Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Backlog Assault: Retro Wrap Party

Before I finally lower the curtain on this whole Backlog Assault thing (or at least last year's leg of it), I thought I'd borrow the format and use it as a bit of clearing house for a few chunks of game-related writing I've had rattling around my computer for ages now. After all, if there's one thing I learned from Sesame Street, it's the importance of recycling. :D

Title: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Platform: PS2

Bought: 29 January 2009
From: eBay
Price: €8.47
Beaten: February 2009

Backloggery Dump:
  • Just finished D.I.V.O.R.C.E.
  • Finished "Nice Package".
  • I've finished "Farewell to Arms" and I've only got one last empire building mission to do.
  • I've beaten the story and done a few of the side missions. Pretty enjoyable overall and the soundtrack was awesome.
Previously on JiliK's Blog:

03/03/09 - As I was finishing up Final Fantasy X-2 and wondering what I'd turn my gaming attention to next, I felt the overwhelming urge to grab this off eBay and jump back into my favourite GTA locale - Vice City. The city, the style, the awesome soundtrack - they're all in place and despite a few shortcomings, it's another enjoyable crime-filled journey through the streets of Vice City.

The game does have a share of minor technical problems - The low res textures on far away buildings have a habit of not being swapped for hi res ones until you're right next to them. When there's too much going on there's the occasional framerate dip where everything moves as if it's floating in molasses. Sometimes all the cars disappear from the road - not helpful if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and you've just trashed your ride.

I also can't help missing Tommy and his posse from the original VC. Vic is a bit of a sick in the mud in comparison and the likes of Kent Paul and Ken Rosenberg are nowhere to be seen. Thankfully though, all those niggles fade away into the background when you're careering through a sea of flaming Cholo cars with "Living On The Ceiling" by Blancmange blaring out of your speakers - I've missed you, Vice City.

Final Thoughts:

Back in 2009 this was final PS2 GTA I hadn't played and without a HD console, it was the last one I could play for the time being. Because of that, I really tried to savour this one, even completing a bunch of the side missions before putting it down; something I rarely bothered with in the previous ones. Even so, I think this is probably the weakest of the five available on the PS2, feeling much more like an expansion pack to me than Liberty City Stories did. It's still not a bad game by any means though and I still love the Vice City setting more than any other in the series. Top notch soundtrack too.


Title: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Platform: Wii

Bought: 12 November 2009
From: Gamesnash.ie
Price: €46.99
Beaten: 18 December 2009

Backloggery Dump:
  • 22/11/09 I'm up to World 4-2. Fantastic so far, but what can't Mario throw shells upwards any more?
  • I'm up to World 5-2 and I've managed to grab all the star coins in Worlds 1 to 4. 
  • 14/12/09 I've beaten Bowser, but I've still got one level left to beat in World 9 and some star coins to grab.
  • 19/12/09 Done and dusted.
New Super Mario Bros Wii 100% Complete
    Previously on JiliK's Blog:

    24/11/09 - NSMBW actually arrived on Thursday, a full day early in all it's awesome, red-cased glory. I've been enjoying the hell out of it of far and I'm kind of surprised to see that it actually does pack a decent challenge, especially when it comes to grabbing the star coins in each level, which can sometimes require Super Mario World levels of platforming ingenuity. The level of fan service and affection for past Mario outings here is also really impressive; You can't help but smile when yet another seemingly forgotten enemy/obstacle/sound effect pops up and takes you right back to your misspent childhood, sitting in front of a TV, control pad in hand.

    The music was the thing I was most worried about before the game landed on my doorstep. There's been so much fantastic music featured in the old games, but the little snatches of the soundtrack I heard in trailers and such didn't do much for me. While I still not in love with some of the more prominent tunes in the game, there's still a lot of great music in here, like the underwater theme, which is just godly.

    I'm a bit disappointed by the boss fights so far though. While I'm happy to see the Koopa Kids back, the battles aren't too far removed from the ones you remember from the old days - stomp times three and you're done. With Kamek showing up to spruce things up before the final boss battle in each world, I kind of expect Yoshi's Island-kill-a-frog-from-the-inside levels of insanity, not minor alterations to the basic fight you just had a few levels ago.

    And while I'm bitching, why can't Mario throw shells up any more? It was an awesome method of dealing with those pesky lakitus. I guess it's compensated by the fact that Yoshi can now swallow and throw back frikkin' hammers, but only just. :D


    I finished NSMB in December '09 and while I loved every minute of it, in the end the soundtrack left me pretty disappointed. A few tunes aside, it's a huge let-down after the soaring majesty of Galaxy's score and the decades of classic ditties that came before it. I really enjoyed what they did with this game's last boss though. I was expecting another run of the mill tussle with Bowser; what I got was a mad dash through a tricky level away from a rampaging, giant lizard.

    Oh, and those star coins were totally worth collecting by the way. ;)


    Title: Everybody's Tennis  
    Platform: PS2

    Bought: April 2009
    From: GameStop
    Price: €9.99
     Beaten: 10 March 2010

    Backloggery Dump:
    • I'm working my way through Semi-Pro in challenge Mode at the moment.
    • 03/03/10 I've made it all the way to World Class in Challenge Mode.
    • 10/03/10 I've beaten everyone in World class and that should about do it.
    Previously on JiliK's Blog:

    24/04/09 - Looks like a nice, solid tennis game so far. There's more than a whiff of Wii-style inclusiveness in everything from the cute characters, to the relaxing music, to the menu design. I started off on the training mode, trying to hit panels on the opponent's side of the court, quite fun. The Challenge mode looks to be the where meat of the game is. For my first match I went for a little girl on girl action on the beach (sorry, I'll stop). The AI character put up pretty decent challenge. It's definitely not the lightweight casual game the presentation might suggest.


    I finally got around to playing this a year later and despite its casual-friendly appearance, it provides a pretty satisfying game of tennis. The single player mode has you moving up through a series of increasingly difficult classes, unlocking better characters and other stuff as you win each match.

    Some matches are significantly more difficult to win than others, with some condition being imposed to make them tougher. Some of these feel like a fair challenge, others, not so much. Trying to beat a super-advanced opponent with one of the bottom tier characters or having to play a whole game from the top of the screen are exercises in pure frustration.

    Should you fail to win under the special condition, the next time you play the match, the condition will be removed, which makes you feel pretty cheap the second time round. I can understand the developers not wanting to scare away any casual players, but perhaps they could have let the me choose if I wanted to activate wussy mode or not like Devil May Cry did (or so I've heard - I'm too much of a wuss to play it :D).


    Title: SSX 3
    Platform: PS2

    Bought: April 2008
    From: GameStop
    Price: Unknown
    Beaten: 24 June 2010

     Backloggery Dump:
    • I've beaten all the races and with that, I think I'm pretty much done.

    I hadn't played an SSX game before this, but it's pretty much what you'd expect - a mix of racing and Tony Hawk-style trickery.  Unfortunately, it also includes a bunch of douchy playable characters, and a douchy in-game DJ cranking out phat beats in place of a straightforward soundtrack. The soundtrack itself though isn't bad. There are some great tracks on it, but they have a tendency to be sup par remixes, rather that the original versions. The other characters are very much douches though - go near your rival in the head to head races and he'll deck you without fail every fucking time. An enjoyable, if not amazing game, with some really nice graphics for the time.

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