Category: Design Theory


……..Man, that’s a lame title. Merry Christmas bitches!

When it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog, the one thing that everyone has to keep in mind as to what it’s all about. No, it’s not about the speed. It’s not about the platforming. It’s not even about Chaos Emeralds. It’s all…. about this.

Pinball. Pinball is, in actuality, the life blood of Sonic the Hedgehog. The secret ingredient that kept people wondering why it tasted so great. Pinball was what gave way to the many gimmicks and features you see in Sonic games of old and today. Every spring you bounce on is plunger rod meant to send a ball into play. Every hole you enter that propelled you through to another part of the level was simply a tube with 2 spinning wheels that propels a ball from hole to hole. The twisty bridges of Emerald Hill were merely the wire ramps a ball traverses through on a board. Sonic’s world, the very planet of Mobius, is but a giant organic pinball machine. And Sonic is a living, breathing organic pinball.

Playing with himself.

The reason why 2D Sonic games of today feel sluggish and “off” is because the people making the games do not understand pinball. The physics of 2D Sonic is based on pinball. Without studying pinball, the significance of Sonic is lost in translation. Without studying pinball, you get low acceleration in Sonic 4. Playing Knuckles Chaotix, it was evident that Sega started to lose sight of what the first 4 games play so well, so by the time we get to Sonic Adventure 2, it abandoned the Pinball aspects completely in favor of automation. Hell, Casino Park and Bingo Highway make me cry, they play like ass.

The nature of Sonic games being pinball is significant when you consider how difficult it must’ve been to translate Sonic’s world into television form. Since no one really got Sonic back then, tv producers had to make due with loony toons crap to “justify” the pinball world… or ignore it and make something fucking awesome like SATAM.

Casino Night Zone was Sonic in it’s most purest form. The flippers, the bumpers, the flashing lights, the jackpots, everything. Twas a very popular level that created nostalgic memories for years, so much so that Sega included it as one of Sonic’s many level tropes.

Then, some guys at a company called STI said “fuck it, lets just make… a pinball game!” “Fuck yeer, it’s gonna be sweet! We gonna put like a big scary ass dragon in a lake, then you can kill that stupid bird cluck, and then you can smash into like 3 different dragons, and then we gonna have like 16 chaos emeralds, it’s just dope!”.

Today, we call this game one of the many unfortunate examples of experimentation with the Sonic series, along with 3D Blast and countless spinoffs of the modern era. It’s unfortunate because it shows that we as a whole… don’t understand pinball.

The nature of pinball is basically a gambling machine with less risks involved. When people describe Sonic Spinball being a “hard” game, what they really mean is “God, this is so stupid!”.

 

If you were like me, you rented this baby from blockbuster, and those assholes could never keep a manual in tow. If you were that unfortunate, chances are you’d never know how to get passed level 1. If you did, you’d give up, feeling the tedium of the game.

The basic idea of making a pinball spinoff would be to do something like Sonic Pinball Party. But because STI wasn’t gay, we got a much bigger beast. We had one of the darker themed Sonic games of the classic era for no other reason than atmosphere, we had 4 maze like pinball boards to navigate, and we had an actual objective which (unfortunately for me) involved a glorified fetch quest. Combined with that was a physics engine that made us all vomit. Which is kinda odd as despite all that, it mimics an actual pinball machine rather well despite how poorly it runs.

Because the game was a giant pinball machine, the goal of completion was obnoxious. As I sad before, the game is a fetch quest in which you have to find 3-5 different chaos spread out thinly through each level. And was one of the most tedious objectives to complete. One, you had to know where fuckers were, and that involved exploration. Exploration which is dependent on the direction the ball is hit… which could take forever if you don’t time your flippers right. Oh, and once you know where they are, you have to contend with several obstacles blocking your path. Before you can get one emerald that is submerged in acid, you have to pull 2 switches located beneath the emerald. Then, you have to travel into an upper level and find your way to that emerald via 2 chutes that are blocked off by 3 barrels that you have to re-enter 4 times just to clear out the blockage. Then, you might have to drive a minecart left or right and hope to hell you find an emerald along the way. Rinse and repeat. And then fight a boss at the end.

All the while avoiding THIS asshole!

This one level can take as long as 10 minutes. And that’s the entire game. The way the goal is handled kills the entire game. For a title with only 4 levels, you’d think it would be less evil about how you could progress. I have yet to get passed level 2.

Spinball is a very stupid game because it has a very stupid objective. Whoever thought making a pinball game centered around a fetch quest deserved to be fired. It’s unfortunate because it had a lot of cool concepts. Every level is based on an elaborate defense system which serve as important landmarks in dismantling Robotnik’s base. They weren’t just some random levels the creators thought of. The game’s enemies had a more sinister feel to them, especially Rexxon.

And this creepy ass boss epitomizes the horrors of the veg-o-fortress.

The game had a much more terrifying feel to it than every other Sonic title at the time, and certainly felt like every other Genesis game too. Grainy rock music and all. And hey, it didn’t hurt to include some SATAM cameos. Though it’s a tad unoriginal to have the bonus rounds be normal pinball games, they’re certainly a helluva lot more fun.

Spinball, for all it’s faults, was a pretty ambitious game, when you get right down to it. Having this story of completely destroying a volcano fortress, pinball levels with different rooms, fucking dragons. You honestly get a sense that STI wanted to go big with this title. Hell, Sega in general seemed really primed for this game to win awards. The advertising campaign for Spinball was unbelievable. Course, it was also included with 2 other games (CD and Chaos) as some “Trinity of consumerism” called Sonic Mania . 3 major releases all on the same day. And with Genesis being the most popular and accessible of the 3 current devices, Spinball was obviously the attention grabber. And this was just a spinoff.

If anything, we could say that Spinball was the lesser of several evils. The only spinoff that didn’t erode any of Sonic’s popularity and in actuality made it… even cooler. Had the game not been stupid with it’s goal, the game might’ve been much more enjoyable to play and not feel like some pain in the ass grind.

Now, how I would’ve done it would be to have the goal of each level be score based. You have a set score to achieve, and you have at least 5-7 minutes to reach this score or you lose. IE everytime you hit a bumper, or killed an enemy, you gain points. Going into different areas of the level would apply some score multiplier, and finding any of the chaos emeralds along the way would dramatically increase your score. That way, it feels like your basic pinball game, but with the time limit, there’s an added amount of tension to keep things interesting, and there would be actual incentive to finding the emeralds. Because no one likes to search for things unless there is a benefit that MATTERS to the player. The whole point of scavenging for items in games was to gain benefits during the course of the level, so when you have Chaos Emeralds that boost your score in under a short time frame, you better believe yo happy ass would be looking for them. So while the same basic idea is there, it’s not the main goal of the game. Someone should DEFINITELY hack the fuck out of Spinball’s rom and put that idea in.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck I sounded like a nerd. 😦

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Goddamn, that’s creepy.

I think Borderlands The PreSequel will turn into another BL2 soon enough. Couple of weeks back, there was an announcement of potential nerfs to 2 specific items in the game. A legendary rocket launcher that is literally called “the Thingy”…… and a weapon that was capable of dealing 514% damage (The Rosie). Normally, as farming isn’t my thing and rocket launchers being shit in this series, I could care less about the Thingy’s drop rate being nerfed. However as my experience in this series goes, quest items are usually a lot better in helping to clear out mobs, and I swear that Rosie helped in making Nisha a more powerful character. As such, nerfing the damage on the Rosie pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe. BLPS has none of the horrid balance issues that BL2 had at it’s disposal which makes the damage nerf not seem like a huge issue. But when you consider that 3 out of 4 of the present characters all have abilities that make them immortal, you have this one character who is completely dependent on a cheap Action Skill to do anything. I find the best weapons for her are beams, and the Rosie was a god send in TVHM. To find her best weapon is nerfed for no exact reason is frustrating. Most would ponder that because of UVHM’s new release, the Rosie would provide an unfair advantage. This ignoring the fact that everyone and their momma is claiming that UVHM is piss easy anyway, the nerf itself was just an unnecessary action.

This reminds me of the situation back in BL2 where by the Bee shield was nerfed along with a weapon known as the Conference Call. In a game where the enemies were literally bullet sponges, the nerf came as a shock and appalled MANY of the game’s fans. It’s odd to see how little people actually defended such a move. An explanation could be given that the Bee shield and Conference Call combo gave people too much of an advantage over enemies… which, if you’ve been following, is actually fair game considering how cock-smashingly HARD the enemies are to kill in the first damn place. That and this isn’t some PvP series either, whatever method you could use to defeat enemies was fair game. To nerf an advantage like the Bee shield/Conference Call combo was to dictate how the consumers should play the game.

And unfortunately, Gearbox is starting to creep that asinine behavior into PreSequel, but with even more obnoxious changes. The controversy over the nerfing of the Thingy legendary was a tipping point. You see, for the pathetic dregs that even bother to farm legendaries, PreSequel is a crappy game for them. Bosses and unique enemies are pretty rare in this game which meant the chances for finding legendaries is very low. Most farmable legendaries come from bosses you can only fight once. But… there was another option. This game presents the grinder, a machine that allows you to feed 3 weapons into it to possibly get something better. The grinder was the ONLY way to get legendaries. But the catch is you needed to put legendaries into the machine to get legendaries, which is pretty trollish of Gearbox. But a stroke of luck appeared when a boss named Iwajira had a pretty generous drop rate for the Thingy. While the drops were low enough, they were still pretty decent that you’d find a legendary weapon more often than not, which is pretty good given the circumstances of farmable bosses being severely lower than ever before. People used the thingies to produce the legendaries they could’ve gotten from the 1-time bosses, making everyone’s life… a little easier.

BUT LO AND BEHOLD! Gearbox, sitting on their high pirches with their staffs in hand, sends down a bolt of lightning, to slash the drop rates of the Thingy indefinitely as they figure the drops were too generous! This became a (rather short lived) catalyst for the rage of the fans as they stormed youtube and twitter to express their HATRED! And Pitchford fired back at the fans. It was a warzone.

Says it all. I’ve never even heard of this shooting star and am pissed at the prospect of not getting to use something awesome.

I’m not gonna sit here and express grief at the admittedly foolish behavior on twitter by many fans because… I feel that their anger is quite justified. Why? Gearbox had the nutz to actually respond to fans on these changes…. and their reasoning reeks of bullshit.

The Rosie
One of the team’s core design philosophies for Borderlands is choice and that there shouldn’t be one “right” way to play the game. Since The Rosie was a super powerful, super accessible mission reward, it was having a negative impact on choice in terms of load out variety — the majority of recommended builds out there included The Rosie as a first, or top, choice.

As a mission reward, we wanted to keep The Rosie as a powerful weapon and viable choice, but bring it closer to level as other weapons to encourage diversity in play styles and character builds.

So… basically they took the Smash Bros. Brawl route of creating diversity… by making things worse by design?! That’s not creating choice at all, that’s removing choice. Now the Rosie… is still powerful as shit, most powerful laser in the game (and lasers are overpowered enough as it is) which begs the question still… as to why they nerf the weapon. If they wanted to create choice, they should’ve created other weapons of similar or of higher calibur. THAT is creating choice. Not making one of the most powerful if not the most powerful weapon in the game….. slightly less so.

This is a euphemism for the team basically saying “we made all these features, yet you ONLY use this one!? FUCK THAT! I WORKED HARD ON THIS SHIT! And as GOD is my witness, you fucking WILL use every resource I pulled into this bitch! No ands, ifs and buts about it!” This is the creator playing God and/or dictator trying to force the players to play the game a certain way. This is the slippery slope of when a developer will become Nintendo in regards to game design philosophy.

Miss Moxxi’s Probe
The Probe is a mission weapon that was intended to be a temporary, not permanent, part of a player’s arsenal. Creative players quickly found a way to utilize the Probe in ways that once again nullified the idea of choice — essentially creating no need to use certain defensive or healing skills and an entire category of grenades (transfusion). The team’s goal here was once again to encourage diverse play styles.

This whole statement reeks of bullshit. If he had said “Using the probe outside of the mission is an unintended exploit”, that would honestly be a much more acceptable answer. But again, they harp on about “choice” as if that was actually the main issue. Players that were clever managed to utilize an in-game mechanic for their own benefit. But overall isn’t completely harmful to anyone’s experience.

Iwajira Drop Rates
From what I’ve heard so far, the team discovered an issue with Iwajira’s drop rate while testing possible future events. Due to the nature of that testing, I can’t reveal too much quite yet in case things change, but it seems to be an unfortunately necessary fix for some of the events the team has in the works.

Horrry sheeeet! A non-answer!? The one thing that people were really pissed off about and no one gets a real answer. We get “well, we have some incredibly vague event planned in the future that we will openly refuse to give details on, so we had to nerf the drop rates of a shitty legendary for no good reason!” That isn’t a response at all. It is a blanket statement that satisfies no  one’s curiosity and rage. An event could be anything from the holodome (which was revealed to be a waste of time anyway) or even a potential campaign DLC. But.. we’ll never truly know because nothing in relation to the drop rate nerf has come up as of yet.

You know why people are really pissed off, though? It’s not that these nerfs destroy the entire fabric of the game. No no. It’s just the tipping point of people’s patience.

Before the game released, there were statements by the company that this game wasn’t worth $60, leading to rumors that the game would be reasonably priced around $30. Considering how truly short the game is, $30 seems very fair. But it launched at $60 off the bat. That pissed people off.

Playing the game all the way through, while it is more enjoyable than 2 IMO, it also lacks in replay value. There aren’t many shopping list missions in the game, not many secret areas to explore, and only has  secret bosses that are easy to kill. As the above video said, there is virtually no such thing as an “endgame. No respawnable bosses to farm. People quickly got bored of it. Me included.

The game is not properly tested for bugs and glitches. Considering that EVERY version of the game has a bug that prevents people from finishing TVHM in some way shows there was no QA testing whatsoever. There are bugs with player skills and inventory of loot randomly com-busting at certain times. Random instances of missions not registering properly when you complete objectives. These issues have yet to be fixed.

There are instances of deceitful advertising of DLC’s. On the PSN store, I’ve noticed that different DLC’s are categorized by types. Character DLC’s are usually listed as “characters”. Not “add-ons”. The Handsome Jack DLC being listed as “add on” gives people the impression that it is more than just an extra character to play as. And at $10 a pop, you’d expect more than just a character. People felt gipped upon loading up the DLC to find that it was nothing bigger than just an on-disc DLC. Character DLC’s I’ve seen don’t usually go higher than 5 dollars. Borderlands is probably the only series I’ve seen where the characters are severely over-priced. Not only that, but people were disappointed by the Season Passes (take that, idiots) not containing anything of worth.

People playing the PreSequel are STARVING for content because the game is fucking barren. And many can’t even finish a second playthrough due to game stopping bugs that shouldn’t even exist.

Yet… the very few enjoyable instances of the game that people could, farming for thingies and grinding them up, whoopin ass with Rosie, the like….. Gearbox sees fit to strip THOSE things away. For incredibly vague and asinine reasons such as “choice”. What choice do we have now that the fun parts are being reduced to ash!? You can’t reset playthroughs, you can’t really farm, there are no real secrets in the game, and it’s entirely too short. It is by and large the laziest installment thus far. And as of right now, Gearbox is ok with this. Using the raging stupidity on twitter to probably justify why they shouldn’t care about what the fans want so they can go and make some shitty MOBA shooter (the fuck does MOBA even mean?) called Battleborn. People are now claiming that Gearbox is deliberately trying to kill this game off just to work on Battleborn. Seeing how they’re behaving with these random and baseless changes, it’s not difficult to imagine that.

GBX president Randy Pitchford once stated that a lot of elements were put into BL2 to purposefully “troll the players”. This goes beyond trolling and is doing nothing more than burning bridges with consumers.

Maybe I should take that guy’s suggestion and go back to talking about older Sonic games. Grieving about Boom got boring quickly. 😛

Tales of the Borderlands should’ve just been a bunch of actual movies, not some episodic downloads of interactive movies. And I’m getting just fucking tired of Handsome Jack. If the rest of the Borderlands series is going to be about him, count me out.

I can’t imagine a more tasteless admission of defeat. Now all Sega needs to do is get rid of Mike Bollocks and we can have Robotnik being awesome again…. I think.

To hear that Boom has technical errors worse than 06 is surprising considering how well Sega’s been doing polishing their turds to fool people into thinking their games are worth anyone’s time. And Goddamn, you know a product is ass when a chunk of assholes don’t even stick around to finish it. It feels like Sega’s big merchandising plan is collapsing before retailers can get a single toy out of the deal. Namco got lucky. Hearing all the reasons for this massive turnover will be more epic than Sonic X-Treme’s development. Hell, even Sega knew the game was shit. If you have to stoop so low as to revoke what is essentially the right of free press to review your product… to avoid tarnishing your company’s image anymore than you already have, I don’t know what to say. Wait, yes I do. Congrats Sega, you’ve evolved from Dreamcast to Comcast!

So much for the fanboy’s BS on Ex-Naughty Dog folks being any good for Sonic. I would go far to say anyone who thinks the people behind Jak and Daxter have talent probably have no taste whatsoever, but that would be arrogant and I’m sure the amount of retorts would contain the words “Last of Us” because the people behind that game would totes be caught dead on a project like this. Would you trust Sonic in the hands of people that wanted to turn Robotnik some school boy nerd!?

Piss in me eye! Why are these even concepts for Robotnik in the first place!?

These are not the kind of people you would trust with anything resembling your childhood. I wouldn’t trust them with Bay’s rendition of the Ninja Turtles. Hollywood seems to be the only slaughterhouse that can get away with radically changing the appearance of iconic characters, and have no one bat an eye. This leads me to believe that in some dark part of the game industry’s psyche, they want to be more like Hollywood so they can make trash and do as they damn well please. I think games having such steep prices jolts a good dose of high standards in consumers that we haven’t reached a point where we sit back and allow some random jackass’s “vision” to get in the way of our entertainment.

But this is worse than I thought.

For a development team to up and say “fuck it” 6 months in advance and quit the project says a lot. They probably didn’t want their names to be tarnished just in case they get the opportunity to work on something they think is worth their time. Or something! Kinda creepy this happens right when I lose internet access…

So, it’s been proven that BRB and Nintendo are both unreliable in making a Sonic game, and Sega is yet again fixated on making money to notice. If western developers basically show no interest in developing a Sonic game, it shows how far the series has fallen. Many western devs still hold Mario games (even the shitty 3D ones) in their highest regards, but I bet no one wants to even mention Sonic in any of it’s incarnations. If we can’t rely on Nintendo or a Western developer to make a good Sonic game, then who can!? Don’t say the fan projects. Yes, they’re sexy and Freedom Planet looks damned delicious, but I’m talking people who are actually involved in the industry. All the talented people in the industry show no desire in Sonic to care about it’s quality. You will get more feedback about a Zelda game’s lacking quality than that of Sonic. The younger teams (like Ninja Theory and the like) seem to be a bunch of college idiots with all these wild visions of particular franchises that don’t at all seem to be particularly concerned with meeting or exceeding expectations. So we can’t rely on new blood either.

To drive that point further, the store I work at has a high turnover rate of employees, so I get to see lots of fresh faces in as little as a month. One particular coworker is a poor shmuck shackled with student debt. He’s also a nerd with poor diction. Breathtaking, isn’t it? Anywho, he’s one of the yahoos that’s an aspiring game developer who hasn’t had any time to work on his pet projects due to trying to pay off his debt. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy because it seems like he’s not going to ever get that dream job of his, and even if he does, it’s gonna beat his ass in the long haul. Even then, like most nerds, he argues about the potential of Boom being a good game regardless of all the issues presented. And this was before the game was released.

Of particular note, he felt that fans of the series were problematic and difficult to please, being as fans can be “picky” or overly demanding, and could cause the erosion of a particular series. At one point, he cited Dragon Ball as an example. The series kept continuing on into the Dreaded Cell and Buu sagas because fans wanted more when the series was supposed to end with Frieza. While I could sympathize considering I hated everything Cell Saga and up, blaming it on the fans is a red harring. Significant demand requires sufficient talent to meet the demand. If you’re not up to the task of meeting demand, pass the torch to someone who can and will.

Because of that situation, it’s probably best to never plan on an official “ending” to any series you make. You just might be forced to create more and more. Miyamoto never wanted to make another 2D Mario after World and was quoted as “making every game as if it were your last” in some dire hope of not having to be bothered again.

People are always gonna be passionate about a series they have a planned vision for, not when they’re simply told to make more and more crap for it. The quality will take a noticeable dip, but nah. That ain’t the fans fault. The company itself decided to make more shit. Therefore, it’s solely their responsibility.

But according to said nerd, it’s that people are “too had to please”. He is definitely not the kind of person you want in the industry. But we already have those kinds of people! That’s the fun part. And many of them happen to be a little too power hungry for anyone’s good. And since everyone is so hyper active in creating their own shitty versions of existing mythos, we can’t expect any good to come to Sonic from any external force. Again, Sonic has no business existing in this day and age. There’s too many cards stacked against it, and little to no hope of a recovery.

And I’m starting to feel like w/e good ideas the FANS on the internet have, Sega will just skim them and use them as some asshole selling point proclaiming that they “listened to fans” while creating a turd nugget of a product yet again. No one felt like Sega’s been pulling this kind of shit yet? Every time you get a certain amount of demand for Sonic to be a certain way, the immediate next Sonic game has “something resembling what fans asked for” but it turns out to be ass which further dehumanizes the fans and makes it seem like the fans don’t know what they want? Or is it just me? I mean everyone kept demanding a 2D Sonic game, Sonic 4 is shit, or Nintendo make a Sonic game and they kinda sorta did that with Lost Mind, then I came up with the idea of a western team to do Sonic right, and that blew over worse than anyone could imagine, it’s like Sega is creating false flags to crap over fans or something. Because the same company that was raking in dough from PSO2 would not be that stupid to constantly fuck up their mascot series.

 

I’m getting ahead of myself. I had been informed that some of those BRB members were fired midway through the project, possibly due to low funds. Which kinda makes sense seeing as not one of those ugly ass toys have arrived on store shelves yet. The other bunch left on their own accord. I don’t know how much Sega blew on this endeavor, but if they rolled bitches out that fast, either they lost faith on the project, rushed it to keep the deadline on releasing it with that stupid cartoon, or they wanted to desperately get out of this Nintendo exclusivity deal fast. “HERE! JUST PUT THE DAMN GAME OUT, THE SOONER WE GET THIS DONE, THE SOONER WE CAN ESCAPE THIS MAD HOUSE!” You’d have to be really suspicious of a corporation when they start trying to hide their products from reviewers. That reeks of them having no intent on fixing the series. It really is just a profit generating machine for them, and a really dodgy one at that. All this nonsense about targeting younger demographics, removing games from store shelves with bad reviews, and hiding review copies to keep people in the dark until the game comes out is dirty as shit. If anything, I can’t blame those BRB legions that left. Sega has become a real monster of a corporation. Their behavior since 2008 is no short of amazing and bewildering.

Still, no excuse to make crap designs and leave a game unfinished, but understandable to some degree. In either case, we can really say Sonic is doomed for any future game that comes out as it seems no company that exists has any vested interest in the series to crap out a decent product. And because all the real talent exists in the non-credential sectors of the globe, The only place a Sonic fan could call home is the PC. Kinda scary for a once Arcade Centric franchise to get personal

I really gotta work on better closing remarks. More and more, I’m starting to think back to that one guy who suggested copyright law be abolished. Sure, the only franchise that would benefit from that would be Sonic, but hell, we here in America like to think that competition is healthy for… some reason. Why not get rid of laws that exist only to protect corporate interests when they damn sure don’t care about OUR interests, rite? That’ll promote lots of competition! If companies weren’t such greedy pussies. I’d like to think Sega would step their game up if the fans were allowed to financially compete against them.

Oh Amma, I love this song

Yes, look away my dear. It is that harrowing!

Upon purchasing Mirror of Fate for mi Bread Slice, I was almost completely aware of how this game was not going to be anything like the Castlevania I know and love, but just like retards at Stadium, I figured I could “adjust to change”. Now a week later and I do so wish I could go back in time and slap the hell out of myself.

OHHHHH the bullshit this game weaves is oh so intricate. Much worse than I imagined. I figured this was gonna be some wannabe IGAvania with Quick Time Events and crappy combat. No, it’s all that plus a bag of peanuts.

You start the game off as Gabriel fighting random monsters in cinematic bullshit pacing, and right off the bat, the first problem comes up. The game runs like ass. It goes for about the same amount of frames as does Ocarina of Time for the N64. It is that slow, and makes the game look ancient in comparison. Secondly, as I’ve covered earlier, these fucks mandate you use the damn thumb tac. After playing Shinobi and what not, trying to play a 2D game with a 3D input device was a no go. It feels so awkward, it’s like I literally have to look down at my thumb to check if I’m pressing directly left or right. And I’m serious, if it is not a straight line you’re pressing in, the shmuck will not move. He will sit his ass there waiting for a better response.

Anywho, after the tripe combat, you get to the story bits of how “Gabriel will become Dracula so the Brotherhood must hide his son from him”. So then we go to… Simon Belmont!?

Yeah, the game doesn’t really follow the game in order of events. You play from the present time and jump into the past when necessary. This is a shitty way to do a plot as it almost ensures how unsatisfying the conclusion will be when you can easily guess what happens in the story.

So anyway, Simon’s character is actually hilarious and is probably one of the few saving graces of this entire game. Nevermind the fact that he looks like some roided up Scottish drunkard that the Castlevania fans grow moist over just because it reminds them of the Barbarian look of the pre-SOTN games. But he’s funny, so that helps.

It starts off pretty decently with a good majority of this campaign being nothing but straight up action. Even has a few subweapons which are useless. Considering that subweapons barely even work against most enemies combined with the range of the whip being the size of an anaconda. Instead, you’re more dependent on 2 magic thingy’s called spirits. You have the Spirit of Belnades which grants you invincibility (also known as “cute shit 1”) as well as the Spirit of Schneider which attacks enemies that are close by (also known as “cute shit 2”).

Early on, however, you find out how nonsensical the game is about it’s inventory spoiler. There are these red glowing hook points that indicate you latch onto them with your whip… if you had the right one. You need the Combat Cross to even use the points. So ok, w/e, just move on. You won’t get the damn cross until halfway through the campaign either way. Despite that, you will start finding a million of those red points taunting you as you make your way through the damn castle. By the time you find the cross, you’ll be sick to death of them. They’re all over the goddamn place! Hook points! WE HAVE HOOK POINTS FOR DAYZ!

So after a while, you get to the “Toy Maker’s domain”, a character that never really appears in this game…  at all. He appears in LOS2, but is a minor character. Nice job Mercury Steaming Pile, you have this whole area building up this fat mother fucker like he all important and shit… anywho, here, you actually get trapped fighting puppets. The goal? Kill all puppets? Actually no, you just have to wait it out until the trap is opened again. Sucks for you. After the trap is… untrapped, you get a nice little cutscene showing Alucard running away, and Simon getting pissed off again. Can’t blame him, the whole event was stupid.

Then we FINALLY get the Combat Cross after miles and miles of *yoink* YOU BITCH! Instead, some necromancer snatches it from Simon’s hands and now you have to fight for it. Tedious boss fight but w/e, we NOW finally have the Combat Cross! And all the Red points become blue points to signify yadda yadda good, now I can climb some shit. I forgot to mention, climbing in this game suuuuuucks. It’s slow, controls like piss, and trying to make the Scottish bastard jump from wall to wall is grating as he has a delay before he can make the leap. Rage is sure to follow if you’ve got steam vents to watch out for. Oh and make sure you really “look before you leap”, because MS went into the psycho “realism” bullshit that now a Belmont can’t jump from a certain height without dying. I died more times from this bullshit because a lot of this game involves leaps of faith (thank you shit camera) because even looking doesn’t give you much info on your surroundings. How the fuck did you replicate all the problems of 3D adventure games… in a 2D game?!

Anyway, after that fuckery, you come to some merry go round filled with heads. Once again, you get trapped behind laser walls and the merry go heads keep spinning around. So now you have an endurance test. And this one was hell. See, you can’t even duck in this game so you have to jump over everything. And these controls are are not suitable for a game like this. You have to really time these jumps due to poor responses, and this goes on for a good 2 minutes or so, combined with the fact that the ride reverses itself, and the laser beams on the walls, floor moving, they really didn’t think of making better controls for these challenges all the while promoting their fucking “Mercury Engine” as you boot up the game. And you’re reward is another lame cutscene.

You know, if I actually gave a damn about these characters, this wouldn’t seem so obnoxious, because you easily figure out that Alucard was in the background saving your sorry ass and that he’s really your father in the form of a vampire, there’s not much to care about. I mean, you just sat here and wasted my damn time on this merry go round for the sake of a story, you’d think they would make it much more enjoyable.

But shortly after that (and I mean shortly), you get up to Dracula’s throne room… but he isn’t there. Instead, you’re in some arabian palace with a flower in the center, and on top of it is bewbs.

Mmmm, demonic bitches.

Of course, knowing Castlevania, that thing was definitely a Succubus in what happens to be a boss fight. I’ll say one thing, the boss fights are least fun in this mug. So after beating her ass, you get to face off against the big D man himself!

After all these years, I thought to myself “FINALLY! A remixed battle between Simon Belmont and Count Dracula once again!” Dis gon B Guud!

NOT! Instead of that, the party is interrupted by Alucard… and this chapter ends.

………What?!

Yeah, really. No fight, it’s literally the end of Act 1… and the beginning of when this game starts to REALLY blow chunks.

Act 2 puts you in control of fangirl favorite, Alucard.

Vampire Fabio. Come and get it ladies!

He sits around complaining about how it wasn’t supposed to be like this or w/e, but proceeds with a makeshift combat cross to take revenge… only to go outside and get his ass whooped by a spider lion.

My, what sparkling whites you have!

So, you have a boss fight you’re not allowed to win, and you’re thrown off a bridge into the water. Oh look, you can breathe under water (note: Simon and Trevor can’t, which makes for some obligatory swimming challenges.) If only I had my trusty Belnades soul. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, you lose fucking everything… except your 2nd combat cross… since you transition to a brand new character (save the “no shit” retorts), but why give me a combat cross if you’re gonna wipe my inventory?

Can’t touch this, I’m gorgeous!

So, you have chapter resets in your abilities. And basically you start off fresh. Anywho, Alucard’s story suuuuuuuuucks. Wanna know why? Less action. Alucard is more about puzzles. Along with that, the boss fights become less fun as you spend more time multi-tasking around specific boss patterns rather than whacking the shit out of em. One boss fight has you using some magnetic rail system to leap over laser beams while trying to destroy machines that keep healing the big bastard. Probably wouldn’t be so irritated if that guy wasn’t so cheap.

Totally not Cornell from LOD

Alucard’s new abilities contain a wolf form that is only good for opening doors (complete with a quick time event so you feel like the wolf form is of some awesome importance. He also has a mist form which is a better dodging move that unfortunately uses up MP just so you can’t abuse it, the fuckers. There’s also a bat projectile that really… REALLY sucks, and a stopwatch that is ultimately worthless aside from one platform puzzle. Alucard is gimped in all combat abilities aside from the combat cross, it’s a wonder he can even fight.

 

But most of your time is spent solving puzzles, 2 of which involve saving Simon’s hairy ass. These devices are very complex(and easy) in that you have to usually guide laser lights to their proper end points, or burn some ropes with some asinine contraption (And no, you have no fire powers either). It’s funny how when it comes time to save Simon the second time, Alucard sighs like “this fool in trouble again”. It’s like the developers were trying to patronize you by saying “yeah, we know doing another puzzle sucks, so lets make the character agree with the players!”.

Sorry kids, But deez… are… the breaks!

After one of the most tedious portions of any game, you FINALLY get to have your precious fight against Dracula. By teaming up with Simon Belmont! This… COULD’VE been a fun fight, but then MS put some gay shit in here where Simon gets mind controlled and sicks Simon on you, basically a trick since Simon is Alucard’s son, what happens is that if you try to attack… at all, Alucard will instead sit there and say random shit like “I don’t want to fight you! No!”.

I….. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The game turned my character into a punk bitch! He cries like the pussy he is if you press any attack button. Instead, you’re supposed to counter a good 3 to 5 of his attacks just to snap him out of it, then you go back to fighting Dracula. And Simon fights like a bitch, he can’t get close to Drac without being knocked on his ass. GREAT JOB OF PROVING WHY YOU’RE THE MOST FAMOUS BELMONT, DIP SHIT! So I just used him as bait to distract Drac. Whipped his ass into submission.

So after the most anti-climatic boss fight in Castlevania history (Beat the Sorrow series in those departments), we get a scene where Alucard places his and on Simon’s cheek in the most incestuously homo way imaginable, and they stare into each other’s eyes uncomfortably, and Alucard leaves.

Dad sucks!

So onward to Act 3. This time you play Alucard’s other half, Trevor Belmont, the father of Simon, years before the first 2 acts took place. This one, while not as horrendous as Alucard’s story, is also quite lame. This time, you perform “cinematic action sequences” and fetch quests. One very notable one is where you have to find dead bodies containing answers to a particular puzzle you have to solve before moving one. Wow, combining 2 of my most hated segments in any game. Not to mention having to scale a giant vertical tower where making one wrong jump can kill you, so basically the game is testing your patience with shitty controls.

I also spotted something iffy. Alucard needed to earn the ability of double jumping… but Trevor has it right off the back. It couldn’t be old age, Vampires don’t age. Ah, w/e. Trevor’s abilities now contain light and dark magic, similar to the Spirits that Simon uses. They’re mostly used for opening specific doors and not really for combat purposes. You also get an upgrade for te Combat Cross which allows you to… basically do the same thing as Alucard’s wolf form. So basically, here you just get new equipment for the same reasons Link does in Zelda games, just to get around. It’s kinda sad. It’s stupid shit like this that makes the excitement of getting new equipment… not exciting because you know you’re going to be doing a lot of backtracking just to get through those areas that you couldn’t get through the first time because you didn’t have so and so tool at the time, no wonder Zelda and Metroid sell like ass without good graphics.

Anywho, after a while of “cinematic boss fights” filled with QTE’s, you come to a big area where you climb, jump, climb some more, and jump some more until you get to a point where the final door cannot open until… you leave the entire area and go through the whole castle again to look for 2 balls.

MS is a troll developer, you think you’re going somewhere, but then you’re sent on a goddamn goose chase! Man, who knew Dracula loved elevators? There’s so many here. Something’s wrong. This series is supposed to take place in the 11th century, where did these elevators come from!?

Praise Amma for teleporters or this segment would’ve driven me batshit. These items are spread so far, mang. You’d think you were playing Mother Goose or some shit.

So after screwing around with looking for nutz, you finally get to fight Dracula… again. Now… this fight is supposed to be “harder” than before because you no longer have live bait but honestly, this fight was just as piss easy as the last. When you get him down to a sliver of health, you go into cinematic bullshit mode with more QTE’s. But it looks epic, you got Trevor and Dracula flying through the air like some DBZ shit. BUT…

Problem, Trevor?

Yeah yeah, I know, it had to happen to explain why Trevor became Alucard, but damn if it isn’t unsatisfying. A final boss fight where you are made to lose.

Trying to summarize this game is more difficult because a lot of it’s material is easily forgettable, and I don’t know who would want to play through a second time for any reason, it’s a one and done deal. There’s also a secrent ending for 100% completion, but it’s only a shot of Simon looking at the Castle crumbling as a sort of “easter egg/cute shit” throwback to the regular endings of……. ALL Castlevania games, really. It’s cheap, it’s unrewarding, and shows that Mecury Steam looks at Nostalgia in a completely superficial context. Dracula recites a line from SOTN for no goddamn reason… TWICE in this series. It comes off as cheap and uninspired.

A lot of this game feels nothing like Castlevania, but they think that by throwing in a few little “nods” (w/e the fuck a nod is supposed to mean to me or any other stupid ass Castlevania fan), they can appease the fans of the series? Piece of shit! This is not Castlevania, and I don’t care how much cute shit you toss into it, it will never be Castlevania.

I don’t get this idiocy with developers who completely revamp a series without consent of the fans and have all the fucking gall to move in and convince people that this is the shit they know and love. Gabriel’s armor being red as a reference to Simon’s red armor from CV2, are you on the yak!? And people actually bought that excuse. You’re not gonna look at Gabriel Belmont and think Castlevania 2! Nobody likes Castlevania 2 to give a shit about some 2 bit easter egg that no one would get.

To calm myself down from rage, I found Lament of Innocence over PSN, DL’d it…. THIS GAME WAS THE SHIT! This is REAL Castlevania! You got REAL boss fights that consist of merely whacking the fuckers and dodging their attacks, not doing some contrived “multitasking strategy” bullshit like “counter attacks 3 times to get to the next part” or any dingy involving QTEs. Sure, there’s a few fetch quests and back tracking, but I’ll take anyone’s bullshit over Konami’s new “revisionary series”.

I’ve been playing Castlevania games up the arse. From Bloodlines to SOTN, all the GBA/DS games, it’s real sad how fucked this series got after Harmony of Dissonence. It turned into animu creampuff BS along with having a Pachinko game with titties.

And then we get to overcompensation with some “me too” God of War crap about a guy who cries about his dead wife but has a plan to resurrect her body before she starts to smell. Then it turns into some goth hot topic “underworld” looking shit for the sequel with so much over the top cinematics and more injected testosterone (Satan got roided up), all of it gets overshadowed by Dracula having family issues.

NUUUUUUUUU!

Turning Castlevania into a game about religion, and then into some retarded shit about New World Order in some last minute attempt to one up Ninja Theory’s fuck up with Devil May Cry. Why? Apparently the director had his head so far up his ass according to his “underlings”.

Alright, everyone who complained about Konami. I concede. Fuck Konami. For destroying the ONLY shit I cared about from them… and maybe ruining Metal Gear, idk, I don’t play that shit outside of Rising. IGA was the man. Yeah he cocked up with DOS, POR, and HD, but he knew how to make a competent game (most of the time). So chock full of secrets that you desperately wanted to dig deeper into. Not to mention making it so combat wasn’t a chore like the stiff controlling NES games. MS goes right back to stiff ass controls for this piece of shit. And all with the Thumb tac, no less!

But, they say this is it for the crappy LOS series, so I don’t know what Castlevania will be like in the future. Maybe they’ll kill it off and continue whoring out Metal Gear for all it’s milk.

Wrong answer Sliconera.

The real answer is people like to travel. People WANT to see more of the game’s content. People WANT to get to new places. They are motivated by the self interest of going places.

Even then, I do like the exchange going on.

Wosada said to Siliconera. “When you play modern games, there are lots of elements that make them feel like a tedious chores to beat certain stages as opposed to this where every time you die it makes sense and every time you clear a stage it feels gratifying. Maybe it isn’t necessarily a trend, but games that feel rewarding through persistence a lot of people’s answer to making modern games easier and the feeling of satisfaction isn’t there.”

This is why Shinobi on 3DS, Ratchet and Clank prior to Crack in Time, and Metal Gear Rising are fucking rad, and why Sonic Boom is really Sonic Doom. The modern games feel like chores because that’s exactly what you’re doing. FUCKING CHORES! When a game like Skyward Sword demands that you must use motion plus to practice a move that you’ll only use once to destroy several targets in a short amount of time all the while the controls are terrible, that is a fucking chore. When a game like Shinobi demands you make a tricky jump to avoid taking damage as you progress, you feel like a bad mother fucker.

Challenge isn’t exclusively the reason why “tough games” are rising in popularity, but most of them feel like “natural progression“. Looking in worlds for several collectables is not natural progression, it’s a fucking chore. Going into worlds to complete several missions or minigames before moving on is not natural progression (and it’s a wonder why Dynasty Warriors lasted this long). Having to solve tedious puzzles with all the handicaps with it is not natural progression. The greatest mistakes of game design lies in the denial of natural progression which is simply the player trying to make his/her way to the finish line while dealing with enemies and traps.

The appeal of games from the 90s wasn’t in their difficulty. It is but a miniscule factor of their longevity. People are motivated by the desire to see the rest of the game. Bragging rights is only for the nerds and alpha males with lack of achievements in their lives….. or for fighting game fans.

If Wosada did anything right (I wouldn’t know), it’s moving away from bullshit. Puzzles, Fetch Quests, and Missions are the bane of modern video games. The 3 witches of Macbeth.

Why do we have these things? My gut instinct is that it makes the developer’s jobs easier and exciting. Afterall, making 6 stages that have the same goal in mind is boring and monotonous to them. So they need bullshit to make their jobs less boring. Even though all they’d need to do is give the levels enough unique shit to keep themselves entertained. I think out of all gaming series, Sonic and Mega Man had levels that were distinct enough outside visuals and music. Why would their jobs be boring?

Eh, I wouldn’t know.

(random thoughts: Fuck man, I wish I didn’t need an HD tv to read Dynasty Warriors 8’s small ass text. How fucking obnoxious is this shit?)

I was asked this question a few times by a Nafares about why a game would need or warrant multiple paths if the finish line itself remains the same. Ignoring the fact that it has been a series staple since… forever, there is no such thing as stupid questions. There are 2 good reasons for having multiple paths, especially in the case of any game considered a “platformer”.

1. Creating Depth

Considering all the advancements in game technology, you’d think there would be some desire to take advantage of it all beyond modeling textures. When one creates a world, it is usually expected that the world have distinct complexities in it’s wake. Reason being is that everyone loves exploring (when it isn’t for fetch quests, mind you). People love finding new areas to delve into. When concerning replay value, there should be a good reason for players to go through the same levels over and over. No one just likes playing through a particular level if they know full well what to expect. Linear level design is a deterrent of replay value, and is something that must be fought.

Linear design favors “scripted” games such as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Rayman Legends, but in a general sense, makes many video games a “one and done” session. It’s probably why Kirby doesn’t get much fame outside of it’s “cuteness” that Westerners recoil at.

Afterall, if linear design was the best way to make  levels, I might as well not have purchased a Piss Station 3 if I could get that same kind of stuff out of my Wii.

2. Deciding on a safer route.

The main reason is illustrated by this picture.

Gamers enjoy stimulus in more ways than just action. Sometimes, deciding on a different route to take makes the player feel clever or daring during play. For example, taking note of the sign above, it points out 2 different directions that imply “safer route” or “dangerous route”. When coming to these forks, the player can either decide to get to their destination peacefully, or decide that’s for pussies and go the dangerous route like the bad mother fuckers they are.

take Dynasty Warriors for instance. The goal is to kill a specific general, but there are 3 ways to get to him. Why? Well, this general might’ve implemented a strategy that makes your progress through one route a pain in the ass. Possibly boulders or ballista in place to prevent any of your men from getting to close. However, the general isn’t aware of the fact that his rear defense is… nonexistent, and there is a path through a mountain range that leads into his camp. And you can go undetected. It’s quicker to go through the ballista, but you’ll get some scars along the way. Or you can take the longer route without so much as a scratch and end the battle swiftly. Like Snoop said in that fucking terrible Startsky and Hutch remake “Why start at the beginning when you can go straight to finish?”

Or to use a more relevant example, the Aquatic Ruins Zone. Sonic and Tails has to make it to the end. There’s only one problem. Sonic can’t swim, and sure as hell no Sonic fan enjoys water levels (who does, anyway?). Lucky for you, there’s 3 routes. Top, Middle, and Bottom. The Bottom is of course, submerged in water, so you’re less likely to want that route. The Middle route is much faster, but not as safe as there are more enemies abound, as well as traps. The Top path is high into the air, above the cliffs. It’s the safest route out of them all. What makes this more significant than the DW example is that players need to put forth some effort into staying within the top path up until the end.

Sho wish we had another way around this bitch back in the day.

And of games that do not have distinct and consequential paths? Same shit. Some might be quicker than the rest (short cuts). Or they might contain goodies you won’t find on another route.

In general, the goal may be the same, but the journey that people take matters more than completing the objective. The point of multiple paths is player stimulus.You want to give the player a reason to keep coming back to the game (as well as the sequels). Be it a platformer or an FPS. Looking at the point from a mechanical/technical standpoint is ignoring the player and is instead focused on the game alone. Afterall, it is made for their sake.

I might go blind trying to read Koei’s bullshit… I swear, you need an HD tv just to see the HUD from Borderlands 2 even! Would you believe some asshole tried to justify this by saying “developers aren’t gonna waste time scaling up text for LD tvs” why the fuck not? They waste resources one everything else (if it aint rendering titties, I don’t care how good yo chairs look!)