Thursday, April 29, 2010

12 Months, Sixty Dollars and a PS2: April

Okay, so my favorite local second hand, MUST HAVE MUSIC AND MORE, has a slew of Playstation 2 games and recently I discovered that a great number of them are being sold for the low, low price of $4.95.  For those of you who have been following along at home, this is how I came across Pryzm , Chapter One: The Last Unicorn, that little gem that I alone made famous last year!  As I was browsing through the stacks the other day I saw a good number of these $5 games that looked at the very least interesting, if not potential diamonds in the rough.  After thinking it over I came to a conclusion:  The PS2 has a vast library and very few catch the attention of the popular culture, but lots and lots of games get released. Somewhere in those stacks of discarded, unloved games must be some really great games just looking for someone to play them and at the risk of five dollars a go, I think it’s worth finding just what is out there.  The result is this on-going experiment, a journey that you and I are going to take through the unwanted library of the PS2.  So strap in, kiddies, we’ve got twelve months, sixty dollars, and a Playstation2 and we’re about to discover what we’ve been missing!


Mobile Light Force 2  

Ok.   Do me a favor.  Take a look at the cover art for this game.

Now, tell me what kind of game this is going to be and just wager a guess as to what some of the themes the story might be rooted in.  If you said, “Stan, this is going to be an action game, perhaps top down perspective ala X-men Legends and I think it might be based on a team of Charlie’s Angels types taking down a hostile robot force,” not only would you be completely wrong, but I would laugh at you.  For you see, I made the same mistake.  And honestly, how could we not.  Nothing about this game’s packaging even remotely hints at the game inside.  So with that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Mobile Light Force 2 (which suggests there was a Mobile Light Force 1 at some point)

Now perhaps you were the crafty sort and instead answered the above question, “Stan, this is going to be a vertical scrolling shooter with anime themes and fast-paced action,” you would have been dead-on.  That’s right, MLF2 is a vertical scrolling shooter in which you take the role of one of six generic (and yet strangely specific) Japanese anime characters hell bent on blasting their way to the solution of a mysterious serial murder case.  But don’t worry too much about the resolution of the story, MLF2 is all about shooting.  Non-stop shooting.

Mobile Light Force 2 is traditional vertical scrolling shooter that allows you to select from six different characters with unique abilities that fly over various landscapes blasting away at numerous kinds of enemies.  There isn’t really too much new to see in this game.  The graphics are decent, but nowhere near what the PS2 is capable of.  Not that amazing graphics are required for a game like this, but at the very least the game could utilize the entirety of the screen, instead of the middle third.  The level of challenge is also fairly low, and most decent players will make it to the third or even final level in their first attempt.  This is partly due to the hefty allotment of continues you are given and partly due to the simple level design.  The only real challenge comes from some unique and bizarre bosses and the choice of character you play with.  The bosses range from a giant butterfly with a baby’s face to a Bahamut-like dragon to some kind of dude that taunts you by making old Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids jokes (I am not even remotely kidding you.  First time I heard this I nearly pissed myself).  Some of these bosses are standard and go down with plenty of shooting, but others require more careful tactics.  For instance, one of the bosses from level 3 surrounds you in a barrier of energy then flies around the screen launching various attacks while you remain trapped within the barrier.  As the fight progresses, the shape of the barrier changes and you have to adjust your attack strategy accordingly.  Character selection also adds a dimension of difficulty to the game.  Some characters attack with curved shots or have secondary attacks that send fireballs across the entire screen.  Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses and it is fun to play through with each to see how far you can get.  But overall the game isn’t terribly hard.

I must say, Mobile Light Force 2 took me completely by surprise in a lot of ways.  From its lackluster packaging, (see the “special features” on the back of the case to the right) I expected a really cheaply made futuristic dungeon crawler with meager features and extremely rough game play.  Instead I got a moderately fun, if incredibly short, fast-paced shooter.  I‘ll say that I probably got my five dollars worth, but not a penny more.  If you are a fan of shooters and just want a new one to play, I can see going in five on this, otherwise, I think your life will be complete without it.  Personally, I don’t think it is a bad addition to my collection, but had I paid full price (whatever that might have been) I would be sorely disappointed.  If you see Mobile Light Force 2, and you just really need to spend $5, you could do a lot worse, of course you could do a lot better.  Either way, I certainly didn’t get what I expected with this one…

UPDATE:  Apparently, there IS a Mobile Light Force 1 (just called Mobile Light Force, ‘natch!) for the PSX. The kicker?  It has the exact same cover art for the CD case!  What. The. Hell.

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