Kuon

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Kuon

 Eurogamer Review 4/10
Gamespot Review 6.3/10
Gameinformer 6/10
1up Review 6/10
kuon_ps2Official Website
Screenshots from Eurogamer
Walkthrough from Gamefaq
kuon_ps2I’ts been out for a while in the US (july ’04) but only recently released in the Eu (April ’04) hence the walkthrough.

kuon_ps2Kuon takes place in a haunted mansion in ancient Japan during the Heiankyo period (dating back to the late 1100s, and no i am not that elderly).

Game Overview:

 

The main character is a 15-year-old girl who has wandered into a huge mansion in search of her father and sister. Together with four trainee exorcists sent by their master to uncover the mansion’s mysteries, the girl must use a number of seals (similar to medallions) to survive numerous Japanese-style monsters. An action title with a ghost story theme, Kuon allows the player to assume the roles of several different characters in an effort to explore a multitude of plot threads.

kuon_ps2

The game’s story is set in the Heian period. Strange things are happening in an old mansion — eerie singing voices and moving shadows. You play as three characters, Uduki, Sakuya and Seimei Abeno, each with their own special chapter, respectively the Shadow Chapter, the Sun Chapter and the Kuon Chapter. A key focus of the gameplay is the use of martial arts, which the protagonists have to use to defeat the evil water spirit that inhabits the mansion. You’ll find beasts aplenty as well as numerous traps and puzzles, giving the game a Resident Evil-feel.

Asterix and the Great Escape

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 Asterix and the Great Escape

The French comic book star Asterix has questionable appeal across the globe (especially in the US and Japan), but has still been the topic of a literal smorgasbord of games.

This Mega Drive is far from the worst outing for the French ‘hero’ (although I will admit I have played only a few Asterix titles), but it still has some sizeable flaws that make it hard to truly enjoy.

The standard plot involves Getafix and Dogmatix getting kidnapped by the Romans, with Asterix and his rotund pal Obelix setting off to rescue them.

To do this they travel across Europe completing short stages.

Asterix and the Great Escape

You can choose between Asterix and Obelix before you enter each stage, although you can only select the other (if you want to) when you lose all your lives and use a continue.

The game starts as it means to go on however, giving you no guidance and beating you over the head with a misjudged difficulty level.

Opening with a simple stage set in a village that lasts around a minute, the game then truly throws you into the deep end with the second level.

It not only demands that you to know how to equip items, it also expects you to realise that you have to go backwards from where you start to grab an essential potion.

Asterix and the Great Escape

Even if you do somehow figure that out you’ll need to act fast – the clock is ticking.

The time-keeping aspect is one of the most notable elements of the game in fact, and helps and hinders the title in equal measure.

You are rarely given any time at all to complete levels, and you’ll often be reaching the ‘exit’ (a special potion) with milliseconds to spare.

Obviously this is massively unfair at times, but it does inject an added amount of tension and panic when you’re leaping and punching your way through stages.

Unfortunately constant design mis-steps threaten to make the game an entirely frustration filled affair.

Asterix and the Great Escape

One example is the underwater level that arrives early on. Even when you overlook the design inconsistency (in one of the previous stages touching water hurt you) it’s still got a sadistic streak a mile wide.

It not only has an irritating wibbly-wobbly filter in front of the screen, there are also foreground objects that actively hide dangers from you.

The main example is falling blocks, and the seaweed mostly conceals them from you – meaning you’ll have to tread very carefully.

But a conservative approach isn’t possible if you’re going to complete stages in time, as previously mentioned.

Asterix and the Great Escape

So here lies the game’s main problem, and if a correct balance between challenge and unfairness had been found this could have been a hidden gem.

As it stands the game only occasionally glimmers – some potion based abilities are genuinely interesting, such as ones that inflate you and help you build cloud platforms – but is ultimately dulled by repeatedly poor design choices.

It still looks good though, and it’s colourful cartoon graphics and comic book flourishes (see the ‘paf!’ bubble in the screenshot above) have clearly had a lot of work invested into them.

It’s just a shame you can’t say the same for the gameplay.

Midnight Resistance

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Midnight Resistance

Midnight Resistance is a 1 or 2 player side scrolling shoot ‘em up and platformer. You play as mercenaries thrown into battle with alien forces who have kidnapped your entire family, it’s up to you to blast your way through each level to save them.  You’ll use a variety of weapons from flamethrowers (see below) to shotguns and special power ups such as a defensive barrier and homing missiles to defeat the enemies.

Midnight Resistance

Enemies come in all shapes and forms (and from all directions) which can make game play a little frustrating as the rotational control system of the weaponry is sometimes slow. For example to fire backwards you need to move backwards too, making shooting enemies running up behind you tricky. You’ll be up against foot soldiers, stationary heavy weapons, flying troops and plenty of bosses.  Bosses come in the form of tanks, planes, soldiers, and, eh, floating tv’s… as well as an impressively grotesque final showdown with a giant head.

Midnight Resistance

Luckily for the player keys collected from defeated enemies (the red things that look like lollipops) can be used to buy new weapons in the shop at the end of each level. And will eventually be used to save your family, although it doesn’t seem to affect the outcome of the game if you fail to save them all.

Midnight Resistance

Midnight Resistance is a colourful game with appealing cartoonish graphics, combined with the frivolous use of weaponry and no brainer action makes this a game to come back to again and again. It is an enjoyable play through but can be tough in places, its best points include nice backgrounds, 2 player co-op and an awesome choice of weaponry.

Shadow Dancer

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Shadow Dancer

Subtitled ‘The Secret of Shinobi,’ this is actually a do-over of the arcade game of the same name.

It’s not quite classic enough in my opinion to be classed a proper Shinobi successor, but it’s still a damn fine game in its own right.

shadow dancer

You play as a ninja, who can jump, throw shruikens and summon a fire attack. You can also strike foes with a blade if you get close enough. There’s also a white dog that follows you, but I don’t think it does anything of note.

You scroll to the right, basically shooting down foes with your shruikens, and avoiding their attacks/bullets. And it’s pretty damn important that you avoid their attacks, as one hit and it’s back to the start.

shadow dancer

This makes the game a lot more difficult than it would have been otherwise. Ducking usually allows you to avoid the bullets that come flying at you, but with no room for error, one mis-step can send you right back to the beginning of a stage.

Fortunately levels are quite short, and can be rattled through fairly quickly if you know what you’re doing. I believe you have to save a set amount of hostages held throughout the levels to progress, but they’re usually found along the path you’re going down anyway.

shadow dancer

There’s a decent range of ideas in the levels as well, such as one being ripped apart by an earthquake, and another allowing you to jump into both the fore and back ground.

The graphics are clear and detailed, and the animation is as fluid as you’d expect from a title with a Shinobi connections.

shadow dancer

Bosses are fairly simple, but are made a real challenge due to the ever present ‘one hit = death’ element.

It all adds up to a game that’s a challenge, but one you’ll end up relishing rather than rejecting. Although a genuine cart of the game will cost you a fair bit, it can be found in a few of those Blaze Mega Drive collections – which is nice.