Friday, September 28, 2012

Demo Friday: Hulk smash tiny avatar

I think there is something good about my Demo Friday idea as I was actually excited to sit down with three games that I had no intention of buying and giving them a few minutes of  my time. There is an element of danger in this: I just might find something that I need to play more of, something capable of stealing time from Borderlands 2 or Tekken or other terrible, to be named later retail game that shows up in the mailbox. It almost happened this week with a game that I have never heard of nor fully understand. First, though, is this:

Chiropractics: The Game

Fire Pro Wrestling is a very old franchise. I have always heard that it a much finer wrestling game than anything carrying the WWE license (or WWF, for that matter) but I have never played one. Honestly, I am not sure if this is even from the same people or if a upstart developer snagged the rights to the name and then convinced Microsoft to let them use to with avatars. The premise is simple: your avatar beats up other peoples' avatars in the squared circle. There are moves to earn via experience and costumes to purchase with match winnings. All of the frilly dress up bits that have become the standard. Still, this is a wrestling game, how does it wrestle?

Much to my surprise, reasonably well. My wrestling gamer experience is limited to Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64, which was divine in nature, and this generations WWE All Stars. I like to watch sweaty men beat each other up but I fell little need to participate. Fire Pro Wrestling has light and heavy strikes along with a grapple button. Attempting a grapple starts up a guessing game with the opponent: if the defender matches your button press the move is countered, otherwise it hits. In theory this sounds reasonable, but the AI cheats like a bastard. Hold on, the AI cheats like a bastard when fighting against you. When the AI is controlling you tag partner (side note: you can't over ride this) he stands around waiting to get his ass kicked.

To someone who plays fighting games Fire Pro Wrestling appears to have depth but offers little excitement. I am not into dressing up my avatar enough to be interesting in the rest of it, though I do wish my abs were as cut as his.

But only because 'TOASTY' is cliched.

I cannot pigeon hole Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit. Is it a Metroidvania? Sort of, but instead of a large world full of backtracking there are ten separate large levels with back tracking. Is it a platformer? Sort of, but the second half of the first level had me tooling around in a giant saw blade that could fly. A shooter? Parts of it. The only thing I am sure of is that the Hell Yeah! was everything a demo should be. The entire first level is present, excluding the final boss fight, which I understand. The basic mechanics are introduced along with a few bits of the story and the main character's motivation and I get to mess around with it long enough to decide if I need more. The short answer is yes, I need more.

Hell Yeah! is insane. I am big fan of 'Splosion Man and this beats it for sheer lunacy. Innocent slap stick and meat are replaced with sadistic slap stick and, well, more meat. Defeating each mini-boss starts a unique mini-game. None of the five I saw were difficult but there were certainly amusing. All of this takes place in a 2D world that approaches Rayman Legends in animation and detail. If I weren't so busy with everything else I should be playing I would be sold. Not a need to play, but a want to play, if that makes a difference.

Hulk has had the same move set for 17 years.

I am of the opinion that most fighting games don't age well. Fighters, especially Capcom fighters, make incremental changes over their predecessors. Given enough time these changes add up and the games 'feel' completely different, but the core elements are still there. A fireball is still D,DF,F + Punch. You can still cancel some moved into specials, etc. Moving backwards in a series reverses the development process and the game feels incomplete. Add to this old low res sprites not agreeing with all them fancy new teevees and their super high resomolutions and playing an old fighting game feels like a trip to a museum: fun for a while but not a place you want to spend the night.

Marvel vs. Capcom Origins has two games: Marvel vs. Capcom and Marvel Super Heroes. I played neither of them when they originally came out as my arcade time was dominated by whatever Mortal Kombat was around at the time and/or Killer Instinct. Seeing gems implement better than they were in Street Fighter X Tekken was fun. Recognizing sprites that were clearly recycled through three or four more games was even better. There was no nostalgia factor for me, though, plus I don't like playing the newest iteration of the series, so running through arcade mode in each game once was more than enough.

That was quite refreshing and a pleasant break from everything else that I need to play. Hell Yeah! might just end up purchased the next time I have nothing else to play, which never happens. 

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