Azn Badger's Blog

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What’s The Deal With Asura’s Wrath?

(E3 Footage HERE)

Today I decided to sit down and watch some of the demo footage from this year’s E3.

While I’ve been (halfheartedly) following some of the news from E3, truth be told; today marked the first instance in which I actually watched any footage from it.

Given that I see myself as kind of a Capcom whore, the game I decided to check out was their enigmatic and supposedly “different” upcoming game, Asura’s Wrath.

At first glance, the game seemed pretty decent; but within the span of literally 2-3 seconds, my impression of it changed dramatically.

In case you’re wondering, the character designs were the one major positive I took from the videos I watched.

Pretty pimp...

The 2-3 or character models (2 if you only include major characters, 3 if you count generic enemy fodder) featured in the trailers were all striking and wholly unique, with some pretty fluid animations to boot.

Outside of the character models though, everything I’ve seen from Asura’s Wrath managed to rub me the wrong way.

Despite the beauty of the characters, the backgrounds and scenery were bland and simplistic; bearing a color palette of the Gears of War 1 style “gray and brown.”

The voice acting is atrocious, not only in terms of quality of performance, but also in terms of the actual sound of it.

Also on the audio side of things, the music was mindblowing-ly lazy, with about 15 minutes worth of “intense” in-game footage playing host to a boring drone akin to the early seasons of the American Dragonball Z dub.

Speaking of Dragonball Z, Asura’s Wrath clearly seems to draw a lot of inspiration from it, not just in terms of aesthetic, but also in terms of pacing.

Basically, the formula goes:

Inane and indecipherable dialogue, followed by manic action scene, followed by another inane indecipherable dialogue scene, followed by power-up scene, followed up by dramatic epiphany, followed by even more dramatic power-up scene.

*Sigh* How many years of my life did I devote to watching this exact frame played over and over and over again?...

I swear, all they needed to do was insert a cut away or 2 of grass blowing in the wind, and Asura’s Wrath would straight up be Dragonball Z.

Maybe it’s just because I’m older, but for whatever reason; I just can’t play along with these old fashioned anime tropes anymore…

So far I’ve spent this whole article harping on Asura’s Wrath from face value alone.

Truth be told, that’s where most of my complaints lie, however I do in fact have a gripe or 2 about the gameplay (from what I could derive from the in-game footage).

First and foremost of these complaints is of course:

Is there any gameplay?

While it’s of course far too early to make any serious speculation, from what I could tell from the footage I viewed, Asura’s Wrath has a God of War/Devil May Cry/Ninja Gaiden/Bayonetta/Heavenly Sword/Dante’s Inferno/Etc. action mechanic.

There are attack buttons, there is a shoot button, and there is a context sensitive counter button.

With the exception of the counter button, these buttons are used maybe 5 times over the course of the trailer.

It was actually kind of funny watching the player use the shoot button, as he never really seemed to get the hang of the aiming mechanic; which resulted in him taking damage whenever he tried to use it.

Not that the game ever really seemed to offer any sort of challenge that required him to…

The vast majority of the 15-20 minutes of footage that I viewed, all taken from a boss fight mind you; involved extremely simplistic quick time events.

By “extremely simplistic,” I mean, “if you fail one of these, congratulations; you are a retard.”

The point is, I spent 20 minutes watching in-game footage of a game that looked kind of cool, sounded really dumb, and only asks you to touch the controller once every 5 minutes.

...And no, I'm not talking about Metal Gear.

Worse yet, most of the “gameplay” I saw basically involved repetitiously countering or performing a menial task in order to fill a gauge of some sort, activation of which basically rewards you by sending you to the next repetitive portion of the gameplay/cutscene.

Note the repetition of the word “repetition.”

Like virtually everything to come out of Japan, ever; Asura’s Wrath is very high on style, but seriously seems to lack in substance.

Other than the cool visuals, and distinctly anime-like cinematography and pacing, I really can’t figure out what would make it fun to play.

Bayonetta and God of War were quick-time event heavy, however they also had extremely robust gameplay mechanics to one to play around with in between it all.

Again, it’s far too early to make any serious speculation as to exactly what kind of game Asura’s Wrath is, but as of now; my opinion is largely negative.

At this point I’m still just wondering, what’s the deal with Asura’s Wrath?

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Bayonetta: First Impressions

BUTT.

In light of yesterday’s Devil May Cry post, I figure it’s appropriate that I take the time to share some of my thoughts on the similar, but also very different game:

Bayonetta on the Xbox 360.

Please bear in mind that, as of this post, I’ve only got about 2 and a half hours of gameplay under my belt.

Developed by Sega, and directed by the prolific and uber-talented Hideki Kamiya of the now defunct Clover Studio, as well as the original Devil May Cry fame, Bayonetta is, in a word:

JAPANESE.

Every pixel, frame, word and beat of Bayonetta is absolutely gushing with Japanese zaniness and anime-esque melodrama, such that my first few minutes with the game were almost too much to bear.

The aesthetic is way over-the-top, and the story and characters decidedly tongue-in-cheek, and for the most part, not all that appealing to me from a personal standpoint.

Nope, still not appealing. Goddamn she got a tiny head...

Despite this, I will say this:

The artistic design of the game, while not necessarily up my alley; is actually quite impressive.

The costuming and ornamentation of the character designs, while perhaps a little bit too flashy and intricate for it’s own good, are quite unique and certainly praise worthy.

Huh, this I like. Go figure...

In fact, I could honestly see myself owning a coffee table book of the production materials for Bayonetta at some point.

Anyway, the flashy cut scenes of Bayonetta, (choreographed by the always excellent Yuji Shimomura of Versus and Death Trance fame) annoy me much in the same way that Devil May Cry’s do.

They’re overlong, they often show the characters behaving contrary to how they do in-game, (Anybody at all tired of seeing Dante be invincible in cut scenes, only to be a total pussy in-game? Anybody?) and they feel artificial, like flash for the sake of flash.

Kind of like any movie by:

Pictured: "Flash" incarnate.

I guess the cut scenes just frustrate me because they are actually quite intrusive to the gameplay experience.

Like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta is a game all about action, and when the action is frequently interrupted by cut scenes, showing my character busting out awesome moves that I’d like to see myself do in-game, I get just a little bit frustrated.

Bottom line, 2 hours into Bayonetta, I can’t help but feel that the pacing is not quite up to snuff, as the gameplay seems to come in all too infrequent spurts.

Which brings me to my 2nd, and ultimately far more critical gripe:

Bayonetta’s learning curve is just plain mean.

We're talkin' Kobe Mean Face-Mean!

While the game, like any current gen game, comes with the obligatory introductory tutorial sequence that seems to be essential to the illiterate, non-instruction manual reading gamers of today, outside of teaching you the basic button inputs of the game, Bayonetta doesn’t really teach you how to play the game.

Sure, you can put up a good fight, and sure you know what you’re doing for the most part, but at the end of the day, if you’re playing the game straight through as I am, you’re just not given enough time to get a grip on the gameplay before the game starts tossing you some serious shit to deal with.

"Oh don't mind me, I'm just the first boss. Excuse me while I TOTALLY WRECK YOUR SHIT while eating bagels and lox."

This is coming from someone that utterly beasted half of the Devil May Cry series.

My problem is this:

Bayonetta didn’t give me enough time to warm-up to it.

In the Devil May Cry series, the basic enemies are reactive to your blows, staggering and generally being reduced to punching bags the moment you first lay into them.

This is not the case in Bayonetta.

There is no fodder in Bayonetta.

Nope, none of these.

All of the enemies in Bayonetta are able to put up a decent fight, thusly leaving you with nobody hone your skills on.

Every fight is a desperate struggle.

From what I can tell, my complaint may in fact be a result of me having failed to grasp the concept of the dodge system and the Witch Time AKA Bullet Time mechanic.

I don't care what you tell me man. There IS a spoon, and I'm eating my fuckin' Cheerios with it as we speak. Fuckin' new-age bullshit...

Anyway, at this point, I’m tempted to say I like Devil May Cry 4 better, but I’m only a few hours in, so we’ll see.

I’m still having fun with Bayonetta.

I love the gorgeous presentation and liberal use of the context sensitive button mashing segments.

I’m diggin’ the core gameplay, but at this point I truly do suck at it.

Time will tell…

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Devil May Cry and the Azn Badger

Capcom’s Devil May Cry series is one that the Azn Badger desperately wants to love.

Honestly, I don’t really care much for the Gothic aesthetic of the series, nor do I have any sort of appreciation for the death metal soundtracks and overall overblown nature of the storylines and cutscenes.

So, what exactly is it that I do like about Devil May Cry?

That my friend, would of course be the bombastic, action-heavy gameplay of the series:

My introduction to the Devil May Cry came in the form of the 3rd, and best, entry in the series, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening.

Yes, I am in fact aware that he is wearing a nipple-strap. The game STILL kicks ass...

Featuring the highest difficulty level in the series to date, as well as perhaps the best, or at least, most relatable storyline, Dante’s Awakening effectively ruined me from enjoying any of the other games in the franchise.

Let it be known, beginning a game series from it’s highest peak in terms of overall quality, and then working your way down is not the way to enjoy a videogame franchise.

That'd be like going from THIS to THIS.

You see, I really enjoyed my time with Devil May Cry 3 on my PS2.

I played it to death, nearly beating it on the hardest difficulty in the process.

After I finally grew tired of 3 though, I made the mistake of thinking it would be fun to work my way backwards and play through the first game in the series.

I skipped that sack of fail Devil May Cry 2 though, as I’ve heard nothing but bad about that one…

ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

From the moment I picked up the controller to play the original Devil May Cry, it immediately became clear to me that I was playing a vastly different, and far inferior game.

The gameplay was slower and less responsive.

The animations were less dynamic and felt very detached.

The attacks lacked the sense of “oomph” that was the highlight of the experience in the 3rd game.

Not only that, but due to the games’ age, the graphics and textures were somewhat lacking.

Yeah, I'd say there's a difference...

Needless to say, I found little enjoyment in playing the original Devil May Cry post-Dante’s Awakening, so much so that I saw fit to return it to Gamestop after only a few days.

Devil May Cry was a wonderful game for it’s time, serving as the progenitor of a new breed of fast-paced action games shortly after it’s release.

You see what you did Capcom!? You gave that piece of fuck Gackt an excuse to star in his own game!

Despite it’s laundry list of credentials though, being the first of something doesn’t necessarily make it the best, or in this case, anywhere near that level of quality.

Recently, I had the opportunity to play through Devil May Cry 4 on the Xbox 360.

Pretty fuckin' spankin' if you ask me...

After the beating the ever-loving piss and shit out of Devil May Cry 3 in decidedly epic-fashion several years back, I found Devil May Cry 4 to be somewhat tame in terms of difficulty.

In general enemies were easier to stun, and more importantly, easier to corral and manipulate, resulting in the gameplay being much more forgiving, and ultimately flashier than ever before.

Since the release of Devil May Cry 3, Capcom went on to reinvent the Resident Evil series, and indeed; much game design in general, with it’s 4th entry.

In the post-Resident Evil 4 world of gaming, context sensitive button functions were very much en vogue, predictably resulting in Capcom’s own Devil May Cry 4 including several instances of said gameplay elements.

In fact, awesomeness can be visited upon most enemies with a simple touch of the “B” button:

Cheap thrills yes, but thrills nonetheless.

Personally, I couldn’t give 2 shits about the new main character of Devil May Cry 4, a frustratingly emo little butt-pirate named Nero, (voiced by Adam the Black Ranger AKA Johnny Yong Bosch)

Pictured: Nero.

I will say this about him however:

His move-list is fun, inventive, and made all the better by the inclusion of the Devil Bringer in his arsenal.

The Devil Bringer is the chief innovation brought to the table in Devil May Cry 4, and for the most part, it’s worth the price of admission.

Trust me, yanking enemies over to your position for quick and efficient beat downs is a pleasure that far surpasses repeatedly Stinger-ing my way across an arena just to get to an out of reach opponent by leaps and bounds.

But then again, being able to do shit like this is pretty fun too:

While the game is a little bit on the easy side when compared to Devil May Cry 3, I’m willing to concede that that may in fact be a good thing.

Devil May Cry 3 was a beast.

It got off on taking eager young player’s confidence and shitting all over it like a fuckin’ pigeon perched above a Porsche.

... Yup, pretty much the visual I was going for.

4 however, is a prettier and more accessible game that even goes so far as to have a storyline (for those that give a shit) that requires virtually no knowledge of the prior games to understand.

Simply put, Devil May Cry 4 serves as a fine example of how to begin a series anew on a new platform.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it fared better than Resident Evil 5 in the console transition.

While not as good as 3, 4 was an enjoyable entry in a young series that was desperately in need of a #2 best game in it’s lineup, as up until it’s release, none of the other games could be at all regarded as anywhere near the level of quality of Dante’s Awakening.

I understand that I’m being critical of the series, but as I mentioned earlier, Devil May Cry is a series that I want to like.

So far we’ve got 4 games in the series, and I’ve only liked 2 of them.

I don’t like the art.

I don’t like the music.

I hate the storytelling.

All I play them for is the raw experience of playing the game.

In that sense, 1:2 ain’t a bad ratio at all.

KITTY.

Which brings us to the newest Devil May Cry game, one that, to my knowledge; is intended to be a massive diversion from the core series.

Uh, okay. I see what you did there, very nice... I don't get it.

Going by the name DmC, (Ugh…) this new game features a protagonist of a drastically different design aesthetic, as well as a game world that seems a little more urban, and less castle-like than previous entries in the series.

This would all be fine in my book, as I was never that attached to Dante or Nero as series’ protagonists, except for the fact that this new character’s design is just plain HIDEOUS.

Pictured: An ugly-ass, skinny piece of emo punk-fuckery that I honestly have ZERO desire to play as in a game.

At this point, all we have is a trailer to work from in terms of first impressions, however I for one feel my desire to give this game a shot slipping away purely based off of the character design:

That may sound petty of me, but unless DMC gets some truly fuckin’ incredible reviews chances are I’ll probably sit it out in favor of taking a step back and visiting some of other hardcore action game franchises out there, like the Ninja Gaiden series and Bayonetta.

Every now and again I have to ask myself: Why HAVEN'T I played this game yet?

Anyway, this has been a lengthy and intensely muddled post.

For this I apologize, but thanks for reading.

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