Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Fighting Stage Edition #4

Some people like me, love to look something that seems trivial and write (maybe) funny article about it. Therefore i write another Fighting Stage article! Hope you enjoy it. 

Stage 4 - Mutant Fighter (Arcade)

We begin at Data East's quarter-munching and finger-wrangling game about fantasy medieval wrestling duel: Mutant Fighter. In this stage, we have some morning star on center section of arena. They're lethal if you touch them or irish-whipped to. Demoman_positivevocalization01.wav
On left corner, we have a king and his wives watching our match. Sadly, they look not amused with our deadly performance as if we're doing boring soap opera instead of intense duel to death. There's not much enthusiasm either on the opposite side. A wizard seems more focused on his crystal ball rather than our match. This is clearly an example of gadget freak in fantasy medieval setting. At least, the devil statues on the back look scrutinizing our match or maybe judging us. Thanks, guys!
Away from the arena is lush green with some building and castle. Either this is coincidence or just Data East being lazy, there's verdant forest with some building and white castle just like in previous stage on previous edition. Either way, it's very wonderful to look at.
Stage 4 - Mutant Fighter (Arcade)
Now i have a match with golem in arena on high altitude. Needless to say that, you will see nimbus clouds a lot in the back. There's no audience up here maybe because this place doesn't meet safety standard or to be more precise it does in half-hearted way. See that there's no rope on the back side and you will understand what i mean. Or maybe everyone has acrophobia including that damned King.   
I really like the kingdom insignia on the center of arena. It's so majestic and has lots of detail. Not to mention the unicorn on its side. It's also good. I wouldn't be surprised if Data East "imitates" some of European national symbols to create this ones. I mean look at that lion on the top for example. It looks like one of the Three Lions, right?
Howard Arena - Fatal Fury (Genesis)
Not much i can say about this one except it's generic fighting arena made of bricks. But there's some sculpted wall around this part and also relatively-small Japanese castle near the left corner while there's green overlay of forest on the very back . There's also crude tree but it's not worth mentioning since it's bad, in my opinion that is.
On the right side of the arena, there's small altar/shrine that's made of rough stone on right corner. To be honest this arena makes me think about that tournament arena on Dragon Ball.
If the player won a round, the weather becomes rainy! This give this place 'dramatic fighting' vibe. Even without the rain, this fight is dramatic enough especially in this moment where Terry do "Power Knuckle" to some kung-fu old man that once small and now become hulk! Sniper_cheer02.wav 

'Scene' Stage - Dragon Ball Z (Genesis)
Speaking of arena in Dragon Ball, here it is! The arena of martial art competition. For some reason, it's named scene although i play the French version of the game. Can't they just call it 'arena'? Anyway, this arena is much narrower than Howard Arena for sure. Maybe it's intended to prevent 'projectile spamming' strategy or to copy 100% from the anime. To Dragon Ball fans, you must be familiar with this stage: The sculpted wall that almost look like in most South Eastern Asia temples (including in Bali) but with demon sculpture with less fang or horn. Also the main hall that serves as rest area for other contestants and such.

Funatsu - Samurai Shodown IV - Amakusa's Revenge (Arcade)
Excuse me? You called me the ninja weebs with wolf pet as boring? Unacceptable! Ehm! Anyway, Funatsu stage here is beach with beautiful waves coming in our direction. It's way better to see them in motion but i don't want to bother you with me spamming Ragna Blades on this freaking sod.
There's also Amakusa's castle yonder. I think most of stages in this game, shows the castle as it's the destination of anyone you control.  There's also small cave on right corner as results of erosion by the sea. Beautiful! 
5th Avenue and 2nd Street (Hokutomaru's Stage) - Garou - Mark of The Wolves (Arcade)
The fighting match takes place in the intersection road where mass traffic accident happens. What's the cause? Of course, because of this naughty ninja brat, Hokutomaru. What the police can do is calming everyone here and no one takes initiative to subdue the culprit. So it's up to the player/me to do the task. There's 2 advertisement board on the background that interest me. First, on the left there's photo of mafia group shoot. I have seen somewhere in internet that, the one on center who's sitting is Geese Howard and the one who carry red staff is Billy Kane. If i'm not mistaken, either one on the side is Yamazaki. The other ads board on the center is -without doubt- Andy Bogard and Mai Shiranui holding hand and they advertise 'Tyutul Bank'. Many many time my mind interpret the bank's name as Tuyul Bank. Actually, that's brilliant idea. A bank that work supernatural thieves, will be lucrative bank. No matter how big the monetary problem of the bank, they will keep making profit if they dispatch the thieving ghost of small children to steal money from everyone, including you! Speaking of child, i' pretty sure this small bastard is love fruit of Andy and Mai. Because they're busy on other advertisement photo session, they just leave their kid alone wreaking havoc in busy street. I really hate irresponsible parents.        
There's change on the crowd, if round 2 begins. A scooter rider looks lost on top of a car and its driver obviously upset about this. Near said car there's a bloke that looks very stressful with the situation. Maybe he's carrying his pet dog that sick very bad and he can't go to vet because of this accident. Another bloke calmly check red car of his while a blonde bloke is very angry at Hokutomaru but is held by an officer. Good for him as you know Hokutomaru is sly, very sly. He's infamous for his move where he suddenly vanishes and strike overhead from thin air. He can also throw shurikens. Sometime i wonder why he's more Ninja-ish than his parents.
Thing get calmer in round 3. The driver of the red car is sleeping on its hood. There's also blonde couples that mingling near broken yellow cars. I realize that i cover SNK's fighting game stages a lot. I will do something really different...

Tree's Rope Bridge Stage - Bikini Karate Babes (PC)
My first comment on this stage is: "Well, this is look like where Ewoks live in Endor". The setting could takes place in Jurassic Park forest or jungle where Tarzan lives. The most appropriate possibility will be the last one given there's no Dinosaurs or Ewok around here. To be honest, there's only ladies in swimsuit in this game fighting among each other for no reason. I like the detail on the huge tree's bark. It looks almost real and gorgeous. About the rope bridge. It's the widest rope bridge that i ever see in my whole gaming experience. There's no dynamic on the bridge whatsoever even with the fighters doing intense acrobatic move or stumbled on it. It's not even bouncing at all. You can guess which thing that will bounce in this game and this bridge is sure won't.

Sarah's Stage - Virtua Fighter 2 (Genesis)
To wash away the "bad" part of this article, i will review stage that's considered not so interesting. Besides, i want to give non-climatic end for once. This fight takes place in generic stone arena and there's Roman arches and stairs behind. Is this place can be considered Coliseum? Sometime there's lightning effect during the match, giving dramatic effect as my Akira kicks Sarah in abdomen. Her flying also bonus on dramatic effect. That's it for now.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Alex Rider - Stormbreaker (GBA)

Are you ready for some espionage action? Not by the famous Agent 007 or Solid Snake. No. It's by Alex Rider in Razorback's Alex Rider - Stormbreaker  (2006) on Gameboy Advance. What do you mean you never heard "Alex Rider" name before? He's famous too, you know. [Medium Sarcasm]

Just look at that sophisticated logo! No way he's not legit famous spy. [Probably Sarcasm]. Thing for sure is: i really like that shinny logo, no kidding. But maybe, Alex Rider himself on the center feels not right although i'm not sure what's wrong with it. Maybe it's he flashes his flashlight instead he points a gun like James Bond. Yes, i know. Teen mustn't wield gun. I aware of that. Also to make the franchise family-friendly.   
Here's the main menu. Not much i can do here except to start new game immediately. Option only contain sound setting and credit rolls. To activate cheat, i have to choose cheat that i want to turn on and the password code. New game that is! Anyway, why there's a car and chopper in this screen. Will there be chasing scene? 
So the chase happens right at the start of the game, huh? Next there's bullet holes on car's door. So i assume the chopper shoot down the car real good.
Then there's burial ceremony so we can assume whoever in that car meets his demise (who's apparently Alex's uncle). Well, that escalates quite fast. During the funeral, "Alfred" here offer Alex Rider to work in MI6 the British spy agency. Alex refuses the offer no matter how persuasive "Alfred" is. Until he says that Alex can have opportunity to get revenge on his uncle's killer, then he agrees on become a spy. 'Protagonist seeking on revenge' cliché check!
But he has to go to boot camp, first. Alex can leap across mud puddle with barb wire on it. Then he learn how to save at savepoint while there's no enemy around, by pressing 'R' button if the saving gadget is already selected. If not, you can cycle your inventory by pressing 'L' button. Although i'm sure saving tool is all Alex has right now.
Next, to take down an enemy by punching him...once only. What a weakling! Next enemy need to be kicked. So far the tutorial is easy peasy. No. I'm not complaining, Mr Drill Sergeant. Please, carry on!     
Next, i perform hip throw on an enemy. I don't think this is supposed to be Seoi Nage. Maybe it's Uki Goshi but again the motion detail on this graphic isn't good.  
Next course is: i venture this underground tunnel to find red keycard. It's not hard to find as the tunnel is quite short. There's also small health pack that can replenish 10 points of my health but i don't need it so far. As you can see that i have 100 health in the indicator on bottom-left corner.
Beyond the gate with red keycard panel, there's stealth course where i need to get past guards undetected. I have to predict their point of view and patrol route. I can get past them relatively easy. One more thing: no takedown allowed, leave the guards alone unscathed otherwise you go back to the starting point of this course.
Next course is on how to avoid searchlights. It's kind of weird to see them in broad daylight but this is for the sake of training so give the instructor a break.   
After that the training is over. Alfred tells me that Darius Sayle (who's probably related to Alex's uncle demise) intend to give the most sophisticated computer named Stormbreaker [cue the title!] to every school and that's suspicious especially with no charge/fee! So my mission is to infiltrate Sayle's mansion as Kevin Blake a computer nerd that win a contest where the prize is tour to Sayle's mansion and test said super computer.   
Finishing the tutorial mission, rewards me with Sodium Pentathol Pen and Bug Finder. I wish there's training for these newly-acquired items before to make the tutorial mission more friendly. But trying them in real mission, is kind of acceptable. Maybe.
No need to be so roistering like that, Alfred! Geez!     
Turns out, there's tutorial beyond training mission. Alfred tells me to equip the Bug Finder to detect bug, as in hidden small microphone not insect. If i walk near it without the Bug Finder, the alarm goes off and guards will surround me. If i equip it, i can see the bugs clearly like in screenshot and furthermore i can stomp on it without being detected.
Oh, i need to crush all the bugs before goes beyond this red cardkey door! That's fair. I don't have the cardkey anyway.
Well, i don't learn this in training mission. The guards need 3 hits to take down and they have capability to do throw. This is why we need more actual combat training than fighting with living punching bag like what i had, Mr. Instructor.
Oh, for God sake! I knew that already from training mission. Even 8-year-old me knows how keycard work on matching color door from playing Doom so many times!
It shouldn't be surprising that the combat is...boring and bad. Once you are head-to-head with guard, all you need to do is mash the 'A' button (punch button) and/or 'B' (kick button). There's no deeper combat strategy or given this game is categorized as stealth game, there's no stealth takedown! This is the most baffling part of this game to me. I tried so many many time to approach guards from behind but once close enough they immediately "know" me and turn around. There's a bit of combo string in my attack of same button but still feels unsatisfying.
Okay, there's the Pen which i can use to only stun enemies. Although it's useful to deal with enemy from a distance, i still find this quite useless because after stunning them you have to punch/kick your enemy. With successful pen throwing, i can sneak a free hit or two of my attack without trading blow. But it's still not good enough for me.
Oh, what's this? A bag of weapon? No. It's just big healing item. My health become 100 from 92. Not much improvement.
I quite regret taken that big medic bag as i have to fight this tougher security and i lost quite big health on the fight. By that i mean around 20 points or so.
By completing my first mission, i'm granted with metal-eating cream that allow me to dissolve metal door. I think steel-piercing laser pointer will be more awesome but beggar can't be picky as they said.
Wait! There's more! The drill sergeant teaches me new kick and punch on the 3rd string only but they are quite nice to have.
Here's the cream in action. The cream itself is green like acid gel and when door is about to yield there's blue sparks that "eat" the door. The item is unlimited but there's recharging cooldown for every use.
Alfred also gave me Detection Device which allow me to see few screen forward  at one direction while i stand still, leaving me vulnerable. It's useful to see enemies so you can plan your action a head. This will be good if the stealth aspect is more refined. Such pity.
On this mission some securities are more sensible that they carry a gun! The usefulness of the pen become more apparent.
That jumping obstacle is fruitful as i jump these laser trip! This is ludicrous! Seriously. In most cases (including in real life appliance), laser grid is installed either in torso height (simple method) or random degree (complex method). Not in ankle height like this! Spy_negativevocalization03.wav
After lots of walking, beating guards, and stomping bugs. I found the secret document just lying on the floor, not on table or inside those cabinets. But this is not over yet. I have to find some employee-only room where a secret meeting is held.  
After another spy strolling, i find the room. Well, its front door at least where i can eavesdrop the conversation between Mr. Sayle and his evil/crazy scientist here...
...until his secretary(?) catch me off guard. Luckily she just lead me to my bedroom, that means i'm not suspicious at all. Especially when i have killed knocked down all the securities from their memory of encountering me.
Before the next mission, Alfred gives me smoke bomb and yoyo. My arsenal is increased, again!
For next mission, Alex has to investigate airfield on outside of Sayler's Mansion therefore ignoring his healthy sleeping hours. He's truly a rebel professional spy.
In this mission, i have to deal with searchlights and guards with firearm. Also i can get inside of some building to find health pack. Wait a minute! This is like Medal of Honor - Infiltrator! But i don't have any gun at all. Engineer_jeers04.wav
I thought i can use yoyo as ranged weapon but no. It's for swinging from that metal orb thingy. Disappointing but it's mandatory item for getting past those chasms.
This particular building contain an enemy that ready to point his gun at me and i can't see the inside without getting inside, first. Pretty fair. [Moderate Sarcasm]
So far, i can follow the flow of the level's maze but at this point i'm stuck. I can't get to that blue keycard. If only this cream can be used to destroy this fence.
Turns out, i missed these 3 switches that unlock the gate fence if they're all stomped. So i have to backtrack to that spot luckily the enemies aren't respawning.
Alfred said that the smoke bomb can deal group of enemy. But that's not true as i can only stun one of those gits or maybe i don't aim the bomb well. The bomb's function isn't much different from pen's. The difference is you can throw bomb farther than pen if you hold the use button ('R' button) long enough. Also enemy will drop down for a while first and then stand up stunned if he get the hit from smoke bomb. Again, you have to finish him with punch/kick.
Finally, i find some transaction here. Then Alfred tell me to retreat to bedroom before someone finds out that i eavesdrop Mr. Sayler again.
Even with the (assisted) perfect stealth operation of Alex's, his disguise is discovered. Mr. Sayler here has 2 case of espionage first by Ian and second by his nephew. Sayler really must puts more thought on his security instead of focusing on his majestic sunglasses. Anyway, his secretary ask how they should deal with Alex. Sayler replies "Wake him up gently and don't alert him and then...kill him!". Well that's convoluting way to murder someone, mister. Luckily for Alex, he heard these conversation thanks to tapper that he set sometime and somewhere that i don't know. He's legit spy afterall.
Therefore, it's time for Alex to bail out from this mansion. The layout isn't different from the first level but they put switch to disable laser toilet! Who the freak does that? Nobody sane will do that.
They also mixed the position of the keycard and installed new kind of keycard panels which are for the sake of aesthetic only. On the first level, the green keycard door on my right is just doorless dead end but i can go beyond it because it has door now. Really make sense. [Totally Sarcasm]
This outdoor section is interesting, kind of. Once i finish swing my yoyo, i get the red keycard and those 2 guards will "welcome" me immediately. This is kind of the closest case of booby-trapped keycard in Doom.
I made a grave mistake here. I thought i was being clever that i can get past 2 guards on right unnoticed. Yes, i did it successfully. But no, it isn't beneficial as i alert another guard on left and that makes those previous 2 aware of my presence which makes me surrounded. Therefore, 'silent and no violence' method is bad. You have to beat them all enemy that you see. Each and every one of them. Take no prisoner! Demoman_battlecry04.wav
Successfully escaping from Sayler's mansion, i'm given another fighting lesson by the drill sergeant. This time my 3rd karate punch becomes uppercut and the hip throw becomes sweep kick so i don't need to get really close to enemy to execute unblockable attack now. Sadly, no new gadget or spy tool. I think i will quit the game for now.
Alex Rider - Stormbreaker  (2006) is like watered-down version of Metal Gear. Seriously. Every minute playing this game makes me wish that i want to play Metal Gear on GBA even though it's not exist (as far as i know) and the worse is i'm not huge fans of Metal Gear series. I really prefer FromSofware's Tenchu for stealth game than the famous Konami's stealth game, you see. Maybe you think that i'm hoping too much from game that tie-in with the movie that most people don't care. But i witnessed another GBA game from not so famous Eragon, has something going on there. It has unique yet engaging formula on some part of the gameplay for turn-based RPG. On the other hand, Alex Rider - Stormbreaker is just boring to play and it has fatal flaw in the core of stealth game: enemies will always aware of you sneaking behind them! Also no stealth takedown to instantly defeat them.

To further explain the gameplay: it's like overhead beat em up (e.g. Capcom's Avengers) with gadget/tool to pass certain obstacle or to ease your beating em up and that's it. If you can mix punch and kick into powerful combo, that be great but there's none here or maybe i haven't reached the point where the instructor teach me that. On the bright side, the game has friendly difficulty (perhaps the demography of this game is for Alex Rider's fans rather than average gamer). It's true that lots of enemies will have gun but you can circle them easily and their shoot isn't fast in rate context or dealing much damage. Given that, this isn't overhead shooter like Medal of Honor - Infiltrator. There's not much benefit from exploring except for healing items or keycards. Your health will be restored after finishing a level. The "jumping over obstacle" mechanism is intuitive. The dealing with bugs feels quite engaging. The graphic is quite good in illustrate certain detail like bearskin rug or luxurious bed but for character sprite is not so good like in Medal of Honor - Infiltrator. Quite grainy, i say. The music is so-so but appropriate for espionage theme.      

Long story short, i can't recommend you to play Alex Rider - Stormbreaker  (2006) unless you're into Alex Rider hype. The core of stealth genre feels wrong and the 90% of the gameplay is boring. You better play any overhead shooter game than this game. Heck! Even play any Metal Gear game.
One more thing: make sure your uncle isn't a spy!