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Episode 310: Relax, It's Only Surgery

by Nate Andrews, James Jones, Jonathan Metts, and Guillaume Veillette - October 13, 2012, 1:54 pm PDT
Total comments: 28

James rants about the worst game he's ever reviewed. Plus: your Listener Mail, and Metroid references throughout.

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Over the years, some of the most memorable James rants have come from his reviews. The start of this episode is sure to join that pantheon, as he struggles to cope with the nightmare of... Crazy Hunter. No, it has nothing to do with deer. Returning super-guest Nate Andrews follows up with a game opposite in quality, the stellar Walking Dead from Telltale. Anticipating the imminent release of Crashmo, Nate also loads up Pushmo to revisit the eShop favorite. Guillaume scratches an RPG itch with Persona 3 Portable for PSP, and we consider the prospects for that series coming to 3DS. Jonny concludes the segment with updated --and significantly more jubilant-- impressions of La-Mulana, the last great WiiWare game. He also spends a few minutes on FTL, the difficult but strangely addictive space roguelike that everyone's talking about.

We emerge from the Now Playing break to catch up on just a few of the excellent emails you've been sending over the past few weeks. One listener is concerned about how expectations affect reviews. Another questions how abundant 1-ups can affect our perception of a game's difficulty. We also dig through our collections for games that are worth far more than we originally paid. This email adventure concludes with some fun speculation on how Metroid will translate to the Wii U experience. Please contribute even more great questions and ideas by sending your own email -- we read everything and use as many as possible for the show!

One last, important thing: we announced the new telethon last week, and now the event page is available to provide all the details you need, plus links to donate early. Bookmark this page, because it will be updated frequently as the planning gets hot and heavy! Plus, that's where you'll want to be on the day of the event, November 10, to access the live audio and interact with us and fellow NWR fans throughout the telethon.

This podcast was edited by Guillaume Veillette.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon (CD) (MP3), or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Additional music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

matx88October 13, 2012

It was awesome to hear some persona talk on today's episode! I really hope Atlus will bring the series to Nintendo platforms so people who might only have Nintendo hardware can experience the series, it's deffinatley worth it if you are an rpg fan of any likeness  :D

Fiendlord_TimmayOctober 13, 2012

Whoa, whoa, whoa. The worst game James has ever reviewed?! Worse than Pokemon Mystery Dungeon? Worse than Miami Nights? Worse than King of Clubs?! I... but... that's... WHAT.

I explain that it probably isn't the worst in an absolute sense but in a way it does stuff that just makes it worse.

Fiendlord_TimmayOctober 13, 2012

Well, I guess I'll just have to listen for myself then.

I'm glad we finally have another rant from James! The last one I can remember was HAWX 2, which was back in the 230s iirc. That's more than 18 months ago! Where does the time go...

ClexYoshiOctober 14, 2012

I have a few things to say about this episode!

1.) It is an amazing thing what you can find when you take a shot in the dark at random Shovelware. Most of the time it's so weighed down it's own mediocrity that renders the experience unmemorable on most accounts, and those games are the worst for me more than something that is just this Katamari-style wrecking ball of bad elements that all got glued to a ball and sent out in hopes that it'll become some star that some curious geek or aliens will stare at and enjoy in the radiant glow of it's awfulness. For bringing us just a slice of this with Crazy Hunter, I must award +1 internets to James Jones by performing his Civic duty as a game reviewer.

2.) YES, LA MULANA HAS FINALLY CLICKED! I was REALLY afraid that nobody around this website would really get and understand the vastly enjoyable undertaking that that game has to offer. there is some basic complexity and obtuseness you have to dig through to get to the very open-ended Metroidvania within that offers many rewards for diving in and chipping away ad it gradually, like an archaeologist would chip and brush away at a relic of the past to clean it up without totally breaking it. Johnny, you are absolutely correct about the obesity coming more from the active resistance of the puzzles, which is only going to branch out further. there are some real stumpers, and there's no shame in looking up answers. there's even an item or two that you can end up messing up the puzzles to and locking yourself out of the item, but the game does give you warning to these.

I will say that this game DOES have an item or two of late game brutal difficulty, and... although I'm not sure if the US Wiiware version has this or not because it was DLC in the Japanese wiiware version, but I played the original's optinal super hard area, and let me tell you... you will BEG for that optional area in Cave Story by comparison. you will want to play Tubular in Super Mario World without picking up the baloon power-up. I didn't even BOTHER checking if the English Wiiware version of La-Mulana has this particular optional area because I DID NOT FEEL LIKE GOING THROUGH THAT 4 HOURS OF MY LIFE AGAIN!!!

3.) I really dug the chat on brand expectation factoring in to Critical review. It's really a grey area that's hard to call the shots in, and some of my least favorite games are at least somewhat functional entries into Franchises I have a prior expectation of that got marred by some really strange design choices that may not have ruined the game outright, but in stead betrayed customer by taking things in a direction that doesn't favor the original reason the consumer payed for the product.

I think that yes, these things SHOULD be mentioned in review, but also it should not detract from the review IF the game's genre-swap performs what it sets out to do in a favorable manner, and if the changes perform any detracting things to the formula. A great example of this happening in a positive light is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. SotN turns Castlevania on it's head by instead of the emphasis being on an action game that required a strategized plan of attack when approaching a situation due to dealing with stiff jump arc and slow whip and what sub-weapon you have at the time, you are dealing with something easy where the emphasis is on exploration. Some people may see Symphony of the Night's Cakewalk difficulty and lack of meaningful punishment for not properly memorizing boss patterns and such (since you can always brute force your way through a boss by loot grinding or leveling up) could be viewed as a negative to some in comparison to other games bearing that same branding.

Pixelated PixiesOctober 14, 2012

@ClexYoshi

Yeah, I was really eager to hear Jonny's updated impressions too, because my opinion of this game changes on an hourly basis. I must have played the game for about 12-15 hours and I definitely made progress, but eventually I just hit too many brick walls. Jonny is totally right, if you can't make progress in one area you can simply go explore another. The difficulty I eventually faced, however, was that I hit several brick walls in several different areas. After that I must have wasted about 5 hours just poking around the various areas in the hope that I might find something which would let me progress. Neither could I refer to a video walkthrough because by that point I was so deep into the game and the game's structure is so non-linear that watching someone else play it really wasn't helping.

All in all, I still think there's a good game in there somewhere. For me though, eventually the time and effort expended on making progress in the game became incommensurate with my amount of enjoyment. Having said that, I still think I got my money's worth. It's just that I can't justify putting the necessary time into finishing it.

happyastoriaOctober 14, 2012

I really like this group. I hear a nice connection between all of you. Just sayin'.

The RuffiansOctober 14, 2012

OK. I'm sorry Guillaume, but you disappointed me today. How can you not mention the amount of time that must be put forth to accomplish anything in the Persona games?! Yes, I agree -- the story is good; however, a two-hour opening cutscene (non-cinematic) is inexcusable! I'm not going to play a game for 20 hours just to get to the good stuff. I'm convinced the Persona games are some of the worse designed games ever made. I still love you though.  :-*

EDIT: I forgot my password for this account so I used my HappyAstoria one, now I'm logged in as TheRuffians? What just happened? There's a glitch in the matrix!

Glad0sOctober 14, 2012

Crazy Hunter HAS to be a telethon prize.

Da JarvisOctober 14, 2012

Great episode guys... and I am not just saying that cause my email got read xD!


1) I was tempted to not listen to the Walking Dead discusion because I was afraid you guys where going to spoil Episodes 3 and 4 (still playing 2 currently, might restart episodes 2 since it has been so long since I last played it), but you guys did a great job of keeping the spoilers to almost none! I agree with you guys on what you thought about your quick purchase of the game. I got the first episode of Walking Dead for free by being a PSN Plus member and after playing the first episode in one sitting (started at 11:30 at night and stayed up till 4 playing it), I was amazed at how good the game was. I bought the season pass and called it a night... or day I guess xD.


2) SWEET! Can't wait to hear you guys discuss Final Fantasy 5!


3) Extremely happy to hear Guillaume talk about Persona 3. Become a HUGE fan of Persona after beating Catherine and having about 20 recommendation to try Persona 3 or 4 since I loved Catherine. I am jelious that you have played Persona 4 since I can't play it (Once the Vita one comes out, I am tempted to get a Vita just to play it), but I have played Persona 3: FES off my PS3, and I have enjoyed it quite a bit. Have about 35 hours into the game right now and at about halfway point. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say Catherine is VERY similar to the game (not an RPG, but the structure and the way you play is a lot like Persona 3). Aside from that though, I can't think of anything. I really enjoy the Anime-Influences found in the game. I think it's my favorite part of the game actually. I feel like I am part of this bigger world and the social link system actually helps you care about what you do and helps you get attached to these characters. It's even more prevalent in FES because you can't control you party memeber and even though I cringed at this idea at first, I learned to deal with it and I actually thought it helped me connect with the characters better. IDK, maybe I am looking into it to much, but I am glad to hear Guillaume enjoys it. Maybe it will persuade some of the others to play it too :)


I haven't finished the episode yet, but if I hear anything else, I will post it up :)

AnGerOctober 14, 2012

First of all, thanks to James, whose hilarious comments on Crazy Hunter made me forget about a really bad nightmare.  ;D  Though I have to say, I must check that game out if it isn't too expensive (and it comes to the European eShop), I got a soft spot for games that appear to be made by someone on LSD and Crack at the same time.

And also kudos to Guillaume for saying that Persona 4 is superior to Persona 3, though I need to note to anyone who might be interested in Persona 3 Portable for PSP is that the game is very different from the original P3 or P3 FES. Though I've played it anyway – despite having cleared both the original P3 and FES – just for the Girl Side. Yes, I bought that game for the sake of playing with the female character, which happens to be quite interesting in the Date Sim part if you know about the events in the male character's story.

And I need to get La Mulana, my Wii needs to be fired up again.


Concerning the first letter, I'd like to say that changes are somewhat necessary in long-running series, even if it means experimenting and pissing off fan(boy)s. That being said, Metroid: Other M wasn't exactly bad or aggravating in my opinion because of its plot (though it was somewhat... "Bay-esque") but because the controls were poorly executed. Retro did a better job with that, though some say that they turned Metroid into a FPS game. But other than the perspective Prime had a lot of the elements that make Metroid... well, Metroid. All in all, I think the score system for games needs to be abolished since I consider it to be abused too much.

Glad0sOctober 14, 2012

Oh, btw....Nate was frigging ACES here. He was completely fine the first time he was on, but I really, really enjoyed him on this episode. He's funny, he's got a great voice for podcasting....well done, sir. Just talk a little bit more. ;)

Quote from: The

OK. I'm sorry Guillaume, but you disappointed me today. How can you not mention the amount of time that must be put forth to accomplish anything in the Persona games?! Yes, I agree -- the story is good; however, a two-hour opening cutscene (non-cinematic) is inexcusable! I'm not going to play a game for 20 hours just to get to the good stuff. I'm convinced the Persona games are some of the worse designed games ever made. I still love you though.  :-*

It didn't take me 2 hours before I got to do anything in Persona 3, and it's been a while since Persona 4 but I'm fairly certain I had fought at least one battle before the first hour was up. I not only think it's "not that bad", I never even suspected there was an issue in the first place. Heck, you're pretty much on rails for a while, so you're done with the exposition and explanations pretty quickly. Heck, the first time you play through Chrono Trigger, when you talk to everyone in town, it probably takes you longer to get to the first fight than in Persona 3.

I'm really surprised to hear you talk of the slow beginning because I actually thought things got going pretty quickly. Not at all like another RPG I tried recently, Grandia, which has you hug every wall and talk to everyone and enter every house, looking for 3 items. Takes forever to get going.

Quote from: Da

It's even more prevalent in FES because you can't control you party memeber and even though I cringed at this idea at first, I learned to deal with it and I actually thought it helped me connect with the characters better. IDK, maybe I am looking into it to much, but I am glad to hear Guillaume enjoys it.

You can control them! Check the last option under "tactics".

AnGerOctober 15, 2012

Quote from: Pandareus

You can control them! Check the last option under "tactics".

And he better should, because Persona 3 & 4 have one messed up AI which can get you killed even in the early stages of the game.

KDR_11kOctober 15, 2012

Maybe you wouldn't call La Mulana brutal but I would. The game's love for traps leads to some truly bullshit situations. While some traps do come with warnings there's still the damn trapdoors (indistinguishable from regular terrain) that sometimes drop you into inescapable rooms, forcing you to teleport out and since some save points can't be teleported to you have to reset the game and reload your save to avoid an even bigger repeat play. Oh and then there's fun stuff like the miniboss Pazuzu, pretty much requires cheese to kill (he has some random movements that can end up impossible to avoid, e.g. he will cancel out of his attack cooldown at random to rush forward and grab a rock, if you're anywhere between him and the rock he chose that time you're taking an unavoidable hit) and then followed by a non-retryable puzzle so if you mess that up (and you will, there is a warning two rooms before it telling you in the usual cryptic way that there's a non-retryable puzzle but you'll need at least one try to see what happens when you place the weight) you have to reload your save and fight the bastard again if you didn't return to a save point before exploring the room right behind him. Oh and if you save after messing up with no prior saves at hand? Well, that reward is permanently unreachable. It's just a weapon upgrade but it's still a massive dick move after you've fought that tough bastard.

Also the hints in the game are so cryptic that I usually only know what the hint refers to after I've solved the puzzle it hinted at and sometimes not even then (I have some hints that I have no idea whether they apply to a past or a future puzzle).


I think the most telling part of La Mulana is that in addition to a Zelda-style "puzzle solved" jingle it also has a "you fell for a trap" jingle. Expect to hear that one a LOT.

As for marking a game down for its brand, I think a game fully deserves to have everything its marketers said held against it. Punish making false promises. Of course that has nothing to do with the Resident Evil panning. RE4 pretty much abandoned survival horror but it's universally loved. RE6 is just a terrible game, survival horror, action or whatever else you want to call it.

geoOctober 15, 2012

Jonny, everything you love about La mulana is exactly why I love Dark souls.  Sure the gameplay is technically different, and I suppose that can be a turn off, but that is EXACTLY how dark souls is, just with a different game engine. I IMPLORE you to take another stab at it, and please try not to be turned off by the gameplay mechanics, because the soul of the game is nearly identical to why you are loving la mulana.

KDR_11kOctober 15, 2012

I don't know about him but I'm deliberately avoiding Dark Souls because people have described the difficulty as requiring a lot of patience. Patience is the last thing I have when I just died for the fifth time on a hard part and need to leg it back there.

Pixelated PixiesOctober 15, 2012

Quote from: geo

I IMPLORE you to take another stab at it, and please try not to be turned off by the gameplay mechanics, because the soul of the game is nearly identical to why you are loving la mulana.


So if I don't like La Mulana's approach to progression or mechanics then I wouldn't like Dark Souls? I've heard the guys at 8-4 talk about Dark Souls quite a bit and it sounded intriguing. If it's level design and puzzles are anything like La Mulana though, maybe it's not for me.

geoOctober 15, 2012

Quote from: Pixelated


So if I don't like La Mulana's approach to progression or mechanics then I wouldn't like Dark Souls? I've heard the guys at 8-4 talk about Dark Souls quite a bit and it sounded intriguing. If it's level design and puzzles are anything like La Mulana though, maybe it's not for me.

Probably not.  It requires a lot of trial and error.  Right off the bat, you're given 3 different directions you can go, one of which is slightly less difficult than the other two, implying that is the path to take.  Then after a while, the path splits again, and you have to run head first into each of them and figure out which of the paths is the least difficult, etc etc.  So part of the difficulty comes from going on one path that is deliberately made too difficult because you're not supposed to go there yet, so the game kills you as a way of saying it's too soon.  However, if you're good enough at the game, you can take those difficult paths right off the bat and be rewarded with really good loot.  But if you don't like that style of progression, then you probably wont' like the game, because it punishes you for choosing incorrectly.

Dark Souls has utter bullshittery too. Take for example Curse - instant death, respawn with 1/2 life. It lasts forever (and can stack) unless you manage to reach a random dude some distance from the closest spawn point - with half of your HP.

Pixelated PixiesOctober 15, 2012

Quote from: geo

Probably not.  It requires a lot of trial and error.  Right off the bat, you're given 3 different directions you can go, one of which is slightly less difficult than the other two, implying that is the path to take.  Then after a while, the path splits again, and you have to run head first into each of them and figure out which of the paths is the least difficult, etc etc.  So part of the difficulty comes from going on one path that is deliberately made too difficult because you're not supposed to go there yet, so the game kills you as a way of saying it's too soon.  However, if you're good enough at the game, you can take those difficult paths right off the bat and be rewarded with really good loot.  But if you don't like that style of progression, then you probably wont' like the game, because it punishes you for choosing incorrectly.


I got ya. Thanks for the info. It sounds like the kind of game I'd have more fun watching the Giantbomb guys play than actually playing myself, lol. I still think it's cool that there are these crazy games out there to cater to the ubber-hardcore crowd, I must just be getting soft as I get older because I just don't have the patience any more.

ClexYoshiOctober 15, 2012

@KDR_11k

this remake of La Mulana does have some traps that I think were specifically designed so that they'd throw players of the original off, such as the instant death crush on the ceiling in that part you were describing not being in the original. it's also worth noting that the Grapple Claw in the original used to not control nearly as well since UP was the jump button and Up was the cling to wall with grapple claw button, so you'd have to do this weird thing where you'd push away from the wall and double tap Up in order to push away from the wall... mmm, GOOD TIMES! <3

Also, it's worth mentioning that having Mirai.EXE, AKA Future Development Company allows for Grail warps to the Backside areas

@Pixelated Pixies

I'm sorry to hear you feel you're getting too old for a game that offers that sort of trial and error type difficult gameplay and that your Treck through La Mulana has ended prematurely. I'm going to send a note in an effort to get in better contact with you, because you do seem to have interesting and respectable opinions on what I've seen you discuss, and being able to talk with you about these issues mano a mano sounds fun!

SupachipzOctober 16, 2012

Greetings all! First time poster, recent new listener having found the podcast after this years e3 and listening every week since! I love the show, listening to it on my way to work here in sunny Wales!


Anyway, having listened to over half of this weeks podcast already I wanted to chime in on the preconceived expectations when reviewing debate and wondered what your thoughts were with the way New Super Mario Bros 2 was treated earlier this year.


In my opinion it is an excellent game with great replay value but the reviews seem to largely disagree, often pointing to the fact that there was nothing new, reused assets and very little innervation compared to other entries in the series, resulting, often in lower scores than the series normally gets.


In my eyes, taken as a standalone game, there is very little wrong with this title, but can see why it could be considered a little "lazy" but why do you think the reviews generally were so down on the game?


I would also argue that these kind of games, used to teach new staff how to make Mario games are vital in order for the series to survive. The old guard at Nintendo are not going to be around forever so they have to pass the torch, look what happened to the Sonic series when new people were brought in! As such I feel it is a smart move by Nintendo as Mario is a mascot that the company needs going forward.

Pixelated PixiesOctober 16, 2012

Quote from: Supachipz

I would also argue that these kind of games, used to teach new staff how to make Mario games are vital in order for the series to survive. The old guard at Nintendo are not going to be around forever so they have to pass the torch, look what happened to the Sonic series when new people were brought in! As such I feel it is a smart move by Nintendo as Mario is a mascot that the company needs going forward.


Was it a smart move to allow younger staff members to get hands-on experience of designing a Mario game? Most definitely. Was it a fun game? I would say yes, overall I had a good time with the game, but I would also argue that the game was incredibly trite and forgettable. I think the majority of the reviews I read fairly reflect that. No one can deny the craftsmanship, but ingenuity and imagination are different things entirely.

TJ SpykeOctober 17, 2012

Regarding how much Metroid Prime Trilogy is going for used, the price I usually see it for is $70 used (though at least mine came with all the extras, like the collectable artwork)..

geoOctober 17, 2012

Quote from: Crimm

Dark Souls has utter bullshittery too. Take for example Curse - instant death, respawn with 1/2 life. It lasts forever (and can stack) unless you manage to reach a random dude some distance from the closest spawn point - with half of your HP.

There is also an item that removes curse, which drops off ONE type of bad guy or can be bought off another NPC.  The game does not tell you this, but you will very likely meet this NPC way before you get cursed.  So if you look through his shop and read all the tooltips, you'd know how to remove curse as well. 

The game does not explain this, and to some that is BS, but I really liked figuring it out. 

ejamerOctober 17, 2012

Quote from: TJ

Regarding how much Metroid Prime Trilogy is going for used, the price I usually see it for is $70 used (though at least mine came with all the extras, like the collectable artwork)..

I've usually seen higher prices... but it wouldn't be surprising to find copies around $70 with a bit of looking. There are three great games in the limited edition package, so that price isn't unreasonable either.


Heck, lots of people pay $60+tax for new games all the time - most of which aren't nearly as good a game.

TJ SpykeOctober 17, 2012

I got it for $70 from a local chain called Game Craze. Maybe it depends on where you live.

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