Bio
ROSS FOUBISTER
DATE OF BIRTH: 12/08/1987
HEIGHT: 6"0'
BLOOD TYPE: [UNKNOWN]
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5★

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Participated in the 2014 Replay Event

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Participated in the 2023 Game of the Year Event

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Submitted feedback for a beta feature

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Participated in the 2022 Game of the Year Event

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Played 500+ games

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Become mutual friends with at least 3 others

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Gained 10+ likes on a single review

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Played 250+ games

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Favorite Games

Super Mario World
Super Mario World
God Hand
God Hand
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

638

Total Games Played

032

Played in 2024

000

Games Backloggd


Recently Played See More

SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash - Capcom Card Fighter's Version
SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters' Clash - Capcom Card Fighter's Version

Jul 15

Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller
Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller

Jun 28

Super Metroid
Super Metroid

Jun 24

Metroid: Zero Mission
Metroid: Zero Mission

Jun 21

Bushido Blade
Bushido Blade

Jun 11

Recently Reviewed See More

I'm going to do something here, and I want you to be okay with it - I'm going to repeatedly praise Card Fighters' Clash with phrases like "simple" and "easy to explain" without bogging down my review by explaining the full ruleset. You want to learn? I guess you're just going to have to play the game.

Depending on your tastes, it's the Neo Geo Pocket's biggest attribute and failing that it's so focused and niche. It doesn't have nearly the variety of the Game Boy, or even the Game Gear (though it's probably doing a little better in this regard than the Lynx). So many of its games are fighting games that use the same spritefields and core gameplay design, and if you're not particularly familiar with each franchise's characters, you'd be struggling to tell one from another. Even the titles that aren't fighting games are typically based on a simple pick-up-and-play arcade series from SNK's roots. In 1999, that wasn't really what most people were buying handhelds for. It was Pokémon or nothing, and SNK didn't have an equivalent. This is easily the best alternative.

Card Fighters' Clash is a trading card game RPG, much like the GBC version of the Pokémon TCG, except the full ruleset of the game has been designed with the limitations of the Neo Geo Pocket's screen in mind. Cards don't come with a lot of statistics and variables. They have a BP number, an SP number, and often, a unique ability. SP are Special Points that allow you to use Action Cards and special abilities, but you constantly need to be adding character cards to the ring to build your total SP. Each player can place three character cards into the ring at a time, and they can attack individually, or use SP to attack as a group. If an attacking card has 500 BP and a defending card has 600 BP, the defender is left with 100 BP and the attacker is knocked out. If there are no cards left in the ring to defend an attack, the BP eats away at the player's total HP until it reaches zero and they lose the game. That make sense? I hope so. You get the hang of things really quickly.

Like the Pokémon TCG videogame, there isn't much of a story or a real adventure here, but the RPG frontend is a fun framing device to explore a bunch of daft characters and locations, and position you against some quite varied opponents. There's a bunch of developer in-jokes and cute references in these locations, with the SNK and Capcom versions of each game tailored more towards fans of each developer. Most excitingly for me, the Capcom version features a recreation of the main hall from Resident Evil 1's Spencer Mansion, and you can card fighter clash against zombies and a character called "Mikami". I tend to spend a lot of my grinding time there.

And there is grind. You win cards by defeating opponents, and the rollout of valuable new cards is pretty slow. Late-game opponents have decks of cards with the kind of BP you really don't see often, and you'll need to win hundreds of hours of fights before you can dream of taking them out. That's okay though. I'm happy to play this game for that long.

Card Fighters Clash is always snappy. That simplicity feeds into the satisfaction of each fight, and the few variables come with a shocking amount of strategic potential. One of my favourite cards in the game is based on Street Fighter III's Oro, with him building BP each time your opponent draws a new card. He only starts with a paltry 300 BP, but if you place him in the ring when your opponent is short on cards, he can become a real monster after a few rounds. Use him well, and he can counter heavy attacks and quietly build BP back up to devastate a few rounds later.

That's the hook. Seeing your opponent playing terrifying cards, and desperately searching your hand to find ways to mitigate their effect. Thanks to the slow rollout of new cards, you'll naturally start collecting a few that you'll learn to really lean on, and it's a thrill each time they're drawn. Only being able to play three characters at a time means you can turn things around pretty quickly when luck's on your side (as well as serving as a cute homage to the King of Fighters games).

Though it's a better fit for a tiny resolution screen than a retrofitted handheld adaptation like the Pokémon TCG, you do feel the limitations. Reorganising your deck can be tedious and unintuitive, browsing through text lists and trying to remember if your new 800 BP card comes from an SNK or Capcom property. There's no easy way to compare your current deck with unused cards, and I've frequently been surprised to find some stinkers still remaining in my deck when I've just given up a far better alternative to make space. It's the one thing that would make the game tough to recommend to those who aren't already familiar with 90s handhelds, even if the rest of it really benefits from the NGPC's limitations.

Those who are drawn in by the game references may be a little miffed with the character selection, here. The roster was built with a fairly narrow and specific view of what each publisher offered, and it's very of its time and arcade-focused. There are a lot of big Capcom games that go entirely unrepresented, and the four Resident Evil 1 and 2 cards do a lot of heavy lifting for my fan service kicks. There's a bunch of characters that, even I, have no idea about whatsoever, though some of the deepcuts are amusingly sourced (there are cards for Retsu and Lee from Street Fighter 1 here). SNK's NGPC artists were next-level talents in working with pixels, and all the cards look great, with a strong sense of consistent exaggeration. Sure, I'd drop some of the Captain Commando and Red Earth cards in favour of some Forgotten Worlds and SNES Aladdin, but I didn't make the call here. And of course, the game's vintage means you're locked out of the characters that were introduced in the 2000s and later. There's no Clover Studio or Monster Hunter stuff in here, and that may be a dealbreaker for a lot of people who actively identify as Capcom Fans.

It doesn't need to lean on fanboy appeal, though. I'd wager that I'd be just as enthusiastic about the game if it featured a roster of stick figures. It's a quirky little NGPC cart that retains its strong pick-up-and-play appeal, long after you've beaten the game's toughest fights. It's so easy to jump back in, and click with the full depth of its gameplay, even years after you last touched it. I really like having it as a NGPC cartridge, as it always gives me a good reason to go back to my old handheld (in a way that my Game Boy Color currently struggles to do), but having it available on the Switch, it remains one of the strongest options in the hundreds of potential games swamping my All Software page. It's something I can turn to, out of the blue, instantly feel the very depth of its potent gameplay, and get sucked right back in. I recently played this on a plane journey, and I happily could have spent another six hours in that cramped little chair.

Crazy Taxi is a bit of an awkward game. That core idea - of picking up passengers and delivering them to their destinations as quickly and excitingly as possible - is pretty strong. In execution though, there's a lot of little flaws that converge to hold it back from being something really special. Familiarising yourself with the cities is pretty crucial for chasing those S-ranks, but it also breaks the game a little. The passengers remain the same each time the world is generated, and you can stick to fairly easy paths. The first game has a big zig-zaggy hill section that the timer overcompensates for, and you can completely exploit it to extend your session and get some easy journeys clocked up. It's just a bit too wonky and unbalanced to impress the 80s arcade snobs, but it wasn't targeting that audience. Crazy Taxi was big, brash, loud and relentlessly stupid. It was also a real stunner if you ever had the good fortune to encounter a cabinet back in 1999 (I did! Thanks, London Gatwick Airport!), and the arcade perfect Dreamcast port was an easy go-to if you were among those who bought the console for quick, punchy thrills. The divisive Offspring soundtrack may be seen by many as a mark against the game today, but for a 12 year-old who was magnetically drawn to loud guitar songs full of sound effects and hilarious Rob Schneider quotes, it was a dream.

I can't really remember when I bought my PS2 copy. I think it was very cheap at the time, but still pre-Vice City. On the high of GTA3 representing a huge revolution in game design, I was hungry to gobble up anything that gave you free rein over a city. Crazy Taxi kind of did that job, but more crucially, it served as the exact mid-point between GTA3 and SSX Tricky, which was what I really wanted from games around 2002-2003. It wasn't a freeroaming adventure, and the real meat of the game was found in the "Crazy Box" mode, which threw you headfirst into the surprising intricacy of the game's mechanics through a series of incredibly demanding challenges. Crazy Taxi isn't a perfect game, but it's not nearly as shallow as the credit it's given.

Crazy Taxi 3 speaks to the scattershot energy that Microsoft charged into the console market with. Sega were out of the game, leaving a lot of cheap properties on the floor to mop up with some light shmoozing. The game feels like something an executive asked for during a 30 minute meeting and never thought about again. It's all the content from the first two games (which unlike some recent ports, includes all the branding and music), and an all-new Las Vegas-themed city on top. It's a cheap, cheerful package, and it often gets ignored. Crazy Taxi 1 is a ubiquitous Dreamcast title, and it's been ported to everything, so most folk are happy to stick with that to get their fix, and fair enough. It's also the only game free of some of the controversial changes that the sequels brought in.

Crazy Taxi 2 introduced the "Crazy Hop" - a jump button that you can press at any time to access shortcuts and get effortless tips from your passengers. It dumbs things down a fair bit, but it's also something of a necessity if they're going to make Crazy Taxi games that aren't set in San Francisco. Crazy Taxi 3 introduces the ability to pick up whole parties of passengers, each with their own destinations. It doesn't really make a substantive change to the gameplay, and it doesn't seem terribly well implemented. Each time I pick up a party, it seems they're upset with how long my journeys take, and there doesn't appear to be much reward for opting for them over single passengers. When I really started chasing those S-ranks, I'd skip over any group, and spend whatever time I had searching for a single passenger instead. I always seemed to do better with that strategy.

This is all fine and well, but both 3 and 2's mechanics have been retrofitted into the earlier games' content, so 3 gives you a slightly less even version of 1 with a bunch of duff passengers you're better off avoiding. I can see fans ignoring 3 out of principle. How dare they tinker with the sanctity of Crazy Taxi? Yes, I'm being facetious, because these games have never been all that tightly designed, and adding some new bells and whistles to it is largely harmless. Jumping on rooftops and finding new shortcuts is fun. I can't really make much of a defense for Crazy Taxi 3's party system, but at least it provides the games with a new suite of silly voiceclips to enjoy. From a 2024 perspective, the idea of someone ordering a taxi to go to HMV is very funny.

High Roller isn't that solid a package, but it's the only Crazy Taxi game that offers you a lot to play. And it remains fun. Getting into that groove of chasing higher scores and refining your routes remains fun, and if you're an old weeb, how many other options have you got to justify owning an Xbox? I'm pretty weary of Sega's insistance that they're reviving the series with a "triple A" release, but fuck it. Crazy Taxi isn't sacred, and the designers could do with sweating a little more over the formula. The clever clogs may resent the jump button, but take a look in the mirror before you act like it's worth a YouTube rant.

THE LAST METROID IS IN CAPTIVITY
THE GALAXY IS AT PEACE

I very much doubt that I'm the first person to start a Super Metroid review with that quote, but it's a great set up. Not only does it introduce two facts about this world that are about to smash out the containment unit, and shoot right out the fucking window, but it does so in a technical marvel of an introductory sequence, showcasing techniques you didn't even imagine your SNES was capable of. At that moment, you realise that you have no idea what this game is going to be. You dive into the unknown.

You land on Zebes. Sky filled with lightning. You head inside the first cave and travel deeper underground. Strange alien bugs in the foreground, scuttling out of frame as soon as they pan in. SNES transparency clouds obscuring the ominous platforms. You soon find yourself back in the opening area from Metroid 1, taking small comfort in the familiarity, but there's now security cameras tracking your movement. Something else has been here.

I sometimes get asked which game I play. These are the folk who just play CoD or FIFA, and the concept of being generally interested in games has never even entered their imagination as a possibility. I should just tell them "Super Metroid", though. Because it's all Super Metroid. Metal Gear, Half-Life, Resident Evil, Zelda, ICO... just different flavours of the same thing. And that core concept - exploring intimidating locations, gaining abilities, and progressing on the back of your own ingenuity and dexterity - is so rich here. I don't think it's ever been this pure. Though the game's much more manageable with modern convenience like portability and save states, it's really begging to be played on a SNES connected to a 4:3 CRT; the phosphorescence glowing through those monitors on the title screen. Some of the most striking experiences in the game are in those moments where you're weighing up the unknown threat that's lurking ahead against your willingness to travel back to a save point. You think you've played Super Metroid on your fucking telephone? Get real. You want to play this alone in a little square room. Draw the curtains and close that fucking door.

Super Metroid is far more intimidating without save states. You're denying yourself so much by leaning on them. Erase that option and you immediately feel the danger. The game's full of narrow corridors and shafts, but see when you enter an open area on your last bar of health? You feel so fucking vulnerable. And those save points? They don't regenerate health or ammunition. Welcome to the world of survival horror.

You frequently enter areas with no idea how you'll get back. Dropping down huge pits or walking through instant-locking doors that can only be opened from one side. Dread and regret. This is the sensation of exploration without precedent. You don't know if someone can survive here. If you've gone too far. Sure, this is a Nintendo Video Game, but it's unlike anything you'd typically associate with that. Thanks to the open-ended design and single save slot, you can utterly fuck yourself here. Venturing into locations that you're not equipped for, and effectively trapping yourself there. It happened to me, this time. I went to Maridia without the Gravity Suit, and saved mid-way. It threatened my entire playthrough, and I had to drag myself out of there with a very precise sequence of six well-placed wall-jumps (if you've never played Super Metroid before, you have no idea how much harder this is than your post-Mario Sunshine reference points would have you believe). It was a miserable experience, but I gained a respect for the threat the game held if I wasn't careful enough in how I explored. They never allow this kind of dynamic in commercial software any more. These are colours that game designers have stopped painting with. We've all become fat and entitled. Super Metroid is your grandfather's formative camping trip as a SNES cartridge.

The sound design in this game is unbelievable. The second you enter Norfair, you feel like you've just walked into hell. The suffocating, rhythmic beeping as you view the pause screen, reinforcing the omnipresence of utilitarian space tech. The strange organic, bubbling noises as you approach Mother Brain. The SNES's audio was a big feature of the console, but its sample support was primarily used to create a suite of synthesisers. Super Metroid prioritises ambience and atmosphere over toe-tappers, and there's a great deal of attention poured into the strange sounds of Zebes.

Something that I think is lost on the later games is that areas in Super Metroid are frequently unspectacular. Boring, drab, flat. That's a feature. There's no less effort in selecting the colours of these pixels than the ones that comprise Samus's heroic Gunship. Super Metroid feels like digging your way through abandoned space caves, until you stumble on something especially strange or ceremonial, and the contrast is striking. Super Metroid is happy to get weird. The b-plot is about getting your revenge on the purple pterodactyl that killed your parents. Of course he has his own demon temple.

A lot gets made of the game's fussy controls. I make a lot of the game's fussy controls. Playing on the SNES shook off a lot of my modern sensibilities, though, and I only counted one time in the game where a wall-jump is mandatory. If you're a big pissy pants, you can use a guide to make sure you never wade too far in the deep end of the game. But past the opening hour, the game didn't feel half as daunting as I'd feared. Only one boss took me more than two attempts, and that can likely be blamed on how little time I'd spent searching for optional upgrades until then. I didn't have to push myself to enjoy this experience. I was cursing how much of this approach has been lost in modern game design.

I just love being inside these kinds of games. Where you're becoming more intimately familiar with the larger map each time you play, and still thinking about it when you're away from it. I went right from NSO Zero Mission to original hardware Super, and I didn't trust myself to stick around until the ending, but I never wanted to let go. I think I'm good now, though. I'm pretty sure Mother Brain blew up properly this time. I think I'm ready to back to games that aren't just a different shade of Super Metroid again. Why should I fucking bother, though?