22K Odyssey

I hadn’t intended to trip over the 22,000 Gamerscore mark last night. In fact I had a completely different blog entry planned for today, but a brief sojourn in the land of Rocky and Bullwinkle saw me gain the final 30 points required to move past my next gaming milestone.

A brief word about Rocky and Bullwinkle. Just like Commanders: Attack of the Genos shamelessly aped Intelligent Systems’ Advance Wars, Rocky and Bullwinkle attempts to emulate Nintendo’s WarioWare game mechanic. And again, just like Commanders, it doesn’t quite succeed.

Yes, it’s a collection of microgames that you interact with by a limited set of button presses. Yes, there’s plenty of them with unlockable rewards as you progress. Yes, the games are all based around a set of (vaguely) familiar characters. No, it’s nowhere near as fun.

In WarioWare the microgames came at you at speed, with simple instructions that instantly summed up what you had to do. In Rocky and Bullwinkle the games are often just a little too long. The instructions are vague and you’re never completely sure whether you need to alternate button presses, hit them in time with some event or just mash them repeatedly. Whereas in WarioWare the control scheme was limited to a couple of buttons, in Rocky and Bullwinkle it changes constantly between different buttons for no apparent reason other than to fake variety. The choice of buttons are interesting. I can’t think of any part of the Xbox’s gamepad that is less fun to button mash on than the two triggers. It’s noisy, it’s awkward and it’s damn right painful after a few games.

I will still go back and play Rocky and Bullwinkle a few more times. I’ve yet to try the Vision Camera support and it’s possible that that control method may make things more enjoyable, or at least a little more unique.

Enough about the XBLA title of the week, where did the other points come from? Well first of all I completed Assassin’s Creed. After all the reviews and comments I’d heard about the game I kept expecting to hit the boredom point but I never did. I can completely understand why people think it’s repetitive because, well, it is repetitive. However, I just played one assassination level each evening. By doing that the game was split up into nice little episodes and every session the experience felt fresh. I’m not at all sure how I feel about the end sections of the game. I had no problem with the fighting mechanics but even that was a little too much combat and felt completely at odds with the rest of the title.

The other game finished this week was the epic Lost Odyssey. I really enjoyed that game despite the JRPG quirks that I’ve mentioned in previous blog entries. It’s a great, emotional story with not too much of the cutesy, sugary, annoying juvenile elements that often creep into Japanese games (the ones that are worsened by bad translation). Although I never grew to love the characters, in the way for example that I liked the ones in Knights of the Old Republic, I at least grew very fond of them. Take out the random monster encounters, the long combat intro sequence and add more save points (key Japanese RPG elements, I know!) and it would have been a perfect title. I look forward to a sequel and also I’m hoping for a swift translation and release of the recent DLC that went online for our Japanese cousins.

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