Video Games Hate Me, or: Saved by the Spanish

A few weeks back, I got Megaman Powered Up for my PSP. You may have heard of the PSP: it’s that machine which is used to remake PS One games and not much else, really. Well, Megaman Powered Up is a remake of the original Megaman for the NES. It has all of the old levels, plus retooled levels which can be played as any of the other bosses.
Capcom, for the last twenty years or so, have blatantly been leading the field in sadistic programming. The “Powered Up” stages are frustrating enough, but in playing the old stages you realise just how watered down a challenge you’ve been handed down. I’m not fool enough to throw my PSP around when I die, but I am going to stomp the ground (and not in the dance movie sense).
Ice Man’s stage is enough to make me want to destroy the world. Precarious jumps, and I’m being shot at? Hells yeah, Capcom. Hells yeah.

So I decided that I would put down my PSP (and this story is a bit lie-filled, because I haven’t devoted myself to MMPU [side note: PU. Think about it.] for a couple of weeks and got it out tonight) and venture into the land of the PC. Having recently acquired a computer that can actually function without attempting to start a new ice age, I decided naturally to play Grim Fandango, a ten year old LucasArts adventure game. Controlled solely by the keyboard. Yeah, I know: what the heckfire? And whenever I access the menu, the sound cuts out. The patch only part fixes that.
I decided that, despite the game’s high interest factor and the fact that you’re playing as Betty Suarez’s father, I will put it aside for now because navigating with the arrow keys is sending me mad.

So I put in the other game that I bought today (and again, these are lies: I bought Grim Fandango about six months ago without having anything suitable to play it on – the other other game I bought today was the new Sam & Max Series One: Episodes 1 to 6), a Spanish adventure game called Runaway: Dream of the Turtle, which kindly came with its predecessor, Runaway: A Road Adventure.
I have a sort of love for adventure games; I say a “sort”, because this genre can be absolutely unforgiving. I would not be surprised if Roberta Williams had sent many men to premature graves – and not through Phantasmagoria induced fear heart attacks (or fear orgasms, dependent on who you are). Yeah, screw you, Sierra.
Anyway, Runaway: A Road Adventure has a strange appeal to it that makes you forget that the sight of the characters talking is enough to make your eyes explode thanks to the quality of the cel-shaded character models. Watching the characters with beards – well, if you dwell on it life will cease to be worth living. It follows a brand of logic that is somewhat frustrating in the age of the FAQ (and that’s another thing about adventure games: in their “golden age”, which coincided with the days of easy disk copying, the guide books sold infinitely more copies than the games themselves).
You can’t sequence break because Brian, your character, has to have a reason to be doing what he’s doing. For instance, you can’t take a coffee packet from a garbage bin until you need it (when, surely, in an adventure game, you should be able to take whatever’s on offer within reason, “just in case”), but for some reason you can steal a Mayan figurehead with a giant ruby implanted. The solution to getting the ruby is actually pretty clever, but why you need to steal it is a pretty obscure idea that I would never have come up with if I didn’t have an FAQ open in another window (and who uses liquid nitrogen to charge a battery?! There’s no suggestion that this might be an idea until after you do it!)

Anyway, I’m only partway through the game, which has so far only used very limited environments and has yet to lend much of a character to the protagonist’s female counterpart beyond her accusing your character of trying to bail all the time. It’s interesting to see such a “dead” field brought back to life, and with such a begrudging logic, at that. At least no one will shoot at me while I try to make a tricky jump from one moving object to another. Damn you, Capcom.

(Further proof that video games hate me: I finally got XBox Live this week – and accidentally started my account separate to my 18 months’ worth of saves and achievements. Seems that nothing can be done to rectify this situation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve gone completely off my 360 and am back into anime[!].)

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