When Video Games Become Board Games: Part 1

The 1980s saw a sudden increase in board games that were based upon classic video game cartridges or the quarter-devouring arcade machines.  Leading the charge was the powerhouse board game company Milton Bradley with an astounding array of video-to-board game titles, but were soon joined by competing gaming companies such as Ideal, Entex, and Parker Brothers.  It was a glorious time for board game enthusiasts!

This is the first of (hopefully) a series of articles listing and describing the various video game to board game properties that provided hours of family fun for a generation of gamers.  Just a quick note of definition: to be included on this list a game must fulfill a number of requirements: have its origin in a video game property, be for at least two players, and be an actual board or card game (not a handheld or tabletop electronic game).

video game board game

 

Frogger (Milton Bradley, 1981) While the fun of hopping across the road, avoiding certain death from a wide variety of sources was a hit as a video game, the translation – authentic as it was – did not have the same charm as a two-player board game, which, really, should not have been a surprise.   More interesting is that this may have been the very first board game to be based on a video game property!

video game board game

Pac-Man Game. (Milton Bradley, 1981) One of the best conversions of the arcade experience to table top board game play by using a game board in the design of the Pac-Man screen, with marbles taking the place of all the dots (the marbles are held in place by holes in the game board).  Four competing Pac-Man player tokens with the ability to capture and store marbles travel the board, avoiding ghosts and eating their way to success.  A brilliant translation!

video game board game

Defender (Entex, 1982) Entex had introduced electronic handheld versions of several popular video games, including Defender in 1981.  Board games were still a hot market, and so they also experimented with a board game version. Up to four players could attempt to turn back the invasion of various aliens, their directions shifting using a spinner to simulate the mobility of the arcade version. An ambitious, difficult to find game.

video game board game

Donkey Kong Game (Milton Bradley, 1982) Players moved their Mario tokens on a game board reproduction of the classic game screen, dodging barrels and fireballs when necessary, climbing up the girders to defeat Donkey Kong and rescue the “fair maiden.” The game was actually a pretty decent conversion from the video game, and a lot of fun to play.

video game board game

Invader (Entex, 1982) As previously mentioned, Entex produced many electronic handheld games, and some based on video game properties such as Defender and Space Invaders. However, the licencing was a bit of an adventure for this California-based company, and in this case, their agreement did not extend to making a board game based on the Space Invaders video game. Their solution? Rename it “Invader” and remove all mention of the game it was based upon!

video game board game

Ms. Pac-Man Game (Milton Bradley, 1982) Although this game is based on the original arcade game and uses its elements, Milton Bradley ensured that the game play is completely different to prevent Ms. Pac-Man from becoming a duplicate of their original 1981 Pac-Man Game. The game board is divided into four quadrants, and players take turns moving the Ms. Pac-Man token attempting collect as many plastic dots as possible from their quadrant. Each player also controls one Ghost token, which he or she can use to intercept and regain control of Ms. Pac-Man. It may not be completely true to the original, but Ms. Pac-Man is still an enjoyable game to play!

video game board game

Pac-Man Card Game (Milton Bradley, 1982) Pac-Man enters the world of educational card games, albeit with very little of the addictive charm that made the franchise so enduring. The mechanic is a bit labored with players attempting to fill lines of three spaces with Pac-Man cards to complete equations and score points.  To enjoy this game you either have to be a complete math or Pac-Man geek. Not much here for anyone else!

video game board game

Turtles (Entex, 1982) This game for 2 to 4 players was based on the Konami arcade game Turtles by Stern, and was another of Entex’s handheld games to board games series.  Just like the arcade game, players needed to rescue little turtles, and whoever rescued the most, won. Important to note that this game has NOTHING to do with any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Possibly the most obscure video-to-board game entry on this list.

video game board game

Zaxxon (Milton Bradley, 1982) Translating the faux three-dimensional Zaxxon video game with its altitude-shifting airships into a two-dimensional board game was a challenge that was met in full by Milton Bradley by using a few standard 3-D tokens in conjunction with ingeniously designed fighter tokens that could be raised or lowered on their stands as needed. Game play was very similar to the original Zaxxon game, but with two to four players attempting to reach and shoot Zaxxon with BOTH their fighters and win the game.

A Footnote
It is important to remember that board games are not video games and neither should be expected to match the other’s total gaming experience.  Video games of this era were all about constant motion, quick reflexes and split-second decision-making.  Board games, however, are about measured decisions, random die rolls or card draws, and ever-changing strategies based on the play of your opponents.  In addition, board games often have suggested ages for players. I have read several reviews over the years from adults who were unable to understand that a game meant for children would have limited appeal to adults (and who scored them based on their own experience of playing them as an adult), or from reviewers who also expected a board game to be a video game.  These kinds of reviews do a tremendous disservice to the board game genre and to those who are searching for more information on one of these classic games.  To those game reviewers – and you know who you are – STOP IT! Let the game be judged on its actual merits, not on standards that it was never intended to fulfill.

Nintendo Color Screen: Game and Watch Table Top

Nintendo Color Screen

The most spectacular games in the Nintendo Game & Watch series are the Panorama and Table Top games. Combining the excellent LCD based game-play that shines throughout the entire series with full color images, these were innovative as well as fun to play.

Nintendo Color Screen

The Table Top games were shaped like mini arcade cabinets, with joystick and all. In the 80s, owning one of these must have been close to being in handheld nirvana.
Nintendo Color Screen

The original name under which these games were sold in Japan was Color Screen(カラースクリーン), with strangely enough no reference to Game & Watch, although they are clearly part of that family. They were introduced in the rest of the world asGame & Watch Table Top.
Nintendo Color Screen

Four Color Screen titles were produced in total. The first two, introduced in early 1983, were Donkey Kong JR (ドンキーコングJR) and Mario’s Cement Factory (マリオズセメントファクトリー), pictured in this leaflet.

Later that same year, the range was extended with games featuring Popeye and Snoopy.

Even though the Color Screen had a bright (color!) screen, it consumed very little energy. It cleverly used a combination of regular black liquid crystals with sunlight projected through a mirror to create the images. According to this leaflet, it was able to run for three years on two C batteries without ever being switched off. It did not even have an on/off switch.

League of Legends Cosplay

 

For the last cosplay entry for 2012 we bring you awesome League of Legends cosplay.

 

Nightmare Busters

Nightmare Busters

I’ll keep this short and sweet. The fine folks over at Super Fighter Team have a new run and gun game for the Super Nintendo called Nightmare Busters.

Nightmare Busters

 

The first game made for SNES in 14 years. Works on both SNES and Super Famicom and PAL.

Nightmare Busters

The game appears to be pretty awesome. Seems like a mix between Alice in Wonderland meets Castlevania. The colors and graphics are spot on.

Nightmare Busters

Play alone or grab a friend to play on the 2 player cooperative mode.

Nightmare Busters

Nightmare Busters is available for pre order and is expected to be shipped out 2013. $60 will get you a game cartridge with authentic plastic shell and a full color instruction manual that come inside a sturdy full colored box.

Nightmare Busters

For for info about Nightmare Busters check out nightmarebusters.com

Worms

Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Worms (1995)
By: Team 17 / Ocean Genre: Strategy / Shooting Players: 1-4 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: PC First Day Score: I’m a Worms master so I always win! 🙂
Also Available For: Amiga, CD32, Apple Mac, Game Boy, MegaDrive, SNES, PlayStation, Saturn, Jaguar

Even though I’m technically old now, I still consider myself fairlyyoung, but the video games industry has changed beyond recognition even in my living memory. Games these days cost many millions to develop and often take years to reach fruition, and that’s with teams of a dozen or more developing them, but many years ago the opposite was true. Some of the best-loved retro games were created by only one or two people, often from the comfort of their own homes, or even by solitary students coding away into the early hours before oversleeping for their morning classes. Those days are long gone now, with regards to full releases for current systems at least, and one of the last successful examples I remember was the first in the now extensive Worms series.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Although originally created on the Amiga by Andy Davidson and released by Team 17, it was actually on the PC that I first discovered this unusual game when someone at work brought in a playable demo they’d found on a magazine cover disc somewhere (remember those?). It was certainly an eye-catching game, especially for a PC title of that time, and soon revealed itself to be a tarted-up example of what had become known as an ‘artillery’ game. These involve two or more players (or one player and CPU opponents) taking turns to take out each other’s on-screen representative (often a tank) by way of a variable-trajectory projectile. The early examples of this type of game, one of the first of which was called ‘Artillery’, believe it or not, featured little more than one tank each on opposite sides of a rugged terrain. Worms shares this basic set-up but adds a good few coats of gloss as well.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Matches here are contested by two, three, or four teams, each consisting of four worms apiece who are randomly distributed over whichever landscape the game has conjured up. From here, each team takes turns to try and take out members of opposing teams. You can’t choose which of your worms you want to use – the game cycles through them – but you canchoose how you want to dish out the hurt. Choices include guns, Street Fighter-inspired close-combat moves, grenades, cluster bombs, bazookas, homing missiles, dynamite, mines, or even an air-strike! A varying level of power can be applied to all but the latter and wind can affect the trajectory of some projectiles as well. Each worm starts with a hundred health points which are depleted by these weapons, with the amount lost depending on how close the strike was and which weapon was used.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

It’s also possible to kill worms outright by knocking them off the side or bottom of the screen, or indeed into any liquid that may surround island-like landscapes such as water, weird green stuff, or even lava! Fortunately, you can move your worm around to a certain extent. They can walk or jump in either direction, but can’t move over land or obstacles that are too large or steep. If you can’t move far or hide well enough, it’s also possible to use some defensive items such as positioning girders as makeshift shields, digging into the landscape using a drill or blowtorch, or moving altogether by way of ninja ropes, bungee cords, or even a teleporter! None of this is necessary on some stages though, as you can choose which one you want to face your enemy on. The game generates landscapes one at a time and you can either accept or reject it. Which is nice.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

They consist of side-viewed landscapes which are randomly generated by the game engine which means they can take all sorts of shapes and sizes – some helpful, others less so. You can scroll them a short distance in either direction, zoom in and out, and move them around freely in order to plan your next attack as well as possible, and there are around ten different graphical themes for them including snow, beach, jungle, scrapyard, alien planets, desert, etc, each of which is home to its own features. Not that it really matters though, as everything can be (and usually is) damaged or destroyed by the many, many artillery strikes! The landscapes can therefore be rather varied and are a big part of what makes Worms such an addictive game, but it’s not just them.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

The graphics weren’t technically anything special, even in their day – whilst colourful and fairly detailed, their pixelly 2D-ness was a far cry from the fancy hardware-accelerated 3D games that were flooding the system by then. They are appealing though, regardless of the lack of technical wonder. The worms are only a few pixels larger than the green-haired Lemmings (on whom the working version of the game was originally based rather than worms) but they are full of character and have animations for practically everything. They’re also frequently blabbering during matches. Despite barely any in-game music (there is a Worms theme tune on the title/options screens), they and have a comment or expression for most situations and their voices are highly amusing! This and practically every other aspect of the game can, however, be customised via the extensive options screens which allow you to change things like rounds per match, time limits, weapon stockpiles (most are in limited supply by default), and add certain conditions to matches, etc.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

This PC version of the game also gained a few extras by way of an updated edition of the game called Worms Reinforcements. This allowed you to add custom landscapes and ‘soundpacks’ (i.e. vocal themes for the worms), and also included a number of humorous FMV intros and cut-scenes and a one-player ‘Challenge Mode’ which consisted of various missions that acted like a (rather harsh) tutorial. Some nice extras for sure, but let’s face it – people play Worms for one reason and one reason only – to try and outwit their friends, and to that end it’s peerless. Everyone knows that already though, of course. The only question I was asking before this review was: how much has this original aged? Initially, after having grown accustomed to later titles such as Worms Armageddon and Worms Reloaded, it seemed like a lot. Strategy games are often regarded as boring and long-winded, but Worms is about as arcadey as they get though, so once I had re-acclimatised to the older style I was soon adding to my many memorable and amusing experiences of playing this classic.
Worms - PC - Gameplay screenshot

Later incarnations of the gameare much more polished, both visually as well as with regards to their gameplay, but Worms has never been about flashy visuals or scaring the pants off gamers – it’s about having fun, and it arguably does that better than any other series. What else comes close? Some Bomberman games, perhaps? They are also fantastic games for multi-player larks indeed, but it’s more short-lived, has a faster pace, and is less strategic as well. Nothing beats taking out a friend’s worm after a cunningly devised tactic pays off. Almost as entertaining is a cruelly-placed stick of dynamite (accompanied by an unsympathetic giggle from the agressor), or even a simple fire-punch off the edge of a precipice. You can even name your teams for added personality! As far as I’m concerned, all gamers owe Andy Davidson a hearty back-slap for creating one of the funniest and most riotously enjoyable multi-player games of all. Yes, the later installments are better, but this original is still hugely entertaining and addictive and probably always will be.

RKS Score: 8/10

Christmas Nights into Dreams

Christmas Nights into Dreams

Perhaps the best definition of a Christmas game, Christmas Nights into Dreams was released as a promotional sampler disc during Christmas 1996 for the Sega Saturn. While labeled as a sampler disc containing only new versions of the same stage the disc itself not only came with a cool Christmas theme but a ton of bonus content that never came with the original version of the game. Honestly, it played more like a standalone game than a demo.

Christmas Nights into Dreams

The reason it was considered a sample was that it contained the first stage of Claris dream, Spring Valley and both players could play on it. If you selected Elliot you could take a different path that was only on that disc. However, the coolest part was that if you changed the Saturn’s internal clock the game looked different depending on the time you selected.

  • If it is Christmas, Santa Claus will appear.
  • If it is New Year’s Day, a message saying: “Happy New Year!” will appear.
  • If it is Valentine’s Day, some hearts will appear.
  • If it is April Fool’s Day, The player plays as Reala instead of NiGHTS.

Christmas Nights into Dreams

During the holiday season, the snow can change depending on what time you set the internal clock to.

Time             Effect

3:00 AM – Lunar eclipse

6:00 AM – Northern Lights

7:00 AM – Bright sun

9:00 AM – Crescent moons

12:00 PM – Rainbows, clouds & confetti

3:00 PM – Candy

6:00 PM – Strange stars

9:00 PM – Bright stars

12:00 AM – Hearts

Christmas Nights into Dreams

The story takes place after the original Nights and during Christmas time. Elliot & Claris are exploring the Christmas decorated city, but notice the star from the top of the Christmas tree is missing. The duo head off to Nightopia and find NiGHTS to help them retrieve the star. In the end you defeat the boss and find the star, but in the end it was all just a dream.

One of the coolest parts of the disc was depending on when you set the date, the game had the chance to load something other than Christmas Nights. Now the changes were small meaning it only effected the appearance and music of the main game, but still, pretty cool.

  • NiGHTS: Limited Edition: When played outside the winter season, the game becomes “NiGHTS: Limited Edition”. The game’s presentation (title screen, menus and in-game) is similar to that of the full version of NiGHTS into Dreams with no visual alterations.
  • Winter NiGHTS: In November and January, the game changes to “Winter NiGHTS”. Spring Valley is now covered in snow, and the entire stage is decorated with Christmas objects replacing various items and objects (ie. Ideya Captures are replaced by Christmas trees). A different soundtrack also plays. During this time, the weather will change based on the time it is played.
  • Christmas NiGHTS: The core of the game, Claris, Elliot and NiGHTS wear Santa-colored outfits, and the background music is replaced by an instrumental rendition of “Jingle Bells”. The game’s Christmas story is also enabled, as well as a Christmas-themed boss battle with Gillwing. Beating Gillwing with both characters will show the story’s ending, with credits featuring the A Cappella version of Dreams, Dreams.
  • New Year’s NiGHTS: The game becomes “New Year’s Nights” when played on New Year’s Day. The game is essentially Winter NiGHTS with a different title screen and song.

Keith Courage in Alpha Zones

keith-courage-in-alpha-zone

Our video review of the week features the 1988 Adventure game, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones. Created by Hudson Soft, you take on the role of Keith Courage who has to take back the earth from evil aliens that attacked it after earth was struck by a meteor. When fighting underground you gain access to the powerful Nova Suit left behind by your father which gives you additional abilities to succeed in your mission tor reaching the Robo Zone, the 7th Alpha Zone and defeating the Beastly Alien Dudes.

Midway Arcade Origins

midway arcade origins

Nostalgia can be extremely arresting.  Can a gamer ever return to the feeling experienced when first taking out the Death Star in Star Wars, smashing multiple baddies with a single rock in Dig-Dug, or playing a flawless board of Ms. Pac Man?

midway arcade origins

Gamer nostalgia is also conjured by environments and contexts.  I’m sure most middle aged gamers have swapped stories from their youth about visiting the local arcade (remember those?) to plunk some quarters in their favorite machines. In those golden years, we played for nothing but score and bragging rights, and we were fascinated by graphics that were so remarkable that they couldn’t yet be reproduced on our home systems or personal computers.  I used to beg my father to take me to the PX on base (military brat, represent) so that I could play one of my retro favorites—the cartoonish cop chase game A.P.B.  It was my fond memory of this 1987 relic that led me toward Midway Arcade Origins. I do not regret the purchase.  At the same time, some of the classic titles within this trove of 30+ games simply don’t reignite the longing to play arcade games that I fondly remember from my childhood.

midway arcade origins

The first problem with the compilation is that some of the classic control schemes just don’t translate to modern joypads.  720 is a prime example. In my youth, I would eagerly line my quarters on top of the black-and white-checkered plastic control panel assembly, but without the circle-locked joystick on the arcade cabinet, the game is almost unplayable.  Too much die, not enough skate.  The same unfortunately applies to A.P.B., a game that is dysfunctional sans its steering wheel and pedals.  Granted, you can still get some enjoyment out of the titles, but they just aren’t the same without the respective racing wheels and other cabinet specific peripherals.

midway arcade origins

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of useless filler in the compilation.  The less you remember about Pit-Fighter, Xenophobe, and arguably the worst sequel of all time, Spy Hunter 2, the better.   In light of these weak choices, I found myself wondering why Paperboy, NARC, and Roadblasters were left out.  All three were extremely popular Midway titles from my youth, and all three could have easily made the compilation exponentially better, especially since Paperboy is no longer available on Xbox Live Arcade.

midway arcade origins

Thankfully I was able to get a lot of enjoyment out a few of the included offerings.  Joust and Joust 2 hold up extremely well, as do Satan’s Hollow, Robotron 2084, Spy Hunter, Rampage, and both Gauntlet games (just don’t shoot the food!). Two titles I’d never played before, Wizard of Wor and Bubbles, ended up being my favorites.  Smash TV and its sequel Total Carnage also play well with a modern controller, and they still serve as a reminder that most of these games were simply designed to get one more quarter out of the pocket of your Kangaroos.  This is certainly a staunch contrast from the “save anywhere, unlimited lives” mentality that permeates game design today.

Leaderboards are also included so you can still appreciate how badly you perform compared to other hardcore retro gamers.  Further, multiplayer is offered on any title that traditionally supported it.   While the limitations of portable console gaming and the omission of certain titles does make the compilation feel a bit incomplete, the game isn’t a bad purchase if you are looking to scratch that retro itch. Just don’t expect most of the games to play like they did when you were waiting in line behind that skeevy dude in the Iron Maiden t-shirt to get one more crack at Sinistar.

Breath of Fire III

breath-of-fire-3

This week we are a little late with the releases but working on getting on track. This time around we have Breath of Fire 3 for the Playstation. This is truly a classic by Capcom as they got things right and better from the two previous games. As the cover says, “The Classic Role Playing Game”. This is surely a classic you won’t want to miss. Lets look at it more specifically.

breath-of-fire-3

The music is a true joy to listen to. It really makes you feel the mood of the game as if you are either in danger or in a town and need to relax and buy supplies. This is one of the great things that Capcom did with their games especially such classics as Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter 2. If there is something Capcom can do well is a masterful soundtrack.
breath-of-fire-iii-screenshot - psone - 3
For the year it was released, the graphics were really good. Have in mind that games such as Final Fantasy VII came out in the same year but if we compare them, Final Fantasy VII took millions of dollars to develop while Breath of Fire 3 was probably nowhere near that. There is still lots to love as the dungeons are nice and crisp as well as character animation and your surrounding environment. Well done Capcom.

breath-of-fire-3

Gameplay is quite fun and moderate. You’ll have to do lots of leveling up and exploring in this game in order to be able to advance. This is what an RPG is mainly about, you go to a dungeon, level up, and move on. Some enemies can be very troublesome so it’s up to you to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. This is what keeps the game interesting and very rewarding.
breath-of-fire-3
Like any RPG you’ll want to discover everything there is or if you missed something. Due to the length of RPGs you’ll want to make time for another run as it’ll take you 40+ hours to beat the game. If you are willing to do that, be my guest! You are going to love it either way.

Overall, this is an incredible classic that is not mentioned that often. I wish they did things right on the PS2 but they fell short and we haven’t heard anything from this series since then. Lets hope Capcom doesn’t forget about it! It’s quite good. Be sure to pick this game up and part IV as well because it’s just as good!

Atom Zombie Smasher

Atom Zombie Smasher
Killing zombies is part of a gamer’s daily routine, which is all fine and apparently dandy, but I simply can’t stomach another undead infested FPS. Bombing thousands of undead along with some unfortunate not-quite-dead-yet citizens, on the other hand, is another matter entirely and as Atom Zombie Smasher emphatically showed me, a most refreshing and enjoyable, if not downright noble, pass-time. Oh, and it’s a novel way to battle stuff too, though you probably know all about it already, what with Atom Zombie Smasher being a part of the biggest and least humble of Humble Indie Bundles so far.
Atom Zombie Smasher
Anyway, as simply reminding you of its existence wouldn’t do anyone any good, let me just point out that in Atom Zombie Smasher you get to evacuate yellow and blue dots (civilians and scientists apparently) while destroying pink dots (those would be the zombies), in what can only be described as an unholy fusion of RTS, action, orbital bombing and tower defense mechanics in one impressively coherent whole.  Add the between levels strategic and slightly reminiscent of RISK portions and you have a deep, satisfyingly difficult and unique game; yes, with zombies. In a nutshell, it is thus an engaging, addictive and downright fun affair that had me using my upgraded artillery throughout more than a few nights.
Atom Zombie Smasher
Admittedly though, dots of varying colors and, after a certain point, bigger dots don’t sound like much when it comes to visuals, but this lovely indie game manages to look good in a way vaguely reminiscent of the original GTA, only with some added pyrotechnics. Besides, it does feature an utterly brilliant soundtrack, that puts much grander productions to shame.
Atom Zombie Smasher
What’s more, the dozens of extra game modes, unlockable, brilliantly illustrated vignettes and a multitude of little touches add a polished feel to Atom Zombie Smasher, which more than makes up for its minor shortcomings. Only a couple of different enemies and a handful of playable units would have made a lesser game feel pretty poor indeed… And the difficulty curve is far from perfect too, which does admittedly make for a more rewarding first, uhm, dozen of hours.

Verdict: Orbital terror at its best and least terrifying. Also, a zombie murder simulator to cheer you up while perfecting those tactical skills.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman_Absolution_gameplay-screenshot-1

After an unheard of six-year console hiatus, Agent 47 triumphantly returns in Hitman: Absolution.  This title is certain to please fans of the Hitman series.  Actually, any fan of a thoughtfully composed stealth action game should definitely enjoy what the  designers at IO Interactive offer here.  The familiar mechanics of the series remain polished and fluid, the classic kills are plentiful, and the level design is top notch.

hitman_absolution_crowd-chinatown

This adventure is set five years after Blood Money, the only Hitman game offered on current gen consoles, until now.  In the world of the game, your handler and best bud Diana has sold you down the proverbial river.  After you assault her in the shower with your trademark Silverballers, she reveals a bit of information that sends the tightly scripted narrative flowing through multiple varying locations.   One thing you will notice right off the bat is how gorgeous the crowd scenes look. I paused the game multiple times in the Chinatown level to marvel at how many different NPC’s were milling about the marketplace.   The abundance of careful detail gives all of the levels an extremely realistic feel.

Hitman-Absolution

One of the signature features of the Hitman franchise is freedom of player choice. There are always multiple ways to dispatch your targets, ranging from the extremely silent and stealthy to downright straightforward and brutal.  You truly have the option to go completely guns blazing, more so than you might in other entry in the series. Yet, this approach is not without consequence, as it increases the difficulty exponentially.   The silent and creative approach is often the ideal method (especially if you are going for a high score) and is certainly the way the game was intended to be experienced.

Hitman-Absolution

 

For instance, the game welcomes the player to arrange creative ways to pull off the hits. The first level alone features at least ten different ways to take down the target, and each kill method is coupled to a challenge that will increase the score on repeat playthroughs.  Playing the levels multiple times is downright encouraged, especially if you want to best the scores of your friends. The incentive for the best score is heightened by constant displays of rankings, friendly reminders that you (or one of your friends) could have done a little better.  This certainly adds value to an already chunky package. With so many choices and encouragement to replay, the campaign took me roughly 18 hours to complete.

hitman-absolution-multiplayer

Multiplayer (a first for the series) also feels very adaptable.  Campaign levels are opened up sandbox style; any NPC on the map can be chosen as a target and then sent to your respective friends list.  Gamers can place restrictions on the assassinations; you can compete with your friends to see who can complete the hits most efficiently based on the parameters dictated by another player.  This adds an even greater level of replay to the game, and it also welcomes the creative contributions of gamers.  Hundreds of thousands of player-made challenges have already been uploaded, giving play time a durability that previous entries in the series failed to achieve.

If you are a fan of the Hitman series then you likely picked this up on launch day and have already relished in brutally murdering your targets with well-timed sniper shots, convenient natural gas leak explosions, “accidental” chandelier mishaps, and of course Agent 47’s signature fiber wire.  Hitman  neophytes will enjoy this title as well, as it is a suitable springboard into the series.  In Hitman: Absolution, the series has never been more polished and the level design is impeccable. I certainly enjoyed the stealth mechanics of the game much more than in any other assassin title released this holiday season.  Hitman: Absolution is therefore highly recommended; it has certainly provided one of my favorite gaming experiences this year.

Archon: The Light and the Dark

Archon: The Light and the Dark

Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars

archon_nes_gameplay_screenshot

Activision is among the most prolific video game developers in history, spanning several decades of production for retro and modern systems alike, responsible for titles like the infamously atrocious Ghostbusters cartridge for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) yet also for the explosively popular Call Of Duty series. Somewhere in between, in terms of quality, lies the 1989 video board game Archon.

Gameplay

Archon is a unique game. It is like chess, in the sense that it is played on a similar grid of a board, and strategy heavily lies on most advantageously using pieces with different abilities. However, there is one enormous difference: Rather than instantly taking an opposing space when you move your piece onto a square occupied by an opponent, you must fight to earn it.

Yes, every single time a player moved into a space that is already occupied, the screen shifts to an arena, and the two pieces then fight to the death. It is even possible for both pieces to die in battle. Either way, the lack of a guaranteed takeover makes every skirmish of tantamount importance.

archon_nes_gameplay_screenshot

This also adds to the depth of the variety of pieces; not only do they move in certain ways, but they are also different in their battle mechanics, sporting health meters of different sizes, melee or projectile attacks, even differing in the speed, strength, and rate of reload per those projectile attacks.

If that were not enough to make the game interesting, the pieces are divided into the Light side and the Dark side. They are stronger if on a square of their side; for example, if a Dark piece is on a dark space, its health meter is longer. But rather than simply have a grid with every other space sporting an allegiance to Light or Dark, there is also a swath of spaces that fluctuate their coloration. After the second player’s turn, they turn a shade darker or lighter, cycling through four shades until reaching the maximum saturation, then going back toward the other extreme. Being in one of these spaces, then, means constantly shifting between a position of power and that of weakness.

archon_nes_gameplay_screenshot

There is no concept of “check” or “kinging” in this board game. The victory condition is to either obliterate every opposing piece, or occupy the five special Lumina spaces on the board. Of course, these five spaces are all of the color type that shifts from darkness to lightness, forever back and forth.

One other quirk applies. Each side has a magician; for the Light side, a wizard, and for the Dark, a sorcerer. Not only are they powerful in combat, with a very strong projectile attack, but they can also cast a spell on the player’s turn instead of moving a piece. These spells range from Teleport, which moves a piece (of either allegiance) to a different space on the board; to Revive, which brings a previously defeated piece back onto the playing field; to Heal, which recovers a piece’s health, since drops in health do stay in play, unless the piece is allowed a few turns to heal naturally; Summon Elemental, which basically attacks an opposing piece with a one-use powerful being in hopes of earning the kill; and a couple others, all of which are good for one use.

archon_nes_gameplay_screenshot

The directional pad obviously moves the cursor from space to space and the pieces once selected with the A button, with the B button canceling an unwanted or accidental selection. Also useful to know is that the Down button is what is used to scroll through available spells, and the Up button speeds up the opening scene of piece-placement and any in-game text. Combat is handled by pressing the A button to attack and using the d-pad to maneuver.

Archon exists within a medieval fantasy motif, with the Light side commanding a phoenix, knights, and unicorns, while the Dark side commands a dragon, trolls, and even manticores, among other fiends. The battlegrounds may appear as a slimy dungeon, or a fiery hellhole, or a spooky graveyard set. It truly manages its own distinctive experience for a video board game, and with the option to play either against the computer or against a human opponent, a couple decent chunks of replay value present themselves.

Graphics

archon_nes_gameplay_screenshot

The battle scenes look darn good, with enough 8-bit graphical quality to appropriately fit in to another genre if it ever tried. The board itself looks alright, though the flickering of the five power spaces is a little off-putting. The pieces look alright, rendered as two-tone icons, and slightly enlarge during battle. The playscreen is cast onto an odd purple-brick background, though manages to not massively offend the senses. The animations are smooth, action proceeds at a satisfactory clip, the menus are legible; really, overall the game looks fine, its only “flaw” being that it never really takes it up a notch in its visuals, since the vast majority of the video game takes place on either the board screen or the battle screen. Also, one complaint is that the tones of blue used for the Lumina spaces are, honestly, difficult to discern in terms of which is darker than another. Grayscale may have been preferable. Speaking of grayscale, the title screen looks sweet, split into black and white, with two serpentine dragons hissing and claying at each other over a strange geometric figure.

Sound

archon_nes_gameplay_screenshot

The strange, dual-layer background music that comprises the gameplay gets old fast, and it may be preferable to play this game muted. Or, rather, it would be, except that the game makes the sound absolutely essential: During battle, a chime lets the player know when their projectile is reloaded and ready to fire again, using a lower tone for the Dark side and a higher tone for the Light. The more upbeat battle track is solid; though, again, gets repetitive. The tones, at least, are delivered with solid fidelity and clarity. Fire attack buzz like cackling flame, arrows slash through the air – those are the auditory highlights. The music is the worst part, in listening terms.

Originality

One thing Archon can certainly say is that it is a one-of-a-kind video game for the NES. There were plenty of other board games to choose from, whether classics like Monopoly and Othello, or hybrid-genre titles like Anticipation and Bible Buffet. By inherently linking battle attributes to its pieces, Archon adds a unique layer of tactics.

Unfortunately, enjoying those tactics may be difficult, because this game has one big deficiency: There is no choice for computer difficulty level. Yep, the same computer that seems to have masterful control over their weakest pieces will always relentlessly hound human opponents in battle, while having the same projectile-timing weaknesses every single fight. Perhaps obviously, Archon is best played with another player, yet decades later, can an interested player find a second?

The concept is sound, and not executed badly, but the lack of gameplay depth, beyond the foundational rules, is a big hindrance to replay appeal. At least the pieces in battle can both move and fire in eight different directions, which is cool. In fact, “cool” may be the perfect word to describe a neither-hot-nor-cold rating score of three stars out of five.

Animated Nintendo Controller Evolution

Controller Evolution v.2,

Animated Nintendo Controller Evolution

Here is a very nicely animated history of some of Nintendo’s controller designs. I remember switching from the classic Atari controller and thinking the NES felt so boxy. Personally, it was the SNES controller that did it for me and to this day it is one of my favorites. The video was animated by Chris Koelsch with music by Heath McNease.

[vimeo width=”560″ height=”420″]http://vimeo.com/55697069#[/vimeo]

Legend of Zelda: Pot Smasher

Legend of Zelda - Pot Smasher

Anyone who has played the classic Legend of Zelda series is used to smashing a lot of pots to find various items including Rupee’s. What we did not know is that Link seems to have an obsession with it. In this awesome video made by the cool dudes who make sweet vids, Freddiew, Link, played by Lindsey Sterling, shows us just how much Link likes to smashy, smashy.

Memories of Multiplayer

Ryan Culver

This week on the Obsolete Gamer Show we had a chance to interview Ryan Culver who played Nathan Drake for the PlayStation commercial for PlayStation’s All-Star Battle Royale. The guys not only nails the look for Nathan Drake, but is actually a man of action and adventure himself flying people all over the world.

Check out his commercial here:

In our panel discussion we talk about our memories of playing multiplayer games be it with a bunch of friend in our homes or thousands of players online and all the good and bad the comes with playing with others. Remember you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

Or listen here.

World of Tanks 8.2 Review

World of Tanks 8.2

Let’s go over the highlights of this new build for World of Tanks.

New Regular Tanks:

The first thing you will notice is that 5 new American tanks have been added, leading off from the M7 (Tier 5 Medium tank). The new tanks are the T21 (Tier 6 Light tank), the T71 (Tier 7 Light tank), the T69 (Tier 8 Medium tank), the T54E1 (Tier 9 Medium tank), and the T57 Heavy (Tier 10 Heavy tank). All the new tanks have an Auto-Loader, which makes them be a lot like the French tanks. The armor on these new American tanks has been reported to be low so you will basically be playing them a lot as if you were playing French tanks.

You can see this video to learn more details about the new American tanks:

The T21 plays a lot like the Chaffee. The T71 is comparable to playing the AMX13 75. The T69 is mainly played as a support tank so don’t play it like as if you are Rambo. The T54E1 is a lot like the Patton except weaker and is more of a support tank. The T57 Heavy has the advantages of having slanted armor and a gun comparable to the AMX 50B that reloads faster as well as being more accurate. The low armor of the T57 will make you play as if you are playing a French Heavy tank.

Game Engine Update:

As far as performance of the game goes, the draw distance has been increased so that you better see your opponents.

Trees and bushes are rendered better giving us a yield in improved performance, all things being equal.

Game Mechanics & Interface Changes:

Fallen trees now provide partial cover.

Whenever you have a module damaged (red) and your crew is repairing it, now you see a progress diagram showing the proportion that has been fixed. This looks like a cooldown button for most typical MMORPG games.

The Tech Tree will now show you per tank how much more XP and Credits you need to earn to unlock another module or tank from the Tech Tree.

Map Modifications:

4 maps were remade to make them more fun, challenging, and to better take advantage of the physics engine introduced in 8.0.

Prokhorovka (the map with the yellow grass, tree line in the west, train in the middle east, hill in the south-east) has been reworked a lot and now includes bumps and hills in the main field. The west tree alley has been changed in that the amount of bushes in it has been decreased so it’s harder to hide there now. The island in the north-east corner of the map has been reworked so that now you can enter it from either the west or south side of it. The south-east mountain has been modified in that it now has a more downward slope.

Erlenberg (the cold map with hills on either side, a ruined town in the middle with a river) has changed in some ways as well. Rocks have been added to parts of the mountains. A house was added to the field as well, providing better cover.

Ruinberg (the huge city map with the train tracks in the west, open park in the middle, and the hill of death in the east) has been altered making more of the city now being in ruins. The alley part of the map has had the cover lowered dramatically.

Redshire (green map with two hills that can shoot each other, most people usually attack from the south-west part of the map) is altered as they have removed rock cover from the mountains. The river also has become harder to cross now.

Premium Tanks:

Three new premium tanks have been added: the TOG 2 (Tier 6 British Heavy tank), the AT-15A (Tier 7 British Tank Destroyer), and the FCM 50(t) (Tier 8 French Heavy tank).

You can learn about the three new premium tanks in this video:

The TOG 2 is HUGE, is slow as hell, has a ton of hitpoints, the armor is awful, and its gun is accurate as hell as well as it being able to fire quickly. The AT-15A has insane front armor, a highly accurate gun with a great angle of attack, but it is rather slow. The FCM 50(t) play a lot like a medium tank being very fast and has a gun with a high rate of fire. It’s disadvantages is that it is big and has poor armor.

New Achievements:

Lucky is awarded when a team mate dies within 10 meters of you by an enemy vehicle.

Cool-Headed is awarded when you receive 10 ricochets and non-penetration shots from enemies in a row and survive the battle.

Spartan is awarded when your vehicle has less than 10% hit points, get shot by an enemy having the shot ricochet or non-penetrate, and you must survive the battle.

Ranger is awarded for detroying all of the enemies light tanks so long as there are at least 3 enemy light tanks in play.

Patton Valley is awarded for detroying at least 100 Patton and/or M48A1 tanks.

Where are the Chinese Tanks in WoT 8.2???

They were deemed overpowered in the 8.2 Beta testing so they will be rebalanced and will come out instead in the 8.3 update! Be patient!!!

Seicross

Seicross - NES - Gameplay screenshot -1

Seicross

My brother and I can both agree that Seicross is an underrated game for the NES. If you own a Nintendo Entertainment System and don’t own Seicross, then you probably should.

It might not be the best game ever made, but it sure is a lot of fun. It’s one of those games that no one really talks about, but it’s there and it’s awesome!

Seicross - NES - Gameplay screenshot

Seicross, originally an arcade game called Sector Zone was later ported to the Famicom and NES. It’s kind of a side scrolling future motor bike shooting game.

Seicross - NES - Gameplay screenshot

During game play the player rides a hovering motor bike racing through each level, shooting enemies, collecting energy and saving your blue friends. All of the levels are similar as in they scroll right, but there are the “FAST” levels and the “SLOW” levels and you’ll notice the differences. The fast levels have enemies on motor bikes chasing you around while the slower levels do not, but they have a lot more obstacles.

The game continues on until you lost all of your lives. This game can be forgiving as you can obtain lives easily by racking up the points. More points = more lives. You can find this game pretty cheap on ebay so if you’re looking for some good cheap fun, check this game out. You won’t be disappointed.

Robot Chicken: Pac-Man

Robot chicken, pac-man, adult swim, cartoon network, ms. Pac-man, seth green, 8-bit, classic gaming, funny video game videos, retro gaming

Today’s video of the day comes from the Adult Swim show, Robot Chicken. You can always expect Seth Green and the gang to come up with some hilarious shorts, but his retro gaming parody’s are especially funny. Check out their latest one based on the classic arcade hit, Pac-Man.

Final Fantasy Chronicles

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot
Squaresoft did a lot of things right but releasing games that have been around for a while was one of their mistakes as well as not polishing them. This is the case with Final Fantasy Chronicles as it finally gave us a cinematic copy of Chrono Trigger with the only con of excruciating load times. Same thing goes for Final Fantasy IV. Lets take a look at both and see how they stack up in the different categories.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot
There is no doubt that Final Fantasy games have some of the most memorable music in video game history but don’t let the sole and only release on Chrono Trigger trick you, their soundtrack is one of the most amazing ones period. There is no doubt that you’ll have these tunes engraved in your brain. As for the sound effects, get ready to enjoy the classical 16-bit era sound effects. They are just as enjoyable as the 8-bit ones.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot

The graphics are 16-bit era memorable. Final Fantasy IV has beautiful dungeons and a world map with towns that are very recognizable. As usual, Final Fantasy IV has some of the towns with their shops and villager’s homes. As for Chrono Trigger, it was and probably still stands as one of the most beautiful games ever created in the SNES era. The game is just so atmospheric that you’ll feel as you are part of the story. Moving from time period to time period really drives you different atmospheres and with the help of the beautiful soundtrack, you’ll know exactly where you are.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot

Gameplay is easy, enjoyable, and fun. These are the main goals of every classic game. Both Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV have their usual enjoyable leveling up system as they learn new spells and skills. Switch characters and then some. There is just so much to do and so many different ways to do it. You’ll definitely get the joy of what a 16-bit era RPG was all about.

Final Fantasy Chronicles - PlayStation 1 - Gameplay screenshot

As with RPGs, it’s only advised that you play them through if you have the time as they are quite long. If you are a machine RPG gamer then you’ll want to beat Chrono Trigger to get all the endings. I heard there are around seven endings to the game. The easiest one being the one where you go to the future and battle Lavos right away. I do not recommend that ending although it’s one way to finish the game.

So that’s it for this week’s game. Aren’t you glad you got a double dose of RPG goodness? Other than the horrible load times, each game is quite enjoyable. You can always go and pick up the NDS re-releases of each. They will cost you quite a bit though….until next week!

Street Fighter X Mega Man Crossover

street-fighter-x-mega-man-gameplay-screenshot

Since DC faced Marvel comics I have been a fan of epic crossovers and to celebrate 25 years of Street Fighter and Mega Man, (has it been that long?), Capcom is releasing an awesome 8-bit crossover for free on December 17. Just in time for the Holidays you will be able to challenge some of the top Street Fighter characters including Blanka, Ryu, Chun Li, and, Dhalsim with the blue bomber himself.

street-fighter-x-mega-man-gameplay-screenshot

Now this isn’t a Marvel vs. Capcom game, this is totally retro. Mega Man will be in his classic form and you will have eight new powerful weapons to use against the ultimate fight club. Check out the video below and on December 17th make sure to head over to Capcom Unity to download this game, for free, to your PC.

The Death of G4

Perhaps internet channels were the way to proceed and heading for cable was the wrong move in the first place for G4.~J.A. Laraque

The Death of G4

A while back I asked the question, what happened to Gamer Television and now we have the answer. The story began with two stations Tech TV and then later on G4. While one might have thought it could be difficult to have two tech/gaming related stations on at the same time you would at least believe that together there would be more than enough programing and an audience to keep it going.

esquiremagazine

Sadly, we began to see the cancellation of various shows after the merger and in their place new and often syndicated shows which were targeted at “Young male gamers.” Don’t get me wrong I loved watching Star Trek TNG and Ninja Warrior, but honestly I felt those belongs more on Spike TV leaving G4 “pure” if you will. Even with great shows like X-Play and the Attack of the Show, G4 TV’s fate seemed to be cancellation.

Now G4 television will be replaced with Esquire television named after the magazine. Along with the name change the channel will see a change in focus from games and technology for gamers to; an “untapped metrosexual viewership,” that will be “more in line with the modern male.” The casualties are already coming in with the announcement of the cancellation of shows like X-Play and Attack of the Show.

Perhaps internet channels were the way to proceed and heading for cable was the wrong move in the first place for G4. While personally I believe there should be no reason a gaming channel should fail with all the content one could create, I am also aware than many younger people and gamers alike are turning away from cable television and watching their shows online. Still it is sad to see it go and honestly, no offence to Esquire, but I am not sure what the metrosexual male is dying to watch on their network, but only time will tell.

The future for us has always been the internet and luckily there are many great shows like The Guild, The Jace Hall show and more than we can watch anytime we want. However, seeing Nintendo Power release their last cover and now this makes it a sad week for gamers everywhere.

Subscription fee for Call of Duty Multiplayer?

Here it seems as Mr. Pachter is not clear on the history of FPS games nor the current climate for subscription based MMO’s.~J.A. Laraque

Subscription fee for Fee for Call of Duty Multiplayer?

How many of you remember playing games like Doom, Duke Nukem and Quake online and enjoyed hours of “free” play time. Not only could you play online for free, but there were maps that were created by players as well as mods that you could enjoy all for free. A game like Quake 2 could be played for years because of this and with LAN support we were in a golden age of multiplayer.

pay-to-play

Well it seems if Michael Pachter had his way we would all be playing a subscription free to play today’s multiplayer games like Call of Duty Black Ops 2. You can read the source article over on Gamespot, but here are some of the key quotes.

“I know the game sells billions of dollars. Activision did a bad thing with Call of Duty from a profit perspective,” Pachter said. “They trained gamers that you can buy a game and play it all year, ten hours a week, forever, and you never have to pay again. You just wait for the next Call of Duty. I promise you there are plenty of people, numbering in the millions, who play one game, which is Call of Duty, and they never stop.”

This is interesting as it makes me think of a drug dealer who gets someone hooked then raises the price. He is right in that many people are really into their COD multiplayer and many would pay for the service. We already see the awful premium service you can sign up for to receive new maps.

The mention of training gamers is important as well, just like many gamers became used to paying a certain monthly amount for MMO’s many gamers still remember old FPS games you could play online with hundreds of maps all for free and most of us would not accept a pay service. However, newer gamers and admittedly, those who may not actually be shelling out the cash, may be more inclined to pay such a free.

Callofduty-black-ops2

Pachter also said:

“That’s just like the people who play World of Warcraft and never stop, yet the World of Warcraft guys are paying $180 a year, and the Call of Duty guys are paying $60. So who’s got a better model?” he said. “This multiplayer thing being free was a mistake. I don’t think anybody ever envisioned it would be this big. It’s a mistake because it keeps those people from buying and playing other games.”

Here it seems as Mr. Pachter is not clear on the history of FPS games nor the current climate for subscription based MMO’s. First, FPS online games, or a game with an online component, has always been popular and though the Call of Duty series did set records it should not have been a big surprise that people would navigate to a good online FPS and play it. He mentions World of Warcraft, but if you look at games like EQ2, Conan, DC Online, Star Wars Online and many other MMO’s that started out as a paid service they are now switching to free to play.

It seem as if to many companies point to WoW and believe they can be next incarnation, but reports show even WoW is bleeding members and is heading toward a free to play model of their own. Then you have games like Guild Wars 2 on the MMO side and Tribes and Planetside 2 on the FPS side and the question you have to ask is, how can a move to charge for multiplayer do anything but hurt the brand?

Pachter pointed at juggernaut Activision about their upcoming titled rumored to be called Destiny and said it will be subscription based adding; “Activision’s going to try it, because they’re greedy pigs, and they’re bold,”

activision-bungie-destiny

I did not know greed is bold but I digress. We do not know exactly what Destiny will bring and even if it does cost monthly there is no guarantee it will be successful, just ask SOE. We as gamers will put up with a lot more than we claim we will. Many of us screamed when Everquest raised their subscription rates and yet we still played. However, we can only take so much and as we get older and money is tighter the same thing that happened with MMO’s will happen everywhere else. We will pick and choose a game that works for us and our budget and dump the rest.

In the end, the hopes of people like Pachter is to “train” the upcoming generation to be used to these fees. Many are used to paying for small things in F2P MMO’s and used to paying small amounts for mobile games and music, so what is a few extra dollars a month for Modern Warfare 4? COD is a powerful title, but it does not stand alone and I am sure other FPS games would love to take advantage of a move like this if it is made. I guess the only question that remains is, if this was done would you pay?

Bundle In A Box: Eclectic Delights

Bundle In A Box: Eclectic Delights

Fans of wonderful indie games rejoice because a brand new bundle in a Box is available. Check out the release:

Bundle In A Box: Eclectic Delights

Having obsessively researched the wild and wonderful world of indie gaming, Bundle In A Box returns and is proud to present the Eclectic Delights bundle. It’s a fine assortment of 9 delightful, quite frankly excellent and truly indie offerings everyone can enjoy for the most reasonable price of “pay-what-you-want”!
Eversion

History

The Eclectic Delights bundle is the third bundle by Bundle In A Box following the succesful Adventure and Deep Space bundles. Also, bundle! And proper indie games! For cheap!

Features

        • Nine brilliant DRM-free indie games and extras worth over $65 for the price of your choice; 5 as a pay-what-you-want offering, four more if you beat the average price.
        • Delve Deeper (PC): the endlessly replayable and quite wonderful adventure/strategy offering by Lunar Giant, complete with all its DLC (Treasures and Tunnels, Grattis Grottos)

              • War of the Human Tanks (PC). Frantic strategic battles in a story-driven and most original game.

                  • Eversion (PC/Mac). Cutely disturbing platformer with Lovecraftian references.

                      • FMV gaming is far from dead as action/rhythm/fighter Stay Dead (PC/Mac) effortlessly and most emphatically proves.

                        • The excessively surreal and deeply indie horror offering The 4th Wall (PC).

                              • Fibrillation (PC). From Russia. With horror.
                              • The Adventures of Shuggy (PC): an excellent, retro-inspired platformer that isn’t afraid to experiment with new ideas.

                                  • Mystery point-and-click adventure Shadows of the Vatican (PC) in both HD and regular flavours.

                                    • Retro-tastique and actually hillarious Flibble (PC); a shiny new maze-action game.

                                    • Exclusive Droidscape: Basilica content for the soon-to-be-released mobile action puzzler.
                                    • Eclectic selection of extras including soundtracks and digital comic books.
                                    • Support a charity that is actually important: The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family.
                                    • Support indie devs directly via the Indie Dev Grant.
                                    • Surprises!

                                    Check it out now on – http://bundle-in-a-box.com/

                                     

                                    One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

                                    obsolete gamer

                                    After a long hiatus the Obsolete Gamer show is back and better than ever. In this week’s episode we welcome gamer extraordinaire Fatal1ty to the show where we talk about his life as a professional gamer and the challenges of being one of the best. We also talked with indie game developer Mike Oliphant creator of the mobile game Kung Fu Fight and his experiences of being an indie game developer especially in the mobile gaming market. Finally the panel discusses what we have gained and what we have lost in the advancement of video games.

                                    Remember you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

                                    Or listen here.

                                    Creative Zen Style M300 MP3 Player Review

                                    Creative Zen Style M300

                                    I am writing this review after having owned the MP3 player and used it daily for the past 3 months.


                                    Advantages:

                                    – One of the first things one can notice about the Zen is its small size. Think of it like a fatter but shorter iPod.
                                    – It is very light and you can hardly notice you are carrying it.
                                    – No software installation required. You can add songs to it in their properly named folders almost as easy as if it were a digital camera.
                                    – Amazing battery life! Up to 20 hours worth of life.
                                    – Cheaper than some Apple products, with almost the same quality of construction. Amazing value!
                                    – Built in radio function.
                                    – You can expand it via MicroSD media up to 32 GB.
                                    – Generic USB interface makes you be able to charge it almost anywhere.
                                    – Bluetooth functionality that has very low latency.
                                    – Although it is not official it has Mac support.
                                    – Self-intuitive interface. I didn’t even need to read the manual the first time I used it. You can rewind and fast-forward a track by holding down the back or forward button.
                                    – Supports the following file formats: MP3, WMA (DRM9), WAV, Audible Format 4, Audible AAX.
                                    – Built in microphone that lets you record like an old tape recorder.
                                    – Built in Equalizer function that has presets that cannot be modified.
                                    – Can be used to view pictures as well.
                                    – Since you can access it via Windows Explorer or your favorite file manager you can use it as a portable hard drive.

                                    ZEN_Style_Feature

                                    Disadvantages:
                                    – Touchscreen can be too sensitive. It can be too small if you have hands the size of a troll!
                                    – Cheap headphones included that aren’t that loud when outdoors. They are fine for indoor use.
                                    – USB cable that it comes with is short.
                                    – Screen is too small for its video playback capabilities.
                                    – FM radio doesn’t work over Bluetooth.
                                    – No FLAC, OGG, or M4A support.
                                    – Limited video playback only supports SMV video files.

                                    Video of the Day: God Hand: Press O to Spank

                                    God-Hand-Spanking

                                    God Hand: Press O to Spank

                                    This video should go under the weird game files, but honestly God Hand itself was a pretty normal if not comical action game developed by Clover Studio and released by Capcom for the PlayStation 2. The game is a beat em up where you play a martial artist that uses the legendary God Hands that can save the world from Demons. In the game you can create long and unique combo attacks kind of like what was used in Killer Instinct. However, what makes this the video of the day is the spanking finishing move that you can only use against female enemies.

                                    You got to love the Japanese.

                                    The Adventures of Willy Beamish

                                    The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot

                                    The Adventures of Willy Beamish

                                    From all the games I have ever played, there is only one I have firmly associated with Christmas and the whole wintery festive period (I sadly don’t seem to particularly care for this one much anymore, what with me being an apparently empty/logical shell of a gnome and all). Said game is none other than The Adventures of Willy Beamish; a game designed by Jeff Tunnell, developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra back in the too distant sounding 1991. A game I was reading about in every gaming mag of the era, an expensive VGA offering in a big box, and a most excellent Xmas present by my parents.
                                    The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
                                    I distinctly remember being incredibly excited about it, yet somehow carefully opening its box to discover a ton of 5.25″ disks, one of the best manuals ever designed, a Sierra catalog, some feelies of sorts and those amazing, colourful Willy Beamish stickers that ended up on my room’s door. I also remember waiting impatiently for what felt like ages for the game to install itself on my 40MB hard-drive and playing it for hours to the sounds of an old Platters LP. Hmm, this must be why I also associate this kind of music with the holiday season and, apparently, why I was listening to 50s music while photographing my dearest of all game boxes:
                                    The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
                                    Interestingly though, I have never played the game since finally beating it later in 1992, admittedly with the help of a learned, yet younger, friend who I am sure must have gotten his hands on some sort of rare at the times walkthrough. But, why haven’t I played it again after all those years, then? Why have I abstained from its many charms? Well, truth is, I somehow feel I might just spoil its memory and have decided to only periodically re-read the manual. Besides, I do actually remember Willy Beamish pretty vividly.
                                     The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
                                    I remember its fantastic Dragon’s Lair-esque graphics; they were the first of their sort in a point-and-click adventure. I remember the stunning animations and (low-res, I’m afraid) cartoon quality cut-scenes. I remember the way it showcased the capabilities of my very first PC soundcard. I remember how the story of a nine year old boy trying to competitively play video games while avoiding parental troubles and getting the girl, somehow turned into a ghost infested attempt at foiling an evil corporation. I remember getting sent off to military school and dying a dozen lushly animated deaths. I remember cajoling my in-game parents and entering my frog into competitions. I remember exploring the sanitised darkness of 90s American suburbia and being both shocked and delighted. I remember enjoying the subtle humour. I remember getting hopelessly stuck, but, above all, I warmly remember loving it.
                                    The Adventures of Willy Beamish - PC - gameplay screenshot
                                    I also remember things I didn’t quite notice back then. I remember that Willy Beamish sported an incredibly simple (or elegant if you prefer) interface, one of the first ones to feature a smart cursor, yet remaining incredibly difficult. I remember the dead ends and pointlessly punishing arcade sequences too. And the fact that the trouble-meter was a very smart way of letting players know whether they were on the right track.

                                    Then again, that’s enough with my memories. Anyone else care to reminiscent on the festive joys of gaming? Well, that’s what comments are for I suppose.

                                    The NEC PC-FX Review

                                    nec-pcfx

                                    The PC-FX, like it’s older and far more popular brother the PC-Engine, isn’t actually a PC of any sort. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise – it looks very much like a traditional tower PC and confusingly you will find Youtube videos of people running PC-FX games on PC hardware (using a PC-FX GA card, more on that later) but in reality it’s just a regular console, albeit one that could also play CD+G and photo CDs as standard.

                                    PC-FX_Controller

                                    The PC-FX’s strength was in its ability to play high quality full screen Full Motion Video (FMV) sequences at 30FPS, something that both the Saturn and PlayStation would struggle to reproduce to the same standard. Unfortunately the PC-FX had no other technical advantages over its contemporaries and in an era where 3D was king (regardless of how good it actually looked) the PC-FX struggled and ended up with just 62 games released over its four year lifespan.

                                    PC-FX_BackupMemoryPack

                                    While the console can rightly be considered a commercial failure, it’s still relatively easy to get a hold of. However the majority of the games require some grasp of the Japanese language to be enjoyable making English speaking discussion of the system’s library limited. Due to the PC-FX focusing mainly on RPGs and adventure games, a grand total of five titles can be considered easily playable by anyone – ‘Battle Heat’, ‘Tengai Makyo Karakuri Kakutoden’, ‘Chip Chan Kick!’, ‘Tyoushin Heiki Zeroigar’ and ‘Kishin Doji Zenki: Vajura Fight’. I have ordered them roughly by value, from lowest to highest. ‘Battle Heat’ can generally be found for around the $30USD mark, however prices rise sharply and just keep going – ‘Tengai Makyo’ is about $90USD and the cheapest, ’Zenki’ can be found for around $350USD plus shipping!

                                    PC-FX hucards

                                    This doesn’t mean the PC-FX is lacking in quality affordable titles however, just that such games are difficult to play without some understanding of written Japanese. The system has many remakes of classic titles – ‘Farland Story FX’, ‘Der Langrisser FX’, ‘Power Dolls FX’ (the suffix wasn’t actually used as much as I’m making it out to be), original exclusives like ‘Last Imperial Prince’, ‘Miraculum’ and ‘Kokuu Hyouryo Nirgends’ and even games that ended up finding some success elsewhere – ‘Wakusei Kougekitai Little Cats’, ‘Boundary Gate: Daughter of Kingdom’ and ‘Angelique Special’ all ended up with Saturn or PlayStation ports at a later date.

                                    PC-FX_Mouse

                                    Despite the short lifespan, the PC-FX still had a few interesting accessories – the official mouse suited the strategy games well and a memory card could be slotted into the concealed front expansion port if the player found themselves running out of space in the system’s internal memory. The final accessory isn’t actually for the PC-FX, but it is the most interesting – the PC-FX GA I mentioned earlier, is very much like the 3D0 Blaster – a PC card that allows users to play standard PC-FX discs on their computers. The card even included two controller ports to allow the use of standard PC-FX pads as well as s-video and composite out (just like a normal PC-FX) ports. Development software was available to buy (GMAKER Starter Kit and the GMAKER Starter Kit Plus), apparently in an attempt to stimulate interest and production of PC-FX games.

                                    It’s easy to see why the PC-FX failed to generate much enthusiasm at the time – it was under-powered under-supported and expected NEC fans to ditch the vast PC Engine library in favor of a console that had adventure games as far as the eye could see (contrary to some rumors confusion, the PC-FX is not compatible with PC Engine software of any kind). However, as time has generally eroded prices and increased availability, what we now have is a quirky little system that didn’t really do much but did do what it did well. As an owner myself, I struggle to recommend it to others, but on the other hand, I can’t help but look at my PC-FX games and smile.

                                    Paradroid

                                    Paradroid-commodore-64-gameplay-screenshot

                                    Paradroid (1985)
                                    By: Andrew Braybrook / Hewson Consultants Genre: Shooting / Puzzle Players: Difficulty: Medium-Hard
                                    Featured Version: Commodore 64 First Day Score: 1,275
                                    Also Available For: Atari ST, Amiga, Archimedes
                                    Download For: Wii Virtual Console

                                    Paradroid

                                    Well, I suppose it’s time I got around to reviewing some Commodore 64 games here at Red Parsley. My unfamiliarity with the system makes choosing one something of a ‘lucky dip’ though, so how do I choose? Most of what I know about this game is a result of the coverage the remake that appeared on the 16-bit computers received in my favourite magazines of the day. This C64 version is the original though, and many fans would insist that it’s still the best, so let’s see what the fuss is all about. The game is apparently set on a fleet of spaceships, each of whose various decks, which are viewed from overhead, are populated by lots of droids which have been turned hostile by some malevolent asteroids. It’s therefore your job to destroy them. Sounds simple enough!
                                    Paradroid-commodore-64-gameplay-screenshot

                                    I’ve always assumed that this is a rather complicated and puzzley game but the first few minutes I played it were spent moving my amusing-looking droid around shooting all the others I encountered. I suspect it gets more involved than this, however, and that indeed proves to be the case, but not by as much as I thought. As mentioned, the object of the game is to take out all the other droids on each deck of the ship. The humorous droid I spoke of is the very weak one you start off with and a device known as the ‘Influence Device’ allows you to exert control over it. You can move it around the spaceship in the eight basic joystick directions and it can fire an energy weapon in its direction of travel. The decks of the ship vary in size and all but the smallest are divided into numerous rooms. Droids occupy these rooms but you won’t know how many there are until you enter.
                                    Paradroid-commodore-64-gameplay-screenshot

                                    Each game is started at a random point on the first of the never-ending ships. Each of them has lifts to facilitate your movement up and down through the decks and there’s also terminals here and there which you can log onto which give information on the remaining droids. Each one you encounter is represented by a number which indicates its power (your default droid is numbered 001). The higher the number the faster it can move and the harder it is to destroy. Some droids can also shoot back, with the power of their shot also increasing with their number. There are no power-ups to collect so to contend with the ever powerful droids you’ll have to employ an alternate technique. Any droid can ‘link’ with another and this enables you to take them over via a mini-game which involves basic circuit diagrams and logic gates.
                                    Paradroid-commodore-64-gameplay-screenshot

                                    Here, you control one side of the screen and the droid you’re trying to take over controls the other side as you battle for control of the droid’s circuitry. Success means you ‘become’ that droid but they only last for a limited time so you’ll need to continually transfer to new droids. It’s also wise not to try and take over a droid that is much stronger than the one you already control as you will likely lose, and losing means your current droid is destroyed and you’ll revert back to the weedy default droid. If this droid is defeated in an attempted transfer, it’s game over. And it’s a game over screen I’ve seen quite a few times now! I was a bit worried about playing this game as I thought it was going to be rather complicated meaning I’d have to spend hours learning how to play it, searching the internet for guides, etc.
                                    Paradroid-commodore-64-gameplay-screenshot

                                    Fortunately, it’s not as complex as I feared, but it is pretty tough. This is no console game so there’s no multiple lives and continues to ease you in. If you lose the default droid, that’s it! Mini-games have never really been my forte either, and it is here that I predictably have most trouble with Paradroid. It’s a good concept though and, whilst probably not invented here, it does suit the game very well. Also suiting the game are the graphics. My experience with C64 games is limited but I do know that they often look quite blocky and use a distinctive colour palette and that is the case here too. It’s not a bad thing though and the style used is a good one. The mostly-monochrome colour schemes change from deck to deck and they can get a little garish (green and red? groo!) and it would be helpful if some colours were altered when being used against some of the lighter background colours, but overall this is a decent looking game.
                                    Paradroid-commodore-64-gameplay-screenshot

                                    The sound is pretty minimal which was surprising to me – all this tooting C64 fans do about their beloved SID chip and there’s nary a tune to be found here! There is a few ditties though, and some atmospheric sound effects too. I suppose full-on musical tracks might not really suit a slow-paced game like this either, so perhaps it was a conscious decision to not include any. In any case, it doesn’t adversely affect the gameplay. I think it’s safe to say I’ve not played anything quite like Paradroid before and playing it for the first time over 25 years after its original release makes me think about how many other unique games I missed out on. It’s certainly a captivating game and pootling around these ‘robo freighters’ is an oddly therapeutic experience. I’ll probably have to play it for years before I get really good at it but with a game as original and well-designed as this one, it’s no real hardship.

                                    RKS Score: 8/10

                                    Wayne’s World

                                    Wayne’s World

                                    Overall Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

                                    waynes_world

                                    Wayne’s World was a 1992 film based on a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch centered around the public-access television program hosted by Wayne Campbell, as played by Mike Myers, and Garth Algar, as performed by Dana Carvey. The two long-haired metalheads would provide humorous commentary on recent events, people they knew, bands, and chicks. The movie was popular enough to not only place new catch phrases into pop culture, but to spawn a video game, as released in 1993 on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console. The game is a side-scrolling platformer developed by THQ.

                                    Gameplay

                                    Alternating between laser-gun-wielding Garth and kung-fu-kicking Wayne, this one-player game has the respective protagonists traversing bizarre side-scrolling environments in which they are attacked by such enemies as living musical instruments and nefarious human beings. The A button jumps and the B button attacks. The levels have multiple stages, requiring the player to go through one area to find a door to go through to the final portion, or perhaps defeat a mini-boss.

                                    waynes_world

                                    In typical THQ fashion, the level design is less than extraordinary. On the first level, for example, Garth literally just has to walk to the right while firing his gun in order to reach the finish, despite the fact that there is an upper level of bounceable drums to travel across if he wished to. Other stages feature precision-jumping parts, annoying fly-over type enemies who bomb the character, and occasional items dropped to replenish the health bar. This is a bare-bones, minimalist, very basic platformer effort, and tellingly behind the times for a 1993 release. There are also amusing screens between the levels where Wayne and Garth engage in witty banter.

                                    Graphics

                                    waynes_world

                                    This is a THQ product, so the visuals are subpar. Vast expanses of background are cast in a single-color palette, and usually an unappealing one. The enemies flicker, the level elements look like they were drawn by a grade-schooler in Microsoft Paint, and the entire experience feels like a narcotics-induced hallucination. Perhaps that was the intention. The highlight may be the shadowy green hues in which Wayne and Garth are cast for their cutscenes; which are hardly so, even, as they consist of a single static image with on-screen text accompanying.

                                    Sound

                                    waynes_world

                                    The sound effects are dull, one-note renditions of the simplest degree possible, outdone even by many Atari 2600 titles. The background music seems underdeveloped; not only is it not skillfully composed and repeats far too quickly, but of the few tracks available, they do not even seem to take advantage of the full array of sound channels available on the hardware, instead content to pump out just one or two synth instruments in plainly orchestrated barely-there background “music.”

                                    Originality

                                    waynes_world

                                    Yes, this is a license game; that is, a video game based on a pre-existing pop-media license, simply designed to be published in an efficient manner in order to capitalize on the fleeting popularity of the franchise at hand. The NES was a console that was particularly notorious for these releases. Although some of them were actually fairly good (Konami’s Ninja Turtle games, Capcom’s Disney titles), many were base-level dross that sought the money of gullible suckers. To its credit, Wayne’s World does present a beginning-to-end challenge, and its faults with hit detection and frequent glitches could perhaps be seen as adding to the difficulty.

                                    Nonetheless, the programming faults resulting in random damage taken and the general lengths required to dispatch of enemies is more annoying than refreshing, and the overall experience deserves absolutely no higher than one and a half stars out of five.