I ended up spending $10 in the PSN Flash Sale and bought Parappa HD and Need for Speed Rivals
Parappa: The first Parappa game is definitely my favorite, but it’s also the hardest to play on modern displays (though I have a low-lag, standard-def capture device that helps immensely). I knew the PSP version of Parappa had problems, and that the PS4 version was based on the PSP version, but after playing the demo, I figured I’d be okay.
Unfortunately from level 2 onwards, it’s clear that a lot of the timings for this game are way off, and it’s not just my TV. Something about the way Parappa’s syllables come out and the way beats get detected has been noticeably changed and I don’t like it. It almost seems like the game is registering more button presses than I’m actually giving it.
NFS Rivals: I’ve been in the mood for a racing game lately. I knew Need for Speed had been in a rut, but reviews for Rivals seemed to say it was okay. I didn’t like Most Wanted 2012; something about that game’s world and cars felt really lifeless in a way that was actually a little haunting. Rivals hews closer to feeling like Hot Pursuit 2010, which is good. Unfortunately, Rivals is fully open world, something that a lot of racing games can’t pull off well, and I don’t think Rivals does. Events are way too spread out and there’s no way to fast travel like in Forza Horizon.
Also, and I can’t believe these words are coming out of my body, but Need for Speed Rivals is kind of the Dark Souls of Need for Speed and I don’t know how much I like that? That’s short hand to say that the game is difficult, but it’s also a commentary on its mechanics: you gain souls (“speed points” or SP) for completing objectives in the world, which can be spent on new gear and stat boosts. But you can’t spend your souls until you go back to a bonfire (your “hideout”). If you die (wreck or get arrested) before you reach the bonfire (hideout), you lose all of your souls (SP).
Unlike Dark Souls, if you wreck in Rivals, your SP is just gone. Forever. There are no corpse runs. The other Dark Souls comparison is that the game is largely singleplayer but contains multiplayer elements where other players can kinda-sorta invade your races through something called “overwatch” – but the game is almost five years old at this point, so there’s not much activity on that front, and on top of that, you’re given the option to straight up turn it off.
My overall point here is that Need for Speed Rivals is an ASSHOLE of a game. The longer you go without banking SP, the more aggressive the police get with trying to take you down, so it becomes this balancing act of seeing how much you can get away with. Which very quickly becomes basically nothing. Too often I’ve tried to get in to a hideout to deposit SP only to get t-boned by a train of 8 cop cars all lining up to steamroll me to death.
It also seems kind of buggy. I’ve had HUD elements get stuck on screen, and one time I finished a race but since I wrecked as I crossed the finish line it didn’t give me any rewards for winning and left all my opponents to drive around the open world with 2nd/3rd/4th place markers over their cars forever. On top of seriously weird physics modeling. I even had the game crash, which ended up being a good thing, because I was starting to get genuinely angry at how mean it feels.