A Fresh Look at a Decent Port – PC – The Wonderful 101 Remastered – 2020

20200509215747_1The Wonderful 101 Remastered
PC
PlatinumGames
Genre: Action Adventure
2020

Back in 2013, the Wii U was in the midst of its relatively short console life, still producing games like Tokyo Mirage Sessions and other games that have gained cult status in recent years since. When folks got a whiff of an idea that The Wonderful 101 was going to be re-released somehow, a wave of excitement washed over my social media pages.

To be honest, I had no idea what the game was. I had heard of it way back when it had come out but beyond the title, I had no clue what it was and didn’t know if it was something I would get into based on what I had heard from folks. It fell to the wayside for me and by the time I had any more inclinations to go back and check it out, the Wii U had fallen out of circulation from my TV.

Cut to 2018 when Hideki Kamiya had mentioned an interest in porting the game to the newest Nintendo console. Shortly after, a very successful Kickstarter campaign to gauge interest and a ton of support from the gaming community brought the game’s remaster to fruition. Publishing on their own, PlatinumGames made good on their promise to bring The Wonderful 101 Remastered to their fans. As someone who had never gotten to play the original, I was interested to see what made this a title that so many people had become so excited to see a port for.  Continue reading

Creating the Illusion of Life – PC – Bendy and the Ink Machine – 2017

20200324225231_1.jpgBendy and the Ink Machine
PC
Joey Drew Studios / theMeatly Games
Genre: Survival Horror
2017

I was never a fan of black and white cartoons. I’ve read plenty about them as I’ve grown up, though. From the likes of Betty Boop and Felix the Cat and some of the outliers around them, the cartoons of the 1920s and 1930s have always been interesting to me from afar. Like films from the same era, though, it’s been tough for me to sit down and try to watch them. Maybe it’s the lack of colored animation and film. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re relics now.

Maybe it’s the fact that they feel a little too smooth and- dare I say it- creepy.

It didn’t strike me until now, but there’s something both intriguing and unnerving about cartoons from the early era. Some of them toyed with fire and brimstone, and the voices are just a little too pristine and emotive. I can’t really put my finger on why the more historical offerings from the animated era of that time aren’t of interest to me, but I grew up on cartoons from my parents’ era around the 1970s and 1980s. I know a person or two who study the beginnings of animation, though, and while it’s interesting to hear them talk about it, it’s still not something I’ve taken a step back into myself.

The first time I saw Bendy and the Ink Machine, though, I knew that its visual style, dependent on the style of animation from the early days of its inception, was something that might hook me. When it first came out, I wasn’t completely sure what its angle was. It seemed sort of action-oriented. Then again, it could have just been some game angling at folks who enjoyed that old style of art, whatever it might have been. Then I heard it was creepy.

I dig creepy games.

As soon as I had it in my possession, I decided I needed to play through it and check it out for myself. Not only was I trying to play more indie games, but Bendy had been gaining popularity in merchandising and on my social networks. Even if I didn’t enjoy it, I knew when I was booting it up that I would get to know what was so special about it that it had gained such immense popularity in such a short time. Continue reading

Help Me, Rhonda – TurboGraphx-16 – Yo’ Bro – 1991

Yo, Bro (U)-0000.pngYo’ Bro
TurboGraphx-16
ICOM Simulations / NEC
Genre: Action Run and Gun
1991

What I can remember as a kid is primarily based in the 1990s. It seemed like everything was X-Treme, dayglo, or in Pog form. It was also the prime time for the major players in gaming like Sega and Nintendo. When my father was helping out at his friend’s video rental place, though, I found a cozy spot behind the counter playing the TurboGraphx-16 they had set aside for display so games like Bonk’s Adventure and Air Zonk were favorites growing up.

One game I vaguely remembered was Yo’ Bro, but the years had washed away a lot of the experience. I remembered a tie to the Beach Boys and something about a bear on a skateboard. I also remembered really enjoying it as a kid, but at the time, I was about seven years old or so. My taste in games hadn’t developed quite as well as it has now, and even now, I’m pretty easy to please.

Since I’ve been diving into the system’s library again, I needed to see how my vague memories stacked up against the reality of what Yo’ Bro had to offer. With a title that screams “straight out of the 90s”, it was entirely possible that it might be a relic of the past better left coated in dust. On the other hand, it was possible I could uncover a hidden gem that had fallen to the wayside against other games vying for the attention of impressionable youngsters.

In the end, there was really only one way to find out. Continue reading

Just Another Link in the Chainsaw – Sega Genesis – Splatterhouse 2 – 1992

Splatterhouse 2 (E) [x]_006.pngSplatterhouse 2
Sega Genesis
Namco
Genre: Horror Beat ‘Em Up
1992

Horror movies have a particular formula. A majority of films in the genre- especially in the late 80s and early 90s- will set up an improbable plot to place characters into a terrifying situation. When the character or characters who survive until the final scene reach the end, there is climactic confrontation. The survivors breathe a sigh of relief, and the viewer is left with some kind of indication that a sequel is inevitable. The killer-thought-dead’s eyes open, the phone rings in the house that’s supposed to be safe, the camera pans menacingly back into the forest; if the writers and director can allude that the terror is still lurking, they will.
Games in the horror genre aren’t much different, and the original Splatterhouse did the same thing. It wasn’t as effective in the console port due to some strange editing of the final scene. In the original ending in the arcades, however, once Rick has survived his nightmare and comes out of the other side, there is a solid promise that the evil he was involved with also survived.

It would be four years later that the Sega Genesis would see the sequel, Splatterhouse 2, come to life in the West. It came at a great time- the early 90s was a strong time for “in your face” gaming, even if it was a bit of a lull for classic horror. Aside from dropping most of the censorship between the Japanese and English versions of the game like the original, though, there isn’t a ton of information readily available on Splatterhouse 2’s development. Even if it’s not hard to see why it would have eventually spawned a sequel, I’ve heard plenty about the first and third games in retro circles, and the reboot gets a mention here and there. I’ll admit that my curiosity piqued so far as the lack of information on the second game.  Continue reading

Third Time’s A Charm – XBox One – Dead Rising 3 – 2013

20200316204415_1.jpgDead Rising 3
XBox One
Capcom
Genre: Action Horror
2013

In the effort to continue covering some series that seem to have fallen by the wayside, the Dead Rising series has been of interest to me. It had a strange journey where when it was popular, it seemed to take a slow and steady slide into obscurity rather than have a sharp drop off in popularity or inexplicably never producing a sequel despite having a foundation worth working from. Dead Rising was a hit and a breath of fresh putrid air to gamers and the second game seemed to have a load of publicity leading up to its release.

Dead Rising 3 didn’t feel the same way. It was advertised and fans of the original two games gave it some word of mouth but I remember feeling like it came out with a whimper considering the success of Dead Rising 2. Even with less time between the release of the third after the second- there were four years between Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2, but three years before we would see Dead Rising 3 after that- it seemed like Capcom wanted to capitalize on the series’ reputation.

It did take me some time to check out the third entry myself, mostly because it was exclusive to the XBox One, a console that I didn’t have, and the PC after a year. I wasn’t much of a PC gamer in 2014, though, so it was only recently that I had the ability to continue the madcap zombie adventure the series had set expectations for. Playing through it again for the sake of analysis, though, I wanted to see how the game would stack up without years of anticipation behind it. Continue reading