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GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Let's Play Malice

Malice is a 3D platformer with a bit of a history. It was in development for four years, starting way back on the PS1, and went through countless changes before its release. At one point it was even meant to feature Gwen Stefani's voice and music. But as with many other of Argonaut's plans, that too fell through. Why do you need to know this? Because I believe it puts things into perspective when I tell you the game tanked.

While the turbulent development no doubt had its role to play in Malice's reception, I feel the biggest culprit was a changing medium. This game had no horrendously offensive game design, or bugs, or even outdated graphics, but it was thoroughly mediocre. By the time it was released, the world had moved on, and what Malice put on the table wasn't as appetizing as it would've been four years ago. This was the last game Argonaut developed, and in spite of everything I just said, I consider it to be their magnum opus.

So it does have things worth sharing?

That depends on who you are. There are a lot of things I find interesting about it. There's the ancient platforming game design, awkwardly simplistic combat, under-utilized and over-powered magical abilities, confusing pacing, humorous voice acting, and most importantly... surrealistic atmosphere. If there's a good reason to get lost in the Malice, it's how bizarre and transient the universe is. Everything from the backdrops to the characters is hazy and dream-like, with the tone constantly struggling to balance a twisted, forgotten fairytale and questionable humor.

But is it fun?

If you're playing it solely for the gameplay? No, probably not. It does some things right, though. There's variety in locations and objectives, some serviceable boss battles.. but it's all so predictable. You should play Malice for its pretty wrappings, or not at all.

The game's atmosphere really means that much to you?

Yeah, pretty much. I'd even call it a personal classic. The best thing is that the actual game part doesn't get in the way of me enjoying it. No spoilers please.

Videos

















GamesAreSupernice fucked around with this message at 21:48 on Aug 17, 2017

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Space Kablooey
May 6, 2009





4:50: No ring.

Carbon dioxide
Oct 9, 2012



HardDiskD posted:

4:50: No ring.

I was going to say that.

Also, which goon worked on this game? They said "Something Awful" twice in a short period of time.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Carbon dioxide posted:

which goon worked on this game? They said "Something Awful" twice in a short period of time.

Goons could be anywhere, they may even be someone you love

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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I've accidentally strewn my babies across the cavern

Geostomp
Oct 22, 2008

Unite: MASH!!
~They've got the bad guys on the run!~

I remember seeing this game a lot in on Gamestop shelves back in the day. Was always a little curious.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Geostomp posted:

I remember seeing this game a lot in on Gamestop shelves back in the day. Was always a little curious.

I suppose the box-art isn't so hot.

Chimera-gui
Mar 20, 2014


This is a game I remember seeing on X-Play/GameSpot TV/Extended Play years ago but never saw anything come of it. It'll be interesting to see what this game is about.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Chimera-gui posted:

This is a game I remember seeing on X-Play/GameSpot TV/Extended Play years ago but never saw anything come of it. It'll be interesting to see what this game is about.

Let me know if you find out what it's about.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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You've got a cuckoo in your clock

BioEnchanted
Aug 9, 2011

He plays for the dreamers that forgot how to dream, and the lovers that forgot how to love.

I got at least this far as I remember that hammer being really cool. I love the way it animates as you swipe it.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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BioEnchanted posted:

I got at least this far as I remember that hammer being really cool. I love the way it animates as you swipe it.

You also played Vexx, so I'm starting to think this was your market. I'm waiting for confirmation that you've played Voodoo Vince and Raze's Hell.

BioEnchanted
Aug 9, 2011

He plays for the dreamers that forgot how to dream, and the lovers that forgot how to love.

I didn't beat either of them. I got stuck at Vexx's final boss and stopped Malice shortly after this point. I also played the beginning of Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles, and liked the aesthetic but that one was just too hard.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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BioEnchanted posted:

I didn't beat either of them. I got stuck at Vexx's final boss and stopped Malice shortly after this point. I also played the beginning of Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles, and liked the aesthetic but that one was just too hard.

Do you recall why you stopped Malice? It's one of the easier games I've played.

BioEnchanted
Aug 9, 2011

He plays for the dreamers that forgot how to dream, and the lovers that forgot how to love.

I think I just lost interest after the clockwork world. Can't remember why.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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BioEnchanted posted:

I think I just lost interest after the clockwork world. Can't remember why.

I'm fairly certain I know why. You'll be reliving it shortly.

BioEnchanted
Aug 9, 2011

He plays for the dreamers that forgot how to dream, and the lovers that forgot how to love.

I think overall my favourite thing about old average/below-average quality games that aren't hilariously bad is the sense of discovery. You are seeing levels that there are no youtube videos of, maybe one half-written gamefaqs guide, but it's mostly your experience. Until you bite the bullet and LP it, it's like a little secret between you and a long-dead developer, where you can note "Wow, this level is interestingly designed, even if the platforming is overly awkward. I still want to see the levels ahead, so I'll push on."

Really bad games get hundreds of people ironically LPing them, like Sonic 06, really good games get thousands of people making gifs and discussing them, but average games feel like the electronic equivalent of archaeology - a forgotten piece of history that gives context to a greater whole.

BioEnchanted fucked around with this message at 18:51 on Aug 4, 2017

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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BioEnchanted posted:

I think overall my favourite thing about old average/below-average quality games that aren't hilariously bad is the sense of discovery. You are seeing levels that there are no youtube videos of, maybe one half-written gamefaqs guide, but it's mostly your experience. Until you bite the bullet and LP it, it's like a little secret between you and a long-dead developer, where you can note "Wow, this level is interestingly designed, even if the platforming is overly awkward. I still want to see the levels ahead, so I'll push on."

Really bad games get hundreds of people ironically LPing them, like Sonic 06, really good games get thousands of people making gifs and discussing them, but average games feel like the electronic equivalent of archaeology - a forgotten piece of history that gives context to a greater whole.

That's generally how I feel about that kind of experience, though occasionally I've LPed games that were seemingly too frustrating for anyone else to stomach until that point, so mediocrity isn't the only way to reach that sensation.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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That's the stench of discovery.

Chimera-gui
Mar 20, 2014


Why does the Juju Man sound like Etemon from the English dub of Digimon Adventure? For context, here is Etemon AKA Richard Epcar who also voices Myotismon in the dub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULmOKB3j3q8

Chimera-gui fucked around with this message at 21:06 on Aug 5, 2017

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Chimera-gui posted:

Why does the Juju Man sound like Etemon from the English dub of Digimon Adventure? For context, here is Etemon AKA Richard Epcar who also voices Myotismon in the dub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULmOKB3j3q8

I suppose he's meant to sound like a stereotypical "funky" person. I thought more of Johnny Bravo, but I think they both have roots in a specific part of American culture I can't recall.

thorf
Jun 26, 2013


You mentioned ripping the game's music. I took a look at that, and I couldn't figure out how to extract those files. I've only gotten far enough to get a file listing of the files in the game. Here's an excerpt. https://pastebin.com/CU6BC8MX

Stuff I've figured out so far:
I think the game runs on the Croc 2 engine. (GamesAreSupernice, do you know whether this is right?)
extract-xiso can get the intro/outro cinematics, but every other interesting file is inside some kind of custom archive format.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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thorf posted:

You mentioned ripping the game's music. I took a look at that, and I couldn't figure out how to extract those files. I've only gotten far enough to get a file listing of the files in the game. Here's an excerpt. https://pastebin.com/CU6BC8MX

Stuff I've figured out so far:
I think the game runs on the Croc 2 engine. (GamesAreSupernice, do you know whether this is right?)
extract-xiso can get the intro/outro cinematics, but every other interesting file is inside some kind of custom archive format.

Malice did start development on a modified version of the Croc 2 engine, back on the PS1.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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He looks like a snuggly monster

Chimera-gui
Mar 20, 2014


To be fair it's actually not that uncommon to release games for a newly obsolete system, specifically third party games, especially during the transitional period between systems.

The best recent example I can think is Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which was released for the Wii U with a Switch port being released several months later.

Space Kablooey
May 6, 2009





In regards to the game showing really obvious stuff, I have to wonder if their target audience are really kids that haven't played many videogames in the past.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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HardDiskD posted:

In regards to the game showing really obvious stuff, I have to wonder if their target audience are really kids that haven't played many videogames in the past.

With a Teen rating and the game's style of humor, I wouldn't think so. Even if it were geared toward children new to games, "Hit the boss with your hammer" is tragically unhelpful.


Chimera-gui posted:

To be fair it's actually not that uncommon to release games for a newly obsolete system, specifically third party games, especially during the transitional period between systems.

The best recent example I can think is Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which was released for the Wii U with a Switch port being released several months later.

I do think there is a difference in releasing a long-anticipated game or something from a series with a strong fan-base. I did list Ultimate Battle 22 for that reason.

Space Kablooey
May 6, 2009





GamesAreSupernice posted:

With a Teen rating and the game's style of humor, I wouldn't think so. Even if it were geared toward children new to games, "Hit the boss with your hammer" is tragically unhelpful.

Ratings mean jack poo poo, though. Malice's era is the era where parents were clueless as to what they actually meant, and it's not like people understand them today, if we are being honest. Plus, it's not like people only start video gaming when they are at the ERSB's E level.

The style of humor I can chalk it up for the writers wanting to have something for the parents that are in the room together with the kid. Note that I'm not saying that it has any humor for the kid or for the supposed parent.

I will give you the last one, though. If someone has stuck around for this long in this game then they should already know that you have to apply hammer to enemy.


As for Malice's VA I wonder if she was supposed to be voiced by Gwen Stefani but they had to scramble to find a replacement VA and just grabbed the one girl that showed up for the audition or something. I'll give you that the level design is unispired as all hell, but the world has so much charm, which is then promptly drained by that VA.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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HardDiskD posted:

Ratings mean jack poo poo, though. Malice's era is the era where parents were clueless as to what they actually meant, and it's not like people understand them today, if we are being honest. Plus, it's not like people only start video gaming when they are at the ERSB's E level.

The style of humor I can chalk it up for the writers wanting to have something for the parents that are in the room together with the kid. Note that I'm not saying that it has any humor for the kid or for the supposed parent.

I will give you the last one, though. If someone has stuck around for this long in this game then they should already know that you have to apply hammer to enemy.


As for Malice's VA I wonder if she was supposed to be voiced by Gwen Stefani but they had to scramble to find a replacement VA and just grabbed the one girl that showed up for the audition or something. I'll give you that the level design is unispired as all hell, but the world has so much charm, which is then promptly drained by that VA.

There are a few jokes we haven't seen yet that I'm referring to in particular. I do wonder how an 8-10 kid would react to this game though. Being exposed to media like this at that age is why I like games like this to begin with.

I am in love with Malice's world, to be sure, and I'm relieved other people understand why the titular character kills it. They did have to replace several actors, including a last minute replacement on the guy voicing the grim reaper, which is why his audio in particular is so out of sync.

Chimera-gui
Mar 20, 2014


GamesAreSupernice posted:

I do think there is a difference in releasing a long-anticipated game or something from a series with a strong fan-base. I did list Ultimate Battle 22 for that reason.

Fair point though Shantae as a franchise is more niche than Dragon Ball. I do think HGH deserves credit for being one of the more overall successful games funded by Kickstarter though.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Chimera-gui posted:

Fair point though Shantae as a franchise is more niche than Dragon Ball. I do think HGH deserves credit for being one of the more overall successful games funded by Kickstarter though.

Shantae's success is unexpected, but I'm thankful for it. Wayforward deserves attention for its IPs.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Lush scenery, beautiful flowing rivers

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Burning fire of heat crow

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Doggone it

BioEnchanted
Aug 9, 2011

He plays for the dreamers that forgot how to dream, and the lovers that forgot how to love.

I liked the idea of that ending, it could have shown Malice's full power as she restored all life to her world. Just a little more oomph and it could have been kinda majestic, even games with stories steeped in irony need a little sincerity to solidify their foundation and let you actually get into the characters.

Tombot
Oct 21, 2008


I'm having a hard time summerising this plot, its just a smorgasboard of half-baked ideas.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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BioEnchanted posted:

I liked the idea of that ending, it could have shown Malice's full power as she restored all life to her world. Just a little more oomph and it could have been kinda majestic, even games with stories steeped in irony need a little sincerity to solidify their foundation and let you actually get into the characters.

The cinematic does seem rather underwhelming.


Tombot posted:

I'm having a hard time summerising this plot, its just a smorgasboard of half-baked ideas.

The game went through countless story revisions over the years, leaving us with something far more simple than originally intended, but still without sufficient explanation.

Mraagvpeine
Nov 4, 2014

I won this avatar on a technicality this thick.

Maybe I missed it, but what happened to the last 4 heart things? You ended the game with 96/100 of them.

GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Mraagvpeine posted:

Maybe I missed it, but what happened to the last 4 heart things? You ended the game with 96/100 of them.

I'll be getting the final four in an Extra video. They're not in the main game, so to speak.

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GamesAreSupernice
Jan 3, 2014

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Just one more dip

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