Mega Man X7 (Switch via X Legacy Collection 2, E10+)

Of all the X games I've been replaying, this is the one I was most concerned about revisiting. Back when I played it in 2004, I thought it was fine. Not great and janky as hell, but I didn't get why it was hailed as the bastard offspring of Superman 64 and the Black Death. But this was the same naive, late-teenage me who completely missed that Leonard in Drakengard was a pedophile, so I was a bit worried of how current me was going to feel about it.

I... still don't think it's that atrocious a game. Oh, it has issues: the camera eats, the level design gets annoying with the respawning enemies, the voice acting is abysmal, and it has a number of physics and collision bugs. But I find myself far more forgiving of what feel like teething problems with moving the series to 3D and the PS2 than X6's constant air of what the hell were you thinking.

X7 is a game of respectable ideas with botched executions. I like the idea of the level where you're hopping across a fleet of planes, and the cyberspace level where you switch between the top and bottom of the level. They just needed to sort out the physics bugs in the former that at one point caused my character to go flying off a plane that moved the same time I moved my character, and the control issues in the latter where it's hard to tell which way pressing the stick will move the character. Okay, there's a shitty speederbike race with bad controls, but I'll still take that over the Nightmare Snakes. At least Ride Boarski's level has the mercy to end quickly.

Another idea that just doesn't work is Axl's transformation power. There aren't that many enemies you can even transform into, and for the ones you can you have to deliver the killing blow with a special weapon that has to be charged for a few seconds. And the charged shot shot only does as much damage as a standard bullet. And if you release too soon it fizzles out. So you have to wail on an enemy with his normal attack without killing it, hope it's almost dead, then start laboriously hitting it with the transforming shot. And after all that, it's really only used to rescue a handful of reploids.

Oh yeah, the rescuable reploids are back and just as awful as they were in X6. I had to reset Flame Hyenard's level something like five times because I kept losing one to a bomb, and when I finally cleared out the first half of the level I repeatedly threw myself into the lava so I could get a game over and bank the ones I'd rescued. And good thing, too, cause right after that one got shot by a Met.

The Maverick fights... aren't great. They're way too tanky compared to how much damage they do to you, at least early in the game before you power up with chips and heart tanks. And I don't even know which weapons half the bosses are supposed to be weak to, and of the ones I do know the only useful one is the Volt Tornado against Splash Warfly because you can stunlock him with it. The rest do so little damage that they frequently run out of energy before the boss dies, and it's often hard to even hit them with it (Snipe Anteator [sic] is up there with Infinity Mijinion for bosses whose alleged weaknesses are almost completely useless against them). And if you're playing as Axl, they all get steamrolled by that rifle he gets from Vanishing Gungaroo anyway, so long as you can put up with the constant "I'LL RIP YA TO SHREDS."

One of the most bizarre complaints I repeatedly see is how awful the fight with Red is. I have never had much trouble with this fight. Okay, it's a pain in the ass when he teleports behind you because by the time you've rotated the camera around to see him he's teleported again, so you're better off firing wildly off screen and hoping the lockon finds him. Or when he teleports to the other side of the room and there's no way you're going to get to him before he teleports again so you just have to wait for him to come back to you. But in terms of actually dying? Either there's some trick to this fight and I'm the only person in the world to stumble upon it (unlikely, because I'm an idiot who didn't realize for years that you don't have to wait for Raphael the Raven to stop on a hole before pounding a stake up his ass), or nobody else rebinds the dash to the right shoulder button in Mega Man X games and that's what they're having trouble with.

What do I actually like about the game? Well for starters I'm part of the "Axl is baby" group who sees him as a respectable character who got done dirty by his debut game giving him a voice that could peel paint. I've said before that the story had promise, they just completely dropped the ball on it. The soundtrack's decent and "Our Blood Boils" is still my favorite Sigma fight theme. And while the levels tend to be a bit boxy they do have some nice colors (save Soldier Stonekong's level, but that's on the fog effect washing everything out).


South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360, M)

Stick of Truth is supposed to have a dash of South Park satire to it, so when I complain about how annoying it is to strip equipment add-ons off old gear before applying them to the new gear I'm swapping out every fifteen minutes, or how I was getting my ass kicked in the early game because I kept running into mobs that were much higher level than me while exploring, or how useless the summons are since you can only use them once per third of the game but not in boss battles, I'm worried there's a joke I'm not getting.

I have to wonder what somebody who isn't, if not a fan of South Park then at least familiar with it would think of this game. There's a half decent combat system, with Paper Mario-style button presses to increase damage done and decrease damage taken, although the most effective strategy is to stack status ailments and let them chunk off the enemies' HP bars in two turns. But the story is an assortment of South Park's greatest hits and probably going be a series of non sequiturs to anyone not familiar with aliens jamming a probe up somebody's bum, Manbearpig, or the underpants gnomes. Like, is somebody with no knowledge of South Park going to understand a chiptune cover of "Blame Canada"? Or Butters turning into a realistically proportioned, crudely drawn supervillain? Or the talking poo in a Santa hat?

Or is Stick of Truth making fun of RPGs that string together random crap until the final boss' doom fortress appears by dipping into its own pool of random crap to string together?

By the way, if you're going to throw in quick time events that ask me to press one of four buttons at random, can you give some indication of its position on the controller face? The X button is in a different place on each cocking system and I don't appreciate being called a crapout because I had to stop and think for more than two seconds about which button I was being asked to press.