Playing Catch-Up On Console Games

Sadly, I kind of did this in 2010
I’m mostly a PC gamer, but when I do play consoles, I’ve always been a Nintendo loyalist. But recently my fiancée moved her three generations of Playstation to my house, and I’ve been picking my way through her game collection, as well as adding a few console exclusives I’ve been wishing to try. I feel a little lame every time I realize that the game I’m playing came out five, ten, even fifteen years ago, but fun has no expiration date, right?

First thing I did was order the Megaman X Collection on PS2. The first three games in the X series were on the SNES and the rest were all Playstation exclusives. As a lifelong Megaman fan and a Nintendo fan, I was a little frustrated by the move to Playstation (though I managed to get the fifth installment on PC), but when I tried the collection on Gamecube at my friend’s house I understood why. The control scheme really demands that you use at least three buttons at once (holding B/X to charge your X Buster while pressing Y/Square and A/Circle to dash then jump), which you can’t really do comfortably on a Gamecube controller, and playing games designed for a d-pad with a control stick isn’t the best experience. The Playstation controller, by contrast, is a shameless ripoff of the SNES controller, with extra shoulder buttons and later, as an afterthought, thumb sticks. I flew through Megaman X 1, which I hadn’t played in years, but it came right back to me. The later games I don’t know have been a little more challenging, which is somewhat nice and somewhat frustrating. Not sure if this is because they are genuinely more difficult, or if it’s just because I haven’t played them before. Either way, I’m excited to unlock Rockman Battle & Chase, a Japan-only Megaman Mario Kart ripoff, which is unlocked after beating the first three games.

I also picked up the PS3/360 exclusive game titled Sonic the Hedgehog. No, that’s not the original, which I already own several times over (the Android/iOS version is, surprisingly, the best, by the way), but rather the identically-titled abomination that came out in 2006. To call this game a train wreck would be too kind. I’ve seen betas of one-man fan games that played better than this. The framerate drops on the PS3 version are atrocious, the controls are touchy, the voice acting is mediocre at best and painful at worst, and the bugs are both glaring and frequent. Fortunately I knew this (as does every Sonic fan), and only paid $7 for it used on Amazon. It’s really kind of depressing to play, because the game has so much potential. It feels very much like the Sonic Adventure games, which were some of my favorites. The graphics are really nice, and the enemy designs are some of the best they’ve come up with. Who knows what they could have done if they had left the game in production about twice as long. Sadly, IT’S NO USE speculating about what might have been.

My biggest surprise came from Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. The action platformer genre is one that has been overcrowded since Super Mario 64 was still flying off store shelves. I’ve played many really bad ones, a lot of mediocre ones, and very few really good ones. They’re generally plagued by boring, repetitive mechanics, uninspired storytelling, or experience-ruining bugs, if not all of the above. Ratchet & Clank surprised me by not really having any of these flaws. I kept bracing myself for a letdown, but it hasn’t come yet. It’s got solid gameplay, varied environments, memorable characters, and the wide variety of upgradable weapons really make it shine. We also have the co-op multiplayer installment, All 4 One, which lacks the polish of its single-player predecessors, but is at least fun for multiple people. I think my next purchase will be the Ratchet & Clank Collection, which contains three PS2 titles upresed to PS3-quality graphics. I was also excited to hear that there’s a Ratchet & Clank movie in the works slated for release in 2015. Hopefully it won’t suffer the same terrible fate many other game-to-movie conversions have.

I’ve also dabbled a bit in the various entries in the Spyro series on all three generations of Playstation. Is it bad that I don’t really think the Elijah Wood-era games are that much worse than the PS1-era games as so many others do? The voice acting in the PS1 games, while I understand it was revolutionary at the time, reminds me a little too much of the CDi. Even the animation was somewhat similar. I probably haven’t played enough of any of them to make a real judgement, but from a nostalgia-free perspective, I really don’t see that much of a difference in quality. Also, the moment in the beginning of Dawn of the Dragon where Sparks casually acknowledges that his voice has (yet again) changed completely (from David Spade to Fry from Futurama to Wayne Brady) has to be one of the greatest moments in the series.

Last but not least is the legendary Kingdom Hearts. The Disney-meets-Final-Fantasy mashup is just as bizarre and trippy as it sounds, but is strangely enthralling. I’ve decided to table this one for now, as I think it’s one of those games I’ll really only enjoy if I can devote enough time to sink my teeth into it.

So that’s what I’m playing right now. Any recommendations on PS3/console exclusives that I should add to my todo list?

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