Whatcha’ Playing Ian? (5/March/2014)

I haven’t posted a blog for a while, so I better do that now! Over the last few weeks (of not blogging), I’ve been playing quite a few games.

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Ikaruga came out on Steam a week before my birthday, which was the 22nd of February. This was a game I have been waiting for on Steam, and it magically appeared without Treasure announcing a release date for it. All I know was that Treasure did delay this a little bit due to a problem where Treasure’s staff are Japanese and they couldn’t read the Terms and Conditions that valve gave them to publish their game on Steam.

The Steam version of Ikaruga is pretty damn good. A few people on the Steam forums bitch a bit about how the emulation isn’t quite right as the slow down from the Arcade, DreamCast and GameCube versions; but from what I can see, the slow down in previous versions of the game only happen when the level’s boss explodes; and now that slowdown doesn’t happen. It doesn’t effect gameplay, so I don’t see why it’s a problem. A cool feature with this game is that it keeps the “Tate” mode from the previous versions too. “Tate” is a Japanese term for vertical screen, or portrait screen, like you find on old school arcade games. But what makes this great as a PC game is that there are more and more PC monitors that can be rotated into a portrait mode. This is often used to see a whole page in a word processing software without zooming out and making the text smaller. With rotating monitors, Ikaruga and other games that use a portrait, “Tate” screen, are now more easier to play in their original orientation!

If you’re a fan of sh’mups and/or bullet hell games, I highly suggest picking this up. The only downside of the Steam version is the lack if quick restart (from the GameCube version) and no online Co-op (From XBox 360). Personally I don’t need online co-op, but the lack of quick restart is a pain, as I’m a bit of a perfectionist on Ikaruga, but it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of the game. Possibly Treasure will add it in as a future update.

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Metal Slug 3 got a very quick release on Steam, as it was only announced a week before it’s launch day. I’m a big fan of Metal Slug 3, I played it a lot at my high-school’s rec room. It got a release on the PS2 by Ignition Entertainment that was a fantastic port that featured added bonus games that were designed by Ignition. However the Steam edition of the game is not made by Ignition, rather it’s by the French DotEmu.

DotEmu has done some decent ports in the past. They did Raiden Legacy on Android and PC, and a very well made remake of Another World on Android, iOS and PC. However this port of Metal Slug 3 isn’t quite as good as the PS2 version by Ignition. The Emulation is a bit off. The frames random speed up and down, and it affects the sound too. If anyone has played the PAL version of MegaMan 2, you’ll know what I mean here. The sounds begins to get “higher pitched”, but in certain parts of the game the frame rate will drop even if it’s not a CPU heavy event. It’s a bit of a mess to be honest. If you want some Metal Slug action, just grab yourself a copy of the PS2 version.

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A week before I became thirty, Strider came out on Steam. And for the most part I like the game. Though to be honest I was expecting the game to be more like it’s Arcade and MegaDrive versions. But it plays more like the NES version, which is a bit more like Metroid. Not that I have a problem with Metroid, I LOVE Metroid. But I was hoping that this was more of an action arcade game rather than a Metroid-vania.

One thing I will point out, the PC port is a bit shabby. Not as shabby as the Metal Slug 3 game above. But there’s some weird slow down issues during boss fights. I used my second monitor and ran the task manager as I played the game, and when I got to a boss fight, the game slowed down, but there wasn’t any stress being shown on the Task Manager’s performance window.

So what I recommend is that if you haven’t got this game yet, I highly suggest getting a console version of the game. I know I’ve been on a “PCs are better” trip for the last year or two. But in this case, the PC version of Strider isn’t quite up to snuff. It’s not too bad, and it’s quite playable, but it has some apparent memory management issues.

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The biggest stinker out of the games I bought around my Birthday has to be PacMan Museum. This game just appeared on Steam without releasing a date for the game. It was another game I was waiting for because it has a home version of PacMan Battle Royale on it. A Multiplayer PacMan game that has been an arcade exclusive for some time. So when it appeared on the front page of the Steam Store I bought this instantly. Then I realised something; it doesn’t have online multiplayer…

Yup, I blew £15 on a PacMan compilation that has a multiplayer game that’s local multiplayer only on a PC. PCs are not quite the “Local Multiplayer Friendly” machines out there. It’s not like I’m going to grab a bunch of friends to huddle around a PC desk to play split screen Call of Duty or something! To be honest this would’ve been better on a console, yet it not out on the consoles yet, which makes it even weirder. Did I mention that this a PC game with no screen resolution options on it with a fixed 720p screen? Yeah, it looks like bum on my monitor.

To make things even worse, it has a similar emulation issues that Metal Slug 3 has. When playing PacLand or PacMania, I noticed the music’s tempo randomly going up and down when it shouldn’t. By fair this was a bit of a regretful purchase, plus being on Steam, I’m not going to get my money back…

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So here’s a round-up of my recommendations!

  • Buy Ikaruga on Steam!
  • Get Strider on a console!
  • Don’t get PacMan Museum or the Steam version of Metal Slug 3!