Thoughts on STREETS OF RAGE 4: a brighter future for beat ’em ups?

It’s not a secret that I was looking forward to STREETS OF RAGE 4 with some trepidation after its announcement in 2018. As a huge fan of the series since the first game, having dreamt up my own fantasy sequel(s) for the better part of the last 25 years, the announcement was of course a happy surprise. But on the flipside, between questionable artistic choices and my general lack of faith in reboots of old games, I felt there was a significant risk they’d screw things up.

After trying out a demo build at EGX 2019 I became significantly more optimistic. I did – and still do – have some misgivings about the artistic direction, but going hands-on with the game convinced me that the developers had the right idea where it truly matters: game mechanics, pacing, enemy design – ie “gameplay”.

Now, having had a few months to think about and digest the final game, let me give you my full Thoughts On STREETS OF RAGE 4.

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Jiggeh’s definitive ranking of BATMAN video games, part 5 of 5

We have finally arrived – the final part of the definitive bat-game rankings, and my top 12 favourite Batman video games. This one’s a doozy! I reckon at least a few of these would go on most people’s top 10 lists, but I’m also pretty sure pretty much noone in the universe would agree with my ranking order. But hey, that’s pretty much the entire point, right? In any case, let’s get this show on the road!

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Jiggeh’s definitive ranking of BATMAN video games, part 4 of 5

We’ve arrived at part four of five in our Batman video game rankings, and with that we’re starting to get to some actual quality stuff! I’m gonna need less and less qualifiers for calling these games interesting (or even good), which is fun, but I reckon we’re also starting to get to the games that people actually care about and have opinions on! You know what that means – we’re definitely entering Hot Take City. Very excited for people to yell at me about how wrong I am!

But I digress. Part four of my definitive Batman video game rankings, which will take us from #23 to #13, begins here. Let’s go!

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Jiggeh’s definitive ranking of BATMAN video games, part 3 of 5

It’s time for part three of my ranked list of all the Batman games I played for The Caped Crusade – this time we will be taking a look at the games ranked #34 through #24, taking us up from the bottom half and into the… good games? Well, technically it’s all smack dab in the middle of mediocrity I guess, relatively speaking, anyway. In any case, let’s find out which games make it to these, uh, coveted spots. Here we go!

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Jiggeh’s definitive ranking of BATMAN video games, part 2 of 5

Continuing from where we left off last time, here are my continued rankings of every Batman video game I played for the Caped Crusade over the past two years or so. This time, we’ll check out games #45 through #35 – how many hot takes are going to be served up this time? Well, let’s read on and find out!

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Jiggeh’s definitive ranking of BATMAN video games, part 1 of 5

So over Easter weekend, I finally finished The Caped Crusade, my quest – two years in the making – to explore the history of Batman video games. While I sadly can’t say I have played through every single Batman game (I elected to omit a number of mobile and arcade games due to unavailability), I can say that I have played an awful lot of them. 56 to be exact!

With all this experience under my belt, the capstone to these two years of Bat-adventures seemed obvious: Review and rank all 56 games! The ranking itself was originally done live on stream in a single 8+ hour sitting – so these rankings are essentially my gut reaction based on my experience with each games, and the criteria I use to rank the games may (and likely do) vary wildly. That is to say, I make no claims that this is an objectively, definitively correct list, but it is my list – and with several hundred hours of research going into it, I dare say it’s at least a pretty well researched one.

So without further ado, here is part one of five of my collected Thoughts On the 56 Batman games, ranked from worst to best.

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Pacing, tempo and tedious grinds (or: “Short games are good, actually”)

Although my tastes have evolved and my particular interests have changed over the years, I think it’s fair to say I’ve always had more of an affinity for mechanically driven over narrative driven games. Of course, there have been plenty of story-heavy games which I have fallen in love with in large part due to the writing; THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND kickstarted my passion for point & click adventures as a kid, and in more recent years I have sunk hundreds of hours into the YAKUZA games. And I’d probably be lying if I said the narrative and storytelling of DEAD RISING wasn’t a big reason I fell in love with that game, too.

Still, these examples all feel like outliers to me. If I were to attempt listing the aspects of a game that typically draw me in, I’d say it’d be kind of a toss-up between aesthetics, tone/atmosphere and game mechanics – if I enjoy the narrative it’s still usually secondary to one or all of those. Most of my favourite games or series of games are things like STRIDER HIRYU, VIRTUA FIGHTER, PRINCE OF PERSIA, BAYONETTA, BARE KNUCKLE, etc, etc.

Long story short, I tend to favour short-form, mechanically focused (if not mechanically dense) action games. Games which more or less inherently invite repeated play by making the act of playing the game the goal in itself, as opposed to making it to the end of a journey. This all probably informs my long held hot take: more often than not, games are like, way too long, man.

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Thoughts on Double Dragon, Technos Japan, and a liberal approach to intellectual property

For about as long as I can recall, I’ve been a big fan of Technos Japan. The DOUBLE DRAGON and KUNIO-KUN games were absolute favourites of mine in formative years, and almost certainly a big reason why I’m still very much fond of beat ’em ups. Although not every Technos and Technos-related game over the years has been of the highest quality, I’ll always have the utmost respect and admiration for the company and their games for their innovation, creativity and sheer personality.

Like many game companies from the 80’s, Technos eventually went under, even if some of the same people, brands and games stayed active in one form or another. As of 2015, The Technos brand and associated IP is owned by Arc System Works, who – so far – seem to be doing a commendable job keeping the spirit of Technos alive with quality re-releases and even brand new KUNIO-KUN games, among other things.

But perhaps the most delightful thing about Technos’s newest incarnation is how it seems to maintain one of the things that fascinate me the most about the company: their unusually relaxed handling of their IP.

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Thoughts on guest characters in MORTAL KOMBAT, 2011-2019

Guest characters and crossovers in fighting games is a tradition almost as old as the genre itself – Ryo Sakazaki was a secret “Dream Match” boss fight in FATAL FURY SPECIAL, Gouki was a secret playable character in X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM, and the entire premise of THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’94 was seeing characters from a bunch of different SNK games share the screen with each other. Although the idea mostly started with developers having their characters make unexpected appearances for a goof, with time the concept of guest characters has increasingly become a means of cross-promoting other brands.

You could easily write an entire lexicon of guest characters, crossovers and cameos in video games, but today I wanted to focus on the various guests we’ve seen over the years in MORTAL KOMBAT. While by no means the first, MORTAL KOMBAT kind of ushered in the modern era of bringing in high-profile guest characters, especially as paid DLC – a practice which isn’t always well received by series fans, but unlikely to stop any time soon given that the guests consistently outsell any other character DLC.

My personal standpoint on guest characters in general is that it can be a bit of fun, but also a bit of a bummer for sure. In the case of MORTAL KOMBAT, I’m definitely in the crowd who will always have a ton of legacy MK characters I’d love to see over any potential guests, and I do find it disappointing to see guests making out a full 50% of the DLC lineup in recent MKs. That said, given that it’s inevitable at this point, I don’t find much reason in getting too worked up about it – If we’re getting characters I didn’t ask for, I’ll at least hope they are well done and incorporated well into the game! So as we’re waiting for the latest batch of guests to show up in MK11, I thought I’d take a look back at the last decade of MORTAL KOMBAT guests.

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Ten games I’m looking forward to in 2020

With the 2019 retrospective behind us, let’s look forward to 2020. I actually ended up doing a surprisingly decent job of at least trying out almost all of my most-anticipated games of last year (though let’s ignore all the 2016-2018 games still sitting untouched on my shelves) – hopefully we can keep that trend up in 2020! On that note, what games am I actually looking forward to playing this year? Let’s find out!

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Collected thoughts on games, game design, art and whatnot.