Tag Archives: PS2

Game Spotlight: SSX Tricky

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In an age where games are lost in the quest to becoming the most realistic simulation of real life activities, the memories of the PS2 era and further into the past continue to remind me about how less of a shit the majority of game companies cared about when it came to realism in their games. We had games like NBA Jam, but now we’re stuck with NBA 2K, games like Doom and Quake (thank god they’re back now) but now we’re stuck with Battlefield and Call of Duty.

But when it came to games that threw realism right out the window, there are few games that display that style better than the SSX series. And my favourite game from that series has always been SSX Tricky.

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What other game series can you think of where you can play as a teenage Japanese girl, a punk rock girl, an afro-sporting guy stuck in the 70s, a psychotic maniac or the many other crazy over-the-top characters the series offers and then on top of that play a crazy off-the-rails (unless you’re grinding them) snowboarding game with races and trick competitions where you can perform inhuman tricks like stepping out of the foot locks on the board and spinning around on it like you’re a fighter jet doing barrel rolls? That’s right, no other game.

In terms of the game modes, there’s the usual fodder you’d expect. Just doing single races, practicing or freemode for when you just want to snowboard and screw around, there’s plenty to do without too big a sense of competition. But the World Circuit mode is rather interesting for one specific gimmick to the mode. While the actual mode is just a series of races and trick competition’s, you can have a moral standing with all the other characters in the game. By attacking them during races, you lose standing with them. Piss them off too much, in future races, they’ll come gunning for you and only you. It’s a tough road, as attacking them boosts your adrenaline bar with allows you to do more tricks, including the crazy Uber tricks, like the barrel roll spiral I mentioned earlier. At the same time, by not attacking them, races can become a little less stressful.

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In terms of the gameplay, it’s as solid an arcade-like controlling game as you can get. Even at a younger age, I had no problems adjusting easily to the controls and being able to accomplish quite a lot. The bright and vibrant colours as well make it really easy to spot shortcuts and major jumps or any good spots to hit big tricks and rack up a ton of points. And when racing, the turns are pretty smooth, the speed is fast and furious and yet when playing, you don’t feel too frantic, even if you’re at full speed.

The only negative thing I can say about it, is the soundtrack as it wasn’t until the sequel in SSX 3 that we really got that great mixture of electronic, punk and metal that the series is known for. But we’ll happily take Run DMC any day of the week.

So if you haven’t played an SSX game before, I strongly recommend you try one out. And if you can get a hold of a copy of SSX Tricky, that would be the starting point, in my opinion.

Game Spotlight: Shadow Hearts: From The New World

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How many games have you played over the course of your life that made you legitimately interested in history, geography, anything like that? Some games come to mind include the Carmen Sandiego games, Mario is Missing, stuff like that.

A game I’d add onto the list for myself: Shadow Hearts: From The New World. Yes, a crazy JRPG that has a giant talking cat fighting like Jackie Chan’s drunken master gimmick, a dumbass American ninja who fights with insane weapons such as a bus stop sign and a mariachi guy who fights with a guitar implanted with guns inside it. That game made me legitimately interesting in history and geography.

(left to right) Frank, Lenny, Shania, Johnny, Hilda, Natan, Mao, Ricardo
(left to right) Frank, Lenny, Shania, Johnny, Hilda, Natan, Mao, Ricardo

The game is set in the year 1929 as we follow a young 16 year-old Johnny Garland who runs a detective agency in New York alongside an old friend to Shadow Hearts fans, Lenny Curtis. Initially what was just supposed to be a search for a missing person turns into a massive journey across the Americas to save the world from a super-powered villain.

Compared to most JRPGs, the universe in this game is so much more different than most. I haven’t played much of the either two games in the series, but From The New World for me is a fantastic mixture of historical events and places while intertwined into a ridiculously over-the-top sci-fi epic fantasy. Wanna break Al Capone out of Alcatraz while his resurrected sister wreaks havoc on everyone breathing? Hell yeah you can! Want to sneak into Area 51 and along the way bump into an alien and a vampire who switches between a vampire bat, sexy goth girl and a super-obese version of herself? Yeah, that can happen to! The game takes various places, people and events you’ve probably heard of and twist/skew it as much as possible to fit it into the game’s storyline. It’s insane and I love it.

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Slim Hilda form

The one thing that really makes this game keep itself from getting boring, is it’s battle system. Albeit sometimes frustrating, the Judgment Ring system has every action pop up with a wheel mini-game where you have to strike either the larger, main coloured area of the ring to successfully perform the action, or you can go for the much smaller red section which adds a bonus on top of it, like a critical hit. This makes every action require your attention rather than most JRPGs which is a sit and watch experience (*cough cough* FFXIII…) and offers little for the player to do. It can get frustrating when status effects add onto it, doing such things as changing the speed, changing the direction of the needle and making the zones invisible. But most battles are fair and it’s just a matter of adjusting to it.

There’s a fair amount of customization as well. The game offers Stellar Charts, which is similar to FFVII’s Materia system. You can decide who gets what abilities and what chart they use, as some offer more options than others. You can even customize each chart to your own preferences, so there’s plenty of ways to play your party members. They each have their own special abilities as well to further differentiate themselves and they level up over the course of the game through various means. The most notable is of course other main character, Shania who uses the Fusion ability to transform into various Native American spirits which have different elemental abilities and battle styles. Every character has something unique going on and it keeps the battles fresh as the game progresses.

Shania and her various Fusions
Shania and her various Fusions

In terms of the story, it’s nothing too special to look at. I personally view the game and its storyline as a sort of comedic sci-fi epic, the story is there and there are a few interesting plot points over the course of the game, but there’s nothing that will invest you to the point of sinking in hours on end to get to a conclusion.

What the game has however that makes it so irresistible and memorable is its wacky cast of characters, both playable, enemy and NPC. Other than the main cast I already went through, one of the main villains Gilbert is pretty much The Penguin from the Batman series, minus the outfit and accent. The shopkeeps you see are gay bikers, one is normal, the other is super flamboyant which may rub some people the wrong way, but if you’re familiar with Japan, this is a normal caricature you’ll see in various media. And like I said earlier, the number of real people featured in the game, from Al Capone and Eliot Ness to H.P. Lovecraft, it’s crazy how they mix these people in!

Al Capone
Al Capone

If you’re looking for a wacky JRPG, this is way up your alley. And if you have any interest in history, this will be a massive cherry on top of this already delicious cake. Check it out!

Game Spotlight: The Bouncer

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So I learned pretty quickly there are only so many games I can have played and can talk about sex scenes and overtly sexy characters in, so for the time being the “This Week in Sexy Games” series of articles will be pushed aside and upgraded to a spotlight of all games.

So what better way to start off this series…with a game few people liked. The Bouncer, Squaresoft’s (at the time before becoming Square Enix) first game released for the PlayStation 2.

At least that’s how I remembered it, apparently is isn’t as hated as I used to think. The Metacritic rating for it currently sits at 66, IGN gave it a 7/10, Gamespot a 6.7/10. It’s weird to me because I specifically remember every rating this game got was below a 5/10 and this is when people actually used 1-4 as number ratings. Oh boy, that’s an article I need to write soon.

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The Bouncer is your standard beat-’em-up but with the added flair that Square always brings to the table. Great cutscenes, decent voice acting, ridiculous costume designs and questionable names. The main protagonist, Sion Barzahd looks like an adult version of Sora from Kingdom Hearts, which honestly wouldn’t shock me if Sion’s design was part of what the character designers took from to create Sora. The hair is similar, the clothing is similar, even the colour scheme is very close to the original Sora design, it’s actually kinda crazy.

All the characters are really decent at best, while some stand out costume-wise or hair-wise, in terms of personality no one really runs away with it, except for one of the recurring bosses Mugetsu, who’s really just the insane Joker ripoff character. Sion is pretty much Squall, Volt is your standard tough guy and Kou is the cool one. The love interest of Dominique is your standard cute girl, another recurring boss Echidna is the badass tomboy girl and the main enemy Dauragon is your typical pretty boy egomaniac. None of them steal the show, but they don’t need to and it benefits the story as there’s not really one character you want to get off your TV screen.

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The story is not much to talk about, mainly because it’s all over the place, especially towards the end. To shorten it up, basically Sion is a bouncer with Volt and Kou when a bunch of ninjas kidnap his girlfriend Dominique. They fight on top of a train, they fight robots, a girl who transforms into a panther and then go into space and fight the final boss. Did I mention these three are just bouncers? The story is absolutely ridiculous, jumps faster than you can keep up and yet I still love it.

The gameplay is what holds it together though for me. Some people think it’s sloppy but for a PS2-era game, it works extremely well, the camera’s decent, the motions are fluid and some of the moves are just awesome. With a decent leveling system as well you start off pretty weak, but by the end of the game you’re a fucking death bringer, you can be super OP and have a bunch of wicked over-the-top fighting moves. It’s great.

Even the multiplayer aspect of the game is decent and having access to all the characters as fighters is pretty cool. For me it was a new thing to play a game like this and be able to play as all the villains as well.

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As an early PS2 game, The Bouncer is fantastic and to this day remains one of my favourite games. Is it one of the best games I’ve ever played, not even close, but the nostalgic value of this game is extremely high for me. If you’re looking for a trip down PS2 memory lane, this game’s a good find for it. I love this game.

$10-15 for PS2 on PS4? Sign me up!

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The PlayStation 2 was and may forever be my favourite console of all time. It is truly the console that defined me as a gamer and if I did a Top 10 of my all-time favourite games, I’m positive at least half of them are games I played on that console.

So when rumours started about PS2 games starting to be released on PS4, I got excited. Now we have confirmation of that, as eight games got released last week.

However, not everyone was as psyched it seems. Many were a little annoyed at the pricing of some of these games, Kotaku in particular as they were the first ones I read saying this.

So let’s look at the eight games and the prices they’re being sold for. For this comparison, I’m using a site I buy older games from, LukieGames. The prices are also in Canadian, folks.

  • Dark Cloud — $14.99 (Lukie Price: $22.47)
  • Grand Theft Auto III — $14.99 (Lukie Price: $4.14)
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City — $14.99 (Lukie Price: $6.04)
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas — $14.99 (Lukie Price: $9.84)
  • Rogue Galaxy — $14.99 (Lukie Price: $28.97)
  • The Mark of Kri — $14.99 (Lukie Price: $5.14)
  • Twisted Metal: Black — $9.99 (Lukie Price: $6.94)
  • War of the Monsters — $9.99 (Lukie Price: $25.47)

So there is an argument to be had for sure. Especially the Grand Theft Auto games, but the games that are more commonly known and easy to find hard copies of are getting priced a little higher than retail value. But here’s the thing…

Look at games like Dark Cloud, War of the Monster and especially Rogue Galaxy. These are all games that are much rarer, harder to find. And if you do find them in stores, they are priced very high. I’ve seen a copy of Rogue Galaxy above $50 before. So this begs the question, is it worth paying more than retail value for more common games if it means the rarer ones are priced the same? It makes me wonder if games I’m still trying to get a hard copy of would be priced at $15 as well, games like Suikoden V, Wild Arms 5 and Xenosaga 3. Even if it were at $25, it’s more than a fair enough deal, as Lukie has them all above $50, some almost at $100.

Just for reference, here’s the top 5 most expensive games on that site (minus bundles and limited editions):

  • Rule of Rose – $173.47
  • .hack Part 4: Quarantine – $143.47
  • Kuon – $105.47
  • Haunting Ground $93.97
  • .hack//G.U. Part 1: Rebirth & Ar tonelico Melody of Elemia – $91.47

If any of those games went up on PS4 for a reduced price, even if it’s $49.99, how good is that for consumers? Not only can they buy a digital copy of a game they’ve been looking for at a cheaper price, but the likelihood of the price dropping for the hard copies of them increase, due to other options now being available.

So honestly to me it’s worth it paying $15 for a $5 game if it means a $50 game will drop to $15 or $25.

Let’s just hope they come out with more games faster than they have been with PlayStation Now.