Pooyan

Pooyan was a Stern/Konami collaboration for arcade release in 1982. It’s considered a classic among the old-school gamers, although it seems most people I’ve spoken to have never heard of it or played it. It was ported to the Atari 2600 and just about every computer in the ’80′s, but I remember the arcade version well.

Pooyan - arcade - gameplay screenshot

The gameplay is simple, as you are a mama pig trying to defend her piglets (pooyan) from jerk-ass wolves who (as we learned from kid’s tales) love nothing more than to eat some sweet pork. Normally, she would just hide behind the brick walls of her house, but it seems the Masons are on strike and can’t build her a house quickly enough. She then takes what she learned from the Porky Pig/Robin Hood cartoon and fashions herself a bow and unlimited arrows.

The game repeats two screens, but as in the case of most older arcade games, the levels get faster and more difficult as you move along. The first screen has the wolves on top of a cliff and they’ve mastered the use of the helium balloon. They will ride them down off the cliff’s edge and if they reach the bottom, will climb a ladder on your side and eat you and the piggies.

Pooyan - arcade - gameplay screenshot

You have two weapons: The arrows, which are dull as shit, as they can’t pierce the wolves’ fur but can pop the balloons and (SPLATTER ALERT!) will send them to their deaths. Or, you can toss huge pieces of meat at them, which are heavy enough to bring everything down to Earth. Where does she get the supply of meat? No one’s talking, but I don’t see any of Mama’s red-headed stepchildren present. The second screen has the wolves riding up the cliff via balloon, and you will take the same defensive actions. The only difference is if enough wolves reach the top they will push a huge boulder on top of you, basically tenderizing their dinner. There are a bonus screens where you do similar actions for points, but just toss the meat.

Pooyan - arcade - gameplay screenshot

The graphics are fine, nothing special. Very colorful, and you can tell what everything is. The music is very cute, with some classic tunes being heard during gameplay…some music you will recognize.
A simple, but eventually hectic game, with just the one joystick and one button. Easy to pick up and play on MAME if you get the chance. Very unique and quirky gameplay, and I think you’ll find yourself addicted. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to put a lot of time into it, as most games will probably last you 5-10 minutes.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ByIl9QQmeM[/youtube]

Overall 9/10

Werewolf

Werewolf

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

werewolf - nes- gameplay screenshot

In 1990, a video game was published by Data East for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console, developed by Takara, called Werewolf: The Last Warrior. This unabashedly epic action platformer stars a titular werewolf protagonist out to defeat the nefarious world-conquering schemes of the evil Dr. Farya by ruthlessly slaughtering every foe in his blood-splashing path.

Gameplay

werewolf - nes- gameplay screenshot

The player controls the werewolf, who begins the game as a man but, after defeating the first mini-boss character very soon into the game, collects a token to become the werewolf; afterward, the state of man or werewolf is determined by health. In either state, the game takes a rebellious stance against traditional NES platformers by having the A button attack and the B button jump. As a man, the player jumps, punches, and can launch a projectile attack by holding the A button and releasing. As a werewolf, the character is a tougher, meatier, nastier beast, slashing with long claws, leaping through the air, and using the holding-A-button attack to level the entire screen, at the cost of some units on the heath bar.

Gameplay continues through challenging platformer levels, moving from an outdoor scene in the woods to more inner, fiery realms of inner lair sanctums; fighting dozens of enemies, ranging from quick blue-robed ninjas to tough boss bouts; gorgeous cutscenes, including the spirit of Kinju serving at the werewolf’s guide throughout, and the iconic transformation sequence. This is a fast-paced, action-packed, fairly difficult, hack-and-slash, unapologetic scrolling-screen monster of a video game.

Graphics

werewolf - nes- gameplay screenshot

To put it simply: This title looks great. Between the hues both subtle and stunning of the cutscenes, the intimidating guardian characters, and the constant onslaught of precision-jumping obstacles or knock-’em-down foes, the entire experience is bathed in pleasurable visuals.

Sound

werewolf - nes- gameplay screenshot

The music is real solid, with the synth providing layers in bass notes, treble, and some kicking drum shots. The sound effects are wet, punchy, and effective, even if Data East is just as guilty of reusing noise from other titles; although, in cases such as the complex, classic pause effect, this is surely excusable. The only complaint may be that the background music does not always seem to fit the on-screen action, such as in the case of some of the boss rounds, with an oddly mellow track.

Originality

werewolf - nes- gameplay screenshot

This is a video game that knows exactly what it is and delivers it without watering it down: Rip-roaring, body-tearing, bash-and-grab, smash-mouth action. This is not your grandfather’s werewolf: This title character has enormous claws for hands, can move while crouching, and can use the claws to hang from certain ceiling sections, boasting quite an impressive array of moves compared to most NES protagonists. Even details such as the background visuals, appropriately atmospheric or claustrophics, to the boss fights, challenging but pattern-based in demanding a player both cerebral and nimble-fingered, are tightly developed and well-honed.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1MbvxHYay8[/youtube]

Thusly, though the basic formula (transformation-gimmick protagonist in two-dimensional action platformer) may not be 100% original, the presentation is thoroughly deep, rich in character, and very distinctive. This is a wonderful video game, whether as a testosterone-fueled guilty pleasure or a scientific case study of how to develop a great cartridge, very much deserving its four stars out of five.

Steam Halloween Sale

You really don’t need a reason to buy video games, especially on Steam when they have an awesome sale. This week you can find a number of awesome games on Stream that have a Halloween flavor to it which is why it is for sale.

 steam halloween sale

Check out the full list here, but I cheery picked a few to comment on:

Dead Island

dead island

You know what this game and Halloween had in common? This game was like going up to a really awesome looking home fully decorated with the best Halloween swag and you are given mini bibles instead of candy. Yes, the game blows that much, but for half off I guess it’s worth checking out for yourself.

Alan Wake

Alan Wake

Hey, the only thing scary about this game was the original price and the fact that the game seemed designed to get you to buy a ton of DLC. Okay, the game wasn’t horrible, but honestly it should have always been priced under 20 and at $14.99 it is worth a pick up.

Left 4 Dead 2

left-4-dead-2

While many may have moved on to newer games L4D2 is one of those games you should have in your collection. At only 4.99 you want to keep it just so you can log on and play some multiplayer and if you have never played it this a great time. Awesome game.

Dead Rising 2

dead-rising-2

Not as bad as Dead Island, but this was a letdown as well. The story has you mixing and combining items to use against hordes of zombies as you try to save your daughter. This kind of reminded me of a mix between The Running Man and Zombieland which sounds awesome until you start playing it, but hey for $7.49 it’s worth a look at.

BioShock 2

bioshock2

I get the feeling this was just thrown in there to elevate the lessor games. If you have not played BioShock 2 then get on it because you are seriously behind the curve. This is a fun game with a mix of action, mystery and excitement and you get to syphon mystic powers from children. For only 4.99 it would be criminal not to get this game.

Rage

rage

You know what got me raging about this game, that it felt like a cheap mix of Boarderlands and Fallout and did not get either right. I know some people liked it and so for 9.99 I guess you can see for yourself, but like Alan Wake, Rage should have been priced like this from day one.

So much more

There are a ton of other great games from 25 to 75 percent off so start blowing your Black Friday money today. The sale ends November 1st so unlike early voting you do not want to miss this.

Chrono Trigger comes to Android

Chrono Trigger - Android

Chrono Trigger comes to Android

The classic RPG Chrono Trigger is available now for the Android on the Google Play store for $9.99. Originally created by Yuji Horii and Akira Toriyama creators of Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball, this version will contain two additional areas found in the Nintendo DS version of the game.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Developed and published by Sqaure the story features a chance encounter amid the festivities of Guardia’s Millennial Fair in Leene Square and introduces our young hero, Crono, to a girl by the name of Marle.

Deciding to explore the fair together, the two soon find themselves at an exhibition of the Telepod, the latest invention by Crono’s longtime friend Lucca.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Marle, fearless and brimming with curiosity, volunteers to assist in a demonstration. An unanticipated malfunction, however, sends her hurtling through a rift in the dimensions.

Taking hold of the girl’s pendant, Crono bravely follows in pursuit. But the world into which he emerges is the one of four centuries before…

Journey to the forgotten past, the distant future, and even to the very End of Time. The epic quest to save a planet’s future makes history once again.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Game features include:

The Dimensional Vortex: A mysterious, ever-changing dungeon existing outside of space and time.

The Lost Sanctum: Enigmatic gates in prehistoric and medieval times will lead you to these forgotten chambers.

Intuitive touch screen controls make it easier than ever to navigate this vast world of adventure.

Chrono Trigger - Android - Gameplay screenshot

Graphics optimized especially for Android.

Combine the powers of your party members to unleash two- and three-person combos.

Over fifty combinations in all offer players numerous options and in-depth combat!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMy3M_vgDt4[/youtube]

Doom

So here we have a game that needs no introduction. Every other FPS developer today should have a portrait of this game in their studio. Doom changed the way we looked at FPS and turned out to be a classic for the ages. Is it still fun to this day? Lets find out!
Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot
Doom as very popular for many things and the music was one of them. With such a great soundtrack, the PC version turned out to be the most played shareware ever. This was even before internet became a household name! Turning to the Playstation version, I was shocked that they took out the soundtrack but instead added a very interesting soundtrack. You mostly hear monsters and what not in the background with a mix of environmental music. It’s quite freaky at times especially when you are in very dark rooms. I must say it doesn’t make me miss the PC version’s soundtrack and gives a twist to an already twisted game.
Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot

Graphics in this game are everything you could hope for. The blood is there, levels are detailed, and everything looks to be in place. Overall, you have a very fun and viewable version of Doom that will keep you in pace to the finish line. I’m sure you won’t get lost. Also, I’m glad you can still shoot near the acid barrels to blow up your enemies to pieces. That’s always so enjoyable.

Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot

The developers of this game were savvy enough to make good use of the Playstation controller. Not only are not going to miss your keyboard but you’ll also have an easy time getting used to the controller. You’ll be using R1 and L1 buttons quite often as they are the ones that make you move left or right in order to dodge your enemies attacks especially those fireballs. You will be able to battle any enemies with easy movement! In the end, this is Doom! You can’t any better than this.

Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot

This is probably one of the most replayable FPS games ever. You can go through it, get your password, and continue later. You then finish the game and start the game again. The thing is that this game has such enjoyable gameplay especially with blowing up your enemies that it becomes addictive. You can always go back to this game and replay each level, discover its secrets, and have a great time. You must find all the secrets period!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TYMI6gD19Y[/youtube]

To conclude this entry, the game is a perfect port of the PC version and would be a great addition to any FPS fan especially from the golden age of FPS. You will have lots of endless hours of fun with this one. If you really want to be mega old school, you can always get another Playstation with another TV set and another copy of Doom to play against each other. This is how things were done back then! Hope you enjoyed this week’s pick!

Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney: Epic Rap Battles Of History

Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney Epic Rap Battles Of History

Maybe this is how we should pick the next president. Okay maybe not, but we can pick this video as one of the best on the internet.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX_1B0w7Hzc[/youtube]

Weird Games: Thrill Kill

thrill-kill-gameplay screenshot-

Perhaps in the age of movies like Saw and Hostel a game like Thrill Kill would not seem weird to anyone, but back in 1998 the game was just a little too controversial for the publishers and so it was pulled from the U.S. market.

Thrill Kill was originally created for the Sony PlayStation and was to be a Mortal Kombat like game where you could perform trill kills in place of fatalities that featured blood, guts and disembowelment. In addition, there were moves with names such as “Bitch Slip” and “Swallow this” nothing stranger than what you might hear on a cable stations reality television show.

thrill-kill-gameplay screenshot-

Besides the brutal nature of the gameplay there was also the matter of fetish costumes, BDSM and sexual references that in then end proved too much for the company set to release the game. The game was developed by Paradox Development and published by Virgin Interactive which is owned by Electronic Arts.

thrill-kill-gameplay screenshot-

The story followes ten souls who died and went to hell and were then pitted against each other in a tournament by Marukka, the Goddess of Secrets. Whoever survived the tournament would be reincarnated effectively being rereleased back onto the citizens of earth (oh joy!). One of the innovated designed of the game was that up to four players could fight at the same time which at the time was not done before.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_VbjA4BjGk[/youtube]

Now hype gave this game more press than anything else. First it was cancelled for being too controversial which in itself will make people want it. Then former employees that worked on the game released a version onto the internet. Because of the crazy thrill kills and mature content the game had sort of a cult following, but having played it, it was not really that good even for 1998.

Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 HuCard Games Part 2

TurboGrafx-16 HuCard Games Part

Here are what I consider the next Top 10 HuCard (in no particular order) games for this forgotten system.  Remember (!): no CD Games, and only North American releases.

Air Zonk

Air Zonk
Once you get past the fact that Hudson Soft used a futuristic Bonk as the pivotal character in this game, you’ll find it a challenging shooter. Humorous sci-fi updates to Bonk’s various power-ups and their effects, such as the glass-encapsulated meat and the ability to call in one of Zonk’s friends to help shoot down the Bosses, keep Zonk’s airborne adventures from becoming just another Bonk’s Adventure game.

Bloody Wolf

Bloody Wolf
Have you ever noticed that the President of the United States gets kidnapped a lot in the video game world? He’s been kidnapped again in Bloody Wolf, along with a truckload of other hostages, all of which you have to rescue. A sound track that drives the action, plenty of enemies to dispatch with a good assortment of weapons, and a variety of level designs make this game a must-have T16 arcade experience!

Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon

Dungeons & Dragons Order of the Griffon
It’s a D&D RPG on the T16! Based on the Dungeons & Dragons rules – not the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules – this game was designed by Westwood Associates, before they became the gaming giant Westwood Studios. It is very similar to the Gold Box series by SSI: pick a party of four pre-generated characters, and off you go adventuring. Strategic thinking is required to survive the many encounters, as well as while constructing your party. Saving your game frequently is wise!

Final Lap Twin

Final Lap Twin
What’s more fun than racing behind the wheel of a Formula One race car? How about racing your buddy with the screen split in two, one half for each player? And if you don’t have any friends that want to race you, then you could also play in RPG mode, searching for challenges to face in your quest to become a World Champion racer!

Galaga ’90

Galaga ’90
Colorful animations, jaunty tunes and endless waves of alien ships are just a few of the things I liked about Galaga ’90. The ability to gain a triple ship almost immediately by temporarily sacrificing one of my precious single ships and relying on the alien capture teams and my sharpshooting skills is another. Now that is Galactic Dancing.

Klax

Klax
There’s something to be said for Tetris clones that don’t play anything like Tetris. This is a marvelous puzzle game that requires quick-thinking and even quicker reflexes as you attempt to sort the oncoming conveyor belt blocks by color into rows, stacks, and diagonals. The applause from the crowd and the onomatopoeia  from the obviously impressed female announcer make it all worthwhile.

Parasol Stars

Parasol Stars
There are two things you need to know right away about this game. First, a parasol is a sun umbrella, from the Latin verb “parere” (“to ward off”) and the noun “sol” (“sun” ). They’re often colorful and decorative, and not for heavy rain. Second, this game is part three of the Bubble Bobble trilogy, so you can expect the same kind of colorfully bright graphics and weird gameplay. So when I tell you that you use your parasol to capture and toss objects around to score points and capture power-ups, you won’t immediately re-read the sentence for clarity. Did I mention it’s bright and colorful? Because it is…relentlessly so!

R-Type

R-Type
There are some people who believe R-Type is the best arcade shooter ever devised, and though I am not one of those people, I can see their case.  The graphics are reminiscent of H.R. Giger’s work, and some of the power-ups are unique, such as the Power Pod, which can be detached to attack enemies or attached to your ship to fend off attackers. The game can be very challenging, even with the robot help, so be prepared to be faced with an equal mixture of joy and frustration when playing R-Type!

Raiden

Raiden
Another in a long series of arcade shooters that put you at the controls of an advanced fighter facing off against hordes of alien invaders, Raiden distinguished itself from its competition with superb graphics (including a wide variety of background screens), well-thought-out power-ups, and vertical scrolling gameplay that progressively became more difficult until it reached diabolical levels. The game was translated into seven different gaming platforms, but the TurboGrafx version is the best!

Super Star Soldier

Super Star Soldier
Do you want to play a vertical shooter that is relentlessly challenging? One that boasts outstanding graphics and a wide array of weapons, all programmed onto a standard huCard? Well do I have a game for you!  Besides having some of the best weapon choices ever to grace the TurboGrafx-16, this game also does not clip when the enemies fill the screen and the action is at its most intense, making Super Star Soldier one of the best arcade shooters to ever show the T16′s capabilities!

Honorable mentionLegendary Axe II

Legendary Axe II
Now this game should probably be on the first Top Ten list as part of the Legendary Axe series, but since I didn’t remember to put it there, I’m exercising executive authority to put it on this list. Legendary Axe was a fantastic game, but its sequel (imaginatively entitled Legendary Axe II) was even better. More creatures to fight, better levels to navigate, better atmosphere overall…this was and is an amazing game that showcased what the TurboGrafx-16 could offer gamers. It could stand up against many of today’s graphic extravaganzas and easily win on gameplay alone!

Have a different Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 list?  Leave a comment with your favorites – and don’t forget to say why!

Metal Dead

Metal Dead - indie games - gameplay screenshot
Even though one of the loudest clubs of my youth is no more, metal music is far from dead. Just like the demise of Sierra and the sad Star Wars-fueled downward spiral of Lucasarts never really spelled the end of the adventure game as a popular genre and a quality alternative to the mindless, militaristic shooting of things, heavy metal is still happily around. And no, I’m neither talking about that Kickstarter thing nor about Brutal Legend. I’m talking about Metal Dead.
My dear reader shouldn’t be surprised to find out that Metal Dead (by shiny, new indie developers Walk Thru Walls) is indeed a 2D point-and-click adventure created with AGS. We both, after all, do love a good adventure and Metal Dead is a very good one indeed. And it feels fresh and funny too.
Metal Dead - indie games - gameplay screenshot
Metal Dead is, you see, the closest we’ve come to the brilliance of Maniac Mansion since, well Maniac Mansion. It’s the Shaun of the Dead of adventure gaming. It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on the zombie genre that’s more surreal and smart than an open, and usually clumsy, parody. It’s odd, smart, funny, delightfully weird and capable of taking the tired zombies theme and turning it into something smart and quirky (admittedly with a little help from heavy metal music and the assorted stereotypes).
The game, a very traditional inventory-based and dialog-driven point-and-clicker, manages to masterfully weave the essentially non-violent and slow paced nature of the adventure game around an action-packed and ultra-violent theme, while impressively maintaining the light-hearted and surreal feel of the finest of Lucasarts and Sierra offerings. Happily, the blood-splattered humorous feel is also to be found in the game’s puzzles, which, though generally easy, are logical, well integrated and actually fun.
Metal Dead - indie games - gameplay screenshot
Though pretty short (stopping the zombie apocalypse shouldn’t take more than 5 hours), Metal Dead stays refreshingly silly and engaging throughout and never outstays its welcome, while constantly offering a response for absolutely anything you might think of doing and, of course, something surreal to do. You’ll be talking with the severed zombified head of your best mate (an ingenious hint system), killing zombies, saving doctors, unlocking hilarious achievements and murdering mutated cannabis plants, all the while combining items, engaging in brilliant dialogues and even guessing passwords.
On the audiovisual side of things, well, things are simple but effective. There is no voice-over and only a few tracks of music, but you’ll probably never complain. Imagining the sound of the characters’ voices is something I always enjoyed… Oh, and I do quite love the graphics. Simple, clean, unique and very expressive.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCfeBoLnMRs[/youtube]
Verdict: You’ll love the bloody humor. You’ll love the plot. You’ll love the characters. You’ll love the puzzles. You’ll love the price. Buy it.

Berzerk

“Intruder alert! Intruder alert!”

atari_2600_berzerk_gameplay screenshot

You are that intruder. You play as a “humanoid” trapped in an unlimited amount of single-screen mazes, chased (very slowly) by Cylon-looking robots with lasers. I have no idea why you are there, and why the robots hate you so much, but they are constantly shouting orders like “Kill!”,”Destroy!”, and “Attack!” via speech synthesis, a rarity in 1980 arcade games.

atari_2600_berzerk_gameplay screenshot

I remember being addicted to this game back in the day…simple to learn, difficult to master. With one joystick (to move/shoot in 8 directions) and one button (laser), your objective is to survive as long as possible by shooting the robots that are blocking your way to the exit on the other side of the each maze-screen.

Everything has an “electric” feel to it, from the laser shots to instant death from brushing against a wall. You receive points by destroying the robots, but you can’t hang around too long before escaping or “Evil” Otto will quickly be on your ass. Otto, a body-less smiley face, is the “Smoke Monster” of video games. A true indestructible enemy that will chase you down like a heat-seeking missile.

atari_2600_berzerk_gameplay screenshot

Simple, but addictive, gameplay kept my quarters flowing in the early ’80′s, always wanting my shot at Otto…but it was not to be. One of the more underrated “villains” in video-game history, he was always taunting me and I could do nothing about it.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb4gWvqbsYA[/youtube]

Highly recommended if you get a chance to play on MAME.

8/10

Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu - turbografx-16-gameplay screenshot

This week’s video review features the kung Fu stunt master Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu was released for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1992 and was an action platform game developed by Now Production and published by Hudson soft.

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu - turbografx-16-gameplay screenshot

The story featured Jackie Chan and his sister Josephine serving as protectors of the land and fighting against bad guys until a Prince of Sorcerers kidnaps Jackie’s sister. Jackie sets off on a quest to get his sister back by fighting through five levels each with a boss at the end until he reaches the Prince.

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu - turbografx-16-gameplay screenshot

One of the interesting things about this game was the fact that you only had one life, but you could continue up to five times and earn more continues in bonus rounds. Also, you would gain health and power ups by hitting frogs and the power-ups gave you special attacks as well as a charge attack you could use temporarily.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijqUpIWz82c[/youtube]

Hands-On Review: Plantronics GameCom Commander

The folks at Plantronics have put out a limited edition headset for the ultimate pro gaming experience, the GameCom Commander. With a price tag of $299.99, I decided to take it for a spin and see about that.

Plantronics GameCom Commander

First Impressions:

The Commander comes in with a lofty entrance. A heavy-duty carrying case hides and protects the headset and all it’s attachments, complete with a heavy latch to attach the protective case to your belt loop, luggage or backpack.

The case will do it’s job in protecting the valuable headset inside. I tried everything to hurt this thing, from pulling and yanking on the latch to actually standing on the case and it took the abuse with no evidence of it. Considering I’m a former pro wrestler, I have to conclude that this is a pretty tough carrying case.

First Impressions Score: 9 out of 10

Installation:

The wires and attachments were easy to remove and connect quickly. The drivers also installed on my PC very fast. I was up and running within moments, a big plus to me.

The only real issue here is that the headset uses the standard Windows drivers, something those wishing to use it at home more often than outside events may not wish to be stuck with.

Installation Score: 9 out of 10

Sound Quality:

Outstanding. The 7.1 Dolby stereo surround sound ensured I could hear every detail, footstep and audio queue on every game and song I attempted to use with it.

A big assist here goes to the noise cancellation ability of the Commander. The basic design of the headset comes from headsets that were originally designed to block out the noise of jet engines. All I could hear was what I wanted to. Any outside noise, even the sound of my own voice, was blocked out.

The heavy duty microphone provided the clearest sound I’ve heard with a headset. Regardless of if you are using the Commander to call out enemy positions in the middle of a team deathmatch or making a Skype call, every word you speak will come out with incredibly clarity on par with anything out there.

Sound Quality Score: 10 out of 10

Form Factor:

The Commander has both highs and lows in this department. I’ll start with the good news first.

This headset is tough and will likely last longer than your keyboard and controllers will. As I noted earlier, I’m a pretty big guy and yet my experience with the Commander marks the first time I’ve ever been unafraid that I might break a headset. I considered giving it the same test that I gave the case and see if it could take me stepping on it, but opted not to since I have to return this sample copy to Plantronics.

The volume control uses a flat dial that makes it hard to accidentally bump in the middle of play. The odds of accidentally muting yourself in the middle of a firefight or blasting your ears off accidentally are low.

On the flip side, however, the Commander is almost too much of a beast to be comfortable to wear. The weight of the product might be too much for some users, and after extended use I felt considerable discomfort around my ears and jaw, as if the headset was putting far to much pressure. I found no easy way to adjust the Commander for a more comfortable fit, meaning that it may not be ideal for marathon gaming sessions or lengthy conference calls.

Form Factor Score: 6 out of 10

Overall, the GameCom Commander delivers the experience it advertises and is built to last for the long term. The $299.99 price tag brings along a tough-as-nails design that ensures your investment will survive whatever you plan to put it through.

I only wish it was more comfortable to wear. People of different shapes and sizes may have a different experience in that regard while others might not want to trade off comfort for sound quality.

Total Score: 32 out of 40

Weird Games: Chiller

Chiller - Arcade game - gameplay screenshot

Weird Games: Chiller

I have always liked shooting games. From the simple BB gun shooting games at carnivals to games like Operation Wolf and Time Crisis, there was something about shooting at things that made my young self smile. Then there was Chiller which took the arcade shooter and added horror and gore and scared little boy J.A. forever.

Chiller was first released to the arcades in 1986 from publisher Exidy and the game consisted of several different screens of horror settings like torture chambers and graveyards. Now you would think the goal would be to save the helpless victims trapped there and to shoot and the bad guys holding them there, but you would be wrong, horribly wrong.

Chiller - Arcade game - gameplay screenshot

Your mission is to figure out how to kill every victim on the screen the fastest way possible. Now you would think that all you would have to do is shoot the victims outright, but I guess being trapped in their living nightmare has given them super powers or something because if you try just shooting them it takes too much time to kill them and you lose.

The challenge is finding ways to activate the torture devices or other means to kill the victims. So an example of that would be shooting a lever on a stretching rack to pull the victim apart. There are also bonuses for shooting all targets on each screen which results in a bonus round, as if shooting off chunks of flesh and bone wasn’t enough.

Chiller - Arcade game - gameplay screenshot

Now this game was released in the U.S. for the NES and used the light gun to shoot. Obviously there were differences in the NES release including a storyline which said the victims were monsters not people (I guess that makes torture ok).  Here is the storyline in a nutshell:

“Back in the middle ages a castle on the outskirts of town has been invaded by an evil force which is causing the dead to come back to life! You need to stop this force before it can create a large army and take over the town. …Each level also has 8 talismans hidden in it; you need to find and destroy these to stop the monsters from appearing.”

We have talked about Nintendo Censorship before so what was censored in this version of Chiller? Well, the infamous “shoot the clothes off the half buried woman” part was removed as well as things like shooting off the flesh of the victims and the body parts spread across many of the levels. Strangely enough one weird change was in the original was a monk hauling a wheel barrel of body parts across the screen. This was replaced with a nun pushing a baby carriage and yet you could shoot the nun.

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

Serious Nintendo WTF.

What’s next with Everquest Next

eq2 -frostfellhall

Everquest Next

You might not know it, but Everquest and Everquest 2 still has a thriving community and fan base. Even those of us who have moved on from EQ often remember it with fond memories (yes, even camping for rare spawns). With so many MMO’s that have promised to be the next big thing, but ended up falling on their face many of us wondered if Everquest Next would bring something new to the table or at least take us back to the days of gaming we loved.

At the most recent SOE Live convention SOE president, John Smedley talked about Everquest Next briefly in his keynote address:

“I have to be honest with you. We have completely blown up the design of EverQuest Next. For the last year and a half we have been working on something we are not ready to show. Why did we blow up the design? The design was evolutionary. It was EverQuest III. It was something that was slightly better that what had come before it. IT was slightly better. What we are building is something that we will be very proud to call EverQuest.

It will be the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed. The same exciting content delivered in a new way. Something you’ve never seen before. The MMO world has never seen before. We didn’t want more Kill 10 Rats quests. We didn’t want more of the same. If you look at the MMOs out there, they’re delivering the same content over and over again. So are we. We need to change that. When we released EverQuest, we changed the world. We want to do that again with a different type of game.

What I will commit to is, at the next Fan Faire, not only will you get to see it but you will get to touch it. Most of the EQNext devs are in this room. If you get them drunk enough they might tell you. They’re led by Dave Georgeson. Terry Michaels. Vets from EQ and EQ2. We are remaking Norrath unlike anything you’ve ever seen, but you’ll recognize it. I’m sorry we don’t have anything to show for it, but I wanted to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about it. Keep the faith.”

Now there is obviously the joke about SOE getting something right or bringing us something new that is good, but there is also a slight worry that a project was blown up and redesigned. Just think of when you hear that about a movie or television show, it doesn’t bode well does it?

I guess we will see. As far as the sandbox MMO idea, that is not really new, but it at least gives us an idea of the gameplay style. For those that don’t know or fully understand what a Sandbox mmo is, here is a pretty good explanation I stole from somewhere.

“A sandbox MMO is a game that drops you into a player driven world.  Players are given tools, and sand, and they get to make whatever they want with it.  Just like when you were a kid in your sandbox with a shovel and pail.  You didn’t have much fancy stuff, but you had fun.

A non-sandbox MMO has already made all the fun for you, there is no sand, it’s a playground or a “themepark”.  it’s not about you creating content, it’s about having fun with what the devs made.  Like when you used to climb around on the monkey bars or whatever.

Simple eh? Player driven vs dev driven.”

Now we are not 100% sure if EQ Next will be modeled exactly like this, but you get the idea. Also we can almost guess that it will go free to play from launch. Our best guess is that you will need to pay for the game and then not have a monthly subscription, but you can purchase items from a store in-game like Guild Wars 2.

So we will see what SOE shows us next year. We do know that Planetside 2 is set to launch on November 20th so that will keep us busy until we hear more EQ Next news.

Renegade

Renegade (1986)
By: Technos / Taito Genre: Fighting Players: Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 29,800
Also Available For: Master System, NES, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

Poor old RKS has a tough life as a gamer. Despite being relatively normal in most ways, I only have few friends who share my interest in this particular subject and only one who also likes retro games, and he lives far enough away that I don’t see him often. When we do meet up, one type of game we nearly always play is scrolling fighting games, but it only occurred to me recently that we always play the same few: Double Dragon, Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, etc. Upon realization of this, I decided to give a few other examples a try to vary our rare gaming sessions a little. One of the first games I thought of was Renegade – one of the first such examples of the genre and supposedly also one of the best which, alarmingly, is yet another title I’ve never gotten around to trying. Playing it for the first time for this feature, however, revealed that it’s not strictly speaking a scrolling fighting game at all. Hmmm.

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

As most of you probably already know, each of Renegade’s meager four stages are quite small. They do scroll, but are only about four screens wide – a space which is populated by different ‘hoodlums’ on successive stages as well as a boss character who becomes active once only three of his henchmen remain. Your job as the unnamed (in the arcade version, at least) vigilante is merely to beat the crap out of them. You can move in eight directions and there are three buttons – one attacks in the direction you’re facing, another attacks behind, and the last performs a jump. A double-tap of either direction allows you to run and you can attack while doing this or jumping. Even the most basic enemies require numerous hits to defeat but you can knock them to the ground fairly easily at which point you can straddle them (oo-er!) and continue smacking them up. It’s also possible to grab an enemy and perform a throw but they can grab you as well. All of these moves can also be performed on the boss characters, but since they’re stronger the attacks are often less effective.

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

The four stages take place on a subway platform, a harbor  an alley, and the gang’s hideout, and each is home to unique enemies. The amount of energy their attacks cost you is dependent on what they attack you with. Some have only their fists but others are armed or even riding motorbikes. Thugs wielding knives or guns can even kill you outright with one hit, and this makes an already rock-hard game harder then ten adamantium-coated diamonds! You only get one life, you see, and unusually for an arcade game you don’t even have the option of adding coins to continue. I’m not an especially gifted gamer, admittedly, but I was having so much trouble I even had to resort to fiddling around with the DIP switch settings. However, despite changing the difficulty to easy upping the lives to the maximum of two (!), I was still making little headway. The extra life wasn’t much use as it makes you start the stage again anyway, so I decided to try a more strategic approach of running around and picking off thugs only when an opportunity presented itself. And then I ran out of time instead!

Renegade-arcade gamplay screenshot

Even some sneaky tactics such as knocking enemies off the end of the railway platform on the first stage usually backfired as I was knocked off instead. Boo hoo. It’s quite a nice-looking game though. Stage graphics are good and the sprites, whilst not too numerous, are varied, distinctive, and animated fairly well too. The sound isn’t bad either, with average music but pretty good effects and even the odd snippet of speech (“Get lost, punk!”), and it’s an exciting, action-packed, and enjoyable game to play, but that difficulty means that any enjoyment is usually short-lived. Even having not previously played it, I knew that Renegade was a landmark title that brought with it several innovations, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so unforgiving! Arcade games are usually tough but would a continue feature have been too much to ask? Renegade is actually a Western ‘localisation’ – the original Japanese game is part of the ‘Kunio-kun’ series, so I’ll have to give that a try to see if it’s as tough. For now though, I’m either a wussy who needs a lot of practice, or by jove, Renagade is a toughie – too tough for me!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co6e7cg7DSQ[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

Bomberman II

Bomberman II

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

The original Bomberman video game on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console was released in 1989 by much-beloved developer Hudson Soft and launched a franchise that would see many subsequent sequels and spin-offs on future systems. It did take four years to see Bomberman II take shape, though, as it came out in early 1993.

Bomberman 2 - NES - Gameplay screenshot

Gameplay

Bomberman II is an action puzzle game, where completing stages means using strategy while also making split-second decisions for survival. The best way to beat a level is not always the fastest, and as the game progresses, it grows in complexity. There is a thin plot involving a rival Bomberman framing our hero Bomberman for a bank robbery, necessitating a prison escape and eventually attaining freedom through traversing cave, forest, and other areas as well.

From the top-down perspective, the player maneuvers Bomberman through the grids using the directional pad. Pressing A lays a bomb. Each bomb explodes after a couple seconds; unless Bomberman has gotten the Detonator item, which allows the player to explode bombs by pressing the B button, and they will no longer explode by timing. The Start button pauses the game.

That is it, as far as controls go. The bombs explode a flame horizontally and vertically outward, destroying “soft blocks” in the path of the explosion. Permanent “hard blocks,” which can never be blown up, are distributed evenly throughout every level, forming the resulting grid corridors that Bomberman must walk through. The goal of every stage is to destroy all enemies and find the exit, which begins hidden in a soft block.

Bomberman 2 - NES - Gameplay screenshot

Every level also has one hidden power-up item, such as the aforementioned Detonator, found on stage 1-4. These items vary from a simple upgrade to blast radius or amount of bombs to lay, from powerful advantages like being able to walk through bombs or soft blocks. However, just as Bomberman grows stronger and more sophisticated in his techniques, so too do the enemies, moving in differing patterns at varying speeds and often able to move through bombs and soft blocks.

There are six areas in the Normal Mode game, each with eight levels, meaning that Bomberman II has 48 stages in total, with 6-8 being the final. Each area usually begins with a few levels that just occupy the entire screen, but later levels within that area will go beyond the border, scrolling to reveal more blocks and enemies on a wider scale. Bomberman always begins the level in the upper-left corner. He may start out on his jailbreak adventure with only a single bomb with a measly blast, but will soon grow to be quite formidable.

Bomberman starts out with a few lives, and upon losing them all, is given a password for the level, which can be entered as an option at the title screen. Score is also kept, and is increased by defeating enemies, including special “Bonus Round” stages about once per area as an interstitial portion, during which Bomberman is immune to fire, there are no soft blocks, and the goal is just to blow up as many of the generated enemies as possible within the time limit. Every level, in fact, has a time limit, although it should only be significant to new players on the first few levels, as the frenetic intensity of later stages largely renders it a moot point.

Bomberman 2 - NES - Gameplay screenshot

Although this action-puzzle hybrid is a little more action-oriented that someone as cerebral as, say,Solomon’s Key, Bomberman is still a very tactical, method-focused game. Its unique formula distinctively delivers challenging puzzles of timing, concentration, pixel-perfect maneuvers, and other nuances, all of which just happen to be packed with lovable explosions. The Bomberman games definitely have a signature legacy, and as such a unique entity, are going to fall into the “not for everyone category”: Some people may never quite understand the appeal, but many fans will continue enjoying the grid-based pyrotechnic demolition within.

Bomberman II includes the addition of multiplayer gaming, which was not found in the original title. Vs Mode pits one human player against another, in a one-screen simple grid that starts them off with minimal firepower and demands they find upgrades and kill the other first in a best-of-5 head-to-head series. Battle Mode is tweaked to offer more firepower on the front end, since it includes a third human player and grows very heated very quickly.

For better and for worse, Bomberman II’s main gameplay remains remarkably similar to the original 8-bit Bomberman game. This means that newcomers can saddle right up and dive in without really having missed much in terms of introductory experience needed, but in this reviewer’s opinion, it also represents a sad failure to tweak some of the flaws of the original. For example, both games have a fun feature where, if the exit door is revealed, it will generate a handful of enemies whenever it is inadvertently blasted. This makes sense and adds a thoughtful element; however, due to the timing of the explosions in chain reactions from one bomb detonating another, it is still possible to, in a split-second, have one bomb reveal a hidden item only for another to blow it up, all before the player has a chance to retrieve the item.

Bomberman 2 - NES - Gameplay screenshot

This is a fundamental design flaw, in that it discourages the player from forging ahead in explosive exploration, discovering the most efficient ways to eliminate clusters of soft blocks, and playing against the time; instead, it forces bombers to make sub-par placement decisions and play over-cautiously if they absolutely wish to avoid such frustration. A very simple solution: Have items be invincible for a moment upon their appearance. While, ultimately, this is not a crippling issue, there are other minor flaws like this throughout, or some matters that are debatable (example: some levels begin with an enemy that can move through blocks moving straight toward Bomberman, which results in a cheap death or two until the player learns to immediately deal with the threat – is this ploy cheap or clever on the part of the developers?) as to their merit. Essentially, if you strip away the visual updates, the gameplay is not only very similar to the original, but so identical as to still have its flaws as well, to which one can ask: Within those four years time, did nobody think to at least examine the core gameplay and try to improve it, rather than provide what basically amounts to just a reskin?

Graphics

Of all the tweaks to the original Bomberman NES game, major and minor, the most noteworthy is probably the visuals. From the in-your-face title screen to the overhaul of the main quest looks, Hudson shows off their artistry with crisp, colorful, cool pixel pieces from beginning to end. Every eight-stage Area has a different theme, which determines the color and appearance of the soft blocks, permanent blocks, border, and background color. There are still-frame cutscenes between each areas, showing Bomberman’s continued progression to true freedom. Many of the enemy designs from the original game return fairly faithfully but with an appropriate touch-up. While other elements shine as well, like the fantastic frame-by-frame explosion animation, there is definitely a bit of slowdown when a lot is going on at once on-screen. This is unfortunate, especially later in the game.

Bomberman 2 - NES - Gameplay screenshot

Sound

Bomberman II sounds great. Hudson was among the highest-quality developers for quite a while, with many player-favorites among that repertoire in the NES days that includes classics like the Adventure Island series, the platforming powerhouse Felix the Cat, etc. One mark of their production value is their sound, which is engineered with pop, precision, and proper pacing in Bomberman II. The main Bomberman theme is back, and the music changes with on-screen events, like discovering the hidden item and signaling additional urgency.

Whereas in many other NES games, the soundtrack sounds as though the programmers had a lot of trouble dealing with the console’s hardware limitations, Bomberman II sounds like the composers were genuinely able to have fun rocking the available channels to their limits. Each Area has its own theme, effectively enhancing the setting and fully encapsulating the environment presentation. The sound effects are subtle, with the exception of the actual bomb explosion, a wonderfully rich effect that sounds like a classic PC-gaming .wav file, multi-layered and complex in its throaty execution. Basically: The sound in Bomberman II is delightful.

Originality

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar_Kr_UKQ0Y[/youtube]

Outside of its visuals and multiplayer additions, Bomberman II can hardly be considered original, since it is basically the same game as the original Bomberman on NES; however, it should not necessarily be penalized for such lack of innovation either. The Bomberman formula works: It is a fun way to present the player with action elements in a manner that demands thought, and at a rapid rate of speed at times. The series went onto cross-platform multi-generational success for a reason.

Fans of the original Bomberman game will be unable to find any true reason to dislike Bomberman II, while those who never “got” or liked the first outing will not have much incentive to like the second. It does look much better, but at the cost of what feels like a little more slowdown. It does introduce multiplayer, though in a very basic, experimental sense. The plot of the original was much more compelling: A mining robot escaping his subterranean captivity in its desire to become human. In the sequel, we have a Bomberman framed for a bank robbery; which, while thematically intact, is not quite as grand. Then again, do gamers care about storyline?

All nuanced nitpicks aside, Bomberman II remains a very solid 8-bit video game. Critics will cite repetitive gameplay, fans may see it as the ideal NES action puzzler, and gaming historians can note its firm place within the hallowed legacy of the Bomberman canon. The sequel, the stepping stone to the franchise becoming a true series, blows up four stars out of five.

Mega Man VII

So we take a look at Mega Man VII for the SNES. The game is definitely worth checking and going over as it’s probably one of the better SNES Mega Man games.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

The music is Capcom’s soundtrack at its best. It’s as enjoyable as the NES counter parts and very fulfilling! The transition from NES Mega Man to SNES Mega Man was a success! The sound effects could have been a little better but I understand what they were trying to do especially with the release of the X series. The main idea was to make Mega Man a more kid friendly game because X was more of a serious game. That’s just my theory and that’s just how it looks like.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

The graphics are quite enriching and beautiful for such a SNES title. Mega Man has never looked more lively and he is quite enjoyable to look at especially when you aren’t doing anything with him and he just stares side to side. You know he wants to shoot at stuff! Either way, all the classic Mega Man characters are here including Proto Man and the introduction of Bass starts in this game as well. They all look sharp and lively, it’s a great sight especially to gamers that were playing 8-bit Mega Man all these years.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

There is not much to say about the Gameplay, it’s Mega Man after all! Mega man is known for its action packed shooting everywhere levels! The bosses are as tough as ever and represent a great challenge. The introduction to collecting clamps as money to create new items and such was a great addition to the series. It gave it more of an RPG taste and helped you through your quest to defeat Dr. Wily.

Mega Man VII - snes- gameplay screenshot

Mega Man games have been known for having amazing replay value and this one is no different. I can always go back to this one and beat it in a single run from time to time. It’s just a very enjoyable game and believe it or not, I feel the same way about many of the NES counterparts. There is just so much joy of defeating robot masters and shooting everywhere that never gets all. Mega Man is where it’s at for replay value.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd4M6Kmnn6U[/youtube]

Finally, this game is a must have for any collector or player. You will get a side-scroller that’s definitely worth every single penny. You might end up paying a little too much for this game but it’s a great addition and gameplay experience to anyone! Be sure not to miss this game, and don’t forget to check out the X series for the same console. Till next week!

Star Wars the Old Republic: Free to Play Details

Star-Wars-The-Old-Republic

Sadly we all saw Old Republic barreling head first toward free-to-play a long time ago especially when we heard of the downsizing. Never a good sign. Now we have better details on what you will and will not have access to if you opt for F2P.

So for those who loved the storyline of the game and the single player aspects you are in luck because you get that for free. As far as other parts of the game they decided to put you on a three times a week program (kind of like how your wife might do you). This means things like Flashpoints, Warzone battles and Space Missions will only be accessible three times in a week.

Now no F2P worth its salt is without add on items you have to purchase and in SWTOR’s case you can purchase Weekly Passes to give you unlimited access to all the above restricted instances. The same goes for Operations, there is no 3-day pass for that so you will need to purchase a weekly one. The problem here is that most purple loot cannot be equipped so what is the point of running an Operation if you cannot wear the loot. I guess that is the point.

Star Wars the old republic - free to play - features list

Like other MMO’s before it namely Everquest and EQ2, you are have less Cargo Bay and Inventory space which can become an issue, but fear not because you can use Cartel Coins to purchase additional slots. Other things to make the F2P version a little less attractive and give subscribers a reason to keep paying includes priority login as far as the queues, a faster cool-down on Quick Travel and the ability to use the Emergency Fleet Pass. Finally you only get one Crew Skill slot with F2P, as well as a limited number of Field Revivals to use when you die.

So we all know why this is happening. Old Republic subscriptions has been dropping like zombies in The Walking Dead. The question is will this bring in new players or give subscribers a reason to go free-2-play instead. Only time will tell and speaking of which we still do not have a date when F2P will go live. The original word was “sometime this fall” and yet here we are. When SWTOR goes F2P will you start playing?

Double Dragon: 1987 vs 2012

Double_Dragon-1987

vs

Double_Dragon-Neon-2012

 

They say imitation is the best form of flattery. So what do they say about a reboot of a classic ? I know, DON’T do it, leave it alone !

Double_Dragon-Neon-2012

I am an old school retro gamer, and yes, I also dabble in the current generation video gaming systems. When I heard that one of my favorite beat’em ups would be rebooted on the current gen consoles, I was salivating at the thought of kicking some black warrior heads. Well, I have finally ‘tasted’ the Double Dragon Neon reboot, and let me say this – I was initially wowed (nostalgia got to me) but within a few minutes of play I started comparing Neon to the original arcade game. I found myself thinking, I would rather be playing the original !

Double_Dragon-1987

As they say, original is always best. In this case, it is. The Double Dragon of 1987 was a ‘tour de force’. It set the standard that all other two player co-op beat’em ups would be judged upon. It had soul, it had grittiness, it immersed you in the action as you strive to save your girlfriend, even if you had to fight your brother for her affection.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT0re3Ml7w0[/youtube]

If you are curious how Double Dragon Neon has turned out, get the free demo. If you actually want to (re)play it, then go ahead and buy it, otherwise, get your hit (pun intended) on the original.

Drift Mania Championship 2

Drift-Mania-Championship-2-gameplay-screenshot

Sometimes when it comes to mobile games you have to ask yourself is it the game, is it you, is it your phone or a combination of both. For me, while Draft Mania Championship looks great on my phone, but I found it hard to play and the longer I kept at it the longer I realized the fault did not lie with me.

I ran this game on my Motorola Photon and the HD rendered tracks look crisp and clean, however the cars themselves did not seem as polished with some looking a bit boxy. In DMC2 you have access to 13 different cars that you can customize and upgrade as well as 13 drift circuits to race upon.

Drift-Mania-Championship-2-gameplay-screenshot

If you ever complained about not having enough knowledge on a game before playing it you won’t be disappointed with the lengthy tutorial that comes with this game. However, even with all the practice and upgrades you can take advantage of when to comes to gameplay it seem incredibly hard to make the turns be it using the phone to tilt or the on screen steering wheel.

Overall this can still be a fun game to play. The graphics are nice and the gameplay is good if you really practice and configure not only your car, but the game settings correctly. Perhaps with a Bluetooth controller the game would rate higher for me, but then again we should not have to add remote controllers to fully enjoy a game.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3FbBN7C0P4[/youtube]

You can pick up Drift Mania Championship 2 on Google Play for $1.99

The Turbo CD Review

The ultimate accessory for video console gaming in the early 1990′s was not the Sega CD – it was the Turbo CD with a Super System Card.  This combination permitted owners of NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 gaming system to access some of the very best games available at the time, whether they were North American or Japanese releases, such as Dungeon Explorer II, Ys Book I and II, Lords of Thunder, and Dracula X.

The Turbo CD with TurboGrafx-16

The Turbo CD attached itself to the TurboGrafx-16 system, and the new world of CD gaming was opened up.  The Super System Card turned the Turbo CD into a Turbo Duo machine, with 256K of RAM (split 64K DRAM and 192K SRAM).  It also provided the most advanced bios for the T16 (version 3.0), which permitted its owners to play the “Super System CD” games.  The extra memory gave programmers the ability to use the entire color palette for their games’ backgrounds, which provided a much richer gaming experience.

So if this accessory was the greatest thing to happen to gaming since the release of the Atari 2600, why didn’t everyone own one?  Well, to begin with, it was an accessory for the TurboGrafx-16 system, which was fighting for ground in the Nintendo vs. Sega console wars, and losing.  It was also BIG, which was odd, considering the Japanese model it was based on (for the PC Engine) was quite small.  Perhaps the North American fascination for big trucks and luxury cars blinded the design team at NEC, since they clearly thought BIGGER was better.  Unfortunately, retailers don’t want giant boxes that are mostly Styrofoam or packaging today, and they didn’t then, either.

With a box measuring 59.5cm x 44.5cm x 26cm (23.4″ x 17.5″ x 10.2″), who had the space to display it, never mind stock it in any significant quantity?  Another reason was that, unlike the Sega CD, which included Sewer Shark, the Turbo CD did not include a game, which meant you had to add a little more cost to the final bill.  That leads us to the final, and most important reason why the Turbo CD did not catch fire in the gaming universe: the price.  NEC priced the Turbo CD at $399, which was a prohibitive price point.  Although the standard System 2.0 Card was included in the package, it only gave access to the standard CD games.  Only by purchasing the Super System Card could gamers access the Super CD titles (like Prince of Persia, DragonSlayer, etc), and this was retailing in the $80-$100 range.

Turbo CD Super System Card 3.0

So let’s review NEC’s market strategy for the Turbo CD:

  1. High price
  2. Basic function unless you pay even more money for an accessory for the accessory
  3. GIANT size
  4. No game

I’m not a rocket scientist, but this combination would spell disaster today for any peripheral’s sales, never mind during the height of the Nintendo vs. Sega console wars!

The TurboGrafx CD original box

So in the end, the Turbo CD was the best gaming accessory no one bought.  Today retro gaming is a both a popular and enjoyable pastime.  If you are a retro gamer with a passion for all things 90s, you simply need to have a TurboGrafx-16 with a Turbo CD system!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel a need for some Lords of Thunder Super CD action coming on – awesome guitar riffs and amazing game play await!

Thomas Was Alone

Thomas Was Alone - indie gaming - gameplay screenshot
Having already covered the release of Thomas Was Alone over at the IndieGames blog (see? that’s where newsbits go these days) I thought I’d take my time and finish the game before reviewing it for my very own, very cozy place. But first a bit of history.
Thomas Was Alone is a game by Mike Bithell and Mike Bithell is one of the first indie game designers I started writing about sometime six years ago. He was still a student back then, but had already come up with more than a few intriguing ideas and was more than capable of creating beautiful games. Games like Reunion if you remember, which I deeply enjoyed and (hint, hint) would love to see evolved.
Then, things and games happened and Mike went on and crafted a particularly successful flash game named Thomas Was Alone which you can no longer play online. It was an utterly lovely game. A refreshing puzzle-platformer that provided you with rectangle characters and a geometric world, in which said characters could climb and bounce on top of each other in order to solve platformer puzzles.
Thomas Was Alone - indie gaming - gameplay screenshot
Then, even more things happened (mainly glowing press and, apparently, brave choices) and Mike decided that Thomas Was Alone simply had to realize its full potential and become a full-blown, downloadable and thus logically commercial indie game. Following a modest IndieGoGo campaign the game was released and you can (and frankly should) buy it now for Mac and PC over at its very own and most aptly URLed site. There’s even a demo available to help you make the right choice.
History lesson over. Time for a review.
Well, the official description of the game goes a bit like this: a minimalist game about friendship and jumping and floating and bouncing and anti-gravity, which is pretty accurate, but fails to add the words terrific, story-heavy and brilliantly narrated somewhere. A grave marketing mistake surely, as what we are talking about here reader is easily one of the very best platformers ever. A game that has earned its place among classic platformers Manic Miner and VVVVVV; a rare action offering that can proudly sit next to Alphaland (an inspiration perhaps?) and claim it really knows its storytelling.
Thomas Was Alone - indie gaming - gameplay screenshot
The plot and its delivery, you see, are central to Thomas Was Alone, which does force me to namedrop a bit more. Remember that Portal game? Good. Now, do the math and find out what I want to say, by keeping in mind that I easily preferred Thomas‘ take on interactive storytelling.
As for the gameplay itself, things are both straightforward and innovative. You get to control a variety of subtly yet brilliantly animated rectangles, each with its own unique personality, set of abilities, shape and color  and guide them through an excellently designed set of levels that will mainly tax your brain, but also -a bit- your reflexes. What’s really lovely is just how well each rectangle’s defining ability is tied to its character; what’s downright impressive though is that said rectangles are so much more interesting than your average multi-polygonal mainstream hero. They have a soul and that’s coming from a person who simply doesn’t believe such things exist.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDaa3Cq6c7M[/youtube]
So, uhm, as I said earlier, buy it will you? Don’t make me go on about how lovely the stylized graphics are or how addictive the game can get. I’m very busy these days, you know, and am pretty confident the less I tell you about it, the more fun you’ll have discovering the many graces of Thomas Was Alone.

Nexus 2 The Gods Awaken Q&A

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Nexus 2 The Gods Awaken Q&A

Nexus 2 The Gods Awaken is an ongoing Kickstarter project to create a true sequel to a fantastic space tactical game, Nexus, The Jupiter Incident. If you haven’t played the original you can find it on Steam, but it is a must play for any fan of space based games. As said this project is ongoing and needs the assistance of fans and gamers alike to put it over the edge.

We had a chance to chat with Vincent Van Diemen, producer on the project about the thought and development process of the game as well as his background in gaming.

Can you start with telling us about Nexus: The Jupiter Incident for those who might not be familiar with the game?

Nexus is a tactical real-time space game in which you command a fleet of ships through an epic campaign set in an original universe in the near future.

Nexus does a lot of story-telling in all its missions and the way you control your ships is a mixture of micromanagement (especially when you work on the detailed loadout of the ships prior to the missions) and fleet control.

For each and every one of you who don’t know Nexus and want to know more about the actual gameplay (and story), there is a series of play-throughs on YouTube under the title ‘Let’s Play Nexus’. All in 1080p and each episode featuring one single mission of the game. It will take you a full weekend to watch all the episodes, but it’s time well spent.

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

Give us a general breakdown of Nexus 2?

Nexus 2 is a true sequel to Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. The story picks up 25 years after the events in Nexus 1 and we’ll continue that very story with new developments, new races appearing on the interstellar horizon etc. A new phenomenon is the Psi. These are humans with supernatural powers.

If you know the story of Nexus you know that an AI called Angel disappeared at the end of the game. But where to? The answer lies in the Psi that play an important role in the new story. Because of their extraordinary abilities these Psi are good to have around, and if you can’t have them, then you better make sure your enemies don’t have access to them either.

In terms of gameplay Nexus 2 will stay very close to its predecessor as well. With many improvements of course and some interesting enhancements.

What will the UI in the game look like?

The UI was not the strongest elements of the original game, so we are looking at it very seriously. But it is very hard to say a lot about this. As with many elements of game development we will be trying a lot of stuff, designing it, prototyping it, then refining, redesigning, prototyping etc. Whatever I say about it now, you will probably see something different in the final game.

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Where did the idea come from for the ship designs?

The creation of the ship designs is a complex process. On one hand there is the story. It partly inspires the design of the races. Then a creative mind – such as a concept artist – starts to draw. Then with rough sketches there is interaction between the two disciplines and then the artist moves on (or starts over). If the concept artist has a special source of inspiration is not known to me. I find it an amazing process and I am a big fan of concept art. But the creative part of it is a big black box for me.

As far as controls what can we expect as far as changes in Nexus 2?

Controls will be similar to the original. In fact it’s the same as with the UI. We look at the original game, we discuss what was good and what was bad about it. We redesign whatever we think can be improved and start prototyping it. But – same here – we will not have a groundbreaking new way of ship control. Overall it will stay close to the original, but tweaked.

As far as mission design to you expect it to be linear or more open or perhaps a mix of both?

Simple answer. Linear. We have some ideas about creating some freedom, but story-wise it needs to be linear. Like in Nexus 1 we want to tell a story, we want it to be interesting, a bit like a good sci-fi book. For that we need it to be linear. And we’ll prove once more that linear doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

As far as customizations particularly weapons, can you tell us about how this will be handled in Nexus 2?

Weapons as such cannot be customized. The loadout of ships will be an important task between missions. And during the campaign you will be provided new weapons and utilities to enhance your ships performance in each and every possible way.

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Tell us about the modding that you will allow for the game?

There is a fantastic modding community for Nexus 1 and we know what this did for our game. We are still amazed by what some of these modders did. Really impressive. So, for Nexus 2 we will not only continue to support the modders, but in fact we want to create an even better moddable game. With more and better tools, easier access to parts of the game that were hard to mod in the original. If all goes as planned we will be using the Unreal tech for Nexus 2 and one of the reasons for this is that this tech does allow us easy support for the modding community.

What is your vision for the multiplayer aspect of the game?

Multiplayer will also be similar to Nexus 1, but it’s too early to say too much about it. Multiplayer still needs to be (re-) designed. We have the high level concept ready, but the actual design will probably bring some new ideas. We will see if we have enough time and resources to experiment with these and bring you guys the best multiplayer experience possible.

Are there any specific features that you hope to put in the game?

I am excited about all of the new ideas and features for the game, but these are not mine. I am the producer, not the designer. I am also cautious. Some of the new features may look great on paper, but will they actually work? Is implementing them not too much of a pain (sometimes a single feature breaks a dozen others that were working perfectly before). So, well. That is my job. I definitely have some favorites and I also have some ideas, like for the music. But let’s not get carried away 😉

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Can you tell us about your gaming background?

Once upon a time I had a glorious career in ICT. But in 1993 – the year CD-ROM was introduced I decided to go all games. So, I quit my job and opened a games shop in my home town. Since 2000 I have been working as a producer and I have produced close to 20 games on 5 or 6 different platforms.

As a gamer, I go all the way back to early tabletop gaming devices. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectum. On that machine I learned how to program and I also played many games on it. After that I owned an Atari ST, partly because I was experimenting with electronic music (midi). So, I wrote my own midi software, but also created some games that were distributed in ‘public domain’. Since my ST ended on the attic, I am a PC gamer. I only played GTA4 on the X360, simply because it was not available on PC at first. But a mouse and keyboard are my gaming devices.

Was there a space based game that inspired you before you began working on your own game or perhaps a book, TV series or movie?

You would have to ask the lead designer of Nexus 1, as well as the mission designer(s). I think many of them got their inspiration from books and movies. The lead programmer I know was huge fan of Stanley Kubricks ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Next time we’ll ask more members of the team what inspired them…

What is your favorite classic game?

Ah, now that is a tricky question. Game, not gameS, right? Well, I am answering it only if I am allowed to mention 2.

Fallout 2 & System Shock 2. Old grumpy guy here J

So there you have it. Be aware this project is ongoing so be on the lookout for more information. Also, if you have a question about the game post a comment and we will put them all together for our next Q&A.

Gamer Profile: Pamela Horton

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 My favorite classic game would have to be Chrono Trigger for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems. ~Pamela Horton

Pamela Horton

Favorite Classic Game: Chrono Trigger

The great thing about the culture of gaming is the variety of people you meet from all over the world with their own stories and history. Then you find out they love some of the same games you do and there is an instant connection. In our Gamer Profile Series we explore the love of classic gaming that people have from a Major computer company founder to a Major League Baseball Player, to a baseball player to a Playboy Playmate of the month.

Pamela Horton is 25, hails from Wichita Kansas and is Playboy’s October 2012 Playmate of the Month. She is also featured on the cover of the magazine’s October 2012. Now what could possibly be hotter than a Playboy Playmate, one who is a true gamer as well.

Ms. October is multitalented, from a League of Legends player to an avid comic book fan and artist:

“I’ve delved into everything—acrylics, pastels, sculpting and even glassblowing,” said Miss October in a previous interview.  “I’ve also always loved video games and comic books, so when I paint in oil, I start with something realistic, but it inevitably scoots off into cartoon territory.  I’m definitely prone to the fantastic!”

Now she is on the cover of Playboy and we had a chance to chat with her about her love of gaming, her artistic side and being a Playmate of the Month.

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

Tell us about your gaming past, what games you started out playing?

I’ve been playing since I was about 5 years old. The first game I ever played was Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES. 🙂

What would you say your favorite classic game is?

My favorite classic game would have to be a tossup between Chrono Trigger and Earthbound for the SNES. I’ve always been a Nintendo girl even though I own all systems.

When did you first get into MMO’s?

A boyfriend in high school made me make a character on his FFXI account. I made a little Tarutaru Red Mage. I was hooked from there!

Tell us about how you got into League of Legends and about the characters you play and your playstyle?

I heard about it from my group of friends who had read articles on it back in 2009. The very first character I ever played was Janna. I was really good with her (or so I thought.) The second character I played was Teemo. It was love at first mushroom kill. He’s so cute! With Teemo I play AP hybrid, starting with boots and pots, building into a malady and a wits end.

I always built Magic Resist because I was usually mid with Teemo. I was hard on banks top too. 🙂 I also play an AP support Soraka so my heals and skills do more than your typical support. It tricks the enemy team to blowin their ults and CDs thinking they are going to get a kill. Then they see their target full health and start focusing me. 😀

Pamela Horton - Playboy Magazine

What other games do you play?

I play World of Warcraft, (still) play Final Fantasy XI, I just got Pokemon Black 2, Theathrythm, Final Fantasy, Mark of the Ninja… I play a lot of stuff at one time haha

Now being a gamer girl is hard enough, but in your case do you find it even harder to be a gamer girl? What is the reaction if/when people find out?

It’s usually 50/50. When they are negative, they are super negative. When its positive, I make new friends who appreciate my talents as a gamer!

What coming books are you into?

My friend just had me start reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I love it so far. But whenever a new Dean Koontz book comes out I get it immediately!

Tell us about your art and the items you offer on your site?

I do art commissions and work on a lot of “cartoon” art. My personal comic style has a likeness to Jhonen Vasquez (the creator of Invader Zim). I can do realistic work but I always end up doing something cartoony!

You also consider yourself a gym rat, can you tell us about your workout routine?

I’m not a gym rat. That was another one of those tailored statements. I go to the gym maybe the week before a photoshoot. Other than that I don’t really go. Hahaha

What led you to Playboy?

Playboy actually came to me! One of their submitting photographers wanted to send me in for Cyber Girl but his editor wanted me to test for Playmate and here I am!

What is it like to be on the cover of Playboy and be the playmate of the month?

It is the biggest honor I have ever had. Each playmate is hand-picked by Hugh Hefner, and to have that sincere pleasure I will be forever grateful.

Thanks to Playboy for the images and video.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.
If you’d like to send us your own gamer profile e-mail us.

We Interview Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment: Part 2

Chris Avellone metal

 Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment

Be sure to read Part 1 here!

General Questions About Gaming And Game Design:

What do you think about games that are based around an alignment based system? Are they too limited? How would you enforce the alignment role-playing aspect?

I don’t always believe in a game imposing morality unless it’s part of a franchise (Star Wars). In Alpha Protocol we did away with a player morality bar because in the espionage world, it’s difficult to say whether you’re “good” or “bad,” you’re just out to accomplish your mission and your reasons are your own. I do feel it’s fair if you set up reputation bars for other people, companions, and factions because it’s easier to imagine how NPCs and communities would judge your actions that us trying to judge the player and slap a +/- on it.

I did dislike the alignment system in D&D because it always assumed the player should choose an alignment before adventuring in the world. So in Torment, we let the player be a blank slate and let the alignment evolve (and reverse) over time depending on your actions. We felt that this was a better interpretation of the alignment system and it made more sense in the context of the narrative.

What do you think about the trend that we see in modern gaming where people consider MMORPGs to be RPGs? Is this correct or have they simply not had then chance to play a real traditional RPG?

Advancement schemes are similar, and some of the cause and effect you experience in RPGs is there, and I’d argue the ability to form your own party from other players provides the equivalent of an RPG experience in many respects. You may not always be able to make your decisions and actions felt in the environment because you can’t disturb the MMORPG equilibrium to the same extent as you can in a single-player RPG, but some of the core elements are there, yes.

If you had to remake a classic RPG made by another studio, which one would you remake and why?

SSI Wizard’s Crown or Eternal Dagger because I loved the way they showcased the dungeons and allowed you to develop your character. Pool of Radiance would also be fun (the 1st Goldbox one) as would Dark Sun’s Shattered Lands (which I loved).

What is the most influential yet obscure game you have ever played and why do you find it so important in your gaming history?

Well, in terms of influential yet obscure, that cuts a lot of games out – I feel a lot of the more common games have had a big influence on my designs (Portal, Chronotrigger, Ultima Underworld). If I were to name some “obscure” ones, I’d probably say System Shock 2 is the top of the list (it’s basically a design doc for how to make a great game), Amnesia: The Dark Descent for introducing a challenge mechanism that could simultaneously terrify you, Bastion’s narration mechanics, and Wasteland for proving to me how you could use game mechanics in the context of a “conventional” RPG to make some truly brilliant levels if you took a step back and thought outside the box.

What was your favorite character from RPGs you have worked on and why?

That’s tough, and it varies. I liked most of the Torment cast for different reasons, even Ignus and Vhailor. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Fall-From-Grace, I always enjoyed the premise of a puritan succubus who’s simultaneously the nicest, wisest, and gentlest people you can meet on the Planes. Jennifer Hale did a great job with her voice.

Who is your favorite co-worker and why?

Brian Menze, our concept artist and the lead artist on South Park now. I’ve known Brian ever since the Black Isle days, and he’s been my friend for a very, very long time. We still try and do comic book Wednesdays every week, and the studio would be a sadder place without his presence. He’s brought a lot of characters in the studio to life, and he’s incredibly modest and humble about his pieces, which makes me like him all the more.

Who in computing or video game history has been your idol and why?

Tim Cain, Tom Hall, Richard Dansky, to name a few. Tim reimagined how RPG mechanics could work for me, Tom Hall reimagined how design aesthetics could be applied in unconventional ways (Anachronox), and Richard Dansky never stops being a great guy and helping people.

I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but those are the people that jump to mind. I have the good fortune to work with Tim Cain on this project, and that’s one of my life goals on my bucket list.

First Project Eternity Screenshot

What do you watch/play/listen-to/read while trying to get creative ideas for projects?

Mostly trance music. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics while writing a character, I find the words and inner speech of the character I’m writing gets all jumbled up.

Going to see a live show or play I’ve found is one of the best means to stir the creative pot up when I have writer’s block (or even if I don’t). I have a lot of friends in the theater or who play in bands, and watching them live is enthusiastically contagious.

Other times, I immerse myself in research. Often when tackling an area, concept, or type of game, I try to read as much literature and watch as much media relevant to it (example, for Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road, I re-read Damnation Alley again, watched The Road, etc, etc.). When I got back into Wasteland, I started listening to a lot more 80s music, watching 80s movies and even researching 80s commercials to get a feel for the era… I’m embarrassed to say my memories of the 80s have slipped away, so it’s a shock to remember some of the big moments and media of the decade.

Project Eternity Specific Questions:

I always loved the interaction between my party members in some of your previous games, especially in Planescape: Torment. I did not like how rare these interactions did happen though. Do you plan on implementing a more ongoing interaction between the party companions? Have you considered adding interactions that will only happen when you have certain companions in the party?

Yes and yes, we feel companion commentary with each other is a strong means of showing how alive and reactive your companions are – not just to the world and your actions, but to each other’s presence. Plus, they’re fun to write, I certainly enjoyed writing the ones in Torment and would have loved to have written more.

Are we going to be limited in party size? Yes, it would probably make the game a lot easier to be walking around with an army so what we are asking is, what would be the magic number and how can you logically limit the size? Have you considered implementing the hiring of mercenary NPCs?

Party size will be a single player character and up to five companions – or as you mentioned above with mercenaries, you can also round out your party with recruited allies (which you can customize and build in the Adventurer’s Hall).

How do you plan to sell the game once it is finished and live? Retail? Steam? Impulse? GOG?

GOG (DRM-free) and Steam are our digital distribution outlets. We are also going to see if we can work on distributing the boxed version at retail as well, but we have not specific plans on that yet.

Have you considered making certain parts of the game have a randomized value that would add to the replayability of the game? Have you considered randomizing major plot points or the true intentions of certain characters?

Right now, our efforts have been focused on the hand-crafted elements that will make up the spine of the game.

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Will gear be generally usable by most characters or will it require a certain adjustment for use? By this I mean, can a mage wear at least some level of real armor. Also, a dwarf wouldn’t be able to wear a troll’s armor unless he had an armorer make a suit of armor from that troll’s armor. Do you plan to implement that kind of level of equipment realism in the game? Will gear have wear and tear? Will the game offer some level of crafting element?

We won’t restrict gear according to player race. If you find armor, any race can wear it.

Would somebody be able to simply play not caring what the game’s plot is trying to get us to do? What I mean is similar to what’s found in the game Mount & Blade, for which you can pick what you really want to do such as hire one-self out to work for the highest paying empire or faction.

Like an Infinity Engine title, there is a plot, and while we will have dungeons that respawn and events in the world that you can cause to happen through your actions (such as turning a town or city hostile), the game requires some interaction with the plot from the player to progress. That said, we do want the player to feel free in how they approach the plot and feel that they can make the choices they want to make.

Will you give players the option to dramatically change the world in the RPG such as by ending it or potentially creating utopia?

The story hasn’t been nailed down yet, we’re still crafting it. We do want the world to persist in some fashion after the first installment, and even if great changes occur in the first game, there’s still plenty of world to explore in future games.

Would we be able to have our character fall in love with other characters in the game? Do we get to choose this or what if the game chose for us? Would it be possible to start a family, such as in the Fable games or Europa 1400 The Guild?

There’ll be a variety of mature relationships in the game, and you can choose to interact with them as little or as much as you want.

How is time handled in the game? Will the game take the course of a year? Will it take many years with some of the effects from the earlier part of the game affecting the mid and end game?

We’re handling time in a similar fashion to the BG and IWD games. Events happen in more-or-less real-time (real game time, that is, not literally minute per real world minute) except for rest sequences. We probably won’t be advancing time artificially off screen (“Act 1 is over, so X years pass,” for example).

Will the game offer any kind of multiplayer, such as letting our friends take over our party members in combat?

We want to focus on the single-player experience and make sure that’s solid. We don’t have any multiplayer plans at this time.

Would you let players submit translated versions of the game in other languages that haven’t yet been scheduled for translation?

They would most likely be part of the translation efforts if they wanted to volunteer. We’d welcome the help, and we’ve already received a huge amount of support from international fans that would love to do the translations for us (and if you are one of them and you’re reading this –thanks again).

Do you plan on updating the game with expansions once the game is released? How often would this happen? Would players be able to make their own mods or expansions once the game is live and would an editor be made available eventually?

We would like to do this, although we’re still examining how the pipelines for expansions would work. We don’t want to promise something that we couldn’t do until we’d done more research. We recently released an update with our modding views – we like modding, we want to encourage it, but we don’t want to promise it unless we know we can do it, or else we’d do our players and backers a disservice.

Although I have asked about technology already, since this is such a game changer, I made it a separate question: Will this universe have guns or gunpowder?

It has both. Gunpowder weapons exist, though they are single-shot wheellock variety, and are primarily used to give mages an unprecedented run for their money.

Will all the major races be humanoids or will you implement at least one really weird non-humanoid races a major player in this world?

We’ve got a selection of races, both seemingly-traditional and ones that are more off the beaten path. Some of the concept pieces we’ve released (notably the female dwarf) should give some clues as to what to expect from the choices for race in the game.

What’s the major mode of transportation in this universe?

Foot travel is the primary mode of transportation, although occasionally players may find themselves magically transported somewhere. To speed up overland travel, we will implement a map UI so the player can quickly move their party to locations they’ve already discovered. Note that our map UI is similar to what’s been found in the Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate games, not Elder Scrolls or Fallout 3/New Vegas-style fast travel.

What kinds of religions will we see in the game?

This will fall on Josh Sawyer (our resident theologian). More to come on this as the world is fleshed out in future updates.

Battlezone

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Ahhhh…Battlezone. This game really takes me back. A 1980 Atari product, and a fine one it is. I can remember when this beauty of a cabinet showed up in my arcade. I had never seen anything like it. Not only did it have some pretty cool side art and marquee, but the controls looked outer-worldly. With the dual-joysticks and the periscope viewer, I felt like I was actually a tank-gunner. Battlezone was always lined with people awaiting their turn, so I spent more time with the Atari 2600 port (awesome on its own), but I was always willing to shove a couple of quarters to try and be all I could be (I normally failed miserably).

atari_battlezone-gameplay-screenshot
For the few of you who haven’t played Battlezone, it’s a 1st-person, vector tank-shooter set on the freaking moon, of all places. Although gravity doesn’t come into play anywhere in the game, so they could have just set it on Earth. But, two aspects of the game probably will explain why they did it this way; One, the background is constant black, giving it a “30 Days of Night” feel to keep you on edge, but I’m sure the reason for this was for the bright green vector lines would show better. Two, they decided to throw flying saucers and tank-sized guided-missiles at you as an extra slice of variety of just shooting other tanks. Anyway, it works well and I now wouldn’t want it any other way. The HUD is all in red, which has your score, number of tanks left, and most importantly, a radar showing you exactly where the next tank is. When it appears directly behind you….MOVE YOUR ASS!! This brings me to…..

atari_battlezone-gameplay-screenshot
…..The object of the game is to manuever your tank around huge geometic shapes, like squares and triangles (that can also be used as shields), all while avoiding tank-fire and setting yourself in a perfect line of fire to blow your cannon up the dirty Panzer’s caboose, making a splended looking explosion of green line-segments. Manuevering takes some time to master, which was difficult to do in the arcade days, having a line of other pimple-faced kids wanting to stick their sweaty, greasy foreheads on the same viewfinder I was using. The dual-joystick controls were designed to move the left and right tank treads. Both forward to move forward, both back to move back, then a combination to veer left or right.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo4bSrD4ZDQ[/youtube]
Points were earned for the destruction of the other tanks, with special bonuses for the flying saucer (which doesn’t shoot back and always scoots on the ground..never really flies) and the “appear out of nowhere” missiles, which you had better shoot before they get on you.This game was ported almost everywhere in those days, so if you never had the arcade experience you may have picked it up on the many consoles and computers in the early ’80s. The arcade version is also on Microsoft’s Game Room, which plays very well with the dual-joystick 360 controllers, and can be picked up for just a couple of bucks. Well worth it. Happy hunting!

Overall 8/10

Original Pac-Man cartoon series hits 30th anniversary

pac-man cartoon

Original Pac-Man cartoon series hits 30th anniversary

Thirty years before the Angry Birds appeared on every type of merchandise known to man,Pac-Man was the hottest product license on the planet. The 1980 arcade hit appeared on seemingly every type of consumer product of the day, from clothes and bedsheets to school products and cigarette lighters.

On September 25, 1982, a cartoon based on the Pac-Man games debuted on ABC television. This highly hyped series, produced by Hanna Barbera, marked the first time ever that a video game property was licensed for a mainstream entertainment series.

The cartoon featured Pac himself, along with his wife Pepper (aka Ms. Pac-Man), their young child Baby Pac-Man and their pets. They all lived in Pac-Land, an obviously fictional city full of a number of different shades and shapes of Pac-people. The monsters from the video game series were also present, led by an original character named Mezmaron.

The series took some liberties with the characters themselves, as might be expected by any licensed property-based cartoon series from the 1980s. Most of the male characters, including Pac-Man himself, sported a variety of hats. The ghost monster characters for Blinky and Clyde switched places from their video game roles with Clyde becoming the smart alpha of the group and Blinky becoming the dim witted follower of the group. Sue, the female ghost from the Ms. Pac-Man game, appeared in a shade of blue rather than the orange color from the game, likely in an effort to make her stand out more from Clyde.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu-qrVx7XKw[/youtube]

Entertainment veteran Marty Ingels voiced the lead character. Somewhat ironically, voice acting legends Frank Welker and Peter Cullen voiced the often-feuding pets of Chomp-Chomp and Sour Puss. Two years later they would voice the characters of Megatron and Optimus Prime in the original Transformers cartoon.

From 1982 to 1983, Pac-Man aired on ABC Saturday mornings as part of a cartoon block featuring older properties such as Richie Rich and a cartoon version of the Little Rascals. The second season, which introduced the Super Pac-Man and PJ Pac (Jr. Pac-Man) characters was paired with another eighties icon in Rubik The Amazing Cube, based off the red hot toy of the time.

The series was cancelled at the end of the 1984 television season, cut loose as the North American video game industry suffered a near-fatal crash. Influence from the cartoon would continue to be felt for years, however, including the packaging artwork for the Pac-Man Chef Boyardee food products and Nintendo Entertainment System version of the original game. Namco released Pac-Land in 1984, a side scrolling game that pre-dated Super Mario Bros. and also featured heavy influence from the game in Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures, a 1994 16-bit title.

While the original series itself was short-lived, the Pac-Man cartoon opened the doors for video games to be licensed as television and film properties, a practice that is still ongoing today. A newPac-Man cartoon series, in fact, is set to debut on Disney channels in 2013.

The original series was released on DVD earlier this year.

Potap

Potap

Potap is one of my favorite rappers in general. Sure, he is from the Ukraine and raps in Russian and I don’t know Russian but his music is some of my favorite rap music. Sometimes not understanding is part of the fun!

Most of his songs are performed with Nastya Kamenskih, which complements Potap’s sense of humor and rap style.

Potap and Nastya

Gaming in the Spotlight

On one hand you have the person who puts guild leader in World of Warcraft on a job application and another where a gamer turned an idea into a million dollar company. My take is it does not have to be the best or the worst outcome, there is a lot of middle which can allow you to game and take care of the important stuff.~J.A. Laraque

Gaming in the Spotlight

Remember when even mentioning that you played computer games was met with weird looks? Maybe not, but if you are a gamer in your 40’s to 50’s you might remember when people just could not understand how you could sit looking at a screen all day, as if there wasn’t this thing called television.

Gaming in the Spotlight

As games became more popular in the 90’s more and more people got used to seeing, mostly kids, playing on a home console system. The thought was that it was a child’s toy like any other, all the while gamers from a past generation were helping to push computer gaming into the forefront.

With the holy trinity of arcade games, home console systems and computer games all being popular at once gaming stepped into the spotlight. You began to hear of the senior citizen who could beat Pac-Man with one quarter or the CEO who played Doom before meetings. There still was a push back to gaming however, and many people still saw it as an immature activity or something only geeks and nerds did.

When MMO’s arrived many new gamers were created. While games like Everquest still attracted more experienced gamers it was easier to play games such as City of Heroes and World of Warcraft that brought in a new group of gamers, ones who had never gamed before. Now in one family you could find every member playing a video game, from Mario Cart to Guitar Hero, but this new exposer also brought along its owns issues and stereotypes.

As more people played video games more news reports talked about people neglecting their responsibilities be it at home, work or school. People cared about gaming and the media was fascinated if not late to the party and with coverage of people becoming sick or even dying because of a video game we had a new rallying cry against video games that had not been seen since the fight over video game violence of the 90’s.

The idea of the nerdy gamer came roaring back as a picture was painted of the loser World of Warcraft player living in his or hers parents basement. We saw documentaries of people needing help for gaming addition because of how video games ruined their lives. The attacks did not just come from the outside, but from other gamers who saw certain MMO players as not real gamers or people who made gamers look bad.

Then came social games like Farmville and mobile games like Bejeweled and later, Angry Birds. Now, almost everyone was playing something and whether or not they considered themselves a gamer did not matter, a game was being played and the industry was as strong as ever.

The lazy, immature or loser label however has not disappeared. Just recently a state Senate candidate was attacked by her opponent for playing World of Warcraft. Fliers were sent out showing her character, an Orc Rogue, and various postings of hers on forums that discussed the online game.

“I don’t understand why I’m being targeted for playing online games when all I’ve done is campaign on the issues.” She said and went on to say; “There are a lot of these misconceptions about people who play online games. I’ve played with people who are retired, college professors and lawyers. I’ve only ever played with adults.”

She also stated that she hardly ever logs into the MMO anymore and her game of choice is now Angry Birds. However, her defense is pretty normal for many gamers. Often when confronted for playing games the response is that they do not play that much anymore or that the specific game in question is no longer fun for them so they now play another game, normally one that is more socially acceptable, as crazy as that sounds.

Anyone who follows gaming culture has most likely seen both sides. On one hand you have the person who puts guild leader in World of Warcraft on a job application and another where a gamer turned an idea into a million dollar company. My take is it does not have to be the best or the worst outcome, there is a lot of middle which can allow you to game and take care of the important stuff.

While it may be beating a dead horse to state this, anything can become too much be it sports, food, even working out and yes, gaming. Not everyone is going to turn their StarCraft playing into a E-Sports career just as the World of Warcraft player does not have to have pale skin and poop in a sock.

Just as people have a television show they love to watch and must see the same is with our games and we should be proud of what we love. You can balance recreation and responsibilities and you should never deny what you enjoy as long as it is not hurting others and you are not hurting yourself.

Video games are in the spotlight as are those who play them. We need to show the truths of gaming from all sides, the good and the bad and still proclaim that this is who we are and we are not changing based on negative stereotypes and attacks.

Gamer Profile: Vincent Caso

VincentCaso - bladezz - the guild

Name: Vincent Caso

Known as: Bladezz

Series: The Guild

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia8bhFoqkVE[/youtube]

Favorite Classic Game: Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Quote: It’s one of the games I grew up with, and I was fortunate enough to be able to play it on the system that it was released for.

We Interview Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment: Part 1

 

Chris Avellone suit picture

Chris Avellone

General Questions:

What non-gaming things have inspired you to become a better game writer and also gamer?

Going to see live plays that were made on a tight budget – the amount of emotion and lighting they can bring to a scene with a minimal amount of props and effort really makes me think about how you can do the same with modern RPGs. Comic books are another (both reading and writing them). They don’t always get the respect they deserve, and the way they unify visual storytelling and writing… well, there’s a lot to learn there, especially for describing and storyboarding cut scenes and making each line impactful with the right stance, action, and backdrop.

Neal Stephenson (with Snow Crash) is not only a huge host of design ideas on just about every page of his books, but he taught me when it was important to describe something and when it was not – there’s a end chapter line in Snow Crash that simply says “and a car chase ensued.” He had no need to describe anything further, that was enough, and it was simple, elegant, and I appreciated he didn’t try to force details and action when none was needed. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics to this day makes me understand why it’s better to have less voice and less focus on ultra-realistic visuals if you truly want a player to empathize with a subject. Sometimes it’s easier to empathize with a stick figure than a highly-rendered 3D model, and it’s because the viewer is able to project more of themselves onto an abstract than something someone else has excessively detailed.

There’s more, but most of the rest is gaming related.

What is something you have wanted to implement in a game in the past that you worked on but were never able to before? It could be a scenario, feature, just about anything.

I wanted to have a spell system based on harnessing sound effects you find and create by interacting and exploring your environment (the death howl of a wolf, the crashing of the tide on shore, walking into a forest and hearing the wind whistle through the trees). The mage could then assemble these SFX pieces into new spell combinations to defeat opponents. We tried to do something vaguely like this in Old World Blues with the sonic gun that could be equipped with various SFXs, but that’s not exactly the same thing.

Games we've worked on

What is your favorite classic game, and why? What did that game teach you?

Wasteland. It taught me that with the right kind of game mechanics and “thinking outside the box” when it comes to level design, you can move mountains… such as using your mental attributes to fight mental battles in an android’s brain, for example. The exploration of Finster’s brain in Wasteland 1 where you fought nightmares, your doubts, and even restarted your own brain waves to fight back was incredible, and it’s still one of the best levels I’ve ever explored in a video game from a sheer creative standpoint. I thought it was brilliant.

What is your favorite modern game to play and why? It can be any kind of game, even a cell phone game. It could even be a modern board or card game!

League of Legends and Battlestar Galactica (board game). I’ve always got a soft spot in my heart for Chez Geek and Lunch Money.

What is your favorite stat in an RPG and why?

Intelligence, because often it determines dialogue options and/or can be used in cool ways in some of my favorite titles (Wasteland and Wasteland 2). Generally any stat or skill in an RPG that increases the verbal weapons and tools at my disposal (and experience more options in the story) are great.

Project_Eternity_logo

 

Project Eternity Specific Questions:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC4w9GdFPrg[/youtube]

Will Project Eternity use a level system (most RPGs) or an open ended skill upgrade system (Shadowrun, Vampire The Masquerade)?

There will be traditional leveling and advancement options (and classes). However, we want to make sure that a character’s growth is also tied to the world, the lore, and the narrative. So as much as the player levels up, there is also a selection of soul-based advancement elements tied to the world itself – these elements exist outside of your class, and they can be shaped and grow according to a player’s individual choices and backstory.

Will we see realistic moral choices that are beyond the usual “good, bad, and neutral” choices?

Yes. While we don’t have a morality bar, we do want the player to feel like they’re making meaningful decisions, and rather than good/neutral/bad range, we’ll allow for simply a range of “options” that reflect decisions you want to make that aren’t colored by morality.

Do you plan on making voice-overs for most of the dialogue in the game?

We plan on doing what most of the BG and IWD series did and only have limited VO for NPCs and companions. We don’t want to do a fully voiced game, as that comes with a number of technical hurdles that limit iteration, and that’s one of the things we wanted to do differently with this project… the ability to make a larger range of reactive text (like we did with New Reno in Fallout 2, for example – the only limit to this kind of reactivity is the cost for VO and localization). Limiting the VO also allows for any necessary changes during the final months of a project without the huge costs involved with altering VO and doing pick-ups.

Our world

Do you plan on implementing cut-scenes, especially for major plot points in the game? I have found that when going back in playing old games cut-scenes are the parts of the games that have aged the worst. Have you considered implementing rather than a video, as you are playing the game and talking to NPCs you see your character’s and the NPCs face react based on the emotions being brought out by the conversation? An example of this is the classic adventure game Sanitarium.

Not at this time. Cut scenes you can’t interact with or paralyze the player’s movement always leave me a bit sour, especially if they hamper actions I would otherwise take – for example, being forced to stand and watch when an adversary appears you’d normally shoot on sight, or if a companion or family member is killed in front of your character and you can do nothing about it. I don’t feel cut scenes are the best means of storytelling – and there’s much better ways to communicate plot points without cut scenes.

Will the game take place on one super continent or do you plan to just say it takes place in one part of the world, with the potential for an expansion in the future?

It takes place in one part of the world with potential for expansion in the future – there’s definitely more going on beyond the borders of the game, and our hope is you’ll be able to visit those locations and nations in future titles.

Do you plan to implement other worlds, like how it was done in Planescape: Torment?

Our goal with location design is to make amazing locales for the player to explore, much like in Icewind Dale 1 and Icewind Dale 2 (Dorn’s Deep with the frozen museum, Dragon’s Eye, the still-enchanted elven fortress of the Severed Hand that was literally a giant citadel shaped like a hand rising from the earth, etc.). Having dungeons like these allow for plenty of diversity among locations even though they all take place in one section of the Eternity world… the Endless Paths of Od Nua (which we’ve described earlier as our mega dungeon) is one such locale, and we plan to do many more locations equally unique and interesting for players to explore.

Obsidian Entertainment

We know Project Eternity will feature magic but what level of technology will the world have? Looking back I myself thought Final Fantasy 7 had too high a level of technology but games such as Final Fantasy 6 (3 in the US) and Arcanum did it just right.

Eternity has a 16th century technology level much like our high or late Middle Ages with the exception of the printing press. The level of technology depends on the region of the world – while most large civilizations have 16th century tech, other regions of the world are more primitive, more along the lines of Stone or Bronze Age of development.

How adult will the game be? By this I mean, would an 8 year old child be able to play the game or would it be too serious of a game for them?

Depending on how insightful the 8 year old was, they may or may not understand the repercussions and dilemmas in the game. We didn’t want to shy away from a range of relationships (I don’t mean romances), situations, or edit ourselves from an idea that we thought was interesting to explore because of fears of how players might react. In previous titles at the studio, we’ve explored sexuality, religion, contrasting political ideologies without a clear cut right or wrong, and we’d like to take the themes even further in Eternity.

Crazy RPG kind of Questions:

If you had one wish, what would it be? Note: this wish may or may not have consequences; would you risk making the wish?

It would depend on the theme music that was playing at the time when the wish was offered. I often find the background music to be the best indicator as to whether I’m in a sinister poetic justice “make a wish and you screw yourself’ or a Disney made-for-kids romp. That said, I’d probably go with a bug-killing forcefield around myself or the ability to shrink my car and carry it in my pocket when I drive to a destination because finding parking sometimes is a pain in the ass. Yeah, I’m sure there are better wishes out there, but they all seem scary to me and would probably result in me being recruited or killed by various shadow governments once they discover I have super strength or photographic reflexes.

Project Eternity - Kickstarter Goal

Stand by for more articles and interviews with Chris Avellone and Obsidian Entertainment in the near future! Time to think of more crazy questions! -Ignacio/honorabili-

!!! Click here for Part 2 of our interview with Chris Avellone!

The Gamers of Origin PC

Team Origin

The Gamers of Origin PC

One of the questions I was often asked during my time at Alienware was, are you guys really gamers and do you play games at work. I can tell you originally pretty much everyone at Alienware were gamers, just check out our interview with co-founder Alex Aguila and our gamer profile for Nelson Gonzalez., you can also check out our interview with Arthur Lewis. When I started back in 2001 most of us were avid gamers and would often have Lan parties at HQ or meet up to play games.

In our editorial where we asked, do you have to be a gamer to be in the industry? My opinion was that you do not need everyone in the company to be a gamer, but it does matter to have key people who at least understand the culture. When we talked with Origin PC not long after their launch it was clear the management understood games and gaming culture. It is also clear they are all gamers check out the gamer profile for CEO, Kevin Wasielewski and COO, Hector Penton. If you need more proof perhaps we can show a picture of their arcade games cabinets and Mr. Penton’s wall of PC game boxes.

In the meantime, here are some gamer profiles from Origin PC team members and if you want to game with Origin PC you can find them on Raptr and on Steam.

final fantasy 7

Name: Erika Mckinster

Gaming background: Final Fantasy series, Goldeneye, DOOM, Quake, Halo, Mass effect Trilogy, World of Warcraft, Diablo trilogy; too many to name!

Favorite classic game: Final Fantasy 7

Favorite modern game: Mass Effect

What are you playing now? Torchlight 2 & Borderlands 2

quake 1

Name: Fabian Santiesteban

Gaming background: As a child I was an avid gamer from the Atari 2600 while working my way up to the Sega Genesis to the PC’s of today.

Favorite classic game: Quake – Quake may be the most influential game of all time. Not the best game, not the most innovative, but the most influential. Nothing beats a god old fashion First Person Shooter.

Favorite modern game: MMORPG – My gaming preference roles have changed. Today I am a big fan of EVE Online – Age of Conan and The Secret World.

What are you playing now? I am currently playing Diablo 3 and looking to level up my toon to 60 so I can start my paragon levels. I am looking forward to the incoming patch that will give you the opportunity to group up to 8 players which will make it much more interesting.

mists-of-pandaria-world-of-warcraft

Name: Daniel Ovalle

Gaming background: I’ve built my own computers since I was 18 and was immersed into hardcore gaming while working at Alienware.

Favorite classic game: Quake

Favorite modern game: Too many to name.

What are you playing now? World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, SWTOR, Civ5, Guild Wars 2, Diablo3

counter-strike

Name: Jorge Percival

Gaming background: First ever encounter with gaming was an Atari 2600 that my parents had, though I was very young they tell me I wouldn’t let go of it. After that I can happily say I owned most consoles to date mostly for exclusive tittles. The fall of 1993 was when I really began paying attention to PC games when my uncle purchased DOOM for his PC, I was completely hooked on that game. Consoles introduced me to gaming the PC has kept me here.

Favorite classic game: My favorite classic game will always be Counter strike (pre source days) this was my real introduction to competitive gaming and the first game I truly took serious. I followed all the pro’s and tournaments I would fully engulf myself in the scene and what was going on during those days. Quake comes a close second.

Favorite modern game: My favorite modern game……….. would definitely have to be League of Legends, this game shows how great gameplay is still at the heart of a good game. We all love graphics but the game needs to have good mechanics and gameplay to continue to grow past its release. I am also a huge fan of RIOT as a developer they do great job of interacting with their community and are supporting the e-sports push here in the states.

What are you playing now? Right now I have lowered the amount of games that I play at a time (mostly due to League of Legends lol). League of Legends, Torchlight II, Borderlands 2. Those would be my top 3 in that order.

Quake 2 - Rocket Arena 2

Name: Tony Berry AKA Miztic1

Gaming background: Started gaming on C64/Atari 800XL then moved to the NES and all other consoles where I got hooked on gaming and once I got my first PC I discovered Wolfenstein 3D then eventually Doom and Quake 1 and those sent me over the edge of the gaming abyss.

Favorite classic game: Tossup between Quake 2: Rocket Arena 2 and Ultima Online. Consoles would be Legend of Zelda on NES.

Favorite modern game: This is a tough one, I would have to say WoW

What are you playing now? WoW, Diablo 3, torchlight and league of legends.

destruction derby

Name: Alvaro Masis in game (Propane)

Gaming background: Have been playing games since Lode Runner and have played on multiple platforms favorite PC by far

Favorite classic game: Favorite classic game would be destruction derby for the Commodore 64

Favorite modern game: Eve Online

What are you playing now? Guild Wars 2, Eve Online, Torch Light 2

Gamer Profile: Amy Okuda

[youtube id=”Cx5XGOQVx-4″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

We didn’t have one at home but my grandparents in San Francisco had one and when I was little I remember running into their house and that would be the first thing I’d turn on/play when I got there. ~Amy Okuda

Amy Okuda - Tinkerballa

Favorite Game: Duck Hunt

 The_Guild_Tinkerballa_Amy_Okuda

Known as: Tinkerballa

Series: The Guild

[youtube id=”XTd2fCqulKM” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Q&A

Halo-4-Forward-Unto-Dawn

Forward Unto Dawn

Launching today is the first ever life action content for Halo. The project Halo 4, Forward unto Dawn will feature five 15 minute episodes that will run on Machinima Prime. We had a chance to chat with producers Josh Feldman and Lydia Antonini about the series.

[youtube id=”Ca3Y8Ws3plI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

OG: Can you give us an overview of Halo 4 Forward unto dawn?

JF:       Forward Unto Dawn is a 90-minute, live action series that premieres on the Machinima Prime YouTube channel and Halo Waypoint.  The series introduces the character Thomas Lasky who is wrestling with demons while coming to terms with his life as a cadet at the Corbulo Academy of Military Science.  Lasky will feature prominently in Halo 4.  The series also takes audiences back to the very beginning of the human/Covenant war.

OG: How did the project begin?

LA: 343 reached out to us as we had developed and produced some fairly high quality digital series, after a couple of months of talking about creative goals and production parameters, we were off to the races.

OG: Can you tell us the creative process of making the show and then getting it ready for premiere?

JF:   The first order of business is bringing creative collaborators to the table.  Lydia and I brought in Todd and Aaron Helbing to write the script and Stewart Hendler to direct the series.  In concert with 343, we developed the story and began to define a visual aesthetic.  Our series focuses on cadets in an academy setting; like any great story about adolescence, you’re dealing with varied personalities of the characters struggling to define what will become their adult identity.

Add to this the harsh reality of a civil war and you have a pretty emotional and volatile backdrop for a dramatic series.  Stewart and Kasra Farahani, our production designer, tapped into these themes in the designs of the academy, almost treating the physical environment as another character itself.  The series pivots into a full-on action adventure worthy of the name Halo when Master Chief shows up.  Full of all the requisite battles, practical effects and visual effects we worked with a variety of artisans.  At the end of the day, what I’m most proud of is our adherence to story and character and narrative.

OG: Any good stories about the marking, casting and production of the show you wish to share?

LA:  Oh gosh, there are so many I don’t know where to start.  A good one from the casting phase was Anna coming in to read for April.  We loved her but it just wasn’t quite clicking.  We gave her the sides for Chyler and asked her to come back in an hour to read for that character, she came back in and with her lovely English accent owned the room.

OG: Can you tell us about the talent working on the show?

LA:  We had the best above the line and below the line talent.  Everyone was top notch and on point, I pray I am that fortunate on every project.

OG: Now with everyone dying to play Halo 4 would you say the bar is set high for a series that leads up to the game?

LA: I think anything live action and Halo related is going to have a very high bar, the game adds an extra level of that but it’s also terribly exciting to be a part of an entertainment event as big as Halo 4.

JF:     This is an amazing year for Halo and Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is totally an additive component to the mythology.  Fans the watch the series will be brought right to the doorstep of Halo 4.

Halo-4-Forward-Unto-Dawn

OG: So can fans of the Halo series as well as the lore expect a lot out of this series to answer questions as well as setup the storyline in the upcoming game?

LA: Yes.  I’d say more but then I’d give you way too many spoilers.

JF:     There exists the potential for a new perspectives that viewers of the series will have when they do play the game.

OG: Are you big into the Halo video game series?

LA: I am not a player so my fascination and admiration is more focused on the incredible devotion that Halo inspires and the incredible characters the Halo franchise has built along the way.

JF:     I came later to Halo fandom, but my enthusiasm was completely rejuvenated with the Anniversary Edition of the original game.  It’s a great reminder of where Halo as a franchise began, how far it’s come but also the strength of the foundation on which the entire franchise was built.

OG: What is your background as far as gaming?

LA:  I’m not a gamer, I am a cord cutter and consequently a heavy Xbox user but on the games side casual gaming is about all I can handle.  I can however kill it in Air Hockey.

JF:     With a career on the film/tv side of the spectrum, I’ve never been lucky enough to participate in making a game.  I’ve only been a casual player and admirer.

OG:  Do you have a favorite classic game from any time period and system and if so tell us about it and why it is your favorite?

LA: This is completely unfair because I’ll be totally dating myself but I loved Pitfall on the Atari.

JF:     Tetris!  This game is a perennial!  It has followed me for a quarter of a decade from device to device but the game has stayed the same.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Gamer Profile: Jeff Lewis

Jeff Lewis - Vork - The Guild

Name: Jeff Lewis

Known as: Vork

Series: The Guild

Favorite Game: Battle Tanx (Nintendo 64)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXpmE2jx1_0[/youtube]

 Quote: It’s my favorite game because, even though the graphics are quite awful, I love tanks and the multiplayer version is soooo fun with a couple friends especially when you have these weapon pick ups you can get that are randomly spread throughout the map. I wish I could get it on xbox but I still don’t see it available yet.

Onslaught

Onslaught (1989)

Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

By: Hewson Consultants Genre: Platform Players: Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga 
Also Available For: MegaDrive, Atari ST, PC
Download For: Xbox Live Arcade, iOS

Onslaught

The years of the Atari ST and Amiga were conflicting ones for me. For the first half of their tenure, my main system of choice was my trusty Speccy. As great as Sir Clive’s marvel was, it couldn’t hold a candle to 16-bit machines, technically. For the second half of their tenure, I was the proud owner of the all-powerful MegaDrive console where I found myself in the opposite situation. Whichever side of the fence I found myself on though, I always kept an interested eye on releases for the ST and Amiga and one that always intrigued me was Onslaught. It was available on both machines and looked suitably impressive for either. It wasn’t long, however, until I learnt a valuable lesson – appearances can be deceptive…
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

These are basically boss fights but feature a floating, four-armed head! You control a hand that can move around the edge of the screen and fire magic stars, and this you must do until the strange creature is no more. Victory means you’ve won the territory and then it’s on to the next. The temple stages are the same as mind duels and there are also plagues, crusades, and rebellions to contend with. These occur at random intervals and make the going even tougher, particularly the latter which costs you a previously won territory. During the battle sections, it’s also important not to let too many enemies past you unscathed as if enough of them make it, they can grab your banner too!Set a good few hundreds of years ago, Onslaught is the tale of many warring kingdoms. At the start of the game you’ll see a map screen consisting of a 16×16 grid of tiny squares which presumably represents a sizeable portion of the world of Gangore. Each red square is a kingdom and each red dot with a light ring around it is a temple. You start the game as a random warrior, all known as ‘Fanatics’, and at a random point on the map, although usually towards the edge somewhere. From here you can select any kingdom or temple within one grid square of your position. The former are multi-tiered, side-scrolling platform/combat sections which come in three parts. First you have to battle your way from left to right until the end where the enemies banner is located, then it’s on to a ‘siege’ section which is more or less the same except the enemy banner is at the top of a castle, and then it’s on to a ‘mind duel’ which are rather stranger.
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

Each of the kingdoms on the map has a status panel type thing that can be viewed prior to attacking them. This includes the popularity of the warlord who’s currently in charge (which affects the strength of the enemies), population (number of enemies), and warband (types of enemies). The last one is of particular note as the enemies can take several forms, some more dangerous than others. Footmen attack with conventional medieval style weapons, wizards cast spells, and spearmen are fairly self-explanatory. There are also soldiers with cannons and other more powerful weapons aimed in your direction and landmines dotted around which should be avoided at all costs. The last kind of enemy is the most annoying.
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

They are the riders. Their vehicles range from boars, horses, or even magic carpets, and they travel across the screen in either direction. If your warrior is touched by any enemy it will push him backwards a little but this effect is considerably increased by the riders. The armaments used by your ‘fanatic’ can sometimes lesson the likelihood of this happening though. You’ll starts the game with a mace. This is obviously very short-range and not terribly powerful so it’s fortunate that some defeated enemies will leave behind shield icons. These are new weapons which include crossbows, bombs, and homing shots. They all have a limited lifespan but are invaluable for making progress, as are the magic scrolls which can be collected from the same source which give you abilities ranging from screen-clearing smart-bombs to freezing the enemies.
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

The first thing you’ll notice when you load Onslaught is the splendid piece of music and the impressive loading screen, above. These both make a great first impression and the in-game graphics and music, while varying little, are still of a high standard. The battle stages are quite cluttered and the colours a bit garish but the detail and animation of the sprites is great. Overall it’s very atmospheric though, especially the fantastic music. However, as is typical of Amiga games the music comes at the cost of any sound effects, although you can turn the music off on the options screen if desired. Something else you can do here is raise the difficulty but I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing that – if taking over a load of kingdoms single-handedly sounds tough, that’s because it is!
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

Your warrior may have a reasonable amount of energy but it’ll soon get worn down – most of the battle stages are fairly short but are so full of enemies that most of them will take a while to get through. The enemies re-spawn too and they really do throw everything at you including arrows, meat-cleavers, cannonballs, and land-mines to name a few (although it’s not surprising I suppose since I’m pretty sure you play the part of the bad guy, attacking and ransacking innocent villages!). Some stages can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to even make any headway, particularly stages populated by riders. This kind of thing just compounds the already highly challenging nature of the gameplay and sadly makes playing Onslaught a very frustrating experience. All this and you get just the one life and no continues!
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

The screenshots and description probably make Onslaught seem like a really interesting game, I’ll certainly agree there. There’s a lot to do and the mixture of combat and strategy seems like it’s been well thought through, so I really wanted to like it, but after giving it numerous chances to impress me, the result is always the same. Its design seems very disorganised and chaotic but most of the problems are caused by the very high difficulty. I don’t know how insanely gifted some of you might be but I often don’t even finish the first stage nevermind rule over the whole land of Gangore! It is quite addictive but I can’t imagine I’ll make it too far into the game – I certainly haven’t yet! It’s hard to know what to make of it really. There’s lots of great ideas and potential but sadly it’s just been executed in a frustratingly unsatisfactory and… well, frustrating way. Time for a remake?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvypl68aC-g[/youtube]

RKS Score: 5/10

Nexus 2: The Gods Awaken announced on Kickstarter

Nexus 2 - The Gods Awaken

Nexus 2: The Gods Awaken announced on Kickstarter

HD Interactive and Most Wanted Entertainment have announced the next stage in their quest to develop a sequel to their highly-rated Space RTS game Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, with the company launching a campaign on high-profile crowdfunding site Kickstarter to supplement their own financing.

“Nexus 2 is a very special project for the company”, said company director Mike Horneman,  “Nexus was our first game, and we still have many of the original team-members on board, with full plans in place for what we’d do for a sequel”.

Nexus 2 - The Gods Awaken

Launched in 2004, the game was highly acclaimed as one of the best spaceship battle games ever made, and continues to attract fans even to this day.

“We re-launched the original Nexus on Steam a while ago, and even now we see a substantial amount of new players buying the game each month”, said Horneman. “We have a very vocal fan base, and know that there’s a large number of people out there who would love to see a sequel made”.

 

HD and MWE are looking to finance the project with a mixture of their own funds supported by crowdfunding.

“We’re happy to put a large chunk of our own resources into making Nexus 2”, said Horneman, “but realistically we cannot fund the whole project ourselves. So, with Kickstarter, we can offer all our fans out there a chance to be part of the Nexus 2 project.”

Nexus 2 - The Gods Awaken

“The more you pledge, the more you will benefit; from thanks in the credits, through special boxed editions, right up to designing spaceships that will appear in the game. The largest donor will also receive a completely unique version of the game, where he or she is the hero, complete with facial likeness and voice over. We’re all very excited!”

You can find more info on the game as well as the funding details here

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhZQEvg1V0Y[/youtube]

About the Developer

Most Wanted Entertainment was formed when a band of Hungary’s hottest games talent joined forces with Dutch games company HD Interactive to create one of Central Europe’s longest-lived and most prolific game developers. We have launched games across many platforms, including PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, iPhone/iPad in all sorts of genres.

Strategy and tactical games are our greatest love, however, with products like Joint Task Force and Nexus: The Jupiter Incident being some of the titles we are most proud of.

With our ranks still numbering most of the original Nexus development team, no other developer can match the experience, insight or love we have for this classic game.

www.mwent.hu