10th December 2019: What A Dreadful Dirge
Oh what a journey I've been on trying to find some comfortable way of playing Dirge Of Cerberus. As stated before, I bought this old PS2 game after finding out it was playable with keyboard and mouse. Yet no matter what I did, I could not get the game to play as I wanted it to, either on the emulator or my actual PS2.
Firstly, I tried to get the emulator to work using the game's built in mouse and keyboard functionality, but it just wouldn't have it at all. I even tried other USB plug-ins, that people had reported having some success with in the past, but they wouldn't work on my machine. Maybe they were built for a different OS.
So, just to make sure keyboard and mouse actually worked, I tried the game on my PS2. Sure enough, the controls do work, but the mouse moved so slow I could barely get Vincent to turn with several sweeps across my mouse mat. My newest mouse may have had more success, as it has way more DPI than the crappy mouse I originally tried, but the PS2 would not detect that one. Typical.
So back I went to the emulator for my third attempt at trying to get mouse and keyboard to work. In this attempt, I changed the bindings that were set up for the controller, and rebound them to the keyboard and mouse. Now this way worked, to a degree, as the game assumed it was still picking up commands from a controller. However, it was still impossible to control as using the mouse motion to emulate the analog sticks was all kinds of janky, with delay and weird stuttery movements all over it.
With no choice than to play with a controller, I thought I may as well use the emulator as I could get some screenshots that way. This too caused its own issues. Using the software renderer, the game looks as it originally did, but the frame rate was unbearable, even using all kinds of speed hacks. Using the hardware renderer, I could get the game to run at its original 50fps for the most part, and could crank the graphics quality up. Though this threw up a weird problem with the skydome failing to render properly on the right half of the screen.
In addition, no matter what renderer was being used, most of the cut scenes would display in slow motion. I would understand if the emulator was killing my computer, but the CPU never went above 30%, and the graphics card usage didn't go above 70%, so I have no idea what was going on.
Still, some cut scene slow down didn't really stop me playing the game, so I soldiered on as best I could. But, as I suspected I would, I grew more and more frustrated with trying to play a shooter with a controller, and after the Shelke and Azul battle about a third of the way through the game, I decided to call it quits. I just was not enjoying it at all. The Shelke fight in particular exacerbated the problem, as she could move around way faster than I could even turn the camera, making it really hard to keep track of her.
Though I beat her first time, my shooting accuracy was shocking, and I had to use most of my healing as she could easily hit me as I tried to track the camera around to find out where she was. I just couldn't be arsed to force myself through it, especially not as I originally watched all the cut scenes on the internet a good decade ago.
I desperately needed to finish a game to avoid equalling my worst game-completing year since starting this blog. As the PS2 emulator was warmed up and ready to rock, I checked some lists on the internet to see what other games for that console I had missed, that looked like they might be fun. One such game that popped up on a couple of lists was called What's The Switch?, based on a 2000s cartoon called Kim Possible. I had fairly vague recollections of the cartoon, but thought it would be interesting to pick it up as it had a link to Dirge Of Cerberus, being that Kim's voice actress, Christy Romano, also voiced Yuffie in that game, as well as a lot of other Final Fantasy VII stuff.
So while I might not be able to complete Dirge Of Cerberus, I could definitely give this one a try.
The game is a fairly simple action platformer, though with increasingly frustrating platforming elements. I'm not sure if it was the emulator, my control pad, or just the game itself, but many times when I tried to jump or use the grappling hook, there was a slight delay on the character actually performing the action. It was embarassing, and annoying, to repeatedly just fall off the end of a ledge I was running towards because the character did not jump when I pressed the button, even though she still had a step or two left of ledge space.
As the levels progressed, and more hazards were introduced like lasers to dodge, or moving walls or platforms to jump or swing to, I got more and more cheesed off with the controls.
The fighting parts were more entertaining, if somewhat very simplistic. This is understandable, as this is essentially a kid's game. Even so, if there was a selection of different enemies on screen, who all needed their own techniques to defeat, things could still get a bit challenging. The hardest fighting parts for me were easily when I was trying to fight a bunch of enemies in the foreground, while some untargetable enemies in the background were throwing things at me like grenades or missiles, which were easy to miss as they approached.
It seemed like all the voice actors from the cartoon reprised their voice roles, which was cool, but while it sounded like the cartoon, it really didn't look like it, as the graphics in this thing were shockingly shite. I think they'd tried to make it almost pseudo 3D in appearance, and the way they'd designed the characters in order to accomplish this really spoiled the whole look of the game. They should have really stuck to 2D sprites and made them really match the way they looked in the cartoon.
Still, it's a much needed game done, and one that only took a few hours.
Now, I'd better go and play on my PS4, as I bought it in October and I've not touched it yet.