I don’t care what anybody says, the GameCube is an all-around excellent console. It’s got all you need from a video game system; great games, comfortable controller, and it’s nice and small too. You may say “But Ryan, where’s the DVD player?” And I say, “The Playstation 2 dies after a year because of it’s DVD playing abilities”. And let’s not even get me started on the X-Box. But we could argue about that until the cows come home. Actually, when do the cows come home? Considering that people have been using that saying for ages, those cows must be dead by now. Unless they’re really cow-turtle hybrids with the physical appearance of a cow and the lifespan of a turtle. Hmmm… (Note to self: Find cows and bring them home).
Where was I? Oh yes, GameCube being perfect. There was still one small fault in the system’s obvious flawlessness; the lack of demo discs, or even a single demo disc. But a few months ago, I’ll say May, that little oopsie was remedied. Remedyed. Remedeed. It sucks when even I don’t know how to spell a word, and damned if I’ll use a spell checker. Nintendo finally released a demo disc with 5 of the “biggest” upcoming titles. And of course a bunch of movies and a couple GBA-transfer games. Only there was a catch.
The only way to get this precious disc was to get it free with the purchase of a GCN. So Nintendo shot themselves in the foot. Again. It was really no big deal to the general public, only those who had been waiting for the damn thing since the console’s release. Unfortunately, I was one of those people. Now that I think of it though, Nintendo has released two quasi-demo discs in the past. the first was before the GCN was launched and showcased the titles that everyone was drooling over. Only there were no playable demos and it was for use on a PC. Next was the other movie preview disc, mostly to sell the Metroid games. Ironically enough, was in DVD format. You can almost hear Nintendo crying about how much their feet hurt.
The other day I was out with the family, and my grandma just gave me 20 bucks. And I hadn’t even said hello yet. How does that equate? I don’t know, but I’m not one to complain about free money. So we went to the new Best Buy store and there I found it. I’d been looking for the disc since it came out, only to be stopped by the complete lack of them and the fact that you could only get them when buying a Cube. But Best Buy had broken the rules. At $15, how could I lose? I’ve been salivating over Viewtiful Joe since the first screenshot, and now I had the chance to play the first level over and over until the full game is released. Fate was on my side that day and now I’m the proud owner of the wonderful GameCube Preview Disc.
It’s a really nice case, but do you see something wrong with it? Yes, there are four games shown, but the little thing says ‘Demos! 5’. So, for the uninformed, there’s a secret game. On the cover, we can see Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Viewtiful Joe, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. So what’s the fifth game? It’s the game that has been hyped up way more than I’ve ever seen a fighting game hyped up, Soul Calibur II. So we’ve got a pile of potential gold on this disc, but wait! There’s more?! Ah yeah! There’s the movies too! They’re much less filling than the main course of playable demos, but they do serve their purpose of whetting your appetite. Let’s take a look at the back of the case to see what we get.
F-Zero GX, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Rebel Strike: Rogue Squadron 3, and a couple of football games that I don’t care about. What it doesn’t say is that there are also movies for the games with playable demos. And finally, GameBoy Advance owners get another little treat! There are two games that you can download to your GBA/SP, Dr. Mario and a preview of Wario Ware, Inc. The Wario Ware review houses my opinion of the full game, and the preview is significantly shorter, featuring approximately 7 microgames. But, if you get far enough, the game will change ever so slightly to advertise the full game. It’s funny and a good bonus game. Dr. Mario is the opposite of all the other games, because it’s the entire game! So you can play all the way to the end instead of repeating the first couple levels over and over. A very nice bonus for puzzle fans. The only thing that’s missing is a link feature, but I won’t complain about it.
So now lets ever so carefully put the disc in the GCN and boot that baby up. Aaah, demoey goodness. The menu is exactly what you’ve seen in the demo discs at Wal-Mart and such, only the Wal-Mart version of the disc has got Ultimate Muscle: Legends VS. New Generation and P.N.03 on it instead of Joe and Billy. I had wanted Ultimate Muscle for a while. Then I played it. The cel-shading and franchise fooled me into thinking that it might be different from your run-of-the-mill wrestling game, but it wasn’t. So I sucked at it and now I don’t even want to rent it. Sorry, Kid, but I’ll still watch your show. As for P.N.03, it was definitely original, to say the least. I’m looking forward to renting it.
But back to the games on MY disc. I’ll go in order of worst to best, then movies, so I’ll start with Splinter Cell.
To be completely honest, I only tried this once, and I don’t think I’m gonna do it again. Wait, make that twice. Once to try it out, once to take screenshots. As far as I could tell, in the demo you’ve gotta spy on some Chinese guy who’s doing something bad. Gee. That’s original. Maybe I should have paid attention. So as Sam, you have to sneak around and find this guy without getting caught and killed. And if you’re caught, you will be killed. Damn realistic games. Sam should be able to take more than two shots. I’m not too good at stealth, and there are too many things to do with nowhere near enough buttons. That’s why Tom Clancy games should stick to PC, they use every button on the keyboard and then some. It just doesn’t translate well onto a controller. I hear the guy who invented Doom thinks games are getting too complicated as well. In any case, I got killed a couple times and quit because I suck at it.
If you wanna look at it technically, all the playable demos are GCN-exclusives. Although you can find Soul Calibur II on the PS2 and X-Box, only the Cube version has Link(making it best by default). As for the multi-platform Splinter Cell, the GCN version has a huge advantage, GBA connectivity. The only thing I liked about the game is that you can use the GBA as a radar, and if I didn’t have that, I would have died a lot faster and possibly more times. It did allow me to find a new route into the first building. Only it wasn’t a secret route, it was the front door. See? I’m really bad at Splinter Cell.
Next up we’ve got unnecessarily long-titled Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut. it could have just been “Sonic Adventure DX”, but it seems that the longer the title, the better these days. I doubt that they added any scrapped material to this version. This is your basic good news/bad news situation. The good news is that it’s the longest demo of the bunch. The bad news is that it’s not as good as Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, which came out on GCN a long while ago. True, it’s not a bad game, it’s just that there are a lot of flaws. The most apparent of these flaws being the camera. It flies all over the place whenever you move and most of the time it won’t go where you want it to. Speaking of uncontrollable, the controls could use a bit of tweaking. And when I say “a bit” I mean “a lot”.
You can play one of each character’s missions, which equates to a whole of six playable levels. That’s about 200% more game than any other demo. It’s nice to have quantity, but sacrificing quality is not something I’m big on doing. It’s still not that bad. It sure is a lot more fun than Splinter Cell. I guess my real beef is with the Gamma, Amy, and Knuckles levels. The Sonic and Tails levels are all you could expect, and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Big’s fishing adventures. Even better for me is that they kept the character themes in the instructions. I love Big’s theme. I even downloaded it and have listened to it several times every day. It really is an awesome song. The other characters’ themes (save Knux’s) are rather odd sounding after the remixed tunes form SA2B have become the norm. Especially Tails’ theme. Once again, I had to clean blood out of my ears.
The last three games are all great, and I really can’t bring myself to rank one above the other, so I’ll check out Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg next. The first thing you’ll notice when you start playing is that it’s gotta be the cutest thing EVER. Billy’s cute, the animals are cute, the enemies are cute, even the damn music is cute. To some this is a bad thing and will make them turn away in disgust, but I love it. To understand the entire amount of cuteness that this presents, you have to hear Billy’s “Kook-a-doo-doo!”. Possibly the most surprising thing about it is that it’s made by Sega’s Sonic Team, the same people responsible for SADX:DC. Everything about the game is great. It’s got all you really need. Music, graphics, control, fun; all top notch. It’s definitely on my buying list.
Billy’s quest in the demo is to hatch the Chicken Elder from a Golden Egg. It seems some nasty crows have invaded and sealed up all the Elders, the chicken who “make the sun appear”. So they put the roosters in big eggs. So Billy’s all dressed up in his unbearably cute chicken costume and gets to it. You can find eggs lying around everywhere and roll them around to break stuff, squish enemies, and hit switches. As you find fruit to feed the egg, it grows and eventually can be hatched. Most eggs contain small animals that Billy can team up with to attack enemies and solve puzzles. When you free the Chicken Elder, he presents you with a Courage Emblem. Then you go pick it up and the demo is over.
But that’s the tricky part, it really not. on the title screen, you can access a second mission by holding A and pressing start. It’s the same level, just a few things have been moved around and the bad guys have gotten tougher. So what’s your mission? Get to the top of the same tower you got on to beat the last mission and get another Courage Emblem. So let’s take a closer look at this: Collectible objects, different missions in the same level, excellent gameplay… I think we’ve got another Super Mario 64 clone on our hands. Yay! Maybe Banjo and Kazooie won’t be missed as much if Billy is good enough to take their place. And for what I’ve seen so far, the little chicken-suited boy will go above and beyond the crow of duty.
Next on the chopping block is the insanely popular Soul Calibur II. I often wondered why it was so popular, and now that I’ve played it I have a very good idea why. Now I usually don’t like 3-D fighting games. Tekken, Virtua Fighter, whatever. Not my proverbial cup of tea. But SC2 manages to pull off what only Bushido Blade has been able to do so far; make me like a 3-D fighting game. It’s gotta be the weapons. But I don’t just like SC2, oh no. I love the damn thing. Even if I only have access to two characters, I can see myself playing this a lot until I get the full game. Speaking of those characters, the two given are Cassandra and Nightmare. Possibly the two most opposite fighters in the game. Cassandra, my choice of the two, is small and fast. Nightmare on the other hand, is a huge lumbering monster with the biggest sword you’ll ever see. The demo is only four enemies long, but there’s two-player support so it’s got more replay value than any of the other demos.
So why is it so great? I’m not sure, but it’s got this huge appeal to it. Even my littlest brother who hates to play games with me (cause he hates to lose) was having a grand old time with it. Though I think he was doing it just so I’d let him play Billy Hatcher. When it comes down to it, it’s just your average fighting game but with permanent weapons. It can make the game a bit cheap, since some are mind-bogglingly long, but they add that extra dimension to it. It’s multiplatform, so all three groups get it, but there’s one big difference between them all. Each version has an exclusive character. Like I said earlier, we GCN owners get Link, so it’s obviously gonna be the most popular of the three. Coming in second is the X-Box version, which gets Spawn. Yeah. Freakin’ Spawn. Lastly and most definitely leastly, is the PS2 version, with their exclusive character being some geezer from the Tekken series. Heh heh. The enemies in the demo are Raphael the fencer pirate, Astaroth the Tyrant wannabe, Taki the ninja whose breasts “defy gravity”, and Voldo the bondage freak. They’re all pretty easy. Except Voldo. You can never tell what he’s gonna do, and every time he kills you he’ll whip out a new attack that you never saw coming. Like flopping on the floor and electrifying himself. This is definitely a buying game.
Now I’ve reached the one reason that I bought this damn disc. Viewtiful Joe. This is what I’ve been itching for for months now, and the release date still seems ages away. But that no longer matters, because I can play the first level over and over and over until I die of thirst and sleep deprivation and hunger and filthiness. But there’s no way I’d rather go out. My good friend thinks it’s dumb because it’s side scroller, but I’ll just be laughing at the fact that he’s missing what could possibly be my favoritest Cube game ever. Everything about this game has been worked out perfectly, even more perfect than Billy Hatcher. At least half of the gaming population hated cel-shading. But then the Wind Waker came along and most of them realized how wrong they’d been. Even I was wary of it until I bought Bomberman Generation. And as for Joe’s treatment? It looks fantastic. Capcom was going for a comic book style of visuals, and they executed it perfectly. The game does look like it came straight out of the pages of some comic. It may sound unappealing, but most of the objects in the game are 2-D, but in the end it looks more proper than 3-D objects would have. As for the characters and most of the important objects and platforms, they’re all in 3-D and have been rendered very nicely. There better be at least one sequel.
But now that I’ve spoken of the superficial stuff, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of the game. The audio is great, music is catchy and sets a very nice tone for the game. As for voice samples, all the voice acting is great, with some well written and often funny dialogue. Some of the best being Joe’s “Henshin-A-Go-Go-Baby!!” and the “Yummy!” that’s produced when he picks up a life-replenishing burger. The gameplay itself is very simple and extremely fun. The controls are very easy to pick up and learn, as it doesn’t even use all the buttons. Not like Splinter Cell, which had like five actions for each button. The demo level consists of several parts which are cleared by killing so many enemies and/or reaching a certain location. After every little part, you’re given a rank based on your Time, Defense, and V-Combos. Ranks for each stat go from V to D, and add up to a bigger rank. So far I’ve achieved 3 different ranks; Awesome, Baaaad, and Crappy. I’m not sure if you can get a V or D as your final rank, I’ve never done that good or bad.
Playing as Joe is pretty simple. All you have to do is run around, jump and attack your enemies while throwing in an occasional dodge to up your Defense rank. But after beating the mysterious Captain Blue, you can become Viewtiful Joe! With the added powers of Slow and Mach Speed, you can pummel your enemies with a lot more style. The best part is that the powers have an effect on the surrounding area, so they can be used for many purposes. Slow is the more useful of the two abilities, as it has many uses. These include making fast moving enemies slower, stopping rotors, and slowing bullets so you can punch them back. Mach Speed is more of a “special effect” move, as it lets you attack all the enemies on the screen and if used long enough Joe will light up and set any enemies he touches on fire. What’s quite possibly the best part is the Helicopter boss. There are literally tons of ways to beat it. 1)You can knock down chandeliers on top of it. 2)Do it old-school and just pummel it to death. 3)You can slow time and bounce it’s bullets back. 4)You can kick it’s missiles back at it. 5)Slow down time to stop the rotor and then beat it to death with Mach Speed. And this is just the first level! Even better than the boss, it never gets boring! I’ve played through it at least 15 times now and I still have the urge to go back and do it again. I can say with confidence that Viewtiful Joe is the game to own this year. October is going to be one Hell of a month.
Now that I’ve reviewed all the playable demos, I’ll take a very brief look at the videos. first up is F-Zero GX, which looks very nice, and the added F-Zero AX (arcade version) connectivity sound like a great idea. The Zelda video is just an explanation of how to use the Tingle Tuner to it’s fullest ability. It is also home to a hilarious line: “Tingle is only as friendly as the person holding the GameBoy Advance, so choose your friends wisely” is spoken as various shots of Link getting blown up are displayed. The Rogue Squadron III video make the game look very promising, and I like the idea of adding in a multiplayer feature. Best of all, you can crush Ewoks in an AT-ST! You can’t improve on that! I don’t plan on watching the football videos. The videos of the demo games are somewhat less enthralling than their playable cousins, but are good to watch none the less.
Finally, there’s an ESRB video about how to choose your games depending on the rating and how if you don’t choose the right game, you’ll be in a big mess. Not only is the video great because bowling balls are flying at a guy trying to play baseball, but it’s hosted by the one and only…
Yup, Derek Jeter. Now if only they could hire a celebrity who I know to do these things, they’d have my undivided attention without having to resort to the bowling balls.
That’s it for this disc. I don’t think I could have found a better way to spend that $15. The only real shame is that I didn’t get to play SC2 earlier. Or else I would have known it was awesome before and had the chance to ask for it for my birthday. Speaking of which, there should be a new article sometime around then. For now though, just wait, my third promised article will be done pretty soon. Though it’s another thing along the lines of Hylian Idol. But this one involves people with horns, animals, and crossings. Nobody will ever guess…
In a real conclusion, I’ll have to rate each of these games. The Wario Ware Inc. demo gets a 8 for the funny advertising ploy. Dr, Mario gets a prefect 10, who couldn’t love that game? Splinter Cell scores a 5, because I suck at it. SADX:DC gets a 7, because it’s good for the most part, but has some big, ugly issues. Billy scores a 10. He’s just too cute to give any less to. SC2 gets a 9, because Voldo scares me. Otherwise it’s a 10. And I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m gonna give Viewtiful Joe a 10. I’ve yet to see any flaws at all in that game. You may not agree with everything I’ve said, but remember, it’s all my opinion, which should and most probably does differ from yours. So have a good night and give Joe a chance. Side scrollers are the best games ever. Except Super Mario 64. That’s the real best game ever.