Pitstop II

Pitstop II

Pitstop II (1984)
By: Epyx Genre: Driving Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Commodore 64 
Also Available For: PC, Amstrad CPC, Atari 800, Apple II, TRS-80
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Pitstop II

One of my many objectives when starting this humble blog was to finally force myself to try out some titles on the systems that have gone largely ignored by me over the years. The first one to enter my mind was the mighty C64. I may have become somewhat distracted since, but the process began with the pair of ‘Exploring the C64‘ posts for which I requested some game recommendations from seasoned C64 veterans. One of these recommendations was Pitstop, a game that turned out to be so bad I immediately thought I’d been the victim of a practical joke. Subsequent research, however, has revealed its sequel to be substantially better thought of. It’s taken me a good while to work up the courage, but here I shall find out if the ‘Pitstop’ name has been redeemed…
Pitstop II

It’s no surprise to find that it’s an F1-based game once again but it’s immediately apparent that it offers far more than its prequel. Impressively for the day, it’s a one or two-player game but regardless of which you choose, the game employs a split-screen viewpoint anyway – player one occupies the top half of the screen and drives a red car, player two occupies the bottom half and drives a blue car which is controlled by the computer in one-player games. The pre-race options screen offers you the choice of three difficulty levels, you can set the number of laps (3, 6, or 9), and you can select any of six real racing circuits from Europe and the US. As the name hints at, however, it can get a little more complicated than that.
Pitstop II

As well as the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ cars, there are also a seemingly unlimited number of other racers pootling around the circuits, at a much slower pace of course, which means they’re pretty much just there to make your life more difficult. That’s to be expected with a game of this nature but unlike most similar games, or at least ones from this time period, you also have to be careful how you drive as not only can you run out of fuel but you can also wear out your tyres too. Driving too fast around corners too often, for example, will soon see your car squeal off to the side like a burst balloon and stop dead. This, as well as the fuel situation, can be overcome by making one of the titular pit-stops. These can take some time but are unfortunately necessary if you want to make it to the end of a race in anything resembling a decent position.
Pitstop II

Mercifully, the CPU car also makes pit-stops from time to time as well which makes this a surprisingly fair game. It looks a lot nicer than the first game too – it’s far from a stunner but streets ahead of the hideous original. Control of the cars is a bit odd to start with – they feel very skiddy, as if you’re actually playing a bobsleigh racing game or something, but it’s fine after a bit of practise. There’s no in-game music here either, but apart from these minor grumbles Pitstop II is notable improvement over the original which scared me so. You’ll probably tire of the one-player game before too long but this was meant as a two-player game and in that capacity it’s fantastic. It’s still hardly the most complex racing game, even for its time, but Epyx have certainly made this a much more enjoyable game than the first effort.

RKS Score: 7/10

Twonky Beam app review

Twonky beam app

Digital content can now be seamlessly streamed to your television set through your XBox 360 console using the Twonky Beam app for iOS and Android devices.

While the XBox 360 already has a variety of video and entertainment applications available, the Twonky Beam app provides the user a greater variety of options as easily as pressing the touch screen on their smartphone or tablet.

For this review the Twonky app was tested on an XBox 360 using a Samsung Galaxy tablet 10.1.

Twonky beam app

Using the Twonky app proved quick and easy, with nothing to press on the XBox 360 itself other than the power button. Upon opening the app, a menu with a variety of available content choices including YouTube, ESPN, Funny or Die, NASA, the White House and Vimeo came right up. No clutter or ads got in the way of simply clicking one of the many choices and getting straight to the content. Simply click the Beam button on your choice and it will begin play on the XBox 360 within one second.

In addition, users can surf other websites while using the app and also gain the option to beam video content embedded within those sites. This is an awesome concept for those times where you choose to surf the net from your smartphone or tablet and find an interesting piece of video content. A simple press of the beam button can send the video to that big television screen in your living room to enjoy in style.

Twonky beam app

The video quality of the beamed content was just as good as the content appears within the websites themselves. While using the app only a little buffering was apparent early on in some higher quality videos, but at a level far less than often encountered when playing content straight from the built-in XBox 360 applications. Each HD video used to test the application, once streaming on the television, was indistinguishable from broadcast quality programming.

The Twonky Beam app is free for download and when tested for this review did as advertised, managing to seamlessly stream quality video content from the tablet device to the television screen by way of the XBox 360 console. A highly recommended download to your smartphone or tablet, especially if you use them to surf the web and view video content.

Quick Shot Controller for Sega Genesis Review

Quick Shot Controller

For a while I was having a little trouble with Sega Genesis controllers. For instance some times while playing an adventure game I would press the down button to make the character duck down, but instead because of the D-pad the character would only move left or right, rarely ducking. The character would only duck if I was pressing the down direction exactly in the exact middle of the D-pad. It was very very sensitive.

So! I received a Quick Shot controller in the mail and gave it a try. I was skeptic at first but I gotta say, all my problems disappeared! The Quick Shot control pad is so awesome! Super accurate and great control. It feels spot on and I’m so glad I found it. The cord is nice too because it’s not so damn thick, easy to roll up.

If you’re also having issues with your Genesis D-pad, try the Quick Shot controller out. They can be found relatively cheap on ebay or amazon.

Kirby Tilt and Tumble

Format- Gameboy Color

Genre- Tilty maze-fest

Bit of a curio this one – especially for Europeans such as myself, who never saw it gain an official release on our shores.

That was undoubtedly something to do the accelerometer housed inside the lurid pink cartridge. With this and Warioware Twisted both sadly confined to the US and Japan, the mercury used for the tilty tech clearly doesn’t agree with some European law. Even though I know none of the details I can easily say that law, whatever it is, is complete and utter tosh. Or perhaps i’m just being bitter.

Kirby Tilt and Tumble

A s for the game, it’s well suited to the Gameboy and really did deserve to reach a worldwide audience. It has small, manageable maze levels that are suited to quick bursts of play, and is simple enough to be grasped by most players.

Stabs of annoyance can occasionally be inflicted through the game’s controls, such as having to flick your gameboy to jump, which temporarily snatches any view you may of the actual screen. Fortunately, foibles such as these aren’t enough to boil over into out and out frustration.

Kirby Tilt and Tumble

Kirby TAT is not a classic by any means – and any novelty it may have once had is also long gone due to the iPhone et al and their many effortless accelerometer based titles – but it’s still a refreshingly simple and interesting experiment.

It’s like most Kirby titles really, in that it shows pleasing sparkles on invention, but makes sure it gets the gameplay basics down pat first. Kirby’s Air Ride the obvious exception.

I managed to bag a cartridge for £8 online, seeing as a box was relatively unnecessary for such a simple title. Especially as this being well out of my or any sane persons price range – see the link below.

The game is just about worth that I think, especially for those curious to see Nintendo’s first foray into tilt based technology.

Or you could wait and pray for a release on the upcoming 3DS store. With the 3D portable possessing an accelerometer it surely wouldn’t be to difficult to port across.

Growing up in Arcades

arcades

Growing up in Arcades

This week on the Obsolete Gamer show we reminisce about arcade rooms and the various arcade games and establishments we visited in our youth. Check out the various questions we asked fans on our Fan Book fan page and look for our game where we send in pictures of arcade games where ever we find them.

So check it out and let us know what you think and remember, you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

Or listen here.

At A Distance

at a distance
Terry Cavanagh is a brilliant game designer, an inspired artists and -from what my dark sources tell me- a very good person too. Following the release and well-deserved success of the second best platformer of all time, he has been coming up with some incredibly wild designs while, hopefully, working on a very intriguing CRPG. Anyway, following the release of American Dreamand Hero’s Adventure Terry has finally unleashed the ground-breaking At A Distance. A game that has already confused, frustrated and brilliantly entertained visitors of more than a few gaming exhibitions.
At A Distance - indie game - gameplay screenshot

At A Distance, you see, is a psychedelic two-player puzzle game that’s been designed to be played on two computers running side by side. It is a game sporting unique visuals, an amazing atmosphere, fantastic mechanics and an uncanny ability to feel like a collaborative board game that has somehow made it inside a computer. It is thus an original and very much indie offering in which the right player will be looking at something like this:

At A Distance - indie game - gameplay screenshot
whereas the left player will be admiring this:

At A Distance - indie game - gameplay screenshot

Both players will have to try things out, discuss, think, navigate, jump and come up with puzzle solving ideas all the while looking at each others screens. Intrigued? Good, you should be, for I’m not saying anything else, besides pointing out that though you could tackle the game by yourself, really reader, don’t.

Simply visit the At A Distance site and download the game for free for it has finally been publicly released.

Ehrgeiz

ehrgeiz

One of the more obscure games with Final Fantasy characters came out on the Playstation. With Squaresoft growing power with such great titles as Final Fantasy VII and Saga Frontier it was time to take it to the ring with their own style. Enter Ehrgeiz! With such a unique way that rivals those of Tobal who of course was also made by Squaresoft. The game itself is a joy to play especially as there are different ways to play it.

ehrgeiz

 

You have the basic story mode which you’ll pick a character (including Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth) To battle against others to the end. I played through it and it’s quite an enjoyable experience especially if you find the bugs to make the fights even easier. The does show the Squaresoft brand with the quest mode as you can pick from two characters that will go to the dungeon, level up, and explore. This is where this game hits the high point. If you want an incredible explorer experience with RPG elements, then this is all you need to look for.

ehrgeiz

The game’s music is lacking as there isn’t any. the game is as quiet a game will get. I’m not sure if this is the same deal with the Japanese release but we’ll just leave it at that. The sound effects though are enduring and sound like how they are supposed to. Even the Final Fantasy characters have voices believe it or not which are brief but understandable.

ehrgeiz

The graphics are very good and sharp. The game does deliver some of the best graphics for its day. Squaresoft did a good job making the characters look how they are supposed to. Just think about this, remember how the Final Fantasy VII characters looked in the game? Well, look at them in this game and tell me they don’t look better. Tifa’s boobs are yummier than ever!

ehrgeiz

The gameplay as I mentioned before is quite enjoyable. You can play through the story mode in less than half an hour but the quest mode will take a lot longer. You have to use your best skills in order to get through the quest. But, the controller will take you to wherever you need to go, that’s for sure!

ehrgeiz

As for replay value, you have a lot to replay here. If you want to beat the story mode with all the different characters, you can do that although you’ll battle through all of them in the same order which makes it repetitive. This brings me to the fact that you are better off playing the quest mode as there are different places to explore and it will keep you interested over and over. But once it’s over, you are welcomed to try again.

Overall it’s a great game that you shouldn’t miss and even though it could be a little pricey on the bay, I wouldn’t mind spending the extra bucks for it. I hope you enjoyed this week’s retro game of the week. Until next week!

Barbie

Barbie

Overall Rating: 0.5/5 Stars

Barbie-nes

In 1991, Hi Tech Expressions developed a video game for Mattel called Barbie, based on the popular doll of the same name. If someone were to read this review and think, “I have never heard of Hi Tech Expressions,” there is a reason for that: Barbie was a terrible video game. To repeat, for emphasis: Barbie is an absolutely dreadful video game.

Gameplay

In this one-player horizontally side-scrolling two-dimensional platformer with loose run-and-gun elements, precision-jumping obstacles, and item-gathering, the sole controller controls titular protagonist Barbie, a blonde female who embarks on what the game’s opening narration describes as a “glamorous quest full of fun, magic and adventure.”

Barbie-nes

Instead, the player is rewarded with a bore chore full of ineptitude, impossibility, and irreconcilable flaws. The slow-moving, low-jumping Barbie is an enormous on-screen presence, which is quite a detraction considering that every object and being in the universe is trying to kill her. There are harmful elements that are literally impossible to avoid, the first of which is a bouncing tennis ball being batted down at the floor repeatedly by a floating tennis racket possessed by demonic spirits. Actually, it is technically possible to pass without being harmed if you begin walking and time your passage precisely, but the exactness required just to pass under a freakin’ tennis racket is far out of line.

Graphics

Barbie-nes

The title screen is easily among the top ten worst-looking NES video game title screens of all time, featuring a horribly mutilated/pixelated Barbie doll with splotchy, patchy skin and hair and clothes and whatever, it just looks gruesome. The actual gameplay does not get much better, but at least there are cutscenes in which Barbie performs exciting feats like sleep and read books.

Sound

Barbie-nes

The music is not rendered with skill, instead relying on repetitive sound that just thump-thump-thump a rhythm while too-high notes try to sting the ears of players. Perhaps somewhere within the level tunes was a worthwhile melody that merely got butchered by an incompetent development team, but what resulted was merely a notable fast-paced boogie there and a weird techno-pop track here. Players had better like boops and beeps and squealing bubble-gum melodies because Barbie serves it up non-stop.

Originality

Barbie on the NES is not even the best NES video game based on a toy, considering the G. I. Joe games and other examples. Perhaps its only visionary quality is that t could be lauded for being among the earliest video games to feature a female protagonist, even if Metroid could claim that feat three years prior.

Barbie-nes

The true tragedy of this game is that it could have been a championing lightning-rod title for female gamers and girl geeks everywhere, except that it was a terrible game with a shallow message, underworked theme, and bland storyline. The result is a Barbie video game that still gets rightly made fun of, since insulting it is at least a thousand time more enjoyable than actually trying to play it. Being seen as a potential challenge for die-hard NES enthusiasts, and the bizarre quirk of that weird “weapon” you can see Barbie throwing around from the beginning of the game, is the only reason this even gets a half star out of five.

Robotron:2084

Robotron_2084

Eugene Jarvis sure knows how to design intense and playable games. From his plethora of awesome creations, Robotron:2084 (or simply, Robotron) stands out for its sheer mayhem. Yes, I am aware that Mr Larry DeMar was also part of the design duo that brought us this fab game.

I first laid eyes on the Robotron arcade machine in the mid 80′s at the arcade parlor near my school. To say I was mesmerized would be a great understatement. I intently watched others play the game so that I could learn from their mistakes and get more playtime out of my 40 cents. Once I grabbed the two control sticks (no fire buttons here matey!) it was a massive adrenaline rush of evading, attacking and rescuing.

Robotron_2084

There is a plot to all of this mayhem. As I do not want to bore you with detail, here is the short version: Robots (Grunts, Tanks, Spheroids/Enforcers, Brains, & Hulk) have revolted against the human race (Terminator anyone?) and it is the protagonists job to rescue the last remaining human family before the robots annihilate everyone and take over.

Robotron_2084

With the plot set, the next thing to get your head around playing this game is the dual-joystick control system. The left-hand joystick provides maneuverability (usual eight directions) to evade the robots and also rescue the humans. The right-hand joystick is used to fire the laser gun (also in eight directions) to disintegrate the robots in each wave (level). Once you get the hang of the control system, you will be blasting Grunts, Tanks, Brains and rescuing the hapless humans in no time.

The play area is set on one screen – there is no scrolling. Each wave contains a number of different robots and humans to rescue. This game is relentless, there is no time to wipe your brow and high five your mates while playing. Once you meet the ‘Hulk’ robot, things get interesting – he (I assume it’s male) is the one robot that can not be killed. Your laser gun can slow him down, but the basic premise is, evade him and get going on rescuing those humans.

I guess I can rave on about this game till the cows come home, but I will leave you with this – if you want intense gaming, then look no further, Robotron:2084 will provide it in truckloads !

GraphicsSimple sprites to depict the robots, obstructions and humans. The screen can get busy, but this makes your heart palpitate (in a good way)

77%

SoundVery meaty sound effects. Your laser gun sounds like it can penetrate anything

81%

PlayabilityThe dual-joystick control system will take some time getting used to, but persist with it – you will be rewarded

90%

LastabilityThe legacy of the mayhem that is Robotron:2084, has survived for 3 decades. I am sure it will last for more

93%

OverallEvade, Shoot, Rescue = perfect ingredients for the ultimate old school arcade shooter

92%

robotron_arcade-cabinet

Manufacturer: Williams Electronics. Inc.
Year: 1982
Genre: Shooter
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2 (alternating)
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Controls:
– Left Joystick: 8-way [Move];
– Right Joystick  8-way [Fire]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Metal Slug 3

metal slug 3

Metal Slug 3 is at first deceptively slow but by no means easy. Certain levels have multiple paths you can take, affecting your mid-stage gameplay, though both paths lead to the same boss. Blasting through hoards of puking zombies makes the second mission particularly charming . If they land a hit you’re transformed into a slow-moving zombie yourself, reminiscent of the mummy affliction from MS2/X. Unlike the mummy, there is a definite upside to the zombie state. You maintain the use of your handgun and in lieu of bombs possess a graphic blood-vomit attack that spans the majority of the screen. Your movement is significantly affected however, so it isn’t prudent to intentionally afflict yourself with the zombie status…at least more than once.

metal slug 3
The third mission begins in a janky underwater area and the entire stage exemplifies the initial slow pace of MS3 in comparison to other titles in the series. The third mission’s boss is very easy and very generic, which does nothing to prepare you for the little stage of horrors that is the fourth mission. Our zombie friends are back, newly equipped with their own blood-vomit attack, along with Audrey-esque cannibalistic plants. This stage is hard, bloody, and will leave you begging for more.

Many people say Metal Slug 3 is the best game in the series, and I’d bet this is because of the final mission. Your initial character is kidnapped and you are automatically given the next in line from the Player Select Screen. You begin the stage in a vertical shmup setting, flying through asteroids and gunning down aliens. The 5th mission is the longest, most satisfying orgy of missiles and explosions this side of DoDonPachi. This stage feels like real Metal Slug with its fast-moving and detailed landscapes. Overall, MS3 epitomizes quarter-munching arcade fun, if you’re patient enough to hang on past the build-up of the first few levels.

Skylanders: Giants

Skylanders-Giants

Whoever came up with the concept for Skylanders is a marketing genius.  The recipe is so pitch perfect it’s hard to believe it took this long for someone to execute:  Take the elemental centered and “gotta buy them all” appeal of Pokemon, mix it with the addictive RPG leveling and character progression that almost every game utilizes today, and then pair it up with a plethora of collectable figures that you can transport both between and across consoles.  The results are a franchise that has already grossed upwards of 500 million dollars between two releases with zero signs of slowing down.  But is the game any good or just a flagrant cash grab aimed specifically at children?

Skylanders-Giants

Actually it isn’t half bad.  I spent the majority of this past Saturday playing this with my nephew Jacob (he’s 8) and really enjoyed myself.  The game is akin to many dungeon crawlers like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate except it takes place in the uber-colorful and child friendly world of Skylands.   The interface is very simple and easy to understand; almost anybody could pick it up and play with little instruction.  Character leveling is extremely balanced and it has the familiar “just one more level” appeal as you constantly unlock better powers and upgrades for each of your individual Skylanders.   Jacob spent the better part of our lengthy session saving up hard fought treasure for a battle-axe made entirely out of bees for his favorite giant Swarm, and his joy upon finally earning the weapon was completely palpable.

Skylanders-Giants

Each Skylander represents one of eight different “elements” like fire, wind, technology, or undead.  The levels are divided with multiple gates and hidden areas that can only be accessed by certain elements, meaning in order to fully unlock everything the game has to offer you must own at least one character from every element.  If you are defeated, the only way to continue the level is by swapping out figures on the fly, making the game near impossible with only the starter set, but very manageable with a stable of Skylanders figures at your disposal.  (Defeated characters can be used again on the next level but not before)  The aforementioned starter set only comes with three characters, the game disc, and the necessary Portal of Power; so more characters must be purchased (Hey Mom!) in order to fully experience and enjoy what the game has to offer.  Some Skylanders are also much rarer than others (especially some of the newer Giants) making collecting these things highly addictive.  Again, sheer marketing brilliance.

Skylanders-Giants

Skylanders: Giants is also compatible with all of the toys released for the original game, and the level cap is increased from 10 to 15 for all of your previously purchased characters.  There are also new Series 2 versions of the original Skylanders that have more effective powers and different poses than their original counterparts, a very wise move by the developers to keep fans of the original excited about the sequel.   I’d be absolutely shocked if a third game wasn’t released this holiday season, right now the game has legs, something that Activision is notorious for exploiting on a yearly basis with all of their other major franchises.

Skylanders-Giants

It is also interesting to mention that the first game was titled Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, featuring popular gaming icon Spyro the Dragon who has appeared in almost twenty other titles.  Spyro never speaks in either game however, and doesn’t give you any sort of advantage over any of the other characters.  It almost seems like the developers were hedging their bets to get the game off the ground with a mascot familiar to the intended demographic.

If you are looking to enjoy some gaming with one of the younger people in your life you could a lot worse than Skylanders: Giants.   The title is certainly geared towards children but contains many of the familiar trappings of an addictive video adventure; I certainly didn’t grow bored playing it as I have with many other games.  Just plan to shell out a lot more than the initial seventy-dollar investment if you want to see everything in the game or actually get through it successfully at all.

The Game Genie

gamegenie

Long before there was an Internet to search for clues and codes to hack your way through a stubbornly difficult game, Codemasters brought a product into the game market which permitted access to your video game’s code, thereby letting you add unearned lives, power-ups, and so forth. The Game Genie was an accessory that you could insert into your game console, and then the game would attach to the Game Genie, allowing the Game Genie to act as an intermediary between the console and the game.

gamegenie

Many gamers found this helpful, and different Game Genies were produced for a variety of game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Nintendo GameBoy, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega Game Gear. Two different companies distributed the Game Genie over the years it was being manufactured: Galoob and Camerica, one of which (Galoob) was actually sued by Nintendo in an effort to prevent the Game Genie from being sold. Fortunately for many gamers, Nintendo lost their legal battle and had to pay Galoob for damages.

Time marches steadily on, however, and the Game Genie is now in the dustbin of gaming history, while Nintendo continues to be a gaming powerhouse.  All we have left of the Game Genie are the few units that can be found here and there in the retrogaming marketplace, and our memories. Speaking of which, see if the following ad brings back memories of how you salivated over the thought of finally mastering that one irksome game, if only you got a Game Genie.

Violent video game debate goes back decades

video game violence

In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in December, the debate over violent video games is being waged once again.

Just before Christmas, National Rifle Association spokesman Wayne LaPierre made controversial remarks about violent video games in a public press conference. Over the past week, Vice President Joe Biden invited representatives from the video game industry to a panel discussion about the gun control and violence topic. On January 10, New Jersey governor Chris Christie also noted violent video games as what he believes to be a factor in violence.

“You cannot tell me that a kid sitting in a basement for hours playing Call of Duty and killing people over and over and over again does not desensitize that child to the real life effects of violence,” Christie said.

The topic of video game violence has been going on almost since the day the general public first became aware of video games. In 1976, Exidy’s Death Race became the first video game to spark such discussion. A game which challenged players to run over stick figures with cars,Death Race made national news headlines on shows such as 60 Minutes and created such an outcry that many video arcades removed the game.

Stern classic Berzerk also sparked similar discussion in 1981, especially after 19-year-old Jeff Dailey died of a heart attack shortly after playing the game. Similar to remarks recently made about games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Berzerk found itself criticized by then-National Coalition on Television Violence chairman Dr. Thomas Radecki.

“In this game you’re a stick figure with a handgun,” Radecki said in 1981. “The object is to kill as many other stick figures as possible before they kill you. This type of role-playing practice is certain to have long-term harmful effects on the player. It teaches violent reactions. These games are training the next generation of Americans to be even more violent than our current adult generation, already the most violent in American history.”

According to a FactCheck.org posting on December 20, there were 3.59 gun murders per 100,000 people in 2010, the lowest rate since 1981, the same year Dr. Radecki made his statement about Berzerk and similar video games.

A number of gamers from the 1981 generation of grew up to become lawyers, business owners and doctors. Joel West, the 1982 world champion on Berzerk, is a conservative Christian and father who still plays the classic today. Another notable name who has made a living in the gaming world says despite thousands of hours of gaming, including Berzerk, he did not turn out violent.

Berzerk was one of my favorite arcade games back in the early eighties,” said former Electronic Gaming Monthly writer ‘Trickman’ Terry Minnich. “Today, I own an original Berzerk machine and it is still one of my favorite games. I’ve played every type of game. No matter how bad I am doing, I never kick or punch the machine or throw a controller in anger. I never have and don’t believe I ever will.”

Minnich went on to point out that some members of the early gaming generation, instead of becoming violent, went on to create a major impact on the world today.

“Some of the first geeks and nerds started in that generation,” he said. “The famous ones went on to found Apple and Microsoft and helped usher in the technology we enjoy today. I think that generation turned out pretty well overall.”

Gex: Enter The Gecko (GBC)

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Gex: Enter The Gecko

Yep, there’s a reason why you don’t see ol’ Gexy around anymore. Smart ass characters can work if the game’s any cop – but if not, a title has usually got one step in the forgotten gaming crypt before it has even been played. Gex: Enter The Gecko on GBC is an example of one of those, even though the titular hero has thankfully little opportunity to get his annoying personality across very well in this portable outing. The gameplay does more than enough to annoy you as it is. Expectations shouldn’t be set too high for a handheld version of a home console game that was pretty poor to begin with, but even so the game does little to make any kind of impression.

Gex - Enter The Gecko

Most noticeable is that the game uses ‘B’ to progress through menus and jump, which goes against the unwritten rule that ‘A’ is the main button. The fact that this is one of the most noticeable elements of the game does not bode well. Actually, the controls are generally rubbish (walk more than a few consecutive steps and the green one breaks into a run) and level design is of a labyrinth rather than linear nature, which helps brew up a sense of confusion after playing only for a few minutes. A lack of map doesn’t help either.

Gex - Enter The Gecko

Overall, this is a poorly designed game – the fact it’s a retro title is no excuse. This title signaled the end of Gex and his tail whipping antics, and I very much doubt many will be saddened by that fact. Gex, and this game, are best left forgotten.

Games & Candy 3

Games & Candy 3

Check out Games and Candy Part 1 & Part 2

Found some neat arcade/video game toys and candy at a candy store the other day.

Pac-Man Arcade Candy

Pac-Man Arcade Candy

Mario power Up energy drinks and some Mario Kart candy.

Mario power Up

A ton of Pez candy

Pez candy

Mmm Bacon candy

Bacon candy

Simpsons lunch boxes and mugs

Simpsons lunch boxes

And of course I had to get some Pac-Man candy to bring home.

Pac-Man Candy

Pac-Man Candy

Pac-Man Candy

Happy Monster

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Happy Monster

Platform games as a genre have been around over thirty years now and this kind – where each stage is only one screen in size – was how the genre began before fancy stuff like scrolling was introduced. That’s a lot of time to be trying to come up with new ideas. There is, after all, only so much you can do with one 2D screen filled with platforms. Impressively though, most of them manage to add at least something to the genre, or sub-genre as it now is. This effort by German fellow, Harold Müller, which appeared pretty late in the Amiga’s life, does not. Apparently, this is typical of Mr. Müller whose games often feature, shall we say, ‘borrowed’ elements or ideas. Clearly, if true, that makes him either lazy or just lacking in creative abilities but does that mean his games aren’t any good? I don’t know yet so let’s find out!

Happy Monster

Happy Monster, if its title is to be believed, is a game that features at least one happy monster. I don’t know why they’re so happy but it could be because of all the booty they have lying around the place. Many lush, ripe fruits, tasty snacks and desserts, and even gemstones, can be found in abundance across the twenty stages that make up the game. You play the part of a small, bearded fellow (who reminds me of Silver Neelsen from F-Zero X) whose job it is to collect (probably steal) each of these items, although defeating (probably murdering) the monsters that duly petrol their stash is optional. Successfully clearing a screen of all that inhabits it opens the exit from where you’ll begin again until all twenty screens have been conquered. Items to help him do this include 1ups and speed-ups, which are among the other items, but other than that, you’re on your own.
Happy Monster

Actually, now that I think about it, this must be how Mr. Neelsen was able to fund his F-Zero exploits. Oh well, he’s no worse than Zoda I suppose. Whether the F-Zero tournaments are tainted or not, our hero is gifted with only the basic platforming actions here. He can drop down through platforms, and he can fall an unlimited distance without harm, but contact from any monsters causes instant death. By means of offensive abilities, he can shoot fireballs from his torso to take out the monsters, of which there are several colours which determines their speed and how many hits they take to defeat, but he can only jump a short height. This presents the game’s only major problem – one or two stages have parts that you can fall into but can’t jump high enough to get out of. This basically means the stages in question fall victim to trial-and-error gameplay, particularly since there’s no ‘suicide’ button allowing you to start the stage again.
Happy Monster

As you can probably already tell from the screenshots, aside from the arrangements of platforms and collectibles  the stages that make up Happy Monster don’t differ a huge amount from one another. The same tiled background adorns each stage, albeit in alternating colors, the enemies are all copies of Spud from Superfrog, although again in different colors  and the player’s character is tiny, even smaller than the monsters in fact, and animated very basically. The sprites and items are quite well-defined but that’s about the only positive as far as the aesthetics are concerned. The sound only consists of about three effects, one of them rather irritating, and no music at all. Well, except for a rather unassuming title-screen jingle but it’s not really what I’ve come to expect from Amiga games, whether made by big multi-million pound corporations or by a guy in his bedroom!
Happy Monster

Indeed, from a technical point of view, Happy Monster is far from the pinnacle of Amiga gaming and it’s also one of the least original games of this type I’ve played. I suppose I shouldn’t be too judgmental though, Mr. Müller has achieved a lot more than I ever could! It may at first seem like a sightly tough and unfair game, but you’ll soon discover that it’s actually too easy – most stages can be beaten on the first try with no loss of life and even the few trickier ones only require a couple of tries at most before they are overcome, especially since stages are reset when you do lose a life. There’s no time-limit so you can spend as long as you want messing around. The only thing you have to be really careful of is to not fall into an inescapable part of a stage as I did a few times. This is my only real issue with the game as it can completely ruin an otherwise enjoyable session. Grrrr!
Happy Monster

Apart from that, though, despite its technical inadequacies and lack or anything remotely fresh or creative, it’s actually pretty good fun, but it’s still really hard to recommend it as could have so easily been much better. There are only twenty stages and they lasted me around an hour. With practice  I finished the game in fifteen minutes without losing a life. Even with such a short game, some later stages re-use sections from older stages and a couple are even repeated as a whole. There are also only five different colors of otherwise identical-looking enemies and just the one power-up in the entire game. There’s not even an ending – it just loops back to the start! It seems to me that Happy Monster is very much like a free shareware game that a fan made to test his programming abilities or something like that, but I’m pretty sure it was a full commercial release, and that means it’s average at best. Fundamentally, it’s an enjoyable enough game but with more enemies, more stages, and more varied stages, it would still be very unoriginal but would be so much better than it is now.

RKS Score: 5/10

 

The Healthy Gamer

healthy-gamer

The Healthy Gamer

This week on the Obsolete Gamer show we had the chance to speak with Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput on his research study on video game playing and the increase in food intake. We discussed the effects of video games on the body and how it can result in weight gain due to overeating and how even motion games like the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect may not be the answer.

There has been many articles on gamers health including the effects it can have on your life. However many focus only on the negative effects and not so much on how to game and still remain healthy and safe.  On the panel we discussed various ways to be a healthy gamer as well as the negative effects of playing video games for too long.

So check it out and let us know what you think and remember, you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

Or listen here.

The Walking Dead: Episodes 1-5

The Walking Dead

I’ve never been a big fan of Telltale Games.  While I certainly enjoyed their official Back to the Future sequel, I never felt the need to actually finish it.  I only made it through about ten minutes of Jurassic Park before I decided I just couldn’t get into their point and click adventure titles.  (I had a similar experience with Escape From Monkey Island, which is a LucasArts,so it’s probably my aversion to the genre, not the quality of the games themselves).  I’d made peace with this realization.

The Walking Dead

Then, something unexpected happened.  I started to hear people proclaiming The Walking Dead as not only a phenomenal title, but to some credible sources (and also Spike TV) it’s been named a contender for . . .  (trumpet fanfare) Game of the Year.  A point and click adventure title beating out such powerhouses as Far Cry 3, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, and Dishonored?  Could it really be that good?

The Walking Dead

Yes it could.  For one thing, it’s very difficult to bring genuine emotional resonance into the world of a video game, but The Walking Dead succeeds at doing just that.  I’ll bypass all spoilers but provide a little exposition to explain how. From the outset of the story, you are partnered with an eight-year-old girl named Clementine.  How you decide to protect her is entirely up to you, but I promise you will have an immense emotional attachment to her before the final episode one credits roll. Clementine provides but one example of the care and consideration taken with all the characters; none of them feel generic or written simply to serve as plot devices.  Each other character you encounter has unique motivations besides survival—some you will love, and some you will loathe, but they all feel like real people and not typical video game characters.  Choosing who lives or dies is never an easy task, and there are always looming ramifications for each difficult decision you make.  You’ll feel empathy for the characters far more than you might in a typical game, a true testament to the amazing storytelling and attention to detail that absolutely gushes from the well-polished narrative.

The Walking Dead

Lee Everett, the main protagonist, is one of the most developed characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. His journey is not some obligatory quest to bash some zombie skulls with a wrench.  Lee casts a real shadow on the player; I genuinely cared about him.  If there is an award given for voice acting, David Fennoy deserves to win it hands down, as he delivers each line of dialogue perfectly.

The Walking Dead

Finally, as a former native of Georgia, each of the locations represented was recreated perfectly, from the opening scene on Interstate 85 to the eventual journey to River Street in Savannah, I actually felt like I was back home in the peach state.

The Walking Dead

Much like previous Telltale Games, you use a four tied conversation tree that corresponds with each direction of your control pad.  Unlike previous titles, however, in The Walking Dead all of your choices are timed (and some you only have mere seconds to make).  There is absolutely zero backtracking to see different options or outcomes.  This gives each of the choices a weight that just didn’t exist in similar point and click adventure games; once you make a decision, you are stuck with it unless you restart the entire chapter.  On top of that, your choices directly affect how other characters react to you and behave in the narrative overall.  This minor tweak to the familiar formula makes all of the difference; it turns what some might describe as an interactive movie into one of the best titles I’ve played in a long time.  This is a game you are going to enjoy multiple times just so you can see the outcome of different choices.

Even if you’ve never enjoyed a point and click adventure before, I’m certain this will be the exception.

Kinky Island

kinky island - pc game - indie game - gamplay screenshot
Kinky Island is most definitely not a game about alien invasions and will not replace Mass Effect 3. It is, or more accurately will be, an indie point-and-click adventure with a sexy twist. Actually, it will be a game about sex. Just like the original Larry. Or, well, obviously inspired by the Land of the Lounge Lizards but set on the aptly named Kinky Island.
kinky island - pc game - indie game - gamplay screenshot
Basically, Kinky Island will be a game created with the ever-handy and very freeware AGS development tool. It will most obviously be a pretty naughty offering too (rumors speak of -wait for it- full frontal nudity), sporting quite a bit of humor, lovely pixel-art graphics, traditional gameplay, over 30 locations, 20 fully animated characters and some hopefully interesting puzzles.
kinky island - pc game - indie game - gamplay screenshot
Problem is the game was supposed to happen ages ago. Its intriguing, not particularly safe for work and most playable demo has been around since 2006 and can still be downloaded from the AGS forums. But, after that cheeky peek at a smart and properly sexy game and for almost five years nothing much seemed to happen; until, that is, the original team decided to revive, expand, improve, polish and eventually publish the project.
kinky island - pc game - indie game - gamplay screenshot
What’s more and as this new attempt at Kinky Island will be a vastly more ambitious take on the naughty, humorous point-and-click sub-genre, the game will apparently be commercially available. Provided, that is, you too dear reader help it out via its IndieGoGo campaign. You will find there a ton of exciting goodies and all the relevant info you might ever need.

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission was originally an arcade cabinet, produced in 1985, before being released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) home console by SNK in 1987. Cribbing from the earlier shoot-’em-up mechanics of Xevious, this title is perhaps best remembered as a cartridge for shooter purists only.

alpha mission-nes-gameplay-screenshot-1

Gameplay

Alpha Mission is a vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up with the typical science fiction flavoring of alien landscapes, starfield backdrops in space, big alien bosses, and starships sporting formidable firepower. Like Xevious, the player can fire at airborne enemies or ones affixed to the ground. The B button fires the laser that hits fellow aircraft (spacecraft?), while the A button launches missiles for fixed ground targets. The environment automatically scrolls, and the player is given free reign to fly about the entire screen.

There are twelve stages, which repeat in true arcade style toward the goal of just getting a high score, and loosely grow more difficult, beginning with new flight-tracking enemies in Area 2 and proceeding toward the eventual all-out madness of double-digit stages. The end of a level has a juicy fight with a big, bad alien boss.

alpha mission

Power-ups can be gained via colored letters found on the battlefield, primarily by destroying ground targets. These can provide upgrades such as increasing the strength of the laser, increasing the strength of the missiles, and enabling faster movement speed.

Along with the score, there is also an energy meter, which grows by increments of 2 each time the letter “E” is gathered. Increasing the energy meter total unlocks additional types of weapons and other options which, when can be afforded, are selected by entering a selection screen with the Select button. Examples include an eight-way shot and a short-range-but-constant flamethrower.

These elements, in and of themselves, do not necessarily comprise bad game design. A very workable, playable shooter can be formed from these components. In fact, ingredients such as power-ups and differing weapons have been combined to create some of the greatest shooters of all time. However, rather than content to introduce these items and merely tweak them closer to perfection, Alpha Mission instead tears itself off the hinges with some poor choices along the way.

alpha mission

Case in point: There are power-downs; in other words, not all of the gainable items are beneficial. There are items that decrease weapons power, items that decrease movement speed, and even a letter just to throw the player back to an earlier point in the level. This only makes the game less possible to enjoy, to a potentially downright irritating extent, and takes quite the imaginative stretch to defend as a good idea.

Furthermore, the mechanic for weapon selection is maddening. It can be admirable to make this a player choice, rather than simply shift the weapon as the protagonist ship passes over a power-up. But the mechanic used here is terrible: Pressing the Select button opens up a black background, onto which are pased icons for different power-up, depending on what the player can afford. There is, too, the icon of the ship itself. The player actually has to take the time to maneuver the ship over to an icon and, once over it, press Select again. The effect is not always smooth; during a boss fight, this can cause the boss to reappear. Also, pressing Select again will suddenly cancel the power-up out and return to that selection screen, which can be dubious depending on the weapon being used, since different ones use up the energy meter at different rates and may not be immediately available again. This method of choosing weaponry is slow, clunky, buggy, and just plain bad.

alpha mission

Alpha Mission already suffers a blow in being ported to a television setting, since vertically scrolling shooters are much more apt to their original arcade screens, oriented to provide an optimal perspective and taller screen. With so much working against it, and forcing the player to deal with a ship that begins so slowly and existing under the constant threat of downgrades (which, by the way, actually serves to discourage quickly going after power-ups, which seems outrageously philosophically counter-intuitive of shooter design), this video game is just not good. Even worse, it is not fun.

Graphics

Aside from decent production values and the nifty way missiles accelerate to full speed a moment after being fired, not only is Alpha Mission graphically unimpressive, but even has some noteworthy issues. The flickering and slowdown problems in this game are atrocious. Enemies constantly blink in and out of existence, some projectiles cannot exist on-screen at the same time as others, and the slowdown happens often enough to truly be a drag. Even if some of the boss designs are interesting and the backgrounds crafted with pixel-precise skill to an extent, these potential visual treats are muddied and muffled by the display problems.

alpha mission

Sound

The background music is too repetitive to be considered high-quality, and the sound effects lack any sort of crunch, punch, power, gravity, or oomph. What more needs to be say? This is a video game that provides only a bland little snack for the ears, and does not manage any aural feats worth mentioning, despite the best efforts of those who composed the basic tracks. In fact, if you hate the music, you are completely out of luck, since it even plays when the game is paused.

Originality

At first glance, Alpha Mission seems like the average 8-bit shoot-’em-up with a generic premise and arcade-style gameplay. At its core, the formula presented is not completely awful. The lesson to be learned here is that execution is everything, and the execution here misses the mark. This game is not original, visionary, or innovative in any discernible way, save for maybe its stupid weapon-selection screen mechanic.

This is an example of a game where nothing about it seems great and everything about it seems to have a problem. There are worthy complaints to air about Alpha Mission. For its crimes against the shmup genre, arcade ports, and the act of gaming in general, this mess gets one and a half stars out of five.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.

Banana Prince

Banana_Prince

Banana Prince

Banana Prince is one of those missed gems that very few people know about. The game is genius! It’s such an enjoyable game! Why? Because it’s pure simple side scrolling action. The music is also gorgeous and the animation of the game is excellent. This is a must have for any collector!
Banana_Prince
The music is incredibly enjoyable. You will definitely not forget the wonderful tunes you’ll hear from this game. They are quite memorable and catchy. The sound effects are also excellent. There is very little to hate about the sound score from this gem.
Banana_Prince
The game has amazing animation and excellent detail. The developers made sure the game was animated enough for an awesome experience. I can’t say I’ve played a more animated and detailed game as this one for the Famicom. Then again, there are 1050 titles for the console so there might be others. Nevertheless, this game looks stunning!
Banana_Prince
The game is a simple platformer that is just too fun to put down. The game has a lot of different features from such games as Super Mario and even Zelda 2. Combine those two schemes and you have an awesome title if done right that is. Be sure to check it out! FUN FUN FUN!
Banana_Prince
The game itself is great. You’ll definitely have to come back for another run. The game is a great experience from beginning to end. Any platformer fan has to try this one out. The animation and beauty of this game makes you want to come back for more!

So to conclude, the game itself is a must have for any retro collector. If you want to go for the Famicom title, might as well get it complete with box and all as it’s very gorgeous to look at. If you want a US release, there isn’t one! You’ll have to get a reproduction of it though which is the next best thing!

Standing the test of Time

games that stand the test of time

This week featured the Gamer Profile of Amanda MacKay, known for her work on Game Trailers and Spike TV. She talked about some of her favorite classic games and growing up playing games such as Paperboy, Super Mario Bros. 3 and. The Legend of Zelda.

For our panel the gang went over some questions featured on our Facebook page and then discussed games that stand the test of time. In other words, classic games that even over 30 years old are still fun and worth playing today. Finally, we discussed classic games that had a lasting impact on us. Games that defined the culture of the time and/or our gaming habits.

So check it out and let us know what you think and remember, you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

Or listen here.

Final Fight-Double Impact Remixed Soundtrack

final fight double impact

Final Fight-Double Impact Remixed Soundtrack

For those who never played Final Fight Double Impact it was released for download a few years ago for XBL and PSN. Final Fight Double Impact featured HD-filtered graphics and remixed music, composed by Simon Viklund. You can download the soundtrack free.  My favorite track is Level 4-2, it’s my ringtone.

Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop

Dirty Larry Renegade Cop - Atari Lynx

Format- Atari Lynx

Genre- Side scrolling 2D fighter/shooter

I don’t know about you, but the very first thing I thought of when I realized this game existed was Leisure Suit Larry.

This game isn’t a spin of LS Larry as a renegade cop though, but instead a Lynx exclusive title. Games made specifically for the Lynx are particularly rare, and this one probably nestles between Kung Food and Blue Lightning in terms of greatness.

Dirty Larry Renegade Cop - Atari Lynx

The first thing I noticed was that is a very well presented game, with looks that shout scream retro appeal and a rather cool sounding backing tune. Controls wise it also feels solid, but a few minutes in and you realize exactly why Dirty Larry has been long since forgotten.

First off, enemies emerge very quickly from either side of the screen and it can prove very difficult to avoid their attacks without taking damage. Like many games of this type you can creep slowly to the right and play it safe, but that just isn’t fun – which is surely the whole point of the game.

Dirty Larry Renegade Cop - Atari Lynx

You will most likely end up struggling through to the second level (set on a subway train, see pic above), but then manage to tread no further.

There’s a certain simple charm to the game, and it’s certainly not a bad effort, but I can’t really recommend it unless it’s fairly cheap or you’re looking to amass a complete Lynx collection.

Final nail in the game’s coffin – the carts label is incredibly bland, doing nothing to help the game get noticed on your average car boot stall. Game over, Dirty Larry.

Off The Beaten Path: Sega Saturn Edition

Sega-Saturn

When people think of Japanese Saturn games, they quite rightly call to mind classics such as Capcom’s 4MB-enhanced beat ‘em ups, shmups like Battle Garrega and Radiant Silvergun, and the sequels the West wanted but never got (I hate to bring up old wounds, but I must mention Dragon Force 2 and the remaining Shining Force 3 scenarios). The Saturn had far more Japanese games than just these cult classics though and while the quality naturally varies from game to game there’s still plenty of interesting titles waiting to be played, often for $10USD or less.

Sega saturn - Japanese Games

Take Real Sound: Kaze no Regret for example – there are literally no graphics at all in this game (and only minimal optional stills in the Dreamcast remake), the reason being that it was designed to be a game that could be enjoyed just as well by blind gamers as it could able-sighted ones. The game is an interactive sound drama and plays out much like a visual novel with the player making decisions at key points.

Sega saturn - Japanese Games

If that’s a bit too esoteric how about Black/Matrix, an SRPG series by Flight Plan (creators of the Summon Night series and DS SRPG Shining Force Feather) that started on the Saturn and spawned two remakes (Dreamcast and PS1), a direct sequel (PS2), a prequel (GBA), and later a remake of that prequel (PS1) – yet these games are hardly discussed anywhere! What’s especially enticing about this game to a curious import gamer is that it’s rather linear meaning more time can be spent enjoying the battles rather than scouring FAQs for the NPC you should have spoken to in the last town but completely missed.

Sega saturn - Japanese Games

Japanese Saturn fans even got all-new exclusive sequels to quintessentially Western games too: Dungeon Master Nexus is the final game in FTL’s classic dungeon crawling RPG series and finally brought the series into true 3D while still retaining many familiar features from the previous games. Alex and his lock picks, Screamers, the rune system… just about everything’s present and correct, and the dungeon is as challenging as ever.

Sega saturn - Japanese Games

Even ports of more typical games are worth looking at – the Saturn versions of Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle have additional voice acting not found in any other version and while Suikoden was released over two years after the Playstation original Konami made up for it somewhat by giving the game a bit of a tweak and touch up, arguably making it the superior version of the two.

Sega saturn - Japanese Games

The best part is that these titles are barely even the tip of the iceberg – never heard of Linkle Liver Story? It’s an ARPG by Nextech, the creators of Ragnacenty (AKA Soliel, AKA Crusader of Centy). Soukara no Tsubasa: Gotha World uses a unique “Personal Time System” to give turn based combat a real time twist in a Porco-Rosso-with-fantasy-leanings setting. Sakura Taisen – a series so successful that the cast have filled the Budokan twice with their stage shows – and yet only the final one out of the five main titles (and about fifteen spinoffs, excluding ports and remakes) has been released outside Japan. Gamers not comfortable with the language barrier have plenty to look at too – bonkers shmup Game Tengoku, puzzler Puyo Puyo 3, Bomberman Fight!, the Virtual On-like Steeldom… the list goes on and on.

Sega saturn - Japanese Games

Being objective, these games are not the absolute greatest titles to grace the system nor are they lost treasures that will silently increase in price until only the most dedicated of collectors own them – but they are quirky and fun games that will entertain and amuse those curious or brave enough to give them a go, and certainly deserve better than to be consistently passed over for more familiar titles. So next time you’re browsing the web for imports, why not give something new a try?

Castlevania for the Atari 2600

castlevania 2600

Castlevania for the Atari 2600

Ever hear of the game Roc N Rope for the Atari 2600? It was not that popular or well received when it was first released in 1984 based on the Konami arcade game. However, thanks to this game we now can play Castlevania on our Atari 2600 emulator.

Here is the description from its creator:

New Castlevania 2600

This is a graphical hack of Roc ‘N Rope – You are William Belmont who is traveling through Dracula’s bizarre castle. He has too use his whip not only too whip his enemies, but also scale the castle. How far will you make it?

Here is gameplay footage from Roc N Rope for the Atari 2600:

Looks pretty cool and you can download it from Atari Age.

One Pound Fish

One_Pound_Fish

While this video is now everywhere I have to admit I like the backstory behind it. The guy has never sung before and just made up a little jingle to get people to visit his fish stand. His friend ended up recording him doing his song and put it on Youtube and now not only is he an internet sensation, but has a deal pending with Warner Bros. Also, watching the video with the girls I pretend the one pound fish he is talking about is them.

Here is more on the story:

Muhammad Shahid Nazir, now known as £1 Fish Man,moved to London’s East End having left his native Pakistan and his wife and four children to discover a better life for them all. Working on a market stall selling fish, Nazir needed a trader’s call to grab passing trade. His song became the stuff of legend and a viral sensation: “Have-a, have-a look, one pound fish. Very, very good, very, very cheap, one pound fish.”

After a video of him was uploaded to YouTube, Nazir saw himself accelerated into the spotlight: he auditioned on the X-Factor, saw his ‘£1 Fish Song’ covered separately bysuperstar producer Timbaland and singer Alesha Dixon and was profiled by the Evening Standard who declared: “Watch out Psy, you’ve got a rival” and The Sun who stated: “It might just be the Christmas No. 1.”

Did you know: That Girl is Poison

poison

That Girl is Poison

One of the acrobatic duo from Capcom’s Final Fight, Poison was first introduced to us as a member of the Mad Gear gang. She appeared with long pink hair, a black cap, cutoff shorts, high heels and a tanktop that was cut just in the right place.  Along with her armbands, chains and handcuffs she was the kind of girl you almost did not mind kicking your ass, but the question was, was Poison actually a girl?

Poison’s gender came into question when Final Fight was being ported to North America and then for the Super Nintendo Entertainment system. A concern for hitting women was brought up to which Akira Yasuda responded that Poison was not actually a female, but a transvestite. We are not really sure if Yasuda felt hitting transvestites was ok, but regardless having Poison as a post op transvestite did not sit any better with the censors and so for the SNES release of Final Fight, Poison and Roxy were changed to male punks, Billy and Sid. Now this does not mean the change was specifically made due to the North America release, in fact evidence, including the original concept art for the characters, showed that Poison was always a transvestite just as Yasuda said.

final_fight_poison-censorship

This move as well as seeing Poison in other Capcom games including Street Fighter 3 causes more confusion as people wanted a definite answer to Poison’s gender. We do know her name was from the 80’s metal band known for using make-up and effeminate clothing. Also, anyone who has ever watched some anime knows the Japanese love to play around with gender showing male charters that look and dress like females, just look at Haku from Naruto.

In Final Fight Revenge Poison returned and was portrayed as very feminine and even had a romantic relationship with Cody, but that does not necessarily mean Poison wasn’t playing hide the sausage from Cody. There was commentary on the game that hinted that in her ending Poison had a sex change.

final-fight-poison-cosplay

So is there really a debate? Not according to Street Fighter IV’s producer Yoshinori Ono who said; “Let’s set the record straight: in North America, Poison is officially a post-op transsexual. But in Japan, she simply tucks her business away to look female.” Also consider in the guide book for Final Fight, Poison is referred to as a newhalf which is a Japanese term for male to female transvestite.  More evidence comes from the Capcom Classics Collection release of Final Fight which had bios on the characters and Poison was listed as transgendered. Even in the UDON comics, Cody said that Poison was “not much of a lady.”

In the end the consensus is that Poison and her pallet swap Roxy have always been transgendered from the very beginning even though Capcom’s official stance is that her gender is ambiguous. You know you’d still do her.

Here is an excellent documentary that covers the whole story of Poison and her gender bending adventure.

Here is the follow up:

iCade 8-Bitty Retro Wireless Game Controller Review

iCade-8-Bitty

I always felt that smart phones and tablets were a perfect platform for retro gaming and though you do not need a gamepad to enjoy those classic games, it vastly improves the overall gameplay giving you that old school feeling of playing on your NES.

The first thing I noticed when I received my 8-bitty is the NES inspired design. The pad feels a lot like the old NES control complete with the button layout except the 8-bitty also features two top buttons. The fake wood paneling on the side is a nice touch and the buttons on the 8-bitty feel sturdy so don’t worry about going button mashing crazy.

The back of the controller has a panel which you can remove with a small screwdriver in order to access the two AAA batteries inside. It also features an on/off switch which is great to save battery life. When you turn the pad on and it is paired with your device you will see the blue indicator light on the top left.

Let’s talk games. The 8-bitty works with classic gaming applications like Midway Arcade and Atari Greatest Hits. You can also see a list of compatible games the 8-bitty works with. Now I use it mostly for emulators on my Android phone including the MAME4droid which works perfectly with the 8-bitty. Nothing beats loading up some Final Fight and being able to use a real controller that is durable and comfortable to use.

Now one might wonder why you would want to carry around a controller almost as big as your phone. Also, there may be some conflicts with some games, mainly iOS games where you may need to play around with the button configuration or you may have to use strange button combinations in order to play. However, as more games accept external controllers this will become less of an issue. The truth is, as great as smart phones have become some of the classic games like Megaman and Castlevania still play best with a good controller and at $29.99 the 8-bitty fits the bill.