Saturday, November 24, 2012

Video Game Review: The Adventures of Mighty Max

We've talked before about Mighty Max, the toy series from the 90's and the TV show that it spawned. Well, we're not quite done talking about it yet, because there's one more thing that needs to be brought up.

Developed by Ocean Software, a company known primarily for making crappy video game adaptations of movies, The Adventures of Mighty Max might just be one of the worst video games ever made. I'm almost positive that when Ocean's developers were told they were making this game the first words out of their mouths were "What the Hell is a Mighty Max?" I'm equally positive their next words were drowned out by the sound of them all dying from terminal incompetence, because seriously? Even Sunday Funday was a better game than this.

Wait, what's that, Mr. Back Of The Game Box? You ask how I could possibly hate this game when I can...
You lying assholes. Take a look at this.

Damn it, Ocean of America! We told you Mighty Max was "action horror" not "horrible non-action!"

That right there is about a fourth of the game. Yeah, this game only has four unique worlds: the Inca Temple, the Volcano, the Water Cave, and then depending on whether you have the Sega Genesis version or the Super Nintendo version the last world is either the Jungle or Outer Space.

Oh, sure, it does have fifty different levels within those four worlds, but trust me when I say there will never be anything new. You enter through a portal, jump around, dodge enemies, then grab some doohickeys and take them back to the portal. Rinse and repeat until the sun goes supernova. There's never any new enemies or puzzles to challenge you, just a long, hard slog to the finish line. If this is what Max calls an adventure then it's no wonder he doesn't want to be the Mighty One.

Why is it like this? I know it's annoying that I keep bringing up a show you probably haven't seen, but... the show's main selling point was that you never knew where Max was going to end up, or what new and horrible thing was going to challenge him once he got there. Same thing with the toys. They had aliens, dragons, mad scientists, dinosaurs... basically everything that young boys think is cool made an appearance at some point. So, why isn't any of that stuff in this game?

KR Rating: [1] HORRIBLE

The thing is, even if you know nothing about Mighty Max and judge the game solely on the standard of being a game, it's still awful. There's not enough story to explain why you should care about who these characters are or what they're doing, the graphics and sound are passable at best, and the gameplay is pretty much tuberculosis in digital form. It basically works - the controls are responsive and it's not riddled with glitches - but that's about the only good thing that can be said about it.

As for the nameless copy writer who created the box, that guy can go to Hell. Here are a few of my favorite reasons why.

I know all his moves? What moves? Are you talking about the one time when he tripped a guy? Max doesn't have "moves" and, you know, that's kind of the entire point. He's not a street fighter or a saiyan. He doesn't have any Wolf Fang Fists, or Hadoukens, or Kamehamehas. He's a normal kid caught up in a destiny he doesn't want, facing off against villains that are way out of his league, forced to rely on cunning and surprise to win. That's a big part of why the show was awesome.

How can one sentence get so much wrong? First of all, "be the Max?" What the Hell could that possibly even mean? Why not say "be the Mighty One?" Not only is that less grammatically awful, it's also actually a thing from the show.

Second, tennis ball cannon? I hate to keep saying "on the show" but... on the show Max hardly ever used a weapon and when he did it was more like a sword or a crossbow; you know, a real weapon. If Max showed up to fight an average villain from the show wielding a tennis ball cannon, they'd laugh at him and then he'd die horribly.

Okay, at this point you've officially crossed the moral event horizon. You are no longer just casually missing the point. You are now officially trying to make little children cry. Sure, we all want to torment and/or murder little kids, but there's no reason to be a jerk about it.

Oh, goody! That means two players can share the existential torment! Also included are a revolver, two bullets, and a manual on how to carry out a mutual suicide pact. Actually, this game never made me want to kill myself, but it did make me want to kill other people. Among those people: whatever pencil-pusher at Sega is responsible for this:

Sega's highest standards of quality, apparently:
1. The cartridge is not just a taco shell filled with canned pig brains.
2. The game's programming is written in actual computer code, not incantations to Tiamat.
3. That's about it.

Take a look at the back of the box in all it's anti-glory! Click the image for a better view.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jessica Lugo Sucks: 5 Video Game Franchises Ruined By The Fans (Only Not)

Just to make things absolutely clear, I'm not actually talking about the games I think were ruined by the fans. Rather, this post is about why Jessica Lugo's Rant Gaming article, 5 Video Game Franchises Ruined By The Fans is total bull.

Incidentally, I briefly considered making my own list of the top 5 game franchises ruined by the fans, but I found it impossible because I'm not a corporate stooge and therefore don't think that way.

5. Mega Man
One of the defining characteristics of the Mega Man franchise was always the rock-paper-scissors mechanic of how the bosses' powers worked together. Since you could take them on in any order and take their weapons when they're defeated, you find the order that works out the best. You fight Guts Man first and take his power to throw rocks. You use that to beat Cut Man because rock beats scissors (get it?) and then you use Cut Man's scissor boomerang to beat the lightning-powered Elec Man, because scissors cut wires, and so on. Makes sense, right?

Then we get to Mega Man 6, and... wait, Flame Man? How is he different from the first game's Fire Man? And okay, I can guess how his power would work with Blizzard Man and Plant Man, but how would Knight Man and Tomahawk Man's powers work together? What about Centaur Man, or the spear-throwing Yamato Man?

Well, part of the reason they ended up with such weird robot bosses is because by this point in the series they were taking most of their ideas from unofficial fan contests and suggestions in magazines like Nintendo Power.

Except, wait, the robot masters turned dumb as early as Mega Man 2. Wind blows leaves like nothing, so why do Wood Man's leaves decimate Air Man? Metal Man's weakness is his own weapon? How the Hell am I supposed to exploit that!? And okay, even if the developers hadn't turned retarded early, how is this the fans' fault? If they couldn't figure out how to make the fan suggestions work then they could, I don't know, stop taking them? Or better yet, keep taking them but only pick ones they can figure out how to use right. Saying that this is all the fans' fault means implying that the developers had no free will.

Also, critics never really complained about Mega Man 6's stupid bosses. Most of the criticism revolved around the fact that it was basically the exact same game as Mega Man 1 through 5. In fact, the fan contests were never an issue, even for the developers. Series creator Keiji Inafune even said he loved them. So...why is Jessica Lugo blaming us?

So, there used to be this really cool real time strategy game series called XCOM. You might have heard of it. It was fairly popular for a while but then sort of dropped off the radar for a lot of years. Finally, in 2010 it was announced that the series would be returning... as a generic first person shooter. The fan reaction was immediate and killed that game as soon as it was announced. Fortunately, fans got a real XCOM strategy game in the critically acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but some fans are still a bit upset about differences between the newest game and the old games it's based on. According to Jessica this proves the fans are "unpleasable" and will "never see a new installment" thanks to their own selfishness.

Can I be real here for a second? As I've mentioned on the blog before, my favorite game of all time is the tactical RPG Tactics Ogre. If I found out tomorrow the game was being remade as a rhythm game, I'd be pissed. With that in mind, of course fans were mad when they found out that one of the best strategy game series of all time was being reborn as a cheap Halo ripoff.

Setting aside the fact that this is a series that isn't really ruined at all, is Jessica Lugo trying to argue that standing up for what you believe in is bad? Well, maybe not. Trying to turn a beloved strategy game into something entirely different is stupid, but it's not like it's a deliberate hostile action. Still, it was a bad idea and the people let the developers know that. Why does Jessica think that's shameful?

3. All of the Big Nintendo Titles
Nintendo has sort of the same problem as Square-Enix. People will always buy the latest game that has Final Fantasy, Mario, Zelda, or Pokémon in the title, like that one name is somehow proof of quality. The games' developers are guaranteed a huge audience no matter what, so why innovate?

First, because fans really won't just buy anything with Mario in the title, and if you don't believe that then check out the fan reaction to Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix. But okay, it is true that they'll always be able to sell games like Pokémon: Black/White Versions 2, even to people who thought the first Black/White was bad. Yeah, I bought Black 2 and I won't apologize for it. You want to fight?

Moving on, the problem here is that logic. Yes, it's true, if we want to force Nintendo to make the next Zelda game better we accomplish that by not buying the current Zelda game. Thing is, that makes it at best partly our fault. Jessica's assertion here is that it's all our fault. Nintendo can get away with never doing anything new and therefore -according to her- they have no choice but to not do anything new. This philosophy, "we can get away with it, therefore we must do it" is literally the philosophy held by 100% of all the world's bad people, with the "it" in that statement being replaced by anything from "ripping off stockholders for billions of dollars" to "murdering my wife because I'm an enormously famous football player and can afford to hire Johnnie Cochran to defend me." Doesn't personal accountability come into play at all? Apparently not in Jessica's world.

But this doesn't quite prove that Jessica Lugo is an objectively bad person yet. Let's continue.

2. Borderlands
On the same note as the XCOM entry, how can the fans have ruined a game series that is totally not ruined? Borderlands was amazing, and Borderlands 2 is also amazing. Well, according to Jessica it's because we didn't complain about it, which led the game's developers to believe they didn't have to fix any of the game's problems, which has led to...nothing. Okay, there is an issue that I'll talk more about in a second where some people are losing their saved games, but this isn't a problem with the game and I'll explain why when I get there.

Here's the big problem with this one. Do Borderlands and Borderlands 2 have problems? Yes. Do I forgive the games for those problems? Yes. Why? Because the games are awesome. The problems don't really ruin my ability to enjoy the games, and by the way? They have fixed a lot of those problems because the game's developers, Gearbox Software, actually tend to listen to their fans. As a result even people who hated the first Borderlands liked Borderlands 2. I'm not even sure what Jessica was going for with this one and calling it "riddled with glitches" and "the gaming equivalent of jingling keys in our faces" pretty much translates as "this author clearly hasn't played this game."

Oh, and that thing that's causing some peoples' saved games to be deleted? That's not a glitch in the game's programming. It's a virus. It was created by a third party with deliberate malicious intent and spread unwittingly by infected gamers. You know, just like every other computer virus in the history of the Earth. Trying to hold Borderlands developers Gearbox accountable for it is like the ESRB threatening to give The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion a rating of Adult Only because of a third party mod that removed the underwear from character models. ...sometimes this world is depressing.

1. Mass Effect 3
If you know anything about gaming, you know about the controversy surrounding the ending of Mass Effect 3, either because you played the game yourself or because someone you know did. After three award winning games and years of devotion, the series' creators Bioware finally brought the story to it's conclusion by (Spoiler Alert) completely undoing everything that happened over the course of the games, killing every single one of the characters we'd come to know and love, and deleting an entire universe worth of incredibly in-depth lore. I think I'd like to take a moment to say, "WHAT THE HELL, MAN?"

Look, don't get me wrong. I understand that in the grand scheme of things it's ultimately meaningless. It's not like I cry myself to sleep at night over the ending or anything. Hell, I hadn't even thought about it for months before this article. Still, the ending did hurt me, because it was quite literally the worst ending that they could possibly have made for the series.

What bothers me the most here, and really reveals Jessica Lugo's true colors, is this bit of logic, where she talks about how "in our whiniest, most wrongfully entitled voices, we fought to 'Retake Mass Effect' as though we somehow held a stake in the creative talent behind the game's creation." Yeah, great, except wait a minute... we did have a stake in the game. When we've devoted five years of our lives to a game series that we love, we deserve to get something out of that relationship.

See, that bit of logic, about how it's their game and we have no right to complain about it when they use it to hurt us? Yeah, that's a lot like saying that it's okay for me to stab people to death because, hey, it's my knife, so what right do you have to tell me what I can and can't do with it? When my actions affect other people it is no longer solely my own choice. That is one thing that every religion, every philosophy, and every even remotely moral person agrees on.

Also, Jessica, we weren't retaking Mass Effect from the game's creators, Bioware, which actually earned second place in Escapist's "Best Developer" contest despite the controversy surrounding the ending of ME3. We were retaking it from the soulless mega-corporation EA Games, who bought Bioware out and then ruined the game, and who were also voted to be the worst company in America by Consumerist Magazine, and if you really don't understand why then please, read this article from Cinema Blend about why EA deserved it. In fact, read that article anyway.

Jessica Lugo, you have no idea what you're talking about and every gamer who read that article knows it. Every repetition of "we gamers" comes across like an alien invader trying desperately to pass as an ordinary Earth Hyoo-Man. Hell, you wrote an article comparing free-to-play games to Socialism. You're pretty clearly either a corporate collar being paid to shout down the fans or a sniveling sycophant, desperate to sell out to the first person willing to buy you. You suck.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

President Review: Why I Won't Be Voting For Obama Again

I've mentioned before on the blog that I have sort of a rule against political posts. This isn't because I don't care about politics - I care a lot and love discussing politics, even with people who disagree with me. (Heck, especially with people who disagree. Just saying "I agree" over and over doesn't make for interesting conversation.)

Of course, if you follow my blog you also know I break this rule a lot. Well, since it's election season I thought I'd break it again. If you're not interested, feel free to ignore this post. I'll probably be posting again later this week so tune in then to hear me rant about some video game or something. For the rest of you, yes, I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. While I think that might have been the wrong decision I stand by it. He was the best choice that I saw, and I will not apologize for voting for him. I will, however, say that I'm not going to be voting for him again this year. Allow me to explain why not.

First off, I know that right now some of you are saying "well of course you shouldn't vote for Obama!" So let me start by explaining why I voted for him in the first place. I can still tell you the exact moment when I knew I was going to vote for him. The point where Obama hooked me - and many other Americans - was ironically the number one thing the Republicans loved to scream about during the 2008 election season: the Reverend Wright incident. For those who don't recall, Rev. Jeremiah Wright was an anti-semitic, America-hating former pastor whose church Obama had attended briefly. The American people were understandably worried when this information came out and demanded to know, how could Obama ask to lead us when he had associations like that? Obama responded by doing something very few Presidents have ever done before: he told the truth.

There were any number of ways he could've handled the situation. He could've denied knowledge of Wright's beliefs, he could've denounced the man, he could've embraced the man. Any one of those would have earned him a lot of votes. Instead, he spoke to us all as if we were actually thinking human beings, explained that while he didn't share the Reverend's beliefs he couldn't condemn a man just for being angry at the injustices he's suffered in his life. Obama made himself look like not just another politician, but a human being. That was why America elected Obama in a landslide two-thirds decision.

That leads us to the most notable failure of Obama's presidency: the "Obamacare" health care bill. This was potentially the biggest thing he would have done, and we NEEDED him to walk us through it, to answer our questions, to alleviate our fears, to explain step-by-step what he was doing and how it would make things better, not worse.

And...he didn't. He put the bill up before Congress and just let them have it, all for the purpose of getting it done. This was a chance not just to prove himself, but to actually do something real that would really help America out, and he failed catastrophically because he didn't do it the right way.

And that's not even the worst part. The whole time he kept going on about healthcare, I just kept asking myself, why haven't we brought industry back to this country? Why haven't we lowered the national debt? And don't tell me that it's impossible. While my own state of Virginia may have many problems it has always been very good about keeping a balanced budget, in part because both of our last two governors willingly slashed their own salaries. When was the last time you remember hearing about anyone in D.C. doing that?

Hell, the politicians in D.C. keep raising their own salaries and voting down acts that would force them to balance the budget because they know doing so would require them to make sacrifices. They're actively resisting any and all attempts at forcing them to behave responsibly, all the while demanding more and more money and power, grabbing selfishly for whatever they can take, and blaming the rest of us for all of our country's problems. Whether you believe Obama is a part of that or not, you can't deny that he has done nothing to stop it.

Look, I honestly believe that Obama is a good person, and that he really thought he could make things better. You know, and I really would love to believe that he has made things better. But he hasn't. He's made things worse - way worse. I'm sorry, folks, but the numbers don't lie. Obama has -in just one term- raised the national debt over twice what George W. Bush raised it in two terms. He's not been good for this country, and the fact of the matter is that myself and many others do not believe America can survive four more years of his presidency.

America as we know it is on its deathbed. Greed, cynicism, and laziness have poisoned it. We need a leader to bring us out of this mess. Checks and balances can't do it. We need someone who can take charge, say "no" to the corporations, special interests, and career politicians who are tearing our country apart for their own selfish gain. Obama has proven that he is not that leader. Despite what he made us believe four years ago, Barack Obama has made it clear that he couldn't unite two lego bricks, much less a country.

Mitt Romney ... is also not that leader. I do not believe that Romney is capable of fixing our country, nor do I agree with the vast majority of his ideas and goals. He is another prime example of why I hate politicians - a man who makes more money in one day than most Americans will make in ten years and yet still demands more. But... at this point he is the lesser of two evils. My only hope is that maybe he can keep the country alive long enough for a real leader to show up.

Or, who knows? Maybe whoever wins will prove me wrong by actually making things better. Wouldn't that be swell?