Monday, 12 December 2016

Maze Action (PS2)

It wasn't long ago that I proclaimed Minami no Shima ni Buta Ga Ita to be the worst game ever featured on this blog, but in Maze Action (Also known as The Simple 2000 Ultimate Series Vol. 8: Gekitou! Meiro King), I've found a fairly robust challenger to that title. It does fall short, though, in that while playing Maze Action is a completely miserable experience, and it's a pretty cheap-looking title, even for a Simple Series game, it does at least feel like it's just a bad game, and not a personal insult from the developers directed at the player. (Minami no Shima ni Buta Ga Ita really was that bad).

The plot and the mechanics both seem to have been inspired by the popular comic Hunter X Hunter, specifically the hunter exam story arc. You are one of the four of this year's candidates to have reached the final exam at the hero academy, but there can only be one graduate, so you've got to face each other in a contest of skill and strength to determine who that'll be. So single player mode has four stages: you face off against each of the three characters you didn't pick, and then you fight a copy of your own character. It seems likely that there's probably a fifth stage with a final boss character, but you'd honestly need the patience of a saint to bother playing long enough to find out.

The mechanical influence from HxH is also from the hunter exam part, as the contests in which you're place see you running around a maze, trying to be first to find three matching keys and getting to your opponent's starting pad. The twist is that while you need three red keys and your opponent needs three blue, you start with a blue key and they start with a red. So, just like that part on the island where all the hunter candidates have to run around trying to steal each other's number badges, while protecting their own, you will be forced, at some point, to fight your opponent. There are various items littering the mazes, along with the keys. There's weapons, of both melee and projectile varieties, and there's traps. There's also some traps permanently planted around the place, too.

This could have all addedup into a fairly decent game, but the problem is all in the execution. Moving around feels awkward, combat is haphazard and unsatisfying, and it just generally doesn't feel very good to play. It's frustrating, because it also feels like the developers were really inspired and really wanted to make a simplified videogame version of the hunter exam, but they just didn't make it enjoyable to play.

So yeah, Maze Action is a terrible game and you definitely shouldn't play it. But I can see what they were trying to do, at least. That's something, right?

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