Rise of the Robots
Super Nintendo – 1994
Ugh. I could pretty much leave it there and that would be adequate. This is probably one of the worst video games I’ve ever played. It’s a 1v1 fighter where you control “Cyborg” as he fights his way through six opponents. There’s a story (or at least I think so) but it’s meh. There are some “cutscenes” that can be turned off in the options and it’s probably for the best. Player 1 will always play as Cyborg but Player 2 can select the other robots you battle in the 1 Player mode. Every other robot seems to have a longer range than Cyborg and are able to pull off basic combos. Cyborg, on the other hand, can barely hit them. If you both attack at the same time, it cancels the attack out. If you get an opponent in the corner and hit them, you bounce back. The controls are awful. They feel stiff and even hitting your opponent can be a challenge. There are special moves but I turned them off in the menu. Each stage is a rehash of the same bland idea. There’s music but I forgot it changed between stages as it’s the most monotonous sound ever but it’s probably the best part of the game. This was released in 1994, the same year as Super Street Fighter II and a year after Mortal Kombat II. That’s saying something. Absolutely avoid this one at all costs.
Yakuza 4 (Yakuza Remastered Collection)
PlayStation 4 – 2019
As with Yakuza 3, this is a remaster and not a remake. However, the jump in graphics between the two games is impressive. Everything looks cleaner, the character models are more detailed and Kamurocho looks impressive. It’s not quite on the same level as Yakuza 0 or Yakuza Kiwami but it looks great nonetheless. The biggest change in this game over the previous entry in the series is it has four playable characters. Each character has their own fighting style which you’ll pick up quick enough thanks to the tutorials. The substories are back and are less annoying than the previous game. They are fun distractions that can add to the story or even expand on the characters’ backgrounds (for example Tanimura). A number of mini-games return, including the hostess clubs, the batting cage and. golf. As the substories were longer required you to master these, I didn’t spend too long with them. The biggest improvement by far is the combat. It is a lot smoother than Yakuza 3, enemies no longer block constantly, and the characters are fun to play as. Experience has also gotten an overhaul (I feel like I say this with every entry). As you level up, you earn skill points that can be used to purchase abilities. Some abilities will require you to meet other requirements, such as unlocking another ability or reaching a certain level. Kamurocho is the only map this time and, although it has added in new areas such as the rooftops and sewers, it feels more evolution than revolution. I was disappointed not to have another location as even Yakuza 3 had Ryukyu. The plot is good, full of twists and turns as each character’s chapter comes together for a finale. While the story is not the strongest in the series but it’s still an interesting one.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Xbox 360 – 2011
Starting with Order of the Phoenix and ending with The Deathly Harrows Part 2, TT Games second Potter outing carries on pretty much where the first ended. The game has its usual cuteness, with a large selection of items to collect. Hogwarts Castle returns as the main hub along side mini-hubs based in London, Hogsmeade and the forest where Harry and co escape to. The game does improve on the original in a number of ways. The hubs now come with a tracker (in the form of a ghost) to let you know what collectibles still need to be found, the spells now switch automatically when targeting (except for two of them) and the game looks a little more polished. The roster has also been beefed up but it now comes with the rotating character icons as a result. These can be a bit of a pain when buying characters. At least you can now switch between characters in the hub world without needing to go back to a pot every time. The level layout is a bit odd this time. Most of the story is told through the hub world but each film has six levels. These can sometimes feel a bit disjointed as they jump from one part of the story to another. The dynamic camera returns but I found it worse than in the first game. This is most notable on the Hogwarts grounds outside Hagrid’s Hut. Overall, the game steadies the course of the original while adding in subtle changes but it still has some flaws.