September 25, 2011

How I Learned to Love Hitogata Happa

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 1:21 pm

Hitogata Happa
Hitogata Happa seems downright impossible. Oh sure, everything starts off straightforward enough, and you might assume it’s a typical top-down 2D shooter. You blast enemies, you collect the goodies they drop, you reach the first boss… and then you die, again and again.

And if you’re like me, you probably give up and go play something else.

Yet, something about Hitogata Happa calls you back. You try again. You die again. You get angry. You get defensive. “This is the first stage! Why the heck is it so difficult?! This game sucks!”

I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I skillfully avoided every single bullet the first stage’s boss fired at me, while slowly whittling away at its power. When you start fighting the boss, a timer begins to count down, and when the clock hits zero, the boss suddenly goes bananas and unleashes a ruthless barrage that always resulted in me seeing the Game Over message. And the timer hit zero every single time. Argh!

My world became dark. I had really wanted to love Hitogata Happa so, so much. I was especially upset because I found the game’s world enthralling. Though I’ll admit I skipped the story sequences because I don’t care for such things, the plot’s gist is that the protagonist is extremely pissed off about some wrongdoing (her family was killed or something) and, in order to get her revenge, sends little “dolls” out to decimate her enemies. And, boy, are there a lot of enemies to kill!


June 8, 2011

E3 2011 – Hands-on PixelJunk SideScroller

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 4:29 pm

Handson PixelJunk SideScroller
The PixelJunk Shooter games didn’t light my world on fire, to say the least. I thought they looked gorgeous and the concept was great, but I just didn’t find them to really be all that much fun. Getting through levels was more work than play, in my opinion.

But PixelJunk SideScroller? Ah, it might be love! I adore 2D shooters, and this is perhaps one of the best to come along in a quite awhile. If you grew up playing horizontal shooters, you know the drill. Pilot a craft left to right through horizontally scrolling stages and blast everything that moves. In many ways SideScroller feels like it was ripped right from the golden age of space shooters.

Even the game’s logo is clearly an homage to Gradius. Super cool.

And the retro love doesn’t end there. The game is designed to look as it were being displayed on an old CRT monitor, complete with washed out colors and scan lines. The screen also warps a little at the edges, which is a charming touch. The environments are a mix of vivid neon colors and minimalist vector graphics. It’s kind of like the lovechild of PixelJunk Shooter and Trajectile (Q Games’ cool rocket-firing puzzle game for DSiWare). The experience is only enhanced by the soundtrack, which is very akin to the spacey, beat-heavy tunes found in the Shooter games. It’s safe to say Q Games knocked another one out of the park in the audiovisual department and the end result is lovely.


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