Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (PSX, T)

Silver Star Story Complete isn't so much a remake of Lunar as a complete reimagining. Some of the more significant changes include enemies appearing on the field Super Mario RPG style rather than random encounters, Luna staying with you longer, Alex not learning magic from Black Rose street, being able to revive downed characters in battle, Ghaleon capturing the dragons instead of killing them, Xenobia's sisters, the black dragon still being sane (though still fought for a different reason), Nash's betrayal being legitimate and not a ruse to triple-cross Xenobia, the Frontier being unterraformed moon instead of a desert, the switching of the final two dungeons, and how the group reached the Goddess' Tower. Come to think of it, all through SSSC I was thinking more about how it differed from the Sega CD version than the game itself, which probably says enough about how vapid the whole experience is. The enemies in the first half are mostly palette swaps of bees, moths, and slimes, but even when it did start throwing other enemies at me (and then abusing them) it didn't matter because I was using the same spells to attack all the enemies and get the battles over with as soon as possible. Even the bosses are all beaten by buffing yourself, then spamming attack and healing spells for way too fucking long. This led to the biggest headache of my adventure at the end of the game when, after twenty minutes of both sides casting the same handful of spells Ghaleon was finally defeated, I missed a step in the final scene, got killed, and had to fight him all over again.

Also, as stupid as the dialogue in the original game was, SSSC's manages to be even worse. At least the Sega CD version didn't have that idiotic crossdressing scene, or any masturbation jokes (or if it did, I didn't talk to the right NPC), or anything as blisteringly retarded as "If this thing were any uglier it'd be my butt", a line that made me wonder when Victor Ireland turned creative control over to a five year old. The PSX version also adds voice clips every time a character casts a spell, turning every fight into a constant barrage of "La laaaa lalaLAAAA!", "Check this out!", "Althena, lend me your power!", "Time. To. DIE!", and "Shut the fuck up!" Oh yeah, and it's a bad idea to have people cast spells by shouting "By the power of...!" because no matter what they actually say the player is going to hear "Grayskull".

But surprisingly, the real killer wasn't even the stupid shit Working Designs added. Lunar on the Sega CD was a pretty straightforward, if not particularly substantial RPG, but Silver Star Story Complete decided it was going to be some profound message on the power of love and friendship and the human spirit like what Legend of Heroes on the PSP decided it wanted to be after I killed the final boss, and weaves that message into the narrative with all the subtlety of a firework display aimed at the crowd. So when you're not wading through pop culture references, you've got ham-fisted dialogue that culminates in the most sickeningly melodramatic ending I've seen in ages. The Sega CD version was also a lot more subtle on the true identies of Luna and Laike, but only because it didn't completely bash you over the head with them the way SSSC does.

Although now that I bring up Legend of Heroes: Tear of Vermillion, it too was one of the most drawn out and cliche-ridden JRPGs I've ever played. At least Ghaleon's goal wasn't to destroy the world to prevent the world from being destroyed.


Blocks That Matter (PC)

Blocks That Matter plays like a cross between Krusty's Fun House and Toki Tori with a great big Tetris reference thrown in. Although aside from that I'm having a hell of a time figuring out what to say about it. Sometimes it feels more like a love letter to Indie games than anything, what with the optional cubes you find in the levels all referencing other games and the story about a couple of indie developers running afoul with a big business. What's there isn't bad (except for those levels where you're being chased by a giant slime while the screen shakes. Seriously people, that doesn't convey danger, it just causes headache), but the puzzle could have used more meat.


Bastion (PC, E10+)

Bastion may have set the Internet on fire when it was released in 2011, but while I did like it to an extent and love the graphics, I have to say it's a bit overrated. Maybe it's because a mouse and keyboard wasn't the optimal input method for this game either, but while a controller would give me more comfortable access to defensive manuvers without cramping my hand, I got through it fine by mashing attack and spamming healing items anyway.

I guess what people mainly play Bastion for is its story, with the voice narration over the ruined world striking a good balance between showing and telling. But while I have to admit it's better written than any of Greg Kasavin's reviews, I still had two major WTFs with it:

1) So, the Calamity was the result of a weapon the Caelondian Mancers created in case war with the Ura broke out again, and an Ura they brought on to assist the project altered it to backfire. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to put an Ura in charge of the WMD meant to wipe out the Ura?

2) If the Ura knew the Bastion could undo the Calamity and put the world back together, why did they want to destroy it?

Oh yeah, and I had to laugh at the part of the final level where the Kid is swinging around a battering ram the size of an entire tree like it was nothing, but carrying another person slows him down.


Super Meat Boy (PC, T)

Yeah, I know I said this game could fuck off back in 2011. But then Steam released trading cards for it, and after reinstalling the game and getting the cards, I wound up replaying the whole thing and actually finishing it. Part of my frustration with this game before was my own fault for using a Logitech controller with a horrible D-pad. This time around I used my SNES controller/USB adapter combo and had a much smoother time, although it did leave me wondering how the hell people can play this with a 360 controller.

That said, a usable controller only upgraded the game in my book from "unplayable clusterfuck" to just "okay". Yeah, it was satisfying to finally pull of a level after dying fifty times, but I still think the controls are too loose and inconsistent, with running and jumping feeling like they use different physics. But what really keeps this game at an arm's distance for me is that in the past two years I have not grown any fonder of that "edgy" Newgrounds mashup of gratuitous violence and poop humor the game is riddled with. Maybe not having a dick robs me of the ability to appreciate this kind of crap, but I still think you can aim higher.

Although I will say this for Super Meat Boy, as well as Binding of Isaac (which I also played more of for the Steam cards, and still think is rubbish) - whoever did the music is easily the most talented person on the team.


DLC Quest (PC)

I chuckled at some of the writing, but the actual game is pretty bloody insubstantial. The Steam version of DLC Quest is actually two games, the first of which is over in twenty minutes, and while the second originally took me an hour it can be completed in half that if you don't have the massive brain fart I had after buying the plants.

DLC Quest was meant to be a satire on excessive DLC down to a reference to the horse armor from Oblivion, which sounds great on paper but just doesn't work and probably never will. Since most of the "DLC" is both necessary to complete the game and bought with in-game currency, you're essentially playing a standard adventure platformer with the item shop called the "DLC Shop". At least its jabs at other gaming cliches were more successful.


Superman III (PG)

Yeah, I think most people are already aware of how bad this movie is, and even I only watched it for lulz. So what was the most infuriating part of the movie for you, dear reader? Was it that whoever wrote the script was so clueless about computers that they probably thought they worked on little magic elves living in the chips? How about the retarded fight between evil Superman and good Clark Kent? Or how fickle the humans are, abandoning everything Superman has done for them and saying nobody will ever trust him again when they see him drinking in the bar only to 180 again once he sorts his shit out? For me, it was that in trying to take a more comedic angle on Superman, I guess after losing Gene Hackman and bringing in upstart comedian Richard Pyror, they only succeeded in making the kind of crap that would embarrass the people who wrote those golden age comics where Lois Lane grows monster feet, or Superman adopts Jimmy Olson, or something.

I would have given this a half Skitty, but the bits with Clark Kent and Lana Lang weren't completely awful, and show Superman having to figure out how to help somebody in a way other than punching somebody else. Unfortunately, these moments seem to be taking place in a completely different movie. I'm also not sure I like the message they're sending when Superman bails her son out of mouthing off to his friends.