I took a few hits to get a better screenshot. I promise.
Shovel Knight : Actually as Good as People Say It Is
Shovel Knight gets it. It doesn’t follow the cargo cult routine of indie games who use sprite-based graphics instead of good game design; it groks its favorite NES games but also aims to improve on them instead of miring in dead memories.
You know how I’m always griping about phony indie games that pander to lazy nostalgia instead of living on their own merits? Unlike most indie game creators that claim their work is “8-bit” and “retro”, Shovel Knight ’s team poured their souls into their game’s creation. It is clearly inspired by the later NES games, especially Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and the second through sixth Mega Man entries. Instead of making the game look like a jittery Commodore 64 reject and calling it good, Yacht Club Games went out of their way to recreate the look of an NES game but also made it play much like one. This alone would make Shovel Knight noteworthy, but the game itself is also a blast from start to finish.
There will be no article this weekend. I will be watching the Evolution fighting game tournament for several days and complaining about the results on Twitter . There’s one benefit to being unemployed!
Thoughts on Nintendo as a Brand
I read this article recently, and the confused LA Times article it draws upon. These two articles (despite their flaws) bring up some interesting concepts that I think are worth exploring in more detail.
We all know it: Nintendo games aren’t like other games. There’s something about the games Nintendo publishes that makes them stand apart from the rest of the industry. It’s not just the visuals or the different franchises — there’s just something about Nintendo games that makes them special, something you can’t always put your finger on.
— John Kinsley
The Ninja Warriors – The Best Beat-Em-Up
Beat-em-ups were in vogue in the early 1990s. Capcom’s 1989 Final Fight is responsible for legions of imitators ( many by Capcom themselves ) and they introduced a surprising amount of variety for a genre that consists largely of walking in one direction and punching street thugs. It’s true that beat-em-ups had more than their share of excellent entries in the late 1980s ( Double Dragon II: The Revenge for NES, for example, is just superb) but arcades and home consoles in the 1991-1994 time period were in my opinion the best for the genre.
Ascendant : A Capable But Flawed Roguelike-Like
Ascendant is a 2D platformer with randomly-generated procedurally-generated levels and loot. The action is unforgiving and the plot is negligible—two things I find refreshing in a video game. Ascendant owes a lot to Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac (two other challenging Roguelike-likes). I’ve seen many procedurally-generated platformers in recent times, and it’s a trend I definitely appreciate.
BattleBlock Theater is Great
BattleBlock Theater is a 2013 puzzle platformer from The Behemoth. I played the PC version, which just came out on Steam last month. It was worth the money.
Final Fantasy Tactics – Best Game Ever Made?
The true best Final Fantasy , the one that most people overlook, doesn’t even have a number. Made during Square’s creative renaissance in the late 90s, Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation marks the highest point of the series as well as Square’s apex in general.
The Debate Over the Final Fantasy Series
What’s your favorite Final Fantasy ? The most common favorites are VI and VII, but opinions vary wildly. You ask someone to rate any game in the series (whether you’re online or off) and you’ll never get two of the same answer.
No one can agree on which Final Fantasy games are good and which ones aren’t, let alone the best and worst. The below (in-character?) rants give you just a sample of the snide comments you’ll see on the internet when you bring up the subject. Everyone has an opinion on every game, especially VII, whether they worship it or despise it. Whatever Final Fantasy you like, people on message boards will line up to tell you your opinion is wrong.
I thought about just using this pic as the whole review. It’s more succinct.
Two Total Failures With a Lot in Common — Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
This is a 2014 game in a long-running series many know and appreciate for its punishing but reasonable difficulty. The series has had its share of sequels, spinoffs, remakes, and re-releases. It began in Japan in the late 1980s and continues to churn out new iterations to this day due to its relative popularity. The newest entry in the series is a U.S.-made attempt to revive flagging sales. It is a terrible, dumbed-down, Americanized (in both gameplay and writing), grimdark, QTE-riddled, unenjoyable mess. Notice that this paragraph could apply to either of the games in the title of the article.
Ultra Rapid Fire — Riot, All is Forgiven
I’ve been critical of Riot Games’ League of Legends and its infamously awful fanbase in the past. I keep asking for rad stuff that they don’t deliver—variably due to their incompetence, the implausibility of my demands, and the fact that the only people who read my website anymore are my mom and Brazilian spammers.
One of the requests I’ve made frequently is the addition of new maps and modes. I realize that these are generally difficult to create and most of the users are ungrateful for their addition. (Does anyone even play Dominion or Twisted Treeline anymore? Maybe if they brought back the old, better Twisted Treeline so CrumblingCenturion could make cool videos again.)