It’s kind of hard to come up with titles when I just sit down and do whatever without a clear starting idea. Eventually I started thinking about stuff that would make a cool banner idea o serve as a starting point for some design tweaks.
It’s been a weird couple of weeks. Every so often I get in this state where the tablet just doesn’t ‘feel’ right and I need to bust out some markers or pencils until my mojo comes back. I say that when I should really be going ahead and knocking off this annotated bibliography for a research assignment, but… Ehhhh.
It dawned on me the other day with my new setup I can stream game footage in addition to the periodic Picarto streams. (Note to self: add sidebar links for my stream pages.) So over the weekend, I started playing The Guardian Legend live before trying my hand at the ROM hack version, TGL: Secret Edition. It’s kind of a trip playing a rearranged version of something so familiar. Playing online with a chat, small as it’s been, has already helped me learn more and appreciate other little things about the game I hadn’t noticed. I just love learning little details like the item drops not actually being randomized, or the curious “rubber band” pattern the Crawdaddy boss has. (If you maneuver side to side, he begins swinging around as well, spreading his projectiles and making him more annoying to hit, but if you stay put horizontally you can use the Saber Laser to cut right through him and his claw tossing with no fuss at all.) Secret Edition turns things on its ear by rearranging the entire overworld, upping enemy counts, changing what items you find where, and in especially interesting cases, puts shooter bosses in the overworld and vice versa. I never realized how much of a help that initial rapid fire upgrade out of the gate was until SE withheld it from the earlier stages and increased the number of enemies, which makes me rely on sub weapons more than I normally would. Which made when I reached an item room selling Rapidfire for 150 chips when I only had a max 100 kind of a kick in the teeth.
I’ll continue to pick at it and probably some other games off and on via twitch when I have free time. I figure as long as I can support it, why not waste time with company?
A friend of mine updated for the first time in a good while, on a topic near and dear to me. In fact, he may have been taking advantage of my attachment to the Guardian Legend to plant a suggestion that I should link him for more views. Hm, I hope nobody in politics figures out my weakness. Given the role games had in influencing me creatively over the years (I got into anime because Robotech’s art style reminded me of the art in NES cutscenes!), it shouldn’t be surprising that I have tons of ideas for games I’d like to see made kicking around in my head. While I do have a handful of original ones I want to hang onto in case I get the chance to make my own, here, I’d like to mention a few quick examples based on existing properties that I would love to see happen, but probably never will.
1) THE GUARDIAN LEGEND 2- Duh. I actually made some tentative steps toward starting one on my own, mostly just sketches and a handful of sprites that make me kind of cringe to look at now. But it would be super if someone, say, Compile Heart, were to switch their efforts from making little industry in-jokes and retro callbacks in their moe dungeon crawler shlock to actually revisiting old classics and give us a new take on TGL. Preferably without the moe.
In my ideal Guardian Legend sequel, the overall structure of the game would stay pretty much the same, roam the dungeon, fly into the corridors to fight the crazy bosses, but the Labyrinth stages would get some fleshing out, since while they were sort of what makes the game unique, they’re also the gameplay equivalent of foam packing peanuts at times since you can usually just cross one screen into the next before the enemies fully materialize if you don’t feel like fighting. A more dynamic battle system, especially with the ‘melee’ options the saber laser and double saber all but beg for would go a long way toward making the labyrinth more fun, and including more puzzles or setpieces in the dungeon layouts would make them more memorable. TGL fans don’t usually wax nostalgic about how tough Spinning Plant Thing in the forest area was, they talk about skin-of-the-teeth wins against Grimgrin and Optomon in the shooter areas. I don’t think that making the labyrinth into a nightmarish, non stop gauntlet is the solution, since it does serve as a nice breather after a rough boss, but they could be made a lot less of a trudge with a bit more thought put into them. Hell, I could probably even get behind Areas being randomly generated the first time you enter them, too. But not total Roguelike. Well, maybe in the challenge bonus dungeon or something like that.
I never could really decide what the best approach for weapons should be. The idea of having a customizable Guardian sticks out to me, so someone could try approaching the game with say a Saber focused character, or make the weapons themselves customizable. (Sigma Star Saga’s Gun Data system was great in that regard, making your weapons personalized but at the same time not marrying you to one particular combination of traits, so I’d thought about that a lot when brainstorming my own attempt at a follow-up. In fact if you go to the old gallery, my redrawn Guardian’s rifle has weapon chips slotted into it that I forget the meanings of.)
I know there’s a whole forum of people and at least one person who posted some pretty sweet concept art for an update I would totally play, so seeing a fan sequel seems semi inevitable, it would just be really nice for a known studio to pick up the idea so it has a better chance for exposure.
2) ARMORED CORE HD
I got into the AC series a bit late after a disastrous first time trying. (I came at AC2 with the mindset that I could survive by making something that looked cool and/or was loaded down with heavy weapons- a few failed missions with an overweight, Voltron-painted AC killed my enthusiasm.) A few years later, desperate for more giant robot smashings after plowing through an import Macross game, I decided to give For Answer a shot and more or less made my way backwards through the series from there. I’m still pretty well hooked, but there’s not much denying that the early games had an awkward control scheme that was really pretty hard to excuse- AC2 was a PS2 launch title but didn’t make use of the new dual analogs, in fact it wasn’t until Nexus or Nine Breaker you can play with them. I wish I was a long time, PS1 era devotee so I could scoff at my own gripes there, but alas.
Now that the V games incorporated an intuitive dual stick modern-shooter style control scheme, I think it would be a great time for FROM to revisit the classics. Channel some of those Dark Souls funds into it! In particular, I would love to see Armored Core 3 and its follow ups gathered into a compilation with their engines finally on the same page so you can import parts from game to game freely. Last Raven, especially, hit the sweet spot for customization, and 3’s arc is my favorite in Armored Core plot wise, too. It delivered the idea of warring corporations in a way that tickled the part of me that wished that back in the day, FASA would merge Shadowrun and Battletech. If the PS1 games were remastered, that would be excellent too, and 2’s only got itself and one semi-expansion pack sequel to worry about. It’s not even completely insane to think that the classic AC games could come back in some form, because Armored Core Nexus came with an entire second disc of PS1-era missions redone with the new engine and graphics, complete with alternate versions that put you on the enemy side and a harder version of the original. So if we could get AC3 with 5’s controls (assuming they put flight back like it was) and a soundtrack like 4’s, that would just be aces.
4 and 5 are great and all, but eliminating the heat management and optional, not-directly-offensive parts felt like a dumbing down of the construction system. Infinite Overboost units feel like they’re almost expected, rather than being doable in a satisfying, “Take that, game balance!” way like rigging a Last Raven AC that can remain airborne permanently.
Of course, my biggest dream for the Armored Core series remains letting me import artwork for emblems instead of having to rely on in-game versions of MSPaint or layering shapes over each other tediously. I promise not to make any obscene emblems. Until at least a month after launch.
3) Valis: Pretty Watercolor Edition
I’m with Cam and others on wanting to see more of the Valis series that doesn’t revolve around the creators making official tentacle hentai of the characters a fair number of gamers kind of liked for reasons other than their skimpy outfits. Character Protection Services could step in and let Yuko et al stay at Vanillaware’s place.
Shut up, Dragon’s Crown was fun. And if the people working themselves into a lather over the character designs were fans of the studio beforehand, all we got were the artist doing his usual exaggerated job on a group of Vallejo-esque fantasy stereotypes. Look at Raijin and the fox sisters from Muramasa.
Speaking of, I loved the sword fighting system in Muramasa. You had a surprising number of moves available from just one button, and it would be fun to slice your way through hordes of bad 80s anime demons with a similar system, backed up with your spells. I know it’s pretty unlikely, but hey. This is a ‘dreaming’ post, and I’d love to see Valis handled by a studio that loves RPG-flavored hack and slashes. Yuko always struck me as more the lithe and nimble sort than someone who oughta be drawn jiggling all over the place so I can see her behaving a lot like Momohime.
Is that naive?
4) Mega Man Legends 3
This one is really frustrating since it almost happened. But alas, Capcom decided to axe it along with about every other Mega Man in development at the time. Well, considering the game is basically not happening at this point, here’s MY version of what it woulda been like.
Right off, I love the idea of getting to choose between allying yourself with Tron or Roll, so I’d want to work that in, with both having unique weapon trees to unlock. Maybe you’d be trading off back and forth for plot reasons or they’d be parallel stories based on who succeeds in rescuing Mega Man from the moon at the beginning. Whatever.
Proto Man or an expy thereof would make an appearance as a (friendly) rival who worked for The System, trying to stop you from accidentally releasing the full might of The Old System, which given the implied timeline of the series could have a Model W (or suspiciously similar artifact) at its heart. Maybe rediscovering Biometals would give Mega Man a chance to become a real boy or something. I admit, I spent more time thinking how cool it would be to give Volnutt an eyepatch and a rocket launcher with a Bonne skull on the blast shield than what the story oughta be.
5) Metal Warriors Online
This is overlapping with my favorite games list a lot. I guess that’s kind of expected. One of the most unexpectedly fun parts of the SNES mecha game Metal Warriors was its split screen multiplayer mode. We killed a bunch of afternoons dueling in randomized matches, and I can’t help but imagine that if a similar game were made for PC or modern consoles, it could be a hit. Just get a handful of mechs, maybe offer different pilot types with special skills, and you got hours of mindless mech-jacking run and gun mayhem. You could have a heavy trooper who can squeeze a bit more power out of weapons, a black ops guy who excels with traps and other indirect attacks, or a hacker who can work computer stations faster. Speaking of, it’d be nice to have more control over the arenas with side tunnels leading to computer rooms that handle hazards like barriers, automated turrets, etc, just to make being de-meched not completely hopeless. Many of our games ended with someone bailing from a disarmed mech to hide in a narrow corridor and just trying to wait each other out. Forcible hijacking or respawning empty mechs might help. Maybe you could use a radio station to have a fresh mech shot down to you via orbital pod. Who knows! Games need more decidedly anime looking robot games. I’ve never understood the Western aversion to giant robots that look remotely streamlined or manueverable. I imagine with Lucasarts excised by Disney, it wouldn’t be too hard for someone to snatch up the MW property, but as long as it’s got a roster of mechs to hop in and out of and some sprawling stages to explore and blow up, they could call it Rusty Trombone 2477 and I’d still give it a shot.
Please don’t make me play a game called Rusty Trombone if you can help it, though.