Friday, April 5, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#314 - 323)

#314 Bebe's Kids (Super NES) – Fall 2009

"Hey Yo! Bebe's Keeeeds!"

The iconic title screen theme that heralds the arrival of one of the greatest video games of the 16-bit era. In this game you choose between a crippled spastic boy and a slightly-less crippled spastic girl and battle the forces of an evil robot in an amusement park.

It's fun for the whole family! That is, once you realize that your regular attacks are completely useless and you have to hold down the R button when attacking to do a "strong attack" and make your attacks do any real damage. Once that borderline code is figured out and you can damage basic enemies, the game is smooth sailing. You battle your way through slow beat em up stages with the same two screens repeating over and over, plus a "nearly impossible to get through without maps" haunted house!

Get past all of that incredible gameplay and you arrive at a nefarious warehouse crawling with bra-wearing bears drawn by a developer's 8 year old child, plus their deadly allies... Richard Nixons?!

Get past THAT and you get to fight a robot final boss with nearly infinite HP, where you throw suspiciously turd-like stones at your foe to gain the upper hand. All of this while the kickass final boss theme "Too Strong" plays. That isn't the title of the song, it's the lyrics that repeat for the entire several-second loop.

The greatest (only) game ever unleashed on the world by video game development maestros Mandingo Entertainment, Bebe's Kids is a true gem that I was blessed to spend time with.

Post HERE. Bear in mind that it's from 2010 and has been unedited since then, so it may have aged poorly. Or maybe not. I don't fuckin' know.

#315 Metal Gear Solid 4 (Playstation 3) – Fall 2009

One of the games I got a PS3 for. This might be my favorite game in the MGS series, though most of the fanbase seemed to view it as kind of mid. It revives a bunch of concepts from MGS1 and refines/improves them. It kinda felt like the hardware had finally caught up to the concepts, if that makes sense. This game deserves more credit... and some kind of remake. That it's been trapped on the PS3 for 15 years is a crime. Wraps up the overall MGS story very nicely (MGS5 is a prequel), has a seriously creepy near-future vibe, and each of the five chapters has a very distinct look, location, and theme.

Favorite Boss: Screaming Mantis. This fight is so much better than lame-o Psycho Mantis from MGS1 that everyone gets all crazy over. That guy guesses the contents of your memory cards? Oh wow! All Screaming Mantis does is mind-control your allies and force you to fight them, while making them dance around like marionettes just to freak you out, flying around screaming all the while.

Favorite Theme: Probably Screaming Mantis' bad-ass battle theme.

Most Memorable Part: How Raiden returned as a half-cyborg ninja with an electrified katana who could easily slice through giant steel battle mechs. He was suddenly so cool that later he got his own spinoff game full of electric katana gameplay.

Post HERE.

#316 Suikoden (Playstation) – Fall 2009

After many years, I finally swung around and played the first game in this series. And...I loved it. Same really unique vibe as the second game, same gameplay. Six-person parties are a great idea when the battles move quickly, as they do here. Some of the characters are very memorable. It just feels like a real adventure across the board.

It'd be an unpopular opinion with series fans but I enjoyed this even more than the second game. It's relatively short and to the point, and it moves at a brisk pace. I could see this game easily carrying the PS1's RPG division until Squaresoft's cavalry rode in. HM to Wild Arms of course.

Fondest Memory: Playing this in the Fall, taking it in. Something about that time of year makes a really good, atmospheric game like this even more enjoyable. My gaming memories are often in-tune with the seasons when I played things, which is why I've got them listed that way here to begin with.

#317 Flower (Playstation 3) – Fall 2009

Interesting game here where you control a flower petal as it soars around collecting other flower petals, eventually growing into a flower comet. That kinda shortchanges just how majestic this game is. The visuals and music are straight-up perfect, and it really makes you feel in-tune with nature. One of the most relaxing games I've ever played. Not a difficult game at all, with only one of the six levels even having any kind of hazards. Getting used to the controls takes a little while but it's second nature by the second level.

Incredible little game here that's more of an experience than anything else. Something your significant other who doesn't play games can get into. And mine did, finishing the game, making it the first game she ever finished. Probably the last, IDK, haven't talked to her in like 7 years. This is something everybody should try, especially considering it has HD versions on modern systems now. It really is a game like no other.

Protip: If your S.O. doesn't play games and is a woman, I have 3 suggestions. Mario Kart 8, Flower, Tetris Effect. There you go, thank me later. I have no suggestions on if your S.O. is male and doesn't play games because I can't envision what it'd be like to be a male who doesn't game. Maybe one of those finance bro Game Boy edutainment math games?

Review HERE.

#318 Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus (Playstation 2) – Fall 2009

I did a replay of the original FFVII around this point, alongside my friend Nick, and after that it was natural to segue right to this sequel/spinoff starring Vincent. Unfortunately this game isn't very good, rife with balancing issues and bland gameplay. Another game where Squaresoft got in their own way, overcomplicating what should have been either a basic action romp or a basic RPG romp (or a combination, like Crisis Core). What it does do well is perfectly capture the vibe of Midgar and the Shinra Corp. The soundtrack is superb and gives the game a constant sense of "prowling menace" as you deal with Shinra's secret police and other threats.

Vincent is probably the best character from that cast to give a spinoff to, since he has so much backstory and mystery to explore, plus some interesting abilities like being able to transform. All in all, I liked this game even though it could have been way, way better. Only played it once, but I've got some hope that it might get a remake someday that irons out all of the issues.

Favorite Tune: Boss theme in this one is good and fits the various Shinra mechs and goons they send after you.

But Why: Why was I playing Dirge of Cerberus at the beginning of a school year while also juggling an S.O.? I mean I'm pretty good at juggling a lot of things in the air at once, but THIS game? Really? Falls in this timeframe should be reserved for really good stuff that I have a reason to make time for.

But Why, The Answer: Because after the FFVII replay with my friend I really wanted to see what else was in the extended universe for the game. No PSP yet so I couldn't get to the (actually good) Crisis Core, which left me with this. And Advent Children.

Thoughts on Advent Children: Saw it twice. Once around this time with no subtitles. Had no idea what was going on or what anyone was saying, so my mind had to fill in the blanks. It was an awesome movie under those circumstances and I really liked it. Then many years later I watched it again, now with subtitles, and found it pretty meh and nonsensical. Sometimes not knowing what's going on and having your mind fill in the blanks is bettah.

Advent Children post HERE. Check it out, 'cause this post was a lot of work.

Best Tune in the Movie: This one. I mean, damn.

I like the main artwork of Cloud carrying a defeated Kadaj to safety; even though Kadaj is the "bad guy" of the movie, at the end of the day he and Cloud were just products of the same broken system.

#319 Terminator Salvation (XBox 360 and Playstation 3) – Fall 2009

A decent Terminator game! Not great, just decent. It's a Gears of War clone, a third-person shooter where you move around in cover and unleash hell on various machine foes. Takes place in 2016/2017, early in the Future War, so your weapons are kind of primitive (no lasers, but some of the foes have 'em). That knocks a few points off, but at the same time it's cool to see these "early stages" of the Future War where Kyle is a boy and John hasn't actually become the leader of the disorganized Resistance yet. The visuals are also quite nice, and you get some detailed close-up shots of things like the menacing T-600 brutes. How weird is it that most of John Connor's Future War is now in the past? Well, if we get through 2029 without anything happening, we'll officially be past it.

Downside is the game is only about 3 hours long, maybe 3 more to get the platinum. Which is totally fine on a rental, which is what I did. I can imagine people who bought the game being kind of irate at the runtime, as by 2009 people expected more. Regardless, I enjoyed this enough that I played through it twice for the platinum. Which makes this the first Playstation game I ever platinumed (Bioshock was actually a bit later, in 2013 or so).

But Why?: No T-700. They had the perfect chance to feature the T-700 in something. You fight T-600's throughout this game, then the final level has you in a factory where the final battle is four T-600s at the same time. Would have been a golden opportunity to have the "new" T-700 show up at the end as the final boss. Either one of them, or maybe two or three depending on how strong they wanted to make them. But noooooo. No odd-numbered Terminator models can exist in anything for some reason.

Honorable Mention: Fallout 3

This is an outstanding game, everyone knows it, and did a lot to popularize the "open world" genre before things like Skyrim and Witcher 3 made it a dominant genre. Unfortunately in late 2009 I couldn't get into it. I bought it along with the massive, encyclopedic official guidebook, and was all ready to jump in. Truth be told this was the other main thing I got a PS3 for besides MGS4. Unfortunately I found the post-apocalyptic setting to be very depressing, largely because I was going through a bout of RL depression after a very weird Halloween.

I played a fair bit of the game around this time and found the setting pretty awe-inspiring in scope and creativity. A city made out of a decommissioned aircraft carrier? Robot butlers flying around? Washington DC's subway system forming a network of interwoven dungeon maps? Was fascinating from the get-go. In any case, now when I look at this game I don't see it as depressing at all, but rather like a really interesting Twilight Zone setting with lots of pulp science fiction storytelling within it. At that time, though, I wasn't of the right mindset for it. I gave it another shot eventually at least. So more on this later.

#320 Heavenly Sword (Playstation 3) – Winter 2009

Basically Goddess of War, similar game to the Kratos outings, only with you playing as a hot woman. Nothing bad about this one, but it felt short and easy. Just kinda flew through it, and not much about it stayed with me or stands out at all. I remember the struggle posed by, say, the towers of Hell in God of War 1 or the Trial of Archimedes in God of War Ascension far more than anything here.

Kind of Interesting: The European/South American box art has a sexier (or at least leggier) version of the picture than the U.S. box art. Not too surprising.

#321 Dragon Quest 3 (Super Famicom) – Winter 2009

Over the Christmas holidays I was back and forth to my new home in Boston, and I emulated two different translated SFC games pretty much concurrently throughout that month or so. This was one of 'em. Having a laptop for the first time ever was super conducive to something like this, bouncing between two SFC games on emulator. Course, I could have gone The Legal Route(tm) and waited for the Official Release(tm) for both of them like ten years later. Yeah, no thanks.

This version adds a new class, Thief, which is an interesting choice for a new class. It's a pretty solid one, too. I went with a Buffy-themed playthrough here, naming characters after characters from that show, and did a plethora of class changes during the game to try and maximize the party stats. There are definitely some diminishing returns after a point, but it was an interesting endeavor.

Toughest Part: Probably getting past Kandar, master of the Hentai Emporium. He's early enough that your characters won't have too many skills yet, and he poses a significant threat at those levels. Plus he keeps his body oiled-up so he's too slippery to hit.

Posts HERE.

#322 Romancing SaGa 3 (Super Famicom) – Winter 2009

This is one I was super-excited for, as a fair-weather SaGa fan, and had been meaning to get to for a while. It's...certainly an interesting game, with some incredible boss spritework. Definitely Squaresoft in top mid-90's form. Not sure I'd say it's particularly great altogether though. I spent way too much time lost, and wasn't a fan of the world design where areas were inaccessible on the world map until you heard about them from somebody. Usually somebody obscure in some distant town. A walkthrough is a must for not losing your mind in this one.

Best Character: Harid, the brash Moorish swordsman. He's an absolute dick, and a general Alpha Chad who takes charge and gets things done. Like Vegeta if he gave even less of a shit.

Fondest Memory: All the snow that was on the ground. And also trying to sneak sessions of this game in when my demanding girlfriend was occupied. Also discovering the wonder of mozzarella + prosciutto while playing this, which I'd never had before. That's my strongest memory of the game easily. Mozzarella and prosciutto while playing Romancing SaGa 3 with snow outside the window.

Posts HERE.

#323 Persona 4 (Playstation 2) – Winter 2010

Hard to say which of the big three Persona games I like the most (that being 3/4/5). They're all interesting and I have fond (and very different) real-world memories from all of them. If I had to choose one, there's a high probability I'd go with this one. Everything about it is super well-done and it improves on Persona 3 a lot. It did lose some of the newness and novelty of that game, though.

I like the cast of this one the most out of the three games and found them the most likeable. Favorite character being Yukiko here. It's High School Simulator #1201, but whatever, I enjoyed all of the occult and the elemental weakness based gameplay. The various personas were also super-interesting and I had a "collect 'em all" attitude towards them. Like Pokémon if the 'mons in question were based on actual real-world cultural mythologies from all over the place. You've got Zoroastrian demons, Babylonian death gods, and even some Norse mythos showing up in here.

Also they improved the battles and gameplay in general by giving you a lot more control, which gives this one the edge. Also enjoyed the prevalent color yellow throughout, which gives it a very distinct "look" (something that would later also work well for Elden Ring's art direction).

All in all, a very good time and I played it a lot over Winter Break. Was good to have something like this to de-stress with.

Favorite Tune: "I'll Face Myself", the boss theme. All kinds of emotions get drawn out by this one, depending on where you're at when you hear it.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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