these cool guys! But in each chapter you always play as a guy. This initially seems like it's for self insert purposes, but as you play through them you realize that it's thematic too. All of these stories are about a different kind of love, a man's love. Love for his community, for his art, for his romance, for his comrades, for his country, for his fellow man, and for competition. Of course, I'm not saying "bleeh only MEN can understand these kinds of love! femoids be damned they cant feel bleeeh". I'm just saying that all of these are viewed from the perspective of men. They can be explicitly stated, like the only word in the entire prehistory chapter (that in this version is comically left untranslated), or can be more subtle like in the wild west chapter. In almost all of these chapters, you are a damned man. A boy yet to come of age, a framed vagrant, an orphan left to rot, etc., etc.. Yet in every single chapter, the main character never stops loving what he loves. If you abandon your mission, you start to regret it, and watch as the country you love falls due to your cowardice.
Before you get on my case about Cube being a genderless robot, I think that this emphasizes the point of what a man is. Look at Cube, and look at Kato. Cube is literally just Kato's face. A testament to his own vanity. Men are vain romanticists. This is just a part of our core. Everybody wants to be a hero, something great, something worth remembering, or at least, an essential part of something greater. Something like Ancient Rome.
The translation is bad. I know it, you know it. It's especially bad if you have JP voice acting on, because its so wordy that lines don't even pan out fully before skipping to the next one if you have auto-advance turned on. The wording is awkward, especially in the endgame, and lines have been detrimentally changed (or as previously stated, left untranslated). There's also a lot more swearing than there should be, it honestly kind of bothers me, though I'm not the type to clutch pearls at swearing (I was unanimously elected the #1 potty mouth at the gas station I worked at, if that tells you anything.) But this is a game for middle schoolers and the surrounding years. I feel like they were just trying to justify that T rating.
One line that builds a lot on the themes and the character Lawless, is near the end of the Near Future chapter. After telling Akira the truth of their interwoven backstories, Taeko tries to interrupt, to try to save him. But he refuses, saying "It’s not a woman’s place to but in… When a man is setting things… Strai…ght…" with his dying breath. He chose to go out as a man, with his honor as intact as he could have left it. However, in the official translation, he just says "Sometimes you’ve gotta own up to your mistakes… Consequences be damned. Am I… Am I right…?" While conveying the same thing with the main story, it makes him seem less brash. It honestly doesn't even make sense when you think about it, he doesn't care about Taeko trying to help him, this just sounds like a decent line to go out on under any circumstance. OK I'm done bitching sorry

But how about the game itself, the remaster?
I will say this: I miss playing this on an emulator because I could speed that up HOLY SHIT were the battle animations always this long? I love the gameplay, as barebones as it honestly is. A bit more streamlining, and I would LOVE to play a full length RPG with this combat system. I felt like there was one part that traversing kind of sucked at the end of the game, but other than that I think the worlds and "dungeons" were fun and fine, I never felt like they took too long.
This run I went for no kills in Edo Japan, Yun as my shifu, and Akira as my MC as I hadn't done him before. I think this is my 6th time playing the game?
Anyways, the true final boss always gets me going like mecha fans at Char's counterattack. Every time I feel so happy. The additional final phase adds so much and is honestly one of my favorite moments in video games.
The remaster is beautiful. I love the arranged soundtrack, and for an HD2D game, I feel like this one actually does really well with not being too full of bloom. The JP voice acting is amazing, and the new animations kick ass. This is how I always imagined the game looked as a kid.
I love Live A Live with all my heart, and I'm glad that this remake brings it over to modern systems, and lets people experience this absolute masterpiece, despite my issues with the translation. The only thing holding this game back at its core is the SNES it was originally on.
Please, give this game a shot, even if you don't end up liking it, it makes me so happy to see people playing this

Cry for the moon...

Entering the infinite void of what's beyond the thermosphere of our planet, we gaze upon her majesty. That moment we take in the supposed sanctuary of our mother goddess is where our unknowable enemy launches their sneaky surprise attack at the start of the round, we don't even notice there's two moons until it's too late. The imposter of our beautiful rock in the sky slowly approaches from the background as warning sirens blare through your speakers. I hope you're prepared fellow pilot, because it's only downhill from here when it comes to questioning what lies in front of your eyes.

The mechanics of your ship are shoddy and experimental at best, just as rough and rugged as the scenery you'll be digesting in your next trip through your shmup smorgasbord. The unknowable enemy will not make things easy with their positioning and method of approach, and your ship may be ill-equipped to deal with their lunacy and onslaught of Space Mambos. Persevere through it all and your Black Fly getting inevitably crushed and sandwiched between the ceiling and floor by a funny rascal, and you may just find yourself in a fight against a phantom phallus utilizing your own kind's history and imagery of what may be your childhood pet cat to drag you deeper into it's method of madness.

Once all is said and done, you will be led to wonder, were you dreaming or was it reality? Perhaps it's time to wake up...you were born to be free....

Wake up.

Smash Daisaku was supposed to be Hitler

MERCURY STEAM HQ, 2015:

“Alright team, time to plan this Metroid II remake. And I want to say up front: there’s no bad ideas in brainstorming! So, what‘s on your mind?”

“Hmm…well first, how about we make the game look like dogshit? Just real gross. Muddy colors, weird blurry lighting and totally indistinct area themes. I want the player to feel totally lost in an endless maze of poop caves. And while we’re at it, since past Metroid games did such a good job immersing the player in their worlds, what if for this one we took the opposite approach. Shoot for a really unconvincing 2.5D aesthetic with incredibly blocky level design, that way the player is constantly reminded they’re playing a game. Like, the monochrome Gameboy original should feel more immersive than this.”

“That’s brilliant, Dave. Sarah, you had your hand up?”

“Yeah well I was just thinking, what if we made the level design like, way worse? Metroid II split its map into these open, easy-to-digest chunks that have aged pretty well all things considered. So why not throw all that bullshit in the trash and replace it for something really cramped and labyrinthine? Just really arduous to navigate, make exploring feel like a hassle. Maybe instead of interesting power-up gating we also could just fill the map with power bomb tiles, so exploration just becomes a dull game of spamming the scan pulse every few steps.”

“I like where your head is at, Sarah. Who else?”

“Well while we’re talking about the original, I’ve been looking at some reviews and it seems like a common complaint with that game was that the Metroid boss fights got kind of monotonous after a while. So I was thinking—and hear me out on this one—what if we made each Metroid encounter take like twice as long? And not because it’s any more engaging or anything, just way more tedious. Like, half of their new attacks make them invincible so most of the fight is just running around wasting missiles while you wait for an opening. And then make the player do that 50 times. Maybe instead of having them ambush you in interesting locations we could also just place each one in a big game-y boss arena and give the player a grating beeping notification every time they’re near one. You know, that way they never feel any sense of surprise or any illusion this is a believable fragile ecosystem and not a checklist of Goombas for them to stop. It’s not like that’s thematically important to Metroid II or anything.”

“Goddamnit Brian, you’re a loose cannon, but maybe that’s just exactly we need for this project. What next?”

“Well, grinding for health and ammo was always really annoying in previous games. So let’s exhaust that by really spreading out the recharge stations. That way if you need a refill after a boss you have to run around the entire area. Oh, and then let’s make enemies not always respawn when you leave a room, so when you inevitably do have to farm it’s super inconvenient. Fuck it, let’s even add a third type of meter while we’re at it to triple the grinding!”

“I’m gonna be honest Larry I didn’t 100% make out what you said because I was doing coke off Brian’s desk, but fuckin sure dude put it in the game!”

“Hey boss, I was just replaying the GBA games and noticed how fluid their combat felt. So I was thinking for our game we could add this melee counter move to really fuck up the pacing. That way instead of being able to quickly move and shoot your way through enemies, every single goddamn one requires you to stop in your tracks and wait for their attack animation to start so you can do your stupid fucking parry move. Y’know, that way the movement and exploration never get too exciting. Wouldn’t want that in a Metroid game! Then let’s make every enemy have a ton of health when you try to kill them without the parry so players are locked into having to play this way. And—what the hell—let’s not improve enemy variety at all, so you’re stuck seeing the same 20 or so guys without any change in strategy the whole time.”

“Leslie, you son of a bitch. I think you’ve just cracked this thing wide open. In fact, I’m giving you a raise and some of this desk cocaine.”

Did not complete

How is this 1-2 hour game the best pure 2D platformer I've played in years? Go play it. It's free. Do it.