Quick Looks at a Few Oldish Games

I finished up a few games at the end of May that I had been playing off and on for the better part of the year. None of them really felt worth its own blog post, but together I have enough to say about them to fill one.

Let’s start with Atelier Annie. The Atelier series is generally full of lightweight diversions and Annie is no exception. It is not a “bad” game, but Atelier Annie has little mechanical or narrative depth. It does have a fairly interesting structure, with there being little that is required to do and advancement in the story is based time and not any sort of in game accomplishment.

Although I found the simplistic crafting system almost hypnotically enjoyable, Atelier Annie is still kind of a failure of a game. Without there being anything interesting going on in the narrative and with the mechanics, the game tries to rely on its world and characters to pull it together. Unfortunately, the world is just warmed over Dragon Quest leftovers and the characters are unoriginal collections of tired anime clichés and tropes. I will grant that it has some cutesy charm and that the characters are at least tolerable, but it is not enough to carry the game. Atelier Annie is mildly enjoyable, but it is largely forgettable fluff.

I also beat Trauma Center 2. I’ve gushed about the Trauma series before, and TC2 is more of the same. In many ways this is a very good thing. It has the same tense gameplay. TC is one of the best uses of the touch screen to grace the DS, and the set up as surgery for works wonderfully. It feels like a classic arcade game, despite not playing at all like one. It also has a wonderfully serious, ridiculous story. It takes itself so seriously despite being patently absurd. There are, though, some problems with being more of the same. Like the focus on the GUILT superviruses. They are generally less fun to deal with during the operations and add an unnecessary layer of stupid on an already ridiculous story.

Trauma Center 2 does suffer from a lack of newness. The first TC game basically got the doctor game right, all TC2 has to offer is superficial improvements and more. That is more than enough to justify the experience, but it does leave it feeling a little lacking. Still, while it’s not quite the best Trauma game, that is Trauma Team, but it is a very good game.

Lastly, I beat Sonic Colors. I had been hearing about how the last couple of Sonic games really brought the character back to respectability. My experience with 3D Sonic games has not been exactly good. People whose opinion’s I respect said that both Colors and Generations were good games, though more Generations than Colors, so I went ahead and picked up a bargain bin copy of Colors. Its … not bad.

The mechanics of its platforming are really good. Jumping is a little floaty and imprecise, but it is more than made up for with the games sense of speed. Most of the alien power ups work well. They are perhaps just a little underutilized, but maybe I would feel different if I went back and replayed stages after unlocking some of them. The sidescrolling stages are mostly very good, and the bosses are a lot of fun. Where the game suffers is in the level design. The second half of the game is full of gotcha deaths, the checkpoints are oddly spaced and the whole game is really just a slog. It tries to ramp up the difficulty kind of manages to kill all the good things the game had going.

It is definitely a step in the right direction. It is the first 3D Sonic game I’ve played that felt like it has a sense of what it wants to do in translating the hedgehog to 3D. It’s not Sonic Adventure 2’s weird mix of almost on rails Sonic levels, pointless Tails tank levels and simply awful Knuckles emerald searches. That game, and most of the other Sonic games, seemed to just be throwing things against the wall to see what worked. Sonic Colors has clearly defined mechanics, it simply works. If Generations is as much better than Colors as I’ve been lead to believe, then it is going on my to play list. And I am willing to let go of any doubts I have about the Sonic Lost World videos I’ve seen.

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