Zone of the Enders

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Zone of the Enders

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 3:29 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Zone of the Enders for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by skatecats » January 17th, 2018, 9:51 pm

Zone of the Enders, holds a dear place in my heart. It was the first game I picked up for the PS2 and also the first game I bought with my own money ( I was 10 at the time), and to top it off, it was my first introduction to the mind of Hideo Kojima, more on that later. I bought the game without knowing anything about it, I just thought the cover art was really cool and I was going through a mecha anime phase at that time in my life. Jehuty, I think is the coolest mech design to appear in any medium of entertainment, it was love at first site.

The story, while not terribly unique, was well executed with memorable cutscenes that blew me away at the time, and fun dialogue exchanges between A.D.A and Leo, even though the voice acting was laugh out loud cheesy at some times, it added to the overall charm of the experience. It was clear where the influences came from with elements of Robotech, Gundam, and Neon Genesis, and the game seemed to proudly display it. It is certainly Kojima's love letter to the mecha genre.

As for the gameplay, it's kind of a mixed bag for me. I absolutely adored the combat, Jehuty has some of the flashiest move sets I've seen in a game of that generation (my favorite being the giant energy ball attack), only matched by the Devil May Cry and God of War series. While the combat was very fun and engaging, some of the encounters lasted a bit too long, which made it slightly repetitive, the lack of enemy variety didn't help either. The bosses however, were an absolute blast and were all vastly different in terms of how you had to approach the combat. Overall the combat is extremely satisfying.

The experience out of combat is a different story. Making your way through the environments is bland and could get very boring, very fast, you felt like a butterfly flying around rather than a badass super mech. The hub world, however, is a better experience. I loved flying around the space station and taking in the sights as the art direction in the game is excellent. I also couldn't believe that games were capable of such a massive, open environment at the time. You definitely got the feeling that you were the protector of the space station and felt your importance to everyone in it

Once I beaten ZOE, I popped in the bundled MGS2 demo disk. I had never heard of the Metal Gear series up to that point and didn't know what I was in for. I was blown away. As I mentioned above, ZOE was my first introduction to Kojima, I thoroughly enjoyed ZOE but the MGS 2 demo sealed the deal, I was a Kojima fan. I wasn't a big gamer by any means at the time until I stumbled upon two games that got me seriously into the hobby. Metal Gear and Halo. ZOE started my interest in space operas, which directly influenced me to pick up Halo, while my experience with the MGS2 demo disk showed me the possibilities of storytelling in gaming. In short I wouldn't have become the gamer I am today without Zone of the Enders.

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Re: 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by Simonsloth » February 6th, 2018, 10:40 am

In a time when disposable income was a distant dream I had to rely on birthday and Christmas presents for my next game. It was with a feeling of sacrifice that I chose this game for the sole reason that it was bundled with the metal gear solid tanker demo.

I think I replayed that demo more than any other game and learnt every nook and cranny. Zone of the Enders on the other hand was an afterthought. Many months later an inconceivable thing happened, I had nothing to play so with the promise of a Kojima produced robot fighting game I tried zone of the Enders.

Mediocre would be the best way of describing my opinion of it then. The gameplay options seemed limited, the story was very loose to put it kindly and it was a very short experience. The moment to moment gameplay was exciting at first but quickly became repetitive and I really felt that Kojima’s name on it to add buzz rather than because he had any genuine input. I suspect I’m wrong but it certainly felt that way.

Playing it again recently I feel it’s brevity, limited gameplay options and repetition are even less forgiveable. At a quick glance it looks exciting to the casual observer but it really isn’t for the player.

3 word review:
Needs more Kojima

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Re: 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by Flabyo » February 6th, 2018, 6:00 pm

The sequel is much the better game, and I plan to one day inflict its awesome atonal singing theme tune on sound of play.

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Re: 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by Simonsloth » February 8th, 2018, 8:13 pm

I remember the sequel being much better. I wonder if it’ll hold up to scrutiny on replaying it

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Re: 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by ashman86 » March 1st, 2018, 9:45 pm

In June 2001, I was working my first-ever job as a games attendant at a local amusement park. I was 15 years old, finally earning some disposable income of my own, and still reeling from the untimely demise of the Sega Dreamcast. Until this point in time, I had only ever owned PC and SEGA gaming hardware, and I was coming to grips with the fact that I'd have to branch out into other console spaces after years of staunchly defending the House of Sonic from my misguided friends at school.

Naturally, I stepped into the embrace of the Dreamcast-killer itself, and I'd saved up enough money to buy not one but two brand new games to play on my shin-, er, matte-black-with-a-pretty-blue-LED PS2. Dark Cloud was at the top of my wishlist for current releases, but my most anticipated title for the system was none other than Metal Gear Solid 2. Since it wasn't out yet, I did the next best thing and spent $50 on the recently released demo disc that just so happened to include a copy of a bizarre mech game starring a teenaged anime boy: Zone of the Enders.

Now at the time, my slightly younger sister had a boyfriend whom she'd met online playing Phantasy Star Online (that's a whole other story), and he was staying with us for a week. This is important because it was his presence that has forever colored my memories of ZOE. He was a year younger than I, but he'd already had his PS2 since launch and had long since completed and set aside ZOE and the MGS2 demo disc. He also had a certain competitive streak about him, particularly as it pertained to our shared hobby of video games, and he and I came to view one another as rivals. It was friendly enough of a rivalry, but a rivalry all the same.

Excited to see that ZOE had a 2-payer versus mode in the game, I asked him to go a few rounds with me. He destroyed me! Time and again; I could barely get a hit in. Having sufficiently schooled me, he then tossed the controller casually aside and left with an arrogant laugh.

I was seething.

The next day, my sister, our parents, and her boyfriend left the house to show him around town, but I stayed at home, locked up in my room, playing ZOE on the hardest difficulty of the game. I was mostly pleased to discover a flashy and stylistic action title with a largely forgettable story, which I found strange considering Kojima' s involvement. Looking back on it now, I can remember only the rather emotional and whiny protagonist whose demeanor another friend and I would joke was entirely at odds with Dark Cloud's similarly aged Toan. Oh, and one other thing: I remember the game's cliffhanger ending and its anticlimactic battle with Anubis that I'd never resolve as I'd lost interest by the time ZOE2 released.

What I remember most vividly is that when my family returned, I immediately challenged my sister's boyfriend to a rematch. He smirked at me, brushing aside a long black tuft of hair from his eye. "Okay," he said with irritating hubris.

I was untouchable, bouncing around the screen at lightning speed, closing in for melee damage and dashing away unscathed. I beat him once, a flawless victory. And then again. And a third time.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster," wrote Nietzche. I'd like to report here that I was a bigger person, but that's not the case. After all, I, too, was an insufferable teenager, and now it was my turn to be smug.

I smiled at the guy. "Do you want to play another one?"

He dropped my controller onto the chair as he stood up. "How lame," he said. "You spent ALL day practicing this game just so you could beat me."

He was right, and I knew it. It took some of the wind out of my sails, but not all of it. Because even now I can't tell the story without a stupid grin on my face.

So, yeah, Zone of the Enders was all right. But that Metal Gear demo was worth every penny.

Three-word review:
Fifty-dollar demo

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Re: Our next-but-one podcast recording (2.6.18) - 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by Mr Ixolite » May 28th, 2018, 2:12 pm

I am not a Metal Gear fan, I’m probably in the minority that bought this game with no interest in the fabled MGS2 demo. Ironically, Zone of the Enders almost felt like a glorified demo itself, and not just due to the surprisingly short length. Not only do the environments and challenges feel limited, the story itself feels like a prologue that ends just as the world seems ready to open up. The first time I beat the game I was left in disbelief- surely this couldn’t be it? Surely you could visit new places, and take the fight to the bad guys?
Its meager length will always be the defining facet of the original Zone of the Enders to me, but the fact that I bought the game used softened the blow. Plus, by the time I got it, The Second Runner was only a few months away.

And for all its shortcomings, Zone of The Enders ultimately did leave me excited for the sequel. Most of that can be attributed to the controls for Jehuty, as it was insanely satisfying to dash, slash, and blast your around the battlefield. Jehutys design is striking, and its animation makes it even cooler – my favourite little touch is how it scates along flat surfaces, leaving sparks and trails in its wake. The games story and characters are not exactly groundbreaking, but the presentation of them was good enough that the death of Viola felt like it had some weight to it. And due to the abrupt "to be continued" ending, I was left wanting more of this universe.

Ultimately theres little reason to play the first ZOE with the second game available, but its worth noting that much of what made the sequel great was already present here. This includes the surprisingly addictive versus mode, and a gloriously cheesy theme song that somehow found its way to my Discman.

3 word review: Proof Of Concept

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Re: Our next podcast recording (2.6.18) - 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by KSubzero1000 » May 31st, 2018, 3:54 pm

Zone of the Enders is a game I wish was better than it is. Let's start with the numerous positives.

The design of the various mechs is one of this game's strongest qualities. Each of them is wonderfully distinct, organically combining elements of futuristic high-tech science-fiction with Egyptian mythology. The legendary Yoji Shinkawa definitely struck gold with this one. Their animations are also excellent: seeing Jehuty twisting and turning in the air while dodging enemy fire, scratching the ground after a nosedive, or leaning forward in a more aerodynamic position while dashing is a very satisfying experience. The environmental design is striking, if not very detailed, and the technical similarities to MGS2's engine make me all giddy inside.

Likewise, the combat is really solid. It doesn't have quite as much depth or variety as I would like, but the animations are very satisfying and punchy, the enemy tells are easily readable and their attack patterns remain constantly fair throughout. I also very much appreciate the fluidity of the control scheme. Fully three-dimensional movement is a notoriously difficult thing to recreate with two-dimensional input methods such as conventional controllers, but this game gets it right for the most part thanks to its two dedicated verticality buttons. Even during the most frenetic battles, I rarely lose my sense of orientation and can instantly tell which way is up and where the various enemies are located. I have a soft spot for idiosyncratic but functional control schemes and this one definitely works for me.

The bosses are all enjoyable to fight and constitute the highlights of this game in my opinion. You can even see trace elements of the "dramatic enemy squad" trope associated with MGS in them, although they're unfortunately nowhere near as fully developed as FOXHOUND or Dead Cell, for example.

Pacing and structure is where things start to take a wrong turn, however. Much has been said about this game's short length, but that is not inherently an issue for me. Different design philosophies benefit from different playtimes, and brevity is often the soul of wit after all. Unfortunately, it's this game's insistence on padding out said playtime with pointlessly obscure backtracking that sours me on it. I don't mind backtracking as long as it's properly implemented like in Metroid for example, but here it seems to me like the developers had to craft an entire game with only a quarter of the ideal number of levels. Constantly flying back and forth between similar looking areas in order to pick up various MacGuffins does not exactly provide satisfying pacing. I think the issue would have been lessened if the game's scope had been reduced to a district or two instead of pretending to encompass the entire colony.

In my recent playthrough, I made the crucial mistake of taking a lengthy break during a particularly disorientating sequence, which forced me to resort to a guide when I went back to it two weeks later. The last third of the game composed of the enemy gauntlet in the mountain area followed by various cutscenes and boss fights then ended up being by far the most enjoyable part of the experience. I think my overall opinion would be significantly more positive if the entire game was as tightly polished.

The story mostly feels like a half-baked afterthought, although there are a handful of nice moments towards the end where the influence of some of the MGS co-writers shines through.

Mech-related fiction is an oddly underrepresented genre in action games, with only FROM's Armored Core being the other standout franchise that comes to mind. As the predecessor of its vastly superior sequel and the foundation of a promising series, Z.O.E. is a rather attractive proof of concept, but I wish it was better able to stand on its own two pointy feet as a standalone video game.

Three Word Review: "Viola: Jupiter Descending"

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Re: Our next podcast recording (2.6.18) - 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by Sam_What » June 1st, 2018, 6:40 pm

It's difficult to separate the original Zone of the Enders from it's sublime sequel; ZOE 1 is indeed the awkward but rich foundation for what was to come.
I got my hands on this game in my mid-teens, around 2008, well after its release and even after completing The Second Runner. Contrary to many, and despite these circumstances, I highly enjoyed Zone of the Enders on its own merits.

Though the combat is shy in comparison to its fitter sequel, no other series can deliver the same uniquely thrilling and whip-quick mecha-dogfight. With a startlingly simple control scheme, piloting a god-like weapon is made nimble and fun, employing modifying buttons to easily vary attacks and an auto-lock on to ensure your head stays on straight.

As far as mecha narratives go, ZOE succeeds in standing out from the crowd, despite the trope of "boy finds mech, somehow becomes its pilot, saves the day". Focusing on Leo's personal inadequacies and hardships helped him stand out as a protagonist, even if it echoes Neon Genesis Evangellion.
In this case however, "everyone else is dead" is a grim but suitable premise to put Leo in the driver's seat.

It was refreshing to see Kojima step away from Solid Snake and create an unique and original IP. The atmosphere is what kept me playing through the repetitive combat and endless searching missions; I was always eager for more plot updates from the UNSF on the terrorist attack that was the grim backdrop of this game. Leo's personal struggles and loneliness spoke to me as a youth and it was empowering not only to see him grow into a competent pilot but, more importantly, stand up against both the emotionless military complex and the robitfication of war (in the form of ADA)!

Focusing the gameplay around rescue missions cleverly created both narrative and gameplay tension, encouraging players to forge a harder path and place themselves in greater danger for the survival of others (and for a better rank!).
Zone of the Enders might well be the best Superman game ever made.

Yoji Shinkawa's genius shows through in his mold-breaking mech designs; sleek, delicate, and terrifying forms, brimming with light and energy. Steering away from typical, chunky tank-like machines and opting for an androgynous, almost super-human design instead speaks to both Yoji's creativity and the trans-humanistic evolution of weaponry within the world of ZOE.
Indeed, his designs are bold and no budding artist would dare stick a robotic member between the legs of a Triple-A mecha mascot.

Gorgeous art and Kojima's typical scrumptious production values aside, ZOE was an atmospheric, fast-paced action game almost bordering on the Character-Action genre's territory. Despite it's repetitive gameplay, dated CGI cutscenes, and poor voice performance and story delivery, ZOE is worth playing, and not just for the MGS2 demo!

Though it can't hold a candle to The Second Runner, Zone of the Enders is a fine piece of science fiction. That said, perhaps the video summary in The Second Runner is all you really need...

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Re: Our next podcast recording (2.6.18) - 322: Zone of the Enders

Post by Todinho » June 1st, 2018, 9:32 pm

Zone of the Enders is a weird game to look back on because at the time of its release people werent really interested in the game itself but rather the Metal Gear solid 2 demo that came packaged with it and later on it was completelly eclipsed by its sequel, so while people know and speak positively about the Zone of the Enders franchise they mostly mean just the second game.There is a reason for that and is that the first ZOE game isnt very good, in fact it feels way more like a proof of concept then a full fledged game on its own, now this might come from me playing the second game first but looking at ZOE 1 nearly all its aspects feel undercooked and underdeveloped, from the story to the gameplay and even the visual design of the world.

One thing I wanna address here is that despite his association with the series ZOE is not a Kojima game especially given that at the time MGS2 was in full development, the game is mostly the brainchild of Noriaki Okamura who wrote and directed the game(interesting fact was that he didnt work in the sequel in anyway and was a producer of the recent Metal Gear Survive)
So I think anyone approaching the game expecting a Kojima game are gonna be disappointed, there is no intricate plot,overarching themes or incredible attention to detail here. ZOE has your pretty standard mecha story, and that would be fine if the dialogue and the deliveries werent beyond atrocious, which is really shocking given that Metal Gear solid that came out 2 years prior had better voice acting.

Suffice to say story isnt the best part of ZOE, gameplaywise the game fares alot better with the general movement and combat feeling pretty good and they certainly nailed the basics of the combat system here, the problem is that they didnt do much beyond that, if you look at the average time it takes to complete the game you''ll find that ZOE is a really short and it has to be otherwise it would become incredibly repetitive, in fact even with its short run time you can still feel that because all you do in the game is do combat encounters and while they do try and add other objectives like keeping civillians alive most fightys the same especially given that most subweapons in the game are virtually useless. The bosses do break that up abit and they are the highlight of the game for sure, the fights are alot more dynamic with the them having different phases and requiring different strategies.

Its hard to talk about ZOE 1 without coming across as bashing the game into the ground, im certainly happy that it exists but thats just because it layed the foundations to the sequel but even then I should probably thank more the decision to put the MGS2 demo along that gave the the game the notoriety and sales it would never have were it released alone especially given its quality, and I cant really recommend anyone play this other then for historical curiosity other then that you're much better off playing just the second one instead.

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