Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The "Worst" Things About SuperPhillip Central's Favorite Games IV

Didn't I just say yesterday that there's enough negativity in our hobby, and now here's an article called "The 'Worst' Things About SuperPhillip Central's Favorite Games IV"? Hypocrite much?

No worries, gang, as I'm delving into some personal favorite games of mine, doing my best to pick out what I feel is the strongest negative for each. With some games it's much harder than others! On this fourth installment of this nearly three-year-old series, games like Super Mario Odyssey, Ratchet & Clank, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are featured.

Check out past volumes here:

Volume One
Volume Two
Volume Three

Super Mario Odyssey (NSW)

We begin with a duo of 3D platformers. The first is a game that got runner-up for Game of the Year at the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2017 Awards. (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild barely beat it.) I'm talking about Super Mario Odyssey, a delightfully masterful platforming adventure that spanned the entire world, as well as parts of space.

The precision, fluidity, responsiveness, and tightness of the controls made for an exceptional game to play. Mario had a brand-new assortment of moves in addition to his repertoire of classics dating back all the way to Super Mario 64 in 1996. One could pull off some very impressive platforming feats with a combination of maneuvers both grounded and in midair.

Many challenges in Super Mario Odyssey could be completed normally with these analog controls. However, the optional motion controls, used for getting extra height on jumps, for instance, weren't so optional for some players, if they wanted to get every Power Moon in the game. Certain racing challenges for Power Moons would be close to impossible for certain players if they didn't shake the JoyCon controllers to give a boost to Mario's roll, and specific Power Moons would be much more difficult to reach without the aid of JoyCon-shaking to scurry up poles at a quicker pace. Now, no Power Moon in Super Mario Odyssey is designed with motion controls exclusively in mind, but without them, several Power Moons can be quite the pain in our favorite plumber's backside to attain.

Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

We move from a runner-up 3D platformer for SPC's Game of the Year of 2017 to the winner of SPC's Game of the Year for 2016: Ratchet & Clank for the PlayStation 4, the official game of the official movie, with the official lombax and the official robot buddy.

Ratchet & Clank's 2016 romp is a part-platformer, part action game that sees the heroic duo move from planet to planet, cleaning up the mess that Chairman Drek and his cronies have left behind in their wake. For the most part, the action remains steady and the pacing of the game keeps chugging along. That is until you get to some of the slower sections within this series reboot that ends up breaking the flow a little bit.

I'm referring to the Trespasser puzzles within Ratchet & Clank. While these are a lot of fun to solve the first time around, the Ratchet & Clank games generally are meant to be played through multiple times in order to routinely save up bolts to acquire all weapons, as well as level up said weapons through continued use, and to unlock all of the trophies (if you're into that like I am, that is). Playing through the game the second, third, fourth, etc. time and constantly being met with Trespasser puzzles that you've already solved in a prior play-through and must solve them in the current play-through is a real chore.

With Trespasser puzzles, you rotate multiple circles. The inner circle shoots out lasers. The goal is to have each laser hit a receptor in order to clear the puzzle and unlock the door you're not supposed to enter (at least by the standards of the person who originally locked it). Later puzzles introduce more lasers and receptors, as well as shields that block lasers from reaching receptors, so they have to be rotated correctly, too. Despite these slow periods in the game devoted to the Trespasser, Ratchet & Clank is still a top notch game, and the best release I played in 2016.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)

%#$^ that side mission Supply Lines on the PlayStation 2 version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas!! There. It felt good to let that out. Did it get your attention as well? Then, I killed two birds with one stone!

Supply Lines is a side mission in San Andreas where David Lynch will constantly tell you that his voiced character's humiliation is complete after you fail the mission. Over and over. And over. And over. Again.

The goal of Supply Lines is to take out a handful of vans driving around different routes in San Fierro while you pilot a remote controlled plane with a gun attached to it. The RC plane has limited fuel, and it's so limited in the PlayStation 2 version that you have to pretty much perform a perfect run just to take out all of the vans--timing their locations correctly--and land at the ending point to clear the mission.

Supply Lines was so badly balanced and challenging in the original PlayStation 2 version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that Rockstar made the mission significantly easier in all future versions, beginning with the Xbox port. My completed run of the O.G. Supply Lines is worn like a badge of honor... Or tremendous patience. One or the other.

Killzone: Mercenary (Vita)

Unlike Grand Theft Auto post-III, I never really got into Guerrilla Games's Killzone franchise. I know Killzone 2 was a showstopper with its amazing (for the time) visuals and presentation at one of the various E3s in the past, but it just didn't appeal to me. It was a poster boy for that generation at that time where brown and grey were popular colors to use, and Killzone 2 was the epitome of that.

However, when I got my PlayStation Vita, I was yearning for a game that would incorporate those dual analogs on the system into a competent first-person shooter. Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified failed to be a critical darling (it was the complete opposite, in fact), so I steered clear of that one. Then, Killzone: Mercenary launched, and despite its acclaim from the media and gamers, I was still skeptical. That was until I got my hands on the game, played through it, and loved every hour of it.

The issue here is that there weren't a lot of hours to be had in the main campaign. Instead, the game's nine chapters were over quite quickly. For those who don't care about replay value--replaying and completing missions with three checklists of tasks, making for at least three runs per level total--then there wasn't much to be found in the single player campaign. I've read a lot of criticism about this aspect of the game, and it's understandable criticism for those who don't care to replay the same missions only with different rules and objectives to them. Still, Killzone: Mercenary is a stellar shooter nonetheless.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

Pit's return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii after many decades on hiatus from his own series, Kid Icarus, was a shock to say the least. The popularity of the character and Smash director Masahiro Sakurai's desire to make a game in the Kid Icarus universe led to the franchise being reborn with the Nintendo 3DS hit Kid Icarus: Uprising. This game had it all: blistering fast action, great visuals for the Nintendo 3DS hardware, a stupendous soundtrack (one of my favorites of all time), both on-rails aerial action and ground-based combat/exploration, and yes, a control scheme that could really cramp up one's hands rather easily!

Kid Icarus: Uprising really needed a system with two analog sticks or at least better ergonomics, as holding the Nintendo 3DS with one hand while using the stylus to aim and shoot with the other was quite a bother for many players. When a game needs to ship with a plastic stand in order to ease the strain and burden put on the player's hands, it's probably a bad thing. Just thinking out loud, though. I, personally, found comfort by resting the system on my leg or in my lap while playing, but even still, I, among countless others, would adore seeing Kid Icarus: Uprising put on a platform that's much easier to hold without having to live with inconvenience and occasional suffering to enjoy it.

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