Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's the 80's but in a higher definition

Playing Fist of the North Star on easy did not actually make it any more fun, it just put the game of its misery and off of my hard drive a little bit faster. Spoiler: the good guy wins and the bad guy turns out to not actually be that bad. I took a quick look at the other modes and they all take place in the same brown/grey areas, just with more dudes to punch. The Dream mode at least attempted to mix things up by making the map larger and adding opposing army basses that you need to occupy. And how do you occupy them? By killing a whole bunch of dudes. It was actually a lot like Guilty Gear 2, minus the creative character designs and passable graphics. I played Guilty Gear 2 for less than two hours and Dream mode for about fifteen minutes. There were about five more characters to try and I couldn't muster any interest in them either. Gore and violence are just not enough to hold my interest, even when they come from exploding heads and over the top martial arts moves. Perhaps I am maturing?

Nah.

Speaking of Guilty Gear, did you know that Arc System Works was tasked with re-imagining Contra Hard Corps? And did you know that it came out yesterday? Also, it is awesome and you should buy it. Hard Corp stretches gaming muscles that I had forgotten I had, bringing the old school 'you will die and use all of your continues in the first level' mentality to some damn fine looking high res sprites. I will confess to never having played the Genesis Contra Hard Corp, so to me this feels like Super Contra IV with a health bar, and this is not a bad thing. The weapons are all there, the level design is very reminiscent of 16 bit mode 7 laden shooters and there are even little tidbits of classic Contra music from time to time. Arcade mode is brutal as it should be, but there is an RPG-ish mode that allows you to buy all sorts of power ups that will help the mortal gamer through the latter stages. I am partial to the 'buy more lives so I can force my way to the end on a stack of my own corpses' approach, but there are weapons powerups and new moves available as well.

I only wish that Hard Corps was more consistent in its presentation. Enemies, weapons, explosions and the levels themselves look to be right out of Blaz Blue, but bosses are crudely built out of polygons and really stick out when compared to everything else. I know that full screen high res sprites can be problematic (remember Odin Sphere? Massive slow down ahoy) and I know that the XB360 is not exactly overflowing with RAM to store them in, but come on. How am I supposed to get a high res hand drawn sequel to Symphony of the Night at this rate? If Hard Corp is any indication, it can be done, just not for under a gig download and 1200 MS points.

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