Finally got around to covering Resident Bongo on Random Action Hour. It’s actually got some good bits, but the rampant repeating of sound effects and voices just gets grating real fast.
So, I rented Super Street Fighter IV about two weeks ago. It took a while to get into, if just because I’m a total scrub and was so used to Marvel vs. Capcom and its newbie-friendly Easy Mode, but after three nights of light playing I had warmed up to it quite nicely. Having no choice but to properly learn the control inputs for moves really encouraged me to learn these characters and their movesets (though I only had the time to spam Hadoukens and Shoryukens as Sakura), and even the really brief story modes had a certain charm to them – I barely know these guys, but the short glimpses of gentleman boxer Dudley talking about roses and drinking tea with boxing gloves on, it was all rather cute. I had picked up the game on a whim, but I thought it was a worthwhile rental. Heck, if the temptation ever crosses me I might even buy it! It’s not like it ever kept its original £25 price tag for long.
It left me quite optimistic after returning it, and I thought – why the hell not – let’s rent Sonic Colours!
I composed a whole bunch of notes dictating my various whines and complaints, but also the few good points I found while playing the game, but now that I’m trying to slam it all together, I don’t know where to start. I’m even thinking I shouldn’t bother complaining about the game! I mean, I had the game for three nights, and I barely managed to sink three hours into it. I even just used cheats to unlock all the worlds after an hour of playing, and then just used it to play the Game Land side-quest.
I think my beef with the game (and pretty much all the games since Sonic 06) is that I’ve no idea what it defines itself as. Everything before that, you could refer to them as “3D platformers” with utmost confidence. What do you refer to Sonic & The Secret Rings as? A shitty waggle game? Colours seems to be a 2D platformer with a lot of 3D segments thrown in for no reason other than just to mix things up a little, but none of them are very deep, and they almost feel like glorified on-rails segments more than anything.
I will say, the 2D platforming is relatively decent, if a little bit clumsy. Sonic has a double jump for some reason, and he’s totally incapable of harming enemies with a regular jump – you have to slide or homing attack into everything. Except sometimes he destroys enemies with a regular jump. It seems he’s very fussy about when he kills things. The level design often feels like they plucked chunks from New Super Mario Bros. Wii and jammed them into levels from Sonic Rush, and the whole thing kind of jars a lot, especially when you’ve got the frequent forays into 3D. It’s got a good base engine to work with, though – with a bit of polishing it could possibly become something very worthwhile, but in its current package, the game just kind of goes in one ear and comes out the other. It’s not like Sonic 4 where you wonder why they even bothered making an engine that can’t handle basic momentum.
That’s the main problem I felt with Colours – it very rarely felt like an actual game. It was just a bunch of things that happened. You’d be playing these stages where the layout is vast and complex and it dives into all these dynamic camera angles and alternate gameplay segments and so on, and it almost felt like the game was trying too hard to grab your attention. The multiple styles of 3D segments didn’t suggest “look at our fun and exciting gameplay modes!”, but more “oh, do you not like this mode? What about this one? Or this one? Please leave feedback! We want to look like we know what we’re doing!” It felt like a game with a lack of self-confidence.
Ironically, I had the most fun of all playing the Game Land levels, which is basically a side-quest world where you collect the Chaos Emeralds (collect them all and you can play as Super Sonic in every level. Yeah, seriously! It was fun for one level and then I got bored of the entire game.) partially designed as a 2-player mode, but for the most part it’s just totally 2D. Very little 3D, very little exploration, very little gimmick. Some levels are entirely 3D and some do almost exclusively require the Wisp powers to complete them (I would’ve commented on the Wisps earlier if they’d actually made a major contribution to the gameplay, but, uh, not really!), but it’s done rather tastefully. It’s here that it seems the game finally has an idea of what it wants to be – it doesn’t jumble a whole bunch of stuff at you, it just goes, “okay, here’s a 2D platform game.” And being a big fan of 2D platform games, that’s right up my alley. A lot of the level designs are partially recycled from the old games, but it’s definitely the most fun I had with the game. In a way it’s kind of sad. They give the game some truly mesmerising visuals, they create the Wisp powers and they develop all these fancy alternate-gameplay segments, and then the best part of the game is when they barely even utilise any of those.
Also, the graphics? I’d dare say it’s the most beautiful looking Sonic game so far; the screen is always full of vim and colour, oozing with really nice whimsical visuals. Can’t praise it enough, those levels really are beautiful, even if they are rather schizophrenic to play. Though, uh, sometimes they’re actually far too colourful for their own good, it’s hard to tell what’s going on – which isn’t helped by how in the main levels the camera is zoomed out so far you can barely see Sonic; on a giant frickin’ TV, no less. God knows how you’d see the blue bastard on anything less than a 16-inch television. Despite how zoomed out it is, it’s still very hard to see what’s ahead of you, and this is particularly bad during the 3D segments, as the HUD actually gets in the way of what’s incoming, so it’s not until it passes the HUD can you realise you’re running towards a pit.
I wouldn’t know what to conclude with Sonic Colours. I just don’t think I’m a real Sonic fan anymore. I haven’t properly enjoyed any of the new games for years (I’ve a bad feeling Shadow the Hedgehog was the last one I legitimately enjoyed – don’t laugh!) and I’m just not enthusiastic when there’s news of upcoming games. A few guys in the workplace were shitting bricks over the teaser trailer of Sonic Generations (I haven’t cared to look online for what the real nerds think – they probably think the eyes aren’t black enough or some bollocks like that), but I just don’t see what there’s to be excited about over a trailer that doesn’t even show gameplay footage. I will commend Sonic Colours for having good components that can be salvaged for later games, but whether or not I’ll actually touch those new games is a rant for another time.
So, yeah, it wasn’t a very satisfactory rental.
And for my personal reference, some waffle on stuff I watched recently.
Pineapple Express: I’d say I’m not a big fan of drug culture movies, but I’ve only really watched The Big Lebowski and Dude, Where’s My Car?, I can’t really judge. It’s actually pretty good! The fact it slowly changes from a slice-of-life dudes-on-drugs story to a guns-blazing action adventure did good of tiding me over.
Spy Hard: Amusing enough parody of spy flicks starring Leslie Nielsen. Ending seemed to come very abruptly. That’s about it.
Kyou Kare Ore Wa!: Hour-long anime about two regular high school students who, after moving to a new neighbourhood, decide to reinvent their lives as punkass delinquents. Cue lots of scenarios involving beating up people using dirty tricks. It’s totally forgettable and I’m kinda surprised I stuck with it the whole way through. The subtitles were passable but really lacking in flavour – a good Manga UK style dub might’ve been able to save it, but as it is it’s just fluff.
The Big Bus: Disaster movie parody that came out before Airplane!, this one featuring a nuclear-powered bus that’s targeted by an incompetent terrorist duo, though the people on the bus already have enough problems as it is, including a co-driver who suffers blackouts and having a pickup truck get wedged in its side. Some odd pacing at times, but it’s a good laugh with daft humour very akin to Airplane!, though there’s no crew members shared between the two (“look out! He’s got a broken milk carton!”). Ending also seemed to come out of nowhere – I was almost sure it could’ve gone on for another ten to twenty minutes.
Being Human: Watched the first two episodes of this drama (it’s technically a comedy-drama, but the ratio is a bit unbalanced) about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf living together in a house. It’s a lot more engaging than it sounds!
Today’s lament: I just lost several days worth of progress trying to get all the collectibles in Bionic Commando because of a crappily written walkthrough. Whoo.