Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Great Playthrough - Game 61: Guitar Hero Metallica

Could I be more metal?
Guitar Hero: Metallica
Released on: Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PS3
Played on: Nintendo Wii
Release date: 2009

I enjoy other things in this world apart from video games. One of the other things I enjoy is playing the guitar, and another thing I enjoy is the music of Metallica. So knowing that about me, this must be a game that I will absolutely love.. right?


There are no words.

I've been a huge Guitar Hero fan since the first release on the Wii (the notoriously difficult Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock) and since then I have accrued two more editions (both of which are due to appear at some point in this playthrough. I know that these games have fallen out of favour with a lot of people, and I know that some people prefer Rockband (and indeed, I have one of those games as well) - but I've always been a Guitar Hero boy through and through.

I don't know why, maybe it's just that it was the first plastic-instrument bashing game I played, but all of the Guitar Hero games hold a special place in my heart. And I remember being ridiculously excited the day they announced that there was a Metallica version coming out.

There are a lot of parallels between Metallica and Guitar Hero. Both are things that many people will now tell you are past their best, and that their best work was the early work. And there's a parallel in my enjoyment for them as well.

I like their early work, but I also like their overblown middle years, and later years when they try to recapture the early magic. I agree that some mis-steps have been made by both, but they both provide entertainment that I find completely amazing, and I will support both to the bitter end. (Even through their low points - Guitar Hero 5 and St Anger respectively!)

And while Guitar Hero appears to have come to a screeching halt (although, given the fascination with re-booting gaming franchises, I imagine we'll see it return at some point), Metallica are still making music (in fact, right now I'm listening to the new song they premièred the other day - The Lords of Summer, which I am enjoying a whole lot).

I think that the point I am making (in my random and convoluted way) is that these two things are perfect for each other. And boy does it show in the game itself.

Metallica songs are mini-masterpieces of riffery and mayhem, a perfect match to the button-clacking precision required for a good Guitar Hero game. By this point in the franchise, GH had mastered all of the game basics - hammer-ons, pull-offs and tapping are all part of the game - and the whole game feels fair. Don't get me wrong, it can be very hard to get a great score - but it's a totally fair game. It takes the solid framework of Guitar Hero: World Tour and gives you brilliantly cartoonish Metallica figures bouncing around playing all their hits and many other songs besides (including one of the best (and under-rated) Metallica songs of all time - the fabulous Dyers Eve!).

Are there any downsides to this game? Well, only the tracklisting from the other bands that make up the extra songs. 28 of the songs are Metallica songs, and the other 21 are songs which are the band's "personal favourites and influences from the years" - and to me, some of these are weak links. But I'm really just picking holes now - how can you complain when you get 28 Mother-F*****g Metallica songs to play!

In conclusion, I know I'm out of sync with many in the world, but I still believe Guitar Hero to be a fantastic game model, and Metallica one of the greatest bands of all time.

And if you disagree, then I completely respect that. (You are wrong, but I respect your right to be wrong!)

Rating: 9/10
Time played: About an hour and a half, and then a couple more goes at Dyers Eve...
Would I play it again? I might play it right now!!

Next time - Brawny is venturing back into the world of RPGs.... how will that go? Come back and find out!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Great Playthrough - Game 60: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles - Tournament Fighters

This is George and Elliot (our turtles) posing with the
Turtles games. Because why not :)
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Tournament Fighters
Released on: Sega Megadrive, SNES, NES
Played on: Sega Megadrive
Release date: 1993

Does anyone else remember the period in the 90s where all the computer games in the world seemed to be one-on-one fighters all chasing the success of Street Fighter II? I remember it being a huge craze, and every time a game came out, particularly a licensed game, it seemed to be a one-on-one fighter. So it was no surprise to me when I first discovered TMHT: Tournament Fighters.

It is exactly as you would imagine - it looks as if someone took Street Fighter II, removed 90% of the character from it and dropped six characters from the TMHT series, one from the comics and one random newbie in to create the game.

(Seriously, why create a new character for a licensed game? Could they not use Bebop? Or Rocksteady? Or Shredder? Or ANYONE already created for the comics/TV series?)

Firstly, the positives. The graphics are pretty good - I'm a huge fan of 90's 16-bit era cartoony graphics and these are good, well animated, large colourful sprites. OK, so the health bars etc at the top of the screen look a bit rough and unfinished (in comparison with the SFII ones, which is what I will compare them with as they are obviously designed to be the same!) and the backgrounds are a bit lacking, but it's not too bad.

And then we get to everything else. And I'm sorry to say, but the rest of the game alternates between dull and ridiculously hard. It has just the one punch and one kick button, which makes the game rapidly diminish into button mashing, and with four very similar characters included (the four turtles of course), there doesn't seem to be much in the way of variety.

The other big negative point for me is the difficulty, which is hard. Really hard. We're talking harder than a baked diamond embedded in a block of Marble wrapped in adamantium.

And I know what you're all thinking - "Maybe it's just cos you're crap at playing the game!" And that is probably true. But still... damn, it's hard!

There's not a lot more to say. The two-player mode is slightly more fun (because the ridiculous difficulty isn't an issue), but even so, the dull button mashing gameplay just bored me extremely quickly...

Rating: 4/10
Time played: About 25 minutes
Would I play it again? No, I'm pretty sure the answer is no.

Next blog to follow very, very soon....

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Great Playthrough: Game 59 - Samba De Amigo!

Once again - this entry starts with apologies for the delay. I've been kinda busy lately. However, having looked at my list I've realised that I am now at over 200 games (thanks to charity shop finds etc) so I really need to step this up a gear, or I'll be writing this playthrough until I'm 64!!!

So with that in mind, I've added the new games to the list - reorganised into a new random order, and I'm now ready to start trying to get three of these done a week! (We all know I won't manage three, but if I get more than one a week, then I'm on a roll!)

And with no further ado I present... Game 59!

Monkeys in Sombreros? Sign me up!
Samba De Amiga
Released on: Sega Dreamcast, Arcade, Nintendo Wii
Played on: Nintendo WiiU (using backwards compatibility)
Release date: Original - 1999, Wii Version - 2008

Samba De Amigo - one of the first hugely popular rhythm action games involves you shaking maracas to popular tunes. It's like a dance machine where you use your hands and was originally played with a pair of specific maraca-controllers - so this should be a perfect fit for the Wii, right?


I should point out, before this review goes any further, that I am a huge fan of rhythm action games. I have at least four Guitar Hero / Rockband games, and I'm quite excited as one is coming up in the playthrough very soon, so I was predisposed to like this game.

And everything started out well - It's bright, colourful, there's a decent music selection (I mean, I couldn't play it for hours like I can Guitar Hero, because it's not all my type of music, but you have variety!) and just to add the icing to the cake, there is a Reel Big Fish song on the soundtrack! (What do you mean you've never heard Reel Big Fish? You must fix that immediately! Go here, or here, or here, and then keep searching!)

So I was excited to play this. And then it spent five minutes trying to get me to calibrate the controls - and once I realised I had to twist the wii-mote to make it reach the point it was telling me to reach, I got a bit worried.

You see, the thing about motion controls is that they're great, but (especially in the early Wii days when this was released) they can be imprecise if you are not careful, and on a game that requires split-second timing, that can be a problem... and I'm sad to say, that it was a problem with Samba De Amigo.

You see, I was getting immensely frustrated with the game saying I'd missed one, where I'd done exactly the same movement as before, and hit it perfectly. And this wasn't a one-off occurrence. I estimate that 30-40% of the time I was playing*, the motions I made were not accurately translated on the screen, and that just quickly becomes annoying.

(*And I estimate that approximately 67% of the statistics in this review have an approximate variance of between 1 and 7234%)

Now it's not necessarily a game breaker - especially in two player mode! I roped in my lovely wife and we played the "Love Love" mode (which is some kind of two-player co-op mode), and we had a good time. And then at the end, we got this screen....

That's right, we are a Handsome Couple, our relationship will apparently last six months, and our Love Key Word is Volleyball. Doesn't that make complete sense?

(Please note - the above sentence is sarcasm. It makes absolutely no sense!!! Strange Japanese people...)

So in conclusion - Samba De Amigo is a good laugh multiplayer, but don't expect to enjoy the single player if you like anything that even vaguely resembles precise controls!

Rating: 6/10
Time played: 45-50 mins
Would I play it again? Probably multiplayer, and when alcohol has been consumed!

Next time on Brawny's Great Playthrough - It's back to a 2D one-on-one fighter... but which one?

Find out soon! (I promise)