Monday, April 30, 2018

Donkey Kong Country Returns

In retrospect, perhaps Donkey Kong didn't have it that bad following Rare's departure from Nintendo. An observation that may be heresy to some, but as I recall, the following output was hardly disposable: Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat was the stellar (2D!) debut of Nintendo's famous Tokyo branch, Mario vs. Donkey Kong was born in this era (although it had admittedly grown tired), the Donkey Konga games were entertaining spin-offs in their own right -- that they remain the only Nintendo-published products you'll ever hear Rock Lobster and songs from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo surely counts for something -- and supposedly Paon's handheld action games were pleasant enough. On the downside, you had technically-inferior Game Boy Advance ports of the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy (albeit developed by Rare with new features), although only Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast drew particularly harsh ire; admittedly, having only been subjected to the abominable character designs from Super Smash Bros. Brawl's trophies, I suppose it was enough to taint the series’ image.

Regardless, fans demanded a true spiritual successor to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, and our prayers were answered through a most unexpected savior: Retro Studios. Having wrapped up their own Metroid Prime Trilogy, transitioning from a series of highly-ambitious first-person shooters -- I'm sorry, first-person adventures – to a mere sidescroller may have seemed like a stepdown for some; true, Donkey Kong Country Returns is as much of a revival as Metroid Prime before it, but we had previously witnessed an unknown studio masterfully revive one of gaming’s most beloved franchises into practically another genre – certainly, a 2D Donkey Kong game would be beneath Retro’s talents, yes?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kirby Fighters Deluxe

In retrospect, the absence of Kirby spin-offs following Kirby Air Ride is quite odd when considering how much of them populated the series' early life: nothing in the vein of Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby's Pinball Land or Kirby's Block Ball ever arrived in the DS era or even GBA. Perhaps HAL felt the sub-games found in Amazing Mirror and Super Star Ultra were enough, the mainline games being a priority as opposed to rebuilding a franchise empire. Whatever the reason may be, the eleven-year absence is evident, and so we must ask ourselves: what compelled HAL Laboratory to develop downloadable expansions on Kirby: Triple Deluxe's own brand of sub-games?

Thankfully, that's an easy one: because they're probably the best sub-games in series history. At the very least, Kirby Fighters Deluxe is a common-sense idea: the original Kirby Fighters was a slightly-altered tweak on Triple Deluxe's engine framed within Super Smash Bros. mechanics, complete with multiple Copy Abilities, stages, items and even its own little campaign. As opposed to the previous design rhetoric of Kirby sub-games -- little time wasters deviating our attention from the main game for just a teensy-bit -- it was the closest any mini-game had reached "game within a game" status within the series hitherto, and its addictive nature repeatedly kept fans coming back for more.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Case Closed Vol. 66 Review (Hey Poor Player)

Annnnd Case Closed! That wraps up manga for this month, so you can expect a review or two here within the week.

By the way, through some unexpected turn of events, something unbelievably exciting is unfolding behind-the-scenes! I can't talk about it just yet, but let's just say it involves Hey Poor Player. In the meantime, I'm planning out a Nintendo Labo Beginner's Guide for release sometime next week.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My Hero Academia Vol. 12 Review (Hey Poor Player)

Whoops, I forgot to put this one up here too, ahahaha.

Both of the My Hero Academia reviews thus far have been really tough to write. We already had the series apex last time, but the ensuing cooldown here, while hardly bad, didn't inspire too much to talk about. Thankfully, things pick up again the next volume, but I wonder if that'll be just as difficult for other reasons...?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Promised Neverland Vol. 3 Review (Hey Poor Player)

I am a lazy, forgetful bastard, and the proof lies in taking nearly a week to share this here. In any case, read the damn series if you haven't already!

Anyway, expect My Hero Academia to pop up later today, too.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest

With Donkey Kong Country and its pre-rendered 3D taking the world by storm during 1994's holiday season, it was only natural developer Rare would get to work on a sequel, this time starring Donkey Kong's breakout sidekick: Diddy Kong. Fittingly, the game was dubbed Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, a notorious pun that slipped by young gamers and resulted in shock and awe upon sudden realization years later. Having been one of these unfortunate children, it's never ceased in irking the hell out of me, so perhaps we should not call attention to it at all? Yes, that's what we'll do.

Anyway, Donkey Kong Country 2 is often lauded as the apex of not just the Donkey Kong name but of 16-bit platforming and the Super Nintendo console, cited alongside the likes of Super Mario World and Sonic 3 & Knuckles as being the very finest the genre and/or console has to offer. This claim is not without merit: the level design is no longer basic and constructs itself around depth rather than just cheap thrills, the setting breaks free of ordinary tropes and plunges headfirst into full-on creativity, and David Wise's music is as delicious as ever, if not more so. No longer was Rare's re-imagining of Nintendo's first true gaming star a freshman effort, but a full-fledged video game that vindicated the British game developer's rise into stardom.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Worldly Weekend: Kingdom Hearts: Re:Chain of Memories (PS2/PS3)

And so begins Kingdom Hearts's foray into befuddling names. Admittedly, Re:Chain of Memories is hardly as ridiculous and pretentious as the goofy titles we'll become acquainted with down the road; if anything, I'll grant the "Re:" here actually makes sense -- the involved prefix meaning it's another attempt at a previous title -- but its sudden intrusion before the subtitle has always irked me. Still, it's of little consequence.

Really, what I find more fascinating is the brisk turnover between the original Game Boy Advance game and this remake for PlayStation 2: for those not aware of the dates involved, the original Chain of Memories launched at the very end of 2004, while this 3D remake -- a bonus game packaged alongside the Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix re-release in Japan -- released in Spring of 2007 (it received a standalone American release at 2008's end). I struggle to think of any game redone in such a short span of time, and I am never not impressed by this probable record and at Square-Enix's brilliant marketing strategy (what, KH2 with additional features isn't enough for you? Okay, then here's a GODDAMN 3D REMAKE OF A GAME BOY GAME)