What's more surprising to me is that all of that took only 80 hours. My brother beat FFX recently doing only some of the sidequests and it took him 100+ hours.
In other news, PN 03
is out of the way. Screw that game. I enjoyed it for about 5 minutes. For the first quarter of the game, I couldn't tell if I liked it or not because, frankly, I sucked at it. Once I realized that ducking, y'know, existed, I actually got quite good at it, and that's where those five minutes took place. After those five minutes was up, it was boring boring boring boring.
I'm probably the hugest Shinobi fan ever and I
thought the environments on PN 03 were boring and repetative. Enough to put me off playing more than an hour or so at a time. And I hated how the actual stages felt more like intermissions between those godawful trial missions. I mean, one of the stages was like five rooms!
The game also desperately needed a radar. I understand that the tank controls was a concious design decision, and I think with some tweaking it could make for a cool game BUT the fact is that Vanessa just can't look around/move fast enough to keep track of all the enemies appearing in a room, not to mention all the projectiles they'll be firing at you. A radar would've solved this.
And this game made me hate upgrades pretty much in all games. What is the point of making the player, say, buy that next suit of armor in an RPG when the next set of enemies will just get proportionally stronger? That's what PN 03 does. At the end I had the highest attack power suit in the game fully upgraded and the enemies took just as long to kill as they did right in the beginning with the original suit. But you had to do it, or else you'd be rediculously weak.
(As and aside, I've noticed that RPGs have been learning their lesson in this regard. FFX, for instance, eliminated "stronger weapons/armor". Each piece of equipment had certain characteristics, and could be customized. Xenosaga 2 got rid of all equipment aside from accessories as well IIRC.)
I also take issue with the grading system in the game. After I got my legs at the game, I would run through comboing regularly, dying never and occasionally getting no hit clears. And the game usually gave me an Amateur or Rookie ranking Strangely, this strategy always got me a Professional rank on the trial missions. Now in the 9th, 10th and 11th stages, after I was getting tired of the game, I ran through recklessly, skipping lots of bad guys altogether and dying frequently (wasn't a problem considering I had about 30 continues saved up). What ranking did I get for those 3 missions? Destroyer of course.
And just a little nitpick, but since the game has such a strong emphasis on dancing, I really wish Vanessa had more moves. Not actual moves per se, but like, more poses when she shot at enemies, and multiple animations for dodging and whatnot. Not a huge deal, but it would add to the whole dancing thing.
I admit that I'm probably doubly (is that a word?) down on this game because it was one half of the Gamecube Holy Grail for me (the other being Gotcha Force, which I still haven't found.). Hearing about it in writing made it one of my biggest must-haves for the system. Being disappointed like this has a way of greatly magnifying any ill will I might've normally felt toward the game.
I will say this though. I thoroughly enjoyed the last boss, which is saying something, considering my attitude of "this game is trash" at the time I fought him. Had I been in a better mood, I'd venture to say that I would have loved
the last boss. It's a shame that the rest of the game couldn't be as tightly exciting.
Also, a cool observation. Did anyone else notice that the music for when you play as HUNK in Resident Evil 4 comes from level 8 of this game? Makes me wish they had put Vanessa in Mercenaries too.
(Wow, that's a long post.)