So, Metroid Zero Mission is an awesome game. I wish I could say that about a lot of the other games I’ve played recently, but... Alas. It was not meant to be. Listen, my children, as I regale you of tales of games of mine.
Metroid Zero Mission: This game is awesome and I love it. Best Metroid game? Very possible. Something magical was going on with Nintendo in the 00’s, because not only did it yield the best generation of Pokemon (Gen 3; get fucked if you say it’s not the best one), but it also yielded the three best Metroid games in Prime, Fusion and Zero Mission. What about Super Metroid? Well... I’m just not crazy about that one. It’s good, but it’s pretty dull. Probably the fourth best Metroid game. What makes Zero Mission so great? Well, tops for me is just the speed of the game on the whole. It runs at a blazing-fast speed without much slowdown at all, and compared to the floaty, clunky feel of Super Metroid, it’s just way more enjoyable to play. It’s for this same reason that I prefer Gen 3 Pokemon to all others - Nintendo understood the importance of smooth, blazing-fast gameplay back then; though sadly, they’ve lost their way since. (Gen 4 Pokemon... Yikes. They fixed it with Platinum to some degree, but play LeafGreen before playing Pearl, and you’ll get frustrated at the difference). Also great about Zero Mission? Well, I’ve been playing it on a Retron 5, and the game both looks great on an HDTV and sounds great on my sound system. Some of the bigger GBA games were seemingly designed with the Gameboy Player in mind, and it really shows here. You won’t be wowed by something like Gunstar Super Heroes (which looks terrible on a TV), but Zero Mission looks fantastic. Really, I’m loving this game. You should buy it if you haven’t.
Assassin’s Creed IV: I want to love this series, but I think I’ve just given up. They always start strong, and seem to promise a strong plot and a great game... But they never deliver. The plot will inevitably boil down to 30-second snippets of historical name/event-dropping between story missions, the gameplay will invariably be comprised of the same 5 activitites over and over again... The exploration seems to be the best feature here, but the game goes out of its way to smack you over the head and say, “No, stupid, pay attention to the story.” I mean, it’s build like an open world game, but it’s terrified of committing to being one. It wants to be a narrative-driven game, but the narrative is so weak that it can’t carry the lengthy runtime. It’s a game that’s trying to be too many things at once, and it doesn’t particularly excel at anything. The same could really be said about any Ubisoft game these days, but it’s the missed potential for dense mythology and tight, scripted gameplay that really makes Ass Creed in particular feel like a major let-down. And can we talk about the bugs? Jesus fucking Christ, this game is a trainwreck. The free-running never seems to work the way you want it to (“No, you fucking idiot, chase the dude, don’t cling to the wall!”), the assassinations don’t always work (“What the fuck? I killed him. What the fuck? How can you see me? Fuck this.”), and I don’t always know why I died because shit just pops out of nowhere (“How did I die? No, really, what the fuck killed me? What?”). I’m really not sure why this game got all the praise it did, because the few strong suits it does have (great graphics, great locales, neat level design) are ultimately trumped by the exact same problems that have been arsefucking this series since the first one. I think I’m over you, Ass Creed.
Blue Dragon: There isn’t much special about Blue Dragon. It’s a strong starter, to be sure, but you’ll eventually find yourself 20 hours in, asking when the battles are going to become interesting, and when the plot will start again. If you have a young child who wants to start getting into turn-based JRPGs, Blue Dragon is an ideal entry point - it’s very easy, the plot is extremely simple, and it’s got simplified mechanics of greater JRPGs in its DNA. But for me, a guy who’s been enamoured with the genre since his early teens, Blue Dragon just comes off as a weak effort. It’s got some really cool ideas in regards to its world building and mythology, but it’s not paced well enough to keep you interested in solving the mysteries the world has to offer. Plus, the facial animations and the boss battle theme are just... Horrendous. Literally the worst I’ve ever seen, on both counts. This one is very skippable, but not a bad game. It’s basically on par with Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.
Star Ocean: Speaking of bland games, holy hell... I really wanted to love Star Ocean, but there just isn’t a lot to love. The sound design? Yeah, that’s incredible. Probably the best on the SNES, by a wide margin. It’s got CD-quality sound effects and surprisingly great voice samples throughout the game. It’s a major achievement in that regard. But the plot? I mean, it’s an episode of Star Trek fan fiction. If you’re so far into otaku culture that you don’t even have any minor point of reference for Star Trek, the plot might be tolerable. But as someone who’s seen a few seasons of TNG and has a pretty good working knowledge of the franchise, it just came off... Like a poor copycat effort. And the gameplay isn’t much better. There’s nothing in the way of tutorial or explanation of the games mechanics, but even once you figure it out, you’ll come to see that battles consist of mashing A until the enemy dies. Sometimes you’ll press L or R. But, the game’s just not fun to play, and without a well-written, compelling story to carry it... Yeah, I just lost interest. Maybe it gets better later on, but life’s just too short to worry about that.
Other stuff: Fuck Konami.