Thursday, January 12, 2012

Misunderstood Marvels - Part One

I was going to title this article Misunderstood Masterpieces, but that would be stretching it quite a bit all things considering. You'll see why once you peruse the entries. Regardless, tonight I am showing off a series of games that happen to be misunderstood, in my opinion. There might be one or a series of glaring flaws that make the games impossible to enjoy for many. Perhaps through my arguments you'll find something to like about a game you already made up your mind about.

Metroid: Other M (Wii)

The common complaints about Metroid: Other M are that the story is silly (which I won't argue against) and the means of Samus Aran gaining abilities is also ridiculous. The argument is that this game ruined the character of Samus Aran, as if she had any resemblance of a character to begin with. The strong silent type is hardly an archetype we haven't seen before, and it's not Samus Aran is your character anyway. It's Sakamoto's, the creator's. He can do whatever he wants with it for better or worse. You'll see many making fun of "the baby, the baby, the baby", etc. It seems Sakamoto insisted that Nintendo of America call the baby Metroid "the baby" and not "the infant" which would have been much better and easier on the ears.

However, the complaint about how Samus Aran gets abilities is somewhat unwarranted. In some regards it makes sense. Samus is just starting out and Adam is her boss/mentor. The space station they are on is mysterious and could fall apart at any moment. Using Samus' ultra-powerful moves might blow the entire place or survivors up. Getting new abilities and having Adam allow them should have been done better in all honesty. Nonetheless, those who call the game garbage because of it didn't give Other M a fair shake.

The gameplay of holding the Wii remote on its side for standard fighting and movement and pointing it at the screen to go into first-person mode worked well. Only one instance where it annoyed me and that was a purely optional part (where you slide down a slope and have to aim a hatch on the ceiling to reach-- if I recall correctly-- a missile expansion). The action was fast and fluid, Samus moved elegantly, and battles were always enjoyable. Metroid: Other M might not reach the levels of the Prime franchise, but it is hardly the death of the Metroid series that so many pathetic drama queens and pitiful message board users argue. We'll see, I guess!

Wii Music (Wii)

Another Wii title that the message board community once again embarrassed themselves over-- something they are very wont to do, Wii Music had a less than stellar E3 presentation, and many accused Nintendo of turning their back on the "hardcore" gamer. It's the typical "wah! Nintendo isn't focusing on me 24/7, so I'm going to whine like an entitled little baby whenever they try to reach out to an untapped market" syndrome.

When the game released, critics slammed the game without so much as even playing an hour of it. Wii Music has you shaking the Wii remote and nunchuk and hitting buttons as a melody plays. Your inputs vary how the melody is heard. You can play as little or as much as you want. You can also add up to six or so tracks. For instance, if you play the clarinet your first time, you can choose to play the trumpet the next. Your performance with the trumpet will go on with your clarinet performance playing alongside you. The end result is a symphony of sounds that you helped manufacture. It doesn't allow total creative freedom, but there's enough there to enjoy for even the most tone deaf player. The hate for this game was disappointing. Not everyone who disliked the game was a "hardcore" gamer, but that faction helped in damning Wii Music before it ever hit shelves. A struggle of sound, indeed.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2)

There were two reasons some players didn't like the way Star Ocean's third outing unfolded. The main one was the twist near the end of the game. Without spoiling anything for those interested in playing the game, it pretty much ruined the universe of not only the third game but the past two entries. The other reason was that if a party member's MP went down to zero, they perished in battle.

For the twist, it's difficult to argue about it without spoiling it, so I will just say that video games already have poor stories, so why are some of you taking Star Ocean's mythos so personally? Those who say that the twist ruins the first two Star Ocean games just make me laugh like watching an early episode of Roseanne. The gameplay is still there, and that is all that matters. Regarding the MP issue, I can see the disappointment in that design decision, but as long as you didn't overly spam spells and abilities and had plenty of MP restoring items, you were golden. Thus, it wasn't too grand of a problem.

Star Fox Assault (GCN)

The final game we will examine is Star Fox Assault. It put Peppy behind the scenes and Krystal from Adventures took his place. Many didn't like how the game was a short ten mission affair, but the missions were a blast to play over and over again for high scores and for new medals. The all-range mode, hopping in and out of vehicles, and the feeling of being behind the controls of the Arwing and Landmaster felt just fine. I didn't have any problem with the tank or on-foot controls. Am I just a better player? I don't think so. Meanwhile, the on-rails sections were Star Fox goodness that we all know and love. Who didn't love entering the enemy's core or flying through Meteo once again?

Then there was the marvelous multiplayer that on any other system would have had online (why couldn't you get it in gear earlier, Nintendo?). There were maps based on geometric designs, Zoness, Corneria, Sauria, Titania, and so many more planets and areas. Changing vehicles, exchanging weapons such as rockets and grenades, and unlocking new options and maps from simply playing the game made for tons of fun in the SuperPhillip household. Don't forget the excellent orchestral soundtrack-- one of Nintendo's earliest uses for a symphony orchestra. Definitely an underrated and under-appreciated game, Star Fox Assault deserved GameCube owners' love.


Do you agree with my picks of Misunderstood Marvels? Perhaps not my reasoning, but do you agree? What games do you like that you believe are misunderstood? Type them up and place them directly in the comments section!


Matt Sainsbury said...

Completely agree with you for both Wii Music (most multiplayer fun this side of Fortune Street/ Smash Brothers) and Star Ocean (My 3rd favourite PS2 RPG of all. The PS3 game is just as awesome).

I'm going to say Final Fantasy XIII deserves a mention here too. Horribly misunderstood game that is reviled by people who refuse to give something different a fair go.

Reggie White Jr. said...

Wow, that was a fantastic read. Loving the start of this series.

I actually bought Metroid: Other M for my birthday brand new for $20. I was surprised to see it at that price but now it's less than that. I'd read so many complaints about Samus being portrayed as a weakling, which seemed to be the primary deal breaker from what I'd heard. The game does take place during Samus younger days so I can understand if she didn't act the way she did in Other M as she's portrayed now, which is, as you said, the strong silent type. Show one shred of emotion in you're a wuss. Doesn't gaming have enough tough as nails characters as it is?