A Few Old Games

For the last couple of weeks, my attention deficit disorder led me to play some games which I had collected but not yet finished. When this happens, I typically pick up Zelda: Wind Waker, spend half an hour scanning a walkthrough to figure out where I left off, and then spend another hour re-learning all the game’s little control quirks.

At this point, I sail around a bit, make some progress in the game, sail around some more, and then eventually get stuck in a dungeon. After a few more hours of running around and watching that little semi-retarded boy jump at the wrong time and in the wrong direction over and over again, I give it up and go and play Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando. Ratchet is different from Zelda. It’s easy to pick up again. I don’t need to read the walkthrough to figure out where I am. I don’t need to sail around for hours to find the next task to perform. You pretty much just pick up the game, run around and blow stuff up. The only controls that don’t really work well are the flying and gliding. Everything else is tight and responsive. No retarded jumps into the lava. No tedious first person targeting with the grapping hook swingy thing.

I had slowly worked my way to the later stages of the game, when it got harder and more frustrating. Luckily I was always able to bail myself out by buying more stuff. This is an important lesson. You should always be able to win a game by using money.

The final Boss was even cute, and not that hard. Just how I like it.

With Ratchet finished, I looked around for more stuff to beat up. On the DS, I had started Castlevania and it is sort of fun, but full of tedious backtracking and stupid save rooms. Since that’s not enough punishment for me, decided to pick up Viewtiful Joe again.

Viewtiful Joe is the embodiment of frustration. It has a flashy visual look that you either like or hate. I sort of like it. It is an interesting twist on the 2-d beat-em-up game since the game’s space is 2-d but it is rendered using a 3-d engine. Once you get all the special powers, the combat flows with a pleasing rhythm. You enter an area and methodically pulverize your enemies into little piles of money.

Unfortunately, the game combines these virtues with a pair of crippling flaws. First, the puzzles make no sense. You can read the walkthrough and do what the instructions say, but they still make no sense. Most often, they depend on you randomly stabbing at the controls until the button that is normally used to (say) make the world slow down suddenly becomes the secret trigger to make you fly through the air on a jet-powered bus. Other times it just seems impossible to get from point A to point B. You jump and jump and jump and fail and fail and fail until suddenly one of the jumps makes it for no apparent reason. The game’s world is hatefully inconsistent.

My solution is to read the walkthrough so I can concentrate on beating shit up. The puzzles are stupid anyway.

The second glaring problem with the game is the save system. There really isn’t one. You get four lives to get through each area. Die four times, and you do the whole thing again. This by itself is actually enough to put the game down. It’s further proof that deep down, CAPCOM hates you. That said, the game is fun in one hour increments. After that, my fingers start to hurt.

I guess I can put it next to Zelda on my shelf, while I work my way through Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal.