the Mouth of Madness:
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
I decided to do these two games separately, because with Riven, perhaps even more so than Myst, people praised the gameís visual design. It is my belief that the games are ultimately a failure in this regard as well. Yes, technically, the gamesí images are well made. No question there. It takes some real skill to create those pictures. However, they show a distinct lack of any artistic style (see last weekís Guest Editorial for more on that) as they are simply photorealistic. And of course, then thereís the claim that Myst and Riven are "surreal". Sorry bud, but Iíve seen surreal before, and these ainít it. Showing me pictures of mountain ranges with some pretty pipes while new age music plays through my speakers is hardly what Iíd call surreal. In fact, Iíd call it pretty dull. You want to see Myst and Riven style games done right? Go play Manhole or Cosmic Osmo. Thatís back when the boys at Cyan had some original visual flair. Now theyíre much better at writing novels, not making games.
Man, can you believe people actually played this game all the way through? I did, and Iíll tell you something, never before have I felt like such a complete fool. For those who never played the original (or its recent "remake") the basic concept is this: youíre a giant hulking monster-type thing, and itís your job to crush buildings. Over, and over, and over, and over again. For over 100 levels. Ugh. The game had a certain novelty in it, because you could play with three people simultaneously, but jeezÖafter about ten minutes or so the whole thing got really boring, and you found yourself having more fun beating on your friends than crushing yet another freaking building. If ever there were a game less deserving of the term, "classic" this is it. Let it die, peopleÖlet it die.
X-Men vs. Street Fighter, X-Men: Children of the Atom, and Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel Superheroes. (Arcade, various home versions)
Let me just state for the record that Iím a huge fan of the Street Fighter series. I love the damn gamesÖI play Street Fighter Alpha 2 religiously. But these three (Iíll call them the fearsome four) bare so little resemblance to that game that they shouldnít even carry the Capcom logo. Hereís the problem. These three games have taken the fine art of fighting titles, and completely ruined it. Instead of the finesse it takes to excel at such games as Virtua Fighter or Tekken, in these games, you pretty much just mash buttons until your hand starts to bleed. Or you actually win. Iíve actually played a game of Marvel Superheroes where I won repeatedly, but I hadnít the foggiest clue how I did it. All I did was pound buttons until crazy crap started to happen and my opponent went down. This is fun? Not to mention the fact that in these games so much is happening on screen that itís difficult to tell what the heck is going on, let alone which character is yours. And yet, people love these games! Itís a complete mystery to me, Iíll tell you that much. Give me the slower (much slower) fighting of Virtua Fighter 3 or even Street Fighter 3 any day over this crap. Itís fighting for the hyperactive kid. This one will pass, thank you very much.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSX)
JeezÖtalk about a yawner. The Castlevania series was always known for a certain level of depth at the expense of serious gameplay (best illustrated in the incredibly slow moving GameBoy title, The Castlevania Adventure) but Symphony of the Night attempted to pass off more of the same ho-hum style gameplay in an era where Oddworld: Abeís Exoddus was breaking new ground in platform games. I played through a giant chunk of this game, and it seemed like serious workÖfrustrating, painful, and irritating work at that. And yet, I constantly read glowing review after glowing review. The game offers pretty much the same visuals weíve come to expect from the series (pretty sad, considering it looks only slightly different from its SNES predecessors) and despite the addition of "experience points" itís still more of the same. Dracula X is a far better game (the PC Engine version, that is) and itís a crime more people missed that one. Donít waste your time with this hackÖgo get yourself a genuine classic.
Well, thatís enough ranting for this week. Tune in next week when Iíll make my list of the strangest games ever made. Can you afford to miss this? I donít think so. :)
(Again, send all feedback to [email protected] with the subject "feedback" if you want to be in our MailBag for this week. Anything without that subject is assumed to be personal correspondence, and therefore confidential.)
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief of loonygames. He has a lot of pent up anger.
Credits: From the Mouth of Madness logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it...or we'll just forget about you. Let's see how you like it.