The All Encompassing… Ah, Nevermind. Other Game Notes!

6 05 2009

Now that I have the Mighty Shelves of Power, I’ve been digging through the back catalog and trying to sample more games. I wanna get away from the Power Trio (Team Fortress, City of Heroes, and Rock Band) and experience NEW things. I love all three despite their respective faults, but hey, poppa’s a rollin’ stone. So, let me recount two brawlers by paraphrasing a certain animu badass. Ahem.

Gentlemen, I like brawlers. Gentlemen, I love brawlers.

I like side scrolling, I like three hit combos, I like having multiple characters to pick from, I like palette swapped street gangs, I like watching life bars drain from yellow to red. I like knives and batons you can pick up and use a few times before they flicker and vanish. I like picking up whole roasted turkeys off the ground and eating them to close my wounds.

I like using a simple punch combo to stun an enemy. I like grabbing an enemy, and hurling them into a crowd, causing them all to fall down. As I was stacking enemies to one side or the other, like a puzzle game, strategically reshaping the fight to keep from being overwhelmed, I was at my height. It is a sad thing when you are forced to use your life-draining PBAOE crowd control spin kick to escape a situation.

Gentlemen, I desire a brawler that is like hell.

So! I got the demo for Zeno Clash, for instance, on Steam. It’s a first person perspective brawler. It’s got all the standards; a basic combo for stun, a grab and throw move to keep enemies coming from one direction, even lifebars for the enemy you just hit in one corner and your own in the other. And it’s got this wacky new idea of doing it all from first person.

The problem, though, is threefold. One, first person also means you can’t tactically survey the battle and decide positioning — you’re limited to your perspective and maybe some faint HUD elements indicating where others are. Often I’m rocking some guy, and I get socked from behind. Far too often. Two, they added shooter elements, and while limited weapon pickups are a staple of the genre, here they just clutter things up since you need to chord your mouse buttons to use them and they’re often difficult to aim properly. Finally… well, it’s just kinda ugly. Really high poly models that look like they were directly exported from Poser. Like an early 90s CD-ROM FMV game without the FMV.

Next brawler — Watchmen: The End Is Nigh. I’d heard nothing but bad things about this game, which while having amazingly nice graphics for a downloadable apparently sucked in every other respect. I have to disagree. It’s got the fundamentals of old school brawling, the simple combos, the crowd control throws, weapons, etc. The control is a LITTLE sloppy but it’s the first time I was able to play a 360 degree brawler and still feel like I was Final Fighting it up. And hey… I get to hear Rorschach rambling about the filth of the world while mauls dudes. Nice. The price point is bordering on silly but I might get it anyway, since I have disposable income, I love the genre, I love the IP, and it was just enough above average to be fun.

Also on the fun horizon — they’re doing a 3-D remake of TMNT: Turtles in Time. I can’t wait to get my hands on that. I played the first two Turtles brawlers endlessly in arcades and still enjoy a good quarter-pumping emulated romp through the first game, either on my MAME cab or with the X-Box 360 downloadable version. It’s a pity the online components for these downloadable games fade out fast — I’d love to find some players for the first TMNT game on XBLA. I got it and then was distracted by someone else, and by the time I got back, nobody was playing it anymore. Ahwell. Maybe when Turtles in Time comes out I can get on it again.

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8 responses

6 05 2009
sptrashcan

Good news!
If you haven’t heard of it already: Beats of Rage! A lovely little homebrew brawler with an active modding community.
I too love brawlers. I think that’s a sizable part of why I like City of Heroes, especially Claws/ scrappers. It’s about as close to brawler combat in an MMO that I’ve seen. And if somebody ever satisfied my dream of an MMO brawler/platformer, they would have my money.

6 05 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Exactly! COH is basically an MMO brawler. I get a bit too bewildered in melee, myself, but ranged play involves JUST enough tactics and JUST enough action to have that good old school feel. Do I mez this guy, or that guy? Can I knockback this guy into that group and then AOE them all? How do I line up my angle to catch the most enemies in one go? Wrangling the crowd is a huge part of brawlers, and a part of COH.

6 05 2009
sd_chan

*perks up* Someone else has TMNT on Xbox Live?
I’m completely terrible at the game (farthest I’ve gotten was the first section of the last level through a lot of sweat and tears) but I’d be happy to play with another person.

6 05 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Yay! Send a friend request to HeXcoda. Be sure to note that you’re from my LJ.
I’m not really that GREAT at the game — it’s a very difficult brawler because unlike others, it has no stunning combos and no throws — but it’s fun as heck anyway.
(I’m not used to having friends on my friends list on XBL who are actually people I kinda know. Usually it’s just “This random dude was okay in Rock Band 2 and I’ll probably never end up playing with him again but I may as well accept the friend request”. I think tonight I should go on a slash and burn.)

6 05 2009
gracefuldawn

If you’re looking for good brawlers, I had a lot of fun with the Fullmetal Alchemist games for PS2. Not sure what systems you have access to, but I really enjoyed them a lot. They basically reminded me of a 3d version of the old Final Fight games. The alchemy was used in three major ways – to make small melee weapons (sword, knife, spear, etc.), as part of attack combos (punch, punch, punch, transmute stone spikes beneath your enemy, juggle with another punch, punch, punch), or by transmuting stationary objects into large scale weapons (cannon, Gatling Gun, high-pressure water cannon, etc). It had an interesting level-up and equipment system, as well.

6 05 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Might be a bit TOO much. Depends on what end of the scale it falls on. Consider the following analogies.
Galaxian IS TO Final Fight, TMNT AS Your Typical Crazy-ass Bullet Hell Shooter IS TO God of War, Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, etc.
While Final Fight and Devil May Cry both involve beating up dudes, one has simpler controls and is almost a puzzle game of stacking them up and keeping them under control while the other is all about the ridiculous fifty button combos and chording with triggers and so on. One’s about raw gamer skill and instinct, the other about memorization and the reflexes of a 12 year old.
Where does the FMA game fall?

7 05 2009
xyzzysqrl

Tokyo Beatdown and the Yakuza games are supposed to be rather good. TB is for the DS, the Yakuza series is PS2.

7 05 2009
Anonymous

As I remember the Alchemy leveling system from the FMA games, for the most part it just lets your ‘special’ weapons stick around longer, and can be safely brushed aside because, by the end of the game playing ‘naturally’ you should be able to level everything up to max anyway. The combos, while impressive and fun, are pretty easy to pull off. Think a maxed out Sora in KH2, although maybe not quite /that/ over-the-top.
-TH

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