The Compulsive Squire

Where Outstanding Humour Meets Desperate Boredom

5 Awesome Games I Played in 2011 with Annoying Little Nuances

Well done! You made it! We’re here, 2012. Screw you, global warming and the ever-present anxiety of nuclear warfare, we’re still winning. Mayan calendar you’d better watch yourself. This is a brand new year of fresh hopes, happy times and new underwear. So as the playful rabbit of 2011 is captured, ripped apart, and picked out of the blood-soaked dragon fangs of 2012, let’s take a pedantic look back at that mangled bunny corpse, but more specifically, at some of the “great” games that came out of that year…err, carcass.

Arkham City

For Batman: Arkham City, I’m using the word “played” in very loose context. I didn’t so much ‘play’ it, so much as ‘watch my brother enough to feel I have a credible opinion on it’. Batman is an incredible hero. It takes a special mind (a natural hero’s mind) to think lots and lots of money is a superpower.

But in Arkham City, it looked like good old Brucey batmobiled over to Marvel’s Manhattan and paid off Peter Parker for the rights to his patented web-slinging. There were plenty of times when my brother I would be sneaking around the rafters of what appeared to be the setting of a Chucky film and got spotted by a guard. My brother’s My immediate response was to whip out the Grapnel Gun, and make my brother’s my Xbox 360 controller wish it never had an RB button.

And then there’s the “gliding”. Less falling with style, more plain old flying. Show me a man that leaps off buildings, and aerially dances around enemy gun fire like Kid Icarus meets Modern Warfare 3, and I’ll pull his mask off show you a Starfox Arwing. It cheapens the experience when you realise that everything of worth is essentially within walking distance and you’re just gifted the ability of flight to make a dull over world seem more worthwhile than it actually is. Speaking of which…

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The culmination of everything Nintendo and everything Wii. The controls are sharp, the combat is complex and intuitive and Link can finally sit down on the toilet, now isn’t that just the greatest.

And suddenly Bokoblins. The pawns in chess, and the storm troopers in star wars, these guys are supposed to go down easier than Princess Daisy after a few too many Tanooki Slammers. But, imagine if Goombas grew arms?…That were swords?…And their bodies engulfed in fire whenever you tried to jump on them? What if when hijacking a car, the victim summoned 8 star law enforcement in 4 seconds. Well when Bokoblins start deflecting your attacks with their swords, that’s the kind of inadvertently torturous levels of difficulty you can expect.

But putting the absurdly difficult entry level enemy drones aside, there’s all sorts of miscellaneous bug and materials to collect as well, that hold no real importance or incentive to get them all unless your some sort of horrible completist whom can’t function without an embarrassing sense of self-achievement dogging your every step. Speaking of which…

Pokémon Black and White

Long standing Pokémon fans like myself must have been more troubled than Ash during sex education when they heard prior generations weren’t going to feature during the initial playthrough of Pokémon Black & White. But after questing for the brand new smorgasbord of neopets Pokémon, some of the old allure of Red & Blue was definitely recaptured. Even if all they did was replace Pidgey, Geodude, and Zubat with Pidove, Roggenrola and whatever the hell Woobat is.

Then your team gets to around level 50, you beat the league (well kinda), you gain access to half the world, and the full Pokédex. Happy times. Oh wait, all trainers and wild Pokémon have been beefed up to dwarf you by at least 10 levels. Yeah, take that positive reinforcement. No matter how childishly innocent or unstoppably veteran you are at battling, the game becomes less turn-based strategy, more pray to god I hit them really really really hard, or I will die, and they may take my family away. Crossing a field of land mines and petrol tanks in Worms Armageddon is nothing compared to tall grass. Trainers that spin on spot become roulette wheels of death, and that’s just Route 13.

In the end, I only played it for around 4 months, which is a lot shorter than usual. And I really do hate it when immersive adventures using tricks from past and new, spanning across a fantastic world of environments is over all too quickly. Speaking of which…

Sonic Generations

Now I’m not saying I study any sort of veterinary science but I think Sonic the Hedgehog’s limbs cannot be biologically feasible. You may call me a madman, but the short, plump ‘Classic’ Sonic and his more fighter jet inspired counterpart, ‘Modern’ Sonic seem like they weren’t made to replicate hedgehogs at all. It’s like Sega spent many nights in underground bunkers lighted only by the glow of dreamcast standby screen, furiously finishing level designs and then slapped a “the hedgehog” at the end…but I digress.

My little niggle at the incredible beautiful Sonic Generations is why did classic Tails have a voice? Sega made a wonderful point of neglecting Sonic the required area in his chest cavity for a set of vocal chords, so what made Miles “Tails” Howler so deserving? Every once in a while, a cut-scene would appear and that son-of-a-renamon would open his gob, and “translate” what he thought Classic Sonic was thinking with the distrustful over-enthusiasm indicative of an estranged relationship with an unknown father. Thankfully, these weird choices in voice-acting were spread semi-evenly across the game, so nothing was really ruined; you were just left a bit off-kilter. Speaking of which…

Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call

Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call was released in Europe on 25/11/2011. It was released in the US, 17/10/2011. Do you want to know when it was released in Japan? November 2009. 2009! Every time I remember that fact I want to throw a Chao in a chasm. In November 2009 I’d only just realised that half of the world was calling it “…and the Diabolical Box”. Even more annoying is by the time we were light-heartedly blowing that casual £30 on the first game with the intention of returning it within the week, the Japanese had gobbled up a full trilogy. It’s almost like my future children and the Star Wars series.

My gripe with this game (and the entire series) is I haven’t been able to decode the reasoning behind the execution of their cut-scenes. Professor Layton samples some wonderfully animated cartoons in place as their cut-scenes, with the keyword being ‘some’. Other cut-scenes are done via Layton’s profile shot faced opposite another character’s with text sprawling across the dialogue box at the bottom of the screen. And even in that, some encounters have voice-acted segments & text and some are silent. Why? What slot machine of randomosity device do Level-5 own that confuses their plot progression methods so? Throughout the series one can see a fully animated cartoon of Layton casting a worried grimace and the rest being silent text reading, while within the same game as Layton having a grand mystery solving discourse, starting off animated, then one-to-one voice acted, then back to animated. If Professor Layton is such a great lateral thinker, he should figure out how to get Christopher Miller to work on weekends.

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