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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 21:24:12     -    Viewtiful Joe (GC)

    GAMEPLAY

    This time around I unlocked another VFX move, instead of changing the speed of the game, it makes the camera zoom in on the character. In this mode, you can do cool movie martial arts moves like backflip kicks (which attack enemies in front, above, and behind you) and punches with different, stylish camera angles (which maybe do more damage, I don’t know). You can also use this in conjunction with the slow-mo or match speed VFX, which has allowed for some more interesting combat.

    I did get a bit frustrated at one point though. I had gotten quite a bit into the second episode (the main sections of the game’s story) before I got a game over for the first time. When I had died before, I had begun at the last checkpoint (usually where the player enters a room, or new section of the level). However, unexpectedly, when you get a game over, you must start from the begging of the episode again. This makes sense, but I wasn’t expecting it and lead to a bit of frustration when I had to do everything over again (including unlocking the new VFX move). Maybe the game could use more save points, I’m not sure as this hasn’t really been that big of a problem so far. It does raise the stakes a bit though.


    DESIGN

    So far, Viewtiful Joe has been one of the most entertaining games I’ve played, which I would have to credit to its game design. In particular, the way combat is set up keeps the game interesting at all times. You effectively have 4 different modes of combat with the different VFX moves, allowing for different play styles and strategies. In addition there are many combos, each VFX having different ones and others unlockable in a store after levels. The combat is set up to be quick and simple, like a proper beat ‘em up should be, but by using the VFX moves, the gameplay never gets dull.

    The reward system is also quite good. There are multiple types of rewards throughout each level. There are points, which can be spent between stages at the power-up shop. There are items in chests throughout that can boost your health, give you an extra life, or replenish some of your VFX meter (a meter depletes as you use VFX and regenerates when you don’t use it). There are also items, which can temporarily increase the size of your VFX meter, allowing for more damage to be done.

    I also think that the VFX system is really useful not only in the way it affects combat, but how it is used in level design. The VFX effects don’t affect your character, but the actual gameworld. Your character doesn’t just speed up or or slow down, the entire world does. This allows for some interesting puzzles to stop you from tearing through a level in a few minutes. There can be puzzles where you have to speed up the world so fans blow harder or so that water can flow faster (admittedly these are the only real examples I have so far). This is a sort of unique take on the traditional system of power ups, which usually only affect the player character, not the way their world works.

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    Mar 5th, 2008 at 19:37:02     -    Viewtiful Joe (GC)

    SUMMARY

    Viewtiful Joe is a side scrolling platformer with a beat ‘em up style of combat. The player plays as Joe, who has been magically pulled into the world of one of his favorite action movies. He must find his girlfriend who has been captured, while being aided by the hero of the movie, Captain Blue, who teaches Joe new moves. A unique part of the game is ability to change from normal speeds to slow-mo or sped up modes, which allow for different combos. In fighting enemies, Joe cannot block; he can only dodge attacks in quite a stylish manner.


    GAMEPLAY

    I would have to say the first thing I notice about Viewtiful Joe is how slick the combat is. When fighting enemies, warnings appear briefly to tell you to dodge, allowing you to pull of new attacks on your confused enemies. The combat all moves very fast and you have to pay attention to all the enemies surrounding you. Luckily, you have special “VFX” moves, which can slow down or speed up the gameplay. These are all quite well done, though using the slow motion move for extended periods of time can get a little tedious. The “match speed” move, which speeds up the game, is very fun to use. You seem to do a lot more on screen and kick your enemies’ butts harder, without really exerting any extra effort.

    One problem I’ve found so far is that sometimes the level design is a bit confusing. There were a few times where I was confused as to what I had to do to advance to the next stage. My friends who were watching were equally confused and didn’t really have any idea of what I should do. The game gives you hints, by making a watch your character wears flash and make a noise when you’re near one of the objects involved in the puzzle, a bit like Navi in Zelda. However, sometimes it’s really vague as to what you have to do. You could have to position yourself in a certain area to fight someone, punch an object to set off some sort of “switch,” or any other sort of puzzle related tasks found in games like Zelda. I wouldn’t say that this detracts from the game, it keeps it interesting, making it not all entirely just about beating up enemies. It actually shows some pretty unique and thoughtful level design for a side scrolling platform game.

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    Feb 13th, 2008 at 02:28:17     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    GAMEPLAY

    This time I was only able to take out two colossi. I was actually a bit nervous going in to find the first colossus as I had been told that it was strong and “not fearful.” Additionally, while trying to find the colossus, the atmosphere was very unsettling as I moved through thick fog and trod along steep cliffs to finally find the colossus. It was a giraffe looking one and to beat it, I had to hide in some underground tunnels and sneak up behind it as it peered into tunnel entrances. I did have to use GameFAQs for this colossus as it was pretty confusing as to what I had to do to beat the boss. Of course, that is what the game is all about. In the end, I killed the colossus quickly as I already knew what I had to do and it wasn’t really fun at all!

    The second colossus was difficult to find, almost frustratingly so. Until I finally found out where I had to go to progress to actually find the colossus. After finding the colossus, I was at a loss as to what to do and the hints didn’t really seem to help all that much. They weren’t that clear in this instance as they said to stand on a platform at surface level on the lake where the battle was set. But there were several different platforms and at first I was just confused. Eventually it was a pretty easy battle, not really warranting all the build up I had experienced.

    DESIGN

    I think the design of the game is great. The tone of the narrative and enemies being limited to only 16 in the game give it a great epic feel. This is aided by the game’s beautiful visuals, both in landscape and character/enemy design. Only having a handful of enemies in the game cuts out the meaningless hack and slash of games like Zelda, while making it seem like a much greater story unfolding, if not only because the enemies themselves are giants, but because the battles can take over a half an hour each.

    The simplicity of the game’s system of enemies is also reflected in its combat set up. Though the game is focused on fighting these giant creatures, you only really have 3 attacks (slash, stab, and using the bow). There are no combos or spells. This makes the battles focus less on staying alive and just defeating the boss to how specifically do you defeat the boss, making it almost like a puzzle. This is a pretty original concept and so far has been very successful in the game.

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    Feb 12th, 2008 at 00:38:17     -    Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

    SUMMARY

    In the action-adventure game Shadow of the Colossus, the player takes on the role of Wander, a man who must defeat the colossi that roam the world in order to restore the life of a young woman. The game centers around finding the next colossus (of which there are 16) and defeating it until the player has defeated them all, other than that there are no other enemies or NPCs.

    GAMEPLAY

    I really enjoyed this game’s art direction and visuals. Like Ico, the play of light and pre-defined camera angles (which can still be moved by the player) creates almost a cinematic experience. The visuals of the game were definitely one of its strong points. However, it seemed as if they were a bit too heavy for the PS2 to handle, as I experienced some low framerates which really cut into the experience of cut-scenes and gameplay.

    I did find the game to be somewhat frustrating at times. As there are only 16 enemies, it is important that each one be complex and difficult to take down. This makes each enemy almost like a puzzle, as you need to figure out what steps must be taken to take them down. This creates some great gameplay as you are focused on this one complex task, rather than just hack ‘n’ slashing through a dungeon. However, I found great difficulty in the third colossus I faced. The controls are sometimes awkward and it made it difficult to stay atop the colossus as it moved around. The battle with that colossus took at least a half an hour to finally finish, and I thought about giving up a few times, but I didn’t. There wasn’t really a great sense of accomplishment after taking it down, however (especially because you don’t even get an in-game reward after killing each colossus...). I was just glad that the frustration of it all was gone.

    So far, my only problems with the game have been its controls, which may just take some getting used to, and the story. As of this point, I don’t know why I must destroy the colossi. I was told by some entity or spirit that if I destroy them, the girl will be brought back to life, but not why the colossi have to be destroyed to do that. Hopefully it will be explained at some point, because as the game centers around killing these giants, there had better be a better explanation than just “do it because I said so.”

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    1God of War (PS2)Playing
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