Month
February 2012

Robert Allen Peeler: Square Enix

While not my first RPG, or my first FINAL FANTASY, FINAL FANTASY VI was just a great game overall that hit all the points that make playing the classics often superior to games today. The large well-developed cast, the amazing soundtrack, and the maxed potential of the SNES on this title are just a few things that helped it stand out above the rest. My favorite moment was just after the world changed and Celes spent her time recuperating on the lonely island with Cid. The game forcing me to relax after this cataclysmic event, when all I thirsted for was the next great battle, really matured my perspective on storytelling through video games. [...]

Blackwell Unbound

The game is thus slightly longer that Legacy and feels even more so, as the inclusion of a couple new mechanics, make for a far more taxing experience. Not that the game is difficult, mind but the ability to switch between Joey and Lauren, a few newly integrated simple inventory puzzles and looking up names and places in a directory do help mix things up. After all, making sure that a deceased jazz musician, a half-crazed ghost and an incredibly sad villain find their respective ways, shouldn’t be that easy. [...]

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order

Aside from the change in viewpoint there’s actually very little difference between the games though. There’s a similar roster of cars available here (although it seems Visco acquired an official license in the interim as the cars all have their proper names now), such as the usual Impreza, Evo, Celica, Lancia’s, etc. Sadly the Sierra doesn’t return but to make up for it they’ve included a Mini! Anyway, once you’ve chosen a car you’ll start your first race which must be completed within a set time limit. [...]

Indie Game Gems: Mr. Gravity

The graphics for a game like this don’t need to be complex yet don’t need to be too simple, and Mr. Gravity nails this aspect to. The fairly simple graphics are given a color vector look and glow, reminiscent of classics such as Tempest and more modern hits such as Geometry Wars. Both characters in the game change facial expressions based on what is going on in the level with a simple yet fun charm. The background music is excellent, especially for an indie game, and adds a great extra element for the player while attempting difficult moves. [...]

Freeway

Overall, I like the game. The graphics are nice and colorful. The bright, yellow chicken moves its little feet quickly across the road. I say “little”, but it’s about 5 foot long. I like to pretend it’s escaping from KFC ‘s Double Down assembly line. The many cars look different, with unique shapes and sizes. A neat little animation of the chicken getting knocked backwards is a nice touch. [...]

Tekken 2 (SNES)

Pirates come in crappy shapes and sizes. From the Famicom to the Nintendo 64 (Believe it or not) But there are some that just seem to good to be true. This is where Tekken 2 for the SNES comes in. Yes! You heard it! It’s Tekken for your 16-bit console. You might be getting all excited about this “gem” but it’s far from being a “gem”. The game is memorable in many ways and none of those ways are good. We are going to have a brief chat about Tekken 2 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. [...]

Rygar

This game looks grand, from the multi-colored environments that take Rygar through areas of sandy deserts, snowcapped mountain peaks, and even lush woods, to the varied monstrous enemies he encounters, to the detailed backgrounds that put a finishing touch on enhancing the setting. Gameplay itself proceeds at a smooth clip, despite some definite flickering issues, even with just a couple or a few enemies on the screen. Rygar looks like the rugged hero he should, and one can hardly find complaint with the original canon at work here. [...]

Wolf

The game mechanics really sold the “be-a-wolf” concept. Sound effects of birds and other noises of nature provided ambience, while the graphics were crisp and the scenic vistas marvellous to look at. As your wolf travelled it became either hungry or thirsty, and needed to be satiated. The game simulated a wolf’s incredible sense of smell by showing various scents that your wolf discovered, some close, some far, and all trackable. Humans were a severe danger and were to be avoided at all costs, and could be detected by both sound and scent. You could even howl! [...]

Gaming Memories: Part 3

My trusty Master System would go on to keep me entertained for many years. It even persuaded my best friend, Luke, to buy one of his own, and he was lucky enough to get a proper Super System! Before long we were spending a lot of our time at each others houses, challenging each other at our favourite games, with both of us becoming firm Sega fanboys in the process, an allegiance which it took the SNES to break, and even then our hearts always remained in the Sega camp. Luke and I both have our favourites on Sega’s first console offering (outside Japan), but after my visit to the late, great Microland with my parents, I came away with the following games… [...]

The Interview: Dr Peter Favaro

Well, Alter Ego was to be followed by a game called Child’s Play -a humorous simulation about raising children, but Activision fell on financial hard times and had to be scrapped. The project manager was someone named Brenda Laurel, whom everyone first referred to as “The Lizard Queen” in the early days of the Internet. Since then I have had some game ideas. One is finally coming to fruition. It’s Internet based and code named K-OS. [...]

Pac-Man Battle Royale super-sizes in new deluxe cabinet

Pac-Man Battle Royale is the first four player competitive Pac-Man arcade game. The original Pac-Man game concept has been given a cannibalistic twist: Eliminate your opponents by eating them and the last Pac-Man standing wins the round. When players eat a power pellet, they power-up by doubling in size and increasing in speed. Once powered up, they are now able to eat non powered-up blue players and ghosts. Players of the same size simply bounce off each other. Players can also be eliminated by running into ghosts if there aren’t any powered up players. Eating a piece of fruit or all of the pellets resets the maze with a fresh new set of power pellets. The game is simple, competitive, and highly addictive. The deluxe cabinet’s glowing lights and large viewing monitor make this the perfect centerpiece for any location. [...]

The Uncanny X-Men

The “graphics” found in X-Men are genuinely bad. The character sprites are tiny, with only the palette colors enabling you to discern who is who, and not making any effort to showcase the famous characters with any marquee on-screen presence whatsoever. The different levels are a poorly designed, crappy-looking tile-based mess of background haziness, foreground busyness, and bizarre enemies coming from every angle. The navigation screens, like the level selection or character selection, are dull and minimalist, completely uninspired and not making even the least effort to appear interesting or like the developer cared at all about the final product. [...]

Atlantica Online Review

The Bad: – Addictive. – Some game functions do require having almost like a subscription because they expire in X amount of days. – You don’t get to directly do stuff with your high level friends until much later in the game when you are all top levels. The game feels like a single player RPG until then. – The servers can’t sometimes handle the load of having many players on it, like on the weekends during special event days (when most people play). – Some common known bugs in the game are not addressed by the developers. [...]

Pirates

Sid Meier’s Pirates! was not only popular amongst gamers, it also performed well in the eyes of the gaming press. It was awarded “Action Game of the Year” by Computer Gaming World, and also the Origin Award for “Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1987”. The game also ranked at #18 in the Computer Gaming World’s 150 Best Games of All Time. Clearly, this game has remained in the gaming public’s eye for a reason, making Sid Meier’s Pirates! a worthy addition to anyone’s game collection. [...]

Thunder Force

During the course of my long struggle to finally see and play the original Thunder Force game for the PC-88, I saw some screenshots of the PC-98 version, which appeared to have fancier graphics, so I decided it might be a good idea to include that version in this feature too. I soon regretted it, of course. This turned out to be even harder to get to play than the the PC-88 version! However, after a long and arduous struggle, fraught with many problems, and once again with the help of some splendid fellows from the Retro Gamer forum, I managed to get it running. [...]

Sinistar

So, when you mine these crystals other fighters try to take you out while workers also try to mine the crystals to build the Sinistar. Once the Sinistar is built, it trolls you by calling you a coward and telling you to run. How am I the coward if he can one-shot me, but it takes 13 Cinnabon’s, er, I mean Sinibombs to kill him? [...]

The Simpsons Arcade Game

Fans who remember pouring every quarter you had into the arcade game will be thrilled. The game is exactly as you remember it from start to finish with straightforward controls and even the full demonstration mode, complete with the annoying-yet-classic “waaa waaa waawaaa waaaa!” scene with Bart and Lisa. Several fun unlockables are also available for those who finish the game with specific characters. The Japanese ROMset is available for play along with character bios, a neat but brief look at the development timeline and original advertising materials for the arcade game, a sound test and more. [...]

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs

I found the game easier than Final Fight at least in the first stages because there is plenty of food that falls out of oil drums and garbage cans. Also, most of the normal enemies are pretty stupid and if you played FF you know how to beat them easily. The bosses as usual have way too much health, but again, they are not too hard especially if you have a weapon. [...]

Star Castle

Now, something to keep in mind, which I did not know, your goal is not to destroy the entire outer shield because if you do it will regenerate. This makes the game harder because you want to hit the same spots and make a small window in the shield to take out the cannon. As you can see in the video, I was not very good at this. [...]

Haunted House

Old guy died and his ghost is still “haunting” the house. There are other creepy-crawlies in there as well. Four floors to the house with six rooms on each floor, stairs seperating the floors. Some doors are locked, so finding the master key is “key”. There’s a magic scepter which will keep away the creepies, but not the ghost. OBJECTIVE: Find the three pieces of an urn and return to the front door. Seems simple, but there is a catch. You can only carry one item at a time. So, if you are keeping the monsters away with a scepter, you can’t use the key to open doors. If you’re carrying the urn, you can’t…you get the idea. [...]

Satan’s Hollow

At first, I thought this was some hack game or Halloween mod, but Satan’s Hollow is a real shoot em up game made by Bally Midway in 1982. As you can obviously tell, this game is pretty much like Galaga, but you fight weird demonic creatures instead and you have a shield to protect you for a very limited time when things get crazy. [...]

Passwords of the Past

There were other games with the same situation like Kid Icarus which also got a Disk System only released in Japan and even Super Mario Bro 2J which was never released in the United States until years later. Super Mario Bros 2J would keep a track of how many times you beat the games by adding a small mushroom at the top of the screen, it was quite interesting because I bought a couple of those games for my disk system and found myself with a screen filled with mushrooms! Someone sure loves his Mario! [...]

Red Parsley’s Favorite Games: Part 7

Christmas morning, 1990… finally I got my hands on Sega’s 16-bit powerhouse. I played each game as I unwrapped them and the first one was… Golden Axe! Famously billed by Mean Machines magazine as ‘arcade perfect’ (it’s not), this was one of the best of a decent selection of launch titles for the MD and, after Revenge of Shinobi, my favourite. Not only was it a top conversion of their hit arcade game but Sega also kindly included an extra level and a new play mode called ‘Duel Mode’, which saw the player take on a succession of ever-tougher enemies, to prolong the admittedly short hacking action. A superbly playable game with a great soundtrack, and immense fun for one or two players. [...]

Distorted Poetry: The creation of an Indie Gaming Company

The interesting thing was about two or three months after we put our musical project “Impulses” on hold. We read about a game from Cipher Prime called Pulse. Not only did it have a very similar name, its gameplay and visual style was somewhat identical to our prototype. I guess some people would call it a coincidence, but for me I didn’t look at it like that. For all the ideas and creative people out there it’s inevitable that multiple people can think of the same idea. All you can really do is try and develop the idea and get it out as fast as you can! [...]

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

So for many when a new MMO is announced, especially if you have not played an MMO in a while and have friends interested in giving it a try. You end up putting more than hopes of a good game on the product. People hope it will rekindle that fire, bring friends back together, improve your life and games by themselves cannot do that. There are documented reports that leaving an MMO can end relationships, friendships and even marriages so it is understandable that people think an MMO might create what it can also destroy. [...]

Abobo’s Big Adventure

As you begin your game you are instantly bombarded with characters from just about any NES-era game you can name. You’ll have to do battle with those pink sweater-vest guys from Kung Fu, characters from Renegade, River City Ransom and even T&C Surf Designs. You’ll encounter Goombas, Mega Man boss enemies, the masters of the Pro Wrestling ring and so many more. Even the title screen is full of any 8-bit game character you want to name, from the Duck Hunt duck to the Eggplant Wizard from Kid Icarus. Finally I got to live out my life-long desire to punch Kid Niki in the face, even if I had to dodge exploding barrels from Donkey Kong while doing so. [...]

All Camera No Lights

If you ask me, when a media outlet looks to interview people for a poll or general question they seem to seek out the same people Jay Leon would question for his Jay Walking bit. Personally, I believe the media does this on purpose to make its viewers either feel more in touch with the interviewee or to feel above them. Have you ever been interviewed and gave an intelligent well thought out question only to never see it aired and in its place someone who could not even answer the first question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with three life-lines? [...]

Games & Candy

Most people are trying to be healthier now-a-days and even in gaming, where you spend most of the time sitting, there are things you can do to improve your overall health. However, sometimes you just want to enjoy some candy, and there are some awesome candies to eat during gaming that gives you that sugar rush and sweet taste to deal with even the most annoying wow kiddy. [...]

American McGee’s Alice

Of course, American McGee’s Alice is not a perfect game. The level design is brilliant, but the gameplay has its pedestrian moments. For instance, if you are a fan of games that require platform-style jumping to avoid enemies, locate items and switches, and to find level exits, this is the game for you. For those that find all this leaping about a tad annoying…not so much. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the controls for jumping quickly in this game, as you will be doing a lot of it. However, if you can get past that, the rest of the gameplay has enough variation to keep the player wanting more. [...]

X-Men: Children of the Atom

Today’s video comes from one of the first Capcom versus games featuring Marvel characters. I remember first seeing this game at a local arcade and spending all my movie money on it and it was totally worth it. Now, compared to the later games X-Men seems slow and simple, but at the time it was the best comic fighter out there. [...]

Wrecking Crew

Another title for the books! Wrecking Crew is a simple game that keeps repeating and repeating over and over. The game consists of Merio which is trying to destroy buildings and such. There is this dude called Werio that won’t let him do it, in fact he is trying to hammer his ass to prevent him from wrecking everything(must be an environmentalist). Your main objective as Merio is to well wreck everything but along the way you have to deal with Werio and some fish with legs that try to kick your ass. The worst part of this game is that you can’t jump! I guess the hammer must be too heavy for Merio to jump with. [...]

League of Legends PVE AI Update

So they finally released the AI update but it is still really easy. They increased the roster of PVE enemies up to around 40 and that’s a lot better than fighting the same 8 bots all the time but the AI still doesn’t know bush warfare or jungling or ganking to save its life. This patch introduces Dominion PVE which might as well be called free IP. Every match I’ve played ends with the human team having 400 out of 500 life left in their home base. Riot Games said that the AI would be as good as human players and it is far from that. I would say maybe it’s as good as level 3 human players that just installed the game but even then, they at least know what a bush might be. [...]

Ten Questions: Dave Barton – Zork Universe

Roleplaying gave way to gaming once I got a Spectrum and then an Amiga. I started playing at the tail end of text-based games, when it started to become all about the graphics, so I never really thought I could make my own. The intervening years were spent as a consumer of games. Fast forward to a few years ago and I jumped at the chance to work on games for Jolt, first on UI and art direction then as a game designer. The skills I had learned working in print and online media seemed to come together and allow me to revive my passion for creating virtual worlds. [...]