Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Curse is the best remake I’ve ever played. Mostly because it’s not a remake. Instead it’s an audio and visual reskin, that can be flipped seamlessly. Press a button and it converts from heavily-layered HD graphics to the bright spartan 8-bit predecessor. Press another button and see how the reimagined audio compares with the beeping original. It’s fluid, and even works with shop NPC’s.
Cool gimmick, so what makes it work so well? Because this type of remake has the dual benefit of denying you the ability to claim that the original was better, while still being able to layer on new personality and depth. Which Lizardcube does well though it’s labor of love, right down to the childhood pictures of the team at the date of the game’s original release in the credits (1989).
I was born in the 80’s so I’m in the prime nostalgia demographic. And if the targeting took a few cues from Wonder Boy, it would feel less vacuous than it normally does.
You realize almost immediately that Dragons Crown is a repetitive game. But so is Borderlands, and Diablo, and every other lootfest, so what? So it becomes about the world, and the characters, that carry the rest of the game. Dragon’s Crown is better than most, but a step behind Borderlands 2. I would mention the story, but like any hack n’ slash, you’re moving from point A to point B, causing the story to take a back seat. It does scores some nostalgia points given the time I spent with Odin Sphere and Princess Crown (both the finest examples of 2-D graphics for their respective generations).
Oh, and the hyper sexualized imagery is somehow not as tacked-on as I expected. But does remain odd, at-best (search “Dragon’s Crown Images” to see immediately what I’m talking about).
Yeah the game is brutal. Anyone who starts it up already knows this so there’s not much to complain about there. But the extent of what that means is a bit overwhelming even if you’re prepared for it. The world is a complete mystery when you start out, and the things that will kill you and help you are constantly surprising. There’s immediate needs, fire & food, but quickly things turn to science. And here is where the biggest initial complaint comes in. Do develop technology you need to build a “Science Machine”, to build one of these guys, you need a lump of gold. Gold is not that easy to come by, so the first 30 minutes of every game you play is a desperate scramble to find some of this resource. Once you’ve found it, there’s usually ample amounts, but trying to stumble upon it is one of the more frustrating aspects of the game.
But it keeps you coming back. Even with nothing to show for it, you keep exploring the beautiful and insane world. Masochism can be fun.
Soul Sacrifice is a weird game. By weird, I don’t mean “Japanese”, or that the technical execution is strange, I mean that it’s bizarre. The first 15 minutes, which should pull you into the game, are borderline repulsive. They’re out of place ugly (for a game that for the most part is beautiful), there’s no context (for a game with rich lore), and you’re companion, a talking book, is a huge burst of Evil Dead when it seemed to going the more serious route. After an hour or two however, you start to get into it. The actual narration of the story is moving, as you find yourself nudged in the direction of evil regardless of what you’d like to do. There’s small annoyances that seem obvious- you have to go to the main screen for every little tweak and adjustment, and the story, although solid, is literally read to you in the slowest imaginable way (the narration speed could have easily been doubled). But you keep playing, so that’s a good place to start.
Faster Than Light (FTL) has the addictive charm that eats up 5 hours before you even realize it. Like all games of that nature, it’s about understanding the rules, finding them and turning them to your advantage. But even when you realize this, and you’ll become aware of the system that underpins the game quickly, FTL has so much charm that it hardly matters. It’s not a particularly large game, but there’s enough replay value that you’ll keep giving it one more shot until it’s 4 am and you’re still wide awake.
There would have been a time, not long ago, when I would have been excited about a new Shin Megami game, let alone an entry in the main series. The DS entries, and to a lesser extent Persona 4, have sapped this excitement from me. But here I am, giving it another shot, because Nocturne and Persona 3 remain some of the best experiences I ever had on the PS2 (not to mention the earlier Persona’s)
First Thoughts, First Impressions: The low key neon which somehow helped to emphasize the overall darkness from the early PS2 era Shine Megami titles appears to be completely gone (this started with Persona 3, but is complete now). It’s replaced with 80s camp anime, bright sunlight, and a throw back to early persona games in character portraits. Even the quirky and endearing personalities from persona 3 (and to a lesser extent 4) are missing. Although I will say that the actual dungeon crawling looks amazing and works well.
Name: Flight Control
Price: Free (iTunes 5th Anniversary)
Played Flight control for 5 minutes before going to bed- Land some planes and dont have them crash. The tension is supposed to build as more aircraft comes on the screen and you play for a high-score. This sort of thing can work (see any number of puzzle games), and maybe there’s a decent game in there, but I’ll never know because it was too boring for me to try again.
Ridiculous Fishing isn’t a fishing simulator…obviously, or I wouldn’t have downloaded it. You grab a hundred fish at once and then blast them with a shotgun. What is amazing is a very simple concept that you almost never see, objective reversal. When you’re going down you dodge the fish and when your coming up you grab the fish. It’s the same movement, but opposite goals. Its simple and brilliant in how effective it is. Sometimes you become so focused that you confuse the two, smacking into the first fish you see when you should be moving around it. The potential application for this type of mechanic is phenomenal .. just have to find a way to go beyond the now obvious dodge/hit polarization.
I started at 10 and when I looked at my phone next it was 2. My original plan had been to go to bed early.