I’ve loved all my Playstations. In each generation I have fond memories- Final Fantasy Tactics, Shin Megami Nocturne, Demon’s Souls. But even for me the idea of a Smash Bros style brawler is ridiculous. So if that’s the case, just embrace it. Instead of playing as gimmies like Kratos, put a bunch of failed icons in there. Blasto, Bubsy (the 3-D one), whoever the samurai was from Battle Arena Toshinden, and the Infamous guy. Oh wait, Infamous is in the real one? Wow…
Armored Core: Project Phantasma
Company: From Software
Cost: AC1 + $5
Project Phantasma- gibberish title, that sounds even worse when you say it out-loud. If you want to see the graphics for the game, just look at AC1, they’re the exact same.
Positives: There’s a more complete story this time, with actual characters and dialogue. The voice acting is still a joke, but it sets the stage for more interesting missions, like kidnapping VIPs. It’s a testament to the mission design, that very few missions have the typical “destroy all enemies” objective. There also is an arena, as they realized one of the best parts of the first game was squaring off against other Ravens.
Negatives: But the Arena also upsets the balance of the game by offering more access to cash early on, allowing a player to plow through early levels with a top-of-the-line AC. It’s also a short game, much shorter than the first Armored Core. And the story, while appreciated, is amateurish. There is the feeling of a quick turnaround throughout the repackaging. For example, AC1 had the occasional FMV, while Phantasma renders everything with in-game graphics.
The end result is a game that’s clearly a cash-in, but in many ways is better and more enjoyable than the original. It’s a gradual step, but nearly everything is an improvement.
Rating: 3 stars
Memory: Your ally pilots a pink AC
Developer: From Software
Cost: Like $5
Alright, let’s talk about Mechs.
I enjoyed my time with Armored Core. The vast majority of it is a well designed game. There are flaws. From Software has a pattern of needlessly complicating their brilliant worlds, and Armored Core is more convoluted than most. If the email function was supposed to explain something to me… Well, I can’t even remember a single message.
The positives: There’s still a lot to love about the game, things I wished were still implemented in games today. The difficulty curve is about perfect. When you die you feel it’s your fault. It’ll cost you, but you can usually bypass levels you’ve failed (preventing the fatigue that sets in from playing a single level over and over). Dig yourself into too deep of a hole, and the game lets you start over with your current mech and an “alteration”. Very clever design. The graphics are even charming in a blocky way (like when you set square shaped white robot bugs free).
The negatives: So all is going great until the last level. Then, because it’s a 32 bit game, they give you the obligatory jumping level. And the jumping sucks, think Turok. But this isn’t some random level, it’s the last level, and right before you fight the end boss. Die against him, which you will, and you get to do it all over again. You waste so much time your guilt starts thinking of productive things you should be doings. Those dishes could be washed…
It should be a four star game, but they choked at the end. And the ending, what the hell was that? Well let’s push on…
Rating: 3 stars
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Price I Paid: Gift
If I’m being completely honest, I probably wouldn’t have played this game if it wasn’t a gift. I already know way to much about the FF7 universe, for someone who claims not to care about it, and I was sure I couldn’t lie with a straight face after playing another game in the controversial series. My desire to waste time got the best of me and I did jump into it.
The positives: It’s gorgeous (like most Square games), complete, and the story is more redeemable than expected. Zach is a fucking idiot, but somehow endearing.
The negatives: There is zero challenge, zero. Literally, zero. It might take a little effort to collect all the extras, but it hardly feels like it would give any sense of accomplishment. The battle system is simple, and the story is not really THAT interesting, just simply better told than you would expect.
Rating: 3 stars