Sunday, November 16, 2014

My 100 Most Favorite Video Games of All Time #90: Dungeons and Dragons Tactics

‘Tis true, warrior.  Back in the day I was an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons player.  With that in mind, it may come as a surprise that I enjoy the PSP’s Dungeons andDragons Tactics.  A surprise to those who have played it, at least.  It was, by most accounts, not a popular video game.

The game has issues.  A cumbersome menu system and an irritating camera are just two of its problems.  My biggest gripe, however, is that it takes everything that is fun in the role playing game and jettisons most of it.  No more random encounters.  No multi-classes.  In doing so, it turned the game into nothing more than a tactical battle, which is truth in advertising, I guess.  So why did I like it so much?

It’s simple.  The game came out worldwide in 2007, and I was no longer part of that crowd which enjoyed the paper-based role playing game.  When I saw this game, though, I bought it hoping it would somewhat measure up to what I grew up playing.  I knew it couldn’t replace it, but I had hopes.  It didn’t quite satisfy me, but I could recognize the skeleton of the game I once enjoyed, even if it was using a rules system that had changed since my days of being behind the DM screen.  The spells, character classes (for the most part) and monsters, however, were intact and remained fairly true to the original game.  What its manufacturer, Atari, presented was good enough that I could overlook the flaws and enjoy the game for what it was, memories be damned.

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing.  It’s hard to return to the past, as you journey there a changed person.  I kept that in mind when I made this purchase.  I knew it wouldn’t live up to those 27 hour marathon sessions with graph paper, dice, soda, Pop Tarts, stacks of manuals and lots of cursing.  I was hoping, however, that it could capture just a bit of that magic … and it did.  It may be awkward and flawed, but it tries to be a good game, and in many ways succeeds. 

Note: Seven years later I still haven’t finished it…

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My 100 Most Favorite Video Games of All Time #91: Captain America and the Avengers

If you were comic book fan in 1991 and wandered into an arcade (which, having lost their appeal to both addicts tired of the stale games and pedophiles who now used the Internet to troll, were slowly dying out at that point), you may have become speechless upon catching sight of Captain America and the Avengers.  For me, it was akin to discovering the pillars of Atlantis.  Why?  Because you could sink your quarters in and play as Vision, Iron Man or Hawkeye (and let’s not forget Captain America, but I’ve never been a fan).  Those were a few of my favorite Avengers!  What wasn’t to love?  Not only could you play as those characters, but you would get assistance from the likes of Wasp and Wonder Man as you fought villains like Whirlwind, Klaw, Ultron and the Grim Reaper.   Was there anything to dislike about the game?

Well, yes.

As games went, it was a simple side-scrolling basher with little in the way of variation.  Punching things or attacking with your powers over and over didn’t matter when you were Hawkeye, though.  Or Vision.  Or Iron Man.  (Again, screw Captain America.)  It could’ve been a cooking game where the object was to boil eggs and it would have been fine because you were playing as those characters.  Hell, if they threw in a playable Black Panther, Hellcat or Scarlet Witch I would’ve stolen the damn game. 

I used to play this game while waiting for my girlfriend to get off work.  It was housed in a Redding, California mall, and it was the four player model.  Sadly, it was neglected most of the time, which was lucky for me, but did mean that its days were numbered.  One day I went to play it only to find that the machine was gone and nothing was in its place.    

I haven’t seen it since those Redding days.  I know it exists for consoles, but I doubt the experience would be the same.  I am certain, however, that if this game had come along just five years earlier it would have been a huge success that would still be talked about to this day.  Instead, it is relegated to an empty memory slot in most people’s brains.  Comic book games have grown since then.  Some are incredible.  Others a step back in time to the Atari 2600 days.  This game, being as mediocre as it was, barely registers as nostalgia for most, but for me it was an oasis in the Hell that was Redding, and for that it will always be remembered.