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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 18:13:22     -    Devil May Cry 4 (360)

    Second playthrough
    GAMEPLAY: For the first playthrough, I wondered where the difficulty of the game went. Sure, the first boss was kinda hard but it didn't really strike me as difficult.
    Then I got to the second boss. And died.
    Much to my relief, the difficulty that Devil May Cry brags about still exists. It was quite a mixed emotion actually. I was happy AND sad at the same time. I'm not too sure how that worked out, but it did. Still, I earned a few more combos for Nero, which is always a good thing. It really helps build up the Style Combo meter. For those of you who don't know, this meter encourages players to keep a good streak of combos going. The higher it gets, the more Red orbs you earn. However, if you get hit at all during this streak, the meter resets. Boo.
    Playing more, I found a few Secret Missions throughout the game. By completing Secret Missions, players are awarded a fragment of a Blue Orb. When players collect 4 pieces, it becomes one whole blue orb and increases the maximum health of the player. Pretty nifty stuff.
    I didn't advance any farther in the storyline so far, which was a little disappointing. But then again, I'm only on Mission 5 (15 more to go). So there's bound to be more to come. I did come across a few more newer enemies. It certainly makes the game harder (which is a good thing, depending on your taste in games). I look forward to beating this game all the way through (and hopefully beating Dante Must Die mode).

    DESIGN: If I could categorize Devil May Cry as a whole, I'd say it's a beat-em-up with puzzles and platforming thrown in. For the most part, there are a few puzzles phases mixed with platforming to get new items that will help you proceed farther in the level. However, there are many rooms where you basically just kill everything to proceed. For some gamers, this might get old quick. But for people like me who love killing things stylishly, this will be right up the alley.
    This particular game implements a good combo system well. Certainly a way to chain combos is to button-mash. However, to pull off the good ones that deal more damage, players need to time it perfectly. For me, this is a HUGE part of the appeal to Devil May Cry. Every move you make is made on command in great response. This makes performing combos VERY satisfying (just like Ninja Gaiden, you have to be a pro). And it looks cool too.
    The one flaw in this game shares that of its predecessors: the camera. While it doesn't detract from the awesome gameplay, the camera can sometimes get in the way. For example, during my fight with the second boss of the game, I was dealing a good amount of damage with a combo when suddenly the camera shifted. Then a wall was blocking my view of Nero, who inevitably got hit with a frost wave. The camera doesn't really kill the enjoyment of the game, but it certainly is annoying.
    Overall, the game has very responsive controls, a satisfying combo system, and very good upgrades to help you fight the hordes of demons waiting for Nero.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 01:31:28     -    Devil May Cry 4 (360)

    Summary: As he witnesses the assassination of Sanctus, the leader of the Order, Nero vows revenge. The young knight chases the renowned Devil Hunter Dante to find answers as to why he killed Nero's leader.

    Gameplay: Anyone familiar with the Devil May Cry series will feel right at home here. Much to my sadness, however, I did not control Dante first. As cool as Nero is in the game with the Devil Bringer (Nero's devastating arm that can pull enemies toward you or slam them on the ground), I'm still a Dante fanboy. Despite this minor flaw, Devil May Cry 4 is adrenaline-pumped action all the way. Nero controls very similar to Dante from the previous games and can pull off insane combos. I haven't unlocked them yet, but I will soon.
    Speaking of which, the upgrade system is back from the previous games. The player can collect red orbs to buy items and health upgrades. However, new to the system is "Proud Souls". Unlike the previous games where red orbs could buy new MOVES, the player is given Proud Souls at the end of each level for that purpose. If you spend the Souls on a move and you realize that you don't like it, you can take the Souls back and add it to a different move. A very interesting system indeed.
    I've been playing for about an hour and a half now, and I'm still only on mission two. Probably because I keep running around killing things. It's just too fun.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 22:00:23     -    Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

    Super Mario RPG is a role-playing game made by Squaresoft and Nintendo. Once again, you face-off against Bowser in battle (and inevitably win). But this time around, he is NOT the last bad guy. In fact, he’s the first! Not too long after defeating Bowser, a new nemesis appears (who goes by the name “Smithy”). He takes over Bowser’s castle and claims he will be the ruler of the entire world! Now it’s not Mario’s job to save just the princess; he has to save the WORLD!

    Gameplay: After playing the game for about 3 hours, the battles in the game introduced a system that feels a little bit newer than standard RPG battle systems. In this battle system, players can inflict more damage by pressing the “attack” button at the correct time during the attack animation. Likewise, when it’s the opponents’ turn to attack, you can press “A” to lower your damage (except against magic-based attacks).

    I also enjoyed the fact that the view was not from a straight top-down view when walking around. It’s from an isometric view this time, and you can even jump around the map, giving the game a platform feel to it. Also, unlike many RPGs out there, Super Mario RPG actually shows where the bad guys are (unlike random encounters found in games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior). So if you’re ever low on health and need to get to that save point, there’s no excuse saying that a random encounter killed you before you could make it.

    All the lovable characters from the Mario world are in the game (from the main characters all the way down to the enemies), along with a few new characters made specifically for the game (such as a puffy cloud named Mallow who thinks he’s a frog). Also, there are many cameos in the game (including Samus and Culex!). The entire game is full of personality, and many of them are quite humorous.

    Design: Super Mario RPG feels a lot like both a platformer and an RPG. When not in battle, the player can run around a town or dungeon and perform Mario’s signature jump to reach high places. As far as the battles go, it keeps players on their toes unlike other RPGs. In most RPGs, you can select a single attack or summon and you wait for the damage to be done. Sometimes the animations for these attacks are quite lengthy and can get old after using it over and over again (I’m looking at you Final Fantasy 7 with your “Knights of the Round”). However, in Super Mario RPG, the battle system feels a little more interactive because you can inflict more damage with a “Timed Hit”. Each character has different timing with their attacks, so it’s up to the player to master it. It keeps the battle feeling fresh for a while.

    Also, this RPG is one that holds TONS of mini-games. I don’t mean just one or two. I mean a LOT. For instance, there’s a game where you can buy a kid’s Gameboy for about 100 coins or so, and you can try and beat his high score! There’s also a part where you have to help a frog compose a song (which he’ll give you something for if you do it right).

    The only setback I can think of for the game is that it still feels like a traditional RPG in terms of items, equip, etc. While I can think of no way to improve upon this kind of item system, it would have been nice to see something innovative in this category as well. The story is not anything too special either. You play Mario, and you save the day. Again.

    Still these setbacks are completely overshadowed by everything that’s good about this game. You have a more innovative battle system, lovable characters that you can grow attached to, awesome magic attacks, and a lot of fun minigames. A must-play for ANY RPG fan (or Mario fan for that matter).

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    Jan 12th, 2008 at 19:18:25     -    Contra 4 (DS)

    Summary: Since the defeat of Red Falcon (in Contra 3), the Earth has once again prospered in peace. However, a new invasion has begun! Earth never seems to get a break as a new group of aliens (called Black Viper) enslaves the human race and destroys anything that get in their path! But what exactly gets in the way of their path to destruction?

    Two shirtless guys...insanely ripped...wearing bandanas...and wield rifles equipped with infinite ammo.

    Gameplay: I shall heed you a warning. This game is absolutely NOT for the casual gamer. Why? Because this game will kick your butt. I'm not using the word "might" because it WILL kick your butt. In fact, this game will beat you so bad that you'll end up in the hospital! And once you're in the hospital thinking that everything will be OK, Contra 4 will be there and beat you down WHILE you're in your hospital bed!

    But what kind of game is Contra 4? For those of you who do not know, it is a side-scrolling 2-D shoot-everything game. Your primary goal? Rid the world of aliens trying to enslave the human race. Yup, not very epic. But it gets the job done. Side-scrollers aren't meant to have great stories anyway (I mean, c'mon, a plumber rescuing a princess from a giant lizard?).

    The controls for the game are simple. Y (the most important button) is to shoot. B is to jump (second most important). X is to use your grappling hook (so you can travel both the top AND bottom screen). L is to switch your weapons (you're allowed 2). Hold down R to stand in place while shooting (because you usually run AND gun at the same time).

    I myself am a bit experienced with the world of Contra, so I thought I'd try playing the game on Normal mode first. Scrolling through the first level, Contra fans will recognize the homage to the NES version instantly. The jungle level with remixed music. It doesn't get any better than that. And a few seconds going across the level, JOY! My first power-up! But as soon as I touch the stupid thing, 4 bullets and 6 different guy jump towards my way. Again, if you aren't familiar with Contra, I want to let you know that touching ANYTHING bad means instant death. And, as you can imagine, I lost one life already. About 20 seconds into the game and I ALREADY died! No biggy, I'll just rely on the rest of the lives that I hav...oh...died again. Crap (yes, I'm playing as I type this).

    Despite the absolute FRUSTRATION I am going through right now, I already know I love this game. Sure, you only get a set number of lives (5 on Normal), and yes, you do get killed with just ONE hit. But I just LOVE the challenge! The biggest challenge by far is keeping track of the action going on in TWO screens (it is the DS after all). You may come across a point where you've destroyed everything on the bottom screen, but enemies from the TOP screen will be raining bullets down on you. Not easy stuff.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 12th, 2008 at 19:22:47.

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    1Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (DS)Playing
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    4Gradius (NES)Playing
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