Super Mario Land

Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
Another pick for this week! This time around we look at the all time portable classic Super Mario Land for the original Game Boy. This is like the Super Mario Bros for the NES. An automatic classic for sure. The game may have some flaws but there are quite a few to stop it from being a great one to add to your collection. Just when the Game Boy was starting its journey in the world of gaming, Mario delivered in an incredible way! Lets take a look!

Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is quite good. With such memorable sounds that will be engraved on your brain for years to come. I’m sure if you heard the song, you would know which game it came from. Any Mario fanatic would anyways. The sound effects are also quite good. They aren’t the ones for the NES but have their own gimmick to make it memorable especially that weird sound that comes out of the bosses when you throw a fire ball at them.

Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
The graphics are just what you would expect from an early Game Boy title side scroller. They aren’t the best out there, in fact there are times where there is no background but the levels do look quite enjoyable. The game also does justice by making the enemies and bosses unique.
Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
The gameplay is quite good. Just think of Super Mario in a portable handheld and that should say enough. You jump, you get power ups and of course you stomp on bad guys. It’s sort of odd that when you jump on a koopa he turns into a bomb….totally odd indeed! Also, what’s with the flower power giving you one ball of fire that bounces all over the screen. I’m guessing they did it on purpose to help keep the gameplay from slowing down. Oh well, good nonetheless.
Super Mario Land - Gameplay Screenshot
With only four worlds the game is quite fun to come back to. There are secrets hidden everywhere so you can always accomplish your goals in different ways. The game itself is fun overall! A 2 player race mode would’ve made it supreme and increased its replay value in masses!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W9ih0ZIcv8[/youtube]

The game is a classic of mass proportions. There are things that could’ve been done to better it even more but this will do for now. A longer game would’ve made the game more amazing and a multiplayer race option would’ve also given it a lot of more appeal. One can’t complain though, getting Mario on your handheld is like part of the Nintendo religion! A must have for sure!

TGI Trading Card Profiles: Brian Cady

Brian Cady

Name:  Brian Cady

Favorite Classic Game:  Tempest

Why it is your favorite:  It took so many quarters in my youth and helped get me into the IVGHOF.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa_b8C0KxfY[/youtube]

Bio: 

Brian Cady enjoys maintaining and restoring classic pinball and arcade games as much as he enjoys playing them. He was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural 2010 group, is the Vice President of the non-profit organization that produces the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show and is the Senior Twin Galaxies Referee for pinball.

Brian has worked in the IT field for over 15 years and held leadership positions at IBM, Washington Mutual and Microsoft. He also enjoys photography and writing and has had numerous articles published including several in the Pin-Game Journal. Brian lives in Bonney Lake, Washington with his wife Shirley (who has the world record on Sky-Line) and three children.

World Records

96,832 Tempest (Extreme Settings) 03/15/2009*
1,673 Bank-A-Ball (pinball)    06/13/2009*
386,430 Klax                        03/25/2010*
2,480 Space Fever (Game A) 10/01/2011*
2,160 Space Fever (Game B) 10/01/2011*
2,870 Space Fever (Game C) 10/01/2011*
* Scores were world records on these dates

Jetpac

Jetpac - Gameplay Screenshot

Jetpac (1983)
By: Ultimate Play the Game Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 6,220
Also Available For: BBC Micro, Commodore VIC-20

Most gamers who grew up in the UK around the same sort of time I did (you know, the 80’s ‘glory days’), probably had one of the 8-bit micros that were doing the rounds at that time and for me it was the ZX Spectrum. I got into gaming late though, and missed the Speccy’s early years which also meant I ended up missing most of the games released by the now legendary Ultimate and, to my eternal shame, I’ve never got around to playing them since either. This is once again where good old Red Parsley comes in handy for me as it provides a great excuse (not that one should be needed, admittedly) to rectify this glaring oversight! To that end, this series of features will look at all of the games released by Ultimate and I guess it makes most sense to start with the first game!

Jetpac - Gameplay Screenshot

Developed by Tim and Chris Stamper, the founders of Ultimate, Jetpac is a simple game as you might expect, and it stars Jetman. It’s your job to guide him around the single-screen stages to reassemble his rocket and then refuel it by collecting the fuel pods that fall onto the screen one by one. On most stages after this he’ll just need to refuel it but every now and then there will be a new rocket to reassemble and he’ll have to repeat the whole process from scratch. Jetman can fly using the titular device for indefinite periods and is also armed with a laser to take out the endless swarms of aliens that drift across the screen attempting to stop him from half-inching their resources (such as precious metals and gems), which also drop onto the screen periodically and can be collected for bonus points. The stages are also looped meaning if he flies off the left of the screen he’ll emerge on the right and vice-versa. This is useful for evading aliens but can also be risky as the aliens do the same!

Jetpac - Gameplay Screenshot

Each stage is home to a different kind of alien (until they eventually start repeating) and they are the source of the game’s difficulty. Each type of alien moves in a different way and your ability to deal with them will determine how far you can get. For example, I have most trouble with the ones that look like gonks but others may find them a breeze. I think most players would agree that this is still a pretty tricky game though, regardless of which types of alien cause you problems! The sound is predictably almost non-existent and the graphics are also fairly basic, and suffer from a bit of colour-clash for good measure, but at least they are colourful, and they’re nicely detailed too.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT4gzLAryCs[/youtube]

Jetpac has never been a flashy, show-off game anyway though, even I know that – it’s famous for its gameplay and nothing else and after just my first few seconds playing it I could see why. It may be simple but it’s also extremely well-crafted. As is often the case, this combination makes it a very addictive game, and one that I’m pleased to have finally played!

RKS Score: 8/10

Guild Wars 2 Release Date: August 28, 2012

Get ready fans Guild Wars 2 release date is only a few months away. We have had a lot of fun in the beta and soon you will be able to play the long awaited MMO. Here is the official press release.

SEATTLE – June 28, 2012:NCsoft®, the world’s premier publisher and developer of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), and ArenaNet™, developer of the renowned Guild Wars franchise, today announce that Guild Wars 2, the most anticipated game of 2012, will launch in both Europe and North America on August 28, 2012.

Building on sales of more than seven million units of the original game, Guild Wars 2 redefines massively multiplayer online roleplaying games with visceral, action-oriented combat; a gorgeous, living world full of constantly evolving dynamic events; customizable personal storylines that are unique to each player; intense Player vs. Player combat between small teams or massive armies; and most importantly, a shared online world where players work together as allies instead of as rivals — all with no monthly subscription fee.

“We’re offering gamers an experience that delivers on the promise of online gaming with a truly social experience in an immense, shared world,” said Mike O’Brien, president and co-founder of ArenaNet. “After five years of creation, development, and polish, announcing the launch date of Guild Wars 2 is a huge milestone for us, but the thing we’re most looking forward to is seeing gamers from all over the globe explore this world and begin creating their own stories.”

As they prepare for launch, ArenaNet will focus on polishing Guild Wars 2 to ensure the highest quality experience on launch day, which includes hosting a final Beta Weekend Event July 20-22, 2012.

For more information about the Beta Weekend Event and how to pre-purchase Guild Wars 2, visit www.guildwars2.com.

 

Check out the launch trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-CB0hheQRg[/youtube]

Atari’s Greatest Hits: Free Games for Mobile Devices

To celebrate Atari’s 40th anniversary you can now get all 100 of their greatest hit games from their mobile app.

atari

Relive the Golden Age of Gaming with a collection of the most popular retro games from the 70s and 80s. This extensive catalog pays homage to each of the originals, with controls designed to mimic what Atari fans remember from 30 years ago! For those who love the classic gaming experience, this handheld breakthrough is sure to guarantee hours of fun.

You can download the app on tunes or from here – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ataris-greatest-hits/id422966028?mt=8

TGI Trading Card Profiles: Eric R. Cummings

ERIC-CUMMINGS

Name: Eric R. Cummings

Favorite Classic Game: Destiny of an Emperor (NES)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsDzXAO0zqU[/youtube]

Why it is your favorite: It’s an NES RPG by Capcom based on events that took place in Second Century China that first puts you in the shoes of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei (The same guys from the ROTK and Dynasty Warriors series by Koei) to quell the Yellow Turban Rebellion. At first it seems like a Dragon Warrior clone in which your party moves at a high speed but upon further inspection, it’s a cool history lesson wrapped in the guise of an entertaining video game. Battles are fought in two ways, turn based and strategic with weapons and magic or a quick fight option where everyone fights at a high speed until stopped or one party is wiped out. The coolest thing about the game is the ability to recruit hundreds of defeated opponents to add to your stable of generals and incorporate them into your 5 man (7 man total, 2 in reserve) battle party.

Bio: I’ve been playing video games since the age of 3 when my Father bought one of the original Pong games in 1980. Raised in a small town with a tiny population, Sawyer MN, the only thing to do was swim, bike, and play in the woods or play video games. We owned the Intellivision, Atari 2600 and the NES before we moved to CT when I was around 12. It was around that age that I started really getting into gaming, absorbing the history, learning who makes what and anticipating releases. I participated in the 1991 Nintendo World Championships, which was taking place in Hartford CT when it came to my area. I loved that I got to play games that weren’t out and ended up reaching the Quarter Finals.

I own a massive video game collection with over a thousand games, over 20 systems and tons of first and third party controllers. I also hold many different Gaming World Records with various organizations and have a vast knowledge pertaining to the history of gaming. I’ve worked many different jobs over the years but my favorite jobs were 3rd Key at Funcoland, Managing a Video Store and Working for Twin Galaxies International. I currently run Gaming World Wide www.gamingworldwide.org and have big plans on the horizon.

Bomb Jack

Good old Bomb Jack. Could he have been the first ever bomb disposal expert in video gaming ? Perhaps he was. It doesn’t really matter, does it.

Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Released in 1984, our little hero garnered a cult following. He may have worn red spandex, but that didn’t stop us from pumping coins into his machine.

Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The premise of the game is pretty straight forward – collect all the bombs to complete a screen. Only one bomb at a time has a lit fuse. If you collect 20 or more of these lit bombs on a level, you get a bonus.

Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

It’s not all easy going for Jack, he has to avoid various monsters and aliens that chase him around the screen. However, if you collect the powerball when it appears, it freezes the baddies for a short period of time, during which, you can kill them simply by touching them. There are other items to be picked up that give you additional bonus points or extra credits.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jJzasm63DE[/youtube]

The game starts to repeat after Level 18. However, you will be too busy darting around the screen, collecting bombs to notice. Bomb Jack is one of those old games that invoke memories of playing it at the corner shop or fish’n chips store across your school. I know, it does for me. Most of my pocket money went into playing this game. It kept me out of trouble, which is always a good thing.

GraphicsIt was 1984, so what do you expect !

72%

SoundAs above !

70%

PlayabilityAnother typical arcade game from the early / mid 80′s – dart around the screen, collect stuff and avoid the baddies. Damn that’s a lot of fun

85%

LastabilityWell, the levels repeat after level 18, but who cares, this game oozes nostalgia. It is a great “pick up and play for 10 minutes” kind of game – which is perfect for us time-poor gamers

85%

OverallThis will not be the first game that comes to mind from the 80′s arcade era. But, if you do come across it, play it. It has the perfect mix of platform and puzzle fun. I guarantee it will put a smile on your dial.

85%

 Bomb Jack - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Manufacturer: Tehkan
Year: 1984
Genre: Single screen platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 1 [jump]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

First Steps: The Secret World

The Secret World

This review talks about the first fifteen minutes of The Secret World. One of the first things that attracted me to this game was  is it leaves behind the world of dragons and magic and takes us to a new world, one that looks a lot like ours, but with a secret that we all want to discover. The idea of playing one of the Knights Templar, the Illuminati or the Dragon and fighting a war against an evil that threatens humankind is something new and exciting.

So in the Secret World the powerful groups have been fighting for control since the beginning of mankind. You begin as a character that has awakened to find strange new powers and just as you get the hang of the basics, you are visited by one of the groups and asked to join. This beginning is pretty much the same for any side you choose, the major differences here is who visits you and what they say. From there things change but for the most part you become aware of an attack in Japan and make your way to your groups meeting point.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

Right away, you will notice you are in modern day earth, which for many MMO fans will be new. It can be refreshing or strange depending on how you feel about it. For me I thought it was refreshing just like when I played City of Heroes for the first time. So let us take a step back and talk about creating a character.

You begin by selecting the group you wish to join and then the server. So far, it appears you can only be in one group per server, which prevents issues, kind of like not having Horde and Alliance on the same PVP server. From there you can select how your character looks. Now personally, I did not like how the character faces looked, but this is a beta and it can change. You can make changes like the hair color, style, nose, chin and things like clothing, but don’t expect to make too unique of a character physically, at least not in this current beta.

Once you have your look you select your name. Something different here is you have a first and last name and your nickname. Now it is your nickname that is used for the game. This allows you to have a real sounding name and then choose something more unique for your nickname. The only issue here is many nicknames will be taken, so, if you wanted a name that matches from first to last it might be hard, or you end up with a nice first and last name and a silly nickname.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

From there we are back to the cut-scene, which shows your leaning some of your powers and meeting your contact. For this review, I selected the Illuminati. For that group you are visited by a man who acts a lot like an pushy pompous Hollywood agent and pretty much tells you they are in control and come join us or else. Right away I was impressed by the voice acting as it sounded natural. Also, the storyline already got me interested, but it is not a surprise since it features the work of Ragnar Tørnquist, creator of the award-winning The Longest Journey.

You can see my first ten to fifteen minutes of gameplay, but to explain the game further the idea is to give you total freedom. There are no levels in The Secret World, however, you do earn points which allow you to add more skills. So say you like swords, but you want pistols and you decide you want to be good at hand-to-hand combat, well, all this is possible.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

Now to give some context, City of Heroes, the superhero MMO, originally was going to give you the right to make your character however you wanted. The reason they did not was because they did not want one cookie cutter class that could do it all, they also did not want you to make a bad character who got its ass kicked and caused you to quit. In, The Secret World, your abilities can be changed at any time, so if you go with a gun and sword build with healing and find you need more defense you just reallocate your points.

Since the game is based on modern times and your story is you have these incredible powers it makes sense. Most of the time you will either be fighting against NPC’s or other players so the ability to change your build can be handy and keep you interested in the game and your character since you do not have to keep re-rolling new characters to try out new builds.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

As said, the game is in modern times, so you have guns and modern weapons to use as well as swords and what we will call magic just to make it simple.  When choosing what build to make it can seem overwhelming, but you can choose premade power-sets or decks to make it easier. You can also just pick one weapon and build around it. The great thing is there are a ton of side abilities allowing for healing, better defense and speed and other things that can make almost any build viable, but the PVP min/max experts will tell you what is best soon enough I am sure.

Back on the topic of freedom, The Secret World does not force a specific progression meaning you do not have to sit grinding missions if you do not want to. There are multiple ways to improve yourself including working your way up the ladder in the organization you choose.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

There are other aspects of The Secret World that you will not really experience in the first few moments of the game. However, you can dress how you like since the game is not dependent on gear armor or stats from gear for the most part. There are stats on relics you collect, but your main clothing does not have stats or armor levels. This allows you to have your own style and look without costing you offensive or defensive abilities. You can also dismantle anything in the game from weapons to other items you find, which is an interesting aspect.

As far as combat, not long after you begin you are tossed into combat. You begin by finding your way to your contact which allows you to explore the city you are in and get used to the controls. There is lore everywhere which you can find and click on and a lot of hidden items you won’t be able to get to until later. You will also fight in major cities like New York and London against all types of creatures of lore like Zombies, Vampires and Werewolves.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

Once you are in combat, I will say it reminded me of Left for Dead in a good way. You start off with a shotgun and two basic attacks and get used to aiming and moving while firing. The combat felt fluid and was not boring nor easy which again, is a good thing. Very soon, you get two more powers, one that slows your enemies and a powerful attack you use on the bigger enemies. Right before the big battle you get a heal spell that you will take use off right away. This tells me the idea is to allow you to stand alone and not depend on the holy trinity of Tank, Healer, DPS.

Motions like strafing and backing away will be important in this game. You will also need to know when you slow your enemy and the best time to heal. The beginning battle also shows off destructible environments as well as cool lighting effects and the fact that it will mostly be you against the world.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

In the first fifteen minutes, you really do not take use of your inventory or character page, but it is there and functions pretty much like any other MMO. However, in the game there currency can be used to upgrade slots for your inventory, which is good instead of the need to buy bags. You also can change your clothing on the fly, chat with friends (including Facebook connectivity) and change your skills and talents.

Once you survive the battle, you encounter something strange and then awaken ready to begin your new life in the secret world. From there is where you select your first weapons and skills and get your first mission.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

Other cool thing that you will not see in the first few moments is the travel system. About twenty or so minutes in you discover the “Hollow Earth” that allows you to travel around the world in seconds, which is a cool concept and allows a reason behind how things work in the game world.

The Secret World - Funcom - Gameplay Screenshot

Obviously, there is much more to The Secret World than what you read in this review or saw in the screenshots and videos. However, it is a game that is worth a look at especially if you are looking to get away from Dungeons and Dragons.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwQx9Ffhbhw[/youtube]

The ability to have freedom within a game mixed with a good storyline and voice acting is a recipe for a great game. The Secret World will be available July 3rd, you can preorder it here.

Arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior is turning 30

One of video gaming’s most unlikely heroes is turning 30.

Donkey Kong Junior

Arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior is turning 30

Donkey Kong Junior had some big shoes to fill in 1982 as the sequel to Nintendo‘s first hit game, Donkey Kong. In a unique role-reversal, Mario was now the villain of the story as the son of the original antagonist fought through a maze of jungle vines and moving platforms in an effort to save his father.

According to trademark filings, Donkey Kong Junior first appeared publically on June 30, 1982. The suffix in the title was spelled as “Jr.” in Japan but “Junior” in North America. Later home releases moved toward the shorter version, appearing as “Donkey Kong Jr.” Despite the original longer version of the name the shorter suffix is the most common spelling of the game title worldwide.

Donkey Kong Junior Arcade

“I remember Donkey Kong Junior getting a lot of attention in the arcades,” said Mark Kiehl, the all-time high score champion on the arcade classic. “People were excited about a sequel to Donkey Kong.”

The DKJ arcade unit went on to sell 30,000 machines in North America and see releases on every major home platform of the day. It also saw a great deal of exposure on television as one of the key games in a nationally aired arcade game contest, a breakfast cereal and even a Saturday morning cartoon short as part of the Saturday Supercade series on CBS.

Donkey Kong Junior Mini Arcade

In the later 1980s, Junior was among the list of launch titles for the very successful Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was part of a short-run reissue arcade game from Namco in 2005 included alongside the original game and Mario Bros.

“To this day it’s still a staple game for collectors and retro arcade operators to own,” Kiehl added. “It had a lot of staying power.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1KrrnBJ0Vs[/youtube]

Take a look at the video montage to experience some of the mainstream media love given to young Donkey Kong Junior in the early 1980s and post your thoughts and memories of the classic arcade game below.

TGI Trading Card Profiles: Rudy J. Ferretti

RUDY-FERRETTI

Name: Rudy J. Ferretti

Favorite Classic Game: Well I have been asked the question so many times and so many to choose so, it will have to be Castlevania NES

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

Why it is your favorite: This game was the ONLY reason I rushed home from school each day to play the NES, I was intrigued by the colors, the originality and the secrets. I loved the idea of being a Vampire Hunter locked inside a castle and no way to turn back, scoring points and learning how to defeat and master the game and the enemies and bosses. The music was so advanced for it’s time and I could remember playing it in my head and talking about it at recess at school, and  the problems we had with certain enemies and bosses in the game, and although there were games similar to this game out there, NOTHING compares to the game and the series in itself, and everyone one of them were unique in their own way, I will and have always been a fan dark/evil games and movies but, this game and series is prob the biggest reason why I started playing the NES…

Bio:

  • Rudy had been gaming since he was six years of age. Born May 27, 1979, In New Rochelle, N.Y.. He discovered that he could compete and keep up with the best gamers in the World. I Discovered Twin Galaxies in 2000 and the first score I saw that I Knew I could match was Pitfall two for the Atari 2600, after that I started submitting on the NES going through many battles on many titles and systems. I won many and lost many that’s what a real champion is all about winning and losing. I have a colorful collection of many World Titles that range from fastest times to highest scores and even some that I have lost the 1st place spot on were and will always be notable scores. Some Include one of the most popular games Splatterhouse for TG 16 I was the first high score champion and have lost and regained the score since, I hold the World title on the Sega Genesis Mutant League Hockey with a 43-0 Shutout only to not score higher do to CPU going crazy in the game, A Nightmare on Elm Street for the NES, I was the first high score champion and still am to this day.
  • Other scores include Monopoly for the NES 2:!6 Bankruptcy of the Computer, Lethal Weapon NES Max score 602,700, Wizards and Warriors Max Score NES, Home Alone Max score NES 141,340, Castlevania 3 Max score NES 999,999 Nes Monster in my pocket 9,999 max score, Super Mario GB 999,999 Land I have many other scores on multi consoles and have been listed in Guinness gamers edition all 5 years and in 2008 he was featured more than any gamer in the entire world in the book, Video Game collector magazine, Retrocade and in several other books in hopes to be in more.
  • Rudy has appeared on Coin-Op TV, Retroware TV and has been on several podcasts on various sites over the years, he is also a World Class Flash gamer on Retromundi.com,
  • I have been to many events, and have performed and obtained world records on gaming LIVE and on the Spot.
  • Two notable facts about Rudy J. Ferretti, I was the only gamer in history that flew nearly 3000 miles to prove in person that my score On Jaws for the NES was not by a Turbo Controller due to that fact in my prime my finger speed was second to none, I was not only the person to ever Crack 2600 Points on Twin Rifle a novelty Arcade game but it was done on my first try in Las Vegas at the Pinball Hall of fame at the end of several tried I shattered the Record of 2600 points and obtained a whopping 9100 points In front of Walter Day  but, it did not stop there a year later on the same machine in the same location, I not only broke the record on ONE try but , I did it in front of Todd Rogers scoring and looping the game 9999, with a new score of 10,200 points after NOT playing the game an entire year.
  • The game I revolutionized was for the Atari 2600, the time the score was a sub 40k, I was the first person not only to brake 40k, I scored over a million on the game only to kill off my remaining 50 plus lives in reserve. The game was Muppets Pigs in Space.
  • Plagued by politics and and hate and corruption over the years in gaming, Rudy has never truly maxed his performance potentials in gaming and to this his dreams of having the all around gaming league continue but, Rudy says the most important goal and Record of ll is to maintain his record of holding the most NES perfect/max scores that stands at 14 to this  day as he continues to play to add to that number and although he may not hold the Tetris score yet, Rudy has placed himself into history of a TOP all time NES  player and one of the best all around video gamers in history……
  • What’s next for Rudy? will just have to wait and find out.

Hero’s Quest

Heros Quest - PC - Sierra - Gameplay Screenshot

This week I’m  looking at the Sierra On-Line classic, Hero Quest, first released in 1989.  This game was a completely different gaming experience back in the day.  Most gamers were used to adventure games, like King’s Quest or Space Quest, or role-playing games, like Might & Magic.  But an amalgamation of role-playing and adventure games was unheard of! Lori Cole’s game design was unique and the game was a best-seller for Sierra, spawning several sequels over the years.

Heros Quest - PC - Sierra - Gameplay Screenshot

You could play Hero Quest either as a Fighter, Magic-User, or Thief.  The game’s puzzles were designed so that they could be solved in different ways by the different character classes, and you could improve your character’s skills and inventory as you played the game.   It played as an adventure game, where your character completed quests and solved puzzles, moving the storyline to its epic finish.  By today’s PC game standards, the graphics and sound are rudimentary at best, with your hero looking a bit like a stick figure jerkily moving about the screen.  But a good retro gamer never judges an old game by today’s standards!  The storyline is strong, and can still be fun to play today.

Heros Quest - PC - Sierra - Gameplay Screenshot

An interesting side note about Hero Quest is that the game’s name had to be changed almost immediately after it was distributed.  Milton Bradley had trademarked the Hero Quest name for their 3D board game, which apparently no one in the Sierra On-Line team knew – until they were told to remove it or else.  The solution was to simply change the title of Hero Questto Hero Quest: So You Want To Be A Hero.  Of course, this has led to these two games forever jumbled together in google searches as retro gamers look to find them to add to their collections!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1rJXX5yBcs&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

TGI Trading Card Profiles: Patrick Scott Patterson

Patrick Scott Patterson

Favorite Classic Game:  Lode Runner (Commodore 64)

Details as to why it is your favorite:  Great blend of a platformer and deep strategy with plenty of levels and different challenges.  Timing and memorization is key throughout.

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

Bio:  Patrick Scott Patterson – After more than 30 years of playing video games, The OriginalPSP has moved into recording gaming history and helping push gaming culture and the people in it into pop culture where he can.  Scott competed in numerous gaming contests in the 1990s and stays active today with several world records on both classic and modern gaming platforms.

The Effect of Diablo 3: Real Money Auction House

Class warfare is not for politics alone. Many of the Asian MMO’s that have a paid item system have people who spend a lot of real life money to become powerful. In MMO’s the “eBay” character is a term meaning you paid for your character and do not know how to play it. ~J.A. Laraque

The Effect of Diablo 3: Real Money Auction House

When I first heard about the real money action house I just laughed, but then I had to pause for a moment. I remembered back in the early days of Everquest people could sell not only their high-level characters, but gear as well for a lot of money. I knew someone personally who sold their character and was able to take a vacation with the money he made.

Diablo-3-Real-Money-Auction-House

I thought back to some of the feelings over selling a character or loot. One person felt in an MMO your character is your identity, so, you should not sell it. This of course was when that statement was relatively true. Another person felt that selling in game loot for real cash would cause more loot stealing and hording, which I personally did not see happen.

However, now we have Diablo 3, which is not an MMO, at least not in the traditional sense. You can already twink your character using in-game gold and the gold based auction house, so , the question would be, what effects would real money have on the game?

Diablo-3-Real-Money-Auction-House

Less Help from Max level characters

For most gamers you can get through the normal and nightmare difficulties pretty easily. However, once you reach the Hell levels you will need some help. Now you can always pug and since loot is your own, you do not have to worry about loot stealing. However, you do have to worry about finding competent players. What about all your level 60 friends?

The problem I see with the money auction house is people get the fever as soon as they make even a few bucks off the game and so they want to keep working on the inferno level at all times. Obviously, the game is based on progression and nobody wants to go backwards. In this case, helping a friend can cost you money because you could be getting loot or reaching a higher act, which leads to more loot.

Diablo-3-Real-Money-Auction-House

Blueprint for a Free-to-Play Model

Consider this. We know that MMO’s are in a transitional period. Even if we are to be blamed for some of the downfalls of MMO’s it is clear that the monthly payment model is on the way out. We have already seen the nickel and diming of MMO’s, but for the most part fans do not seem to have an issue with that. With the downfall of games like Star Wars and DC Online Universe the writing is on the wall. So what can be done.

With the fees gained from these transactions, you can begin to recoup the money you would lose from subscriptions. Couple that with a store that allows you to buy items like mounts and pets and expansions and soon you might find yourself spending more than you would just paying a monthly subscription. Companies can release games, charge you a one-time fee and make money off micro-transactions.

Diablo-3-Real-Money-Auction-House

Gold Futures

On one hand, lower level items will become cheaper on the gold auction house since there is no benefit to having a low level twink. The goal is to get to 60 and farm inferno for loot to sell for real money. This can have a number of effects on gold and items.

One effect is any item that is high level and not sold for real money will cost so much gold almost no one can afford it. This could kill the gold selling market for Diablo 3, which is a good thing or it could increase it as people do the ratio to see if buying 2 million gold for a bow is cheaper than paying 100 real dollars for it.

In time as more people list items on the money auction house things will settle down and many might end up moving their real money item back to gold just to sell it. I have to wonder if a gold to money transfer program is not in the works.

Diablo-3-Real-Money-Auction-House

Buying your way to Victory

Class warfare is not for politics alone. Many of the Asian MMO’s that have a paid item system have people who spend a lot of real life money to become powerful. In MMO’s the “eBay” character is a term meaning you paid for your character and do not know how to play it.

In many games, the trend is to allow people to purchase items using real or in-game money but not letting it give them too much of an advantage. Currently, in Diablo 3, it does not really matter if someone pays thousands of dollars to become powerful enough to beat inferno, but in time and if the model continues you could see people beating you not on skill, but based on how much money they have to spend.

Diablo-3-Real-Money-Auction-House

Cashing Out

Full disclosure, I sold my first little item on Diablo 3 and made about 4 bucks after Blizzard and PayPal took their cut, but it did feel good to make something off this game.  When you think about the fact that you waited so long to play this game, then you paid sixty or more for it, the idea of making back your investment is appetizing to say the least. The real money auction house can extend the game. However, I think Blizzard needs to invest in itself and add more dungeons and things to do besides farming for sellable loot.

In the end, this will be more of a positive than a negative for Diablo 3 and Blizzard. Though many might complain about spending real money it has been done in MMO’s since Everquest and has no signs of changing. Either you join in or stay away, either way, the game, just like life keeps moving on without you.

Wolverine

Wolverine

Overall Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

There was many video games released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System that became classics beloved by millions and even breaking into pop culture relevance. Other cartridges, however, were piles of utter junk that were hardly playable and gained notoriety for entirely different reasons; developer LJN was somewhat known for being more likely to release a bad title rather than a good one, and among the turds they pushed onto an unsuspecting public was Wolverine in 1991, which was indeed based on the popular Marvel Comics character and member of the X-Men.

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Gameplay

Playing as mutant titular protagonist Wolverine, the player must traverse through several varied stages, each with a differing theme but all of them packed with many forms of the same faceless, lightly colored clone people, somewhat like the Silver Surfer en masse and less powerful. Each of these stages has a name that hints at their features, like Level 2: Trial By Air, which takes place in the sky amidst flying contraptions; Level 4: Trial By Water, which forces the player to master swimming mechanics with a limited air supply; Level 5: Trial By Terror, an oddly dark level that plays more like something out of a Castlevania crypt; and Level 6: Trial By Fire, which is somewhat self-explanatory, and others, leading up to Level 9: The Final Battle.

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

This two-dimensional action platformer also features some bosses between certain stages, in addition to the precision-jumping, enemy-dodging, pattern-memorizing aspects throughout the actual levels. In the comics, movies, and other media, Wolverine is a nearly indestructible beast of a man with claws that can cut through nearly anything. His video game avatar is very different, in this case: The claws can be sheathed or unsheathed, but using them actually reduces his life bar. Whether or not the claws (which are more powerful and have a slightly longer reach than the usual punch) are out, the B button punches and the A button jumps, there is a crouch, and the Select button is used to either toggle the claws or call in Havoc, an ally that lets Wolverine rest, a weird little function.

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The fact that using Wolverine’s claws damages him cannot be forgiven. This is asinine. A game featuring a character most known for ripping his foes to shreds should not be reduced to a fragile, foe-punching nincompoop who cannot use his signature fighting moves. There is no reason to make the design decision to make the claws a consequence rather than a benefit, other than to irritate gamers and X-Men fans. This means that LJN actually intentionally chose to make this a much worse, less enjoyable, stupider game than it could have been.

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

There are other odd flaws as well, such as the way Wolverine takes damage: In many NES video games, such as the Mega Man franchise, taking damage grants the character a temporary moment of invulnerability, wherein the player can use a couple precious seconds’ worth of time to escape the situation and move to safety, or bypass an especially difficult area. In other games, like the Ninja Gaiden series, taking damage knocks the character backward, which can be annoying but at least gives an interesting gameplay mechanic in some samples. For Wolverine, however, you just sit there and take damage rapidly as long as you are touching something. This means that if you are standing in front of an enemy and hit it, which you have to be at close range for, you are fine; but if you are a few too many pixels close, your health bar will be dropping as long as you stand there, along with an annoying buzzing sound.

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Overall, the gameplay shows the usual shoddy development that LJN was reliable for. This was not a tightly honed game with slick controls and an enjoyable experience. It is very challenging, has a few weird quirks (the berserker mode is one, and not worth explaining), and some mind-numbingly ridiculous design decisions (the claws that mystically kill yourself when using). It stands to say, however, that this is definitely a superior game to the X-Men title on the NES, and at least it is a beginning-to-end platformer quest with varied challenging areas.

Graphics

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The visuals for this 8-bit video game are actually decent, with Wolverine’s character being recognizable, most of the animation operating smoothly, not too many flickering or slowdown problems, and fun appearances by some old X-Men foes like Magneto. In this reviewer’s opinion, the clone enemies actually look cool, though it would be understandable to believe they get stale after a while. At least they come in different varieties, such as the annoying jet-pack ones that fire at you from above.

Wolverine - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Sound

The music is alright, the sound effects are okay. The audio for this game is better for many, but not within the upper echelons of the NES experience.

Originality

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqvPi5qE5ZA[/youtube]

The problem with the NES iteration of Wolverine is that the concept itself, of taking a popular license character and producing a below-average game with him or her as the starring vehicle, was not original at all. However, the parts of this game that are “innovative” are dreadful aspects, like having Wolverine’s claws damage him as they are used. This video game actually would have been much better had it been a little simpler: Have Wolverine’s claws out at all times without being self-damaging, fix the hit-detection oddities, and voila, a decent platformer. Instead, we have a very “meh” game that could be worth some replay value as a very challenging action title, but still only merits one and a half stars out of five.

Oil’s Well

oil's well - sierra - gameplay screenshot
I thought I’d let you know just what a visually stunning, additively fun and mostly forgotten little gem this 1990 Sierra production is.
oil's well - sierra - gameplay screenshot
Well, it is, and its VGA version for our ageing DOS boxes is most probably the best arcade/puzzler this developer ever came up with, though admittedly they did have to remake its earlier 1983 version.
oil's well - sierra - gameplay screenshot
Oh, and it would be fair to call this one abandonware. Have a play/look.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-JQS3iWjVA[/youtube]

Fans, Get Ready for Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is set to be released by 2K Games on the 26th of June, for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Fans of the series and those who enjoy games of a similar genre, like Gears of War and Uncharted, should enjoy the action scenes in Spec Ops: The Line.

Specops the line- gameplay screenshot

The makers of Spec Ops: The Line drew inspiration from the film Apocalypse Now and the classic novel Heart of Darkness for the creation of underlying moral dilemmas faced by the characters in dark, hellish settings.

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic Dubai, after a sandstorm has left most of the city dead and buried. Captain Martin Walker and his elite Delta Force Bravo team attempt to locate and recover the remaining survivors, including US Army Colonel John Konrad. The name of Konrad is a reference to the author of Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad.

Colonel Konrad remained behind along with his men and some of the citizens who couldn’t evacuate in time. A weak distress signal is picked up that indicates that he’s still alive and so Walker and his team must deal with outlaws, navigate through treacherous sandstorms to find their men.

Specops the line- gameplay screenshot

Both the website and trailer hint that Konrad may have stayed in Dubai against orders for his own motivations. More of the mystery will be uncovered when the game is released.

Spec Ops is a military game franchise that was originally created in the late 90s, primarily for PC, PlayStation and Dreamcast. Each version of the game had completely different narrative and characters, and took the hyper-realistic third person shooter game to the next level of coolness.

The first two games released in the 90s, Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way and Spec Ops: Ranger Team Bravo, were well-received and won plenty of fans.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abLv46Juyu8&hd=1[/youtube]

The latest version has voice work by Nolan North who has featured as many different characters over the years including Dead Pool in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Nathan Drake in Uncharted and Desmond in the Assassin’s Creed series. He is a charismatic voice actor who lends a lot of believability to the character of Captain Martin Walker.

Finally fans can rejoice! The long wait for the release of Spec Ops: The Line is almost over.

Diablo 3 plus Castlevania

diablo 3 and castlevania

Diablo 3 plus Castlevania

Diablo 3 is a lot of fun, perhaps not a 10-year wait fun, but fun nonetheless. While playing the beginning cathedral I really felt a Castlevania vibe going on so I decided to load up my MP3 player with songs from Super Castlevania and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I had a lot of fun killing demons to that music so I decided to upload a little of my gameplay.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgbQcivE1Dw[/youtube]

Enjoy.

Joust

I have a huge list of “favorite” arcade games from when I was a kid, and JOUST has to be near the top.

In 1982, Williams produced this hit with unique game play, and has been ported a number of times since, and most very well done.

You play as a knight who rides on a FLYING OSTRICH! It seems the regular horse-jousting games were sooooo 1981, they decided to pull that crazy idea out of their butts. Somehow, it worked.

joust-atari 7800- gameplay screenshot

The object of the game is to get through as many levels/points as you can, and like most arcade games, there is no true end. With one joystick to move your bird, and one button to flap the ostrich’s wings, you need to lance all of your other flying opponents. The faster you “flap”, the faster your knight will rise, then use gravity to lower yourself. Unlike most games, where you can start and stop on a dime, Joust tries to add a little realism….if you can just get past the original concept, of course. Wave after wave of knights appear, and you take them down by hitting them with your lance just a little higher than theirs. If vice-versa, you lose a life. After you hit them, they turn into a huge egg, which will bounce around the floating rock platforms, but eventually stop. Running over these eggs gives you bonus points and is essential, because eventually they will “hatch” new riders and remount.

Other enemies include the pterodactyl, who will show up if you take too long to complete a wave. It’s very quick and relentless, chasing you around the screen with an unbelievably annoying battle cry. It can be killed, if hit just right, but only the advanced players are able to do this, me not being one of those. I prefer to avoid.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1itbuQM3oug[/youtube]

At the bottom left and right corners are lava pits, which will swallow bouncing eggs and if you get too close, a FREAKING HAND reaches out and grabs you!

The difficulty ramps quickly, and if I get to 40,000+ points I figure I had a nice game. Visually, it’s as fantastic a game as you’ll find for that era.

Another bit I wanted to add is this is a very fun game either solo or with 2-players. In 2-player mode, you can work as a team, or “accidentally”(hehhehheh) knock out your buddy.

I’ve never been able to figure out where this crazy place is supposed to exist, not Arthurian for sure. It really seems like the developers just threw a bunch of crap together to see what would happen, but it turned out to be a masterpiece.

Overall, 10/10

First Steps: Tera Online

Tera Online - Gameplay Screenshot

My first trek into the action MMO began with looking over my character and class choices. I was impressed by the amount of different characters you can choose from. Of course, you have your humans and elves, but it expands from there giving gamers varied choices in the type of hero they want to create. This allows you to build your race based on the class you would like to be. For me I wanted to be a priest so in the spirit of my Everquest character I selected a high elf.

After selecting your race you can choose from a number of classes, many of which anyone familiar with MMO’s will recognize. All the classes have descriptions of what they do and a star rating system that tells you how hare the class will be to play. I have to admit I was surprised the priest was only three stars as in many games it is harder to play.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp-H7ZudCKc[/youtube]

When customizing your character you have a number of choices including presets that have a number of good looks choices. Even if you select a preset, you still can make modifications to it. You can also start custom from scratch and choose everything from hairstyle to facial features to how your armor will look. Once this is done, you can edit your name and begin.

Another cool thing when you start out is you can select from the keyboard or a controller like the Xbox 360 or PS3 controller. Obviously since you will also be typing with other players you will still need the keyboard, but the game is set up in a way that you can control your basic movements and attacks using a joystick which is not only fun, but could be preferred for some console gamers.

Tera Online - Gameplay Screenshot

So right away, to are tossed on a beach, which kind of reminds me of the beginning of Conan or the goblin starting area for World of Warcraft. Instead of starting out at level 1, you begin at level 20 and have a number of abilities to use. I, as a priest started off with offensive and defensive abilities.

Movement is a combination of your mouse and W, A, S, D and it only takes a second to get used to the controls if you have played MMO’s before. The beginning quests get you used to walking around, using the “F” key to talk with people and getting used to your UI.

Tera Online - Gameplay Screenshot

As you can see in the video and screenshots, Tera Online tries not to put too much on your screen. You have your health and mana bars. Then you have the map screen, your dialog windows and your spell bars all in normal locations for most MMO’s.  You also have your inventory box and your character box where you can equip your character with items.

Once you get past the starting quests, you get some starting armor and make your way out. Along the way, you see that there will be different interaction with terrain like jumping on pillars and climbing ladders. When you attack, you use the left mouse button for a basic attack and the right button, at least for the priest, vaults you back and away from the battle. All these can be reconfigured to put the spells and abilities where you want/need them.

Tera Online - Gameplay Screenshot

The gameplay reminds me of a mix between a point and click and a traditional MMO and having various spells and abilities right out the gate makes the game fun.  You will need to hit the alt or escape key to bring up your mouse pointer to do things like read your spells or change your quick buttons. It is also a good idea to read what the spells do because some are range attacks while others are not. As for your basic attack you can just hold the left mouse button down and the spell will continue firing,

Soon you find yourself fighting a harder enemy and see that there are destructible environments that you will encounter. After that, you get into a larger battle with a boss and a number of allies and enemies. For the priest class it is an opportunity to learn some of your AOE “help “spells. Like regeneration and purification. Now later, after a very cool cut-scene, you do begin as level one recruit with only very basic spells as you begin learning your class.

Overall, the first ten or fifteen minutes of the game leaves a good impression that it will be the action oriented MMO promised from the beginning. There are a lot of good signs such as starting off with a number of spells and interesting  gameplay. In addition, smaller things like being able to resize everything including your inventory boxes and the help guide which shows step by step instructions on how to do and access various things. As we play on we will bring you more information and our thoughts on Tera Online.

The Gamers Guide to Sex

The Gamers Guild to Sex - Gamer Girl

Like with the Interruption, Multitasking can lead to trouble if attempted at the wrong time. Perhaps in the normal world there is no wrong time for sex. This is not the normal world. ~J.A. Laraque

The Gamers Guide to Sex

In the past, the stereotype was that gamers were either 90-pound pale virgins or 500-pound pale virgins. Today the virgin part is a little less true thanks to the wonders of internet communication and desperation. So now, you have a partner, hopefully someone who shares in your gaming habits or at least tolerates them enough to still sleep with you. This isn’t about sex in video games. You need to know how to navigate gaming and sex and understand all the terms, tricks and tips that go along with it.

A.F.K. Sex

The Gamers Guild to Sex - AFK Sex

Most of the time A.F.K Sex is a mistyping where you meant to type either sec. Sometimes it is a played out joke or a cry for attention.  However, there are those who engage in the quickie between games and you can either feel good for them that they are having sex or bad that it is so quick. One pro tip is if you are on Ventrilo make sure to turn off your microphone or it can get really embarrassing.

The A.F.K. Sex really only works if both parties are gamers or your partner really likes a quickie. Lovemaking should be the journey not the destination, but when there are two gamers and a break in-between raids you get the good when you can get it in.

The Interruption

The Gamers Guild to Sex - The Interruption

Surprise sex can be fun when it is wanted and legal. However, with the gamer it can go 50/50. Here are a few examples. You are playing a console game and your girlfriend is frisky and begins pushing your buttons. It is a simple matter to pause the game and have a little non-digital fun. On the flip side, you are a gamer girl in the middle of your StarCraft 2 tournament match and your boyfriend is poking at your boobs. This is a bad time and because of his bad timing he will most likely earn a faction loss which just might result in him getting no sex even once you are doing with your game.

The key here is communication. You want to read the signals and know the game before you make your move. For the most part if you can pause the game you have the green light, but this can depend on various situations as well. With online gaming, unless they are sitting in an inn or some other safe zone its best to ask before just jumping in.

Multitasking

The Gamers Guild to Sex - Gamer Girl Multitasking

If done correctly and at the right time this should award a real life achievement. Multitasking is when you are able to perform a sexual act while gaming. An example would be third base while playing Diablo 3 at your desk. You earn more point’s dependent on the act and the game. I will keep it clean so use your imagination, but if you are playing a game that requires a lot of concentration and split second timing and you can still preform or be preformed on, then you earn a higher score.

Like with the Interruption, Multitasking can lead to trouble if attempted at the wrong time. Perhaps in the normal world there is no wrong time for sex. This is not the normal world.

Victory or Defeat

The Gamers Guild to Sex - Victory

Victory or Defeat is great because it can work if you are a gamer or not. Simply put either way you have sex, but the why it is initiated depends on if you win or lose your game. Say, you just downed a boss in World of Warcraft for the first time. In this case, it could start out with a victory cheer followed by a passionate make-out session.

Take that same boss victory, but say you missed the roll on that one item you have been dying for. Now, the approach is more of condolence and comfort, kind of like hitting on a widow after a funeral, but less sleazy. The key here is not to dwell too much on the loss because you do not want to kill the mood. However, a good roll in the sack can cure most gaming blues.

The Duel

The Gamers Guild to Sex - The Duel

This is a game two gamers can play, the goal is to get the other to stop playing a game and take you to the bedroom or right there if possible.  I say this is for gamers because you both should know it is ok to try this because either the game can be paused or it is not that important. Nine out of ten times the female will win the duel because they just pwn us in that department, but if you can get her worked up first then you just might earn an achievement of your own. Just make sure to follow through and don’t choke.

Safety First

The Gamers Guild to Sex - PSP Lick

So there are just a few you gamer couples can play around with. You can have a happy sex life and still remain a gamer if you work at it and communication is paramount be it in person or vent or whispers in your favorite MMO. The questions we pose to you is how many of these have you don’t and what others have you created or done yourself?

Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries

Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries Atlas

In the spirit of Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries came out Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries. If you’ve never played Battletech or any of the Mechwarrior games, this is a great place to start other than Mechwarrior 2. This game should hold you out until Mechwarrior Online comes out! 😀

Mechwarrior 4 Mercenaries Atlas

Mechs are customizable based on what they look like. Some mechs will only use missiles or cannons or energy weapons if that is what they used in the original tabletop Battletech game. Only Omnimechs have no such restriction.

The Good:
– Addicting and fun fun fun!
– A large variety of mechs and all sorts of updated weapons from both the Inner Sphere and Clan factions.
– Whore yourself out to the highest bidder and get paid well.
– As difficult as needed without it becoming impossible to beat.
– Nice music made in the spirit of the music from Mechwarrior 2 but not as good.
– Fun even though it’s old and feels dated. Since Battletech games are nowadays rare, we’ll take it!
– You can play the game free if you download it at MekTek.
– Some people still play this online together.

The Bad:
– The controls are really dated. The mouse control is horrible. It is designed to be used with a joystick which not that many people use anymore for PC gaming other than mainly flight sim people.
– The graphics are really dated.
– The game has an ending.
– Sometimes when you repair a Mech if you don’t have enough parts in your stockpile, it will repair the Mech but some of the weapons will be missing. The requires you to micromanage your configurations after a nasty mission every single time!
– Some missions are pretty frustrating.
– Damage engine does not show realistic depiction of damage on units.
– The Mechlab might be a little intimidating to new Battletech players especially with the variety of configurations available.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Dylan Barker: Cadenza Interactive

Cadenza Interactive logo

Name: Dylan Barker

Company: Cadenza Interactive

Profession: Game Designer

Star-craft-Brood_War_box_art

Favorite Classic Game: Starcraft: Brood War.  I’m a competitive gamer to my core, and Brood War is the game that set the standard.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npsS-TA0Bro[/youtube]

Quote: It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

Making games is hard, particularly for people who grew up immersed in gaming culture.  Your first forays into development never live up to your standards, because despite having ideas about what makes a good game, experience and understanding with actually making games is critical.  Our first game, Sol Survivor, ended up being a fun game, but in a way it has exposed for me just how little I knew at the time about making games.  I’m encouraged, though, by hearing other creatives (in this case Ira Glass) talk about that blow to the creative ego.  The only way to move past it is to never stop creating.  For every hundred things you create, you’re lucky to find one that’s great.  The thing that separates game design success from failure is the ability to iterate; there are no “silver bullets.”

Cadenza_Icon.large

Bio: Cadenza Interactive is a company built around LAN gamers.  Though about half of the team grew up in different places, we all had a common experience; schlepping heavy CRT monitors in the back of our parents’ cars to make it to an 8 man all-night game marathon was our idea of fun.  As a company, we’re committed to making games that excel in multiplayer, both competitively and cooperatively.  Our last game Sol Survivor can be played either way, and we’re committed to the same for our current game, Retrovirus.

Our philosophy is to respect our players.  We want to challenge them, not hold their hand.  We want to respect them as customers by making our games playable regardless of whether they leave open the program of the storefront they bought the game from.  We are committed to LAN and WAN by IP multiplayer modes, and we release content for our games for free after release instead of trying to sell players insignificant DLC.

We started as three guys in a small, boiling hot house and we’ve grown to seven full-timers who have sacrificed a lot to live the dream of making games.  It’s a wild ride, and we’re always up for sharing our experiences with fans and other developers!

Retrovirus logo

Project: Retrovirus

Project Info: Retrovirus is a Descent-inspired six axis shooter that we’re working on for PC.  We’ve created a software world where the player takes the role of an antivirus program fighting against an invasive virus.  Retrovirus’ weapon system feels unique, relying on common weapon archetypes with an added strategic scanning ability that lets players deny space and control opponents who get stuck in their grasp.  We’ve included an “FPS MOBA” mode that mixes players and AIs in an objective-based multiplayer, as well as classic competitive multiplayer and campaign co-op to round out the experience.

A big part of our team is tools development, which is great for fans because we can generate a lot of content even after release.  Better still, we’re trying to release our tools for Retrovirus to the public.  To do so on-schedule, we’re raising funds via Kickstarter.  If we’re successful on Kickstarter, we’ll have a large-scale closed beta that includes our tools, to let the community start building their own experiences.

Bomb Jack Twin

Bomb Jack Twin (1993)
By: NMK Co., Ltd  Genre: Platform  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 169,260
Also Available For: Nothing

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Poor old Bomb Jack. After an exceptional mid-80’s debut his future looked bright and he could’ve been one of the very first platform heroes but despite a couple of sequels, he instead faded into obscurity. One of the sequels, Mighty Bomb Jack, appeared only a couple of years after the original and took the addictive bomb-collecting, enemy-avoiding gameplay and introduced scrolling stages as well as numerous bonus collectibles. A year after that, Elite offered their own unofficial sequel, creatively titled Bomb Jack 2, which strangely took away Jack’s power of flight, instead requiring him to leap from platforms to adjacent platforms. The next game in the series was also sadly the last to date and it was… Bomb Jack Twin.

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Appearing some six years after Elite’s franchise-destroying game, Bomb Jack Twin took the gameplay back to the basics, but made one vital addition – a two player mode. Yes, that’s right – joining in with Bomb Jack’s bomb-collecting tomfoolery this time is a female Bomb-collector (Bomb Jill?) and together they must once again save the world’s landmarks and cities from… actually, did we ever find out who was responsible? Anyway, the stages here are basically polished-up copies of those found in the first game with one exception – they’re a lot harder! It appears, therefore, that rather than merely offering the option of a two-player, this game is designed to be played that way.

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

The reason it’s harder, you see, is because the enemies are both much more numerous, and much faster. Just look at the screenshots below – both were taken by me a few seconds after the start of the stage and there’s already six or more enemies on the loose! The longer you last, the more of them there will be and some of them chase you around the screen at a ridiculous speed. The first stage eases you in a little but after that you’ll need the reflexes of a gazelle to get very far on your own and the ‘P’ icon becomes more vital than ever before!

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

As you can probably see, one of the biggest changes the series has seen from first game to this one is the graphics. It’s been nine years since the first Bomb Jack so this game looks much fancier with its beautifully drawn sprites, some nice animation, and nice backdrops. Some of the music and sound effects return from the first game (in remixed form, of course) but they are joined by some new ones too, and everything is top-notch presentation-wise. But does the pretty new look make it a better game?

BombBomb Jack Twin - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Stages are set in thirteen locations around the world and before play begins you’ll see a map screen showing where you are. After three rounds, then a bonus round (same sort of objective but with no enemies and a tighter time limit), you’ll move to the next dot on the map, and control over Jack (and Jill) through the game is again extremely tight and precise which is more necessary than ever here!

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

Obviously this game is the best in the series for enjoying with a friend since it’s the only entry in the series with such an option, and fantastic (if often short-lived) fun it is too, but when ‘flying solo’ I think I’d have to go for the original. If you’ve got the necessary skills, Twin is a superb game, but it’ll just prove too tough for most single-players.

RKS Score: 8/10

Civilization V: Gods & Kings Trailer

Civilization V: Gods & Kings Trailer

You may or may not know that the expansion for Sid Meier’s Civilization V will be released next week on June 19th. The Expansion, Gods and Kings will bring a lot of gameplay points back to the series that fans were begging for. Here are some of the key features:

Civilization V: Gods & Kings

Expanded Epic Game: The core game experience has been greatly expanded with the addition of new technologies, 27 new units, 13 new buildings and nine new Wonders.

New Civilizations and Leaders: The expansion features nine new civilizations including Carthage, the Netherlands, the Celts and the Mayans, each with unique traits, units and buildings.  Gods & Kings also adds nine new leaders including William I, Prince of Orange, Boudicca and Pacal the Great.

New Game Scenarios: Three new scenarios let gamers experience the medieval period, the fall of Rome, and embark on a new adventure in Empires of the Smoky Skies, a Victorian science-fiction scenario.

The Return of Religion: A first for Civilization V, players seek out Faith, choosing a Pantheon of the Gods and creating Great Prophets to found and spread their customized religion across the world.

World Domination: The fight for world domination is more dynamic than ever.  Gods & Kings features a reworked combat system and AI that places more emphasis on a balanced army composition. Additionally, the navy is now split into two different ship types, melee and ranged, making coastal cities vulnerable to a surprise naval attack.

Enhanced Diplomacy and Espionage: Establish embassies at foreign courts for closer ties or clandestine operations. As the religions of the world start settling in and the world moves into the Renaissance, spies can be unlocked to establish surveillance of foreign cities, steal advanced technologies from your strongest competitors, or garner influence with City-States through election rigging, or even a coup.

City-States: Two new city-state types have been added, Mercantile and Religious, adding new gameplay to a greatly expanded quest system to further the narrative of the game and making diplomatic victories more challenging.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGGj46fxgxY[/youtube]

Check out this trailer on the expansion including commentary about the game from Dennis Shirk, Producer, and Ed Beach, Lead Designer.

Torben Larsen: Cope-Com

cope-com-logo

Name: Torben Larsen

Company: Cope-Com

Profession: Creative Director

Favorite Classic Game: Ping Pong

Quote: It was the first game I played sometime late 1970’ties on a TV console. The simplicity and fun factor still holds today and reminds me of how far the games have developed since that time 🙂

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

Bio/Current Event:

Cope-Com was founded in 1987 by Martin Pedersen and Torben Larsen with the aim of making great Amiga computer games. With the award-winning game titles Hybris and Battle Squadron they successfully proved the capabilities of the Amiga home computer.

Martin Pedersen started out with a ZX81 (actually an upgraded ZX80) in 1982 and later switched over to the ZX Spectrum, which was eventually exchanged with an Amstrad. In 1985 he did the game “The Vikings” for the Amstrad. At the same time Torben Larsen was doing the graphics for the same game on the Commodore 64. This was how the two met.

Feeling limited with the Amstrad and its technical abilities, Martin and Torben decided to take a closer look at the Amiga in 1985-86. The technical aspects of the Amiga in terms of more advanced processors, better screen resolution, more colors, and 8 bit sound sampling, was very impressive to both of them.

Being excited about the great possibilities of the Amiga, they decided to develop games for this machine. They started out with their first Amiga title, a shoot’em up called Hybris. For this game they teamed up with the American publisher Discovery Software International Inc. Hybris was published worldwide in 1987 and was an instant success on the Amiga. The game received several Amiga awards and was praised for its high technical standard, great game play, and sharp graphics.

Taking on the challenge after Hybris, they decided to develop an even better vertical shoot’em up for the Amiga called Battle Squadron. This time they teamed up with Innerprise Inc. as publisher. The game was released worldwide in 1989 and again an Amiga classic was born. The game featured two simultaneous players and a novel gaming “predator” enemy effect. Battle Squadron received a 109% rating in Amiga Computing, and 90-100% in many other computer magazines of that time.

As of 2012 Cope-Com is now working on converting their great classic Amiga games to new formats, such as iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Android.

Have a look on the past and current projects from Cope-Com here on their website:

Pirate Games: Pokemon Stadium

This is one of the more unique and playable pirates out there. Of course, there is a vast amount of pirate carts both hacks and originals out there and this one I gotta say is of the more decent ones. The game is pretty much what Pokemon Stadium would have been for the SNES if a bad developer would have released it although not everything is a pain. This game isn’t bad but it’s also not that good, it’s like gambling except you get better at it and can guarantee a victory every single time. The game is simple, you pick your Pokemon from a bunch of them (Not 150 in case you were wondering) Although the game does include the more popular ones from the series. One of the problems is that they have the wrong names, now I don’t know if those are the names of the Pokemon in another language but I do know that the game is from Hong Kong so there could be a possibility.

Pirate Games - Pokemon Stadium - SNES - Gameplay screenshot

The game consists of two modes, arcade mode and vs mode. I’m sure you can tell what these do but just in case you don’t know, arcade mode is like the story mode where you will do battle against the computer until you defeat all the pokemon. Vs mode is the mode to play against your friend and works the same way except the game won’t get you anywhere. The way to win in this game is quite simple. You power up your pokemon for an attack, when the power meter builds up you’ll be ready to attack. There are attacks that uses your whole power meter so you won’t be able to use them unless you are at your max. If your opponent gets to attack first, you’ll have two options to choose from. You either try to evade or defend which don’t make much sense until you select them.

Pirate Games - Pokemon Stadium - SNES - Gameplay screenshot

When you defend, you take the hit at reduced damage but when you evade you will have to stop the arrow on a bar in the middle kind of like aiming. The more centered it is, the better chance of dodging the attack and taking less damage. Yes, you still take damage even if you dodge it successfully but then you can make the opponent’s pokemon use their attack to the max and have to charge up again while your power meter is still charged and ready to attack them head on. These power meters are crucial to your victory so should be used wisely. If you attack the opponent’s pokemon while the power meter is empty, there is a very high chance of giving a lot of damage. You will win in no time! The main trick is to stop the arrow in the middle to have a better chance at dodging and taking less damage, once you have this figured out the rest is quite easy.

So this should be enough to make you want to play this game. I know you want to play this one right? You want it right? Yeah, you are begging for it I just know it! Well here you go, the rom is yours! I was lucky enough to pick this game up last year while I was on vacation. It’s quite rare to find so I suggest you use the rom I just provided you. It does appear once in a while on eBay but last one went for almost 90 dollars.

X-Men for Android

[youtube id=”o8d8_SFupeI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Right off the bat I loved that the game was polished a little extra for the HD screens found on many android phones. The game looks clean and clear while staying true to its classic roots. You can select from the same six members of the X-Men and their controls, moves and powers are all the same. ~J.A. Laraque

X-Men for Android

If you were an arcade gamer in the 90’s there is no doubt you played the awesome X-Men game by Konami. Released in 1992 there were two main versions of the arcade cabinet, the small two-player version and the massive six-player version. Obviously, the six-player version was the best allowing the full team to battle against Magneto and his evil mutants.

X-Men-Android-Gameplay-screenshot

Now you can play this classic on your android. Here is the official description from Google Play:

Experience the classic 1992 X-Men arcade game on the go! Choose from some of your favorite classic X-Men characters including Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, or Dazzler. Fight your way through hundreds of Sentinels and battle classic super villains such as Pyro, The Blob, Wendigo, Nimrod, The White Queen, Juggernaut, Mystique and the Master of Magnetism himself, Magneto!

-Battle evil with up to 4 of your friends using the multi-player feature over WiFi!!

-Open Feint integrated with both leaderboards and achievements! Challenge your friends!

X-Men-Android-Gameplay-screenshot

Right off the bat I loved that the game was polished a little extra for the HD screens found on many android phones. The game looks clean and clear while staying true to its classic roots. You can select from the same six members of the X-Men and their controls, moves and powers are all the same.

X-Men-Android-Gameplay-screenshot

The joystick is not as good as I would like, but those used to playing with touch pad controls will not have too much of an issue. The video and sound is the same as the arcade cabinet and there is Wi-Fi multiplayer as well as leaderboards, however, you have to use Open Feint, which I do not care for. In addition, there is no cross-platform multiplayer so no playing with your Apple friends.

Overall, for only 99 cents on Google Play, X-Men is worth a pick up for any retro gaming fan.

Thanks to Pixel Freak for the video review.

Wizard of Wor

 

Who would have thought, a game released in 1981 would still be played and enjoyed in this day and age ! It just proves that quality always trumps quantity.
This game has simple graphics and even simpler sound effects. But what it does have, is oodles of gameplay, and let’s admit it, that is the most important part of any game, retro or new.

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Wizard of Wor is a timeless classic. Game play is simple – one or two players, known as Worriors, move around a variety of line-drawn dungeons (mazes), shooting the creatures that wander within. These creatures, or Worlings (Burwors, Garwors and Thorwors), are eliminated so that the player progresses to an even harder dungeon. On each of these levels, there are bonus monsters, called Worluks, and occassionaly, the Wizard makes a special guest appearance – see The Dungeons of Wor.

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

Each dungeon has different maze patterns, with escape doors that your Worrior can walk through to re-appear on the opposite side of the maze – this is great for when things get tough and you need a quick exit. Be warned though, the Worlings and Worluks can also use these escape doors !

Wizard of Wor-arcade-gameplay-screenshot

The Dungeons of Wor:

Basic Dungeons – consist of short passages and long corridors.
The Arena – appears after the first bonus Worrior is awarded. The most difficult of the basic dungeons with an open central maze area.
Worlord Dungeons – Dungeons ’8′ (and subsequent dungeons) are more difficult where the player is likely to engage the Wizard. In these dungeons, the player is addressed as “Worlord”
The Pit – the 13th dungeon appears after the second bonus Worrior is awarded. It is an entirely open area, with no place to hide and requires the greatest skill for survival. Eliminating all Worlings, Worluks and Wizard earns continued play.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srPdPw9VH2A[/youtube]

If you doubt how good this is game is, I urge you to give it a try. Game play is simple enough for any player to pick up in an instant. Mastering it is another story. I do warn you though, once you enter the dungeon, it is difficult to stop – you will be hooked !

GraphicsSimplistic, but that doesn’t matter

75%

SoundThe tempo of the effects and droning music picking up as you are about to clear out the last Worling, gets the heart racing !

85%

PlayabilityEasy to get into, you just move up – down – left – right and then fire. Sounds simple enough !

92%

LastabilityIf you clear out the Pit dungeon, then you earn continued play. You may find this exhausting and a bit samey, but rest assured, this is the game’s magic – you will want to keep on playing.

90%

OverallIf you do not have access to the arcade version of the game, then hit up the brilliant C64 conversion. WoW is a classic !

92%

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srPdPw9VH2A

Manufacturer:Bally Midway
Year: 1981
Genre: Labyrinth / Maze
Number of simultaneous players: 2
Maximum number of players: 2
Gameplay: Either
Joystick: 4-way
Buttons: 1 (Fire)

PSone Classics coming to the Vita

PS Vita

We have kept quiet on the Vita mainly because there is enough coverage elsewhere, but with the announcement of PSone classics coming to the Vita, we felt it was news worthy. Originally, the Vita could not play any of the PSone classics, which made many gamers upset. However, an upcoming firmware update will allow owners of the Vita to place all the PSone classics.

For those of you who already have PSone classics on your PS3 all you will need to do is connect your Vita to your PS3 or you can connect directly to the PlayStation Network and transfer your classic games. As said, if you don’t own a PSone classic and want to play it on your Vita you will have unrestricted access to it. Every game in the current PSone catalog will be available.

Now that’s progress.

Sonic Blast on the Nintendo 3DS

From the Euro Desk:

Sonic Blast

Sonic Blast on the Nintendo 3DS

UK fans rejoice soon you will be able to play the Sega classic Sonic Blast on your Nintendo 3DS. The retro Game Gear title will be available via the Nintendo eShop  this Thursday for about  €5.

In Sonic Blast you can play as Sonic or Knuckles in this classic title which comes complete with 14 classic levels. The game is full of power-ups, special advantages like Sonic’s new Boost Blast, allowing you to reach hidden areas and Knuckles super climbing skills to help you gain extra points, and even hidden levels.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T7TcBYUSNo[/youtube]

P.S. Don’t worry U.S. fans, it’s coming soon to us as well.

Goin’ Out West: Running the gauntlet at E3 2012

Goin’ Out West: Running the gauntlet at E3 2012

E3 2012 has come and gone, bringing forth tons of people, announcements, events and bleary-eyed game journalists who haven’t had a real meal in a week.

I was not among them.  While I attended the full event this year I did not go to cover it.  There are easily tens of thousands of others who went to do just that, so I chose not to.  I went with my other professional priorities in mind instead, leaving the thousands of blogs about the new Call of Dutygame or Nintendo‘s press conference to others.  I do not classify myself as a gaming journalist nor is reporting and writing all that I do in gaming.

e3_2012

That being said there seems to be expectations from followers of my columns here and social media.  Several e-mails have been asking me where my coverage is, despite numerous public statements that I was not going to E3 to report on it.  Only now am I writing this in an attempt to satiate those who seem to expect it while also showing what I was really out there to do.

Therefore this E3 column will be different as I provide short stories and thoughts on my adventures in Los Angeles this year.

Tuesday, June 5 –

e3_2012

I always skip the Monday press conferences, knowing whatever I missed can quickly be watched from a comfortable chair later and knowing whatever is shown is going to be seen when I walk the floor anyway.  I rolled into the event on Tuesday morning instead.

Got to walk the floor very little on Tuesday as I caught up with business contacts and potential business contacts along with some friends.  Notable moment came from the VIP area atop the Microsoft booth when I met Philadelphia Eagles wide reciever DeSean Jackson.  He is as tiny in person as he is fast on the field, but quite friendly.  No, I did not let him know I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Wednesday, June 6 –

e3_2012

Hit E3 early this day to meet-up with veteran video game journalist Rusel DeMaria, a man who has been writing about video games longer than a lot of the gaming media in attendence have been playing.  Also got to catch up with Spy Hunter world champion Paul Dean, who is always an interesting guy to talk to.

The most interesting portion of the day for me started late afternoon as the Los Angeles Kings fans began to arrive to the area.  A lot of tension existed in the area that day, as if the Kings won the Stanley Cup that night there may have been quite a moment in an area surrounded by other video game events.

Met up with Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day at the Nokiato help him out with some stuff he needed to do for the Video Games Live event taking place there that night.  This became a point for multi-tasking, as the VIP party for VGL was going on at the same time as the red carpet premiere of the film noobz at the theatre down the street.  After becoming one of the few people on earth to see exactly how Billy Mitchell primps his hair a group of us walked from the Nokia and past a sea of hockey fans and alert LAPD to the red carpet premiere.

e3_2012

It was a while before our turn to walk to red carpet, where actor/producer Blake Freeman was presented with a historic award and trading card for the film.  I have to look for footage of a media interview with actor Ron Livingston to see if my accidental blurting out of “Holy ****, the guy from Office Space!” can be heard.  Exactly 45 minutes late for the Video Games Live party we had to skip the screening of the film and head for the door.

As soon as he hit the front door of the theatre, Walter Daysuddenly ran off at a full sprint.  I turned around to see the rest of our group had not yet caught up with us, then back to see Walter still running at a surprisingly high speed.  Not knowing what else to do I took off after him, as a 63-year-old man in a referee uniform shouldn’t run through a pack of hockey fans alone.

We plowed through the barricades in front of the Nokia as I tried to keep up with Walter.  He ran right into the main theatre with me after him as people we starting to take their seats.  I truly hope someone out there got cellphone video of me and Walter Day’s run through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles.  If you do, please post it or send it to me.  It has to be quite a sight.

Plopping down in the Video Games Live VIP party I noticed two things.  I was sweating half to death and the godfather of video games himself, Nolan Bushnell, was sitting 5 feet from me.  Was an honor to finally meet him, even if I was short of breath at the time.

Also glad that the LA Kings lost that night.  Not only was I not prepared to spend the night in a riot scene but a popular story subject in this space, Rachel Lara, might have been a red skidmark on the pavement outside if they had.  Luckily she arrived through the exiting hockey fans in tact that night.

Thursday, June 8 –

e3_2012

This day marked the first day of the event that I actually got to play anything.  To sum that up, those who complain that football games are the same thing every year will find the new physics in Madden NFL 13 really do change the feel of the game in a big way and that I think Nintendo’s Wii U will catch on well with those that made the original Wii a big success.

A great surprise came to me this morning as me and Walter Day met up at the Nintendo booth along with Guinness World Records’ Gaz Deaves to present Isaiah Triforce Johnson with awards for his successful attempts at being the first-in-line to purchase numerous Nintendo consoles at launch.  The surprise came in the form of Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime along with a photo op alongside him.  Quite a hard fellow to get to, it was a fun thing to happen to me, even if the photos I saw later claimed I was Gaz Deaves.  I can’t quite imagine him with my haircut.

e3_2012

Later hit the G4tv set for Walter to present Nikole Zivalichwith an award as well only to have the fun surprise of getting one myself while there.

For the rest of the event I got to walk the floor with Walter Day, meet up with some more folks and end up in more cellphone photos than I can count.  Ironically, despite not going to E3 to report on it I ended up meeting more people and becoming more exhausted than I have at any previous E3 event.  I am also still catching up on the trailers I actually failed to find the time to see while out there.

e3_2012

Quite a fun time overall, and the slideshow to the left will show some of these very adventures.  If anyone reading this also has photos or videos of the happenings mentioned here please Tweet them to me @OriginalPSP or send them to my website at PatrickScottPatterson.com.

In the meantime I rest in this window between E3 and ComicCon as I hope and pray for no more downtown street runs.

Independent Adventure Games for the masses

paris
Independent video game developers are like the artisans of yore. They aren’t wage slaves, they don’t exploit anyone else’s work, they are neither masters nor slaves, but creative people who strive for the quality of their product and don’t have to succumb to whatever ridiculous market realities managers can come up with. In short, they are to be supported, fiercely guarded even, as they’re (more or less) involuntary combating dominant modes of consumption and production. Oh, and let’s not forget the fine games the indy/bedroom developers have historically come up with. Games like Another World, Skool Daze, Darwinia, Simon the Sorcerer and countless others that are all the proof you should ever need…

Then again, I simply refuse (i.e. can’t be bothered) to let this post deteriorate into a quasi-political rant with artistic tendencies. We’ll hopefully have time for this at a later date. For now, I think I’ll stick to the news. The indy adventure gaming related news to be precise.

XiiGames

Well, for starters (not that there’s much more on the menu, mind you), xii games of What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed, Anna and Spooks fame are working on a brand new adventure game set in a not-so-distant future when a particle physicist’s mysterious and spectacular death sparks a race to find his hidden vault and claim his terrifying new discovery. An indy dream team has already been assemble, but despair not. xii games is still hiring.

Fatman

On to some SOCKO! Entertainment news. Remember them? How about the first commercial AGS adventure ever released, the cunningly named Adventures of Fatman? Ah, lovely, I knew you would (pssst, if not, the game has been released as a freeware memory stimulant; get it here). Well, seems that the seemingly defunct SOCKO! team was just that: seemingly defunct. Behind the scenes they’ve been working on Fatman S.O.S. (Save Our Superheroes) their second game, which they hope to fund by selling a brilliant and particularly deluxe re-release of the original Fatman game. Give ’em a hand.


Cosplay: E3 2012

A buffet for the eye’s, ears and the mind. E3 is sensory overload on a massive scale. From the thousands of HDTV screens to the lovely booth babes, it is the place to be. Unfortunately, we did not make it there this year, but we are planning to make an appearance at ComicCon and Pax. For now, enjoy some images of Cosplay and Booth babes.

 

Loom

Some classic games are more obscure than others, but are no less gaming gems than those games that inspired a multitude of sequels and imitators.  LOOM, a LucasFilm Games (the original name of LucasArts Entertainment) product, is one such game.

Loom-PC-Gameplay-screenshot

The front cover of the PC game, LOOM.

Released in 1990, LOOM contained a complex plot involving the fate of the universe resting upon the shoulders of one gifted man-child who is the last practitioner of an ancient guild of magicians called the Weavers.  The plot was so complex, in fact, that the preamble goes on for 30 minutes.  You read that right.  Originally a cassette tape was included so you could listen to the audio drama before starting the game. In the later CD-ROM version, the audio file was included on the CD.

Loom-PC-Gameplay-screenshot

The classic retro game LOOM begins!

Bobbin Threadbare, the aforementioned only surviving member of the Guild of Weavers, must learn the ways of his craft.  This is not a simple adventure game; players don’t simply point and click their way to the grand finale.  In LOOM, magic is music and music is magic.  Bobbin can cast spells, but only as musical sequences on the C Major scale, and only if he possesses his “distaff,” a combination walking stick and wizard’s staff. Much of the game revolves around Bobbin seeking new “drafts” – the magical musical sequences – for him to use in his quest to save the universe from a “grey strand” that has unbalanced creation.

Loom-PC-Gameplay-screenshot

The Practice Mode of LOOM.

This game is pure delight from beginning to finish.  I loved the musical element and complete departure from the standard LucasArts adventure fare that this game provided.  The puzzles weren’t all that challenging, but different enough to be memorable.  The graphics were good for the time, also.  But most importantly, you couldn’t die or be returned to the beginning of the game for a simple mistake, making LOOM the first game to follow the LucasArts game design philosophy.

Loom-PC-Gameplay-screenshot

Standard Mode for LOOM

The game featured three challenge levels: Standard, Practice, and Expert, all relating to how the player learns the new scripts (spells) as they play.  With Practice mode, players could see the letters for the notes that were played. Standard mode takes away the letters on the notes, but instead the distaff glows when the notes are played.  Toughest of all – the Expert mode – removes both the glowing distaff and the musical letters, forcing the player to “play by ear” repeating the spells without the aid of any graphical representation.

Loom-PC-Gameplay-screenshot

Expert Mode for LOOM

Although this is a definitely a one-of-a-kind game, its creator, Brian Moriarty, claims that it was originally intended to be the first of a trilogy.  The sequel, Forge, would have followed Rusty Nailbender of the Guild of Blacksmiths in his fight to free his home from the evil of Chaos.  Following that would have been The Fold, wherein Fleece Firmflanks (I’m not making this up!) must restore the all the guilds to their former glory.  Alas, the sequels were not meant to be, and LOOM remains the unique game that it is today.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnEMcquu2lc[/youtube]

This is a fabulous piece of retro gaming history, and one of the most sought-after PC games for most collectors.  If you have a chance to play it, do so.  You won’t regret your time spent saving the world!

Creative: Live! Cam Connect HD Review

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

Most gamers are on the leading edge of technology and communication. We keep in contact with our friends and gaming buddies via instant message, voice communication and video chat. The Live CAM connect HD from Creative allows uses to take full advantage of those forms of communication and more with a sleek design and reasonable price.

Design

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

The glossy black design and sharp styling’s of the Connect HD complements any computer setup. The unit itself measures 0.8 by 2.6 inches and is made of hard durable plastic. The unit comes with a clip-on mount that allows you to connect the cam to the top of a monitor or to a laptop lid. The mount itself allows the cam to be adjusted and pivoted in multiple positions so you can find the perfect camera angle for whatever you are doing and even place it on flat surfaces like your desk.

Software

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

The great thing about the Connect HD is right out of the box you can use it. Just plug it into your PC or Mac via USB and on Windows 7 operating systems, it will automatically install itself, so right away you can begin using the device for video chat or Google hangouts. Plus, the Connect HD is Skype HD certified at 720p and works with other video communications such as Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. For PC users you can take advantage of the Live! Central 3 software bundle and tools such as video editing and a movie maker.

The bundled software is easy to use even if you are a novice. You have tabs to the right that allow you to play around with effects such as avatars and various visual effects. The settings tab allows you to adjust the picture including brightness, face tracking, zoom and other features to improve or tweak overall video quality. You can also adjust the built in microphone. Additional you can take snap photos from Live Central and record video. Best of all you can directly upload your videos to YouTube with a touch of a button.

Video

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

The Connect HD records in HD and has a built in H.264 hardware video processor. H.264 is used for video compression of high definition video meaning you get the quality without taking up to much space and using too much CPU resources, which is important when steaming video or using video chat as it keeps you from experiencing lag or the stutter/choppy motion you sometimes see with lesser web cams.

The Connect HD Liquid-Crystal lens auto focuses and records video at up to 30 frames per second and looks incredibly crisp and clear in 720p HD. Now for other video chat programs HD may not be supported but the video quality was still very clear and the colors vibrant.

Audio

The Connect HD comes with a built in microphone that does a great job at picking up the sounds you want and leaving out the ones you do not want. With its noise-canceling microphone, your voice comes in clear in Skype or even voice only programs like Ventrilo. In addition, background noises and sounds are not picked up as long as you have noise-canceling active, which is great for conversations or web meetings.

Conclusion

Overall, the Live Cam Connect HD from Creative offers clear HD recordings and video for Skype and other video chat programs for a reasonable price. The audio is clear, and background noise is eliminated. The software is user friendly and the device can be easily setup almost anywhere. Definitely a good choice for the price-point and features. You can find the Connect HD for about $60 on Amazon.

Star Raiders

I remember getting Star Raiders for a present back in 1982. The first thing that comes to memory was how the box was a bit bigger and heavier than most of the 2600 carts we had bought. When I opened the package, along with the game and manual was a giant touch pad. I thought, “How cool is this?” After I started the game and realized I had to have at least 3 hands to work the joystick, red button, and pad, I knew I was in trouble.

Star-Raiders-Atari-Gameplay-Screenshot
Star Raiders was originally released a couple of years earlier for the Atari 8-bit computers. An original 1st-person space sim/shooter that took advantage of the keyboard to do many things such as commanding shields, weapons, warp drive, etc… This is the reason for the touch pad, and it was a pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong, I love peripherals, but if I can’t play an Atari 2600 with 1 joystick/1 button…I don’t want it.

Star-Raiders-Atari-Gameplay-Screenshot
The game itself is a bit boring. Just a grid “Galactic Map’ and the 1st-person space view with the target reticule in the center. The “stars” flying past you are a nice touch, and they’ll move as you do, left and right (or in space, there’s no such thing as left or right, I guess).

Star-Raiders-Atari-Gameplay-Screenshot
Ships will appear as you reach their grid quadrant, but seem to just randomly appear. Sometimes, the only way you know they are there is when they shoot you. When this happens, there is the typical 2600 sound-effects, but cool red flickering to let you know you have taken damage. You can repair and replenish your constantly-draining energy. Keep your close eye on the energy numbers dwindling at the bottom of the screen, because if it gets to zero…game over.

Star-Raiders-Atari-Gameplay-Screenshot
Depending on the difficulty you choose, you may have to defeat as many as 40 ships to complete your mission. The ships are the basic 2; one that looks like a Klingon Bird-of Prey, the other a Tie Fighter turned on its side. You have phasers and photon torpedoes at your ready, unless you take specific damage to them, then repair (at starbases) will be necessary. This game is a bit repetitive, and the difficulty is ramped high, with special mention in the “Activision Decathlon Hall of Fame of Joystick Snappers” as you wrench on it to try and keep the alien ships in your sights.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_VDM8nC9sM[/youtube]
Overall, I appreciate what Atari tried to do here, and I had fonder memories of the game before I tried to play it again. I respect the game for being a pioneer in the genre, but I think it tried to do too much, taking a lot of fun out of it. I need more action and less Starfleet Academy work. Not a bad game, just not a very good one either.

5/10

Sigma Star

So here we are finally back with another entry of Retro Game of the Week. This time around we have a very interesting title. Not only is this an RPG, but it’s a shoot ’em up with RPG elements. You can’t get any better than this!

Sigma Star - Gameboy Advanced - Gameplay Screenshot

Music

The music fits the game with its sci-fi soundtrack. You get the feeling that you are playing a game with weird unknown worlds and awesome action gameplay. The game does deliver great sound effects as well as very dramatic tunes. There is not much more to say about the music except that it fits the game just right.

Graphics

Sigma Star - Gameboy Advanced - Gameplay Screenshot

The graphics are GBAs standard. The usual SNES feel of the game in a portable game delivers with success. You get to fly around with scenery similar to R-type and enjoy the beautiful scenery. When you are not on your ship, you are walking around exploring the beautiful planets during your missions. The graphics aren’t the most groundbreaking but they are sure pretty.

Gameplay

Sigma Star - Gameboy Advanced - Gameplay Screenshot

The gameplay is quite enjoyable. The main idea of the game is to fly with your ship and shoot down other ships. In the process, you gain experience and eventually level up. This is very important as you will make your ship more powerful as you level up. The game works as an RPG since you walk around exploring different areas when you are suddenly summoned to your ship in order to battle a swarm of enemies. Once you defeated all of them, you are sent back to where you were in your mission. The game develops quite well and keeps you interested in a story involving a soldier betrayed by his own people only to join forces with the enemy. There is a lot more to it that I don’t want to spoil as usual.

Replay Value

Sigma Star - Gameboy Advanced - Gameplay Screenshot

As with all RPGs, you are left with a story that you’ll eventually finish and try to give it another shot. The point is that to replay this game might be a good and a bad idea. The good is that you can play this game at your own pace while the bad is that you get to play the exact same game over and over. Do you really want to do that? That is the weakness of playing RPG games, especially long ones. It’s all up to you.

Conclusion 

Sigma Star - Gameboy Advanced - Gameplay Screenshot

To conclude, this is a game that will make you want to pick up more shoot ’em up titles especially if they are combined genres. The RPG elements helps it keep interesting and as weird as the game may play, it ends up working in really good ways. The game is fun, interesting, and very well worth it. I suggest you pick it up and give it a shot! Until next week!

WTF Did I Just See?

hot banned commercial

Time for more shocking and weird videos from interzones.

Ultimate Muscle Roller Legend

This is simply the most Japanese thing I’ve ever seen. It’s also the weirdest video ever!

Superhero Movie – Miles Fisher spoofing Tom Cruise with Spanish subs

Miles Fisher is an amazing troll, often mimicking Tom Cruise and Christian Bale.

Gorky Park – Moscow Calling

This sounds a lot like Falco. Hell, I’ll take it!

Scooter – Maria (I Like It Loud)

“Alright everybody, tie your shoes!” enough said.

Celebrate The Nun – Ordinary Town (Eurotops)

If you only know them from Scooter, this video will shatter your world.

“Fuck you” Sign language performance

This one isn’t as much shocking as it is simply brilliant. 😀

DUBSTEP CAT!

Simply because Ramiro plays this video 1000 times a day, I must post this…

Liam Neeson improv with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Warwick Davis on Life’s Too Short

“I’m Liam Neeson and I’m a funny guy”

DOGSTEP! (Dubstep Dancing Dogs)

If the cat weren’t enough…

Banned 90s LUNCHABLEZ commercial

This commercial is dope!

Banned commercial dangers of working at home

What a great wife!

Young Girl

This could happen to anyone.

Gyruss

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Gyruss

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

In early 1989, Konami released an 8-bit video game cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System console under their Ultra Games label that would prove to a singularity among the typical shoot-’em-up choices available to a player: Gyruss.

Gameplay

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Gyruss is a one-player game. Although it exists within the shooter genre, it neither scrolls horizontally nor vertically; instead, this is a “tube shooter,” somewhat like the classic title Tempest, with a fixed viewpoint that provides a faux three-dimensional feel. The player controls the ship by rotating it around a ring formation, always facing the center. Enemy ships not only move around in circles also, but also at different depths, sometimes as far out as the player-ship, while other times so far away they appear as just a couple pixels in the center of the screen.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

There are two control modes offered, A and B. Control Mode A ensure that pressing Right on the directional pad always moves the ship to the right, no matter which vertical half of the screen the ship is on. In other words, if the ship is at the bottom center of the screen, and the player presses Right until the ship is fixated at the three o’clock position at the right center of the screen, the ship will stop there, at which point the player must start pressing Left to continue the ship’s movement rotation around the screen. While it is nice that the game provides a steering mode that prevents the cognitive dissonance of a D-Pad direction only being “correct” half the time, the effect of each pause halfway up the circle is jarring, and Control Mode B is preferred, in which a continual, smooth motion of the ship is achieved, and pressing a direction on the D-Pad will always go clockwise if pressing Left and counter-clockwise if pressing Right.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Of course, there is much more to this video game than simply providing the tube shooter experience, though it is significantly notable for that accolade, considering it is the only example of such a game for the NES. The loose plot, explained in a single frame if allowed past the title screen, only says “Mankind must rid the universe of evil. It’s a death defying risk, and only a hero can succeed.” A foreboding, humanoid figure appears in the background against the starfield as a backdrop to this ominous text.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Play proceeds throughout the solar system that human beings are familiar with. Beginning with Neptune, and proceeding through each of the other planets (even Pluto, which must be during a portion of its orbit that takes it inside Neptune’s), the player is aiming to arrive at the Sun for the final showdown. Each planet has a few fairly short levels, that conclude with a boss fight, and then a bonus stage afterward for points.

In order to defeat each “warp” or wave of enemies, the B button fires the blaster cannon, with a maximum of two shots on the screen at a time. Earning a weapons upgrade enables double-fire, which is obviously a great boon to success, and can be achieved by blasting the two side barriers off a bonus orb before hitting the orb directly. The A button fires a special weapon, of which the player only has a limited amount and most slowly earn more throughout the game. This blast plows through everything in front of the player, towards the middle of the screen, and includes eliminating certain objects and projectiles that the normal blaster cannot get rid off.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

The majority of the obstacles to victory consist of groupings of enemies that fly in, dance around in some form of pattern, then make their way to the middle of the screen. Much like Galaga, a handful of groupings will all form together, and should be dealt with before they begin coming back and dive-bombing toward the player. In fact, similar to other shooters such as even Sky Shark, shooting down all the crafts in a particular squadron before they reach the middle garners bonus points.

Besides the alien spacecraft are other challenging deterrents to deal with, such as asteroids and solar fireballs to dodge, along with the lasers and other weapons fired by various enemies. Some weaponry utilized, like the homing solar flare fireballs used near the end of the game, actually slightly veer toward the player as they come from the center of the screen, placing an enhanced demand on reflexes and reaction time.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

There are about forty levels in all, with a brief ending afterward before a “second quest” begins. The Konami code is intact, if the player wishes to begin with 30 lives, instead of the usual three extra. Thanks to the deft programming skills of the development staff at Konami, Gyruss proves to be a slick, fun, very enjoyable 8-bit video game. As a shooter, it is a very distinctive title, and although not as tortuously difficult as some, with or without proper endings, still offers a worthy playthrough for shmup fans. That being said, this is not a game for everyone: It is so different that many will balk at its strangeness and simply never quite “get it.” Gamers have tastes, and some may fall in love with this selection.

Graphics

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Gyruss is a good-lookin’ little vidya game. The action is frenetic and fast-paced, complete with Konami’s signature visuals, even down to the small yellow-and-orange circular-oriented explosions that can be seen elsewhere in such NES cartridges as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. Solid ship designs and fancy beam weapon visuals aside, what may be most admirable of Gyruss is the crazy amount of sprites, for an 8-bit hardware machine at least, that it manages to juggle on-screen all at the same time. Granted, this comes with some flickering issues, but surprisingly minor, and without slowdown. The bosses are honestly a letdown at times, being somewhat small and not quite intimidating, but the strictures of the characterization were likely limited by the tube theme—which, in itself, is a graphical feast that mostly makes up for other nitpicky flaws. There is something very appropriate about a shoot-’em-up that strives to make the player feel as though they are shooting through space toward an ultimate destination.

Sound

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

The soundtrack is great. Really, it is a Konami work, so the usual high quality can be expected, complete with the familiar Pause sound effect. The background tunes get away from the period rock of something like Base Wars or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, and settle into a motif more apropo of the setting at hand, fast-paced enough to keep adequate adrenaline pumping, with skillful composition that will never distract by its badness.

Originality

If one were to look too closely, one would have to frown and conclude that Gyruss is not entirely innovative: The “space shooter” trope has been endlessly retread for decades, down to the spacey designs of pattern-flying enemy squadrons that dive-bomb at a double-firing protagonist against a shooting-starfield background effect. It is, almost exclusively, the tube element that makes this an original, creative entry in the NES canon of gaming.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BF4img_CyM[/youtube]

The most critical of observers could also say that Konami did not seem to try as hard with this one; the level-by-level execution is fairly straightforward, even with some quirky variety at points like the level without enemies where the player only needs to dodge incoming objects. The ending consists of a modest animation and one line of text (note: to be fair, the version on the Famicom Disk System is longer and less stripped-down). However, to purely take on a gaming perspective, that of a fan of video games, that of a human being with a controller in hand ready to take on the villains of the galaxy, that of purely sitting down in seeking a fun way to pass the time, Gyruss deserves its rating of four stars out of five. The five-word review goes like this: This is a great game.

ASO: Armored Scrum Object

ASO – Armored Scrum Object a.k.a. Alpha Mission (1985)
By: SNK  Genre: Shooting  Players: 1-2  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 20,480 (one credit)
Also Available For: Nintendo NES

Armored Scrum Object

You know, the history of videogames can be funny. As genres were born, some examples of their games were forgotten almost as soon as they appeared while others went on to be remembered as landmarks, even legends in the years to come. The ones most fondly recalled were generally the most playable, not necessarily the most innovative, and that brings me to ASO (or Alpha Mission as most will probably know it). I must confess that I’d never seen or played it before undertaking this feature. I had vague knowledge of its sequel on the Neo Geo, but this original? Not a clue. When I started playing it though, I was rather pleasantly surprised for, as it turns out, ASO is a very innovative game considering its age! Is its obscurity a blip in history or is it deservedly ignored?

Armored Scrum Object

Its innovation doesn’t extend to its story though! Yep, it’s the same old nonsense – evil aliens attacking Earth, blah, blah, blah. In this case, seven waring races from the Tetranova galaxy have been fighting with such ferocity that all their homeworlds have been destroyed. Finding unity in their newfound homelessness, they have joined forces to find a new home on which they can recover and rebuild their fleets before going to war once again and, as you may have guessed, that new home they’ve selected is Earth! Eeek! Fear not though, as you’ve been given the chance to kick them off using the SYD attack fighter, which for once isn’t an ‘advanced prototype’ either! Using this ship you must fight through twelve areas before Earth can be saved and peace restored to one and all.

Armored Scrum Object

One of the first things I noticed about ASO is that the twelve vertically-scrolling stages generally feature just as many targets on the ground as they do airborne ones. To that end, the SYD fighter is capable of firing its laser cannon to take out the squadrons of various enemy craft but it can also fire missiles to destroy ground targets. Many of the latter include several types of gun turrets, but there are also many parts of the scenery that can be destroyed and it’s in the smouldering remains of these that the game’s many power-up icons can be found, and this is perhaps what impressed me most about the game. Yes, its mixture of airborne and ground-based targets is somewhat reminiscent of Xevious but the plethora of collectible icons here is impressive for such an early game!

Armored Scrum Object

This is also where things can get a little complicated! The icons are marked by both letters and colours. Those marked with ‘S’, ‘L’, or ‘M’ will upgrade the SYD’s speed, laser power, and missile power respectively, but the ones marked with ‘E’ will gradually increase your energy meter which powers the various weapons or ‘armors’ available. The SYD has two of these permanently – the lasers and missiles – but the others must be collected and each is split into three pieces. Once all three pieces of a given armor are collected it is available for use, but only once your energy reserves have reached a sufficient level too. Once this happens you can select which armor you wish to use (only out of the ones you’ve collected of course) and unleash it accordingly!

Armored Scrum Object

There are eight different collectible armors altogether and aside from a shield they are all offensive including more powerful cannons, super-missiles, and energy beams, right up to a powerful smart-bomb style attack. Using any of them will deplete your energy and they only last for a limited amount of time or number of shots, plus some are better in certain situations than others, so strategic use is advised! There are many other icons to be found too – twenty in total, amazingly – and even one of my sizable reviews isn’t big enough to go into all of them, but suffice to say it’s possible to upgrade and downgrade your ship’s various attributes and, mercifully, there are also icons that let you keep your various power-ups after a life is lost, one each for speed, lasers, and missiles.

Armored Scrum Object

Other icons include ones that increase the size of your energy tanks, ones for warps and bonus points, extra lives… all sorts of things, and as long as you keep firing those missiles, the landscape will be littered with them, and that’s probably the best thing about this game – your progress is almost entirely down to intelligent collection and use of the millions of icons or ‘energy tiles’. In spite of their numbers, however, the stages themselves are constantly busy with lots of small enemy fighters flitting backwards and forwards taking pot-shots at you, punctuated by the occasional larger, more powerful craft, but the end-of-level bosses are very challenging, at least at first before you adapt to their attacks and learn a few tricks. Some even fire homing-bullets which are really annoying!

Armored Scrum Object

This combined with the slightly sluggish controls and the fact that the collision-detection often makes your ship seem to be a little bigger than it is conspire to make this is one tough game! While the music and sound effects are merely functional, the graphics here are pretty impressive. The stages aren’t enormously varied despite seemingly being set on both spacestations and on planets, but the sprites are varied and well-detailed too and the great use of colour means things rarely get confusing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co8dKqWsAVs[/youtube]

This is all impressive enough anyway but when you consider that ASO was released in the same year as the legendary but more basic Gradius, it’s pretty amazing! SNK have managed to pack a huge amount into this game – its twelve stages, twenty power-up icons, and eight weapons is far in excess of anything else I’ve seen from other games of this age and on top of that it’s great fun too, if a little hectic. It’s very much a game where practise pays off though and I’m now greatly looking forward to giving the sequel on the Neo Geo powerhouse the once over! Ultimately the few little niggles mentioned prevent this from being an top-ranked blaster but I’m still very surprised it isn’t better remembered.

RKS Score: 7/10

Weird Games: Zombie Nation

Zombie-nation-KAZe-nes-gameplay-screenshot

One would think that with a name like Zombie Nation the game itself would have to be awesome. However, this is based on the Japanese game, Abarenbō Tengu and features a disembodied samurai head as the main hero.

Zombie-nation-KAZe-nes-gameplay-screenshot

Released in 1990 for the NES by KAZe, Zombie Nation follows the story of an alien named, Darc Seed, (See what they did there?) that fell to earth on a meteor. Unfortunately, the meteor fell right smack in the middle of the Nevada desert, (See what they did there?).Then the alien used magnetic rays to turn everyone in the United States to zombies.

Zombie-nation-KAZe-nes-gameplay-screenshot

One  also might think that would be enough to send in the head of the samurai, but it was not until Darc Seed stole the legendary samurai sword, Shura that the cavalry came, in the form of a headless, undead samurai.

Zombie-nation-KAZe-nes-gameplay-screenshot

In Zombie Nation you control the samurai head as you blast American zombies with your laser eye beams and you can take out structures as well which will come in handy when you have to take out the Statue of Liberty who has come to life and is wreaking havoc, (Yes, they went there.) Oh, and if eye beams are not enough you can vomit. Where does the vomit come from? Do not ask those types of questions.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOYG5S-LpSg[/youtube]

Overall, the game is weird, but not that good. There are four stages and two difficulty settings (easy and hard) and at the end you fight Darc Seed and free the Americans, you did not kill, from their zombification.

Gamer Profile: Chris Getz

[youtube id=”9oWfR9ZDqzY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

My friends had been requesting that I used the RBI Baseball theme song for years as my walk-up music, so I finally decided to give it a shot.  So far it’s been a hit, the fans seem to like it. Some guys use their songs for motivation and change them all the time, and for different situations, I just like to have fun with it.  I love the nostalgia of the old games, and RBI was one my favorites. ~Chris Getz

Chris Getz

Position: (#)17 Second baseman: Kansas City Royals

Favorite Classic Games: RBI Baseball. Some of my other favorites were Blades Of Steel and the Power Pad, I loved the Olympic games you could play with that.

Chris Getz Walk on Music

[youtube id=”YPQt2t4PKTI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Crystalis

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshotCrystalis

This week I have one of my favorite picks period. Crystalis is the equivalent of an upgraded Zelda title. The game itself is jam packed with action around every corner. The story line is also very interesting since it takes place in the not so far future. The year is 1997, now back in the NES era this would have made more sense since we were in the early 90s but nowadays it doesn’t make much sense since the year has passed and well, just saying they should have made it the year at least 3000. Lets move on, the game is only one of few Zelda-clones which there weren’t many to begin with(The only other one being Faria as far as I know). SNK learned well on how to apply the Zelda-like mechanics.

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshot

 

We will start by talking about your main weapons. Your hero(whatever you name it) has the options to wear a sword, armor, and shield. This made the game very simple which meant anyone can pick it up and play as it’s very understandable. The game itself become focused more on your adventure and less on modification. You’ll start off with a regular armor and shield that will help you take less damage and at one point completely shield you from enemy attacks. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to use different swords to be able to defeat different creatures. This is where strategy takes place as there are some monsters that will deflect certain swords while they will be weak against other swords, it’s just a matter of trial and error.

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshot

The also comes with an item and magic screens. They are quite simple to use and helpful at tough times. I always recommend you have your healing magic equipped because at some point in a dungeon or even in the field area, you’ll be attacked over and over by a whole lot of monsters so using the healing spell will be quite helpful and time appropriate. You have a wide range of spells and items to choose from but you must use them wisely and strategically.

Crystalis-snk-nes-gameplay-screenshot

Crystalis is one of the most memorable for the NES and shouldn’t be one to avoid. This game includes a quest that’ll kepp you interested, awesome music, and fun gameplay of course. You can’t beat riding a dolphin!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DWu_BVeg5E[/youtube]