Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Video Games that were begging for more.

Some games made me cry. Others left me hollow. Others made me scream! So what about the games that could have been good but were begging for more?



GARFIELD: CAUGHT IN THE ACT
In the late 80's through the mid 90's, everyone was a Garfield fan, so when a Genesis (Mega Drive) game came out starring that fat cat, I bought it just because of that.

It's an appropriate concept for a fat, lazy cat who doesn't do anything but eat and watch TV. A glitch sucks Garfield into TV land and now he must fight his way through multiple TV worlds to get home.

Worlds include an Egyptian level (a la The Mummy), a pirate level, a caveman level, and a black and white level set in the Casablanca time period. It resembles an episode of Garfield and Friends that parodied the Twilight Zone in which Garfield is zapped into various TV worlds.

All the sprites are drawn by Jim Davis, which makes it even more special. The ingredients were there for a stellar game.

Garfield has only two attacks, projectile and melee, and he doesn't have much range or agility, so no matter which you choose odds are you're going to take damage. The levels are imaginative, but they're short and linear. The enemies Garfield faces aren't much of a challenge, and don't take any thought or skill to defeat.

The bosses, however, can get interesting. My favorites are the Egyptian level's boss and the Glitch, the ending battle. Play the PC version to get the cool music and it's a memorable fight.



I love that laugh.

It's not a bad game at all, but even as a kid I was unchallenged because there are so many health fill-ups and ammo pick-ups lying around it's almost impossible to die. Just look how many pizzas are on that final boss. How can you lose? It's just plain too easy. I found myself trying to make the game harder by intentionally messing up on certain areas.

Fun levels, but they aren't big enough. Too linear, not enough variety in gameplay, and there isn't enough to do. This game needed more of everything.



SONIC R
The first PC game I bought with my new Dell back in 2002. I was hyped up because it was a game I couldn't have played on my previous computer and I was eager to see what the next step in graphics looked like.



Seems like a natural thing to do, putting Sonic in a racing game. The problem is there are only five tracks, and they're very short. The characters we know and love are rendered in 3D, but the polygon count is so low they look awful (almost forgivable at the time, though).

The game is also unbalanced. Knuckles is the best character to use as he has speed and stability, while Sonic has speed but no traction. Eggman and Amy are slow and useless. Tails' flying is so limited he may as well not even have it.

It's a tiny game, so it tries to make up for it with unlockables. They're a joke. Teddybear Tails? I hoped for a better reward than that!

The soundtrack is refreshing. Lyrics in game background music. That's unique, and it's decent...as long as you don't take the time to learn what the lyrics actually are.



can you see
the sun is shining on me
it makes me feel so free
so alive
it makes me want to survive!

...poetic?

Yeah, they're not the best written, but I gotta admit they are kinda catchy. Too bad the levels are so short you'll never hear an entire song in the game, which bugs me.

This is a half-backed Mario Kart. Needed more levels, longer levels with more variety and more characters and items. More of everything!



MECHWARRIOR 4: VENGEANCE
I was a Mechwarrior fan in the days of Windows 98. Mechwarrior 3 was badass! The graphics were killer, the controls were ridiculously complicated and counter-intuitive and the campaign was engrossing. Short, but potent. You play a lanceleader whose strike force is destroyed and now you and your meager team must complete an entire army's objectives alone. Absurd, but hey gamers like to be the center of the universe. I ate it up, and then played the game online!

Then Microsoft's game studio took over the franchise and produced a fourth Mechwarrior game. Mechwarrior 4 features a campaign about a duke whose family is murdered, and now he's fighting to retake the throne from the evil Steiner family that stole it from him.

Well, the opening video looks nice for the time:



Then you get into the game and what the hell is this?! The graphics are... cartoony. MW3 was realistic, but MW4 made everything look like a damn cartoon. It's difficult to show in youtube videos, but the graphics were a step down in realism. Maybe you can tell from this video:



As if that weren't bad enough, the campaign is poorly written, poorly acted, poorly filmed, boring and not much of a challenge at all. The so-called "cut scenes" are just people talking to you over the com system. Mechwarrior 3 had great voice acting. With only two exceptions (the mechanic, and one of the villains. Rolan is his name I think) Mechwarrior 4's acting is awful. Watching people talk to the camera is uninteresting and adds little in the way of story. It totally fails to add any sense of scope to the situation.

On top of that, the music is poorly used. Songs play once, then the rest of the level is silent. It's a step up from MW3's music (two tracks which play over and over through the entire game), but it's still awkward.

About the only reason anyone played the game was for the multiplayer, which was a major improvement over what MW3 had to offer. But the same problems still hit the game. People would just load a mech full of the most powerful weapon in the game, hide behind mountains and shoot you with it over and over. It led to sneak and hide battles, which I despised. I preferred infighting, but MW4's setup discouraged that. The only way to get a balanced, fair fight was stock mechs, but hardly anybody did that.

The Mechlab was greatly improved, but it's not enough to make up for a weak, poorly-acted, boring campaign, uninteresting multiplayer and cartoonish graphics. MW3 will always be my definitive Mechwarrior game. MW4: Vengeance needed a lot more of what MW3 had.

Perhaps I should check out the tabletop version. Find out what the original game was like.

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