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    Jan 31st, 2007 at 15:28:38     -    Gradius (NES)

    So I got a chance to play some more Gradius and get a bit further. Here are my findings:

    I love the seamless level design of the game. In the way that it is completely continuous, it makes the game far more immersive and the sense of space much more real. How the game alternates between the space scene and then the "level" scene gives the player the feeling that they are traveling alone through the depths and quirky segments of space, and really adds to the "lone samurai" element that is natural to the genre.

    Each level has its own theme to it. Part of the charm of Gradius that differentiated itself from other shmups was its extremely obscure level environments. From easter-island to lava, the player travels through many progressively weirder environments with progressively weirder bosses and by the end, they've seen all of it.

    Who thought of these bosses? Gradius has arguably the most confusing enemy designs, and this is in a good sense. I was only able to make it through the first three segments of the game, but I remember over a decade ago when I first played the game, I nearly pissed my pants when the scrolling stopped and volcanoes started randomly shooting out rocks. Genius! Using inanimate objects as bosses is something I still have not seen outside of the Gradius series.

    In the end, what makes Gradius, and further more the Gradius series so distinct in the shmup genre is its level of polish. Every level, every sprite is so solid and defined with proportions that work so well with everything else... the original Gradius still amazes me in the realm of 2D shoot em ups.

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    Jan 31st, 2007 at 14:11:38     -    Gradius (NES)

    I knew I'd be playing this one at some point from the classic list.

    Gradius is the first shmup I've ever played and I used to own it on the original NES over a decade ago. Gradius really hits home some aspects of the genre that none of its predecessors did nearly as well.

    Enter the dynamic power-up system. In games prior to Gradius (and even in many shmups after Gradius), the power-up system in shmups has been often used in a linear way. I.E. get the first power up, your weapon gets stronger. Get the second power up, your weapon gets even stronger... etc. Gradius on the other hand leaves the power up sequence to the player, who must make decisions on which power up configuration is best for the time.

    The power system is the most immediately obvious game design facet of Gradius so far. I'd like to comment on the level designs which I think are fantastic... but I need to get further in the game first.

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    Jan 19th, 2007 at 14:20:26     -    Kirby's Adventure (NES)

    So I spent some more time playing Kirby and I've finally realized why I could play this game without end.

    The game is continuous. There isn't a single time where you're taken out of the 2D side-scrolling adventure mode of play as even the "world map" is set up in a 2D side-scroller. This creates a sense of immersion that does not interrupt gameplay at any time.

    The game is simple. The directions are illustrated and the mechanics are intuitive. The way you see your enemy attack is the way you will attack when you acquire their ability. In the way that the game saves after every level you clear is, at first seemingly too forgiving, but in the end is a nice convenience (especially when your NES tries to access that dusty pin and commits suicide soon afterwards).

    But most importantly, the game has ingenious mini-games that hooked me for hours. In the end, the charm of the Kirby games are not in the borrowing-and-expanding platformer portion of the game, but in the mini-games that are so simple to play, but so difficult to master.

    Ultimately, Kirby captures the essence of simplicity. The character itself is a circle with two eyes, feet, and hands (as described in the "how to draw Kirby" clip before the game title screen). The game is nothing more than passing through colorful stages, with interspersed, short minigames. Kirby does not try hard to integrate tough, very complex gameplay mechanics - it's just Kirby.

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    Jan 19th, 2007 at 05:48:23     -    Kirby's Adventure (NES)

    A few points of interest about the Kirby series before I begin my critical analysis of "Kirby Adventure". For one, the 1993 copyright date shot me straight in the face as I thought the Kirby series dated far further back. It's true that the very first Kirby game was in fact on the original Gameboy in 1992, but considering the iconic nature of Kirby, I thought Kirby's lineage would have begun back in the 80's.

    Unlike with all the other titles on the "classics list", this was my first time playing "Kirby's Adventure". I've played several of the other Kirby games and it surprised me how similar the Kirby game of 14 years ago is to the latest one for the Nintendo DS that was just released a few weeks ago. What was immediately apparent to me was the familiar sound-track. What is true about the Kirby series, it seems, that is not true with any other game series that I know of, is the retention -almost in its full completeness- of the sound-track and related sound-effects. The same songs re-hashed into later iterations of the Kirby games may seem like a cop-out (and really sometimes it feels like that), but it's nonetheless a great soundtrack and lends itself to a solid "definite" style for the series.

    Being a series made so much later than most of Nintendo's other established franchises, the Kirby series borrows several gameplay aspects from other respected series', namely Mario and Mega Man. It took the best of both series' - that is to say while it is a colorful, easy to play platformer just like Mario, there is still diversity in the gameplay mechanic as Kirby acquires new abilities a la Mega Man's powers gained from defeating reploids.

    However, unlike Mario and Mega Man, Kirby implements consistent strategy and puzzle-solving into its play. Where in Mega Man, any enemy can effectively be defeated with the standard Pea shooter, Kirby will require you to make use of the various abilities to defeat certain enemies and to destroy obstacles in order to proceed. As such, there is higher potential to make the game difficult in a more sophisticated way than simply bombarding the player with more enemies.

    There are a few other things I want to mention but I will get to those once I've thought about them a bit more.

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    1ブルードラゴン Blue Dragon (360)Playing
    2東方花映塚 Phantasmagoria of Flower View (PC)Playing
    3Gradius (NES)Playing
    4Katamari Damacy (PS2)Playing
    5Kirby's Adventure (NES)Playing
    6Streets of Rage 3 (Other)Playing

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