So April was the first month without a post in my not-yet-so-long-existing blog. But no, neither am I dead nor do I want to stop writing. Private and work stuff demanded quite some time lately, yet much gaming-related stuff has happened in the past 1 1/2 months. But be warned, it's going to be a lot less shmuppy than before.
Homura - A nearly divine accomplishment
That accomplishment wasn't mine though. But I still play the game regularly, at least two or three times per week. Still loving it even though some frustrating aspects have shown up in the meantime. But these are just standard for shoot 'em ups when you've hit a wall and it constantly becomes harder to improve. It might not be long before I quit (or at least take a break), but I'd like to achieve my two main goals which are very close: a 1CC and a score of 2 billions. So far my best attempt yielded me 1.98 billions.
But of course someone else is responsible for the really exciting news here: abschüssig! Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a western player holding the Homura world record!! Seemingly the first ever shoot 'em up world record not hold by a Japanese player any longer. abschüssig worked for months if not years on this and you can watch the awesome result on his YouTube channel.
God of War II - An almost unfair challenge
Being my first PS2 non-shmup, God of War II became my necessary distraction from Homura, was just overused a little bit as I played it for hours and hours. But what can I say, God of War II is godly to say the least and totally deserved my time. I have played neither part 1 of the series nor any other hack 'n slay games, but I can hardly imagine how it can be done any better. Well the riddles could have been a bit more difficult and the controls have issues in some specific fights, but you really have to search deeply to find flaws in this game. To keep it short... The fighting system including all weapons, combos, magic and attack throws allows for tons of different tactics. The variety of your attacks and enemies is sheerly insane. The climbing, swimming and flying adds greatly to the gameplay, especially climbing on walls and ceilings while fighting enemies is always fun. Graphics, camera work and music is superb, too. And let's not forget Kratos! Without a doubt he is the most manly character in video game history. All his adrenaline and testosterone practically passes through the screen and flows directly into the player. Never ever have I enjoyed video game violence to such an extent, with the exception of the Battletoads arcade game which was more cartoonish and less serious of course. God of War II now is one of my favourite 3D games. Wait, screw it, it is simply one of the best games ever made! Period.
Right now I'm still trying to beat Titan mode, the highest difficulty of the game. I love how you finally have to learn every single enemy attack and how to avoid them to at least have a chance to survive. You also have to use all of your abilities or you're dead right away. Thus you get one hell of a challenge. For the most part it's fair and doable though if you are good enough and make use of the best tactics. I'd just say there are about four passages in Titan mode which are unfair or at least close, the first one being the boss fight against Theseus. Don't ever make one single mistake within 10 minutes or you start all the way from the beginning. I'm now at the last hellish passage in the hallway before Clotho. God is it hard. This part eventually seperates the true Gods of War from the rest. Even if I ever get through this, it will take at least a few more hours to do so. Luck desperately needed.
Contra: Shattered Soldier - A quite frustrating experience
Holy shit, I finally beat this game! It really did kick my ass though. It is hard yeah, but comparing it with the other Contra titles... I can constantly beat Contra: Hard Corps with all endings and characters on one credit, sometimes even no miss. Furthermore I almost beat Contra III: The Alien Wars with 3 lives on hard difficulty without using continues. Yet Shattered Soldier gave me a lot of trouble, for several reasons. Firstly, I could only play it once in a while when visiting a friend who owns the game. Secondly, the game is quite hard. Memorization is more important than ever before. Thus it takes some time to find the save spots and the weapons which suit each passage the best. Thirdly, you have to get an A or S rank in each of the first 5 stages to get to see 6 and 7. So screw up once and you're done. Luckily my friend found out that you don't lose destruction percentage when continuing from the beginning of the level (instead of the middle where you lose 10% while I think 80% is needed to get an A rank). Last but not least the practice mode is plain stupid. Whoever from the developers had this idea, deserves a shot to the head. Stage 1 to 4 (not sure about 5) are available for practice from the very start. But then the formula goes like this: Beat a stage and it becomes available. Hooray! Like I wouldn't want to practice to actually beat the stage in the first place, no I can do so after I already beat it. Stage 6 gave me nightmares only because of this idiocy. How if you could practice it after you reached it without using continues? Would have made much more sense. Therefore I always had to start from the beginning which became tedious and irritating after a while because the game is quite long. Especially due to slow boss fights where the vulnerable parts just appear seldom and there are too many and too long breaks between enemy attacks.
Not to forget it is a great game overall. Just said speed as well as weapon variety and some enemy/boss attacks could have been better to create a more exciting Contra expierence. I just beat Shattered Soldier with continues, might go for the 1CC next time I have the opportunity to play it. I'm also planning a review on this game, but as you might know, there isn't even one "pure" review on my blog so far. Simply because I tend to plan a lot and realise little, so we'll see.
Rendering Ranger - A rather lucky coincidence
I recently tripped over a unique chance. As a result I got my third Super Nintendo shmup. The incredible part of the story is, I got it for free. Oh and that it is Rendering Ranger. It doesn't matter that it's just the cartridge, never would I have bothered to pay the hilarious prices which the game fetches on eBay & Co. even without packaging and manual. So now I am extremely happy to have it in my collection, as I have played it once on a forum's meet and enjoyed at least the shoot 'em up stages a lot. The only problem is that my Super Nintendo still has to be modded before I can start playing, but Rendering Ranger is just the final reason to get that done very soon.
Donkey Kong, Battletoads & Double Dragon - A truly overwhelming task
Still back in March I reviewed the Super Nintendo games Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team for a German SNES site - with very different results. While I developed a strong hate on one game, I still adore the other one (almost) like on the first day. And no, Battletoads & Double Dragon is not the latter one. I failed miserably at keeping the reviews clear and short, so both of them became monsters of over 3,000 words and I don't know yet if I bother to translate them for this blog. Maybe coming soon.