Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

R9M20- They Need Moon D Fence

Inside the heart of every superhero beats the dream of being a cheerleader. It's true. EVERY superhero. It's why Batman is so grumpy all the time. He has that yearning deep inside but he's too repressed to act on it. Also, Spider-Man. Spider-powers? Nope, awesome cheering skills. I'm pretty sure that cheerleaders have web shooters and can walk on walls. Look, I haven't been to many football games since I graduated high school and was no longer forced to attend pep rallies so my facts may be a little outdated, but I'm sure they still hold up.


Quick Review: Rogue Legacy
I'm a huge fan of Symphony of the Night and Rogue Legacy is basically SotN where the castle rearranges itself every time you die. And you will die. Repeatedly. The way it's designed, the beginning of the game is awful. You're weak, you can't give or take hit, you don't feel like you're making progress, and your attempts are over in a few rooms, but as you start unlocking equipment and upgrades, the game becomes a lot of fun. There's immense satisfaction in having a good run and amassing some gold, going back to town, sinking all your money into upgrades, and then hitting the castle again and slaughtering rooms full of enemies that were pushing you around minutes ago.
The story is really good and I like the way the game tells it. It's a light and un-intrusive narrative, but it manages to keep you guessing and looking forward to seeing it unfold. I normally despise games that tell their story by the player having to find audio logs or dropped documents, but given RL's random nature, it makes sense. The story pages are found in order so you don't have to worry about missing any and they can be a nice bonus to stumble across. Even if I was having a lousy run, if I came across a new story piece, that made the whole run worth it and made me happy again.
Gameplay-wise, there were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way, but nothing that can't be cleaned up in a sequel. You take a lot cheap hits from enemies firing through walls. Some enemies are designed to fire through the walls and that's annoying enough, but the mages' projectiles are normally destroyed by hitting something, but if the enemy is right up against a wall, the spell will travel through it. Not just with the mages, but the game really leans heavily on projectile spam. I just don't understand this decision. The normal melee combat is great and fun, but so many of the enemies are only a threat because they can fill the screen with bullets. Dying in a fight with a skeleton or a knight or even a wolf still leaves you with some satisfaction, but dying because an off-screen enemy snagged you with a bullet always feels anti-climactic and a bit of a rip off at times. New Game++ is disheartening because having the screen fill up like a bullet hell shooter isn't fun. The enemy types all look the same, even if they're different levels. So you could fight a skeleton in one room and kill it in a single hit, but then you go one room over and now it takes multiple hits. Given the nature of the game where it's designed to make you play it over and over and over, you tend to play quickly, so changing the enemy levels across rooms without giving you any kind of an indication feels cheap. The visual filters hurt my eyes. The blurry filters for when your hero has vision problems are fine, but there are monochromatic ones, neon, or sepia toned filters that make you squint and it makes the game a pain to play. The game is also sadly buggy. There are small things here and there (enemies getting stuck, as the Spelunker you can see chests on the map that don't have rooms connecting to them, tiles not lining up, enemies you can't hurt, etc) but its main problem is that it kept crashing my Playstation when I'd go to quit or turn off the system. That can't be good. I also had some weird issue where I entered one room that seemingly had so many enemies firing projectiles and exploding that the music and sound stopped playing, the game crashed the system when I tried to quit to the dashboard to relaunch it, and I had to reboot my PS3. That's when you know you went overboard with projectile spam.
Given the themes, I couldn't help but compare Rogue Legacy with Shovel Knight. The knights characters, the focus on loot, the way the coins pop up from enemies and things in the environment, the retro inspired graphics and music, and the downward thrust attack. They're vastly different in terms of gameplay but Rogue Legacy is also vastly better at making the most of what it has. Even though the castle is semi-randomly reconfigured, the rooms have more personality than Shovel Knight's levels. Rogue Legacy's soundtrack invokes retro games but is fantastic and memorable compared to Shovel Knight's generic chiptunes. They both have very minimalist stories, but Rogue Legacy does a lot with a little story, while Shovel Knight's story was unfulfilling and ultimately a bit pointless. Even after beating the game, finding new equipment and upgrades or just collecting money is still fun and exciting, compared to Shovel Knight where the relics and equipment were mostly pointless and money had no purpose two-thirds of the way through the game. And of course, while I love 2D platformers, Shovel Knight left me incredibly disappointed, and while I dislike Rogue-likes, I wound up really enjoying Rogue Legacy and I'm kind of frustrated that there isn't more of it to play now. Seeing the notification pop up for the “Played for 20 hours” trophy filled me with both shame and honor. But I'll still probably load the game up again tonight and try to finish off my last three upgrades.