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#486861 The Best Thread on SSLF Where We Talk About Devil May Cry

Posted by Ocelot on Yesterday, 12:21 AM

Alright, you guys! Are you ready? The time has come (and so have I) to talk about the greatest video game ever made: DEVIL MAY CRY 3!




I've just finished it for the first time in years, via the new PS4 HD Collection (which is an utterly barebones cashgrab that I'd really only recommend buying on sale some time down the line, but is nonetheless a faithful HD-ization of this game), so I'm ready to come at you with my fresh thoughts on this game. Does it still hold up, even thirteen years after its original release? Surely it's been outdone by something in the intervening years? Surely it must be showing its age by now?


Well, I'm not going to lie to you: it definitely shows its age. This is a Playstation 2 game, and there's no ignoring that. It's a game where the camera frames you from fixed camera angles about 90% of the time, and the remaining 10% of areas that give you a little bit of manual camera control come with an inverted X-axis that you can't un-invert. The level design consists entirely of 'Explore until you find a locked door, find the key to that door, then backtrack to the door'. Its economy of earning orbs and buying upgrades is so stingy that it'll likely take two or more full playthroughs to actually buy all the moves you want to use. Platforming is straight up horrendous, and the game wants you to do more of it than you could ever enjoy. Secret Missions come from an era where you weren't supposed to find them without a guide, and even then you weren't supposed to actually beat them without a hundred hours of experience with the mechanics under your belt. The game is difficult, and its checkpoints are pretty unforgiving.


And even certain aspects of the combat fall short. I feel like the later DMC games have always suffered for their insistence on sticking to the original Devil May Cry's control scheme. Your evasive roll is a matter of locking on, pointing your analogue stick sideways (relative to the way you and your enemy are oriented), and then pressing the X button, which is just awkward. The original DMC didn't have any aerial attacks, but when DMC3 introduced them it confined them to the Swordmaster Style, which is a combat style you have to select from a menu before you start a level; same thing with being able to block attacks or dodge in mid-air, they're both exclusive to different Styles. Then DMC4 came along and let you switch Styles on the fly, but it didn't really solve the problem of it being really clunky to have to switch gears in the middle of a fight just to attack while in the air or dodge without using three buttons. Bayonetta, for example, lets you do all that in one perfectly simple and elegant default control scheme, and so does Ninja Theory's DmC for that matter. One of the reasons I'm so excited for DMCV is to see how Itsuno brings DMC back into the modern era with stuff like this.


So, with all those complaints, can DMC3 really be called the greatest game ever made? Well, I think it can, because I still absolutely loved playing this game all over again. It is hard to go back to being restricted in certain ways, especially coming off replaying both Bayonettas last month, but you get used to a different rhythm of dude-fighting pretty quickly, and DMC3's combat is just as sublimely beautiful today as it was way back at launch. It's the nature of video games that new ones build off the old ones, and I feel confident in dragging out the old quote that if Bayonetta has seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Giant, fantastic action video games. Named Devil May Cry 3. The greatest video game of all time.




God, it's so good, you guys! YOU GUYS! You don't even know! This is a game that starts with a cutscene of Dante effortlessly destroying a room full of demons, then cuts to gameplay with an enemy already attacking you as if to say "OK, now you try". It dares you to get good, and it constantly tests your mettle. "Oh, you can fight basic enemies? How about a boss? How about a boss for the next three levels in a row? And the third boss is two bosses at once, and when you kill one the other one gets superpowered!". Forget your lame Dark Souls; DMC3 was doing Ormstein & Smough years earlier.


It's constantly giving you new tools to play with, new melee weapons, firearms and Styles, and then throwing you up against new enemies to test them out with. The game sets up this rhythm of pitting you against a giant, intimidating boss, and then rewarding you with a new weapon forged from that enemy's soul when you defeat them. Pass the test, get a reward. That is until you come up against Beowulf, a giant winged dog creature who stomps Dante flat and scarpers rather than die and cough up his soul like all the rest. Instead, Beowulf is defeated by Vergil in a cutscene, and then Vergil takes the weapon for himself, and the next time you fight Vergil HE USES THAT WEAPON AGAINST YOU! It's the most amazing moment in all of video games, and I just love it so much. "Oh, you thought you'd worked out the pattern? Try this on for size, pal."


And let's talk about Vergil, because he's the best rival character in all of video games. Character action games need a rival; it's all well and good to fight city-sized mechs or horrible blob monsters, but eventually you're always going to want to pit your skills against your own equal. Sword against sword, gun against gun, team of 100 tiny heroes against team of 100 tiny heroes, whatever the case may be. These fights are almost always the highlight of the games they feature in, but no highlight is higher or lighter than Vergil. Because, while most rivals are merely the second-in-command, the lieutenant of the main bad guy, Vergil transcends them all to become the driving force behind the game. DMC3 teases you with Arkham, the heterochromatic generic bad guy with a bad guy plan (DMC3 might hold the record for highest percentage of main characters with two different coloured eyes: three out of five :P), and indeed you do fight him at the end of the game after he absorbs the ultimate demon power and turns into a gross blob... but halfway through the fight Vergil zooms in, declaring that you, the player, "can't possibly think that he deserves to be our main event". You fight alongside Vergil for the remainder of that fight, and then Vergil himself steps up as the real final boss of the game. It's still one of the best bossfights ever designed, for my money.




So, there you have it, the greatest video game of all time. I might have finished it on Normal difficulty, but that's just the beginning. There are no fewer than four further unlockable difficulty modes, each not just altering enemy health and damage values but changing up enemy placements and AI routines, with the hardest mode even giving enemies the same superpower Devil Trigger mode you yourself have as an incentive to kill them quickly. DMC3 is from an era where developers liked to pack a game with unlockables, so each difficulty unlocks cool new costumes to play with, and there's a whole extra mode called Bloody Palace where you fight your way through hundreds of waves of enemies. And then when you're done with all that you can do it all over again as Vergil in his own playable campaign, with an entirely new gameplay style just as deep as Dante's. And that's not even mentioning the absolutely insane skill ceiling this game has if you want to start digging into the mechanics. Back in the day we all learnt to jump cancel from watching tutorial videos on early Youtube filmed off actual CRT TVs with actual video cameras. I still remember the first time I watched Hell Sloth is Dead, the combo video that started them all:



Alright, well, I said I was going to do it, so I guess I have to follow through: a reverse-order playthrough of the Devil May Cry series doesn't count if you don't suffer through DMC2. Oh boy. See you guys next time.

#486815 Movie/Television/Disney Entertainment Conglomerate News

Posted by Ocelot on 16 March 2018 - 07:09 AM

Hey you guuuuuuuys, did you know that the Disney Entertainment Conglomerate has released a new advertisement for one of the eight blockbuster movies they'll be releasing in the remainder of this year?








#486813 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 16 March 2018 - 03:59 AM

Geralt is like the perfect fit for a Soul Calibur guest character. Well, I guess anyone who uses a weapon of basically any kind would also be a perfect fit, since Soul Calibur doesn't exactly have the most distinctive style, but I like Geralt so I declare him perfect. He's a better fit than Darth Vader and Yoda were, at least :P


So remember when I said the Prey Twitter was teasing something? THEY'RE TEASING MORE!




If you can look past their gross bloodshot eyes, you'll see that that calendar in the middle is marked June 10th, the day of Bethesda's E3 conference. And, furthermore, there's some ARG business going on with a Twitter account called KasmaCorp (an in-universe rival to the Transtar corporation that built the space station you gallivant about in Prey). They're teasing something about the moon, and a moon base:




Prey, you guys!

#486804 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 15 March 2018 - 06:06 AM




And so is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. I hope you like CG trailers for announcements of announcements!


#486803 Star Wars Movie Thread: Ackbar Wouldn't Have Said Pew

Posted by Ocelot on 15 March 2018 - 04:27 AM

Introducing your new favourite fact about The Last Jedi, hot off Rian Johnson's commentary track:



#486795 moving Wicktures that you are watching

Posted by Ocelot on 13 March 2018 - 07:58 AM

In today's update to Ocelot's Movie Review Blog, Ocelot saw Black Panther and Annihilation, and he liked them both!


Black Panther: I think this is one of the best Marvel movies. It doesn't exactly break the mold, but it is a really well done one of these superhero movies, with a remarkably great cast of characters and a fantastic artistic style all of its own. The way Wakanda blends traditional African styles of dress and architecture with super-advanced tech is something I don't think I've ever seen before. It's a treat for the peepers. Michael B Jordan is probably the best villain in any of these movies, too, not just charisma-wise, but also in terms of a relatable motivation and a genuinely important role in the movie. He isn't just there to fight the hero and die at the end; instead he comes at things from a really interesting "right for the wrong reasons" kind of place, and for a lot of the movie I was actually rooting for him over the ostensible hero. And the movie actually intends that to be the case. It's pretty cool. MBJ's character is almost both villain and mentor in one.


I loved the cast, particularly MBJ (who's shaping up as one of the best actors around, and is also hugely buff and has a great shirtless scene), and Shuri, Black Panther's little sister played by the girl from the most recent episode of Black Mirror. She plays the tech-y hacker-y genius character, but they totally avoid all the usual "CAN YOU REPEAT THAT IN ENGLISH?" tropes and she's just an absolute delight. Andy Serkis lives up to his name as the biggest ham in Hollywood, Danai Gurira steals the show, Lupita Nyong'o  doesn't really have anything to do but I still like her. Forest Whitaker insists on over-acting and doing a way stronger accent than everyone else in the movie, but here it actually fits. I feel like the only person who doesn't really pull his weight is Black Panther himself, to be honest. He's probably the least compelling part of the movie, which is not to say that he's bad or anything, just that he plays it pretty low-key and everyone else around him is a lot... better? I don't know, it does fit with his character arc in the movie, but there's just not a whole lot to hang on to with ol' T'Challa here.


Every time Black Panther puts on the suit he looks like a cartoon, btw. I don't know what is going on with CGI in superhero movies today, but I feel like the seams are starting to show all over the place. Maybe this is just what happens when there are more and more effects-heavy blockbusters coming out every year, maybe there just aren't enough CG animators working enough man hours to make it look right any more. There's nothing here as bad as Superman's mouth from Justice League, but at multiple points this movie switches very noticeably from live-action to something more like a realistic CG-animated movie, and I guess you just have to put up with that.


I didn't know anything about Annihilation other than that it was a new sci-fi movie from the guy that made Ex Machina and it had Natalie Portman in it, and I was sold after the Ex Machina bit. I really enjoy seeing movies like this with minimal foreknowledge, so I'm going to spoilerise everything to extend you fine ladies and gentlemen the same courtesy. It's a good, thought-provoking sci-fi movie, shades of Roadside Picnic/Stalker, and I'd recommend watching it. OK let's do spoilers!



#486791 Star Wars Movie Thread: Ackbar Wouldn't Have Said Pew

Posted by Ocelot on 12 March 2018 - 06:17 AM

Mark Hamill got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he did this to celebrate it:




Also I think The Last Jedi is out digitally today, so hopefully some high-quality Reylo gifs will come flooding in pretty soon.

#486775 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 09 March 2018 - 08:10 AM

I played The Sexy Brutale, which is a pretty cool and stylish puzzle game with a Groundhog Day time loop mechanic. Or maybe a Majora's Mask time loop mechanic, since we're talking video games. You play as the improbably-named Lafcadio Boone, a man confined to the weird, spooky mansion of an eccentric hermit, doomed to endlessly relive the same day of a swanky dinner party. The twist here is that you and all your fellow guests are being killed off one by one, in a series of gory circumstances perpetrated by the evil, mask-wearing hired help. But a passing blood-soaked ghost lady grants you the power to rewind time to the start of the day whenever you please, and it's up to you to figure out how to save each of the guests from their bloody demises by sneaking about the place, eavesdropping on conversations, peeking through keyholes and other goodhearted skulduggery.


I liked it quite a bit. While at first you're confined to a few rooms, eventually the whole mansion opens up to you, and it's usually up to you to find the victim you'll try to save next and then work out exactly what you want to do. You can save at any of a half-dozen or so grandfather clocks around the mansion, and these double as your 'wake up' points every time you restart the day, so you choose how best to go about enacting your rescues. Usually you'll want to spend a day or two tracking your victim and their killer, seeing exactly how the murder is going to go down and eavesdropping on any juicy conversations that might provide a clue as to how you could intervene, and then when you're ready it'll be time to put it all together. 'Day's only stretch from noon to midnight, and the clock seems to speed through an in-game hour in a real-life minute, so you cycle through events pretty quickly and you never have to wait around for long (you can also manually advance time to 4pm or 8pm if you need). I found all the puzzles pretty enjoyable to work out, and the game tells a pretty good story along the way, too. It's good stuff.


I've just finished the first episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, too, and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. I loved the original Life is Strange, but hearing that this was a Chloe prequel done by a different developer, and with a different voice for Chloe, no less, put me off from the start. I liked Chloe, but I was always a Max Caulfield man, and I just wasn't really interested in a story set before Life is Strange. Admittedly, I was pretty disappointed with the ending of the original, but I still wanted to see what happened after it, rather than before. How are you going to do character development when Chloe canonically still has to be all rough and rude come the start of OG Life is Strange, y'know?


Well it turns out Before the Storm is just really good and I'm thoroughly enjoying it regardless of my misgivings about its whole concept. The world of Life is Strange is just such a nice place to be, not only for the pretty graphics, nice music and lovely Pacific Northwestern scenery, but also because it's a place where stupid teenagers can unabashedly be stupid teenagers. The writing is sometimes pretty bad, and the voice actors can sound like kids that walked in off the street, but somehow it all feels more authentically teen-y than any movie or TV show with a cast full of 28-year-old actors playing high schoolers. Chloe is an incredibly on-the-nose character, and downright off-putting sometimes (most of the time, really), but the more time you spend with her the more you realise she's just a little lost girl trying her best to act tough, and she herself probably doesn't even know where the real Chloe ends and the act begins. I mean, maybe that's just be being generous and overlooking flaws in writing and voice acting, but I figure if a game inspires that kind of generosity in me it must be doing something right.


I kind of hate Chloe, but I also think she's fantastic, and it's actually a nice feeling to play one of these talk-y/decision-make-y games as a character like her. I was reminded a little of playing GTA V as Trevor, a character more or less perfectly designed to star in a ridiculous game of murdering everything and following your every whim. Chloe in a game of careful decision making and living with your consequences is like a bull in a china shop, and I feel a lot more free about just being rude or standoffish to people than I would with, say, Max. I love getting into character in these games, but it often leads to me trying to play fairly diplomatically, and it's nice to feel like I can pick the Renegade options here, if you will :P


So we're some time pre-OG-LiS, with Max still off in parts unknown and a pre-hairdye Chloe as our player character. The first episode deals with Chloe meeting Rachael Amber, the mysterious Laura Palmer analogue we heard about in the first season, and it's good stuff. Same old Life is Strange routine of wandering about and talking to people, and using certain tidbits of information you uncover to get an edge in your next conversation. Chloe doesn't have Max's time rewinding powers, though, so instead the developers have made a new mechanic out of Chloe's own superpower: her mouth. It's called Backtalk, and it's a hilarious little minigame where you just act like a total child and turn people's words back around on them to lay down some sick burns. It's the dumbest thing and I love it. I don't know if you can actually 'lose' a Backtalk opportunity by picking the wrong options, but it's so much fun to just verbally own people like it's the internet in the early 2000s that I don't even care.


There are only three episodes this time, but the first one was surprisingly long (with like a twenty minute interlude where I just played Dungeons & Dragons with some dorks at school) and really good, so I can't wait to play the rest.


EDIT - I just finished episode 2 of Before the Storm, and oh nooooo it ends on a huge cliffhanger you guys what am I going to do with myself? I told myself I'd only do one episode a night but this is unbearable.


EDIT AGAIN - OK, I finished episode 3. I didn't really like it. I think episode 1 was great, just seeing Chloe and Rachel together, but then the story they came up with to flesh out two more episodes just wasn't especially well done or interesting, or even especially Life is Strange-y. Just a really maudlin teen drama. It even feels like the writers lose track of who Chloe is as it goes on. I'll explain more in spoiler land:



#486725 The Best Thread on SSLF Where We Talk About Devil May Cry

Posted by Ocelot on 01 March 2018 - 05:37 AM

Alright, boys, let's talk about BAY. OH. NETTA!
Hideki Kamiya's fifth game, released in 2009, is about a witch named Bayonetta who uses magic to psychically lengthen, shorten and otherwise control her own hair, to the extent that she chooses to go into battle butt nekkid but for a stylish catsuit woven from her own raven locks. She holds a retinue of gigantic demons in her thrall, and can open portals to the demon world where they dwell to call on their assistance, punctuating her own combo strings with attacks from their enormous fists and feet. She is also the most over-the-top, ridiculously brazen exhibitionist, constantly flaunting her hilariously extreme sexuality in your face, posing and dancing for the camera and generally living life as if she's the Queen of the Catwalk. To Bayonetta, the world is full of naughty boys, and what do naughty boys need but a good spanking?
After creating this sub-genre back in 2001 with Devil May Cry, Bayonetta marks Kamiya's return to the genre to show all the Johnny-come-latelies how it's done. It doesn't have the sheer technical brilliance of DMC4, nor the white-knuckle difficulty of Ninja Gaiden Black, but it does have an incredible combat system and a huge number of wonderfully creative new mechanics that let it carve out its own niche. Bayonetta builds off the basic control scheme of the original Devil May Cry, meaning you've still got your launchers, Stingers, High Times and Helm Breakers, and you can still knock an enemy into the air and make them float by shooting them (the true mark of a Kamiya game), but it adds a bunch of what we cool pro video game guys call dial-a-combos. One button does punches, one button does kicks, and hammering them in whichever order you like will serve up a ready-made combo to go.
What sets Bayonetta apart from other dial-a-combo games like, say, God of War, though, is Wicked Weaves, which are the big ol' fists and feet that come slamming out of portals. These occur almost exclusively at the ends of combo strings, and they do enormous damage and throw enemies around like ragdolls, so they're an in-built incentive to learn a few favourite combo strings and try your best to get the whole thing out in the heat of combat, rather than just mindlessly hammering away at the buttons at random. You want to clobber angels with a punch the size of a city bus, don't you? Sure you do, don't lie to me. 
And herein lies the cleverest of all Bayonetta's new mechanics: Dodge Offset. Imagine you want to hammer out a combo that goes Punch, Kick, Punch, or PKP for short. What happens if you get P and K out, but then you see an enemy attack incoming and you have to dodge? You lose your place in the combo and have to start again from the first P, right? That's how every other game works. Well, NOT BAYONETTA, MY MAN! In Bayonetta, you can save your place in a combo while dodging if you hold the last button you pressed. So, for example, you hit P and you punch, then you hit K for the kick, but you're a savvy gamer and you know the enemy is probably going to attack you, so you hold that Kick button down. Now, when that enemy attack comes, you keep holding Kick and you dodge the attack, and once you've finished the dodge you let go of Kick, hit that final Punch, and, bam, you come out with that final hard-hitting attack in the combo like a huge badass.
It's hard to get your brain around this technique to begin with, because it takes a certain level of foresight and you absolutely cannot button mash, but once you've got it down Bayonetta changes into a whole different game. No longer are you at the mercy of aggressive enemies; the tables have turned, and now your only obstacle to mastering this game is your own pathetic reflexes and skills. Combat turns into something of a dance, where you weave in between enemy attacks concentrating on getting your own combos out. And the cool thing is that you can Offset a combo with more than just a Dodge; there's Crown Within Offset (turn into a crow between attacks), Panther Within Offset (run around as a sweet panther between attacks), and even Taunt Offset, where you can literally stand their and dance while holding onto your last attack. You can even dodge after pressing the button for the attack but before the attack animation actually happens, essentially letting you skip the actual attack, and if you dodge into your Panther form on each level of a combo you can essentially skip the earlier attacks in a combo and only allow the big heavy hitters at the end to come out.
It's an extraordinarily clever system that rewards skilful and creative play, and I just love it to bits. Bayonetta has other really neat ideas, like Witch Time (a nice little risk/reward system that encourages you to dodge enemy attacks at the last possible moment to slow down time and allow you to get some free hits in), a simple but fun parry system (just tilt the stick towards an enemy attack as it's about to hit to parry), a weapon switch system that allows you to equip any weapon to your hands or feet and swap between two loadouts, and a taunt system that will enrage enemies and cause them to hit harder and attack faster, but also give out more combo points, but I think Dodge Offset is the star of the show. It's present in a few other Platinum games, too, but it never feels quite as good as it does in Bayonetta.
Bayonetta's story is... well, it's got some lore, at least. Umbran Witches, Lumen Sages, 500 year old grudges and a bit of amnesia thrown in there for taste. There's even a spot of fun with time travel going on. It's not going to win any awards, but I think the world it presents is a fun enough place to spend some time, and all that lore feeds into a nice bestiary of paradoxically evil angels for you to clobber. Bayonetta's enemies have this gorgeous design theme to them where they start off looking like beautiful marble statues, complete with lustrous gold accoutrements and serene, mask-like faces, but the more you hit them the more this delicate facade crumbles away to reveal the disgusting, meaty flesh beasts that dwell within. It not only looks cool, but it provides an excellent way of letting you know how close you are to killing an enemy when you're in the heat of the moment.
The bosses are the highlights, usually great big city-sized monstrosities that warrant a level unto themselves, full of cool hidden tricks you can pull to kill them more quickly. You can feel Kamiya practicing some ideas he would go on to implement more thoroughly in The Wonderful 101 with Bayo's bosses. But, of course, no character action game is complete without an equally-matched rival to pit you against, and Bayonetta gives us Jeanne, a fellow Umbra Witch (heavily implied to be of d'Arc fame), who provides some absolutely amazing, fast, intense bossfights that are some of the best in the genre. Ooh she's so good. She's just as stylish as Bayonetta, but she meets Bayo's cheeky demeanour with, hilariously, one of pure irritability. She's just angry all the time, and I love it :P
Bayonetta has some camera problems in certain parts of the game, where the confines of your combat arena are just too tight for the camera to sort itself out. It can be a pretty punishing game, too, with a pretty hard default difficulty and a serious reluctance to give you any health in a level. This is the only game I know of that won't even refill your health when you find all four pieces of a Zelda-style Heart Container; and you'd better believe you're heavily penalized for using any items or dying as you progress through a level. Adding to the frustration are some genuinely awful QTEs which pop up without warning and will instantly kill you if you screw them up. There are also notoriously long motorbike and missile riding gameplay sections that practically everyone hates, the icing on the cake being that Jeanne's best bossfight is locked behind seven agonising, unskippable minutes of Space Harrier.
Hideki Kamiya always does this, and I feel like you've gotta love him for it. The man loves him some off-kilter surprise gameplay twists, and what are you going to do, not play his amazing games because you don't like them? Nah, man, you've just gotta grit your teeth and bear it. They're not that bad, in the long run. Not that bad. But, in saying that, I also wouldn't blame anyone for preferring Bayonetta 2 over the first game, because it does sand off a lot of Bayo 1's rough edges and make for a much more pleasant experience overall.
I am definitely a Bayonetta 1 man, though, and if you're lucky I just might explain my problems with the sequel in my next post. For now, though, I cannot recommend buying yourself a copy of Bayonetta strongly enough. Whether it's the stellar PC port, the hot new Switch version, the great Xbox 360 original (via Xbox One backwards compatibility for extra goodness) or the still totally respectable Wii U version, if you like punching guys in interesting ways, Bayonetta is a masterpiece.

#486716 The Best Thread on SSLF Where We Talk About Devil May Cry

Posted by Ocelot on 26 February 2018 - 12:35 AM

So with any potential Devil May Cry V news likely to be months away at best, I thought I'd retrofit this thread as an all-purpose platform from which to shout into the abyss about my personal favourite genre of video games: the hardcore stylish action game. Or the character action game. Or the hack & slash. I don't really know what the official nomenclature is; you'd think we'd have come up with something everyone could agree on by now. I'm talking about the kind of game where you clobber enemies with weapons, but specifically the Japanese ones that are really mechanically complex and reward you for learning all the ins and outs, and usually rank you on how cool you looked when you were fighting the guys. Those ones. Are we on the same page? Hah, who am I kidding, nobody's actually reading this.


OK, so I've already talked about some highs (DMC4) and lows (DmC) of the genre, so let's branch out into the middle and discuss The Wonderful 101:




The Wonderful 101 is a unique video game, to say the least. For Hideki Kamiya's sixth time in the director's chair, he decided to make something that has elements of all his previous games, melded together into a nigh-indescribable mishmash of gameplay styles and genres. At its most basic, W101 is... probably a character action game, but replace the single character you're picturing in your mind with a Pikmin-like crowd of a hundred tiny heroes. You play from an isometric perspective, and your most basic abilities are to scurry about as a group and mash a button that will have your team of heroes dart forward and encircle an enemy in a Looney-Tunes-style cloud of scuffling fists and feet. However, the meat of the game is in the Unite Morphs, which are when your tiny heroes join together, wrist-to-ankle like a bunch of cheerleaders forming a human pyramid, to turn themselves into giant fists, swords, guns and all manner of other weaponry that the team leader can swing around to beat up enemies.


Now, in most character action games with multiple weapons, you'll hit a button to switch from one weapon to another. This works quickly in a pinch, but it does impose a limit on how many weapons you can carry at once; Devil May Cry 4 has you cycle between three weapons with one button, and I honestly think that's pretty awkward. The Wonderful 101, on the other hand, has more like a dozen Unite Morphs you can pull out at any given moment, and it does this by having you draw the weapon you want to summon in a mechanic pinched straight from Kamiya's own game Okami. You can literally trace a shape on the screen of the Wii U's Gamepad, but given that this can be an extremely fast-paced action game you're better off using the right analogue stick to draw with what the game calls the Wonder Liner. The first one you're introduced to is Unite Fist, which is as simple as drawing a circle: just roll the right stick around once and, bing bang boom, you've got a giant fist to punch guys with. Next you get Unite Sword: just draw a straight line. The bigger you draw the shape, the larger the Unite Morph will be and the more damage it'll do, but your Unite Morphs draw from a finite pool of energy so there's a certain element of strategy in deciding how big a weapon you actually need.


Drawing an 'L' shape makes a gun, a squiggly line makes a whip, a line with a circle at the end is a giant hammer with rockets on it, and so on. The great thing about this mechanic is that almost everything in the game involves drawing in some way. Much like the way Nintendo likes to come up with a central mechanic for a game and then tie it into every aspect of gameplay, The Wonderful 101 has you using the Wonder Liner constantly to save people in distress (draw a line around'em), revitalise withered old gardens (draw a line around'em), find secrets (draw a line into suspicious crevices or open doors), and all manner of other things I'm forgetting right now. While it can initially feel like a pretty obtuse game mechanic to pick up, it's used so often that you'll either pick it up or... well, quit the game and never touch it again.




So, here's the thing about The Wonderful 101: it was a huge bomb. I think it sold something like 60,000 copies worldwide. Being a non-Nintendo-first-party exclusive for the Wii U certainly didn't help, but there's more to it than that. W101 is a difficult game to pick up and takes a certain level of dedication to play well. The game's own tutorial is pretty poor, and most people point to Youtube video tutorials like this one made by a guy who worked on the official Bayonetta guide as a much better way of learning what's going on. And even when you do get the hang of the fighting, The Wonderful 101 is a game that tries to pack in as many genres as it possibly can, so you're never far from the game throwing an entirely new gameplay style or control scheme at you and expecting you to pick it up very quickly. Do you like Space Harrier? Because Hideki Kamiya does, and he's going to make sure you have to play it in every single one of his games (btw, we're going to be talking about Hideki Kamiya a lot in this thread) :P


I just finished replaying W101 all the way through on Hard mode, after not having touched the game in a couple of years, and it's not something I'd recommend doing. In classic Kamiya style, Hard mode doesn't just buff the enemies' health and damage output, but it also remixes enemy placement so you'll fight end-game enemies much earlier on and lots of scary guys in more dangerous combinations. You'll also take a lot more damage when you do get hit, because the game assumes you've just finished Normal difficulty and you're ready to go. Once I'd got back into the swing of things I enjoyed it quite a lot, but unfortunately the non-combat elements of the game also scale up in difficulty, and they made me hate life. The Wonderful 101 has this weird checkpoint system where death is meaningless for anything but your final score, because you'll just wake up right where you fell without so much as resetting the enemies' health bars, so it isn't difficult to beat, but some parts are very difficult to enjoy. So many bad shooting sections, so many 'dodge all these things' sections where you can't really get a feel for where things are because the camera angle is all weird, two Punch-Out!! homages that are really complex and would be a lot of fun if you knew the ins and outs of them but will probably just leave you frustrated when you fail your way through them without really knowing what you're doing.


At a good 20+ hours for your first playthrough, The Wonderful 101 is probably the longest character action game there is, at least for one without any kind of RPG mechanics or anything. It's twenty solid hours of unique content, no grinding or level repetition or anything. It is long. And I wouldn't say it's paced well, either; some missions just go on FOREVER, with like five bossfights and an interminable isometric shooter section that you'll just hate. To be honest, there are some parts of this game that make me wonder if they were ever play-tested, and some that make me wonder if anyone ever played them at all. I adore this game, but some parts of it are straight up unforgivable terrible. They're real bad.




I think Nintendo would be crazy to port this game to the Switch, given that it sold so badly, but I would love it if they did. The Wonderful 101 struggles badly on the Wii U hardware, with a framerate that aims for 60 but feels like it probably hits 40 at best and, like... five at worst? There's one attack that the final boss does that genuinely makes the game play at like one tenth of its normal speed; you have to run around the arena foraging for pockets of good framerate. The extra power of the Switch could at least help out with those. But when I ask myself if I'd like to see any changes made to the Wii U version for a potential port, even knowing how much a hated some of this game, I just can't abide it. The Wonderful 101, flaws and all, is a masterpiece.


So here's the thing about The Wonderful 101: in the first level you fight a giant robot. He's so big that your entire team of 100 people can fit on his wrist, and he chases you through the first five chapters of the game. That's some pretty impressive scale, right? NO, forget that rubbish. By Chapter 8 of this game an entire city turns into a robot, and all your guys jump inside it to fight an even bigger robot. Pretty impressive, right? NO. In Chapter 9, every individual member of your hundred-strong team captures and pilots a robot the size of that one in the first Chapter, and you use them to fight a robot that is ONE THIRD THE SIZE OF THE ENTIRE EARTH. I'm going to spoil this whole thing for you, because you're probably never going to play this game and it's the greatest thing ever:



At the end of an epic multi-stage bossfight, both you and the boss get into a giant gun-charging contest that lasts like two straight minutes, both sides charging their most powerful attack to the most insane and feverish of pitches, and then you're hit with the single greatest QTE prompt of all time:




And you hammer that button FOREVER as your team of intrepid heroes fights back the giant laser of a super-advanced, universe-destroying alien race that hits so hard it pushes you back almost all the way from the stratosphere to the surface of the planet, until finally you gain the upper hand and obliterate that jerk in the most cathartic ending to a video game ever created. And The Wonderful 101 just won't be that orgasmic explosion of pure joy if you haven't battled your way through the whole thing, warts and all. You need those lows so you can appreciate the highs that much more.


The Wonderful 101 is one of my favourite games, if you hadn't guessed. It's one I'd honestly struggle to recommend to most people, but if it hits you it's gonna hit hard. I'd love it if this game got a chance to reach a wider audience on the Switch, even if I think it'd still probably bomb :P


Join us next time as we discuss a little game called Bayonetta...

#486715 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 25 February 2018 - 09:52 PM

It looks like there are still some Resistance members fighting the good fight from behind Konami's walls. This is from Metal Gear Survive:




M and G are KIA (i.e. Metal Gear is dead), KJPFOREVER = Kojima Productions Forever, and I think calling the designers hurtful names is self-explanatory.


btw one of those 'FINAL BOSS AND ENDING' videos for MG Survive popped up in my Recommended Videos feed on Youtube, and I watched it (because I'm never going to play that game). Boy oh boy it was poor. Remember when Metal Gear games were associated with great bossfights, particularly the final ones? Those days are long gone.

#486689 The Pokemon Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 21 February 2018 - 05:03 AM

So there's a potential leak of the Gen 8 starter first evolutions out there. I don't know if there's any merit to it, but it's at least a pretty convincing fake. I wouldn't mind choosing one of these dudes:




Water continues to be the most consistently bestest option, of course. If you'll excuse me I'll be trying not to get too attached to these guys in case they turn out to be fake.

#486688 Star Wars Movie Thread: Ackbar Wouldn't Have Said Pew

Posted by Ocelot on 21 February 2018 - 12:02 AM

Here's the official announcement about the Blu Ray of The Last Jedi. 14 deleted scenes, two featurette thingoes, Rian Johnson's commentary track and some other stuff. It's also the first Star Wars movie to release on 4K Blu Ray, which should be neat (I'm buying that one, even though I don't have a 4K TV, because I'm a huge mark).




Digital on March 13th, Blu Ray on March 27th.


EDIT - By the way did anyone know that Jek Porkins was Top Men?



#486649 Star Wars Movie Thread: Ackbar Wouldn't Have Said Pew

Posted by Ocelot on 16 February 2018 - 01:50 AM

Boba Fett's past has been well and truly delved into, as the second victim of Lucas' "What was this beloved character from the Original Trilogy like as a child, tho?" mania. If they do one day do a Boba Fett movie, it can only be up hill from Episode 2's depiction.

#486627 moving Wicktures that you are watching

Posted by Ocelot on 12 February 2018 - 08:46 AM

You guys, I just don't know any more. I think I have to do something different. I think I have to go and be a monk in the Himalayas or something. Do you think they take white guys from Australia? What is there to being a monk, anyway? I just feel like I need to get away from all this... everyday life in the Western world stuff, y'know? Hmm? What's brought all this on? Oh, I don't know. Probably a bunch of stuff. Oh, but I did just watch Justice League, though. Maybe that has something to do with it...


So a lot has been made of this movie's troubled production, how they were forced to switch directors halfway through from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon (more or less polar opposites in style), how Henry Cavill had to come back and have his Mission Impossible moustache CGI'd away for reshoots, how the overall DC cinematic universe hasn't really been going great so far outside of Wonder Woman... You might worry whether that kind of chequered past would leave a lasting effect on the movie itself, but I'm here to tell you that, through the hard work and professionalism of everyone involved, it is 100% SUPER NOTICEABLE AND THIS MOVIE IS A STRAIGHT UP TRAINWRECK. Oh my GOD, this movie genuinely made me with I was watching Batman v Superman again, and I say that without a shred of hyperbole. Let's get into this.


Alright, so we open on an inexplicable scene of cellphone camera footage of Superman, back before Zack Snyder meaninglessly killed him off in the last movie, only something about it immediately feels off. For one thing, he's just standing around after saving people from a housefire, making polite small talk with emergency workers, when we know that this universe's Superman prefers to hover ominously in slow motion above screaming disaster victims, but that's not the big issue. No, much more distracting is his TERRIBLE CGI MOUTH that makes him look like God's horrific mistake or a half-built cyborg killbot or something equally terrifying. It's front and centre in the frame for the first full minute of the movie, and it might actually be the worst opening to a movie I've ever seen in my life. It looks so bad; you absolutely cannot concentrate on anything but Henry Cavill's CGI mouth. It would honestly be less distracting if they'd just let him keep his moustache in every reshoot scene and never explained it. It would be less distracting if they'd just painted his beard flesh-coloured. Hell, it'd be less distracting if they'd filmed all his scenes with Henry Cavill's stunt double, or just hired that guy from the 50 Shades of Grey movies to double him here and there because those two dudes look amazingly similar. Literally anything but painting a CGI mouth over Henry Cavill's actual mouth would have been better. It looks so bad. Did I mention how bad it looks?






Cut to Gotham City, where Batman is accosting a random thug on a rooftop in an action scene so poorly executed it made me wonder if Joss Whedon had directed this bit, too. It's also where we learn that the movie is going to be 16:9 rather than widescreen, which is... well, an interesting choice, I suppose. Definitely the wrong one, though; I don't know whether Joss Whedon went in and played around with all Zack Snyder's colour-grading and slow-mo moments, but this movie looks bad and the TV aspect ratio doesn't help. Whether you like it or not, that desaturated Zack Snyder look is at least a look. It's consistent. You feel like there's intent behind it, you know Snyder does it on purpose because that's the way he wants his superheroes to look. This movie has some of it, but then it'll just be completely gone in other scenes, and to be honest I actually miss it. Without that Snyder sheen you can see the seams of everything all too clearly. There are so many moments that look like behind the scenes footage of the actors in costume, rather than a bunch of superheroes, y'know? Like when Chris Evans and Chris Pratt go to visit sick kids in hospital dressed up as their characters, but without all the Hollywood makeup and the digital colour stuff that makes movies look like movies.


This movie's story is that a forgettable CGI bad guy I've never heard of, Steppenwolf, has come to Earth to gather three magic boxes that will allow him to conquer Earth. Diana huskily voiceovers some exposition about the three boxes having been hidden by the ancient races of Middle Earth the last time he was here: one by the Amazonians in a fortress on their hidden island, one by the Atlanteans in a fortress under the sea, and one by men in a small hole they dug in the forest I guess. If Steppenwolf brings the three boxes together, Earth turns into Mustafar and everyone who dies turns into Parademons, and then I guess Steppenwolf moves on to the next planet? I think he mentioned Darkseid at one point, and he keeps talking about 'Mother', but I don't know who that is and this movie makes no effort to explain it so whatevs. I've seen every episode of the Justice League cartoon and I don't know any of this stuff, so I can't imagine how meaningless this all is to Johnny Randommoviewatcher. I guess all you need to know is that Steppenwolf is the CGI man they have to punch, and the boxes are this movie's equivalent of the giant beam of light blasting into the sky that they have to disable. You know: superhero movies.


When people complain about DC trying to run before they can walk, and having the big teamup movie before ever introducing the team, I don't think you necessarily can't do it that way. I don't think it's completely impossible to have a large cast of interesting characters all introduced in the same movie; plenty of non-franchise movies manage it. It's just that DC's ones don't. Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is still the life of the party, while Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg are all just the same gruff, miserable dude in different colours. There's this teeeerrible scene where Aquaman arrives at Atlantis for a dumb underwater fight and then he and Amber Heard have a huge exposition dump 'conversation' about his whole life up to that point. Cyborg just talks about having been in an explosion, and that's that, like it's taken for granted that we all already know the story of this D-lister who looks like a tacky gamer PC with LEDs all over his face. Flash is the same autistic-but-played-for-laughs character from every movie and TV show of the modern era, and I couldn't tell you about Superman because I was just staring at his ghastly mouth the whole time. I guess he does have a couple of moments where he feels like a real Superman, but he also goes crazy and tries to kill the whole team so I feel like that might cancel it out.


Superman is revived by one of the magic boxes, btw. This movie tries really hard to retcon the fact that Batman and Superman have only said like five words to eachother in DC movie canon; they tried to kill eachother, then Martha, then they barely spoke again in that movie until Superman died. Now we're expected to buy that Bruce feels super conflicted and guilty about it, that he considers Clark Kent a good man who was "more human than he is", which is just the worst. I didn't ask you to kill Superman in the second movie, Zack Snyder, but you made that bed and you've gotta sleep in it. This movie is basically a soft-reboot in all but name. They have a very low energy scene where the team half-heartedly argues over whether they should resurrect Superman (WW doesn't approve but doesn't offer any meaningful objection and just goes along with it anyway), and then they get down to business. Apparently resurrecting Superman involves dunking him in the goo of the crashed Kryptonian ship in Metropolis (which is still sitting there, unmoved, since Man of Steel), dropping the box into the goo, then blasting it with Flash's lightning at the instant it splashes down. Superman wakes up and immediately fights them all, and it's just a bunch of CGI slo-mo rubbish. There's one cool bit where Flash comes running in and is stunned to find Superman can follow him in super speed, but other than that there is nothing memorable about evil Superman fighting the Justice League. Honestly, how do you screw that up?


All the action in this movie is rubbish. It's all super-strength characters punching eachother for miles, and there's no way they can depict that with anything but CGI, and the CGI looks really bad, so it's just all around trash. And there's so much slo-mo! Remember when we thought Zack Snyder might be done with slo-mo when we saw Man of Steel? Here everything's slo-mo, and paradoxically it's never slower than when we're watching the Flash do something in super-speed. There's no memorable choreography, because every fight is just "character A punches character B, B crashes through seven concrete walls" ad nauseam. Batman has nothing to do in the action scenes but drive vehicles, and then at the end he gets one of the bad guys' laser rifles and just perches up on a catwalk shooting demons until his gun goes dry. You know, Batman stuff. "What should fan-favourite character Batman, noted martial artist, do in this fight, guys? Oh, shoot guys with the weapon he swears not to use? Just like he did in the last movie, too? Great idea!"


I honestly think this movie is worse than Batman v Superman, and I think that movie's like shockingly poor. I mean, at least you had some things to hold onto with BvS, y'know? The titular fight scene was pretty good until Martha, and then you had that great Batman vs. goons fight scene right after. Bruce had that shirtless scene where he was doing his powerlifting workout; that was pretty cool. I still think "Do you bleed" is a cool line, though evidently Joss Whedon does, too, because he brings it back in this movie in a reshoot scene only coming out of Superman's horrible CGI mouth this time. BvS was an awful movie, but it was... I don't know, confidently awful? Like, awful, but in a way that made you think that Zack Snyder had made it that way because he thought he was making his magnum opus or something and he just went too far down the rabbit hole. It was the kind of movie you felt like you had to see, because you just couldn't imagine how someone could botch a movie about two of the most popular fictional characters in history so badly. I don't think anyone needs to see Justice League, though. It's just the kind of innocuous bad that'll leave you feeling like you wasted two hours of your life.


At least it isn't three wasted hours, I suppose.