Review Quickies Vol. 8: Last Bronx, Star Soldier, ThunderForce IV & V

[This is a re-post of my most recent blog since it seems to have been sucked up by a black hole.]

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As you can see, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has arrived and it’s everything that the first version should have been. More of everything the first had and then some. So far my favorite new character is Iron Fist, but they all seem pretty awesome even if some of them don’t gel with my playstyIe. I’m looking forward to the Heroes & Heralds DLC mode which is coming out soon for free. That mode looks to enable even crazier possibilities than the normal game does!

I’m also looking forward to King of Fighters XIII and Tekken Hybrid this week, but I think I’ll be waiting a little bit for those because my Amazon preorders for them look to be arriving on the slow side. I wish my area had the ability to get release date shipping, but what can ya do? In the end I find the small wait worth it so I don’t have to do business with GameStop.

Last Bronx (SAT, 1997)
+ graphics are quite good for a Saturn game from 1997
+ gameplay is effectively Virtua Fighter 2 with weapons
– small roster of fighters
– gameplay is effectively Virtua Fighter 2 with weapons

Last Bronx’s biggest plus is also its biggest weakness. It’s so similar to Virtua Fighter 2 right down to the exact same control scheme and heads-up display. I’ve never been a very big fan of Virtua Fighter 2 so this is mostly a minus to me. On the plus side, it at least does differ a little bit by having a large focus on juggles for combos which I do like. It also helps that my favorite fighter is a Bōsōzoku and shares his name, Kurosawa, with one of the best film directors of all time.

RATING: 4 out of 6 / 6.5 out of 10

Star Soldier (PS2, 2003)
+ nice, clean graphics
+ good remixed tunes from the original Star Soldier
+ all the original game’s scoring mechanics are still there plus a few new ones
+ score chasing is as fun as it ever was in this series
– rapid-fire full powered 5-way shots can be extremely overpowered and make much of the game very easy
– too many instances of frame rate hitting single digits, especially against the final boss

Even though the ‘Soldier’ series is a long running shmup series by Hudson Soft, this particular entry is specifically a remake of the very first one released for the Famicom in 1986. I enjoyed this one for all the same reasons I liked the original: score chasing by finding and obtaining as many of the hidden point bonuses in each stage. For example: one of these hidden bonuses are finding and destroying ‘Z’ icons in the background. The first is worth a piddly 500 points, but get exponentially more valuable as long as you keep finding them and don’t die: 500, 1000, 4000, 10000, 40000, 80000. Two others are: defeating one of the major non-boss enemies that looks like a blue bio-mechanical face before he fully forms nets you 80000 and simultaneously destroying two eyes in the background awards you 80000 (sometimes there’s three which can get you 120000). As you can imagine this leads you to want to play well all the while obtaining as many of these point bonuses as you can since the gap between scores of someone that can do it and someone who can’t is quite vast. In the end, this is a great remake of the original Star Soldier, but even more playable since you don’t have to put up with the ill-advised ‘fly into the background’ mechanic of the first.

RATING: 5 out of 6 / 7.5 out of 10

ThunderForce V (PS, 1998)
+ good soundtrack
+ control customization is fantastic
+ lots of great weapons to use
+ ship change halfway through the game is a cool throwback to the previous games on the Genesis
+ awesome use of the CRAWs for the new OverWeapon attacks which differ depending in which weapon is currently in use
– graphics aren’t all that good looking
– free-range laser is noticeably more powerful than the rest of the weapons

RATING: 5 out of 6 / 8.5 out of 10

ThunderForce IV (GEN, 1992)
+ amazing soundtrack (especially stage 8 and the Final Boss)
+ highly detailed, impressive graphics
+ lots of fun, useful weapons
– backgrounds can obscure similarly colored enemy bullets at times
– cheap deaths from super fast attacks

RATING: 5 out of 6 / 7.5 out of 10

Review Quickies Vol. 7: Crysis & Shin-Ou-Ken

Crysis (PS3)
+ very nice visuals
+ excellent sound design
+ all weapons are fun and highly satisfying to use
+ weapon customization is great
+ nanosuit powers are largely very useful
– story and characters are forgettable
– alien ship area is unlike the rest of the game: disorienting and confusing
– feels like it is largely a different game after you directly encounter the aliens: goes from an open, military shooter to a much less good extremely linear sci-fi shooter

RATING: 5 out of 6 / 8.0 out of 10

Shin-Ou-Ken (SAT)
+ decent music
+ good chain combo system
+ fairly good animation
– ugly pre-rendered sprites and backgrounds
– small roster of 8 characters
– counter system can be abused potentially leading to stalemates

RATING: 4 out of 6 / 7.0 out of 10