Tag Archive: platforming


There were a lot of good games in 2013. For me, however, there weren’t a lot of great games, ones that were clearly head and shoulders above the pack and got me excited every time I talked about them.Aside from some Nintendo titles, the end of the year was surprisingly dull, due to the less-than-stellar launch lineups of the PS4 and Xbox One. Because of that, half my list is comprised of games that surprisingly came from the first six months of 2013. But when I look back, these are the five games I’d sit down and play again more than any others. Enjoy!

Ray’s Top Five Games for 2013

#05: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

Until Marth and Roy made their appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I’d never heard of Fire Emblem, since it had only been released in Japan at that point. I personally didn’t get into the series until Path of Radiance a few years later, but since then, I’ve been hooked. The story and strategy is everything I could ever want from a game, and Awakening miraculously finds a way to raise what was already a high bar. Elements like character customization are also introduced to the States for the first time here, and pairing units adds another nuance that can’t be ignored when playing.

#04: Remember Me

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Some games take you by surprise so much that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Remember Me is one of those games for me. From futuristic high rises that pierce the clouds to the seedy sewers comprising Neo-Paris’ underbelly, Nilin’s world pulled me in, with no small effort from our dear protagonist herself. The unique memory remixes and combo-creation gameplay elements stoked my fire as I spent way too much time exploring every second of people’s pasts or playing with my Pressens in the Combo Lab.

#03: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Few games were able to just straight up impress me more than Assassin’s Creed IV did this year. The amount of freedom I felt on the open sea was unparalleled, and I’d lose hours on end just boarding enemy ships or diving beneath the waves to unearth some long-sunken treasure. I’m genuinely amazed at the progress made between this and Assassin’s Creed III, and I’m of the opinion that Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed since we first met Ezio back in Assassin’s Creed II.

#02: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Publisher:Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, PC

Ray’s Take

I have to play a lot of games over the course of a given year. I’m not complaining, but the only bad thing about this is that I rarely can find the time to go back to the games I truly enjoy. The one game I constantly found myself coming back to when I did find the time, however, was Injustice. I loved the story, I loved the mechanics, and I even loved playing online with other people—an activity that usually has me smashing controllers and living-room furniture left and right.

#01: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

A Link Between Worlds is simply the best handheld Zelda game ever. Sorry, Link’s Awakening, but your 20-year title reign is at an end. The subtle changes to the classic Zelda formula, like having all the items at the beginning of the game, admittedly took some getting used to. But in the end, none of those changes stopped me from enjoying the game—and I couldn’t put my 3DS down until the adventure was over. In regards to the greatest Zelda games ever conversation, I wouldn’t put A Link Between Worlds past A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, but it’s not far off either.

Ray’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013

The Razor Ramon Award for Best Bad Guy
Jacob Danik
A lot of games this year tried to offer up some shades of gray to the black-and-white conflicts we normally expect. And while plot twists and grandiose questions about morality are fun, sometimes you just want someone you can hate. A bad guy you love because he’s bad. This year had a few candidates, but in the end, I chose Jacob Danik from Dead Space 3. He was a religious zealot willing to sacrifice the entire human race for what he believed to be salvation, and Simon Templeman played him brilliantly, projecting a cold ruthlessness akin to space itself.
Popsicle’s “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game
Super Mario 3D World
This one’s become sort of a tradition, so I figured I should continue it. It was a close call between several games this year, but I had to go with Super Mario 3D World. This particular Mario outing may have been a bit too easy and a bit too short for my tastes, but there’s no denying how gorgeous it was because of the variety of levels Mario was able to traverse for the first time in full HD. From purple ponds of poison and snowcapped summits down to the shine on the buttons of Mario’s overalls, a Mario game has never looked so good.
The Best Co-Op Gaming with Your Girlfriend Award
BattleBlock Theater
I play a fair amount of games with my girlfriend, but she only ends up happy that she joined in on a few of them. So, I figured I’d give a little recognition to the game she had the most fun co-op marathoning this year: BattleBlock Theater. She still talks about that game to this day, and it remains the only game where it’s OK to tell your significant other to go kill themselves, as we’d often sacrifice one another on floor spikes to serve as makeshift platforms to get across gaps.

Rearmed and Dangerous

Originally Published: February 27, 2011, on my StrongProtector profile on GiantBomb.com

While growing up, I passed on playing the original Bionic Commando for the NES. Money was tight, there wasn’t as much media covering video games to help us make informed decisions, and I was only three years old. But I had always heard later on just how awesome it was to use a grappling hook to get around and shoot pseudo-Nazis and felt I missed out.

Of course, 20 years later I would get my chance when the original Bionic Commando would be remade as a 2.5 D port named Bionic Commando Rearmed. Then, Capcom published a 3D action-platformer Bionic Commando that was supposed to take place 10 years after Nathan “Rad” Spencer’s original adventure and saw the story take a drastic turn into a post-apocalyptic conspiracy theory driven world with very little explanation, but had some sweet new elements, like grenade launchers and the ability to actually jump.

Finally, Capcom and developer Fatshark, who took over for developer GRIN who had started the work on this game before folding in 2009, decided that they needed to fill in the chronological gap between those two titles and see what they could do if they combined the most popular elements from both games. And so I present to you Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 and let me tell you, it brings a lot more to the table than just a sweet porno mustache for Rad.

The plot is similar to the original Bionic Commando, but instead of going after pseudo-Nazis and Generalissimo Killt, you are going after a Fidel Castro type named General Sabio who is threatening to bomb the FSA from his just off-shore island nation of Papagaya. The FSA sends in decorated war veteran (and Ed Harris look-alike) Colonel Buebaker, but he quickly disappears and so a team of bionics, spear-headed by Spencer, is sent in to retrieve the Colonel and defuse the missile crisis.

General Sabio is far more brilliant than Killt ever was though and aside from just employing some tanks and goons in jumpsuits, Sabio also has a variety of flying drones, tanks that can climb up walls, and some special jungle themed robots that will cause havoc for Spencer and his crew.

And speaking of jungle themes, the look of Rearmed 2 is much brighter than in the original. The first Rearmed was limited in its level design and color palette because it was taking so much from the original Bionic Commando. With Rearmed 2 being its own special adventure, I’m sure the idea to drop Spencer onto a tropical island wasn’t a mistake. From the dull, bland colors of prisons and robot factories, to dank mines, lush jungles, and snow covered peaks, I started having flashbacks to my SNES days and the original Donkey Kong Country because of the great variety of landscapes you have to traverse and how much they just seem to jump off the screen.

If familiar with the Bionic Commando series then the audio won’t surprise you as much as the graphics. Many of the themes from Rearmed and the 2009 3D Bionic Commando return with a few tweaks and keeping with the tradition of its Rearmed predecessor, there are almost no voiceovers whatsoever besides a few exclamations from fallen foes.

The biggest difference between Rearmed 1 and Rearmed 2 though comes in the gameplay. The basic mechanics are still there like using your grappling hook to get around and you have a variety of guns to take down your foes. But now included is a feature from the 3D Bionic Commando and that is the ability to jump.

Now, many diehards of the original game took up arms when they heard of this development for this new side-scroller in the series, and it does make it feel a bit more like a traditional platformer, but it really is a plus because it allowed for a larger variety of puzzles and scenarios to put Nathan into that may have been limited otherwise. And the diehard purists out there need not fear. If after playing through the game once you are still not convinced a jump ability is for the best, you can unlock a “no jump” mode that allows Nathan to move through the game in his old-school swing only style.

Aside from this, to go along with old school collectibles like Yashichis, Nathan also sees new upgrades to his arm like a grenade launcher that fits into his shoulder or ammo regeneration that, much like the 3D Bionic Commando, he can collect either initially or by revisiting levels later on. There is also the inclusion of his “Death from Above” maneuver that is great for breaking through weak floors or wiping out several foes at once.

There is also a completely new ability called Bio Vision that acts much like Samus’s scanners from Metroid Prime where you can pause the game and scan the world around you to find out information like what weapons barriers are weak against and clues on how to take down bosses.

My biggest complaint with Rearmed 2 is that they took away a lot of the staple elements from the original game like the overhead map where you could choose what path you take and instead have laid out a linear path where beating one level leads right into the next one. Also, the ceiling view mini-levels that would start when you bumped into an enemy truck have been removed completely. Although not the most memorable aspects of the original Bionic Commando, the ceiling-view mini-levels were a nice break from the meat and potatoes side-scrolling levels and were a solid attempt at mixing up the gameplay.

When all is said and done, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 takes elements from its predecessors, but is really its own game more than just a carbon copy of either one. The physics with the grappling hook are very tight and the puzzles, bosses, and level design hark back to a simpler, yet more difficult time in platform gaming. The jump feature will irritate purists, but overall was a necessary evolution for this franchise and although the gameplay is now very linear, there are twice as many levels as in Rearmed 1 making the single player campaign nearly a 10 hour experience. Add in local co-op multiplayer, the return and expansion of the challenge rooms, and online leaderboards for speed runs for each level and Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is well worth its $15 price tag.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 9.0: Continuing with the same style as the first Rearmed, the 2.5D world that Nathan finds himself in is far more colorful and diverse compared to the world based off the original Bionic Commando. This vibrant style is a pleasure for the eyes and only loses a point due to the simple picture inserts used instead of cut scenes.

Sound: 7.0: Although some brilliant new songs flesh out the soundtrack that features a revamped version of the original Bionic Commando themes, a lack of voice acting and repetitive screams of pain from dying foes is definitely a downpoint.

Plot/Plot Development: 8.5: Paying homage to the original Bionic Commando which was modeled after Nazi Germany, Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 did a brilliant job modeling itself after Fidel Castro’s Cuba. This also made the villains somewhat predictable though in just what they would try to do unfortunately. At least the game did a great job of bridging the gap between the original Bionic Commando and the 2009 3D platformer release.

Gameplay: 7.5: Although there are some great additions to the series like finally being able to jump (even if purists out there were grinding their teeth about it) and some new weapons was something to help keep this from being a straight rip off of the first Rearmed. Unfortunately, some of the swinging glitches and some brand new ones caused by the jumping tend to crop up and makes the platforming even more difficult than it needs to be. Throw in the linearity implemented in this new game’s level selection and the gameplay isn’t as strong as most would like.

Replay Value: 8.0: A lack of a versus mode is unfortunate, but with dozens of collectibles scattered around each world, co-op available in the story mode, the return of the challenge modes, and a variety of difficulty levels makes this have some very solid replay value for a downloadable title.

Overall (not an average): 8.0: For the amount of content you get for the price tag on Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2, this is a great game, but it does lack the polish you would like from a completed game and that keeps this from reaching elite status. If you are a fan of the Bionic Commando series though, this is an easy purchase.