In the Hunt

Briefly sat down with In the Hunt last night.  My Mom was right – these games would destroy my eyes. I’m terrible at shooters, but I’m pretty sure games like this are why I wear glasses now.

If I’m not mistaken, this game shares common creators with the Metal Slug franchise – it’s unquestionable that they both share a similar art style.  While the Saturn version is hampered by slowdown, it is still an extremely good looking game – I’ve posted a few screen shots and a video of one of the game’s more memorable levels below.

Last Bronx

Last Bronx CoverLast Bronx
Sega Saturn, 1997
Developer: AM3
Publisher: Sega

Recently I acquired a handful of Saturn imports, one of which was Sega’s Last Bronx. An early attempt at bringing the weapons-based fighter into the third dimension, Last Bronx is a game that is oft-forgotten by Western audiences. While it lacks the luster and epic scale of its closest genre contemporary, Namco’s Soul Edge, Last Bronx is a technical achievement in its own right, and a solid entry in the Saturn’s vast catalog of fighters.

Originally released to Japanese arcades in 1996, the Saturn port of Last Bronx is quite possibly the best looking 3D fighter on the system. Though the Saturn wasn’t known for being a 3D powerhouse, it was quite capable of producing visually stunning ports of games originally designed for Sega’s Model 2 hardware. Last Bronx appears to run at a constant 60 FPS, and the animation (all of which is motion-captured) is extremely fluid. It almost pains me to say it, but Last Bronx simply does not look like a Sega Saturn game, and I don’t think that anybody would assume that it was without prior knowledge.

Unfortunately, Last Bronx’s gameplay is nowhere near as stellar as its visuals. Though it is a more than competent 3D fighter, it’s ostensibly a simplified “Virtua Fighter with weapons.” While Last Bronx has 9 characters (two of whom are basically clones), their movesets are relatively limited. Additionally, outside of the presence of weapons, Last Bronx has no truly unique gameplay systems to set it apart from the pack. Last Bronx is by no means a shallow fighter, but it unequivocally lacks the depth of its contemporaries.

Last Bronx Character Select
The roster is small, but varied and colorful.

Notably, every attack in Last Bronx deals big damage. It’s not uncommon for matches to be over after one or two combo strings. Matches move at a brisk pace, and each hit feels like it counts. Unfortunately, this very trait also makes play against the CPU a pretty unrewarding affair – it’s very easy to spam your way to victory.

Last Bronx Tommy Zaimoku

But then again, the endings are so short, there’s virtually no reward for single-player play to begin with.

The Japanese home version of Last Bronx also features a host of extra features, including an extremely robust training mode, where super-deformed versions of the characters give you a series of “lectures” on high level play. It’s more or less indecipherable without a working knowledge of Japanese, but it’s certainly a novel concept.

Last Bronx Training Mode
Ring the bell, school’s in sucka.

Also, these are my three favorite stage names in game history:

While Last Bronx never quite achieves greatness, it’s quite easy to find it out in the wild for an affordable price. I’d recommend that anybody with more than a passing interest in the Saturn give it a shot. If you’re interested, I’d highly recommend Harry Nezumi’s extremely thorough writeup over at Hardcore Gaming 101 – it’s about as comprehensive as it gets.

 

 

Far Cry 4

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I sank a borderline unhealthy amount of time into Far Cry 4 on my PC. Far Cry 4 has everything I look for in an open-world game – a series of overlapping environmental mechanics consistently colliding to create hilarious, and often times unexpected results.  Animals catch on fire, enemies routinely blow themselves up, and enemies can interrupt you at any turn.  Chaos abounds, and to put it succinctly, Far Cry 4 is like its predecessor on speed.  It may be hard to believe, but Kyrat is infinitely more hostile and aggressive than the Rook Islands were in Far Cry 3.

Far Cry 4 Tiger

And my God, the game is just gorgeous. I’ve literally spent minutes at a time watching animal fur sway in the breeze. Graphically, it’s about as beautiful as it gets.

Far Cry 4 - Explosion
Fishing with grenades. Look at that water!
Far Cry 4 Goofy Body
He looks like he died happy.

While I haven’t moved the needle much on the game’s story, I’ve been steadfastly chronicling my adventures: I hope you enjoy!

More soon! If you’ve got any footage of your own, send it in, and I’ll post it here!