Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Growing up with Seedling.

In 2012, developer Connor Ullman released a game called "Seedling" which revisited the aesthetics of games like Zelda, Arkistas Ring, and the DQ series. Renamed from the beta "Shrum" title, Seedling is easily one of my favorite neoclassic indie games. The ominous music composed by Rekcahdam sets players in a dreamlike world where lands are to be explored, monsters destroyed, and treasure found. 

Seedling follows the very classic tambour of overhead action-adventure games. Players begin in their home village, seek out cryptic clues from friendly NPC's, gain power ups and unlock 100+ areas and dungeons to progress further. Each screen is carefully crafted to suit the storyline, keeping players learning along the entire 3-5 hours it should take to beat this game. Like some of it's "Nintendo hard" adventure game predecessors, Seedling NPC's offer minimal advice to the main character, which for some players has been frustrating. When Ullman received this feedback from the stuck/lost, he commented "You're not stuck, you're just not much of an adventurer." 
THAT fucking rules. 
In fact, Ullman has released an entire expo on his process while creating, releasing, and answering feedback to the game. [Read Here]

Seedling's bosses are generally pretty easy. Getting to them can be a bit challenging (especially in Basiniad//Lava World) but the overwhelming fun of this game and it's puzzles is anything but frustrating. The elements of "wander around" are certainly celebrated in Seedling. The whole way through, I was falling in love, experiencing nostalgia, taking breaks and reading up on easter eggs/hidden features online. It reminded me of that Xmas game you got and played obsessively all the way through winter vacation until school was back in session. The game WAS your vacation. The world was real for a fleeting moment.

Wicked Basement gives Seedling a 8/10
This game is certainly a wonderful homage, full of originality, smooth gameplay, and a very full world.

A quick spoileresque tip for the end of the game, which was my only complaint. You must knock the owl boss into the lava pit 3 SEPARATE times after it has gone to it's nest. Players can knock it into the lava for hours and it will accomplish nothing if the boss has not "sat down" three times. This had me fighting the owl endlessly, until I finally read up on this small issue. So take your time, he/she is a surprisingly easy boss for the finale.

-Nintendo Entertainment System-

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Splatter House: Wanpaku (naughty) Graffiti [J] is the definition of Nintendo Hard Level: Fucking Arbitrary.

Before there was Rick, the zombie killing ex-sherriff who leads a ragtag group of idiots though post apocalyptic Atlanta, there was Rick, the hockey-mask wearing, undead slaying, Mansion wrecking muscle man who tore through the beat-em-up platformer genre like a hot cleaver through a corpse…

---But before even THAT, was a game so ignored by later versions of it's own franchise that only the deepest, dankest basements in JAPAN are known to house it. A game so silly, so Nintendo Hard, so "Japaneezee" that it seems SplatterHouse overcompensated for the rest of it's history in efforts to keep this title down. Ladies and Gentlemen, SplatterHouse: Wanpaku Graffiti.

So we all know the story…
Rick's girlfriend is stolen and he has to fight zombies, blob-men, and vampires to get her back. Where Wanpaku is different is that all characters are comically super deformed, Rick is apparently undead himself, and bosses are hilarious caricatures of western pop iconography (mostly Hollywood and Michael Jackson).

This game blows. Yes, BLOWS. There are fun parts and the hack n' slash is amusing but players are given only ONE LIFE to wreck this whole game. There are continues which start you back at level's beginning and it takes just a few enemy collisions to send you into Game Over rage. On it's surface, S:WG seems like a totally easy game, and it is, but given the perimeters in which players are forced to progress, the game just ends up being turned off before anything meaningful happens. Codes are given to "save" a game, yet Rick starts back up from a continue with one life, so really it's a total crapshoot.

Mostly it is a typical side scrolling platformer. Kill creatures, collect health via candies, and try not to throw your laptop/Famicom out the window. Wicked Basement gives this game a 3/10 (notice the image above? ehhhh????) but we wanted our readers to at least enjoy the concept that Rick from SplatterHouse was first a cutesy, Jason knock-off who fought Michael Jackson Dracula and totally blew it on his first game. The Horror!