venerdì 17 aprile 2009

Games that Deserve Sequels 3: The Bouncer

[another title where squaresoft attempted and failed at success outside of traditional rpg's]

there exists games that are so good that they spawn an amazing franchise that creates multitudes of sequels, each recreating their respective genres and changing the pace of the industry (mario, metal gear, zelda, resdient evil, etc). There are other games that are just good enough (or hold some niche) that they spawn rather soulless or uncreative sequels that don't do much but end up taking space in the discount bin 5 years later (tenchu, armored core, dynasty warriors, etc. [mind you that these are series that are very enjoyable to play, have large fan-bases, and may have great visuals and design, but each iteration doesn't change much]).

The bouncer is neither of these, it didn't generate enough profit or praise-worthy reviews to warrant a sequel, but it did attempt to improve upon its chosen genre, but thats where my complaints begin. Sequels are a chance to take a good game, and deepen it to create a great game. Bouncer had many features packed in, including memorable and descriptive character design in the spiky haired anime fashion by Tetsuya Nomura, slick visuals for the fairly infantile ps2[of course expected of square, but unlike square at the time it didn't have to rely soley on fmv's but it utilized in-game footage], great (if slightly cheesy) voice acting, and branching story paths that were somewhat compelling (i was a big fan of the loading screen flashback dialogue). It's downfall were shitty controls (which have been making or breaking games since the genesis of gaming [pun]), a very short (but replayable) single player, awkwardly music-less parts of the game, extra modes that were just not fun, and a swinging pendulum of difficulty that ranged from boring to gameover marathon.

Lets not forget though, this was a BRAWLER (aka beat'em up), a genre that never ever gets a solid, profitable game, at least not since the days of streets of rage (which spawned 2 sequels). Notice the trend of these revered titles?; Final fight, the arcade version of alien vs. predator, Teenage mutant ninja turtles (the arcade game and turtles through time), Die hard arcade (a personal fave), the X-men (legendary for 6 person multiplay). All Arcade titles, aka living in a generation that no longer exists because it wasn't makin' cake, despite the fond quarter-filled memories. I would say that these games died to give rise to another genre that doesn't evolve much; slash'em ups, like dynasty warriors, which replace the sense of accomplishment gained by a successful series of strikes on some thugs on a linear path with killing hordes of enemies in a few swings of a spear/other pointy object in a large arena like setting (i did like drakengard, just wish it was more engaging).
The Bouncer also had fun rpg elements which made you feel noticeably more powerful as your characters progressed, gaining more moves and building up stats (although your cpu teammates often stole your kills, wasting precious experience).
However, imagine if square had taken another stab at it, expanded the bouncer universe, got tighter controls, made more references to final fantasy (Like the cactuar on the back of the leather jacket, and the dogstreet logo featuring angelo from ff8 [imagine unlocking tifa as a playable character or lining some virtual hq with plush versions of tonberrie or moombas], square has the most fanboys of any developer, this would actually be a marketable move), give it a long single player campaign, utilize the amazing musical talent in the squareenix arsenal, mix up mini games between fighting levels that were more fun than walking around looking for a button on a train, had evenly designed difficulty/pacing, and idk include a demo for metal gear solid 2 (worked for ZOE). They would be embarking on the impossible, making a next gen brawler that manages to have a fanbase.

[sorry for all the parentheses]

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