Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Capcom, for the PlayStation Porta­ble
rated E10+ for ages 10 and up (violence), $29.99

Capcom, for the PlayStation Porta­ble
rated T for Teen (violence), $39.99.

Capcom, for the Nintendo DS
rated M for Mature (blood and gore, in­tense violence), $34.99

Ah, Capcom. The company that never met a franchise it couldn’t milk into the ground.

That’s a bit unfair, of course. There are plenty of videogame publishers who are more than happy to repackage and regurgitate their most popular licenses ad infinitum.

Capcom, however, seems particularly adept in this regard. There must be as many iterations of "Street Fighter" or "Resident Evil" by now as there are stars in the sky.

Add a few more celestial bodies to the heavens, though, because three more titles — all repackaged versions of classic Capcom games — have recently arrived for the hand-held market.

The best is probably "Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter." A slightly revised version of the 1997 Super Nintendo game (much beloved by fans of the series), "Hunter" pits super robot Mega Man X against a series of renegade automatons, each with their own special power.

The game is your basic platformer, with Mega Man gaining a new ability each time he defeats a boss. While the graphics have been upgraded considerably, the game still plays virtually the same as it did in 1997, which I think is one of its biggest problems.

The fact is, many of the things that made the game so challenging nine years ago were due to technical limitations. Today these limitations seem more frustrating than anything else.

Why, for example, can’t Mega Man shoot upward or diagonally? Why does he seem so stilted?

Fans of the series (and there are many) will no doubt be pleased with this release, but others will find it needlessly difficult and pass on it long before they get to the first big battle.

Similar criticisms can be levied against "Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max," long regarded as the best title in the fighting franchise.

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with most of the "Street Fighter" games. Namely, that I’m horrible at them.

I’m no gaming genius by any standard, but I can reasonably hold my own in "Soul Calibur" or "Dead or Alive." Not so here.

That’s largely because success at "Street Fighter" is determined by one’s ability to memorize the many special moves and super combos that result in a knockout. I don’t have the patience for that sort of nonsense.

Add to the fact that the PSP’s controls aren’t ideal for this type of game, and you once again have a title that only fans of the series will love.

Which brings me, finally, to "Resident Evil: Deadly Silence," the latest RE spin-off and the first for the Nintendo DS.

"Deadly Silence" is essentially the first "Resident Evil" game, shrunk down for the small screen and with a few touch-screen additions thrown in for good measure.

Most of the unique DS innovations, however, feel like superficial and unnecessary add-ons that bring nothing extra to the game. And the game itself does not show its age well.

Almost immediately, I remembered everything that grated my nerves about this series. The tanklike controls, the limited saves, the out-of-place puzzles — everything that "Resident Evil 4" was supposed to fix is on display here.

With the GameCube version of "Resident Evil," not to mention "RE 4" easily available in most stores, there’s no real reason to pick up this title.

Even if you really are a hard-core fan of the series.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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