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Why Don't You Play Soccer In Hell?

something about this game had a weird hold on me. it has this real purgatory-like sense of atmosphere to it, reimu stuck in a near blank void where she must play bizarro arkanoid for all of eternity. entire thing feels super ominous, with its dark color pallette, its imposing level start font, the atari-esque sound effects, the air raid siren that made me shit my pants that goes off if you take too long on a level, its soundtrack built mostly of one musical idea repeated ad infinitum with riffing around it, reimu eating shit on the game over screen. and i have no idea how intentional it is! big homie zun just kinda managed to make this bizarrely effective dos torture chamber, and its mesmerizing.

unfortunately this torture chamber also has gameplay. its not horrible, and you can definitely get some kind of a hang on controlling the ball but at the end of the day this is still just really scuffed arkanoid. scuffed arkanoid with some truly badly designed levels. special shoutout to the final boss of the makai route that can just decide you lose when it wants. very funny.

even with (and partially because of) its sub-sub par gameplay this game remains a fascinating oddity and possibly the weirdest start to any vg franchise ive ever seen. how the fuck this became the media juggernaut it did following this is beyond me.


nintendo's R&D1 began experimenting heavily with the form of the platformer with wario land 2 and 3: each games that attempted to remove typical fail states by making the protagonist invincible and able to acquire temporary abilities after touching specific enemies. while bold puzzle-platformers and generally excellent 8-bit titles, they still hewed close to typical loops of gameplay centered around replaying sections of stages until a goal state is achieved, thus nullifying the practical effects of the absence of player health or damage. their first title on the gba seemed to recognize this and shifted its rejection of form to averting the traditional mario-chartered methodology of building challenge and design iteratively over the course of the game by instead abruptly shifting focus and mechanics between levels. while rooted in the idioms of the prior two wario land entries, WL4 was flippant in how it approached challenges based on these predefined player mechanics, and it rejected both the narrative cohesion of WL2 and the rich environmental persistence of WL3 in favor of rapidly defying player expectations with incongruous level concepts and its frog pillar mechanic that required the player to quickly reevaluate the level in reverse once reaching its endpoint. thus began a trilogy of standout GBA titles where R&D1 deconstructed commonly-held design principles of gaming in order to produce shocking, absurd, and creative experiences.

warioware inc. is where that absurdism really comes into its own. at its root much of gaming involves the player applying their intuition based on real-world experiences to in-game conflicts using a built-in toolkit. games that deviate too far from logical or sensible principles may be seen as obtuse, while games that lean heavily on a player's knowledge of genre conventions may be considered "gamey." warioware leverages this intuition application as a reflex-based game of skill: recontextualize your understanding of the goal state and your toolkit, and do it so fast and naturally that it becomes automatic. that single word or phrase projected at the start of each round instantly locks in the player into that goal state, and within an instant of seeing their surroundings they should understand how they can achieve that goal and what the interface may be to perform the actions required. shake a dog's paw, pick your nose, shoot down aliens, match the shape, catch the baseball, chop the block, collect the mushroom, count the frogs, jump the hurdle, dodge the arrows. in the collection of these instances and all others present in the game, the vast breadth of human experience is discretized and miniaturized into flashes of memory. this game is tailor-made to fire as many different synapses in rapid succession as possible.

surrounding this genius distillation of the gaming experience itself is this eccentric framing device of games themselves, mass-produced and advertised to you through the screen, or veering into real-life alternative gaming experiences than the one in your hands as you work your way through the game. aptly the game presents its user interface as a mock desktop, featuring the loosely-connected sets of games into neat little folders for you to work through. each character presents their own idiosyncratic narrative to their gaming experience; my favorite of the bunch is dribble and spitz's Taxi Driver homage that translates the endless neon corridors to a sloshy windshield and a fuzzy car radio, with games flying at you through the haze. they drive their passenger (supposedly you) to the sea, where they proceed to turn into a mermaid and dive into the depths, much to the driving duo's delight. other stories range the spectrum from kat and ana's downright traditional journey through the floors of a shiro to mona's frenzied pizza delivery route where she kills pursuing cops by the dozen.

on its own these pieces would be sufficient for something truly interesting, but warioware elevates the experience through a natural high-score mentality and drive to keep the player engaged and toying around with all of the content. many more microgames unlock in the post-game, where you can endlessly play a character's collection until you run out of health. although your first playthrough of each will end at the boss stage, these boss stages serve as cycle-enders in repeat attempts, where new cycles push the difficulty higher for each individual microgame. suddenly the context you understood for a given microgame is purposefully subverted to further test your reflexes and/or patience. as the speed increases and the microgame flow becomes more hectic, what seemed like cut-and-dry microgames become sweat-inducing tests of pushing that intuition-swap ability to the peak of its potential, and in the process rewiring your brain every precious couple of seconds.

I'm able to gush so thoroughly about this debut in particular because I feel no later entry ever managed to top it. beyond this the warioware series became nintendo's playground for testing out their array of control gimmicks, and thus the games themselves became entirely beholden to the constraints of those input methods. while I imagine their goal was to deepen the interactivity with each microgame, the limits of waggling a wiimote or tapping a screen choked that incredible spark of creativity that they exhibited so genuinely here. the gamepad is already universally the understood abstraction of choice of varied gameplay mechanics, and R&D1 tapped into our inherent connection to it as gamers to make something that not only celebrated games as a form, but refined it to a microscopic, perfectly shaped pearl.


First gave this a whirl in January or so, but because I am stupid I didn't know the game was not autosaving so I just lost all my progress on reopening it. It's a short ass game, so getting back there was like really easy when I actually decided to, but for a while I didn't really have the motivation.

Hylics is incredibly easy, which I definitely welcome with open arms after playing a slew of much harder older games, but it also feels kind of barebones in the gameplay department as well. It has hardly any real story or unique mechanics, but it's also like only 2-3 hours long so I suppose that never really starts grating on you.

The real star of the show here is the presentation, which is completely insane. All throughout it has a surreal, feverish, maybe even sickly feel to it. It walks the line between relaxing and depressing. Every enemy and NPC looks deeply uncanny, the music is half-awake, and a lot of objects and enemies just melt into goo when you interact with them. It's incredibly strange, it kind of carries this game to the moon and back, and I don't think I've seen anything like it really.

I think this is worth a purchase. It's a very short experience, but an even more intriguing one, and I can see it lingering in my head for a solid while. Would definitely recommend if you're looking for something more laid back.


Sometimes I just find myself utterly fascinated at the fact something like this was given a retail release. There are some poor schmucks out there who not only actually saw this nonsense in the flesh on the shelves of a Babbage's or whatever the hell store there was back then, but also spent real money on it. Imagine being that kid. Imagine doing chores and shit to save up money for a visit to the game store and you spend your hard earned allowance on Sword of Sodan, or Bart's Nightmare, or anything on that level. Isn't that sad? There were no forum threads, videos, or even any internet at all to really guide you on the quality of something, the best you had was dinky magazine reviews and the screenshots on the back of the box! You could've spent that money on any single game in the store and you happened to choose one of the worst games ever released! How did people manage back then? I'd cry! I'd bawl my eyes out!


Loved the first one for its gameplay essentialism and was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of adding more stuff for the sequel, Toree 2 actually takes out some of the stuff that dragged its predecessor down and streamlines itself into a cute little running and jumping game that would no doubt make Sonic the Hedgehog envious.

Some dodgy controls (pls listen to Kaizen Game Works re: jump buttons), but I'm gonna go Death of the Developer on this one and say it was an intentional design choice to amp up the teeny tiny tension.

Would be an absolute five-bagger if it wasn't for the crummy boss battle that simply doesn't belong in the game. Game developers, remember to normalise the signal level on your audio files if you respect ears...


Every thing about this franchise is cringe to the extreme


Rygar

1987

I was born in the mid-80s but my first console was a Genesis, and so games from the 8-bit era - which I saw friends and relatives playing but narrowly missed out on experiencing for myself - hold a kind of mystique for me. I see it as an era of charming jank, a time of experimentation as the steadily-growing home console industry started to find its feet as a medium. Some games flopped, a rare few games hit on the perfect storm of good design and are still iconic today, and I'm realizing more and more that most games ended up like Rygar - where the ideas were great and some parts of the execution were good, but a mix of hardware limitations and naivete meant we ended up with half a good game.

Rygar controls well, with his limited moveset feeling satisfying and tight enough in the moment-to-moment gameplay; however, the other half of the combat - the enemies - are pretty hideously unbalanced, with some being either laughably easy or nearly impossible depending on how you approach them. Pretty early on, you have to face a short enemy on a small platform whose attacks leave you a miniscule timeframe to jump onto the platform, crouch, and kill him before he knocks you off the platform to your death - however, you can take advantage of a glitch by simply walking backwards and causing him to disappear. In a more 'legal' example of this imbalance, most bosses have attack patterns that are extremely difficult to evade but are trivialized if you have access to the 'Attack and Assail' spell that allows you to hit them from anywhere on the screen. This makes most bosses either an easy but tedious exercise in grinding spell charges, or something that requires cuphead levels of precision, with nothing in between. (Thankfully, the game seems to realize how hairy some parts of its difficulty curve are and offers unlimited continues)

The exploration elements of the game are similarly mixed: the gradual opening up of the world through finding items is remarkably polished for such an early game, but there are too many trial-and-error moments (such as knowing to throw your grappling hook upwards without any indication of anything there) for the game to feel fair.

Still a very creditable effort, with the RPG and exploration elements doing enough to distinguish this from the more straightforward arcade original. There's probably an alternate timeline out there where this game released late in the NES lifespan and was more refined as a result, and everyone today talks about "Rygarvanias".


I played Sparkster (the SNES one, not 2) before this, and I'm not too sure which I prefer. I thought this was more fun and had a bit less screen crunch, but Sparkster looks way better and has better music. Either way, both are really fucking good. I wonder if Sparkster would have caught on like Mario and Sonic had he not debuted during a slew of unrelated mediocre ripoffs of the latter, like Bubsy and Awesome Possum. Probably not, but it's interesting to think about.


[Anamnesis] Try to recall Torment: Tides of Numenera by InExile Entertainment: FAILURE.

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i think some people think of me as a bit of a hater at times, which makes me feel bad because I generally like most games I play and talk about, and even ones I don't think too highly of, like Elden Ring, have things about them that I appreciate. tedious negative formalism is, for me, the retreat of the disappointed romantic, and if i do end up there, it's only because I have tried and failed to love something. so please, know that when I say that I do, in fact, hate Tides of Numenera, it is because it is a genuinely rare occurrence for me: a game that repulses above and beyond anything it might have to offer.

i finished this fairly comprehensively when it first released and while I liked it quite a bit back in 2017, my fondness for it fades to an proportional degree to my strengthening fondness for the original Torment.

in a sense the problem is that I resent having to refer to Planscape: Torment as "the original Torment". there is a naked cynicism to the title that is hard to ignore, an almost desperate call to arms for fans of the original to treat this with the weight that something evoking a beloved work warrants. and yet, it rings so hollow. part of this is because by any reasonable metric, planescape: torment has plenty of sequels, there being a clear throughline of thematic exploration and continuity of staff from that game into the likes of Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Mask of the Betrayer, so this game tattooing "TORMENT" onto it's skin feels unnecessary at best and deeply insecure at worst. but the larger problem of the name is that this hollowness and insecurity seeps into the game itself.

a game like this really shouldn't be reminding me so strongly of Dark Souls 3 or - god forbid, The Rise of Skywalker - but those comparisons struggle to leave me when I weigh Tides of Numenera in my mind, this game that so desperately needs to be seen as a true successor to Planescape: Torment that it strains at every opportunity to deliver surface-level reference after vacuous call-back.

tattoos were part of Planescape, and so they are part of Tides of Numenera! except here the tattoos are given a weight and significance by the writing that is afforded only by the fact that they are a reference to the original. tattoos were important in Planescape because they represented the permanency of your past actions and effects on the world. tattoos do not leave us - and neither do our actions and the scars they leave on the world. there is no similar thematic resonance to the choice to use tattoos in numenera. the symbols are, as abstract symbols, important to it, but grafting them onto the flesh of the protagonist says nothing, other than "remember planescape?"

these kinds of embarrassing references are everywhere, but the one that got me to switch the game off in disgust was when you find a Bronze Sphere. The Bronze Sphere in Planescape was deeply important in that game, but its importance was something you had to discover. You can - and many do - simply ignore and forget about it once it first leaves your possession, to treat it like the insignificant bauble it seems. It's only by choosing to keep it - a choice that says a lot about your Nameless One, because the only reason you'd keep it is that you know it was important to a past version of yourself that you increasingly learn to be almost unimaginably cruel - all the way to the end of the game, do you finally learn what it is. in numenera, you find a bronze sphere - proudly labelled as such - in one of the first areas you have access to, a bronze sphere that, essentially, acts as little more than a place for your companions to hang out when you aren't with them. it is a rote mechanical feature that clads itself in one of the most resonant and evocative images of the game it's so desperately trying to summon within itself in order to afford it a weight derived entirely from the audience's recognition of that image in a completely one-dimensional way. it is planescape: torment reduced to brand recognition, a funko pop of the nameless one, dak'kon in fortnite, a disney+ limited series about fall-from-grace. it is the mcu-ification of a singular work that is very, very close to my heart. it fucking blows ass so much oh my god.

part of me wants to resist labelling this a truly terrible game. the writing is, in a vacuum, thought of entirely as a book of disconnected sci-fi short stories you can wander through, engaging, in the moment. there are some characters that work: I think most of the stuff surrounding the character of Rhin is genuinely fantastic and represents a genuinely thoughtful exploration of parenthood, the kind that the medium is historically lacking in. there are moments where the various mechanical concerns of the game - the crisis events, the resource management game you play through wandering the world - do come alive. the soundtrack is actually kind of fantastic. but what's it all in service too? this story, that has no ideas of its own, and is just stripping the scar tissue from one of my favourite games and selling it back to me on Kickstarter? this game that is torn in a dozen different directions by a dozen different writers with no cohesive ideas other than Being Like Planescape? i could begrudgingly admit that there are things Of Interest to be found in this game. but I don't want to, and nor do I think I should. i think i should reject this embarrassing, ambitionless, written-by-committee sludge as the failed attempt to colonize the affections of those who were earnestly affected by the travels of The Nameless One.

so much of the modern media landscape is built entirely on selling you back hollow tokens of your memories in the shape of lightsabers and web-shooters and synths and kids on bicycles. but what we remembered wasn't ever as important as why we remembered them. and because Torment: Tides of Numenera is so singularly focused on the what and not the why, it isn't much of a surprise that it's been so comprehensively forgotten: there's nothing about it to remember.


Considering I haven’t been able to play any online matches, I don’t feel comfortable doing a full write-up on this game. However, I still have to give it my highest possible recommendation as it features my three favorite things in this world:

1. Giant Robots
2. Schmovement
3. Tank Controls

The movement system is the star of the show here and completely sold me on this subgenre of fighting games. It’s a system revolving around constant dashes to fake out your opponent and also subtly alter your attack properties. The focus on projectiles initially seemed plain to me, but I very quickly realized that this only further incentivizes constant and creative movement. So if you like fighting games with a heavy emphasis on neutral, you’ll probably fall in love with this system. That being said, the learning curve is fairly steep; even knowing what the best control scheme to use is initially unclear. There’s a very helpful wiki out there which can point you in the right direction, though the more you understand about the game, the more you realize that the enemy AI can hardly keep up with your movement shenanigans. It’s a game that’s really only going to shine in multiplayer, but the online community is spread pretty thin. I’m not too beat up about it though because even when playing alone, there’s so many brilliant design and aesthetic ideas to appreciate.


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