Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mountain Dew and some reviews

I had to run to the store early Tuesday morning for milk. CVS had stuff on sale, I splurged and still made it out the door for under $10 - milk, some cereal with raisins, a 2-Liter of Coke for my wife, and a cold 20oz Mountain Dew Voltage.

Voltage now tastes a bit more like Game Fuel than it used to (although it could be argued that it was the closest to begin with), and the ginseng aftertaste has been toned down from what I remember when I tried this before. Why do I still know what Game Fuel tastes like? Because other MD aficionados have carefully horded some, and I managed to have a can of it just last week.

Also, I just got my son Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube (I assume, perhaps wrongly, that most of you know about Mario?) - I'd never played it, and I didn't even play Super Mario 64 (gasp!) but #1 son had been playing it at a local McDonald's that still had it set up on a kiosk. Julian said that the version we got was slightly different than the kiosk version - the kiosk version resets when you die and starts in a slightly different place, according to #1 son. As I recall, not everyone liked it when it came out, and I don't know why I passed on it at the time. I never got around to playing it, so I skipped from Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island on SNES straight to Super Mario Galaxy. Now that I'm playing Sunshine, I see a lot of things that they re-used for Galaxy. In fact, there are a lot of things in Galaxy that I like better. There are some places in the game where you can just walk around before picking a level to go to where there are almost no ways to lose lives, but plenty of places to practice some of the tricky jumps and hover maneuvers particular to this game. In the hub world in Super Mario Galaxy, about the only thing you can practice is one type of wall jump and (super-late spoiler alert) flying. There aren't too many open areas of ground in the Galaxy hub world so if you get too crazy, you fall off and get reset to the nearest platform. In general, I can only assume that this game was poorly received because it wasn't what fans of Super Mario 64 wanted to play, but I am finding it fun, and my son is enjoying it as well (even though he needs just a little bit of help on this one part... and then this part...).

The other thing that I picked up recently was Arcana Heart for PS2. (I got it as a small self-reward for finishing my taxes.) It's a fighting game full of Japanese schoolgirls with mystical powers associated with supernatural forces called Arcana. Again, I am late getting to this as it has been out for almost a year in America. The only thing that I can say about it is that it doesn't appear to have made any major errors that I can detect on a first playthrough. It's a 2-D fighter like the old Street Fighter games and Guilty Gear. The music is not as engaging as Guilty Gear's metal anthems, but nothing is so bad as to detract from the gameplay experience. Even using a cordless controller, the game is snappy and responsive. I had read other reviews complaining about how floaty it is, but since I get the idea that they are playing on rather large backgrounds and have figured out that you can press a button to dash over to where your opponent is rather quickly, it only feels floaty if you try to do jump-in attacks like it was Street Fighter. The controls are a little simpler with only three attack strengths and a special button, which is a big help in an unfamiliar game. Each character has some of their own special moves, and they get other special moves based on which Arcana they use so it is possible that the game could feel like there are 121 different characters. However, the game's storyline implies that certain characters are normally tied to particular Arcana. I guess I'll find out later if it's possible to play against the computer using a non-standard pairing of character and Arcana. This is likely to be the one of the last fighting games on the PS2 unless they decide to put out Arcana Heart 2 or another Guilty Gear on PS2, and it's a somewhat disappointing end to the PS2 in that regard. If you're a fighting game fan that has to play them all, it will be amusing for a time. If you're an anime fan that's all geeked out about the schoolgirl part, you might enjoy this game more than the fighting game aficionados.

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