Like Contra, the game isn't overrated but its difficulty is. And like Contra where the Spread Shot overwhelmed the other weapons and everything around you, the Giga Beam, Laser, and T-Missiles are the only weapons you'll really ever need here. But Gaiares doesn't reach Contra's overration of difficulty; there's still many challenging moments, especially the sixth boss which is a bitch.
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (Xbox / T)
You see Yahtzee's Condemned 2 review? That is how I felt playing Stranger's Wrath. This is the game I wanted an Xbox for, and the first half of the game delivered. When I found myself in a sewer that was colored with blues, reds, and purples instead of the usual dog doo browns and greens, the game won my heart. Some warning lights came on when I found myself doing some really pointless fetch quests, like the time in the final town I needed a River Pass to take any more bounties. To get that pass I left the Bounty Store, walked across the street to the General Store, got the pass for free, and walked back over to the Bounty Store. And then we hit the Stranger's secret, and the game just flips. The clever bosses and set pieces gave way to samey stop-go shoot-outs with the same one or two enemies and a row boat that controls like a shopping cart with a broken wheel, the chicken men are replaced by frog men who all sound like a chain-smoking Pinky (as in "and the Brain"), and the old-west outlaw hunting turns into some technology vs. nature thing. And the ending was the same; started out awesome, then lept off the deep end and did a backwards somersault on the way down.
Rating: Good first half, Lame second half
If I have one thing to complain about with this game, it's that the lack of shadows made it hard to tell where floating blocks were and how moving platforms were moving, which caused me some unwanted irritation. But everything else about the game is awesome! Okay, maybe no so much the soundtrack which is mostly ambience, but the graphics are jaw-dropping, the puzzles devious, and the atmosphere eerie.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS / E)
Y'know, two weeks after I finished this game, I could barely remember I even played it. It started out okay enough, but towards the end of the game I found myself using Hint Coins just to figure out what I was even supposed to do. The plot is just insipid, but I may have cared had the entire cast not been as flat as the paper of the children's book the game's graphics mimic, maybe with Layton and Luke being more like puffy stickers.
God of War (PS2 / M)
I will admit the game made one hell of a first impression on me with the hydra boss, but it was all downhill after that. You're given tons of attacks and manuvers to fight with, but holding block until all the enemies finish attacking, then knocking them into the air and mashing buttons does the job just the same, maybe using Poseidon's Rage to thin out large groups of enemies. The graphics are okay, but what this game calls a soundtrack is ten different, usually noisy, occasionally irritating ways of playing one song, then five different ways of playing another. I played on Spartan at the suggestion of a friend, but I actually think I would have thought more of this game had I played on Normal, and reduced the tedium of combat.
Sam and Max Season One (PC / T)
The main thing to go for in this game is the humor. Seriously, this the most hilarious things I've experienced in recent memory.