Mega Man X5’s Enigma Solved

If I could just have a brief moment of your time, I would like to discuss a new level of appreciation I have for Mega Man X5. I was afforded the opportunity to play it through it for the first time in maybe a decade over Father’s Day weekend, since my wife gifted me with a lazy weekend. X5 was a game I once considered one of the best in the series. My mind changed upon revisiting it, but that’s another story. My play through this time brought a deeper understanding of its design and how it can be manipulated. Continue reading “Mega Man X5’s Enigma Solved”


Perfection from Another World

It’s a big claim to state that a game is perfect or nearly perfect. Another World is, though. After avoiding this game for over two decades, I finally understand why it is a marvel. I understand its influence. After all, it is said that this game influenced Hideo Kojima and Suda51. That’s for better or for worse. Those two are behind some incredible games. They are also games with massive missteps, too. Don’t get me wrong. Metal Gear Solid 3 and No More Heroes are two of my favorite games. That doesn’t absolve them their shortcomings. Another World isn’t above its own.

What makes Another World so close to perfect is its combination of simplicity and scope. From the beginning, the game presents very little direction. The player receives instruction, then is thrown into a world that is supposed to be explored. After the opening cinematic, the player is teleported into a lake without any indication that control has been handed over or that players can even swim. From there, the player likely drowns if it’s the first time playing the game. Then the player realizes that it is literally sink or swim in this game’s world. No one explains that running to the left from the big beast will take the player to a vine that let’s them swing around the beast. No one explains that hitting the attack button after an alien has grabbed you will kick it in the junk. No one explains that, in another situation, going to the left will take the character into the background. Yet at no point does it feel unfair. Except in terms of shootouts.

The only point in the game where controls appear on the screen is after picking up a gun. Guns have three modes: shoot, shield, and charged blast. Knowing how and when to switch between the modes is the key to continuing in a couple of spots in the game, with the problem being that bad guys may walk up to the shield, stick their guns on the other side to shoot your character in the face. It’s not even a matter of skill to avoid it. It’s a matter of luck with the actions they take. There are mitigation strategies, but nothing seems to work consistently.

Despite that, the game successfully takes the player on an adventure with little context. Aside from the shootouts, there are no unnecessary moments in the game. That makes it brief, which is not a bad thing. A fun game that is brief can be played over and over again without feeling like a chore. And for my money – and this is literally the money that I spent on the game – that is exactly what I want. I want games that make me want to come back again and again, to go on that adventure and re-explore the world. Some people want a game that makes them lose themselves in a world. I think getting lost is a trap, and a game that makes you willing to come back is so much more powerful.

Why is Double Dragon IV so bad?

The acquisition of Technos Japan’s IP by Arc System Works was a move celebrated by fans of brawler games. After all, that meant that Double Dragon and River City Ransom were now in the hands of the developer of the Guilty Gear series and Dragon Ball FighterZ – the current (as of February 2019) most popular fighting game out there. This was meant to be a perfect marriage.

So what went wrong with Double Dragon IV? Continue reading “Why is Double Dragon IV so bad?”

Mega Man 11 and Excess in Design

After ten installments in the main franchise along with an extra stop on the SNES to include a fan favorite character, multiple portable iterations, an enhanced remake on a satellite service as well as one on a poor selling hand-held, eight installments of a darker and edgier yet similar series along with a remake of the first and a few handheld titles, four sequels to that series, and yet another two sequels that series, you’d think that Capcom would have the Mega Man series down to a science by now. What elements in a Mega Man game are, in short, the Mega Man-est. Not to mention the end results of the various experiments.

Capcom determined this back in 2008 when they released Mega Man 9 on then-current consoles. After years of bloat and experimentation, they returned Mega Man back to his basic elements: jump, shoot, collect and use Robot Master weapons, and have an occasional extra item or two. 9 is arguably in consideration for best game in the classic Mega Man series of games. It returned to basic functions and was designed tightly around that.

Mega Man 10 was a departure from that, somehow. Continue reading “Mega Man 11 and Excess in Design”