Category Archives: Thoughts on

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.

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

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.

Continue reading Thoughts on guest characters in MORTAL KOMBAT, 2011-2019

Thoughts on Streets of Rage 4’s art

A couple of months back, seemingly out of nowhere, DotEmu announced they were bringing out STREETS OF RAGE 4 – the first new STREETS OF RAGE game in 24 years (and counting)! Like many people out there I am hugely fond of the original SOR series, and am largely positive, excited even, for this new game. But given that I am a long-time fan, you bet I’ve got some Thoughts on SOR4.

First off, it should of course be noted that this is early days still. My impressions are all based on the small handful of trailers and screenshots that have been released, and considering the game doesn’t even have an official release date yet, I think it’s fair to say that we are pretty far away from the full picture. Still, based on what DotEmu & co have chosen to show of the game, I think there’s a number of things worth commenting on.

Although SOR4 will (presumably) be the first STREETS OF RAGE game to actually hit the market since 1994, it’s far from the first attempt at bringing the series back. SOR developers Ancient themselves put together concept art as well as mockups for a 3D incarnation back in the 90’s, but this original SOR4 was infamously axed by a SEGA exec unfamiliar with the SOR brand. Continue reading Thoughts on Streets of Rage 4’s art

Thoughts on the DEAD RISING series and Capcom Vancouver going under

DEAD RISING is one of my absolute favourite games of all time. I could (and probably will, at some point) write at length about why I love it, why I disagree with most fans’ assessments of the sequels (DR3 is clearly the second best in the series, at least if you play it the right way), or why DEAD RISING 4 is a hot piece of garbage that pisses all over the series’ legacy (YouTubers Tehsnakerer and GhenryPerez have covered that last point pretty well though, so by all means check out their videos – I largely echo their thoughts). But for now I thought I’d share some musings on the state of the DEAD RISING series, in the wake of Capcom Vancouver (lead developer of the DR series starting with DR2) imploding earlier this year.

So DEAD RISING had been Capcom Vancouver’s bread and butter for a number of years, up until DEAD RISING 4 in 2016 (re-released and ported to PS4 in 2017 under the groanworthy moniker FRANK’S BIG PACKAGE). For a brief period Capcom Vancouver were also responsible for a much-maligned mobile free-to-play reboot of SUPER PUZZLE FIGHTER II TURBO. While that might sound like a great idea, CV’s PUZZLE FIGHTER not only looked absolutely hideous, it apparently played poorly too, quickly devolving to pay-to-win with the actual puzzle-solving aspect apparently second to building a sick deck with rare loot drops or whatever. I wish I could give a first-hand report on the game, but it was shut down before I got around to even trying it out. Continue reading Thoughts on the DEAD RISING series and Capcom Vancouver going under

Additional thoughts on Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

I finished YAIBA last night, and… well, I felt rather compelled to amend my previous post on the game.

I still largely stand by what I wrote – the game isn’t AS bad as rumors make it out to be, the combat is pretty serviceable, the semi-automatic jumpy platformy bits are a fun palate cleanser, and the writing and story are atrocious. But what I can say with the benefit of hindsight, is that before writing the other post, I had happened to stop playing right before an absurd difficulty spike that served to highlight and exacerbate most of the game’s biggest problems: Mission 5.

“Mission 5: Ryu Hayabusa” is essentially nothing but a boss fight. Having reached the point where I was mostly satisfied with what I’d seen and was kind of waiting for the game to wrap up, I was thrilled to see the level starting with you facing off against Hayabusa right off the bat, without the need to go through a long level. I didn’t really talk about it last time, but up until that point, the boss fights had actually been decently fun. They had certainly exposed some of the weaknesses of the combat system; many combo attacks make cancelling into dodging or blocking inconsistent and thus completely unreliable – but figuring out how to work around that sort of became part of the puzzle, and coming out on top was just hard enough to make it a satisfying challenge to overcome.

Unfortunately, Hayabusa throws all that out the window. Continue reading Additional thoughts on Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Thoughts on YAIBA: NINJA GAIDEN Z

So as part of my silly 1000 Follower special thing over on Twitch, I’ve been playing – among other things – YAIBA: NINJA GAIDEN Z. This was one of countless games in my collection that I’d picked up at one point or another with no particular desire to necessarily play it, beyond a general sense of “eh, why the heck not”. YAIBA I suppose has more reason for being in my collection than plenty of other games I’ve bought; it is (theoretically at any rate) part of a series I have traditionally enjoyed, but more importantly it’s a game I’d been curious to try out since it has, er… a reputation. That is, a very, very bad reputation.

Anyone who is even somewhat familiar with my streaming/collecting/game playing habits may know that I have a soft spot for “bad” games. Obviously that’s not to say I enjoy not enjoying something, but I’m often drawn to games with poor reputations because one way or another, less polished games seem to often have more personality, peculiarities or unique quirks than the kind of polished-to-a-sheen AAA games commonly agreed upon as “good”. And sure, sometimes…. a lot of the time even, “bad” games are really bad. But I do find that more often than not, even the worst crap at the bottom of the barrel has something going for it – some kernel of fun, a good idea or something interesting and unique if you’re just willing to look for it.

So, YAIBA. Now, there were many reasons to not question the narrative surrounding the game – it’s an odd, western-developed off-shoot of a revered (if less so with each successive mainline entry) Japanese action game series, that neither seems to look or feel much like its source material, nor be something that anyone really asked for. On top of that, it’s a god damned zombie game! So I gotta admit – I was pretty surprised to find that I… don’t really hate it. Continue reading Thoughts on YAIBA: NINJA GAIDEN Z