Storage Warfare

I had never seen Storage Wars on A&E before I picked up Storage Warfare on XBLIG yesterday.  I got it because the concept seemed weird and different.  When I tweeted that this was the next game up for review, I had a few people ask questions like “is there an annoying guy who screams “YEAAAAAH” when he bids?”  Mostly people just bitched about how this was obviously a lazy attempt to capitalize on a semi-popular, semi-obscure cable-based reality television show.  Obviously schlock like Storage Warfare will usher in the fall of gaming as we know it, rendering all previous games obsolete, and burying your Zeldas, Metal Gears, and Skyrims under a mountain of games based on Dog the Bounty Hunter or Honey Boo Boo.

I guess that means the guys behind Storage Warfare must be especially diabolical, seeing how it’s been on iPhone and Android long before it’s XBLIG release yesterday.  Not content to toil in obscurity on iPhone, they had to port to XBLIG, where their title is certain to sell at least 73 copies.  Greedy bastards.

screen2

Who in their right mind would keep a safe with stacks of cash in a storage locker? Wouldn’t that cash have been put to better use by, I dunno, using the cash to pay off the debt to the facility so that they didn’t auction off your shit?

In all seriousness, who gives a shit what the game is based on?  Is it fun should be the big question, which oddly enough, only one person out of twenty asked.  Everyone else moaned in disappointment like they just got done having fellatio performed on them by a dust buster with a broken motor.  Shouldn’t the “is it fun?” question trump all?  I’m open to a game based on pretty much any TV show, as long as it’s fun.  Dead serious.  It could be a game based on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show and I would slap my seal of approval on it if I had fun playing it.  So is Storage Warfare fun?  Kinda.

The concept is you have one year to make as great a profit as possible by bidding on storage lockers.  You start with $1,500 in seed money.  Every month, there’s three auctions, each with three lockers to bid on, and each has a different level of wealth associated with it.  The first auction every month is a skid row style storage unit, the second is the middle class one, and the third is the ritzy one.  You don’t actually get to inspect the items beforehand.  Instead, you see a graphical representation of what is found in each unit.  You bid on the whole locker, not individual items.  If you win, you get to see what you’ve won, and it tallies whether you turned a profit or lost money.  After you’ve completed one full year (36 auctions, 108 total lockers to bid on) the amount of money you have left is ranked on a local-only leaderboard.  That’s the whole game.

I like the idea and I had fun here, but the concept certainly doesn’t go as far as it should.  Among other problems, there’s not a huge variety in items.  Barely halfway through the “year” and I had seen off all but two or three items on the checklist.  Of course, the phone version has had a couple stand-alone expansions, which I’m sure will make their way to XBLIG sooner or later.  A bigger problem is how much luck factors into things.  I tried to play the game smart and cool, passing on some auctions that I felt were getting bid-up by the AI too much.  I finished the year with a profit of about $20,000.  And then I fetched my dear mommy, a fan of the source material, to let her have a go at it.  Unlike me, she bid on EVERY SINGLE LOCKER.  And she won.  She beat me by about $5,000, even though she employed nothing remotely resembling strategy or skill.  I hate that bitch.

It kind of turns Storage Warfare into a video scratch-off ticket.  No skill needed, success is totally based on chance.  The best strategy seems to be figuring out what the average bid the AI opponents will top out at and trying to hit just under that mark on your first bid.  But even then, you’re at the mercy of dumb luck.  Plus, the gameplay is shallow and the replay value is too limited.  Not to mention they missed out on an obvious local-only multiplayer mode where friends and family bid against each-other.  Even my Mom questioned why they didn’t include that.  It’s such a no-brainer that someone without a brain couldn’t understand why such a mode is not included.

I guess comic/guitar/

I guess comic/guitar/samurai sword/Rembrandt collectors have trouble paying their bills.

For all those reasons, I should have probably hated Storage Warfare.  But I didn’t.  It takes about a half-hour or so to run through an entire year and I had fun with it.  Once it was done, I wouldn’t want to play it again, but I don’t feel I wasted my dollar.  What’s here is limited, but undeniable enjoyable.  They probably could go a lot further.  My mother noted that the show (which has an official game on Facebook) is more about conflicts and possibly artificial drama than the actual auctions, none of which is really present here.  Maybe they could make a deeper, character-driven RPG-like experience, but they didn’t.  Storage Warfare is the perfect poster-child for casual gaming: a shallow, stupid time sink that you’ll ultimately ask others to join you with, like some kind of cult indoctrination.

xboxboxartStorage Warfare was developed by 24KT Studios

IGC_Approved80 Microsoft Points noted that a Charlie Rose game could be okay if they did it L.A. Noire style in the making of this review. 

Storage Warfare is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

The Impossible Game

The Impossible Game is, as of this writing, the biggest selling Xbox Live Indie Game of all-time that isn’t a Minecraft clone. It’s a punisher, sure, but since you can’t improvise anything and every jump you have to make is predetermined, it’s more akin to trying to ace a Guitar Hero song set on expert. I’m not really into those kind of games, and my early experience playing the demo of this long before I founded Indie Gamer Chick left me feeling self-mutilatious. And no, I don’t care if that’s not really a word. It is now.

I’m guessing anybody that has hung around the XBLIG scene has probably at least played the demo for Impossible Game. Until last month, that was my only experience with it. Now that I officially do not play demos, I sprung for the full version, with the intent of catching up to all the top-selling games. The first thing I noticed about it? How clunky the jump button is. It’s slow. There seems to be a slight delay in the game’s reaction time. In a game that requires perfect precision with no room for error, I found the control scheme unacceptable. I found it baffling that this was a top game. #3 all-time selling and #10 in total rank.

Part of the problem is the only way to jump is with the A button. None of the other face buttons are used at all. What it could have used was jumping mapped to the bumpers. The least resistant buttons should have had jumping on them, which would have allowed for quicker actions and smoother play. Alas, it was not to be. I said to myself “the idea for this game isn’t bad or anything. If only there was a platform that did not have clunky buttons and inputs were almost completely instantaneous. Too bad such a device is purely hypothetical.” And while I was doing this, Brian was waving my iPhone at me. Weeks later, I figured out why he was doing so.

So I bought Impossible Game on iPhone, and it worked just swell. First off, the layout of the level is completely different from the Xbox version, which is a nice touch. There’s no “push here” area. You can pretty much push anywhere there isn’t some kind of overlay to cause the cube to jump. There was no delay in the jumping, leaving the only challenge as the actual challenge the game is meant to have. Fancy that. I still wasn’t convinced the game was anything special. You jump a cube over spikes. It scrolls quickly. You need to memorize the layout. Whoopee do. Then I noticed that over an hour has passed. Okay, so maybe it’s a little addictive.

This was back in late April. Since then, the Impossible Game has factored into my bathroom time, smoke breaks, TV watching, waiting rooms, and traffic jams. Every time I made it one space closer than my previous best, I would check the stat bar to see what percentage of the first stage (we’re only talking the first of five stages here) was finished. Finally today, after 603 total attempts (it keeps track), I fucking did it. I beat it. I beat a shallow, one-dimensional, total time-sink of a game. Brian asked me if all the time I had put into it was worth it just to get this:

Totally.

The Impossible Game on Xbox 360 and iPhone was developed by FlukeDude

80 Microsoft Points and $0.99 said this is the biggest case of false advertising since the Neverending Story in the making of this review.

My intent had to go without placing any practice flags down, but I slipped at one point. Damnit all, oh well.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode I

My intent here had originally been to review both parts of Sonic 4. However, after slogging through Episode I and encountering the single most boring final boss in the history of video games, I don’t think I have the strength in me to even try it. It doesn’t help that most people are telling me that some of the stuff I will be complaining about below got fixed, yet the game is still worse. How is that even possible? It’s like unclogging a toilet by blowing up the building and calling it a job well done.

Long time readers probably expected me to hate Sonic 4 before I even started it. Whether it was my hate-article against Sega, my review of Sonic CD, or the fact that my Twitter picture was typically me figuring out different ways to torture and kill a stuffed Sonic The Hedgehog doll, I think the message is clear: fuck Sonic. By the way, I would have kept up with the Sonic killings, but wood-chippers are shockingly expensive and there’s a bullshit 7-day waiting period on flame-throwers. To me, the franchise represents everything wrong with gaming: generic character with committee-designed personality that’s best viewed through nostalgia goggles. Sonic is the gaming equivalent of Poochie. Every attempt at modernizing Sonic has failed, with fans rightfully bitching that they suck and they just want an old-fashioned 2D Sonic game. The only problem is, those old-fashioned 2D Sonic games weren’t really all that good to begin with. As a child, they were neat for you because they pushed new technology and did stuff games hadn’t done to that point. Today? They don’t hold up, and neither do attempts at recreating the magic. Stuff like Sonic Colors and Sonic 4 continue to get lambasted. And whenever something with Sonic that is borderline not shitty comes along, like Sonic Generations, fanboys treat it like Jesus just emerged from his tomb. You guys are easier to please than my dog, and all I have to do to make her happy is throw her a teeny piece of pizza crust.

I honestly don’t even think the graphics look that good.

I had only played the demo of Sonic 4 Episode 1 (which ought to have been subtitled The Phantom Appeal) when it came out back in 2010 and I honestly thought it was just a remake of one of the earlier Genesis games. Can you blame me? Same stupid opening level, same enemies, same rings, same abilities, same loops, and same power-ups. I imagine anyone with just a passing interest in Sonic would think this was just a graphical upgrade of an existing title. The full game’s other worlds include a casino, an underwater temple, and an industrial zone. I mean come on, Sega! This is like trying to rob your own home.

Everything bad about Sonic games is also here. Same cheap ass enemy placement, same “gotcha!” level design, and every single thing people never liked in Sonic games to begin with. I have never once met a person who said they enjoyed the water stages in Sonic The Hedgehog. I’m sure there might be one or two stragglers out there who insist they’re brilliant, just like I’m sure that there’s one or two people out there who genuinely enjoy squirting wasabi up their nostrils, but it doesn’t mean anyone else would want to do it. The water levels here are particularly painful because of how bad the controls are. Sonic runs like he’s wearing concrete shoes, so building up speed becomes an issue. Once you actually get some momentum going, good luck stopping when you need to. I tried holding back on one of those accelerators just to see how long it would take me to stop and go back to it. I had to press the left directional button nearly 100 times to get there. Granted, nobody is going to play the game like that, but when you design a game around something that is moving fast and then punish people playing it the way it is intended, you’re a colossal asshole.

Of course, things are totally the opposite in the water stages. They give you a game where you’re supposed to run fast, then submerge the character in maple syrup. It becomes so slow and clunky that I honestly wonder if they keep putting these fucking stages in these games hoping that fans will start taking their own lives in protest. I’m telling you, I think I’m on to something here. There are parts in the industrial stages where you have to outrun a giant, um, not sure what it is besides a hunk of metal, and if you die you go back to a check point. From there, you have about two seconds to run up a series of slopes or risk dying. The problem is, you’re not given the ability to build up the required speed to get up them. I had to spin-dash up one, hope to stop, do it again, hope to stop again, and then do it one more time. Once you get past that, you basically just have to hold forward and wait for the game to start playing itself for you like every Sonic game seems to do. Once again, I took a running count. Not sure how accurate it is because I think I might have accidentally counted a couple of sections twice after dying, but regardless, I counted 77 times where I could advance forward in a level without pushing anything. That’s over the course of only twelve stages. Whether it’s bouncing off springs, rolling through tubes, or running past accelerators, Sonic games sure have a hard-on for not letting you play them. As I pointed out in my last review, Sonic was originally designed by Sega to be Mario for idiots, but game design like this strikes me as Sega having outright contempt for its own fan base. Are you getting the message Sega is sending you, Sonic fans? THEY HATE YOU!  What do you think they were trying to tell you with all those 3D Sonics? They weren’t fucking Valentines!

Come on! They didn’t even change the first boss from the first Sonic game! Short of knocking you out with chloroform and shitting in your mouth, what else can they do to show you they don’t like you anymore?

I pressed forward and eventually got to the last boss. Well actually, before you fight it, the game ends with a boss rush. I guess Robotnik felt that all those previous attempts at murdering Sonic with various contraptions that often failed within twenty seconds were worth a second look. Once you dispatch them, you’re placed against one final, giant robot. At first, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. It was slow. It was easy to attack. So I started to bonk it. And then I kept bonking it. It would fly up in the air, crash down, and I would keep bonking it.  After EIGHTEEN coma-inducing bonks, the boss finally entered its second phase. It takes eighteen hits to get there!  Mind you, this thing doesn’t put up anything resembling a real fight. It just sort of lumbers around, waiting for you to smack it. In the second phase, you can’t attack its body directly, so you have to wait for it to fire one of its arms at you. Once you avoid it, it floats downwards, and you have to bonk it back to the robot to stun-lock it. Of course, the game is kind of fickle about when something constitutes “hitting it” versus “getting hit by it.” The arms have spikes on the bottom, so I would wait until I could attack it at a downward angle, hitting the top of the arm and thus avoiding becoming a Sonic Skewer. This worked, oh, about half the time. The other half the time, I would do a lock-on attack directly to the top of the glove and still die. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Once you die, you get to go back to the 18 bonks before reaching the second phase and hoping like hell your lock-on attack doesn’t crap out on you, forcing another restart. Well, on one such attempt, luck was on my side, because I had kept all three rings I got at the checkpoint, I had gotten to phase two, and I was able to successfully attack the boss another dozen or so times. I’m not sure how many shots are actually required to kill it. Possibly it’s some hypothetical number, like a quajillion, but I won’t know because the game had one final dick move supreme to pull off on me. You have exactly ten minutes to beat every stage, including in boss battles. I had eaten up about four minutes getting to the last encounter, and another three minutes getting to phase two of the final boss. Well, as it turns out, the last boss has random attack patterns, only one of which opens itself up to attack. After getting a bunch of hits on it, with about two minutes and change left until time expired, the game flipped me the bird and never again did that one attack I needed it to do. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Time expired, life lost, back to the start of the fight, cuss words screamed, controller thrown, power off, and Sonic 4 and go fuck itself.

“Dear Sega, less water stages in Sonic games please.” “Did you say more water stages?” “No, less. Preferably none. Nobody likes them.” “More water stages it is!”

And that is when it hit me: the guys Sega stuck this project with hated making it as much as I hated playing it. They just didn’t care. That’s the only explanation I can think of for sticking such a tediously boring boss at the end yet another redundant Sonic game. Maybe this was their attempt at killing the franchise once and for all. Maybe this was their attempt at trying to avoid drawing the Sonic assignments any further. Maybe they were outright trying to get fired. Whatever the explanation is, Sonic 4 Episode 1 is one of the worst pieces of shit I have ever played. But the games sell, so they’ll keep making them. I bought this one and I just bought Episode II, so I’m part of the problem. Excuse me, I need to go flog myself now.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Part I was developed by Sega

I honestly don’t remember how much I paid for this. I think it was like $1 at Christmas on PlayStation Network or something like that. Quite frankly, I can’t justify spending any amount on this game.  

The Simpsons Arcade Game

Bart’s shirt is the wrong color. Sideshow Bob helps him instead of tries to kill him. 99.9% of all the characters established in the canon don’t show up. All the enemies are completely generic characters. None of the bosses outside of Mr. Burns and Smithers are from the TV series. The whole game is just a reskinned version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that some guys at Konami probably threw together in a weekend. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the best Simpsons game ever. Only it’s not. It fucking sucks, but you should already know that.

And yes, I’m aware that the wrestler guy that’s the first boss was actually from the episode where Bart tries to jump Springfield Gorge on his skateboard. The bear doesn’t count, because it’s actually just one of the generic guys in a bear suit. I’m also aware that the game originally came out in 1991 and that I shouldn’t be so nit-picky about those things. To that I say this: fuck you. The Simpsons Arcade Game is a fossil that should have been left in the tar pits of non-release obscurity.

Remember that episode where the family started brawling with quintuplet accountants riding teacups?

Don’t look at me that way. I’m not attacking your childhood or raping your memories. That’s a George Lucas move. I’m not even saying the Simpsons was a bad game for back in the day. Hey, it was either play the Simpsons Arcade or, like, go outside and exercise or something. Psssh, what kind of loser would do that?

What I am saying is maybe those memories are better left where they are. The Simpsons Arcade Game, much like Ninja Turtles or X-Men, has not exactly aged well. Let’s face it, it’s a relic. And not one of those good, Sean Connery type ones. As much as the concept of it baffles me, I can almost understand going back and playing stuff like Final Fantasy VII for the twentieth time. I think there should be mandatory castration for anyone who does so (not that they’ll ever actually use those parts, but you can never be too cautious), but I can almost understand it. But an arcade brawler that was, quite frankly, a lazily produced reskin of an existing game designed to sucker lunch money out of children?  Why would you want to go back and play that?

And yet, since the announcement of it a few weeks ago, teenagers of the early 90s are going gaga. I had never actually played the Simpsons Arcade Game, outside of one attempt at a Pizza Hut when I was like six years old. The joystick was broken and I couldn’t move to the right, which is one of only two requirements the game actually has. I got my quarter back and thought nothing of it until I heard the announcement. I planned to ignore it, but it came free with a Playstation Plus account and I’ve never turned down a chance to troll you retro nerds before, so why start now?

I think the appeal in the Simpsons Arcade Game is the same as Sonic CD: it was the “lost game” in the series. It never got a home console port due to some licensing issues and thus it became a legend. As teenagers grew older and their minds became more polluted with various drugs, alcohol, children of their own, and all the Simpsons gaming crapola that has come out since then, those memories of the Simpsons Arcade Game became pretty fuckin’ sweet.

Remember that episode where the Simpsons dropped acid and fought a giant bowling ball?

I promise you, the Simpsons Arcade Game is not as good as you remember it. I know this because I’ve yet to hear a single person tell me that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Reshelled was as good as they remember it. And at least that one had updated its graphics. They couldn’t even bother with that here. This is a lazy port of a lazy game, and you can tell it was produced early in the show’s run. The character models are way off, the voices are off, and the game is forced to use so many generic characters because the cast of millions the show currently uses wasn’t established yet.

So here’s a wild idea: if they had the rights to make this game, why couldn’t they have produced an updated port to go with it? Leave the original game intact so that people could see how horrible it is, and then throw them something newer, using all the crazy space-age technology that leprechauns have given us over the last twenty years?

Actually, EA did a port of the Simpsons Arcade Game for iOS. I have it, and I tried to play through it, but it’s fucking impossible. This is mostly due to the fact that it uses one of those God-awful fake joysticks-and-button layouts that is about as accurate as a dart player that injected his hands with Novocaine. But imagine if they had ported that over to consoles. I mean, that game actually has characters from the series. You fight Chief Wiggum, Mayor Quimby, and various other fan favorites. It might not be the exact same game as your childhood fantasy, but it actually might be better. You know, if you could control it.

Or, even better, build an entirely new game modeled after the original arcade title, but replace all the generic baddies with random characters from the series that you fight only once, locations based on the series that actually look like they might have appeared on the series (Moe’s Tavern is a quarter-mile long casino. Who knew?), and add some modern twists. Use Castle Crashers as the basis for it. Leveling up, a variety of weapons, branched paths, hidden items, and so on, and so on. Why settle for something that was designed to steal your money as a child? Don’t you deserve better? Well, no. I suppose you don’t. If you actually gave away $10 for this piece of shit, ay caramba, there is no helping you.

The Simpsons Arcade Game was developed by Konami

Going off the math of how many free games and discounts I’ve gotten with my Playstation Plus account, approximately $0.38 was spent playing Teenage Reskinned Ninja Simpsons in the making of this review. TOO MUCH!

The Simpsons Arcade for iOS was developed by EA and costs $0.99. For God’s sake, do not buy it. 

Hollow Grounds

Hollow Grounds is about a suicidal cartographer who decides the best way to map the interior of the planet is to dive head-first down it.  This is one of those iPhone that controls entirely using the gyroscopic technology.  To play, you have to spin your iPhone around to steer him through a series of 25 caves.  To pass a cave, you have to meet minimum requirements associated with speed, item collection, and super special item collection.  Well, allegedly.  There were a few times that I barely picked up any items, missed all the super gems, and spent the majority of the stage braining myself against the wall and I still would get a passing grade.  In fact, through the first 14 stages I only failed once and that’s because I paused the game.  As it turns out, pausing doesn’t really stop the action.  It just slows it down.  I don’t know if this is supposed to be a hidden cheat or just a programming brain fart.

Actually, Hollow Grounds is full of cerebral flatulence.  The game is all about quick reflexes, and yet there are stars scattered throughout the stage that you are encouraged to get.  Your dude travels fairly fast, so missing some of them is inevitable.  The only way to overcome this is memorizing the stage, but that will probably be tricky on account of all the stages looking nearly identical.  All you have to go by is the occasional light beam, but in over an hour of play time I swear I never really noticed them on account of my dude free-falling a couple hundred miles an hour.

The level design also gets a little far-fetched around the 15th cave.  Before this, I was barely able to keep up with the sharp bends on the track.  Starting in level 15 it has you doing loopity-loops and figure-eights.  Given the speed your guy falls, I swear this is less a game and more like a conspiracy from Apple to cause you to drop and break your phone.  The game expects every one of its players to have the dexterity of one of those greasy Italian guys who spin pizza dough on their finger tips.

I admit, I did have a teeny tiny bit of fun with Hollow Grounds, but it needs a lot of work.  I know the idea is the game is set in a cave, but the drab visuals were kind of downer, and the game speed is way too fast for what it expects of you as the player.  I think children are more likely to be amused by the spinning stuff, so if you have kids and a desire for a crack across your iPhone screen, give Hollow Grounds a chance.  It will be a good way to soften them up to the idea of a hollow Earth.  That way, when you go to feed them to the Morlocks, they won’t suspect a thing.

Hollow Grounds was developed by Full! Color! Planet!

99¢ fed their sister to a CHUD in the making of this review.

%d bloggers like this: