King Boom Boo

1 07 2015

King Boom Boo

Back in 2002 when I first received my GameCube, for the first couple of months I only had one game (Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee). For the first few months to a year of ownership of the console I spent a lot of time in GAME and Gamestation looking at games to possibly purchase. One of the games I kept an eye on was a game I had played before on the Dreamcast which belonged to one of my brothers and was one of the first games he had for it. The game was Sonic Adventure 2 and was originally a game made exclusively for the Dreamcast. Sometime after the Dreamcast had stopped being produced however, Sonic Adventure 2 was re-released onto the GameCube as Sonic Adventure 2: Battle.

Sonic Adventure 2 (Sega - 2001)

When I first got Battle, I instantly began to play it and could easily recognise the levels I sometimes played on the Dreamcast, as well as later levels I remembered seeing my brother play. My progress on the game was slow, but I was a younger gamer at the time, (not as lightning fast like when I play now). While playing the hero side of the story, I knew about an upcoming boss level for Sonic where he goes up against this big Egyptian style statue called the Egg Golem. I remembered seeing my brother play that level, the one thing I did not see, was the boss level directly before it.

Hourglass

After completing one of Knuckles‘s treasure finding levels (one where I had to find keys to unlock a door in Eggman’s base), I expected to go up against the Egg Golem. Instead I was surprised to come to a sudden boss level involving a Giant Ghost. The boss was called King Boom Boo: The King of Ghosts and he was a hard one. The level involved a round room with a pillar in the middle. The ghost himself had big eyes and a large multi-coloured mouth and tongue. Behind him there was a smaller ghost with an egg timer/sand timer/hourglass. Taking on the boss and defeating him was easy in theory. You basically had to attack the little ghost with the hourglass behind King Boom Boo, which would cause a timed door to open. This would then cause King Boom Boo to disappear into the ground, where you dig him up, hit him as many times as you could before the door closes and the sun goes, causing King Boom Boo to grow back to normal size again. Defeating him though was a hard one. It was similar to chasing someone round a room, and when you turn another way, so does he. In fighting King Boom Boo, the first thing you needed to do was to get away from him and his blue hand fire-ball attack (and later his tongue attack), before getting behind him to strike at the smaller ghost, the only thing is though that he quickly turns around to come at you again. For several attempts which I remembered span over several weeks, I was unlucky, but there was a clue as to how to strike at the little ghost.

GameCube

 

When he had enough of chasing you, King Boom Boo would then breathe fire, preventing him from turning round. You could then use this to attack the little ghost and attack King Boom Boo. Getting him out of the ground is then not so hard as sometimes he’s on the floor, and others he’s on the pillar and you just need to climb up there. Getting more than one hit on him is hard though. King Boom Boo after he is dug out of the ground is large, cumbersome and slow, therefore easy to hit. After you hit him once though, he gets smaller and quicker, meaning that if you too were slow, you probably weren’t going to hit him again. I once did try going the other way, but he saw me and turned round (which was rather funny). In the end though it came down to several more attempts getting in 1 hit at a time, luckily though the boss levels have a health bar at the top to show you how much health the opponent has left. So after several weeks and attempts, I finally beat the wretched ghost, and the game saved successfully so I did not need to do it again. Up next though was the Egg Golem (which is another story for another time).

Egg Golem

Despite how long it took and how hard it was; King Boom Boo remains one of my favourite and most memorable boss fights of any video game I have played. I still have the game to this day (and have yet to complete the third story), same copy and everything, but I now look forward to the ghost boss level as I consider it a mid to late milestone for the Hero Story. I look forward to it because I know what I am doing, and it gives me another opportunity to listen to the Fantastic soundtrack, plus; it’s a nicely designed, well thought out boss level and I was surprised by it, for only then to have it followed by yet another hard boss level. Possibly more though, I remember it fondly because it took me so long to complete it, and to this day, look forward to enjoy and remember such an experience like that again in video gaming – and for now, I know just where to get it.

GENEPOOL (I also remember seeing King Boom Boo in an episode of Sonic X).

 





Shadow The Hedgehog: The Final Word

17 06 2015

Shadow The Hedgehog (SEGA - 2005)

Several years ago, I used to collect Official Nintendo Magazine, I still have them actually. It was back when I was a big gamer and played on mostly Nintendo consoles. Eventually though, maybe two years ago, I just stopped collecting them, I don’t think I actually had a proper good read of one for a year before that. Anyway, the magazine continuously changed every few issues to keep it fresh and one of the magazine sections that stuck around for a while was a readers section. This was where anyone who wrote letters in, or (more commonly) from the online forums would get a say. When it came to the online forums, ONM used to show a pie chart of percentages of what people talked about most that month, and one of the most commonly featured topics in the pie chart was a lot of people showing their support for a spinoff game of the Sonic the Hedgehog series; Shadow The Hedgehog.

ONM Magazine

I never actually looked into those topics on the forums, my forum footprint overall was pretty low; however it always interested me to see people defend Shadow the Hedgehog. I remember first reading about the game and being a fan of the Sonic series at the time (and also my liking for the character of Shadow), I was excited about it. I remember even getting a copy of it for my GameCube when it was first released, and remembered hearing friends and other people talk about their opinions for the game, where the result was normally positive. One thing I did not understand though, was why (roughly) 25% of the readership of the magazine wrote on the forums every month just to defend a specific game. The other percentages used to talk about new stuff or current games and opinions; so why is another talking about one game in particular? I mean, what was so bad about Shadow the Hedgehog in the first place. When I originally played it, I thought it was quite fun. I played it quite a lot and really got into it. Ok, it wasn’t like it had no flaws at all but I thought it was OK. With the game being nearly 10 years old now, I thought I would reminisce a little by looking back at it and giving a more hindsight view on what I thought of the final product. While the post may say “The Final Word”, this probably, more than likely, won’t be the last time someone talks about this game, but due to the interest in people defending the game, I thought I would give and highlight my thoughts on the game, then hopefully come up with some overall rating for it (I probably won’t do this again in the future as it probably won’t work).

Shadow

1. Setting – Shadow is a hedgehog (like sonic, but black in colour) who has something of a mysterious past that comes back to him in flashbacks he doesn’t relatively understand. For the most part he is a loner and only cares for himself and some mysterious girl called Maria. One day, an Alien Invasion by a race known as the Black Arms suddenly happens. At first he doesn’t care, but is then approached by the races master; Black Doom who says that if Shadow can bring him the Chaos Emeralds, he will reveal Shadows past. The alien invasion setting then sets the game up for the player to take shadow on a story plot that allows the player to take different routes and discover and play different levels while also discovering Shadows Past. The games’ setting is pretty interesting and as its core point of storytelling goes, it’s pretty cool; however it’s all over the place. One moment you are fighting off an alien invasion, the next, you are nowhere near the invasion, to doing something that happened 50 years previously, or fighting a completely different enemy altogether. Because you are not too sure of where you are supposed to be, it feels more like a game without story than a game that sort of promises to tell you a story while discovering it yourself at the same time. While it is interesting to discover new things and experiences other bits, for a story telling adventure, it’s a bit poor. 2/5.

S4

2. Gameplay Part 1: Storytelling – The game offers you choices of routes to take from level to level, meaning the game is not linear. In fact the game uses a story tree which allows players to pick a route to take and follow it to where it goes. To do this, they have 3 choices of mission per level (as far as I know, I didn’t get as far as the end of each story side). One route choice will take the player on the hero path, another on the dark path, and the other on the horizontal normal route. If the player goes down the normal route that just comes to the point of reaching the end of the level for the other 2 though it usually requires completing an in game goal or completing the level in a certain way. So it could be activating or finding things in level, or it could be defeating so many enemies to destroying something. Relatively simple……….in theory. It’s one of the larger issues I have with the game. The problem is, that while it sounds relatively simple; some of those side missions can turn out to be rather complex. Some are easier than others but when it comes down to either finding so many of one thing, or collecting the other, finding them in the first place can be very irritating, especially when there is only one left, and while you may get to the point of certainty knowing where it is, finding it at all again is tricky. Keeping it to those routes to get to new levels can become even more irritating if you accidently end up doing a level you may have already done once before, and when you play levels over and over again, it gets really boring. Then even if you are successful in completing the mission correctly to go onto the next stage, you may end up taking on one of the games various random bosses, which is tedious unto itself. It is a rather inventive and exciting way to play a sonic game as it is not linear and the choice of routes can be quite fun (as well as add replay value to find more levels), but in turn, is annoying. 3/5.

S1

3. Gameplay Part 2: Core Gameplay Mechanics – The games striking main feature is that the lead character gets to wield a gun. Possibly thinking; that without something extra or different, it would look just like a normal Sonic game; the developers gave an already anti-hero character his own choice of weaponry. The game bolsters a huge selection of firearms with some different per level, and while Shadow doesn’t necessarily have to use them, it does add something else to the game. Most times guns are just picked up from fallen enemies, and depending on the enemies and area will vary the choice of available firearms. I find it’s a lot like Half Life in that respect with the amount of different types, but when there is in some cases little variation it can be a bit repetitive, but not necessarily boring. The inclusion of a gun though doesn’t really seem to provide much though, as there are lots of shooting games on the market and the only thing that’s different with this one is that it’s in a Sonic game. Shadow does not necessarily need a gun however, he is powerful enough without. I think it’s more of an image thing than anything else, but I would rather him have a gun he can keep than having lots that do not last very long. After that though there isn’t much except for regular abilities that sonic can use in previous games. The only other one that stands out is in the 2 power bars that can be built up during levels. These are filled up when attacking certain enemies or doing other things of note. One is a hero bar, the other is dark and when one has been filled up it can be used. These are actually quite useful as one allows you to travel huge levels of distance in the game making the levels shorter, while the other works similarly to the Team Blast feature in Sonic Heroes where you can wipe out huge numbers of enemies that are currently on-screen. It’s a very nice feature which is also something a little bit different to other games. 4/5.

S3

4. Visuals – Visuals come down to 2 points, cinematics and in game. The cinematics look terrific and add an extra special something to the story telling side of the game. The cut scenes and in game visuals however, which use the same graphics look rather basic and can put a sour note on the games look. For the most part the visuals don’t look that bad, but when considering that the visuals for some cut scenes don’t use the cinematic look, it just looks basic as if it was done half-heartedly. The cut scenes are nicely done in what they are trying to say and set up the levels well, but compared to what is achieved in the more cinematic cut scenes, they could be better. The opening cinematic though is fantastic and really helps to set up the feel of the whole game. 3/5.

5. Bosses and other Characters – The boss levels are not exactly varied. My experience mostly ended up with me takin on mostly Dr. Eggman in boss matches that were quite hard. The only other boss levels I had were against the black bull alien thing and the heavy dog, both of which were still pretty hard. The end boss for all my attempts was the Egg Dealer which was a lot more simple (and enjoyable) but weird. It was the case that once you knew how to defeat it, all you needed to do was just keep hitting it with your homing attack. The other thing about it was its choice of when to enter the game. One of the last levels on a route of the tree was the black comet where you would expect to find some kind of alien monster to fight. No; for some reason it was Eggman. It made more sense when I was in Eggman’s base, but not on the comet. Apart from the Egg dealer, Boss levels were pretty weak, if it was not for the choice of music to go with them, which ups the score for it a little. As for the use of other characters in the game that you randomly meet on the way in some levels, I think it’s rather pointless with the only good new character being the commander of G.U.N. (and some allowance to Black Doom, but only a bit). 2/5.

Omega E-123

6. Levels and Multiplayer – The levels in the game were nice and varied if but a bit dodgy. It’s sort of all over the place with areas depending on the routes you take. However the choice of levels and the things you can do in them are a relative improvement compared to the storytelling side. The levels are designed in strange combinations with some being like classic Sonic levels (platforms and lots of running), while others are like mazes and slow routes with lots of fighting. And then you have the completely weird ones like the circus based world, and a couple inside computers. The colouring of the levels is sometimes bright and sometimes dark but with plenty of variation. While the things you can do in the levels are really up to the story direction, the levels are much better in contrast. Multiplayer I did not get to play much of except on one occasion, however it was weird and fun to experience. 4/5.

S2

7. Soundtrack – For all the game’s up and downs, there is one thing that does not disappoint: the game’s soundtrack. While the levels, characters, missions and bosses are constantly in a state of mismatch, the one thing that does work is the choice of music to the game level. While some levels are similar to one another, great care has been taken to make the soundtrack work and meet the feel and look of each level. Added to this is the soundtrack for the boss levels, cut scenes, characters, cinematics and even the credits; which altogether makes something that works at a consistent rate, and not only that is both enjoyable, and memorable at the same time. I will probably go more into certain pieces of soundtrack in a later post, but particular ones to look out for include the opening cinematic theme (I Am… All of Me), Digital Circuit, Sky Troops and the end credits theme (Waking Up). 5/5.

So, that’s the game in essence, so now to work out its score. So ‘add the numbers together and then divide by the number of categories.’ 2 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 4 + 5 = 23 ÷ 7 = 3.285714285714286. So to round it to a reasonable number, I would say it gives Shadow the Hedgehog as score of 3 making it something of an average game of highs and lows. It has great gameplay mechanics, interesting levels and a fantastic soundtrack but is somewhat hindered by everything else.  It’s not completely Pants, but it’s not really Great either. You might be able to see something else in it than I didn’t, but altogether; that’s what I think f Shadow the Hedgehog. It will more than likely still be debated for some years to come, but for now, it’s somewhere in the middle (plus I have other things to do).

Vector

GENEPOOL





5 Years of Nintendo Wii

9 12 2011

Nintendo Wii

5 Years ago today the Wii was released in the UK and within a month it had introduced many non-gamers to video games and became one of the best video game consoles of all time. So I think it is time to celebrate. I think we should take a look at the history of the console. Where it started, its success and what it is like now.

GameCube

 

In 2001 during the first release of the Nintendo GameCube the idea for a new console for Nintendo was in rough planning. As technology progresses it gets cheaper and people will want something new eventually. Nintendo wanted a new form of game interaction. All the major consoles in this period were roughly the same. They had controllers which had buttons to press. Shigeru Miyamoto stated “The consensus was that power isn’t everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can’t coexist. It’s like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction”. A couple of years later engineers and designers came in to develop the product. In 2005 the controller interface was ready but because of a few problems the controller was hidden for the time being. 

The new console was revealed by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata at E3 2005 with the name Nintendo Revolution. I remember reading about the console in CUBE magazine and I thought it looked good and was excited. However it was said that the console could be a few years away from being released. The revolution would be talked about for a few more months and then in September the controller (Wii Remote) was revealed at the Tokyo game show. The controller showed that instead of just pressing buttons there would be movement as well but there was no sign of games or how this idea works. Because of the GameCube being the 3rd place console during its generation people were skeptical of what Nintendo’s new console was going to be like.

Because CUBE magazine stopped printing in 2005 for a few months I did not find out any information on the new console. Then in 2006 I started collecting Official Nintendo Magazine and the magazine came with a DVD of E3 2006 press conference. It was at this press conference that all was revealed, how the controller worked, what the console can do and what games were being made for it. It looked amazing, the games looked amazing. Instead of simply tapping buttons you could swing a controller just like you were playing tennis, point at the screen and pull a trigger was like shooting like the old arcade games but now you could move (you were not on rails). Some people were still skeptical but they would not have to wait long to see what the console could do. Before the launch of the console Satoru Iwata talked in London about some of the features included in the new console including the Mii feature allowing people to play in games as themselves.

On December 8th 2006 the console was released in the UK. The plan was it was going to be a Christmas present to me but my mum allowed me to keep it out and have Red Steel wrapped up for Christmas day. I loved it; I liked swinging the golf club, playing bowling and boxing. Instead of tapping buttons I was swinging my arms. On Christmas day I received Red Steel, a Japanese style shooting a sword fighting game and I loved it (I still do). Before the console came out I remember people who knew me telling me that the console would be rubbish and not work. Very soon after the launch of the Wii they were seeing that it worked and forgot about what they said and enjoyed the console.

Within a few months the console became a huge success in every country it was available in even beating the Xbox 360 which came out a whole year before it. The Wii’s success came in the form of accessibility. It was no longer something which involved moving a stick and pressing a button it was now the time for people to feel like the action they are performing. Even older people could join in with younger children and enjoy themselves. There was truly something for everyone. Another thing which made it popular was its price tag, £180. The 360 was £200 minimum and the soon to be released PS3 was £450. The Wii was less than £200 and it came with Wii Sports. Wii Sports was the game that showed what the Wii could do and by being included in the price consumers were getting a game for a cheap price or free. At the beginning of 2007 not many games were coming out for the console but a few weeks later 75 games had been announced to come out in 2007. Many development companies saw the possibility of receiving large amounts of money from this new console. New franchises started to make their debut on this console such as Ubisoft’s Red Steel and Raving Rabbids. Well established series like Mortal Kombat came to the Wii. Over the coming months more and more games were released like Excite Truck but the people who made the most out of the console were Nintendo themselves and by the end of 2007 Mario finally arrived in Mario Galaxy and had finally come face to face with his longtime rival Sonic the Hedgehog as they met at the Beijing Olympics. By E3 2007 it was a time of celebration for the console and new game were announced including Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii.

2008 was to be another good year for Nintendo with games like Battalion Wars 2 and Mario Kart Wii (both with online gameplay) and Wii Fit was also released. A game where you could have fun and lose weight at the same time and became a big success for the console. E3 2008 was not so good however, not many new announcements and overall a bit poor allowing Sony to steal the show. Nintendo did announce titles like Animal Crossing Lets Go to the City and Wii MusicHowever it was a lot better than Microsoft who decided to make some Avatars for their console (which is just a copy of the Wii’s Mii’s even though Microsoft claimed it was their idea originally). Nintendo did announce one game which would follow on from the success of another. Wii Sports Resort was announced which included a whole range of new games including Sword Fighting, Frisbee and Jet Skiing. The game was to come with a new attachment for the console to make the movements more precise and accurate.

In 2009 things began to improve. Little Kings Story and MadWorld were released early on, Wii Sports resort was released in the summer and a New Super Mario Bros game was released towards the end of the year. However competition began to surface. Microsoft and Sony saw the potential in the Motion Sensing Controller and started working on their own versions. It was in 2009 that I bought a PS3. The reason I did this was because there were bigger more single player games that I wanted to play on it and the Wii was not getting some of these games. One of the major issues with the Wii is the single player experience. There is some but not enough. In multiplayer it dominates but in single player it does not. If I had friends round we would be OK on the Wii but if I wanted to play games by myself there was not much in the choice of options. Some good games were still coming out on the Wii in 2009 and 2010 but not much for a single player. At this point the Wii did start to decline and Nintendo released lees and less first party games for it and started to look more at the Nintendo 3DS. Some games were released but not much. With the arrival of Kinect and PlayStation Move, The Wii was starting to decline.

At E3 2011 Nintendo announced the Wii’s Successor. The Wii U. This new console still uses the controllers that the Wii does but it also has a tablet style controller which allows 5 player multiplayer, a way of interacting more with the TV and a way of playing games when someone wants to watch something on TV. The current views on the Wii U are skeptical with it. Yes it is more of an attachment to the Wii and it may not be a long-term solution to the Wii. Eventually a new console altogether will be needed but from what I have seen I am excited to see what it would be like.

Wii U

Nintendo are the innovators of the Games industry. Without them the games industry will look very different and while there will be challenges to overcome they will be around for a good long time daring to be different and making some of the major changes to the industry turning it into more than just what it is and thinking what it can be. With the Wii they have shown this and now they look ahead into thinking what can be the next big thing but for now let’s celebrate the five-year run of one of the true greats of the Games Industry. The Wii started out as an idea and has fought the heirs of the consoles which pushed the GameCube out of the way to become the current King of Consoles.

GENEPOOL








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