Robert Allen Peeler: Square Enix

Name: Robert Allen Peeler

Company: Square Enix

Title: Community Manager

FINAL FANTASY VI

What is your favorite classic video game: FINAL FANTASY VI

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOYvYNo_Nbw[/youtube]

Why is the game you chose your favorite: 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

Blackwell Unbound artwork

Blackwell Unbound

Blackwell Unbound is the second game in the Blackwell series by Wadjet Eye Games and thus a sequel of sorts to the excellent Blackwell Legacy indie point-and-click adventure game. Then again it also happens to be an enlightening prequel to the Blackwell Legacy, taking place in a brilliantly stylized version of New York during the early 70s. This time around you wont be helping the shy Rosangela and her ghostly guide Joey solve supernatural problems, but will instead be guiding her rather outspoken and definitely more confident aunt, Lauren Blackwell, and her ghostly guide Joey solve two, obviously ghost-related, cases.

blackwell unbound - gameplay screenshot

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.

blackwell unbound - gameplay screenshot

Great gameplay aside, Blackwell Unbound also sports the signature excellent writing quality of the series, amazing music, spot-on voice acting, interesting characters and some truly beautiful pixel-art graphics, for that authentic classic adventure feel. The only thing sadly missing are those character portraits the Blackwell games seem to do very well. A shame really, but the developer commentary and a few more extras will definitely make this up for you.

Oh, and New York and its multitude of people and cultures do get another love letter in the form of this brilliantly written and quite touching interactive story, that never fails to be funny when the situation allows.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9oQ7n5F5hI[/youtube]

Verdict: An excellent game and a truly rare chance to adventure in a ghost-infested version of New York in the 70s. Get the Blackwell Unbound here.

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

Drift Out ’94 – The Hard Order (1994)
By: Visco Corp  Genre: Overhead Racing  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade
Also Available For: Neo Geo (variation)

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

As far as my memory is concerned at least, the original Drift Out was something of an inconspicuous entry in the overhead racing genre, so considering how little-known it apparently was, I was surprised to find that it’s actually got a sequel! Like the first game, which has a SNES game based on it, Drift Out ’94 was also exclusive to the arcades but also received a modified home conversion in Neo Drift Out for the NeoGeo. Whilst similar, they are different games, and we’ll look at SNK’s game in a later post, but both are pretty similar to the first game except for one big difference – instead of the direct overhead view used before, Visco Corp have instead shifted the perspective to an angled overhead one.
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. The more time you can finish inside the limit by, the better your final position will be, but if you don’t even manage to finish inside the specified time at all, the game is over! As before, you don’t start the race at the same time as your rivals but if you’re good/bad enough, you will encounter other cars on the road here and there.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

Alas, as was the case with Drift Out, the game doesn’t let you select a course before-hand. It instead attempts to emulate a real WRC season by forcing you to earn your progress from country to country, with points awarded depending on your finishing position. Whilst this does promote a great sense of satisfaction at doing well and getting to see the later stages, all but the most determined of gamers probably won’t get to see them. The courses here look really nice though, so the urge to do well enough to see them all is certainly there. Whilst not particularly amazing from a technical point of view (most gamers were orgasming over polygon graphics by this point), the stages still look really nice. The cars all look realistic enough but the backgrounds are more impressive. They are full of detail and, since they span many countries around the world, they are nicely varied too, from mud, tarmac, gravel, desert, snow, and near enough anything else you could think of!

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

There’s also some nice effects such as the dust thrown up by your car on the desert courses and huge skidmarks (snigger) left on the tarmac sections, and the sound effects, whilst less realistic than in the first game, are at least in sync with your driving this time. The navigator’s voice is a little odd though, I’m not sure what he’s saying half the time! The music isn’t especially memorable but is suitable upbeat and suits the urgency of the game well. And urgent it is for the most part too! The courses are nice to look at but most of them are tricky to navigate, with each one featuring sharp hairpin turns, chicanes, narrower sections of road, jumps, obstacles (including parked cars of all things), and even multiple routes, with one route predictably being a bigger pain in the arse than the other.

Drift Out '94 - The Hard Order - gameplay screenshot

The biggest problem with the first Drift Out was how frustrating it was – the ease and frequency of getting stuck behind roadside objects, for example. Drift Out ’94 rectifies this and some more of it predecessors flaws, but it’s still not perfect and remains something of a memory test – you’re unlikely to perform well on your first attempt at a course. However, I suppose that’s the idea of an arcade game – to get as much of your cash as possible whilst keeping you wanting to offer it! In that regard, Drift Out ’94 is a success – it’s certainly more enjoyable to play than the first game and, whilst it does look prettier, this is largely afforded by the new viewpoint which suits the game much more and allows for more detail in the cars and scenery. Overall, this pretty much does what a good sequel should do and improves on its forebear in just about every way. It’s still a little frustrating but is also very addictive and great fun. Well worth a burn now and then!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuaZQMuWMts[/youtube]

RKS Score: 7/10

Indie Game Gems: Mr. Gravity

The Indie Game Gems feature will focus on the hidden treasures that can be found on your XBox 360 for just one dollar.  For those that don’t look up from the latest Call of Duty long enough to notice, XBox Live Indie Games contains a massive amount of games created mostly by smaller studios and downloaded for very little money.

Mr. Gravity - Indie Games - Gameplay screenshot

This section will sort through the heavily stocked shelves of XBox Live Indie Games to find the hidden gems that will provide fun well worth the low prices.

We start this regular feature with Mr. Gravity, a game developed by students at the University of Utah and released last spring.  The object of the game is to help a happy little fellow named Mr. Gravity traverse through a maze and reach his bride Mrs. Gravity, who is patiently waiting somewhere else in the maze.

Mr. Gravity - Indie Games - Gameplay screenshot

Along the way, Mr. Gravity must use the power of gravity he holds to cling to walls and avoid spikes and obstacles.  He also must collect as many gems as possible along the way, though he can complete a level without doing so.  Once he reaches his smiley wife at the end of the maze the level ends.

Mr. Gravity nails the feel of some of the earliest days of video gaming.  The concept sounds simple enough and seems easy enough at first glance, yet is difficult to master.  It doesn’t take long for the game to become quite challenging yet still manages to find a perfect balance that allows it to frustrate you just enough to make you keep trying again rather than turn it off.  I felt reminded of what hooked me on the original Lode Runner on my oldCommodore 64 in the 1980s on some of the upper levels of Mr. Gravity, as the more frustrated I grew each time a narrow move saw me crash into a spike the more I wanted to beat the dang level because I felt I could.

Mr. Gravity - Indie Games - Gameplay screenshot

At the end of each level the player is awarded stars based on their performance in the areas of gem collection, speed of completion and how many lives were needed to get to the end.  You need certain amounts of stars to unlock later worlds, giving the player a reason to go back to earlier levels again and play them in different manners in order to obtain them.

Mr. Gravity - Indie Games - Gameplay screenshot

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.

Mr. Gravity - Indie Games - Gameplay screenshot

Mr. Gravity is well worth the price of 80 Microsoft points (or $1.00 in human talk) and far more.  It manages to bring several original and uncommon puzzle game aspects together to make a challenging yet addicting puzzler with far more replay value than most puzzle games from far bigger game studios.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxKvdyzP8XI[/youtube]

Please share this article with your friends before trying the game for yourself or you might not be back on the internet for quite some time.  You can download the game from the XBox website by clicking here.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

Freeway

FREEWAY, designed by David Crane (Activision). I remember actually looking forward to games by Crane, who I still consider the greatest of all time.

Freeway_Cover - Atari - 2600 - Gameplay Screenshot - 1

Freeway is a pretty simple game. Either 1 or 2 players control a chicken who is trying to get to the other side of a multi-lane highway filled with speeding cars. Unlike Frogger, the chicken can only be moved up or down. When struck by a car, the chicken is knocked back a couple of lanes, which may put you in the headlights of another vehicle….

Freeway - Atari - 2600 - Gameplay Screenshot
You have exactly 2 minutes and 16 seconds to cross the road as many times as possible, or get 1 more than your opponent in 2-player mode.

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.

Freeway - Atari - 2600 - Gameplay Screenshot
The sounds of cars and trucks speeding by are solid, and the horns will beep to warn you they’re speeding through, because no one in the city is going to stop for poultry.
This game is a nice little time-waster. Fun and easy to pick up and play.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYjZ88RAGN8[/youtube]
I’d give this a 6/10 for the 1-person game, 8/10 for 2 player, which is great for smack-talk.

Old Game Reviewer reviews classic and retro games, you can check out more of his great work on his blog here – Old Game reviewer.

Tekken 2 (SNES)

[youtube id=”2tTgqm9QQlU” width=”633″ height=”356″]

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.

Tekken 2 - Bootleg games - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The game has some 3D rendition to it but just some. It mostly plays like a Donkey Kong style graphics fighter. Even though there aren’t any Donkey Kong fighters out there, the game uses similar graphics to the game. The controls are just dead awful. They don’t respond half the time and it doesn’t help that they make the computer amazingly strong and very tough to beat. There will be times where you’ll get hit badly and your energy is almost done. The computer also tends to block at the perfect time. It’ll take a lot of practice to be able to defeat this master mind but I’m sure the options can offer you a better chance at victory.

Tekken 2 - Bootleg games - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

 

With the nightmarish controls put aside, I can tell you that the music is no better. Believe it or not, they use a Mega Man X music at the title screen which gives me the impression that the creators of this pirate also created Pokemon Stadium for the SNES as well. The music just lacks the Capcom tough which would have been a good idea to leave but it would have felt left out either way. I guess that was easier than porting the Tekken soundtrack but then again there wasn’t a soundtrack to being with.

Tekken 2 - Bootleg games - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

To conclude, this game is something to pick up and play but then throw away. There is a very small chance that you’ll run into this game here in the States but we on the look out for it in such countries as Mexico, Argentina, and Peru. Even Brazil has some interesting pirates to this day and Master System games you never heard of. Yes, the world of piracy is still going strong especially thanks to us retro gamers. Don’t even get me started on China….till next week.

Rygar

Rygar - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Rygar

Way back in 1987, Tecmo released an action-adventure video game called Rygar on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console that was actually an arcade port. Starring a mythical hero seeking to restore peace to his land by vanquishing countless gruesome creatures and utilizing legendary artifacts, was Rygar a bloated mess or a truly epic quest?

Rygar - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Gameplay

Most of Rygar’s gameplay takes place as a two-dimensional side-scrolling plaftormer title, as masculine protagonist Rygar uses his disk-on-a-string (think: giant bladed yo-yo) called a “diskarmor” to kill enemies at close range using the B button. The A button jumps, there is a crouch feature enabled with the down direction and a pause function with the Select button as well.

Pressing Start brings up a status screen that, in short, displays Rygar’s current health (also visible during gameplay), attack power (shown as “Tone”), magic points, spells they can be used on (such as “attack & assail,” available for ten uses and deals damage to all enemies on-screen), and which items Rygar is currently in possession of. Killing monsters gains experience points that will eventually, inevitably, boost Rygar’s attack and defensive stats, along with possibly picking up items that enhance magic points or heal hit points.

Rygar - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

As Rygar advances across the stages, he can encounter doors. Most of the doors bring him to a room with one of the War Gods sitting on an elevated platform, who then provides a helpful message as to what item is needed to progress, where to go, how to get to the next area, etc. However, there is one door in each different realm that leads to a common middle area called Garloz.

Gameplay in Garloz takes place in more of an overhead top-down view, enabling Rygar to move in four directions, jump in eight different directions, and encounter a different set of enemies. Mastering the terrain of Garloz will allow Rygar to discover the gates to the different realms, or even directly gain new items in special War God rooms. There are about a half-dozen different lands to progress through, each ending in a boss fight, and at many points requiring an item such as the crossbow or Wind Pulley to advance.

Rygar - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The doors to single-screen rooms, along with differing types of gameplay, make this game very much feel like an early cross between NES titles Blaster Master and Wizard & Warriors II: Ironsword. It definitely has more of a high-fantasy feel, closer to Ironsword, despite the appearances of robots in later stages; but, like Blaster Master, this game has no password or battery-save feature, despite offering a meaty, chunky adventure. If the player knows where he or she is going, where to get each necessary item in the right order, and which lands to explore in the correct sequence, the game can be completed in under an hour. It is the hours needed to discover this mastery and grow accustomed to the gameplay, though, that will be the more grueling test.

Rygar definitely offers a worthy retro-gaming challenge, a fantastical mythos, action-oriented gameplay, and a deep system mechanic, but does have its share of flaws as well. For example, the game has an odd relationship with the up button on the directional pad. Pressing it while performing other actions, like running forward, causes Rygar to continue running forward even if left or right are not pressed any longer. This can lead to an accidental death in certain precision-jumping portions of the game. Also, once Rygar has the grappling hook, he is able to descend from certain types of platforms via a rope by pressing down and B. The problem is that pressing down and B is also how to attack while crouching; this creates an issue when the player is on those sorts of platforms, wishes to crouch and attack an oncoming enemy, but instead finds himself hanging helplessly off a rope and taking damage instead. Although these “lovable quirks” can definitely be gotten used to, by principle, a player should not have to deal with such a shortsighted control scheme.

Graphics

Rygar - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

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.

Sound

The sound effects are solid, from the constant “whoosh” of Rygar swinging his weapon, to the delightful tone of picking up an item, it is all fine and very serviceable. The majestic background tracks are the true auditory highlight of Rygar, though, as soaring horn-like notes ascend above staccato beats and a healthy bass line, truly serving to convey a grand, encompassing adventure.

Originality

Rygar - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Much like the aforementioned Blaster Master, Rygar is a rather distinctive experience that remains a sentimental favorite for some NES fans. Although each of its elements, on their own, might be found in other titles, Rygar is a one-of-a-kind combination of those characteristics, and truly perhaps a remarkable gaming feat for its era, even as an arcade port.

Its control scheme issues, occasional odd glitches, and overall lack of polish do hurt it, overall. While this is a fun, challenging, beefy 8-bit video game, it is also perhaps not as accessible as it could have been; debate can rage as to whether that is a fair contention in the field of reviews, but the fact is that even without addressing its issues of who would want to sit down and play such a game without a password or save state, even the overall quality is still not on par with the all-time great Nintendo titles. Not quite overwhelming spectacular, not quite bad, either, resting somewhere above the average game but outside the greats: Rygar snags three and a half stars out of five.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCkTZoDbnTw[/youtube]

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

Bands That Are A LOT Like Aqua

Toy-Box - Best Friend

Aqua is loved and hated by many, but they are often copied! Here are some clones!

This kind of music is called Bubblegum Pop. It”s often found in Dance Dance Revolution games (DDR).

Crispy – In & Out

Crispy – Licky Licky

Daze – Superhero

Daze – Tamagotchi

Hit N Hide – Space Invaders

Me & My – Baby Boy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f3TCIDdXMc

Me & My – Dub I Dub

Me & My – Lion Their gaming suite is unmatched in quality graphics and animation in one of the best software in the Online Casino industry. Eddie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OOiRpVs9h4

Mr President – Coco Jambo

Passion Fruit – Bongo Man

Passion Fruit – Sun Fun Baby (Looky Looky)

Passion Fruit – The Rigga Ding Dong Song

Passion Fruit – Wonderland

Smile.dk – Boys

Smile.dk – Butterfly

Toy-Box – Best Friend

Toy-Box – Superstar

Toy-Box – Tarzan & Jane

Toy-Box – The Sailor Song

Wolf

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this instalment: Wolf, a unique 1994 simulation game by Sanctuary Woods that placed gamers in the role of canis lupus seeking to survive in a sometimes hostile environment.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Perhaps a game about learning how to be a wolf, the dangers they face, and what challenges they overcome does not sound like it would be fun, but it was. Wolf was a unique simulation, and a completely different subject matter than what gamers had ever seen before. The 40-some scenarios were fascinating, and included diverse goals: hunting down caribou to avoid starvation, challenging the alpha male pack leader for control of the pack, and even just surviving a single day in their stark environment. For the comprehensive wolf experience a player could choose to play the campaign mode, which ran them through the full gambit of the wolf life cycle.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Settings screen for the PC game, 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!

shakira

Whoops, wrong howling; wrong wolf.

Fortunately, the game designers didn’t just read a Jack London book and whip up a game based on it. Wolf Haven, a wolf reserve near Olympia, Washington, was tapped to provide the expert knowledge on what challenges wolves face and what behaviors they exhibit. Wolf Haven is a nonprofit organization devoted to the study and conservation of wolves, and has around 80 acres of land used for the purpose. They have been in existence since 1982, and continue to provide sanctuary for wolves today…and they even offer group tours! (The game designers even based five of the wolves portrayed in the game on actual wolves that lived within Wolf Haven.) With this level of expertise behind them, it’s not surprising that Sanctuary Woods was able to offer a world-class simulation that both educated and entertained.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Winter hunting in the PC game, Wolf

Critics agreed on the quality gameplay of Wolf, winning the “Best Game of the Show” Award from Electronic Games at its debut at the Winter, 1994 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as well as earning praise from such heavy-hitters as PC Gamer Magazine, receiving a score of 88% and a PC Gamer Editor’s Choice award.  It performed well enough to merit a sequel, Lion, which followed the life of the King of Beasts on the Savannah. All in all, Wolf was a great game, and well worth locating a copy and playing, even today!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbXEvWfWoF0[/youtube]

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Guild Wars 2: Call for Beta Testers

Guild-Wars-2

Looking to get into the beta for Guild Wars 2? Check this out!

For the next 48 hours, ArenaNet is putting out the call for play testers to participate in upcoming Guild Wars 2 beta events. While not everyone may be chosen to participate, the time to sign up for your chance to play Guild Wars 2 is right now!

Hurry over to the Guild Wars 2 Beta Page for more info, and then follow the directions to sign up for your chance to play Guild Wars 2.

 

 

Gaming Memories: Part 3

Soon after arriving home from the family holiday mentioned in ‘Gaming Memories – Part 1, I was suddenly obsessed with the videogames I had previously had little interest in. Chief among my obsessions was the amazing OutRun. It wasn’t long before I discovered that this ‘Sega’ company who made OutRun also had available a home console, much like the Atari VCS I had briefly flirted with at a friend’s house. After some investigation I found that there were three variants available – the Master System, the Master System Plus, and the Super System.

Sega - Master System

Apparently this flashy-looking console also had some flashier-looking accessories. Namely, the ‘Light Phaser’, which, excitingly, looked like a blaster from Star Wars, and the ‘3D Glasses’ which looked cool even before I found out what they were for. The basic Master System pack was just the console with a control pad and a built in-game. The Master System Plus also came with the Light Phaser and featured an additional built-in game. Lastly, included with the Super System was both the Light Phaser and 3D Glasses, and a built-in game that took advantage of both. Naturally, I decided I wanted the latter! The day I found all this out was an exciting one. I stayed up all night trying to work out how I could have this great console. I didn’t want to wait for Christmas, I wanted it straight away! After some pretty brain-bending calculations, I discovered I could pay my parents back £3 per week from my paper-round if they bought me the console I so desired. After a hard fought campaign, they finally relented. Unfortunately the Super System was unavailable but they did buy me a Master System Plus with three games, and some 3D Glasses separately. Two years of paper rounds then ensued, all proceeds going to this cause. It didn’t matter though – I had Outrun!

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…

Safari Hunt (1986)

Safari Hunt

Eager to try out my fancy new Light Phaser, this was the first game I tried when I finished unwrapping my shiny new Master System. It was built into the console itself but was also available separately on a combination cartridge. It is essentially the Master System’s version of Duck Hunt and sees you shooting various innocent-looking creatures over three different single-screen settings which repeat over and over until level 69 (giggity). Well, apparently – I never played it that long! The object is to shoot as many creatures as possible before you run out of bullets. If you’ve surpassed the required score you’ll progress to the next screen. If not, game over! Despite its horrifying un-political correctness and extremely limited nature, this was actually good fun in short bursts and I played it often. Light-gun games didn’t really hit their stride (in the home, at least) until the 32-bit era (with Virtua Cop, et al) so this was one of my few experiences with them, but I have happy memories of it.

Hang-On (1985)

Hang On

This conversion of the hit coin-op was impressively released in the same year as its parent and was another game that came built into my Master System. The object is simply to keep racing for as long as possible without running out of time. There are four different backgrounds that the game cycles through (including a nice night-time stage) and the road is packed with other racers, although they’re only there to get in the way – there’s no actual race positions or anything. It’s still great fun though – it’s fast, addictive, and requires skill rather than luck to progress in. I probably ended up playing this one more than most of my cartridge games and it’s still highly enjoyable. Top stuff!

Snail Maze (1986)

Snail Maze

I had been using my Master System for a good few months before I got around to reading the instruction book that came with it, and upon doing so I was surprised to discover there was another game built into it! It seems that on certain models of the console, if you turn it on with no cartridge inserted whilst holding Up and buttons 1 & 2 simultaneously, the result is the now famous Snail Maze! It’s a very simple game – simply guide the small snail through the complex maze to the exit within the (very) strict time limit. There are twelve mazes in total and if you fail to reach the exit of any of them within the time limit you’ll be dumped back at the start of the whole game. It’s a bit of a trial and error, memory-test kind of game really, but again, it’s fun in short bursts and that bloody tune will drive you insane!

OutRun 3D (1989)

OutRun 3D

Ah, the very reason I had a Master System! I had the choice between this and the standard ‘non-3D’ version of this game in Microland on purchase day. I naturally assumed they would be the same, aside from one making use of the 3D Glasses and the other not. I was incorrect. I didn’t play the non-3D version until later on Luke’s MS but it turned out it was a lot faster and harder! This version plays nicely enough though and, despite being a bit too easy, was very enjoyable at the time. The 3D effect was quite impressive too and handily the game had a 2D option as well, and the Master System’s sound chip does its best to replicate the iconic music of the arcade behemoth. It’s not the greatest driving game of all-time but hey – it’s still OutRun!

After Burner (1987)

After Burner

Another conversion of an immense arcade machine (you have to call it a ‘machine’, it seems wrong just calling it a mere arcade ‘game’!), and one even more impressive than OutRun from a technical point of view. The little Master System actually has a good go at replicating its parent and proved to be one of the better home versions of it. Piloting the iconic F-14 Tomcat, it’s your job to blast your way through eighteen stages of anonymous enemy aircraft. Obviously the graphical detail has had to suffer a bit here, especially the ground scenery, but overall this is an enjoyable conversion of this classic, and even has semi-cheat feature enabling you to reach the later stages unscathed!

Altered Beast (1988)

Altered Beast

If memory serves I think it was actually my parents that suggested I buy this one, perhaps for a bit of variety. I hadn’t previously heard of it but it looked interesting enough, and for a while I quite liked it. Before long I discovered it was far from the pinnacle of Master System gaming, but I suppose it’s not really a genre the MS is swamped in though, and it’s not too bad. It does have one of the arcade version’s stages missing (the third) and can be pretty frustrating, but how can it a bad thing to turn into a powerful human/monster hybrid? It’s just a shame you don’t get to spend more time in these forms, especially the first one – the fireball-throwing werewolf! Besides, I’ll always have a soft spot for this game as I could actually complete it!

So, these were the games that kept me occupied for the first few months of my console-owning life, and great fun they were. They were of course gradually added to over the coming months with many titles now considered among the system’s best, such as Fantasy Zone, Psycho Fox, Wonderboy 3, Power Strike, Shinobi, Spellcaster, etc, and my good friend Luke often brought his favourites to my house too. The Master System remains one of my most fondly remembered consoles despite the fact that it was soon superseded by the MegaDrive (another of my favourites) and I really can’t recall any bad memories of this under-appreciated console which I still regularly enjoy now.

The Interview: Dr Peter Favaro

Dr. Peter Favaro was the man behind the excellent Alter Ego life-sim and also one of the few psychologists deeply interested in the Internet (think Tendrilmedia) and video gaming. What follows is quite obviously an interview with said gaming legend regarding both the past and the future. Have fun reading it and feel the retro gaming nostalgia …uhm… feeling.
Alter Ego disk
It’s been quite some time since Alter Ego hit the shelves and impressed the press. Have you designed any other video games since?

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.

K-OS? Will it be an MMO sort of game? Could you describe it briefly?

Only briefly. People purchase computer generated DNA. They feed, train and teach the creature that forms from it. The creatures meet in a virtual world on line, fight, consume each other’s attributes until one becomes most superior. You know, the kind of touchy feely activities psychologists are known for.

Any idea when it should be available to psychologist adoring masses?

Well a lot depends on how much time I can slice from my media business which is doing quite well right now. My guess would be Winter 2007.

So, back to the old days, if you don’t mind. Alter-Ego. How would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

Alter Ego was a life sim, written in a tongue in cheek style which permitted people to explore the consequences of their decision making. It was built on a foundation of hundreds of interviews I conducted with people about their most memorable life events. Combined with stuff I just made up!

AlterEgoBoxBack

And how did you decide to undertake such an apparently mammoth task? What was your inspiration? Your PhD in psychology perhaps?

Actually, it was the other way around–it was my love of game design and the prospect of making some money. Psychology was a way of breaking out of the pack of other designers.

Hehe… A cunning plan indeed!

Well, its more than that, although I am cunning. Technology is by nature an exploitative enterprise. You have to strike while the iron is hot and you need to innovate in order to achieve that. That is what juices me up about working in this business and that’s why I rarely sit in a room with people who tell me about their anxieties.

Alter Ego, despite being critically acclaimed, didn’t sell very well. Why do you think this happened?

It sold well enough to buy me a house and a car. However, it did not sell like Mortal Kombat.

Why? Well, the egoist in me thinks it was before its time. It was developed during a period of gaming that did not know what a game activity was. It came after the initial shoot em ups and after some Zelda like stories, but was quite different than both. People have been begging me for years to re-do it.

Actually, should you re-do it, it would still be innovative and unique… Creativity in the mainstream gaming media seems to be at an all-time low… Or not?

Well, a project like that needs some cash behind it. It would have to go through a big developer like Sony. It would also have to be multimedia because that’s what turns people on -and well it should be- better for the nakedness and the killings and all. However, large developers wisely stick to their franchises–sports games, carjackings, and war themes. I don’t know if it would make it past the funding stage.

Then again, the Sims did it… And it was the only truly successful spiritual child of Alter Ego.

Yes it was, damn it. Can’t do the Sims again though; it would be me imitating an imitator of me.

AlterEgoScreen

How surreal and psycho-confusing….

Thank you. If someone would toss a few million my way, I am sure I could come up with something.

Which reminds me, have you played Timothy Leary’s game? Actually met the man? Helped him with his game?

Only by phone. Tim was an interesting sort of fellow. Lots of ideas about technology but no real clue. On the other hand, I don’t like people mucking about with my stuff, so I learned programming from the ground up. I am actually quite a technical person.

But where did you learn game-design and coming up with intuitive and never before seen interfaces?

I think game design is a function of a person’s idiosyncratic way of living. To some, life is just one big game. HA!

Wow!

I just realized what that implies about Alter Ego.When I was younger I used to make up games to amuse myself and to torment my little sister.

Did you ever hit her with an Alter Ego manual, then?

No, she was already too old and strong to mess with.

Sisters, tsk… Like reviewers really. Remember any of the reactions and/or reviews back in the day Alter Ego was released?

We all grew up in Brooklyn and had to learn to street fight relatively early in life.

Oh people loved it, the reviews were excellent with the exception of two guys from Compuserve who hated it because it relied on manipulation and was nothing more than a simulation based on psychology. Imagine! I laughed my ass off when I read that review.

Besides laughing at reviews, what else did you enjoy from the Activision era?

Well, also, loved the perks. Activision was big on treating their designers like rock stars. It was hilarious that when we showed at Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas we were always right near the porn stars!

Now, one final question. Which games did you recently enjoy?

I like the online multies. World of Warcraft is a good game -causing quite a stir with parents who say their kids are too involved in it

Well, parents can be funny, but WoW is a huge and all consuming time sink….

Sure, but you can expect more of the same. People are becoming more vegetative, and the more they veg, the more they will be looking for these kinds of activities.

Now, that I’ve never thought. Quite the vicious circle really…

There’s a reason televisions are getting bigger and bigger, and if you listen to Bill Gates everyone of them will have a web browser built in in just a few years.

Actually, quite a few anarchist believe that a color TV equals a black ‘n’ white life…

I can see that, but what’s going to stop the deluge? Nothing.

I see. Now, care to add anything else?

Well, only that there will always be a fascinating interplay between people and the widgets they keep themselves occupied with -and in that there is still a lot to learn, explore and exploit.

Thanks so much for the interview. Oh, and good luck both with K-OS and Tendrilmedia!


The 90s Sure Were Weird…

Paradisio - Bailando lazytown singer

Yeah, when I think of the 90s and its music I think about a bunch of weird shit. I mean, damn the 80s was already like wtf is going on but that went overboard in the 90s…

Now I’m not saying this music is bad (I grew up listening to this stuff) but Christ what the fuck were they thinking when they made these videos…

This will be a series of ten videos per article so keep looking for these regularly!

2 Unlimited – No Limit

2 Unlimited – No One

Capella – Move On Baby

Centory – Take It To The Limit

Centory – The Spirit

Highland – Se Tu Vuoi

Magic Affair – Omen III

Masterboy – I Like To Like It

Paradisio – Bailando

Snap – The Power

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

The iconic Pac-Man never seems to leave the gaming scene for long, and the current arcade scene once again has a case of Pac-Man Fever.

Pac-Man Battle Royal

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

Pac-Man Battle Royale Deluxe is a recent coin-op release that stands out in any location or video arcade.  Launched in December, this new release takes the Pac-Man Battle Royale release from 2011 and places it into a large multi-player stand-up cabinet with each player having their own control station.

Similar at a glance of the popular Pac-Man Championship Edition games for home consoles, PMBR pits players against one another in a “last Pac-Man standing” battle.  Check out the description from Namco’s sales materials for the game.

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.

Dave & Busters locations are among the first to feature the huge deluxe cabinets.  Check out the slideshow to the left to see a deeper look at this newest arcade release.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

The Uncanny X-Men

The Uncanny X-Men

The Nintendo Entertainment System was an 8-bit home video game console that is still remembered for producing some of the best titles of all time, especially in cartridge format. However, it is also known for also providing a library of truly putrid selections. One particular developer is responsible for many of them: LJN Toys Ltd, a company notorious for taking a popular license and quickly, shoddily turning it into a cheaply made NES cart in order to try and turn a rapid profit before consumers could realize that the games were horribly low-quality, especially in an age before the internet allowed people to rapidly learn of such travesties occurring. Some examples include Friday the 13th, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six, Beetlejuice, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, all of which are nearly universally considered to be poor gaming choices and not displaying the work of a top-rate developer.

X-Men-The-Uncanny - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Another example was the X-Men game released in 1989, called The Uncanny X-Men on the box but referred to as Marvel’s X-Men on the title screen. This discrepancy, right away, provides a keen sample of the vast comedy of errors that seemingly took place whenever the LJN scam artists put a video game onto the market with the least effort possible. The title issue was not the only problem that plagued the X-Men video game on the NES.

Gameplay

The bland title screen showcases the title text, a blank background, than an animated showing of the head shots of the six selectable mutant heroes known to X-Men fans: Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Iceman, Colossus, and Storm. After selecting one or two players, the first player can then select the level, from the choices Practice, Futurecity Street Fight, Subterranean Confrontation, Seach & Destroy the Robofactory, or Battle Through a Living Starship.

X-Men-The-Uncanny - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

After selecting the level, the battle begins, and the player will immediately notice a tragic mistake: Rather than having the B button attack, as in a proper NES game, instead the A button attacks and the B button hops in place. The hop is completely, utterly, mystifyingly useless. The attack for Cyclops, Storm, and Iceman consists of a quick beam that fires across the screen, while the other three characters Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler attack with an awkward lunge forward. The characters also have different traits, viewable on the character selection screen, such as Nightcrawler boasting a high speed and Colossus being able to take a lot of damage.

X-Men-The-Uncanny - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

In each area, with the exception of the endless Practice field, the two X-Men mutants must navigate their way through defeating enemy hordes and environmental dangers while searching for keys in an effort to find the finish. The term “two X-Men mutants” is not used accidentally; indeed, even in one-player mode, the player must select an accompanying mutant that is used by the computer as a teammate, although the computer often attacks in the wrong direction, gets stuck behind simple obstacles, paces back and forth in a small space, or freezes altogether until death. If you complete a level, you get to select a different one to try. You cannot even face the final boss, Magneto, except by use of a code: Once having defeated all the levels, you must hold Up, Select, and B, while highlighting the Practice level, and hit Start.

 X-Men-The-Uncanny - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Otherwise, the gameplay is atrociously broken and ridiculous. The mutant “powers” are barely represented at all; while Cyclops does have an energy beam, it is just the same attack as Storm and Iceman have, and while the lunge forward may make sense for the metal strongman Colossus, this game makes no attempt to acknowledge the powers of Wolverine or Nightcrawler, except by making Wolverine’s attack strength high and Nightcrawler very fast. This game is notably difficulty, with dozens of enemies attacking in waves, portions (like closing gates in narrow gaps) that can kill characters instantly, awkward play control resulting in the inability to efficiently attack or avoid attacks, and the stunning lack of any indication as to what to do or where to go on any particular level. There are little icon power-ups that can be collected after defeating many enemies, perhaps to recover energy or freeze on-screen foes, but often items are dropped that freeze your character as well. The entire experience is not enjoyable and offers no replay value.

Graphics

X-Men-The-Uncanny - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

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.

Sound

The music cannot even be mentioned. The sound effects sound as though they were designed to be unpleasant, rather than appropriately complement the gameplay. The effect used for the energy blasts, for example, is a high-pitched shriek that sounds, in no way, like the sci-fi blasting noise it should. The entire game is experienced as an endless series of beeps and boops and stupid noise noise noise. There was not any work put into the soundtrack, and the X-Men video game for NES is just left in shameful shambles. There are Atari 2600 games with better sound than this title, and that is neither exaggeration nor hyperbole, that is cold, hard, measurable, quantifiable fact.

 X-Men-The-Uncanny - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Originality

This is a sickeningly awful video “game” that is of audaciously low quality. It it not fun, it is not good, there is nothing about it that can be favorably compared to even an average NES cartridge, and it offers no noteworthy gaming features. Could a great X-Men game have been created for the Nintendo Entertainment System? Yes, but fans of both Marvel and Nintendo were betrayed with this abomination. If this video game were a squirrel, it should be tied to a tree and beaten to death. The NES version of X-Men receives a half star out of five, and should rot in the ground like the putrid turd that it is.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDJKy-j2id4[/youtube]

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

Hot Chip – I Feel Better

Hot Chip I Feel Better a god

Although one might think that they are the big fish, the top dog, there’s always somebody else out there that can own one. Some might even be godlike compared to the norm…

This video shows you what happens when you aggro a freaking GOD!

I love how the floating head of a black dude that looks like the Montgomery Flea Market Rapper shows up at the end and kills everyone. ENHOY!

Hot Chip I Feel Better a greater god

Lyrics:

She said ‘How did we get ourselves so lost?’
And I said ‘I don’t know,
But we will not be leaving tonight.
When you hold me I, I feel better’

I only want one night, together in our arms
This is the longest night, we’re meeting arms to arms

Nothing is wasted and life is worth living
Heaven is nowhere, just look to the stars
There is a day that is yours for embracing
Everything’s nothing, and nothing is ours

Nothing is wasted and life is worth living
(I only want one night)
Heaven is nowhere, just look to the stars
There is a day that is yours for embracing
(This is the longest night)
Everything’s nothing, and nothing is ours

And maybe if we’d never come this way
Then we would live and prosper
But I doubt it
We are a violent race
And we deserve what we get
When you hold me, when you hold me
I feel better, I feel better

I only want one night, together in our arms
(I feel better)
This is the longest night, we’re meeting arms to arms
(I feel better)
I only want one night, together in our arms
(I feel better)
This is the longest night, we’re meeting arms to arms

Nothing is wasted, a life is worth living
Heaven is nowhere just look to the stars
There is a day that is yours for embracing
Everything’s nothing, and nothing is ours

Nothing is wasted, and life is worth living
(I only want one night)
Heaven is nowhere, just look to the stars
(Together in our arms)
There is a day that is yours for embracing
(This is the longest night)
Everything’s nothing and nothing is ours
(We’re meeting arms to arms)

Atlantica Online Review

Atlantica Online screenshot

One Sentence Review:
“A modern day MMO that’s a mix of Ogre Battle and Shining Force”

Overall Review Score:
8 out of 10

The Good:
– MMO version of a remake of Ogre Battle (SNES) and Shining Force (Sega Genesis).
– Free to Play MMO that for the most part has no subscription system.
– Laid back MMO for PVE.
– Great music creates a nice atmosphere.
– Great auto travel system.
– Gets-the-job-done auto combat system (for PVE).
– Awesome crafting system.
– Awesome party system for power leveling other players.
– Addictive.
– Daily and weekend special events.
– Many optimized gameplay functions that are taken from other great MMOs.
– Some quests require you to type something in reply to a question (making it more like a real RPG or old text adventure game).
– Guild to Guild, Nation to Nation warfare, cross server warfare.
– A guild can control one town and run it (infrastructure, improvements, population, etc.).
– Cross server based player crafting run economy.
– Referral and mentoring system for getting benefits of referring new players and power leveling them faster.
– World based on Earth’s map so you don’t need to learn the geography of some random fantasy world.
– The art style of the game looks a lot like Soul Calibur.
– Most of the time you can play the game while afk or alt tabbed, when doing pve.
– So much killing… oh and when you kill, you craft at the same time!
– All the concepts and items that can be bought with real world money can also be bought with in game money.
– In a high level area, a mob of mobs of monsters can potentially jump you. That makes the game a lot more challenging (feels like a last stand kind of fight).

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.
– Quest givers are retarded.
– Some quests require you to type something in reply to a question.
– Some people use bot programs but there are ways to rob their stuff.
– Referral program does not have a URL link with your account name embedded where a new player can download the game to give you credit for the referral automatically.
– Western audiences might be turned off from the game looking like a Korean MMO but hardcore gamers won’t be.
– Most parts of the game will be too laid back for the pvp mmo crowd (the kind that shouts all the time over ventrilo or team speak).
– The AI is pretty retarded.
– A lot of grinding.
– Repetitive kind of quests (kill, collect, buy, go here) … just the setting changes.
– Pay to win “free-to-play” problem. Some super characters that can only be bought at the real money store cost about $50 EACH. This is a game breaker for most people. They should learn from World of Tanks and League of Legends and only make the premium characters about $10 each maximum. Although this is true, they do give you about $60 worth of free stuff (licenses) which makes power leveling a LOT faster. There are sales sometimes for premium stuff and rarely you can get them from a special in game event but most people won’t wait for that to happen.
– Some UI problems like it giving certain chat windows priority over others making you waste time clicking.
– There is an PVP execution called King’s Judgement where a guild leader that is in a level 5 nation can challenge a player to punish him. If the defender loses then he permanently gives the challenger a piece of equipment.
– More drama than a spanish soap opera, except without all the hot bitches.

Conclusion:
A great game to play at work or if need to go afk a lot.

Download Link for Atlantica Online:
http://atlantica.nexon.net/

Pirates

Once upon a time it was a lot more avante-guard to be a pirate, long before the unwashed masses embraced the Disney Jack Sparrow movie juggernaut, and even before some wag convinced enough people to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.  In the heady days of the dawn of the PC graphic adventure, pirates were nothing more than literary devices or the stuff of all things dastardly; pirates portrayed in PC games were more Blackbeard or Captain Hook than Errol Flynn. And then along came Sid Meier.

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Box art for Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meier is a gaming legend today, a name that is as much a brand and promise of great gameplay, but in 1987, this was not the case.  To be sure, Sid Meier’s name already carried some weight in the simulation community, as a designer of games such as F-15 Strike Eagle and Silent Service.  His games were always enjoyable and well-coded, but more importantly, sold well.  The marketing gurus at MicroProse suspected that people were buying Sid Meier games because they were designed by Sid Meier, so it seemed reasonable to help make their buying decisions for them by announcing his involvement directly in the product title.  From this reasoning the very first game to feature “Sid Meier’s…” in the game title was born: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Sid Meier – Gamer godThe game was for single players, made long before the mad, lemming-like multiplayer rush of today that all gaming companies seem to have embraced.  (Wait, was that an editorial?)  It was an open-ended game, letting the player make the choices on where to travel and what to do, with the only caveat being that eventually the player’s character would grow too old to continue on the pirate’s path, and would retire.  Depending on what actions the player took (that is, what rewards and successes they achieved during the game), the game would then give a litany of how their character lived the rest of their days, from a lowly beggar in the streets to the prestigious role as adviser to the King.  The game world itself was created using a series of questions-and-answers, beginning with what pirate era the player wanted to play within (1560: The Silver Empire; 1600: Merchants and Smugglers; 1620: The New Colonists; 1640: War for Profit; 1660: The Buccaneer Heroes; and 1680: Pirates’ Sunset).  This was followed by which nationality they wished to be (Dutch Adventurer, English Buccaneer, French Buccaneer, or Spanish Renegade), which Difficulty Level they wished to play in (Apprentice, Journeyman, Adventurer, or Swashbuckler).  Finally, a Special Ability was chosen: Skill at Fencing, Skill at Gunnery, Skill at Medicine, Skill at Navigation, or Wit and Charm, each with its own advantages (for instance, Wit and Charm was used to keep on a Governor’s good side; whereas Skill at Medicine kept injuries to a minimum and prolonged the character’s life).

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Swordplay in Sid Meier’s Pirates!The game world was then generated from these questions.  Of course, the final variable was the copy protection, which requested when either the Silver Train or the Spanish Treasure Fleet arrived in a particular city.  Failure to provide the correct answer stacked the odds so far against the player that even the game manual stated, “Heed the advice and start over, otherwise you’ll find your situation most bleak.”  Takethat, software pirates!  Actually, in some ways the manual was as interesting as the game, as there was a wealth of historical information on pirates and the historical context within which they plied their trade.  Well worth reading!

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Decisions, decisions in Sid Meier’s Pirates!

As for actual gameplay, the live of a pirate was sometimes short, but always challenge-filled and exciting, which the player soon discovered for themselves.  Since a pirate fought with a sword, fencing was part of the game.  Since pirates sailed the seas to prey upon treasure-laden ships, navigation and naval combat was part of the game.  Since pirates often sold their loot to merchants (money laundering was alive and well in the pirate era), trade was part of the game.  Since pirates sometimes sacked small townships, that, too was part of the game.  Since pirate ships didn’t magically manifest crewmembers to sail the seven seas, recruitment was part of the game, and since a silver tongue helped a pirate live a longer life, diplomatic contact with town governors was also part of the game.  All in all, this was an impressive pirate simulation.

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Pirates! Gold for the Sega Genesis

If the Career Mode was too large of a time investment, Sid Meier’s Pirates! offered six historically accurate scenarios to test your swashbuckling mettle.  Each scenario was in a different time period, and each offered unique challenges to overcome.  These scenarios were: John Hawkins and the Battle of San Juan Ulua  – 1569 (wherein you have a slow, but powerful galleon to command, with many ports unwilling to trade and a fleet not powerful enough to force them to comply); Francis Drake and the Silver Train Ambush – 1573 (can you match the verve and skill Drake showed battling the Spanish Fleet at the height of their power with only two small ships?); Piet Heyn and the Treasure Fleet – 1628 (your fleet is powerful, but the season is late and finding the treasure ships is becoming a difficult task and will take expert planning to locate and dispatch); L’Ollonais and the Sack of Marcaibo – 1666 (an abundance of manpower but a shortage of powerful vessels make ship-to-ship battles difficult, but port sacking attractive, with the additional challenge of the fragile nature of your men’s morale);Henry Morgan the King’s Pirate – 1671 (the dangers of having a powerful pirate fleet in both naval power and manpower in that you must keep everyone fed, content and treasure laden to succeed); and Baron de Pontis and the Last Expedition – 1697 (the munchkin scenario, in which you have a large strike force and a more than reasonable certainty to win any battle, making the only challenge how much treasure can you loot?).

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Pirates! for the Nintendo Entertainment System

Sid Meier’s Pirates! was first released in 1987 on the Apple II, Commodore 64 and IBM PC (PC Booter) platforms.  It was quickly ported over to the Macintosh (1988), Amstrad (1988), Commodore Amiga (1990), and even the Nintendo Entertainment System (1991).  It would be remade in 1993 with improved graphics and sound, then published under the title Pirates! Gold, for IBM PC (both DOS and Windows), Macintosh, and – because Nintendon’t – the Sega Genesis. The remakes didn’t end there, as it was again remade in 2004 for Windows XP, returning to its original title ofSid Meier’s Pirates!, and then again in 2008 for mobile devices, imaginatively calledSid Meier’s Pirates! Mobile.  Perhaps in the next decade it will be remade once again.  (I recommend they try Sid Meier’s Pirates! Gold as the title for next time.)

Sid Meiers - Pirates - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Box art for Pirates! Gold

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.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2RigX8BVlc[/youtube]

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Thunder Force

Thunder Force (1984)
By: Tecno Soft   Genre: Shooting   Players: Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: NEC PC-98 
Also Available For: NEC PC-88, NEC PC-6001 Mk II, Sharp X1, Sharp MZ-1500, Fujitsu FM-7

Thunder Force - Gameplay Screenshot

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.

Thunder Force - Gameplay Screenshot

For some reason, the emulator I used to run this game won’t work on my desktop PC, but will work on my laptop. This in itself caused a problem. The emulator, you see, uses the numeric keypad for in-game control, and my laptop obviously lacks one of these. I therefore had to try and play by pressing the ‘Fn’ key as well as the other keys the emulator uses for in-game control. This proved diificult. With perseverance, however, I was able to play the game to a reasonable degree. Degree enough to determine that this version of the game is at least as insanely difficult as the PC-88 version, perhaps even more so! Everything seems to be the same, such as the level layout, and the sound is identical (i.e. near enough non-existent!), but the graphics, as initially suspected, are indeed quite a bit nicer. Definition is more or less the same, but many more colours are used here.

Thunder Force - Gameplay Screenshot

And that’s pretty much it really. Aside from the graphics, the two versions more or less the same. It’s still really, really difficult, but is still playable and addictive too. The PC-98 must use a pretty interesting graphics chip though. The screenshots I managed to get of this game do not like to be resized or saved in any format other than png or they go all funny, so, as this blog automatically resizes pictures, the shots posted here don’t look quite as nice as they should. Overall, I’ve been really happy to finally see what the original Thunder Force game is like, I just wish it was easier to emulate and play (the option of using a control pad would be nice, for example!). If at a later date, I’m able to have a more comprehensive look at this game, I’ll definitely do so, but for now…

RKS Score: 6/10


Sinistar

sinistar

Sinistar

Why oh why did you suggest this game, I woke up so happy considering it was a Monday and then I thought to myself, “Self, you need to get some gameplay footage of, Sinistar.” Now, my day is ruined and I know nightmares will visit me tonight.

Fine, this Sinistar is an evil arcade game released by Williams Electronics in 1982. The overall theme is you are a lone space pilot fighting waves of enemies while trying to mine planetoids for Sinisite Crystals, which you need to make Sinibombs to destroy the Sinistar. Does all this remind you of the 60’s Batman, with the Bat Shark Spray and such?

Sinitroll

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?

Now in the above video you see me running around like a chicken with its head cut off not properly mining the crystals and then promptly being owned by that dammed Sinistar. Now check out a better player who runs circles around him.

Enough of this game and damn you Travis Mikalson from our Facebook Fan page for suggesting this.

The Simpsons Arcade Game

The Simpsons Arcade Game is now available on XBox Live, and the first-ever home console release of the 1991 quarter-muncher is every bit as fun as you remember.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

One of a long series of four player side-scrolling beat-em-ups that Konami put into arcades around this time, The Simpsons allows players to fight as HomerBartMarge or Lisa as they attempt to rescue baby Maggie from the evil Smithers.

Younger fans of the iconic Simpsons franchise should note that this classic arcade game was developed at the very beginning of the television series.  Some of the characters will look different than they do today and all of the references in the game pull from the earliest episodes of the show.  Sideshow Bob appears in one stage to help you out, Smithers is a tough guy, Bleeding Gums Murphy is alive and the rabbits from the Life Is Hell comic strip appear several times.  In those days that comic strip was Matt Groening‘s biggest success story to date.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

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.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

Some achievements are easy to get and some will take time.  Longtimes fans of the Simpsonsseries will laugh at some of them as well.  The “Tastes Like Burning” achievement I gained by hitting Smithers with one of his own bombs forced me to pause the game for a moment to laugh, which brought up a neat pause menu drawn inside the old Simpson television set.

Online leaderboards not only show scores but also how many continues those players had to use to obtain them, adding a little credibility to such a scoreboard as part of a multi-continue game.  If you really want to try and show off there is a one-life “survival mode” as well.

The Simpsons Arcade Game - Xbox live - Gameplay Screenshot

Overall, The Simpsons Arcade Game is just pure fun.  Fans of the original arcade game will like it for different reasons than the younger Simpsons fans who may never have seen it, but they will all like it.  At 800 Microsoft points (about ten bucks) it’s a steal as well.

Don’t have a cow, man.  Download this one right away.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

Unforgivable

Unforgivable

Here is the collection of all the Unforgivable videos. These videos are funny enough that my friends and I quote this all the time. I figured I would post them for you in case you weren’t addicted to the internet in 2006, when this first came out, like I am.

Unforgivable #1

I went to Levine’s yesterday to get some pants for me and my niggas. I was gonna steal them; I ain’t have no money. Met a girl there, trying on some skirts. I was like “What that smell like?” She was like “uh…” She didn’t know what to say! I was like “Bitch, don’t make me ask you again!” Anyway, got her number. The next day we went to Chicken-fil-A, some place in the mall. When I got there I was like “Bitch who are all these people out here.” She said, “Well it’s the mall!” I was like “Whatever bitch, gimme a chicken sandwhich and some waffle fries.” I was like “Bitch.” She said “What you gonna have to eat?” I was like “Go up there and just get me a chicken sandwhich with some waffle fries, maybe a Coke to drink or something.” She said “What you gonna get?” I was like “Bitch, go up to the counter, tell that nigga I want a chicken sandwhich and some waffle fries for free!” She said, “Okay.” Then she looked back and asked me what I wanted to drink. I was like “Give me a Dr. Pepper, bitch!” We got the food, she brought it to me, snatched it from her real fast. She sat down, I told her “Bitch, who told you to sit down?! You better wait for my request.” I said, “Go ahead and sit down, cunt.” She sat down and we ate. Later on in the evening took her to Silver Ball play some video games or something. She died she wasn’t having a good time. I said, “Bitch, you ain’t no nerd! I could have sworn you were.” She said “I like to go shopping.” I was like “Bitch, not on this day cause I ain’t got no money and you don’t give me the money you got.” She gave me her purse. Took the wallet out, saw some credit cards and some pictures of some other niggas. I was like “Who are these niggas?” She said “That’s my brother Ti-” I said “Hold on bitch, you better not have no brother cause if you do I’m a-” I said “Bitch, who is this nigga in this picture?” She said “That’s Tommy; that’s my little brother.” I said “Bitch you better not have no little brother. I ain’t trying to deal with no other niggas.” She said, “Well I have two.” I said “Bitch, that’s a mistake.” Took her to the bathroom of Silver Ball, got through playing. I said “Listen, cunt: Today ain’t yo day!” She said “What did I do?” I said “Bitch, you got some siblings and I don’t like it!” She tried to make up for it, sucking my dick a little bit. I was like “Bitch, that feel good but it ain’t enough!” She take it to the new level, started jacking me off while she was sucking my thing. I got a nut. Yeah, I got a nut, so?! Got done with getting my dick wet told her that I wanted some pussy now. She was like “Wait, I just sucked your dick and you just nutted!” I was like “If you sass me one more time, bitch I’ll kill you and your little brothers.” She said “Okay.” I got the pussy from her and I know I nutted cause I didn’t use a condom. Nutted in her pussy and got her pregnant! Unforgivable…

Unforgivable #2

I’ve been with this girl, my main bitch for at least three months and she’s starting to get on my nerves! Anyway, the other day she told me her parents were going out of town or something, some vacation bull. I was like “Whatever.” Then I was like “Can I spend the night tonight and for two weeks straight?” She said, she said “Yeah, I mean you’re my boyfriend, aren’t you?” I said “I guess, bitch.” Anyway, I got there around seven o’clock, pissing me off. Anyway, some of her girlfriends was over there making popcorn and watching movies. I went “What you all watching, hoes?” They said “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” I was like “Get that fool off the TV, I brought a couple of DVDs over.” She said “What’d you bring?” “Doctor Zhivago, A Brief Encounter, and A Bridge Over The River Kwai; A lean night.” Anyway, it was about that time to hit the sack and get some pussy. I walked up to the bedroom she was already laid there bucked naked like I told her she should have been. Went out onto the porch smoked a bag of meth then I smoked a little crack after that. Got in, she said “You smell funny.” I was like “Bitch, that’s just my B.O. Yeah, if you don’t like it I’ll kill your ass.” She said “Okay let’s keep it going.” I hit that ass all night then nutted on her s- belly. Anyway, got hungry in the middle of the night, fixed me a sandwich or something. I went down there, girls were still awake, watching TV. I was like “What you all watching again, hoes?” They was like “We’re watching Date Movie.” I was like “Bitch, turn that off right now!” She said “Oh okay” and turned off real quick. I went to the kitchen made my sandwich with mayonnaise on it. Grr! Went back upstairs, ate my sandwich in front of that bitch’s face. She said “You didn’t make me nothing?” I said “Of course not, bitch! I ain’t your man.” She said “Will you go downstairs and make me something?” I was like “Bitch, no!” Took my gun out and busted her head open with the butt of it. She was trying to piss me off. She was bleeding on the sheets. She had some satin covers or some bull. I was like “When your parents get back, cunt?” She said “Two or three weeks.” I said “Good, I wanna meet ’em. Whenever I do I’m gonna make them make me sandwiches all night.” Anyway, got done and I went to bed! Made her sleep on the couch downstairs. My bed. Left the next day without saying a word to anyone and I left a bag of sass in the mailbox for her parents to find and get her into a little trouble. Unforgivable…

Unforgivable #3

What’s the deal? It’s your boy out here in these woods. Man, I spent the night out here with some of my niggas, man. You know, with Bovice involved. My nigga Van. Anyway, we camped out here, you know what I’m saying? Bovice brought his little sister, little cunt I know she is. Anyway, Bovice left to get some hot dogs or something. Left us here. It was me, Van, and that cunt sister of his. In the tent that nigga Van was asleep. I said “Hey Nikki.” She said “Hi.” Was kind of nervous sounding, made me pissed off. I said, I said “Are you a virgin still?” She said “Yeah, I’m only fourteen.” I said “I don’t care.” I said “You won’t be no virgin after tonight.” She got on her cell phone tried to call Bovice. I took the cell phone out of her hand and slapped that bitch in the mouth. Knocked her braces out of her mouth. She got mad, got scared, crying. I said “Bitch, give the other ear and I’ll slit your throat from ear to ear.” She said “It’s not that serious.” Van woke up then. I said, “Go back to sleep nigga if you know what’s good for you.” Nigga dozed off real quick. Took out my hand cuffs, cuffed her to the tent. “Listen bitch, it’s time for you to lose that V-card, hand it over.” She said “I don’t want-” I said “Bitch, my hand – Your face or my gun in your mouth!” I got what I wanted, got my nut and left Van in the tent by himself. Told that bitch that she didn’t tell Bovice that Van did it I was gonna kill her ass. Now you tell me nigga, out here in these woods, is that Unforgivable?

Unforgivable #4

Not too long ago I was at a Christmas party with my bitch. We was having fun eating Christmas cake and whatnot. Saw another cunt I wanted to spit to. Walked over to her and said “What’s up, ya cunt?! What you trying to do?” She said “Excuse me?” I said “Bitch, excuse me! I’m looking for some pussy and some cunt and some butt hole.” She said “Well, I have a boyfriend.” I said “Bitch, no one asked that!” She kind of got a little scared, a little frustrated. I said “I’ll snap your neck like a twig right now bitch, if you sass me again!” Her boyfriend – her man, walked up to the table. I’m like “Nigga, what’s the deal?” He said. He had a Letterman Jacket on, he was from highschool, pissing me off. I said “Nigga what sport you play, you little pansy?” He said “I’m a football player.” I said “I don’t care!” Took him by his wrist, cut him; cut his wrist, vertically. Then I said “What now, hoe?” Oh he was on the floor dying, making a scene. That nigga daddy came over and said “What happened?” I said “Nigga, I slit his wrist.” Took his Letterman from him, put it on, left without paying! That bitch walked to me after I got out. She was like “What’s the problem?” I was like “I’m about to call Bovice. We’re about to run a train on you bitch!” She said “ugh…” Started crying a little bit. I slapped that bitch so fast because I was tired of hearing that. She left. My nigga Bovice came, I was like “Let’s go smoke some weed.” He said “I don’t really got no-” I said “Nigga, you better get me high!” Of course, he abided. I’m turning on my own niggas! I’m pissed off a little bit! Now you tell me nigga, is that whole thing Unforgivable?

Unforgivable #5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLb4g1PJVBU click here for this one since embedding is disabled.

Unforgivable #6

Unforgivable #7

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs

Delicious!

cadillacs-and-dinosaurs

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs

Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs is a fighting game released in the arcades during the spring of 1993. The game plays almost exactly like Final Fight except you have Cadillac’s and Dinosaurs, oh and guns which you really did not see much in FF.

The game has four different characters to choose from all with their own fighting style, special move and ability like using items for more effect. Besides that, the game is a typical Capcom fighter where you fight wave after wave of bad guys trying not to get surrounded and using your weapons at the right time.

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.

That is what I really liked about this game, the tons of guns, knives and explosives you use. Also, the game has blood and scenes like butchers chopping up Dinosaurs, oh any they punch them to in order to enrage them, PITA would be so pissed.

Thanks to Dominic Mason from our Facebook Fan page for suggesting this game.

Star Castle

Star Castle

I gave this game a whirl on a request from our Facebook Fan page and I must say, this game looked easier than it was. Star Castle is a vector arcade game and was made in 1980 by publisher and developer Cinematronics. The main objective is to take out the enemy cannon, which is surrounded by a defense shield. Your ship can move and rotate 360 degrees and fire a series of shots at the shields weakening and eventually destroying them. However, there are mines that fly off from the shield, which you must avoid. Once you take out enough of the enemies shields, the cannon itself begins firing at you.

star_castle_

Now you would think since you can fly anywhere, even off of the screen, it would be easy, but it’s not. First, I had a handicap which was the sound did not work. Second, and this is normal gameplay mechanics, the thrusters take a bit to get used to and you cannot just stop and turn on a dime so the result is you end up coasting into mines or not moving out of the way of the cannon fire fast enough.

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.

Overall, this game is pretty fun and like all classic games of this type if you do take out the cannon you start all over, but with more mines and faster shots from the cannon, but definitely a fun game and a great time waster.

Thanks to Mike Taylor for suggesting this game to try.

Haunted House

 

Haunted-House-Atari-2600-gameplay-screenshot

The other day I was chatting with one of the neighbor kids. Not in a “creepy old man” way, more of a “I wonder if his parents taught him the value of a dollar? Because I want to talk him into raking all my leaves…for a dollar” way. It seems little Johnny was smarter than I thought. After all, he’s a PS3/Xbox gamer, and he realizes games are in the $60 range. He’s into Halo, Call of Duty, and the Left 4 Dead series. These games are favorites of mine, as well, so we actually had something in common. Anyway, after a little zombie-talk, I was flooded with memories of scary games from my younger years. Two of these stuck out, so I thought it was time to replay them to see how they stand up to today’s standards. So, I enter my game room with a leaf-covered yard and one dollar still in my pocket.

 

Haunted-House-Atari-2600-gameplay-screenshot
First game I thought of was Haunted House by Atari, for the Atari 2600. I remember playing the hell out of this game. It was one of my favorites…let’s see if I still enjoy it. Speed-reading the instructions, here’s all you need to know:

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.

 

Haunted-House-Atari-2600-gameplay-screenshot
Game start. Everything is pitch black, which is cool, except for two eyeballs, which is you. The controller’s red button does one thing. When you press it, you’re circled by a flickering light, which is supposed to represent a lit match. That’s the only way you can see the items to pick up. Nice touch. The match will last for a little time, then go out. Hit the button again, and we have light. The amount of matches you use combined with how many times you’re “killed” (you have 9 lives) is your score for the game.

Haunted-House-Atari-2600-gameplay-screenshot

There’s no true “walkthrough” because every game has items randomly placed…which is good. Here were some highlights/lowlights:

I grade on a 0-2 scale in 5 categories, for a max score of 10.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbjVffUGjxA[/youtube]

GRAPHICS/VISUALS:2
The eyeballs will ‘look” the direction you’re moving. Flying bats and spiders look like bats and spiders. The ghost chasing you looks cool. Flickering lightning!

AUDIO/MUSIC:2
This was an important part of the game. A distinct sound when you go up or down stairs, and when you are bumping into walls. Footsteps. A cool “wind” sound when a monster enters the same room you’re in (it blows out your match).

CONTROLS:2
Your eyes move fluidly, and you bump into a lot of things (because it’s dark). Done well.

FUN-(FRIGHT)-FACTOR:1
It’s okay. I enjoyed it more as a kid. But, you run like hell when you see the monsters coming at you. A little-girl scream might have come out of my mouth on occasion.

REPLAY VALUE:1
It does have scoring and different difficulty levels, but I probably wouldn’t play it again…at least until next Halloween.

OVERALL: 8/10
A very well-done game for an old console

Old Game Reviewer reviews classic and retro games, you can check out more of his great work on his blog here – Old Game reviewer.

Satan’s Hollow

Satans Hollow

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.

I had to check Wikipedia to learn that some of the things the creatures toss at you are eggs and rocks. I think the best in the Sinistar like demon head that tried to attack you every few levels.

Passwords of the Past

We have to thank our gaming developers for coming up with a way of saving our progress without those annoying long passwords. Remember the good old days of the NES where you would be very far in a game called Metroid. You decide to take a break and go outside for a change and write down the long grueling password. You have fun with your friends and come back for another session of alien beating goodness only to find yourself getting an error message while imputing the password. What did you do wrong, you wonder? Sadly, that was the reality of the golden ages of gaming especially with the Metroid game and don’t get me wrong, the game is great but the most important part of the whole game is knowing how to write the password. I had many problems with this, in fact I had so many problems with this game that I learned to beat the game in one run without turning the NES off so I would be able to see the ending and boy did I have a good ending!

Metroid-NES-Cartridge

Now, I won’t spoil it for you guys because maybe there are a few of you who have never touched this game so let’s just say the ending is well worth it, especially if you beat it fast enough. Anyways, I don’t think my NES minded me playing it for three-four hours straight. It was actually very usual for me to play it that long, but of course, with different games. Now, the only ones that were lucky enough to evade this were the Japanese as they got the game released on the Famicom Disk System which was an add-on for the original Famicom that would let you run disks. The idea was really good until they realized the disk drive would break very easily. So much for making a low cost gaming console… Either way, the Metroid disk would have saving available unlike our version. It made their lives more stress-free and ours a pain in the ass.

Metroid Disc

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! Overall, we have to take into account the changes to video games over the years, things such as passwords were used up all the way to the Playstation one and Nintendo 64 era so they are not that old. Of course, we don’t even use them anymore due to having advanced consoles such as the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii.

Go Watch Iron Sky!

Iron Sky Space Nazis

Finally, it is here… From the creators of Star Wreck, the best parody of Star Trek and Babylon 5, Iron Sky, the movie about space fucking Nazis!

The movie is supposed to be made in the style of Sin City and Inglorious Basterds. I love these alternate history movies, especially comedy action ones like this one. It kind of has that Mars Attacks! feel to it as well! ^_^ It also looks satirical sort of like Dr. Strangelove.

I like how Palin is the US President in this comedy, lol!

Iron Sky Nazi Invasion

Dungeons & Dragons Shadow over Mystara

Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons Shadow over Mystara

Today’s video comes from the Dungeons and Dragons series of arcade games. Made by Capcom, these games were more like a beat em up in the vein of Final Fight with item elements like Magic Sword, but it did have some role-playing parts to it. There was a story, though when I played this in the arcade I never saw anyone read it, but nonetheless it was there. For the most part the game is played like any other fighting game, avoid being surrounded and save your specials for the bosses.

Personally, I liked this game because it did not eat your quarters as fast as it could have. You could easily beat a level without dying and if you used your items and specials correctly get even further. When you had a complete group, it was the most fun because of the increased enemy count and spells flying everywhere.

Red Parsley’s Favorite Games: Part 7

Fighters Megamix – Saturn (1997)

Fighters Remix - Sega

Rarely have I looked forward to a release like I did this one! Unlike many gamers, I never really warmed to the Virtua Fighter style of combat, but it had its good points, and I did like Fighting Vipers a lot, so imagine my excitement at receiving news of this! The extensive roster of combatants includes all of those from both VF2 and FV and let you fight in the style of either game, and also included a dozen or so secret unlockable characters and multiple play modes, so for its day it was a beat ’em up with a lot of longevity. Despite being fond of Candy (for the obvious reasons), I usually fought as Raxel – who wouldn’t enjoy smashing people through walls with a Flying V guitar?! Until Soul Calibur came along, this was the most feature-laden fighting game I’d played and it’s still immensely enjoyable.

Arkanoid – Spectrum (1987)

Arkanoid

Back in the days of game compilations, the 8-bit computers were the systems of choice, and thanks to Taito Coin-Op Hits I had some great games to occupy my time. Using up most of it was this ultra-addictive Breakout clone. Despite the weird controls which made the bat move faster in one direction than the other, I couldn’t get enough of this. I even managed to finish it with the help of a lives cheat (enter ‘PBRAIN’ as a highscore name)! Taking the Breakout concept and adding power-ups and more varied stages was a masterstroke and the game was perfectly suited to the Speccy. Nice crisp, colourful graphics and a well-graded difficulty level made this a great conversion of a fantastic game that hasn’t aged at all. Round three still gives me nightmares though!

Golden Axe – MegaDrive (1989)

Golden Axe

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.

After Burner 2 – Arcade (1987)

After Burner 2

This Super-Scaler classic has its critics, but they usually relate to the home conversions. After Burner belongs in the arcade and in this specially equipped environment I don’t think too many people could argue that it’s an experience to behold! Clambering into the sizable cockpit, grabbing the yoke, and blasting off from the Sega Enterprises carrier is something that can be experienced all too rarely these days but it’s never ceases to thrill. I’ve never been particularly good at this game (those pesky varmints that attack from behind – grrrr!) but it’s always a pleasure to let fly a few missiles, nearly get lost in the smoke trails, perform a barrel-roll to get out the way, shoot down a few jets, etc, repeat often!

Dragon’s Fury – MegaDrive (1992)

Dragons Fury

My appreciation of this pinball classic is well-known! It’s inclusion in the list of My Favourite Games goes without saying, the only point of contention is which version to include. Both the PC Engine original and this MegaDrive conversion are amazingly playable games, but they have their differences. Based purely on how much time I’ve spent playing each version though, I’d have to plump for the MD version, plus it’s a bit easier! Smacking a pinball around a table infested with all manner of demonic minions and horrific creatures of unimaginable horror would be entertaining to start with but when you include flawless ball physics, an extensive and intricate scoring system, bonus tables, and a superb soundtrack, pinball videogames simply do not get any better than this!

 

Distorted Poetry: The creation of an Indie Gaming Company

[youtube id=”Cgo4TV2QzKg” width=”633″ height=”356″]

When we started, we decided to first make games for the iPhone. This was a pretty easy choice for us purely because we both had prior experience working on iOS games and we just about had all the equipment we needed.~James Booth

Distorted Poetry: The creation of an Indie Gaming Company

Running an indie company really is a bi-polar condition and I mean that in the nicest and worse possible of ways.

DistortedPoetry_Logo

It’s been almost a year since we set-up Distorted Poetry. At the start there was just two of us, now we have almost ten people working on our games. At the moment we develop for iPhone and PC/MAC and we are registered with Nintendo to develop games for the 3DS as well. We wanted to be taken seriously as an indie, so we delved into a lot more of the business side of things as well, which requires a completely different mindset.

When we started, we decided to first make games for the iPhone. This was a pretty easy choice for us purely because we both had prior experience working on iOS games and we just about had all the equipment we needed.

The first project we had in mind was a rhythm based game with interactive musical elements. I love creating music and really wanted to create a game where the player actually feels like the music is progressing because of their actions. We got a prototype up and running quite quickly and we felt there was a lot of potential in this game. After about a month on this project we decided to put it on the back burner, it was a great idea, but to do it right we really would need to spend a year on it. Time we didn’t really have for one project with no money coming in.

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!

Speaking of ideas, we next worked on a real unique and arty game. It sounded like it could work on paper so we started developing a prototype. With every iteration we eliminated what didn’t work and added something new. Within a month we went from a very niche arthouse game to a very accessible more traditional game which we named Petri-Dash.

 Petri-Dash icon

The game really was designed by iteration, which was such a unique way to design a game. It felt exciting but ultimately took us longer to make the game because there was no fixed plan set in stone. Petri-Dash was released in November and while sales started off promising after a few days they started to get lower and lower and lower. It really was eye opening to see how quickly you can get lost on the App Store.

Sure, we had little spikes here and there (such as when the game was updated) but we can’t exactly call the game a financial success. We have recently supported a new completion based platform named Player Duel to see if that can get us extra sales, but ultimately I don’t know what else we can try, if you don’t end up featured on the charts, your probability for success is very very low.

iPhone Retina GUI PSD

So what comes after Petri-Dash? Well it’s our new game called “Rundle’s Rolling Adventure” for iPhone.  This is a much bigger project than Petri-Dash, lots more levels, lots more art, lots more music, and lots more polish. We are almost at Alpha with this game and are hoping to release it in March 2012. Just before we started this project I thought I could try and use that initial idea for Petri-Dash again, thinking I had thought of a new way it could work. After about a week it all went away again and we created the character Rundle. One day I will get that idea into one of our games! Or someone else will beat us to it again…

Beyond Rundle’s Rolling Adventure, we are branching out onto PC/MAC as well, so we have some exciting and unique games set for those platforms, Anyway thank you very much for reading and if you wanna get in contact like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Peace and Love,

www.facebook.com/DistortedPoetry

www.twitter.com/distortedpoetry

Free Stuff – Pure Pwnage

Pure Pwnage logo
Pure Pwnage logo

Pure Pwnage is the show about the “uber gamer”. If you don’t know Jeremy and his friends, you’ve been missing out. The show is about The Pwner, an uber gamer that has no life and is worse than a Korean Gamer. He owns at every kind of game but really shines in RTS games. The show is about Jeremy and his friends and how they deal with being hardcore gamers when all the normal people in the real world try to bring them down. Get a job? WTF. Cooking food, oh you mean crafting food… that kind of stuff.

The link to watch the entire show on hulu the show is http://www.hulu.com/pure-pwnage Click here for the main website of Pure Pwnage.

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. ~J.A. Laraque

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

When you get above age 30 a lot is changing and a lot of has to do with what you believe you should be doing and the direction you should be going. For many gamers there comes a time where they decide if gaming in part of their lifestyle or something they did in their youth and now it becomes something they need to leave behind. For those who continue gaming it will always be different, not only because we are older with different responsibilities, but because many who we used to game with will have moved on.

mmo cafe

When talking about MMO’s many people talk about Everquest and the early days of World of Warcraft the way a man might talk about his college days. You remember a time when you were free and could do what you want and it was celebrated as well as expected. Now, you have to “grow up” and “be an adult” and the fun times as you knew them are over. This is not to mean that there will not be fun times ahead, but that it will never be like it was before and depending on the person this may make them feel that anything that comes next just could never live up to the old and really for the most part, it cannot.

Everquest Friends

So when you talk about that 48-hour camp in the Efreeti room was it that the time spent killing the same placeholder over and over was so much fun or that it was the time in your life that it happened more fun than now. With many of the new MMO’s being released the idea is the teenager with tons of time on his hand in the past now has work, marriage, kids and so on to deal with and cannot spend time playing 12 hours a day. Of course, there is also the people used to having everything handed to them to consider as well.

If you associate, your fun days with a MMO and now those fun days are over then it will be almost impossible to get that happy feeling back no matter what a game does. You could make an exact copy of a game, but now its 10 years later and maybe that awesome boyfriend lost his job and does not do what he used to or your sexy girlfriend is pregnant and angry. So you load up an MMO and hope to have those fun filled nights you had fighting twin emperors and you just cannot find it and you blame the game.

World of Warcraft Guild

I have always said it is the people who make the game so if you played with great friends in EQ then most likely many of those friends have moved on. Now, you have to try and make new friends or gather the few you have left in a new game, but you cannot bring that magic back. This does not remove responsibility from the game makers. Many MMO’s are just lazy and they rather copy and play it safe than innovate. However, many of the arguments comparing the old to the new are the same we do with movies or television shows. The glasses are rosy and the memories seem so much better than the present or the future.

Perhaps this is the reason MMO’s can be played alone more now than in the past. The EQ and even vanilla WOW generation is much older. Can most of you who raided in EQ find 40 good people to raid and play with day after day, week after week. Can you find 25 or even 15 and if so is it just as fun being with them in the game regardless of the game?

Wow guild

Many who find games like Star Wars, The Old Republic fun are not just fanboi’s. I have found people who like to solo like the game. Many who did not have big guilds in EQ or Wow like the game and those who have retained a good core of gamer friends like it because they get together and enjoy each other’s company in the game first and the actual game second.

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. In between game time, you would hang out, talk with your friends and interact with the gaming community. Now, you have many more responsibilities and less time.

thunderboss

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.

We still have to make sure MMO makers do a good job, and create and maintain the game they promised. However, we should also realize you cannot relive Woodstock, and for many games our “Woodstock” was EQ or WOW.

Abobo’s Big Adventure

As much as some followers try to stick the “classic arcade” tag on me, I am every bit as much of a fan of the 8-bit console era of the later 1980s. Back then, if I wasn’t sleeping, eating, showering or doing my homework I was on my Nintendo Entertainment System, and I wasn’t adverse to skipping one of those listed tasks at times to play it.

Abobo's Big Adventure

Months back I learned of Abobo’s Big Adventure, a fun looking Flash-game parody of the entire NES era, and began looking forward to it. The game went live last night and exceeded my expectations, something that is difficult to do with me.

Yes, you are Abobo, the big muscle-headed ugly guy made famous in Double Dragon and you are pretty darn grumpy. Seems a variety of 8-bit characters kidnapped your kid and you are out to get him back. Thankfully they skip explaining how a guy that looks like Abobo managed to become a father.

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.

6

The game plays right in your browser and can use arrow keys or a gamepad to play. As with the 8-bit games of the day there are only two buttons to learn to use. Just pick up and play, and play you should.

Abobo’s Big Adventure is the ultimate 8-bit tribute game and a must-play for any fan of the era. You can stop reading this article now and go do just that by Clicking here.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter

Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter

Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter

Today’s gameplay footage continues my trek through the Capcom versus games featuring Marvel characters. Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter came after X-Men versus Street Fighter and reintroduced some fan favorites like Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America. Personally, I really liked X vs. SF better, perhaps it was because I had a better winning record at it.

All Camera No Lights

All Camera no lights

Is it just me or does the media like to interview those of us with, how should I put it, less than a Grade A intelligence? I am a current events and news junkie. I am the kind of person who will flip between the cable news programs so I can catch as much information as possible. Over my thirty plus years of news watching I have found some strange patterns when interviewing people for reports.

Show versus No Show

One trend I have noticed is that the nicer the home or the richer the area, the less of it you will see during a report. It does not matter if it is a headline such as a murder or disaster or a fluff piece like, Christmas lights or a three legged dog. When the media interviews someone in an affluent neighborhood, often the person hides behind their door to speak or will walk out to the garage to interview. On the other hand, in the less than affluent area’s it seems people are more than willing to show off their entire home and neighborhood for that matter.

Lowest common denominator

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?

Maybe I have just watched too much television and am reading too much into this. We are a smarter people are we not? Perhaps we are all glued to our websites and blogs to be out in the street available to be interviewed, I for one hope that this is the case because this is getting out of hand. We need representation for those of us who read and continue to educate ours in the public media. I call on all of you who read this to stand up and be questioned.

Games & Candy

Personally, I find runts have a most distinct taste than Gobstopper so when you are going for flavor it is a better choice. Again, this is a lower calories and sugar candy than many others. ~J.A. Laraque

Candy

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.

Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly

Nothing is better gaming candy than jelly beans and why be stuck with just a few flavors when you can enjoy 40 different ones. Personally, I love butter popcorn, which puts me in the minority, but I also love their bubble gum and cotton candy flavor. When you are headshotting people in Battlefield, and you blindly reach for a bean and are surprised by the flavor, it is like finding a hidden treasure in an RPG.

Gobstoppers

gobstoppers

This candy is great for MMO players because they last a long time and keep you from having to head out to the store for more. They also are one of the less bad for you candies due to having lower sugar and calories. Gobstoppers are just sweet enough and since you cannot bite into them right away, you learn patients which is important during those long MMO sessions.

Runts

runts

The perfect candy for the RTS fan, this candy is like a mix between a gobstopper and skittles because at first you cannot bite it so it lasts longer, but not long after you can break it into pieces and finish it off. Personally, I find runts have a most distinct taste than Gobstopper so when you are going for flavor it is a better choice. Again, this is a lower calories and sugar candy than many others.

Mike & Ike

Mike-and-Ike

I find these are good for console gaming. These candies are soft, chewy, and very sweet, but you can kill a whole box quickly so you need the ability to pause the game and get more. I like the special red box that has flavors like cherry, strawberry and watermelon, but all the flavors are good. Just be careful with this one because the calorie and sugar content is pretty high.

Pal Bubble Gum

pal bubble gum

This is the perfect retro gamer candy. Pal bubble gum has been around forever and I remember buying them for one cent each at the candy story. The good thing about Pal is for a low cost candy the sweet taste of the gum lasts quite a while. You could have a big bag of gum and it could last days or weeks depending. Since so many classic games are harder and repetitive, the gum gives you something else to focus on when you can’t kill that damn bat in Ninja Gaiden.

What’s in your Candy Store?

So I know I missed a ton of your favorites, so what is a candy you like to snack on during your game sessions?

American McGee’s Alice

American McGee’s Alice

In the aftermath of Doom and Doom II‘s critical and financial success, many software companies sought to duplicate id Software’s successes.  Some chose to attempt to out-Doom Doom, bringing forth various first-person shooters in an attempt to capture the same market.  Some chose the classic business maneuver of poaching talent, seeking to duplicate the successes of id Software by tempting their brightest minds away with a van full of candy.  American James McGee (yes, that’s his name; no, it’s not a nickname), whose resume included everything from being a tester onWolfenstein 3D, to a level designer for Doom II, to a co-producer for Hexen: Beyond Heretic, was one of those targets.  At the tender age of 28, McGee jumped ship to Electronic Arts in 1998, and was given free rein to direct, write, and design the game of his own choosing.  That game, of course, was American McGee’s Alice.

American McGee’s Alice

Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass had long since passed into the public domain, and several new visions of the setting had already come to pass in cinema, literature, and gaming (such as Wonderland).  However, McGee’s take on the Alice mythos pushed its darkness further into the open.  The game begins with a tragic house fire claiming the lives of young Alice’s family, sending her spiralling into despair and catatonia.  For years she remains within a sanitarium, until one day the White Rabbit returns – not the delightful White Rabbit of her youth, but a somewhat bedraggled White Rabbit, its absent-mindedness no longer charming, but eerie.  Once again Alice follows it into Wonderland, where all is not as it was: the Cheshire Cat is mangy and underfed (but still smiling); the Duchess and the Mad Hatter want to kill her; and the Red Queen rules with a bloody, iron fist.

The level design was absolutely stunning in its 3-D dark surrealism. Alice follows the White Rabbit into the Village of the Damned, where she is reintroduced to the Cheshire Cat, and can locate the Vorpal Blade so she can go all snicker-snack on her opponents.  Next comes the Vale of Tears, a foggy realm that is home to the ravenous Duchess and the poor Mock Turtle who needs his shell back.  Other areas include finding the wise Caterpillar in the Cave of the Oracle; experiencing the chessboard realm of the White Queen; the twisted version of Rutledge Asylum that houses Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as well as the Mad Hatter; the volcanic lair of the Jabberwocky; and the final castle level of the Queen of Hearts. Each level shows the strength of American McGee’s talent for level design as well as the versatility of theQuake III Arena game engine it uses to bring it all to life.

Another element important to the atmosphere of American McGee’s Alice is its aural component, including the voice acting, sound effects, and musical score.  On this front, the game excels.  The voice acting was performed by professional voice actors, with experience in film, television and gaming projects, such as Roger Jackson (who voiced the Cheshire Cat, the Jabberwocky, and the Dormouse…as well as the telephone voice for the Scream movies), Susie Brann (who was the voice of Alice), Andrew Chaikin (who voiced the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare), Anni Long (who voiced the Red Queen and The Duchess), and Jarion Monroe (who voiced the Caterpiller).  As for the game’s soundtrack,  Chris Vrenna (who drummed for Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails for 8 years), approached the challenge of composing the music for the game by looking for instrumentation that sounded like they could be from the Alice’s era, but also having a “creepy” or “bizarre” sound that “created a mood”.   To this end he used toy pianos, penny whistles, toy accordions, wind-up musical boxes, zippers, grandfather clocks, and more.  Ultimately, between the eerie music and the wonderful voice acting, the game fulfills all its audio expectations.

American McGee’s Alice - PC

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.

American McGee’s Alice - PC

American McGee’s Alice proved popular enough to inspire a toy line from Milo’s Workshop.  These limited movement action figures featured Alice with the Cheshire Cat, the Card Guards, the Jabberwocky, the Caterpillar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit.  The quality is similar to Todd McFarlane’s toy line, and were released from 2000 through 2004, and continue to have some value on the collector market.

It’s been over 10 years since Electronic Arts released the game that gave us all a disturbing insight into the mind of former id Software level designer American McGee.  That’s right, American McGee’s Alice was released in October, 2000, so those who remember buying it on its release date, should take a moment to realize time is marching on.  For those who never played this classic PC game, pay your respects to those of us who did.  After all, we’re probably Elders of the gaming community at this point.  With the sequel finally being released, do yourself a favor and play the original.  Your Elders demand it.

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

X-Men: Children of the Atom

X-Men

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

Wrecking Crew - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

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.

Wrecking Crew - NES - Gameplay Screenshot
The game is fun at some parts especially when you take in play the domino factor. If you hit the right object, you will make everything along the way blow up! Isn’t that what wrecking as all about? Either way you put it, the game gets a little frustrating later on, but it’s ok, you can try as many times as you want in order to conquer your wrecking urges. This game was part of the “black box” NES releases which means it’s pretty generic, so don’t expect much from it.
One of the reasons I picked this title as a retro game of the week is because this game shows that it doesn’t have to be great to have a little fun. With the flaws it may have, and the difficulty it may provide, you can still have a great time with it. Just don’t let Werio hit you with the hammer or the wieners will get you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3I_pVpFBsk[/youtube]

Famicomfreak is a classic gaming writer and collector you can view his main blog here – Retro Gaming Life

Open Discussion: How Important Is Cursing In A Game To You?

Later on, the option to turn off the profanity filter was added and never again did I see anyone mention anything about feeling bogged down but neither did I see anyone thanking the Dev Gods that they could finally do so. ~Umar Khan

How Important Is Cursing In A Game To You?

Two days ago, I put up an article about reporting people online for cursing and violating the EULA that they agreed to in order to play online games. The responses to the post were expected. “Fuck you, dick butt!”, “Die of AIDS!”, and “You are a worthless piece of shit!” were the kind of retorts that were anticipated especially with the holier-than-thou attitude the piece was written in.

itgetsbetter

However, there were a couple of users that responded with something along the lines of “Not being able to say what we want online is wrong.” This got me wondering just how wrong is it? How important is it to be able to call someone a fag online? I’m sure it isn’t a game breaker for many people but for some it may be a peeve. It could be categorized under the same kind of irks as not being able to jump in a game.

In DCUO, when it initially launched there were no means to turn off the profanity filter. It would simply censor anything deemed vulgar or out of place. There was a very vocal amount of players who would comment and complain about the inability to voice themselves in a colorful language. Later on, the option to turn off the profanity filter was added and never again did I see anyone mention anything about feeling bogged down but neither did I see anyone thanking the Dev Gods that they could finally do so. It was such a miniscule addition that it sated the vocal but it wasn’t enough for them to say “Awesome. I can curse now.” unlike other changes in a game that define the content and gameplay such as crafting, dual speccing, etc.

So I ask, how important is it to curse in a game to you? Could you still play the game that constantly censored your vulgarity? Is it just a peeve or is it in some ways so important that not having it added in a game is criminal? Do you think of it as an essential part of a game such as being able to send whispers or jump? I’d like to hear from you on this.

League of Legends PVE AI Update

League-of-Legends-
Before I start ranting, let’s see what they promised in this update upgrade:

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.

The AI is still flawed in the regular 5 vs 5 game because it doesn’t hide in bushes, nor does it know how to kill dragon, or kill Baron or even jungle. If you see an AI bot with a buff that means a bad team mate fed that buff to them; they will never get it on their own.

At least now there are new characters for you to SLAUGHTER, instead of the regular Ashe Bot, Annie Bot, Nunu Bot, Warwick Bot, Ryze Bot, Soraka Bot, Miss Fortune Bot, Shen Bot, Taric Bot, Renekton Bot, Trundle Bot, Cho’Gath Bot that you’re used to raping.

The full Rise of the Bots roster now includes:
Annie Bot
Ashe Bot
Brand Bot
Caitlyn Bot
Cassopeia Bot
Cho’Gath Bot
Fiddlesticks Bot
Galio Bot
Garen Bot
Graves Bot
Irelia Bot
Jax Bot
Karthus Bot
Kayle Bot
Kog’Maw Bot
Leona Bot
Lux Bot
Malphite Bot
Malzahar Bot
Miss Fortune Bot
Morgana Bot
Nunu Bot
Rammus Bot
Renekton Bot
Ryze Bot
Shen Bot
Shyvana Bot
Sivir Bot
Sona Bot
Soraka Bot
Swain Bot
Taric Bot
Tristana Bot
Trundle Bot
Udyr Bot
Warwick Bot
Wukong Bot
Xin Zhao Bot
Zilean Bot

Hey Riot Games, where is the Hard or Nightmare difficulty for PVE? That’s what I was expecting this patch to be.

Conclusion: YAWN… stick to PVP please.

Ten Questions: Dave Barton – Zork Universe

Dave Barton, one of the creative people beside the recent MMO version of the Zork universe and the latest World of the Living Dead zombie MMORPG, has gone very indie indeed, and has been kind enough to discuss games, zombies and browser-based gaming with a gnome.

 

cuttings

1.Well, David, how about introducing yourself to those troubled souls that seem to enjoy Gnome’s Lair?

I’m one of two developers on a game called World of the Living Dead. I do the game design, graphics, writing and web design, or anything else that needs to be done. We decided to keep this a very small project in terms of people, although the scope of the game itself is extensive. I was the chief game designer on the Jolt/Activision game Legends of Zork, and also worked on the ill-fated NationStates 2. As a regular reader of Gnome’s Lair, I’m rather troubled to hear that I’m a troubled soul…

2.And you’ve been working on games for how long?

I got a Fighting Fantasy gamebook (The Forest of Doom) when I was nine. I loved it and I really wanted to create my own. I wrote three full gamebooks before I was thirteen, just for the pleasure of creating my own little worlds. The first was typed up on an old Olivetti typewriter from the fifties, although I later saved up enough money to buy an electric typewriter. Working out the structure of those books would have been a lot easier on a computer. I really got into the creation of imaginary worlds came when I discovered roleplaying. I went through everything I could find: D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Rolemaster, Spacemaster, Cyberpunk 2020. There weren’t too many role-players where I lived, so I mostly spent my time fleshing out detailed campaigns and maps. Like many games, they didn’t survive the introduction of actual players. They were usually more interested in just killing the townsfolk or otherwise trashing the place, and usually had little interest in the extra immersion I tried to provide, in the form of carefully-aged messages or maps.

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.

world of the living dead gameplay

3.Care to reminiscence on that online Zork game you worked on?

It was a privilege to work on an actual licensed Zork game. I had a lot of fun immersing myself in the world and piecing together what could be used for a game based on the series. I was the game designer, but I also took on the role of art director and worked on the UI. The brief was very specific, so it was always going to be a certain type of online game. I know that disappointed a lot of people, but I was very careful to stay true to at least the mythology that had accrued over the various incarnations of Zork, and I tried to make use of elements like the Double Fanucci cards to keep even the game mechanics relevant to Zork. I hope that the excellent artwork created and sourced by Jim Zubkavich – who was a pleasure to work with, always enthusiastic and able to bring my descriptions to life exactly as I had imagined them – helped to make LoZ a pleasurable diversion for some Zork fans. I decided to leave Jolt very soon after the release of LoZ, so the game has developed differently from how I would have hoped.

4.So, what are your current projects?

World of the Living Dead is what we’re focusing on, although we also started a micro-patronage site called Karmafan a few years ago, as we had a lot of artist friends who wanted to get support from their fans but didn’t know how. The whole voluntary payments thing really took off a little later but by then I was working for Jolt and so Karmafan didn’t get the attention it needed to develop. Artists still sign up from MySpace, but times are hard so there isn’t much support from fans. I’m also working on a WotLD comic, but my artistic skills have atrophied over the years, so that will probably take quite some time to appear. We both have day jobs, of course.

world-of-the-living-dead-2

5.Could you describe the World of the Living Dead?

I like to describe it as a survival strategy zombie sandbox MMO. Players control groups of survivors using a heavily-modified Google Maps interface. The concept is that the players are members of the fictitious National Emergency Control & Relief Agency (NECRA) who have been sealed into secure locations. They have been tasked with remotely assisting survivors via an emergency system set up when the authorities realised that centralised control and evacuation methods were futile. The government and NECRA seem to have disappeared, but these operatives have their mission, which is to ensure the survival of their own “cell” at all costs. Simulations showed that large groups would always lead to infection, so competitive survival was seen by NECRA officials as the only hope for humanity. The game is primarily about scavenging for supplies and avoiding contact with other groups of survivors or, alternatively, about finding other groups and stealing their supplies. Characters are managed by placing them in squads. The live position of any plays in the area around your squad is updated real-time – so the game is effectively a browser-based RTS, but with no Flash required.

6.But why Zombies?

I’ve been fascinated by the genre for a long time. Not because of the gore and horror, but the constant pressure on survivors to gather supplies and find safety. It’s about the apocalypse, really, so zombies are really only one aspect of it. I recently rewatched a UK series created by the often brilliant Terry Nation in the 1970s called Survivors which I remembered enjoying in the ’80s when I saw it (it was also remade recently). A virus killed over 90% of the population of the world, and the remnants of humanity are left to try and rebuild society. I find that premise fascinating, especially when rival groups form based on such basic needs as seed for planting, or a safe water supply. When zombies are involved, there’s also the tension which comes from how easy it is to be turned into the enemy, to be infected and lose control or to be killed and then “come back”. I think that fear taps into something deep inside us, a sense of how random death can sometimes be. Most of the good zombie/infected films get that fear exactly right. Other influences were Threads, a particularly harrowing UK docudrama about how a nuclear holocaust eventually leads to the collapse of society, or any number of the apocalyptic stories which seemed to be everywhere at the end of the last millenium.

In the zombie genre, the magnificent comic The Walking Dead deals with exactly these difficulties. The zombies just happen to be there in the background and only leading to deaths when the characters are tired or distracted, whereas it’s the other survivors that you really have to worry about. I’m really looking forward to the TV version of this, which starts at the end of the month in the US. And of course there’s World War Z and the Zombie Survival Guide, both of which I had great pleasure in rereading repeatedly throughout the design process.

world-of-the-living-dead

7.What would you say are its most innovative and/or unique mechanics?

I wanted the zombies to be a faceless horde, so decided that they would be represented by z-density, rather than as individual enemies. Z-density is basically a shorthand used by NECRA to determine how dense the zeds are on the ground, based on satellite tracking of their movement. We take real city blocks and work out how many actual zombies are in the block (there are over 9 million zombies moving around the LA County area we’re using for beta testing – they react to player activity, including the use of firearms, over time). Based on the size of the block, we calculate the z-density as a percentage. The players have to imagine this, as z-d is represented by colours, but we might introduce more graphics once we’re happy that all the mechanics are working correctly. Combat is effectively automated, with survivors using firearms or weapons if they have the skills to wield them. Every route completed can result in them putting down some zeds, or in injury and even death for the characters.

The need to consume enough food and liquids each day is something I wanted to have, although I know that it’s a risky prospect for games. Characters need a certain amount of calories and volume of liquids or they will start to accumulate thirst and hunger. Once these reach maximum, the character will die the following day. It takes about four days for dehydration to result in death, and 28 days for hunger to prove fatal. Even if players find supplies, they can’t just feed and water their characters back to full strength. If you neglect them for a few days, it will take a few days for them to recover, as they can only eat and drink so much each day. We decided to make consumption automatic, to avoid forcing players to feel that they had to continually tend to the characters, but it can be tough to keep a large group supplied with enough liquids. Locations do not replenish once they’ve been exhausted, so that means that players have to stockpile when they can, or work out a way to barter for their needs.

world_of_the_living_dead_zombie_mmo_news

8.How long have you been developing it?

I first started working on the idea back in 2007, but we started working on it properly in mid-2009.

9.When will it reach the MMO masses?

I sometimes feel that we’re on Valve Time, so I’ll just say that we hope to be out of beta by the end of this year or the beginning of 2011. We are determined to go into open beta over the course of the next two months.

10.Any plans for the future?

Any other concepts for games have had to be consigned to my notebook while we’ve been developing WotLD. I hope to start working on at least one of those once WotLD is running smoothly, although we don’t really plan on stopping development on the game. The list of features we have planned for WotLD is extensive, and we hope to be able to grow and develop the game so that it becomes a huge multiplayer simulation of the zombocalypse. Vehicles will be making an appearance in the relatively near future, as will a deluge of content once we go into open beta, including hundreds of items and weapons. The graphics side of the game has been limited to what I can create myself, so I’m also hoping to be able to focus more energy on that as the balancing and tweaking settle down. The period of rebuilding civilization after an apocalypse provides plenty of scope for developing the game in some interesting ways.