Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 51 - Road Rash II

You're going to get box art pictures for the
next few blogs - Neety and I are in the midst of
moving, so photos are impractical!

Road Rash II

Released on: Sega Megadrive
Played on: Sega Megadrive
Release date: 1992

If you know me, you would think that this game would be a perfect fit for me. It's an arcade-style-racer (and we know I've spoken about my enjoyment of those before, most recently here) - it's also a 16-bit game, and it involves motorbikes, so I should love it beyond belief, right?


*Makes awkward noise*

.... I like it. Sort of.

After my recent run of games that are either brilliant (Street Fighter II Turbo, House of the Dead III etc...) or awful (yes, I'm looking at you Sonic the Fighters - I'm looking right into your polygonal face!) it is both a change and a disappointment that I'm back into games that I remember being better than they are.

But that's right where Road Rash II sits, sadly.

Don't get me wrong, it's got some good bits - beating up Policemen on bikes, beating up other people on bikes, stealing weapons from passing bikers so you can use those weapons to beat up people on bikes...

.... oh wait. That's all the same bit isn't it. That's the "beating up" bit.

So how's the racing bit?

Well - it's distinctly average. And yes, this is one of those situations where maybe I have been spoilt by the advances in racing games over the last few years, but the controls feel strange, there's very little sense of speed, and whether you win or not seems much more down to luck than skill. And the less said about the "progression" through the game, the better.

I don't know if you can tell from the segmented style of this review, but I'm finding it really hard to be negative about this game - because somewhere in my heart I know I should love it. You know when you buy an an album that's recorded by a band you really love, years after they are past their best? You are happy to own it, you know you should like it, but every so often you put it on and are disappointed. So it sits on your shelf, and you gain pleasure from knowing it's there, even though it's disappointing? Well Road Rash II is like that.

Sort of.

(Wow, that was a convoluted analogy - I hope you understood what I meant!)

I think the final thing to say about this game is that I think it was massively ahead of it's time. As I played it I just kept thinking

'If someone remade this for current generation consoles, it'd sell by the bucketload!'

And I think that's the first time I've ever longed for a remake...

Rating: 5/10
Time Played: About 45 Minutes
Would I play it again? In a couple of years, when I've forgotten the disappointment of this attempt.

Next time on Brawny's Great Playthrough - you'll laugh, you'll cry, and most importantly you'll wish a certain blue hedgehog had remained in two dimensions.....

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Great Playthrough: Game 50 - Street Fighter II Turbo!

Street Fighter II Turbo
Released on: Nintendo SNES, Sega Megadrive... and almost every other console and home computer ever.
Played on: Nintendo SNES
Release date: 1992

There are many things that are better as a teenage memory. Things that, if you revisit them in  your adult life, are somewhat disappointing. Examples of this include Cadbury's Creme Eggs (which are now smaller than ever before and somewhat sicklier than I ever remember),  Nirvana's Nevermind album (which is OK, but nowhere near as good as you thought it was) and every single episode of the Thundercats cartoon. (Seriously, never go back and watch it - no matter how good you think it is)

Of all the games on my list, Street Fighter II Turbo was the one I was very worried would have been tainted by nostalgia. In other words, I worried that going back to it would make me realise it's not as awesome a game as I remember it being from my childhood.

And this was a seminal game from my childhood. I played Street Fighter II Turbo A LOT with my friends when I was a teenager, and I have incredibly fond memories of it. And as I fired up the game, a lot of those memories came flooding back.

While I'm not traditionally a huge fan of fighting games - preferring platforming and puzzlers (as I'm sure you've established from reading this blog), Street Fighter II Turbo is a game I would classify as one of my all-time favourites. So, I know what you're wondering - does it hold up today?


It's amazing fun! I may have mentioned a few times that I am a huge fan of 16-bit graphics, and this game is full of some of the best of the era. Detailed sprites and great backgrounds combine to make everything visually stunning. Coupled with the awesome music (I dare you to play any fight on Guile's stage and not end up humming the music afterwards!) this game provides a real treat for the eyes and the ears.

But that's enough about the superficial things. What about the gameplay itself? It is a great game to play. The controls are simple enough to pick up yet complex to master, the collision detection is absolutely superb, and the difficulty? Well, it's got a selection of difficulty settings - which is definitely a good thing. I played it on the middle difficulty level, and the first thing I realised?

I'm really bad at this game.

I mean, I was never great at the game, but I could pull off a fireball nine times out of ten - whereas in the thirty-odd rounds I played during this playthrough, I didn't succesfully pull one off once. And while I'm aware that's quite an embarassing admission, it is true. As is the fact that I got to play as every character - and most of them twice! Which should tell you that I managed to lose nearly twenty-four times...

But in regards to this difficulty level - it's not a game breaker. At no point does it feel unfair - which seems to be a regular discovery whenever I play the retro games - most of the time the games are harder, but that makes you more determined to succeed.

So my conclusion? Street Fighter II Turbo is still amazing. An arcade game that has enough of a single-player mode to keep you interested - a gorgeous treat for the eyes and ears and most of all, it's so much fun!

Rating: 9/10
Time played: Over an hour - and I didn't want to stop!
Would I play it again? Of course!

Next time? It's the SNES' biggest rival, the Megadrive, and some motorbiking fun of Road Rash II. Join me, won't you?