A few weeks ago, I reviewed squaresoft’s SNES masterpiece, Chrono Trigger, as the retro game of the week (If you haven’t read it, check the review out here) . The only other “Chrono” game to be official released was a non-direct sequel to Chrono Trigger known as Chrono Cross. Exclusively released on the Playstation, Chrono Cross was a damn good game in it’s own right. However, it didn’t completely satisfy gamers that were looking for more of a direct sequel featuring the cast from the previous Chrono game. Fortunately, a crew of fans were working on an unofficial direct sequel called “Crimson Echoes“ based on the original Chrono Trigger game engine. Let me explain why is such a noble effort featured in this week’s video game fail.
Well, the fail isn’t the fault of the fans working on the unofficial game but rather it was Square Enix’s a.k.a. Squaresoft’s fault. The Crimson Echoes team weren’t trying to release a standalone game or even charge fans to play it, they were simply modifying the original Chrono Trigger ROM with a new story featuring the existing characters. Essentially, it looked and played as if it were developed and released on the SNES right after the release of Chrono Trigger. The team spent 5 years developing this game and planned to release it around May 2009. By that time, Crimson Echoes was 98% complete and featured over 30 hours of gameplay, 10 different endings and a brand new story with 23 chapters. In short, it had the same epic scope as the original Chrono Trigger.
Unfortunately for the Crimson Echoes team and Chrono fans around the world, Square Enix sent the team a cease and desist letter ordering that all development of the game stop immediately. This was completely unexpected given the fact that Square wasn’t really doing much with the Chrono franshise anyway. Also, the release of Crimson Echoes didn’t seem likely to hurt their sales. In fact, it probably would have spurred younger gamers to buy the original chrono trigger out of curiosity. In any case, Square Enix’s move blocked the game from being released and deprived a lot of fans from the chance to finally play a real sequel to Chrono Trigger. Fortunately for me, I was able to get hold of the leaked 98% complete version of Crimson Echoes. So far I’m very impressed by the story and the way the team managed to create a new, yet familiar Chrono Trigger gameplay experience. Shame on you Square Enix…
(For more information about Crimson Echoes, check the team’s website out here)
To be honest, this week’s video game fail is possibly just as much of a win as it is a fail. If you didn’t already know, a lot of video games come from Japan. By the time japanese games get to the states, they’re translated so residents of other countries can know what the hell is going on as they play through the game. The bad translation of a european version of an old sega mega drive game called “Zero Wing” is one of the most iconic video game fails in history. I’ll keep this one simple:
When the original japanese text in the game is translated correctly, this is the result (thank you wikipedia):
CATS: With the help of Federation Forces, all your bases have been taken over by CATS.
When the original japanese text in the game is translated half-assedly, this is the result:
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
This translation fail eventually became an extremely popular internet meme that is referenced in every spectrum in today’s pop culture. In fact, here it is scrawled along the side of u.s. route 50:
There is an old saying that goes like this: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sigh…if only Sega followed that rule back in 2006. Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog series is one of the most iconic and storied video game franchises of all time. Sonic was one of the most successful and critically praised video game series during the 16-bit era. Sega took the gaming industry by storm with the release of the first Sonic The Hedgehog, and continued to make minor gameplay improvements as they released Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic and Knuckles for the Genesis. Unfortunately after Sonic and Knuckles, Sega began to stray away from the tried n’ true fast-paced side-scrolling gameplay that fans loved. Sonic 3D blast was decent, but a far cry from the greatness of the sonic games released beforehand. The games that followed would only get worse, culminating with this week’s Video Game Fail and perhaps the worst Sonic game of all time: 2006′s Sonic The Hedgehog.
Sonic The Hedgehog was meant to be a reboot of the series, which is why Sega decided to title it the same way as the original Sonic game. This seems to be a trend that many game developers have been following lately: “Let’s bring the series back to its roots and title the newest game with the same title as the first!” Midway successfully followed that exact same formula with 2011′s “Mortal Kombat”. The Mortal Kombat series took a nosedive after MKIII as it tried to change its gameplay style, so Midway decided to bring back the old-school gameplay with new-school graphics. Instead of doing it like Midway and sticking to what works, Sega decided to boldy go where Sonic has never gone before in terms of gameplay. What resulted was a terrible mixture of bland platforming, slower than sonic gameplay, and bad camera angles.
Six years later, Sega finally got it right. 2011′s Sonic Generations is certainly the best Sonic game sega has released since “Sonic And Knuckles”. Hopefully they continue using the same formula for future installments of the series.
Video Games based on popular comic book franchises almost always fall into one extreme or the other in terms of quality: Epic win or epic fail. 2011′s Batman: Arkham City is the most recent example of epic winnning in the comic-based video game genre. Arkham City’s developer, Rocksteady Studios, is one of a small group of game developers that actually take time to make sure they do justice to the comics their games are based on. On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of epic failures among comic-based games. For this week’s Video Game Fail, allow me to introduce you to a notoriously bad comic-based game that may very well be the worst video game in the history of civilization: Superman 64.
This game is so terrible, I’m going to keep it simple and divide my synopsis into three categories: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
-If you remove all the electronics from this game’s cartridge, you can recycle the plastic shell. Helping out Mother Earth is never a bad thing.
-It makes a great christmas gift for somebody you hate.
-The government would be more effective in gaining vital information from suspected terrorists if they forced them to play this game.
-It can be used by parents as a viable alternative to corporal punishment: “Timmy you broke the rules… you just earned yourself an hour of Superman 64 buddy!”
-Most of the gameplay had nothing to do with being a superhero. I don’t recall the Man of Steel ever having to fly through floating rings to save the world. Supposedly these awkward gameplay elements were the result of Warner Brothers’ desire to avoid having Superman fight “real” people.
-The game’s release was delayed by almost a year due to negative feedback received during its showing at 1998′s E3 Expo. When they finally released the game, it failed to address any of the flaws highlighted during E3.
-The sound quality is decent, but there are only a handful of sound samples. Hearing Superman say “There is no time to waste” at the start of every mission gets old…fast.
-The control scheme was absolutely terrible.
-The developer’s arbitrary use of fog to hide the game’s horrible draw distance. Hillariously enough, they initially tried to explain this away with the following plot device: Lex Luthor covered Metropolis in ”Kryptonite Fog” to hinder Superman’s abilities.
-The framerate dropping to slide-show levels of insanity.
Avoid this game at all costs. Word to the wise: If you should happen to come across a copy of Superman 64, do us all a favor and kill it with fire.
There is no doubt that Nintendo is arguably the most innovative company in the gaming industry. You need not look any further than the Wii console to see proof of Nintendo’s status as a bona-fide pioneer in the business. However, innovation is a double-edged sword. Like a bi-polar mad genius, Nintendo’s ingenuity has resulted in a mixture of successful accomplishments and disasterous failures. For this week’s Video Game Fail, let’s take a look at one of the most epic failures in the history of the house that Mario built: The Virtual Boy.
The Virtual Boy was released in the latter part of the Super Nintendo’s life cycle, shortly after the release of Sony’s Playstation and approximately a year before the release of the Nintendo 64. Resembling a sci-fi version of a View-Master, the Virtual Boy was wildly different than any console on the market. It had pretty good specifications (on paper) for its time and seemed to be poised to carve its own niche in the industry. Instead, it ended up bombing worse than Ted Kaczynski.
The Virtual Boy was hindered by various design shortcomings and issues. While it created an immersive sense of depth with its 3D technology, it was limited to displaying one color: Red. I remember playing Mario’s Tennis on this thing. Everything was red. Luigi? Red. Princess Toadstool? Red. Yoshi? Red. I’m sure you get the picture by now. Apparently, Nintendo had issues trying to get full-color to work with the Virtual Boy’s 3D system, so they stuck with the Red/Black monochrome syetem. Its 3D system made the Virtual Boy difficult to play for long periods of time. In fact, most games had an optional setting that would pause every 15-30 minutes to allow players to take a quick break to rest their eyes. The retail box for the system even had a warning that children under 7 could damage their eyesight with prolonged use.
Okay, so I bet you’re thinking “Richie, you know that graphics aren’t everything!” and if so, you’re absolutely right. So, let’s talk about the Virtual Boy’s selection of great games with fantastic gameplay. Hold on…there isn’t much to talk about there either. 14 Games were released in North America for the Virtual Boy, and most of them were forgettable. Mario’s Tennis was decent, and Virtual Boy Warrio Land was actually pretty good. The rest, however, were “Filler Apps” instead of “Killer Apps”.
To be honest, when Nintendo unveiled the wildly innovative Wii console, the first thing I thought was “uh oh, here comes another Virtual Boy”. Fortunately, Nintendo didn’t repeat a lot of their previous mistakes and delivered a true industry game-changer. The Virtual Boy is a fantastic example of a great idea that ended up being a lousy product. It is the video game equivalent of a much-hyped college athelete player who didn’t live up to the hype once they went pro. Virtual Boy, meet JaMarcus Russell.