Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Binding Of Isaac (PC)

Possibly one of the creepiest creations of Edmund McMillen (creator of Meat Boy), The Binding Of Isaac takes a different perspective on the religious story of the same name.  This game sports the same artistic styling as McMillen's previous game; however, the game is complemented with a much more atmospheric sound track unlike Meat Boy's driving more aggressive background music (the music was written by the same person as well, Danny Baronowsky).  The genre of the game has changed as well, it is a dungeon crawler.  It seems that McMillen is setting a trend in his games other than his increasingly familiar artwork, this game is easy to play, but incredibly frustrating to master.


You play as a young boy named Isaac.  Your christian mother apparently hears the voice of god one day and by his influence decides that Isaac's life must be ended in order to please him.  In an effort to save his own life, Isaac searches the room he is locked in and finds a trap door.  He escapes through the door and begins his quest for life battling creatures like maggots, worms, doppelgangers, demons, monsters, the personified seven deadly sins, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the devil, your mom.  You battle these creatures armed with your own tears, power-ups, and items such as the rotting heads of pets, the bible, pentagrams, tarot cards, medications, the mark of the beast (666), a rock, steroids, the Necronomicon, poop, and various other religious and anti-religious symbols and marks.

Ending Spoilers

There is an epilogue and then several endings that go along with it.  The epilogue shows Isaac being cornered by his mother and about to be killed, when miraculously, the bible flies off the shelve, hits his mother, and kills her.  However, you then find out that this was all a figment of his imagination and that Isaac's mother is in the doorway of his room readying herself to kill him.  There really isn't really much to the different endings you get to see.  This game really works off of replay-ability, so beating the game unlocks items that you could use in your next play through.  Each ending, in turn, shows Isaac finding a treasure chest revealing an item or a secret character you have unlocked.

Does the game have a future?
(I am changing this topic since its a more recent game, and asking that it still holds up as is silly and not worth asking just to keep a consistent format.  In the future, when I review new games it will ask this, games of old will ask if it still holds up.)

As far as reviving the old school Zelda style of dungeon crawling, it did an amazing job and hopefully keeps the genre alive.  I am not sure if the fan base and community of this game is as vast as that of Meat Boy so we probably wont see this on PSN or XBLA.  Furthermore, its randomness will probably not really spark interest for speed running or record keeping.  I do think that games like this will keep McMillen relevant and definitely increase his brand.  Games like this show everyone that McMillen does not want to be solely known for Meat Boy and that he sort of wants to branch out as far as he can.  It also shows, that games can be really great and really cheap as well.
So long story short, I think that this game itself won't be one for the ages.  Edmund McMillen, however, this game is increasing his impact on the gaming industry and is helping to keep indie game relevant.

Other Info

The Good:  Great game play, great controls, pretty funny items, situations, and sprites.

The Bad:  This game takes a bit of getting used to.  It takes a lot to stay alive when you first pick up the game especially since there is only one life (unless you stumble upon certain items).  Memorizing what each item and power-up does is a must and quite a burden since there are so many.

Today's Going Rate:  Full price on Steam is $5.00.

Difficulty:  I found the game very hard.  I can safely say that when I beat the game it was situation (I had items that dealt massive damage to the last boss).  The counter says that I played the game 52 times, only killed the last boss twice, and only found 97 items (out of like 130, getting items is completely random so its really unlikely to play the same game twice).

Time invested in beating the game:  I think the first time I beat the "final" boss (the one that counts as a mom kill, I have yet to even see the hidden stage) I had like 35 deaths under my belt.  I think it probably took me like 5 hours maybe less to beat it for the first time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Super Meat Boy (PC, XBLA)

Super Meat Boy is the upgraded version of the well received flash game, Meat Boy, which was originally created in 2008.  Super Meat Boy was released for the Xbox Live Arcade in October of 2010 and then later that year for PC.  This game is a fast paced platformer that harks back to and playfully exaggerates retro games that forced countless children to stay up all night screaming at their televisions.  The solid controls are a cruel reminder that failure is never the games fault; however, levels are extremely short and you are instantly brought back to life making death easy to tolerate.  I personally ranked up over 11k deaths (yeap it keeps track) with about 76% game completion.


You play as Meat Boy, a person who was unfortunately born without skin.  One day, Dr. Fetus, a fetus in a jar wearing a monocle and a top hat, beat up Meat Boy and kidnapped his girlfriend, Bandage Girl.  Meat Boy picks himself up and begins his journey to rescue her through pitfalls, saw blades, lasers, spikes, lava, salt, razor blades, used hospital equipment, demon heads, zombie Meat Boys, maggots, and many more hazards.

Ending Spoiler

Dr. Fetus's fortress starts to collapse as you are rescued from falling rubble by Meat Boy's counter part, Brownie.  He sacrifices himself to save you.  In a Fight Club-esque manner, Meat Boy and Bandage Girl manage to escape and watch the explosion that ultimately destroys Dr. Fetus's floating island fortress.  As they embrace we find out that, OOOOHH NOES!!! Dr. Fetus survived his fall and begins a relentless assault on Bandage Girl.  If you beat Dr. Fetus in the Dark World (I am up to him in however, I haven't attempted him yet), you get a little more of the outcome.  Bandage Girl knocks Dr. Fetus off of her head and looks as if she is willing to forgive him, seeing an innocence, of sorts, in him for the first time.  This is short lived as she then screams in absolute, bloodcurdling rage and proceeds to stomp Dr. Fetus to a bloody mess to her delight.  Meat Boy awkwardly stares eventually showing approval.  We then find out that Dr. Fetus still lives.  He is apparently reincarnated in the womb of Bandage Girl.  THE END!

Does the game hold up today?

Much like VVVVVV, this doesn't really apply.  However, it does show that even though we hated dying so much during the glory days of the older consoles, we still enjoyed the challenge and the satisfaction of overcoming the seemingly near impossible.  This game is great, it is so great, it reminds us of how great it was playing great games back when games were really great.  GREAT!!!

Other Info

The Good:  This game is challenging enough to be exciting when you finally beat it but so fast paced that you'll keep coming back for more punishment in order to do so.  The controls are unbelievably tight.  Being told this is really an understatement, you have to play it to understand.  Edward McMillin's (creator) art style is so simple, and yet he able to bring so much individual personality to his characters anyway through it without the use of any spoken dialogue.  The music is masterfully enthralling.  I think the reason I had such an easy time in the "Hell" stage is because I couldn't stop listening to the background music.  There is also a free map designer kit to make your own maps and a means to play other peoples maps in "Super Meat World" on the PC, which would provide infinite Super Meat Fun for as long as your willing to put up with the torture.  Plus a plethora of amazing indie game secret characters.  Not enough great things could be said about this game.

The Bad:  The unforgivingness of the stages for "The Kid" and the entire world "Cotton Alley" (its pink and ridiculously hard).  Other than that, there is really nothing to complain about unless you really hate platform games.

Today's going rate:  $15 download on Steam (however, its usually either on sale or bundled for great prices), $12 on XBLA.

Difficulty:  The game eases you into the controls for the first two worlds.  Once you hit "Hell," you'll be quick to understand why its so awesome that there is no loading time in between deaths.

Time invested in beating the game:  It took me a solid week of casual gameplay to beat Super Meat Boy, perhaps 10 hours, maybe less.  You could beat the game with somewhere around 30% game completion on normal so you don't always have to tackle each worlds hardest challenges.  I'll get back to you when I get to 100%.

Re-makes:  I haven't heard of anymore releases on any other platform.  Team Meat said that it will never come to release on the PSN and the original release for the Wii VC was ultimately scraped due to technical issues.  Apparently, they planned on a commercial release for the Wii instead, however, the Wii had been out for so long in 2010 that they felt it was too close to the end of its life cycle to be profitable.  We could only hope they are considering a release for the Wii U.

Monday, November 21, 2011


VVVVVV is a successful indie game that was released in the beginning of 2010.  This game is a typical side scrolling platformer with some puzzle solving elements to it.  The graphics are purposefully lacking.  The creator was inspired by games from the Commodore 64.  The gameplay and story is simple and engaging, much like the soundtrack.  Clever, upbeat, chiptune songs complement this game greatly.


You play as Captain Viridian, the happiest of stick figure people, who leads a crew of space explorers on the ship...spaceship.  Upon your travels the ship experiences some "dimensional interference," which forces you and the crew to evacuate.  However, you become separated from the crew and now have to explore this new dimension to find your crew mates.  

Ending Spoiler

Not really much to say here.  Simple game, simple ending with endearing dialog.  You do become quite attached to Captain Viridian in your travels and share his pain when his happy smile turns upside-down. So you find yourself flying throughout space when the crew flies the ship to the location of your signal.  Once they find you they beam you aboard.  Before leaving the dimension, (if you do not collect all of the trinkets, which I doubt I'll ever be able to do) Captain Viridian decides that they should stay and discover what is causing the interference.

(I didn't record the ending while playing so I'm using this guys speedrun because there aren't any recordings of the ending on youtube and I do not feel like creating right now, I may in the future though.  Plus this will give you a feel for just how hard it is to beat this game.)

Does the game hold up today?

Considering that it was only released almost two years ago, yes.  If you are looking for a hark back to the old days of platforming games then this game is definitely for you.  It is very challenging with a bit of frustration at times, but never enough to keep you from playing it again.

Other Info

The Good:  Great music, great gameplay, interesting game mechanics, a nice feeling of accomplishment after beating it.

The Bad:  Since the graphics are intentionally bad there is no point on commenting about them.  The game itself is short; however, you could play other peoples levels and create your own.  Also, finishing the game completely will increase play time by quite a bit.  (I was only able to collect 9 out of 20 trinkets on my first play through and I spent a half an hour unsuccessfully trying to get the Vini Vidi Vici trinket (the hardest on to get)).  So really, there is nothing I could really complain about when it comes to this game.

Today's Going Rate:  Full price on Steam is $5.00.  It will probably go for about the same on 3DS.

Difficulty:  Beating the game, average.  Beating the game with everything, insanely difficult.  Beating the game without dying (No Death Mode), I honestly think that anytime I see a run without deaths that its a fake.  That shits impossible.

Time invested in beating the game:  With all of my attempts to get trinkets including the failed attempts it only took me an hour and a half to beat the game...I died 850 times within that hour and a half.

Re-makes:  Currently, they are just re-making this game for the 3DS.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breath Of Fire (SNES)

Breath of Fire was released in 1993.  After playing this game all the way through, I feel like it was a decent game.  The graphics are good, the game-play is excellent; however, the story line and character dialogue is lacking.  The dialogue may just be a hardware issue though.  Back then, memory was a large factor when it came to coming up with a script for a game.  Do not expect any long winded, epic speeches.  Everything is pretty direct and to the point.  I don't remember anything person talking for more than two sentences at any given time. 


As I mentioned before, there isn't much to the story line.  You live in a village, it gets attack by Dark Dragons, and then you have to embark on a journey to ultimately defeat the Dark Dragons.  Along the way you meet: an angel princess, Nina, then a wolf-man hunter, Bo, a friendly thief, Karn, a useless fish merchant (also the biggest douche in the game), Gobi, an ox-man, Ox, a mage who for no reason hates Nina who is also half snake, Bleu, and finally a mole-person who is the most useless character in the game, Mogu.  This motley crew of weirdos help you collect keys that the Dark Dragons want to use to control the world...that is pretty much the size of it.

Ending Spoiler 

(If you haven't played the game you wont understand it.  If you want to actually play and finish the game without being spoiled, then don't read this section)

A decent ending for the time I guess.  Back then, I considered any ending that lasted for more than thirty seconds worth while.  Now, it seems that a lot of imagination is required to get any satisfaction out of it.  Bleu goes back to an eternal sleep.  Mogu seems to be on his way to becoming a master digger.  Gobi decides to not go back to his hometown and goes back to being a merchant in the wealthiest town in the game.  Ox returns to his village where his wife and newly born child await him.  Karn becomes the new king of thieves (I'm assuming this because he learns a lot during the quest (in the tomb and all of the Fuse techniques).  When he returns to the town he seems to be heading towards the house that belongs to the current King of thieves.).  Bo goes back to his hometown.  Nina goes back home and princesses it up.  Finally, the hero makes his way back to his home town with his sister (Sara) always watching over him.  

Being that there are very few words during the montage of characters returning to their hometowns, everything I just stated could be up to interpretation.  However, I'd like to think that this is the best possible set of outcomes given what little information is offered to the audience.

Does the game hold up today?

I would say no.  I think that Breath of Fire is a good game.  It was great for the time that it was released in, but, the story is too linear and after you play it once there really is no need for you to play it again.  It is definitely worth a download.

Other Info

The Good:  Simple gameplay, easy to learn.  Good graphics for the time.  Overall, a fun game playing experience.

The Bad:  No character development leads to a weak story.  The game throws a ton of boring side missions at you towards the end to indirectly increase game time (For example, when you reach the second to last dungeon, you have to get the elevator parts fixed to enter the tower.  Then as soon as you enter the tower you are sent on another quest to find an item before you could actually enter the tower.).  High learning curve towards the end (the second to last boss is really surprisingly difficult, multiple times harder than any other boss in the game).
Today's going rate:  Copies for the SNES tend to go for upwards of $20.00
Difficulty:  Easy at first.  Towards the very end its much more difficult, mostly due to frustratingly boring missions and constant bombardment with random battles.
Time invested in beating the game:  It took me about 25-30 hours to complete it.
Re-makes:  Breath of Fire is out for the Gameboy Advanced