Assault City

assault-city-sega

Format- Master System

Genre- Lightgun shooter

You may remember my dismissal of Knife Edge on N64 as a pointless exercise without having an actual light-gun to play it with. Well, Assault City has a gun, but it’s still not much cop. But what do you expect when you play it with Sega’s rather naff Light Phaser?

The game starts with an odd shooting range thing, with both human and robot faces popping up to fire at. You’re not supposed to shoot the humans apparently – it took me a little while to realise this. No instructions you see. You’re just supposed to already know the robots are your enemies. That’s robo-racism if I ever saw it.

assault-city-sega

The weird faces the humans pull when you blast them with lead are amusing though. (the robot’s death animations are boring in comparison). It’s almost like the designers wanted you to shoot the wrong targets…

You’re then given a ranking for how well you did (I performed badly, predictably), and whisked into the first stage proper. Things get ugly quickly.

Enemies fly around in the air, and a robot (which the game has taught me is certainly an enemy) walks along the bottom. All of them are rather uninspired and blandly designed. I shoot away at them, and their death explosions are as equally dour.

assault-city-sega

Eventually I die, despite not really knowing when I took a hit. Enemies are so badly designed it’s not clear when they’re shooting at you.

I’m treated with a cartoon panel style rendering of my death (which is nice), but it doesn’t paticularly inspire me to attempt to progress any further.

Light-gun games don’t usually age that badly. They have a simple charm that is purely down to the way they are played – with a chunky plastic gun.

assault-city-sega

Assault City definitely does suffer from the weedy Light Phaser you have to play it with, but it has other, deeper, problems. It’s designed without any real style, and it also lacks any solidity of heft in its gunplay. These are two areas which really work against it.

In the end, it’s a game where you shoot at things on a screen, and Assault City does a half-decent job. But it had to doa lot better than half-decent job if it wanted to be remembered with any fondness.

Vectrex: Vectrom 32 Game Multi-Cart

Vectrex

The Vectrex was one of those ‘love to have’ gaming machines which only rich kids had back in the 1980s. The machine was ahead of its time. Fast forward 30 years and the machine remains a ‘love to have’ for many a retro gamer.

If you are one of those lucky enough to have a Vectrex, you would be well aware that games are hard to come by, and usually quite expensive when you do stumble across them.

Vectrex

If you don’t care for having each individual Vectrex game (or the overlays), there is another option – the Vectrom 32 game multi-cassette (cart). This ‘homebrew’ cart gives you the best bang for your buck. The more popular ‘Sean Kelly’ cart may have more games (72 in fact!), but they are almost impossible to source and very expensive.

Vectrex

The Vectrom cart costs about $45, that is about $1.40 for each game – what a bargain! For that price, you get the cart hinged inside a VHS style case. To keep the authentic retro feel, the game selection is done manually via the mini dip-switch selector on the cart – no software menu selection system here folks! The stuffing around with the dip-switch selection takes some getting used to, but the feature adds to the charm. Don’t stress though, the back of the VHS case has the dip-switch combinations for each of the 32 games.

Vectrex

Before you scream “this isn’t legit!”, let me assure you, it is. The original makers of the Vectrex have given open permission to continue development and have put the entire system into the public domain. Unlike other old consoles, it is perfectly legal to emulate all original Vectrex games.

For those itching to know what games are on the cartridge, here is the complete list. The games on the cartridge are some of the all-time best games for the Vectrex.

Vectrex

Verdict: If you have a Vectrex and you are sick of playing MineStorm, then you need the Vectrom 32-in-1 multi-cassette!

Star Trek

Star_Trek_Game

I am a die-hard unapologetic lover of all things Star Trek related.  The source material however has never led to great achievements in the realm of gaming where the Star Wars franchise seems to perpetually excel.  The last Trek game on current gen hardware was Star Trek: Legacy, an extremely glitchy and muddled mess; the only redeeming factor was including real voice acting from all 5 captains.  When I picked up the new game, I never imagined in a million light years that I would be desperately missing Legacy.

Star_Trek_Game

Let’s start with Star Trek’s most blatant problem: it’s a shoddily executed cover based shooter.  The pacing of the episodes certainly lends itself better to any other genre of gaming, and this repetitive slog had me wishing I were playing the RTS space battles of Legacy (or anything else) again.  I never thought I’d see Kirk and Spock trudging through generic levels like a poor man’s Marcus and Dom, much less interspersed with arduous platforming sections that make Damnation look like Tomb Raider in comparison.  The jumping mechanic is so poorly realized that I often got lost on the lengthy journey by not attempting leaps that seemed impossible to make at first glance.

Star_Trek_Game

The main characters are also completely interchangeable.  Besides Kirk brandishing a “Captain’s Phaser” and Spock wielding a “Vulcan Repeater” there is absolutely no difference between the playable trekkers sans aesthetics.  If you are going to give us a choice of two characters at least make them perform a little differently, especially since the relationship between Kirk and Spock is one of the driving plotlines of all of the films and the original series.

Star_Trek_Game

Star Trek was always about helping your fellow man (or alien); the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, ect.  Apparently, the many all need to be repeatedly shot point blank in the face because other then a few random tricorder readings that’s basically all you accomplish.  Sure, you are encouraged to set phasers to stun and then knock out your enemies, but when you can just dispatch them safely from behind cover with zero penalty then what is exactly the point besides painfully shoehorning some of the familiar trappings of the series?

Star_Trek_Game

Fortunately the current cast members perform all the voice acting, unfortunately this is actually a negative because the actors seem like they could care less about the actual acting.  To say that Zoe Saldana’s performance was laborious could be misconstrued as a complement.  Pine and Quinto are barely above average, and (big surprise) Simon Pegg is the only one who seems to even care about being there at all.  How often do you get an entire original cast to perform in a video game?  Like everything else on display the voice acting is truly a squandered and sloppy opportunity.

Star_Trek_Game

The Gorn play the generic bad guys here, you’ll remember them as the lizard like creatures Kirk rolled a boulder onto at Vasquez Rocks, the same location featured in numerous other Hollywood productions like Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and Paul.  If you can’t tell how bored I was with the game please refer to my previous sentence where I write about a famous rock formation instead of explaining in more detail how disappointing the experience actually was.

Unfortunately for fans it seems the Star Trek franchise is still waiting patiently to get the Batman: Arkham Asylum treatment.  I’m confident that a developer who truly understands Star Trek could make an excellent game that is both exciting to play and faithful to the canon.  Currently what we are left with is this stinking pile of half assed ideas that are executed with the grace of a wet fart in a windowless room.  I tried, but even my extreme fandom couldn’t find a way to reprogram the simulator to make the game bearable.  Kobiashi Maru indeed.

Micro Machines

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Micro Machines (1991)
By: Code Masters Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, SNES, NES, Game Boy, CDi, PC, Amiga

People will always have differing opinions of things. Whether it’s games, films, music or anything else you can think of; there will always be at least one person that worships something and another who hates it with just as much passion. However, generally speaking, good things are regarded as good by the majority and likewise bad things remain bad. This is as true of video games as anything else but there’s bound to be a few people that dislike well-regarded games and that includes me – it was the whole reason I created the ‘Overrated!’ feature here at Red Parsley of course. I’ve only covered four games so far though, which suggests it isn’t something that happens too often, but if there was one game I always had at the back of my mind to add to the feature, it would be this one. I don’t think there’s any game so universally lauded that I dislike, but I caught a lot of flak for its omission from my recent Top Five so I figured it was as good a time as any to address the issue!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Micro Machines themselves – the little toys – are pretty cool. I’ve even collected a few such as the range they released based on the awesome Babylon 5, and when the game was released it was met with universal acclaim from reviewers and players alike. I’ve always been keen on games of this type so I sought it out with the utmost haste. Being equally keen on my splendid MegaDrive, it was this version I plumped for and first impressions of the game were… superb! The presentation is outstanding with nice cartoony intro and options screens which give you the choice between single or multi-player games. The latter offers the choice of ‘Single Race’ or ‘Tournament’ for two players while the former allows you to choose between ‘Head to Head’ or ‘Challenge’ games, and it is the first of these that I prefer by some way which is basically the two-player mode but against a CPU-controlled opponent.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Before starting you first need to choose your own character as well as your opponent’s from a selection of eleven cartoony human oafs whose skill level supposedly increases gradually from one to the next. You’ll then race each other in your various miniature vehicles over a series of courses based on household locales. The first, for example, sees you racing powerboats around a bubbly bath tub! Other vehicles include Sports Cars, Formula One Cars, Tanks, Turbo Wheels (buggies), Warriors (hot rods), 4×4’s, and Choppers, and they are raced around the house on things like desk tops, breakfast tables, snooker tables, and even around the workshop and garden. All race locations feature items and obstacles appropriate to their setting which most of the time make themselves unwelcome. In the two-player Single Race mode you can choose a vehicle which is then raced over its ‘home’ course, but in all other play modes the courses are arranged in order and you have to win one to see the next.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Unfortunately, this is where the problems start, at least as far as I’m concerned. The single player Challenge mode features a series of twenty four races which includes several courses based on each house location with corresponding vehicle type used. Races are against three CPU vehicles with very simple rules – complete the required number of laps and finish in the highest position possible. If you finish in the top two, you can move on to the next race. If not, you’ll lose a life. All the other play modes feature one-on-one races, whether that’s human vs the computer or another human. On the left side of the screen are eight coloured circles – four red, four blue. The object is to turn all the circles your own colour which is done by getting far enough ahead of your rival that they drop off the screen. Each time you manage this, a circle is filled in your favour. This can make races very short or immense endurance contests depending on the skill and luck of the participants, with the latter playing a notably more prominent role than the former in my experience.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, in all head-to-head play modes, by their very nature you’re frequently racing high up the screen with little warning or view of upcoming corners and obstacles. Secondly, the design of the courses, while original and very appealing, also leaves masses of obstacles all over the place which not only slow you down if you hit them, but are also very easy to get stuck behind. On top of that, many of the courses take place on a table or something similar which means slipping over the edge and crashing to your doom is also commonplace. I can’t really say the courses gradually increase in complexity and difficulty as you might expect, either – the course that makes me most angry is only the third, and the one after it is a piece of cake! As annoying as all this stuff can be, it’s all manageable in slower vehicles like the 4×4’s or Tanks, but when you have to zoom around courses in fast, skiddy vehicles like the Sports or Formula One cars, mistakes come often which soon proves immensely frustrating.

Micro Machines - sega genesis

It might seem like a game that’s hard to get pissed at judging by the screenshots though. As mentioned, the presentation is fantastic, and the audio is great too, with plenty of catchy tunes and various noises. Graphically, there are no flashy special effects or anything here and it’s easy to see why the game looks more or less the same across a variety of systems, but it’s still very pleasing on the eyes nonetheless. It’s certainly a mighty colourful game and the appropriately tiny vehicles all look nice enough as they career through the smoothly-scrolling courses, but the varied backgrounds and the great attention to detail is where the work has really been done. Most of them show great creativity and are filled with a conveniently-arranged mess befitting their setting. For example, the breakfast table course is marked out by Cheerios (or something similar) and has various foodstuffs dotted around like waffles and fruit. On-course obstructions are caused by spillages such as baked beans, and there’s even a cereal-box jump!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Most of the other courses are just as detailed and imaginative, and discovering their various sights and features is highly enjoyable the first few times you race them. However, as amusing and comedic as the game may be, the object is still surely to make progress and win races while having fun, not instead of? Success comes from driving round the more difficult courses time and time again until you can do so blindfolded; until you can do so without making even the tiniest mistake. Doing so is immensely tense/exciting during the race and immensely satisfying afterwards, but this is likely to happen far less than the alternative which I at least found incredibly frustrating and rage-inducing: winning, winning, doing well, BANG! … stuck behind trackside object, near-instant last place… racing, racing, doing well again, regain the lead, skid a teeny bit too far on a corner, fall off the table, near-instant last place, racing, cross the finish line in last place, lost a life… GrrrrrRRRRRR!!!!

Micro Machines - sega genesis

Okay, I know I’m probably going to take a right kicking from the legions of Micro Machines fans who loved and still love this game and its sequels; I know its faults that annoy me so are mainly limited to certain courses on which the faster vehicles are used, and even then can be found in many other overhead racers (though not nearly so prominently, I submit), but I can scarcely recall any gaming experience that makes me as angry as this one is capable of doing – something which is much more pronounced in the Challenge mode in which you have to manage to go without making a mistake for much longer than the short bursts of skill/luck required in the other modes. Control of the vehicles is flawless though, admittedly, and with two players, both of you are as disadvantaged as each other I suppose (unless one has had a lot more practise!) but winning is still often more down to luck than skill.

Micro Machines - sega genesis
Based on my prior experiences with this game I was preparing to give is cursory play to refresh my mind, then duly unleash the diatribe it deserves and give it a very low score, but I suppose I have to begrudgingly admit that I enjoyed Micro Machines much more this time. It’s still reallyannoying though, and frequently so – some times I’ll play it and do extremely well, even having enormous fun in the process, then catch myself thinking “this game is great, I was wrong, I’ll give a glowing review!”, but then my next session with it makes me angrier than ten Incredible Hulks and I end up smashing stuff up. The ideas behind the game are amazingly great and there’s many laughs to be had here, but in the end, this is a great example of a game that can be effing awesome and incredibly annoying, often within seconds of each other! Does that make it terrible game? No, I guess not, but it’s not a great one either in my opinion, sorry.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m08miUSCHI[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

 

The Obsolete Gamer Show #31 Rose Colored Glasses

J.A. Laraque

We celebrated our first Google + Live Hangout and episode #31 of the Obsolete Gamer Show. We began with Xander Denke from 1337 Lounge Live which is an awesome video game channel now hosted on Twitch TV and brought to you by Jace Hall of The Jace Hall show. We talk about how the channel game about and the process for all the awesome guests who we get to see in the lounge. If you haven’t checked it out you should. See below for the promo they shot when I was on the show.

Next we talked Xbox One with Grace Snoke who wrote about her views on the recent press release that has caused quite a storm within the gaming community. If you haven’t seen it yet you can check out the highlights in the video below. We covered everything from the rumors surrounding paying a fee for used and borrowed games to the controversy surrounding the always on internet connection requirement. While we answered a lot of questions we also created a lot more and in the end we will have to wait till E3 to answer them.

Finally we talked about looking back on games with rose colored glasses. At some time we all looked back on something we did and thought it was awesome only to go back and realize it wasn’t as good as we thought. This happens in gaming as well. We each talked about a game that we had such found memories of, but just did not live up to the hype we gave it.

We want to thank Xander and Grace for coming on and you can either watch the show below or click on this link to view the show page where you can listen to it via Stitcher Radio or Itunes, you can also always get the app for Stitcher to listen to the show anytime and download the show from Itunes for your apple device.

team rubicon

There is also a 3-Day streaming event to raise money for the victims of the recent Oklahoma tornado. You can read about it on Team Rubicon, and watch the stream on their Twitch TV channel.

Ratrace

There are so many good classic board games that it’s sometimes difficult to pick just one to reminisce about, but a few shine out a little brighter than the rest.  One of my all-time favorite board games is Ratrace, by Waddingtons House of Games.  The goal is simple: start from the bottom rung of the social ladder and claw your way up to the upper crust of society and be the first player to retire with $100,000 cash.  How you accomplish that goal is where the fun begins!

Ratrace

The 1970 Version of Ratrace

Players start the game with a business and $200 cash.   The businesses are color-coded: Rose’s Clothes & Furs; Olive’s Jewelry; Black’s Art Gallery; Brown’s Sporting Goods; Green’s Furniture; and Royal’s Car Sales (blue).  Each business gets nine Status Symbol cards to sell to the other players, three each of $100 cards for Working Class, $500 for Middle Class, and $3000 for High Society.   Players need money to make their own purchases, so everyone hopes to see their competing players land on their colored squares.

The game board has three tracks, one each for Working Class, Middle Class, and High Society.  Everyone starts on the Graduation Day square on the Working Class track.  From there opportunities present themselves: can you attend Night School and earn your diploma? Can you make it big (at long odds) at the Racetrack?  Will you be accepted into the Country Club and gain a Membership Card? Can you earn money at the Stock Exchange?  Players move around the track gaining Working Class status symbols, such as a New Car Radio or a 17-Jewel Watch.  Gain any three Status Symbol cards and you’re ready to move up to Middle Class – as long as you have a little cash and either your diploma or club membership.  Of course, you could get lucky and land on a Society Wedding space and move up without all the qualifications everyone needs.

Ratrace

The 1967 version of Ratrace

Middle class brings similar challenges and goals as the Working Class rung did, as players still need to buy Status Symbols (but more expensive!), get a Yacht Club membership or a University degree, and accumulate cash as they move through the game board.   But watch out! At this stage of the game the much-feared Divorce square could send you back to your Working Class roots.  Gaining entry into High Society is exactly the same as before: three Status Symbol cards, either a degree or club membership, and enough cash to afford the lifestyle.  And the pitfalls on this part of the game board or similar to Middle Class, but much more devastating when they happen.

What makes this game even more unique is the element of credit.  Yes, you can get a credit card in Ratrace.  If you don’t have the money to buy your Status Symbol cards – no problem: get it on credit.  The danger, though, comes from the Credit Due spaces on the game board.  If you land on one not only do you have to pay the full amount of your credit account, but you have to add an additional 10% as an interest payment.  So, as in real life, too much credit card spending can lead to your financial ruin!

Ratrace

The 1974 version of Ratrace

There have been several Ratrace games since it was released in 1967.  I know of editions put out in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1983, and 1994, each of which had some minor modification to the game pieces, but no change in the game mechanics.  Although the player tokens in the shape of actual rats in the 1983 black boxed version are fun, my favorite Ratrace game is the 1973 release in which the Status Symbol, Membership, Diploma, and Credit cards are on heavy card stock, and the game tokens are made of wood.  I enjoy playing a game that feels like its meant to last, and can handle a little family playing time, but I also like the natural material feel of the game pieces.  Other versions use laminated cards and plastic tokens, which, although they will last, just don’t have that same retro feel.  But, it’s a minor quibble, as any of the games still play the same.

Ratrace

The 1973 version of Ratrace

Ratrace is best played with at least three people, but it can be played with as little as two and as many as six.  The game suggests a starting age of 9, but anyone who understands the reasons why people want to “move up” in life will enjoy this game, regardless of age.  Another highly recommended classic board game!

Bigfoot

Bigfoot

Bigfoot was a popular monster truck. Thanks to the efforts of developer Beam Software and publisher Acclaim, that famous vehicle in all its car-crushing oversized-tires glory was also a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1990.

Bigfoot

During the overhead one-on-one racing portions, does the A button activate nitro, or is it B? Do you have to hold the Up button on the directional pad to move forward, or repeatedly tap it? If you read the instruction booklet for Bigfoot, the answer is never clear. If you actually try to play the game itself, the answer may never be clear at all.

When the basic mechanics for controlling the protagonist in your video game are unclear, whether in the instructions or in the on-screen experience, you have a serious problem. This is only the beginning of Bigfoot’s woes, as it ends up as barely a “game” at all, but more of a digital experience marred with critical issues.

Bigfoot

Supposedly, the plotline (yes, those roaring engines really need an expansive plot for motivation) involves Bigfoot and his rival, The Growler, in a race across the United States of America. At certain stops, they will partake in a top-down race to try to reach a finish line first, whereas other challenges will take on a side view in the form of a drag race, tractor pull, hill climb, or similar straight-line challenges. After each event, the player can spend winnings on vehicle upgrades. When the player loses an event, the game is over. Well, sometimes. Other times, the game just keeps going anyway.

Bigfoot

The overhead races have an arbitrary, pointless feel to them. No vehicle can ever pass the boundaries of the screen; this means that, no matter how good you are, you can never be a full screen ahead of the other vehicle in competition. In fact, being ahead is an explicit disadvantage, since it makes it difficult or even impossible to be able to contend with oncoming obstacles like mud slicks or sudden forests (yes, sudden forests). This is poor game design. And by “poor,” we can accurately say “quantifiably terrible.” The designers failed to pay even basic attention to any detail, and had zero player interest in mind. This was a money grab: A quick little chop job of a game to try and, apparently, capitalize on the famed Bigfoot monster truck racer, or at least sell a few copies based on child impressions on seeing a big ol’ monster truck on the box.

Bigfoot

The side-view races are, arguably, even worse. How do you make Bigfoot move forward? By alternatedly mashing Left and Right on the directional pad, then shifting gears by pressing A, but not doing either of these too much or too little, because it will ruin the engine and bring the suddenly-quite-weak truck to a halt. It is like the developers noticed the popularity and positive reputation of Excitebike, which has an engine-overheating mechanic, and said, “Let’s do that, but even more cumbersome and atrocious.”

Do the upgrade purchases offer any benefit? Maybe; but, even if they did, the opponent gets to purchase upgrades too, even after losing efforts, thus perhaps making any upgrades a moot point. Not only is the computer (or human, if two players actually want to torture themselves simultaneously) opponent upgrading alongside the human player, but the human player actually has to sit there and watch the A.I. make each purchasing decision.

Bigfoot

The game has decent graphics, admittedly, but poor sound quality. Players should be able to tell that the trucks are supposed to be trucks, and there is scenery, and there are big brown swaths of mud and dirt. Most of the gameplay lacks background music; but who needs tunes, when you have the roar of engines? Even the little transitional tracks from scene to scene are a bit beepy-bloopy, reminiscent of Beam Software’s other efforts, such as Fisher-Price Perfect Fit and Family Feud. The sound effects themselves are just bad. The buzz saw weapon (yeah, the overhead races have weapons, whatever) sounds annnoying and not intimidating, while other noises just sound random and silly.

Is there another game quite like Bigfoot? No, not really. But should it be praised for its originality and creativity? No, not really. You can kick a piece of cow poop against the side of a barn for the first time, but nobody should throw you a parade. Bigfoot on NES handles like a one-wheeled hot dog cart and is bad enough to cast a dark, profound shadow against the very idea of video gamesas a whole.

Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars.

GameBoy Color 23 in 1 Cartridge

The front of the cart says 23 in 1 but really it’s 7 games in 1. The games included in this cart are…

GameBoy Color 23

Bonk’s Adventure
Ninja Boy
Tennis
Klax
Minesweeper
Bomb Jack
Battle City

GameBoy Color 23

GameBoy Color 23 in 1 Cartridge

I’m not going into great details of each game, but I will say Bonk’s Adventure and Bomb Jack are my favorites of the bunch, and my least favorite game would really have to be Minesweeper. I thought I would never have to see that game again, I was wrong. Ninja Boy is an interesting adventure game and Klax is great for those of you who love Tetris type of games. Stack things up in a row to get rid of them and repeat. The tennis game aint half bad either. Of course Battle City is a classic and everyone should give that a try. It’s even funner on 2 player.

Bonk’s Adventure

Bonk’s Adventure

Ninja Boy

Ninja Boy

Tennis

Tennis

Klax

Klax

The dreaded Minesweeper

Minesweeper

Bomb Jack

Bomb Jack

Battle City

Battle City

Septian Ganendra: PST Team

pst team logo

Name: Septian Ganendra

Company: PST Team

Profession: Founder, Programmer

Favorite Classic Game: Roller Coaster Tycoon,

Quote: Talking about my favourite classic game, Roller Coaster Tycoon is no doubt my first pick. There’s several series of RCT, but the first series of the game still my choice. It’s fun to watch your amusement parks grow, design your rides, crashing your roller coasters, picking up guest and throw them into lake, oh well that’s dangerous better not to do that in real life. I still can’t forget the joy while I was playing this game, thumbs up for Chris Sawyer.

“Hidup adalah pilihan.”, from My Teacher (Life is a choice.)

Bio: I’m the founder as well as the main programmer of PST Team, a small indie game developer based in Surabaya, Indonesia. I’ve been passionate about gaming since kid, when my father bought me something called “Sega Genesis”, where it all began. “This is cool! I want to make a game, my own game!”. After that I started to walk my path as Game Developer. And now, here I am, creating my own games. Currently I’ve created Sentou Gakuen and Samurai Taisen, and I will keep improving myself by making more games.

Projects: Sentou Gakuen, Samurai Taisen

Project Info: We are currently working on Samurai Taisen, our second project after Sentou Gakuen. A browser based MMORTS set in warring states period of Japan. Players will assume their role as Ji-samurai, lords of a small domain, whose village is largely undeveloped. Players can expand by constructing new buildings and upgrading existing ones. To gain power, the player can create new villages or conquer the villages of other players.

Diplomacy is a key factor in Samurai Taisen as players can join alliances for mutual cooperation in both economic and military matters. The game also features a wide range of units to help the players achieving their goal to claim the title of Shogun, such as Geisha, Ninja, as well as Ashigaru that were heavily used during that time.

Samurai Taisen also features four major forces: Date clan, Uesugi clan, Takeda clan, Oda clan. Each of them has their own characteristics and strategical bonus. The amount of strategical bonus depends on the current provinces that faction holds. Players may choose to join one or not to join to stay independent as Ronin. The choices are in players’ hands.

 

Samurai taisen

Homepage : http://taisen.co

Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samurai_Taisen

Screenshots : http://taisen.co/screenshots.php http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tdeEzYbKuM

 Sentou Gakuen

Homepage : http://gakuen.org

Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentou_Gakuen

Screenshots : http://gakuen.org/screenshots.php

The Syberia Collection

Syberia-Collection

The Syberia Collection

With the advent and admitted affordability of downloadable games one can easily forget just how lovely a properly packaged offering can actually feel. Yes, even by today’s meager standards, the physicality of a box, a modest manual, a sleeve and an actual DVD can be rather satisfying. Especially when sporting a most affordable price tag, which, oh so conveniently, happens to be the case of the Syberia Collection.
Syberia-Collection
Said collection of the almost classic and definitely well known SyberiaSyberia II and Amerzone adventures, you see, is much cheaper to grab in a DVD-case than its online/download only equivalents, which does indeed confuse my vaguely economological mind, but definitely sounds great. Being thus confused and all, I do also believe the thing should have been called The Benoit Sokal Collection, as Amerzone most emphatically is not a Syberia game.
Syberia-Collection
Now, as most adventurers know, all three games are fine point-and-click specimens that managed to make an impression during the darkest period of the genre and are still absolutely worth playing and owning. Especially if one is into this sort of thing (i.e. considers oneself an adventure gamer), as all three have been designed with the traditonal point-and-click gamer in mind. The re-mastered versions included in the collection seem pretty much identical to the original ones, though I must admit I haven’t played those since their respective releases and can’t be absolutely sure whether minor enhancements have been included or not. What does matter though is that everything runs lovely and glitch-free under both Windows 7 and Vista, meaning that these are indeed the versions to own.
Syberia-Collection
As for the misguided souls that haven’t tried any of the games on offer yet, let me just say they all feature excellent art -Mr. Sokal is after all a most talented comic artist- classic gameplay mechanics, great soundtracks, mostly easy but well-integrated puzzles, traditional interfaces, brilliant settings and pretty decent plots. The two Syberias in particular are played from a third person perspective and take place in a whimsical clockwork-operated world, whereas the first-person Amerzone is set in a fantastical version of a thinly disguised Amazon rainforest.
Syberia-Collection
What’s more and judging by the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed replaying all three of the games on offer, I must admit they have all aged gracefully. Might even have to accept the fact they are, despite their flaws, great adventures I would probably had appreciated more weren’t I comparing them to Grim Fandango and Gabriel Knight III.

Verdict: A collection of three classic and traditional adventures at an excellent price. Genre lovers shouldn’t miss it.

Monster Lair

Monster Lair

Monster Lair is a side-scrolling action game originally released to the arcades by Sega in 1988. A year later the game was adapted for the Turbo Grafx-16 by Hudson Soft. One of the cool things about Monster Lair is how the game starts out as a normal platformer where you control a boy or girl hero trying to stop the enemy from destroying your land and later on in the game, it turns into a shoot em up.

Monster Lair

Kickle Cubicle

Kickle Cubicle

Kickle Cubicle

Format- NES

Genre- Puzzle/Action

Kickle Cubicle. It’s not a name that exactly rolls off the tongue.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to give this one a proper review actually. My copy seemed to freeze every time I reached the third level, but fortunately an enthusiastic puff of the cartridge connectors saw it bought back to life.

Kickle Cubicle

You playing as the titular Kickle (a pale baby with earmuffs), going around grids freezing enemies and using them as climbing blocks, etc. It’s a bit like the Adventures of Lolo.

Added elements of interest are thrown in as well of course – such as roving enemies that need to either be dispatched or avoided, springs, and walls that are impossible to get around.

Kickle Cubicle

Pretty standard puzzle ingredients then, but it’s all done with a colourful art style and a bouncy soundtrack, helping it to lift it above your average puzzler.

There’s something quite refreshingly odd about it as well. The opening world is named ‘vegetable land,’ yet apart from veg circling you in celebration at the end of a stage there isn’t a sight of produce anywhere else. Plus, a tomato is spotted in one level – rookie error Irem.

Kickle Cubicle

The boss fights and the cutscenes are also a sickening broth of the saccharine and cutesy, but they are certainly endearing. Although how Kickle manages to jump from cloud to cloud in one cutscene, yet can’t jump over a small river in game is beyond me.

This is a pretty solid puzzle actioneer, all told. The whole thing is done with enough style and user friendliness (a helpful password system is in place) to make you keep coming back for seconds – I may even attempt to finish it one day. That’s a high recommendation indeed.

Gradius 2

gradius_2_famicom
We begin with an awesome game for the Famicom/NES. The game was never released here in the States and boy did we miss out…. Nevertheless, the year is 2013 and we have many different ways to enjoy this game. Whether it’s through an emulator, NES reproduction, or the original Famicom title, we will have the same awesome experience. Lets get started!
gradius_2_famicom
The music is quite good for this game. It keeps you on your toes for real! Believe me, Konami knows their 8-bit music! The sound effects are improved from its predecessor so your ears will be happy to hear the retro-tunes and sound effects the game has to offer.
gradius_2_famicom
The game has some beautiful graphics. They are top notch for the time and you will not get confused on where to go. Be sure to enjoy all the scenery as long as you keep smashing the buttons constantly as the levels are packed with non-stop action.
gradius_2_famicom
The gameplay is just wonderful! The controls are just top notch and very responsive. You won’t be disappointed but beware that the game does offer a high level of difficulty. It’s so Konami for the game to have a level of difficulty. All of you whiners, get out while you can.
Gradius 2 -FC
The game is just as enjoyable from beginning to end. If you have the guts to play through it and come back again for another run, you have been warned. As I mentioned before, the game is difficult and will only get more difficult as you go further in the game but it’s so satisfying to come back to.

To conclude, the game is just amazing and should be in your collection even in rom form. This is sadly one of the many gems we missed out on. Be sure to pay your respects to the old shoot’em up games as they are packed with beauty and wonderful challenging gameplay.

John Getty: Exato Game Studios

exato game studios logo

Name: John Getty

Company: Exato Game Studios

Profession: Executive Producer & Lead Game Designer

Favorite Classic Game: Final Fantasy Tactics

Quote: “It’s all about the game.” – Ernie Calhoun, Video Game High School

Bio: As an entrepreneur and gamer by nature, I always wanted to create video games. It started very early in middle school as I modded games like Starcraft and Command and Conquer: Red Alert, then dabbled a little in RPG Maker and flash. When I got to college, I met a good friend who shared a similar interest and with very little deliberation (we were both very excited), we started Exato Game Studios.

guncraft

Project: Guncraft

Project Info: Guncraft is a voxel-based first person shooter that boasts fully destructible environments, the ability to construct individual blocks or full structures in a single click, tons of killstreak rewards such as helicopters, tanks, jetpacks, bunker buster missiles, drones, and turrets, and a fully featured map creation tool that also features a voxel map importing function (using the Substrate C# engine). Play traditional modes like Deathmatch and CTF, or totally unique modes like Lava Survival, Siege Mode, and the coop-enabled Onslaught Mode. On top of that, there are standalone servers, peer hosted servers, clan support and friends lists, in and out of game chat, leaderboards, and much, much more.

Ghosts’n Goblins

Ghosts’n Goblins

The human condition. We are a resilient bunch. If you want to test your resiliency (and your patience), then give the unforgiving and difficult arcade game, Ghosts’n Goblins a spin.
The game sees you, Sir Arthur, a noble knight, run and jump through horizontal and vertical levels to rescue his sweetheart, Princess Guinevere (or Princess Prin Prin in other ports of the game).

Ghosts’n Goblins

Sir Arthur can pick up weapons like: an axe, lance, cross, dagger or firebrand. These weapons can be used to kill Satan’s army of monsters, zombies, bats, ogres, demons and ghosts. Sir Arthur can replace his armour by jumping up at certain hidden spots on some levels. This action causes a pot to appear. It is imperative the armour stays intact. Take two hits, and it is curtains for Sir Arthur. That is exactly why this game is unforgiving and damn difficult to complete.

Ghosts’n Goblins

It is not all doom and gloom if you know some tricks to beat this game. The developers at Capcom weren’t going to be totally cruel to us poor arcade gamers. They left us a few surprises (easter eggs) along the way to help Sir Arthur get further into the game. What were these tricks you ask ? Well, we won’t give away all of them, but one good one can be found on the third cave level. Navigate Sir Arthur to the upper level and move him to the right of the rock, just to the left of the second ladder. Then move left and right, shooting rapidly. A zombie will keep appearing and you can score 100,000 points before time runs out. Don’t worry about the time running out and losing a life, you will be rewarded with two extra lives in the process. Even with this trick, you still have to give up a life to get two back. Those Capcom developers were sadists.

Ghosts’n Goblins was, and still is, a great platform game. It is still difficult and frustrating as ever. So, if you like your games to be difficult and challanging, then you can not go wrong with this one.

Ghosts’n Goblins

Manufacturer: Capcom
Year: 1985
Genre: Platform fighter
Maximum number of simultaneous players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 2 (Fire and Jump)
Control Panel Layout: 1 Player Ambidextrous
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)
Cabinet: Upright Standard
Monitor: CRT, Raster standard resolution
Levels: Graveyard and forest, town, caves, bridge, castle – lower level, castle – upper level, final boss

Gamer Profile: Joymasher

joysmasher logo

Name: Marco Galvão (Keyo)

Title: Programmer / Game Designer

Company: Joymasher

Favorite Classic Game: Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)

Quote: I think it’s a fantastic game running on a super limited hardware, a real miracle for that time.

odallus the dark call logo

Name: Danilo Dias

Title: Programmer / Game Designer / Pixel Artist

Company: Joymasher

Favorite Classic Game: Ninja Gaiden II (NES)

Quote: This game made me wanted to be a ninja for months. I consider it a masterpiece of action games.

Jade Empire

jadeempire

Bioware had a lot to live up to after they quit the KOTOR series. They said they were going to make a more original game cause apparently stupid shit like making sure every stupid alien having the right eye color is very important to George Lucas and fanboys. The result was a similar yet different game based on the old days of China.

I say that the move was a good choice, though you kinda do wished they stayed and made another KOTOR game. But the plot choices in the KOTOR games are almost the same as they are in Jade Empire, and the story is enjoyable even though I didn’t like the plot twist near the end.
 jadeempire
The combat is much different than KOTOR giving it more an action kind of feel. It’s good, but it had it’s flaws, though if they did make a sequel I think they could of fixed and tweaked all their mistakes. The quest is also quite a bit shorter than the KOTOR games, but nevertheless, this is one of Bioware’s finest games and if you’re a fan you need to play this.

Indie developer Tiffany Nickel

Tiffany Nickel

The first two boom periods for the video game industry referred to the games as a fad or trends. Today, entire generations have grown up in a world that never knew life without them. Among them is 21-year old Tiffany Nickel of Tinley Park, Illinois.

“I am a fan, a gamer and an indie developer,” Nickel said. “I’m pretty well entrenched in gaming to the point where it’s hobby, interest and career. It would be hard to describe myself outside of the gaming world as that seems to be my only world.”

Nickel recalls her passion for video gaming was sparked by a now-iconic game character.

“The first game I can recall playing on my own was Tomb Raider II for the PlayStation,” she recalled. “I know I played some Super Nintendo games before that but I was so young I can barely remember it. I was about five years old when I first played Tomb Raider II, the first level is so ingrained in my memory because I had to play it so many times to get past it…and I wasn’t savvy on the whole ‘saving your game’ yet. I played Crash Bandicoot and Resident Evil 2 around that time as well.”

While these early Sony titles are the ones Nickel recalls as introducing her to video gaming, she quickly recalled the single game title that later hooked her for good and made her think of games from a different point of view.

Final Fantasy X for the Playstation 2 was the game that hooked me. Not only was it the game that hooked me, it was the first game I started taking notes on,” she recalled. “These notes consisted of ideas that I thought would make the game better for whatever reason to questions such as ‘why do all the characters walk the same?’ I was only ten years old at the time and didn’t know much about 3D models and animation, so I’d sit and contemplate these things.”

Almost a decade later, Tiffany would be introduced to a person who she says helped her take her from contemplating about the inner workings of a video game and into the world of developing them herself.

“For me things really became more clear when I turned 18 and met Doc Mack and the people at Galloping Ghost Productions,” said Nickel. “A friend of his and my brothers talked and set up for Doc and I to meet so he could show me what it’s like to be an indie developer and develop your own game. Since meeting him over three years ago it has quite honestly changed the way I look at games and play them.”

Nickel’s new outlook on video gaming has lead her to begin development on Endless Mark III, a deep role playing game title.

“Even though I was thoroughly enjoying playing RPGs, I would often find myself thinking of other elements that I thought would make them better,” she said. “Even games that were so influential to me like Final Fantasy X still had things I would have wanted to see. After a while, the amount of ideas I had, left me thinking that it would be great to see all these ideas come together in an actual game.”

With the freedom of indie development, Nickel says she is taking her time to pay attention to the fine details of Endless Mark III, aiming to connect the players with the characters while keeping the game at a fun pace.

“We are still early in development, the story itself is still being written and developed. It’s a fairly large story and its seems every time we are working on one element of the game, we come up with new elements to incorporate to it,” Tiffany stated. “A lot of attention to detail is being put into the game and I really hope to develop characters people will connect with and grow attached to as they play through their journey. We’ve been especially working hard on creating a unique and innovative leveling system for players to get involved with. I feel in RPGs, most of the time you’re just grinding away trying to gain some levels. With that in mind we’re trying to make the battle system fresh and innovative so those ‘RPG grinds’ won’t feel old and boring. There really isn’t anything that’s not important to us during development.”

With indie game development at an all-time high, Nickel also offered some words of encouragement to others who might dream of taking their ideas into an on-screen gaming experience.

“You can’t just talk about making a game. Start writing out your ideas and drawing and just push forward no matter what,” she said. “I didn’t have much experience when I started and now I able to do graphic work, web design and have such a better understanding of just how a game is made. There are some great people out there with lots of knowledge who are looking to help with projects. Communicating and finding other people to help get you to your goal is key.”

Gamers can follow Tiffany Nickel’s progress on development of Endless Mark III on the game’s official website at www.EndlessMarkIII.com and on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/EndlessMarkIII.

Bloody Wolf

bloodywolftg16

Ah the lone wolf run and gun game. You have become such a great solider that your reward is to be sent up against an army and destroy something that should have been taken out by long range missiles. In this game you are not only a lone wolf, but a bloody one at that.

bloodywolftg16

Bloody Wolf is a pretty standard run and gun in the vein of Ikari Warriors, Merc and Heavy Barrel. Developed by Data East in 1988 this arcade game featured Snake and eagle, two commandos against an army of bad guys, but luckily for you, you had a ton of weapons at your disposal.

The Pagemaster

The Pagemaster

Format- Sega Mega Drive

Genre- 2D Platformer

Well, this a load of cack. The film this is based on was loved by me as a child (even though now I can see nowadays it’s no masterpiece), but this interactive adaptation is just tripe of the highest order.

Perhaps in its day it was a given a bit more leeway, but now it can only really be enjoyed by those suffering with masochistic tendencies.

First off, controlling virtual Macaulay Culkin is all wrong – it feels as if he’s greased his shoes with the way he slides uncontrollably all over the place.

The Pagemaster

This lack of solidity extends to the gameplay as well. The rules of the game aren’t explained at all, leaving with you guessing to progress.

Enemies are the main frustration. Occasionally they kill you instantly, but if you approach it in another way you can kill it, but it’s all guesswork. You attack by collecting items (also not detailed in-game), but you can also do some kind of punch if you run and jump.

It’s all so frustratingly oblique – did the developers expect kids (or me) to read the instructions? It just unfairly increases the level of difficulty, which is fairly high anyway.

The Pagemaster

Then there are characters which might be enemies, but you’re not sure, so you avoid them. For example, some books can be found just sitting around (see pic), but don’t seem to serve any purpose even if you risk getting near them. Why are they there?

Graphically its okay, but it’s hard to care about such things when the game is constantly spewing frustrating situation after frustrating situation into your face.

Perhaps it gets better after a while, but that’s no excuse for the churning tedium they inflict upon you in the game’s opening. If they can’t be bothered to provide a well balanced game, I definitely can’t be bothered to play it.

So don’t buy this. It probably won’t burn as well as a book, but i’d advise you throw it on a fire regardless.

Bad News Baseball

Bad_News_BaseballBad News Baseball

Among those familiar with the Nintendo Entertainment System library of cartridges, if you were to challenge them to name a sports game made by developer-publisher Tecmo, odds are they would name a football title. Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl are the popular choices, and deservedly so, as they are well-crafted, excellent video games. However, Tecmo kept their design chops up their sleeve for others as well, one of them being a quirky fun-filled hardball simulation called Bad News Baseball.

Gameplay

Bad News Baseball covers all the bases (boy, we could really have a field day with the baseball puns here; haha, “field day”) that a basic baseball game needs to hit: One-player mode, two-player mode, continuation into a full season beyond just a single outing, some form of stat-tracking, and an engine more robust than Nintendo’s original, and awful, Baseball.

The NES had a lot of baseball games. Even within the genre of sports, the sub-genre of baseball saw more titles than other well-respected categories, such as the JRPG. Now, most people were likely just to find a favorite or two, or perhaps avoid the baseball games altogether; however, getting to know the full roster lends a lot of enjoyable comparison.

Baseball games were programmed so similarly that some of the differences might be slight, but they are there. For example, compared to the R.B.I. Baseball series, Bad News Baseball is more fielding-oriented: Runners are much more likely to be called “OUT!” at the base, whereas in R.B.I., the A.I. is very forgiving, considering a runner safe even if they are barely just touching the plate pixel-to-pixel.

Bad_News_Baseball

Compared to Base Wars, the over-field camera in Bad News Baseball is tighter, more honed-in; which is great, since Base Wars always had a problem tracking line drives, leading to lost fielders and a screen full of green. Compared to Legends of the Diamond, Bad News Baseball has looser hit detection during batting, making it easier to blast home runs. Yet, of course, because of the emphasis on defense and fielders, there is a delightful balance at work, showing Tecmo’s strength in planning.

To put is simply: Bad News Baseball is not only a great baseball game on NES, but a great 8-bit video game altogether. Every baseball game had some sort of celebratory animation for home runs, but Bad News Baseball has several that it can cycle through. Most baseball games, even then, had on-screen umpires – but in Bad News Baseball, they are bright pink rabbits.

Okay, that is a little strange, but it does add distinctive character to what would otherwise be “just” a well-made sports title. Those rabbit umps, along with the Eastern influence seen in the very cartoon-like characters and interstitials, give Bad News Baseball a very distinct identity.

But if silliness is not the player’s thing, the baseball is more than in-depth enough to satisfy even a serious player. Bad News Baseball tracks the statistics for every player , even down to attributes for how well a pitcher’s ball breaks to right and left (yes, each has a separate value), every batter-fielder’s arm strength and running speed, even the stamina of pitchers that not only necessitate in-game substitutions but affect game-to-game readiness as well. Furthermore, every batter-fielder is graded on which positions they should field, with every roster having far more than a simple line-up of nine available, thus granting the player full managerial sway to customize their batting order, fielding positions, and pitching rotation. Good stuff.

Bad_News_Baseball

This is all not to say that Bad News Baseball is without its share of faults, though. Missing out on the MLB license to use real players is a little unfortunate, as fine as made-up players are. Although the graphics are great, all the players look exactly the same: There is never any difference in height, weight, race, etc., only some differing pitching styles, which is a bit bland and unfortunate.

The ability to jump up or slide to the side to catch batted balls is nice, but not executed as well as it could be. Thinking three-dimensionally, if the ball is behind a player in a midair, it can still be “caught” by jumping into its pixel-drawn flight patch. This effect, while exploitable, causes some cognitive dissonance. Worse, though, is the slightly-too-long pause to get down to earth with the jump, as though gravity has been lessened for such mighty leap.

Speaking of physics, every at-bat feels a little “off” upon close examination. It really seems like hitting the “sweet spot” on the bat, dead center of the wood in the middle of a perfect swing, never results in as good of a hit as strange tip shots off the edge of the bat when swinging too late, or a way-inside too-early shot. Also, seeing fastballs up to 111mph can be disorienting, but at least fatigue sets in quickly. Also, does anyone else feel like it is strangely, slightly difficult to move a fielder diagonally?

Bad_News_Baseball

The All Star Mode is a welcome addition for those in need of a harder challenge, but even the basic game is pretty stiff for newcomers or those inexperienced with baseball games. The A.I. is not exactly a deity, but does a computer batter ever, ever swing at a widely pitched ball? Pitching can be tricky, relying on the player to discover exploitable little un-hittable nooks and crannies, rather than truly outduel a batter at the corners of the plate. Trying to take on the mindset of a real baseball pitcher will leave the count full of balls and fastballs crushed out of the stadium.

Making a perfect 8-bit baseball game might be impossible, or at least extremely difficult within the constraints of both time and resources of the period. But if we do not rate on the scale of a high standard, to what purpose do we review through a critical lens? More simply: Bad News Baseball is great, but falls short of being flawless.

Graphics

If you can overlook the just-about-literal white supremacy in the game, the visuals are fantastic. Gorgeous interstitial animations highlight close plays on the bases, while a handful of different animated home run celebrations add more whimsy to an already-whimsical playthrough. Even the details look just fine: The players at the plate, on the field, the field itself, the menus, etc. This is a professional-looking 8-bit video game, oozing with flair and flourish.

Sound

The usual 8-bit baseball-game sound effects are in full gear: The rise-and-fall pitch of the ball in flight, the satisfying smack of a the digital sphere into pixelated leather, and the clap of the bat, among others. The background music is well-composed, and dives into technical exploits of the NES hardware sound channels that few dare to tread (dig that drumline), but – and this might just be reviewer opinion – does not really match the on-screen action. It is oddly disconcerting. Strange.

But the speech effects are fantastic, and part of this title’s appeal; the energetic, confident calls of the umpires truly add to the tension and impact of game-as-sport. Hearing the ump cry “SAFE!” for a close call at home plate brings a real, visceral pleasure.

Originality

The NES had about 20 baseball video games in its library. Some of them tried to gain sales through a weird hook: Base Wars had robot athletes. A Little League game featured children. R.B.I. Baseball 3 not only had the real Major League Baseball teams, but multiple years’ worth of period-accurate rosters to choose from for each.

In the case the Bad News Baseball, the catch is rabbit umpires and goofy cartoon visuals? Maybe, but so is the tight design, in-depth password system (although with an insane range of special characters in its alphabet), and the appreciated option to press Start whenever the player wants to skip a cutscene. All in all, this is simply a great game. Be sure to take advantage of the computer’s bizarre tendency to sprint a baserunner back to first following a tag-out there.

Overall rating: 4.0/5 stars.

Sonic 1 Coming to the 3DS

sonic-1-sonic-the-hedgehog

Sonic 1 Coming to the 3DS

Hey, if you haven’t gotten your Sonic 1 fix on every other platform coming in about a week you will be able to get the classic game on your 3DS. Now this is considered a remake, but for the most part everything will stay the same except changes in the games background thanks to the features of the 3DS. If this isn’t enough Sonic news, Christian “The Taxman” Whitehead and Stealth are working on a Sonic 1 remake for Sega. Those of you who played Sonic CD on your smart phone should know about that team. Either way, soon there will be no place you cannot find a Sonic game to play.

Holosseum: Time Traveler

holosseum

Holosseum: Time Traveler

I remember walking into my local arcade and seeing this weird looking game in the center of the room. It was the place they put all the new premier games they wanted all the kids to try. What was weird was this game did not look anything like the other arcade cabinets. This game looked like some futuristic console made by the Nintendo Wii designers. Now the game was called Time Traveler and it featured awesome 3D holograms, well kind of.

holosseum

The game was released in 1991 by Sega and the overall story was that you were a cowboy and you are tasked to stop an evil scientist called Vulcor. Vulcor can manipulate time and so you have to travel to different time periods and undo the damage he has done, get to him and save the Princess of the Galactic Federation. Now the game was pretty expensive at the time. To play the game cost anywhere from 75 cents to a dollar which I guess was to pay for the over 40 actors they used in the filming of the game.

holosseum

Those of you who are into current gaming will know about stereographic 3D which is what makes everything look three dimensional. The arcade cabinet itself was specifically made to project the game characters and make them look like holograms. The gameplay was kind of like Space Ace where the key is to move the joystick or hit a button at the right time to avoid being killed. The game was known for its death sequences kind of like how Dragon’s Lair became known for.

holosseum

Unlike Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, Time Traveler gave you a lot more hints and when you died showed you what to do. You also had a time reversal button that you could hit to rewind time, think sands of time from Prince of Persia. The problem was this game was made to suck coins as you only had a few time reversals, sometimes as few as one, but you could always pay quarters to buy more. You also only had three lives and nine times out of ten the game was set to hard. So how did people beat it? They would watch someone else and write down what to do. If you did that without dying you got a whopping ten minutes of total game time.

There were seven time periods based on real time periods in our history and one called the Age of Magic. It also had a bonus game called Hellgate which was a slot machine type game where you could bet your lives to win more, but again, this was a money grab and most of the time you never won additional lives. Believe it or not, the game sold pretty well, perhaps because of how expensive it was, but had a short life span as the awesome fighting games of the 90’s were being released. However, I remember this game even though I only played it a few times as an interesting fad just like how I view glass wearing 3D gaming today.

Falling Sand Game

sand-flash game

Falling Sand Game

Everyone needs a “break” at work and there are a ton of different games online worth checking out that will play on any system regardless of specs. This is one of my favorites from back in the day. It kind of reminds me of Zen garden, but here you can play around with different types of “sand”. You can build walls and pour in water, oil, set it on fire and just waste the day away. Just don’t let your boss catch you.

You can check out one version of the game here.

This requires Java.

Roar Rampage

roar rampage

Roar Rampage

Following the excellent blogging style of both freeindiegam.es and OW Videogames I’ll simply urge you to play Roar Rampage. You’ll play as a pixel-art and very green version of Godzilla in a brilliant, physics-based, side-scrolling take on the Rampage! formula. Expect to be entertained.

Thais Weiller: JoyMasher

joysmasher

Name: Thais Weiller

Title: Game designer and producer

Company: JoyMasher

Favorite Classic Game: Super Metroid and Yoshi’s Island

Why it is your favorite: I just love beautiful well done 2D graphics and both of these games grab me at first because of that. I grew to love them, however, for very different reasons. I love the sense of solitude and utilitarianism Metroid makes the player feel. It’s like “You felt in this cliff with no platforms back to security. Deal with it”. Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is completely different and I love the small and simple design choices that made the game so much fun. The joyful pace, the lovely sound tracks, Yoshi’s extra jump which makes the player fell just a bit more confident and Mario’s cries (though a bit disturbing in the beginning, they end up bringing a sense of familiarity to the gameplay and also were a not too punitive punishment to the player).

Gauntlet

Gauntlet_Atari

Gauntlet (1985)
By: Atari Genre: Maze / Run ‘n’ Gun Players: 1-4 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 20,332 (starting with 2000 health)
Also Available For: Master System, MegaDrive, NES, Lynx, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Atari 8-bits, MSX, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the ‘Maze Games’ feature here at Red Parsley arrived at the Gauntlet series for a review but the decision to return to it wasn’t a hard one. This is mainly because it’s one of my favourite games but I’ve actually spent surprisingly little time with the arcade original. The decent conversion for the Spectrum occupied much of my time in the late 80’s before the fantastic Gauntlet 4 arrived on the MegaDrive (basically a conversion of the first game but with tonnes of extras) and occupied much of my time in the 90’s as well! The series certainly has its detractors, though, who argue that it’s repetitive and frustrating. I definitely didn’t agree with them back then but perhaps time has dulled the appeal of Atari’s classic. Henceforth, I shall find out…
Gauntlet_Atari

The basic gameplay of Gauntlet (and Dandy – see below) must surely be known by near enough all gamers by now but for the benefit of those who have somehow missed it, it works like this: between one and four players can play simultaneously but first each needs to choose a character from the four available – Thor the Warrior (who has good fighting strength), Thyra the Valkyrie (who has strong armour), Merlin the Wizard (who has strong magic), and Questor the Elf (who is the quickest). From then on, your party (or maybe just you) are faced with an unending series of overhead-viewed dungeons filled to the brim with malevolent beasties intent on shortening your adventure! Whether they do or not is entirely up to you though, as each coin you insert gives your character health points and you can insert coins, and therefore play, forever if you want.
Gauntlet_Atari

There are six types of enemy altogether – Grunts, Ghosts, Demons, Sorcerers, Lobbers, and Death. All of them except Death are created endlessly by generators placed all around the maze-like stages which have three strength levels with each monster they create being of the same level. The generators can be destroyed in the same way as the monsters they produce – either by shooting or fighting them one at a time or by collecting potions and using magic which clears some or most enemies on screen in one go. The strength of both of these attacks depends on the character chosen although special potions can also be found occasionally which boost an aspect of a character’s abilities – extra shot power or extra armour, for example. Watch out though – a pesky thief appears now and then and it’s these abilities that he’s most keen on stealing. Deaths appears in smaller numbers than the other enemies but they can only be killed by magic – otherwise they’ll drain 200 health points before disappearing. Grrrr!
Gauntlet_Atari

The stages themselves are each around two screens wide by two screens tall, although some loop instead, and they are usually designed in as maze-like a way as possible. Most include several paths, some of which are often dead-ends. There are usually many doors blocking off sections that must be opened by finding keys and some stages feature teleporters which move you to the nearest similar device. Treasure chests for bonus points are abundant but far rarer are special medallions that grant temporary invisibility (the enemies home in on you as far as possible otherwise) which are a welcome, albeit brief, reprieve when they are encountered. Each player character gradually loses health points as the game wears on anyway but contact from enemies does of course reduce them much faster so it’s a good idea to keep an eye open for revitalising food which comes in two forms – cider, which can be shot, and what looks like roast dinners, which cannot.
Gauntlet_Atari

As original and distinctive as it seemed at the time though, the concept of Gauntlet may not have been entirely born in the futuristic labs of Atari’s secret underground bunker. Ed Logg, credited as designer of Gauntlet, may or may not have had one eye on an Atari 8-bit game called Dandy, released two years previously, while putting his game together but the two titles certainly have some similarities. Whoever was responsible though, Gauntlet was the game which rose to prominence and it’s one that’s attracted and maintained a sizeable fan-base over the years. There could be many reasons for its enduring popularity but the simple fact is Atari’s game was available to a much wider audience, and arguably came at a much more convenient time as well.
Gauntlet_Atari

Another reason for Gauntlet’s success over that of Dandy could simply be that it was better. It has a huge number of stages for one thing – a hundred unique dungeons which appear in random order from the eighth one onwards, and after the hundredth stage they start repeating as well so it’s a game without end! The cast of characters, both heroes and villains are also very memorable too. The differing attributes of each – shot strength and speed, magic power, fighting ability, armour, etc – meant that everyone had their favourite even if the differences between them became purely cosmetic once a few of the special potions had been collected which each boost one that character’s attributes accordingly. The relentless onslaught of enemy creatures pouring from their respective generators meant that you rarely get a minute’s peace too!
Gauntlet_Atari

The enormous abundance of evil creatures to slay may make Gauntlet a tough slog for the most part but it’s rather impressive from a technical point of view. All sprites, objects and pieces of wall and floor take up one square on an unseen grid of 15 x 15 which makes up the visible play-field so everything is more-or-less the same size. This doesn’t take much processing power with regards to the inanimate parts of each stage of course, but the sprites are all animated, detailed, and there are absolutely masses of them nearly all the time. It’s still pretty impressive now so you can only imagine how mind-blowing it was at the time! Of course, this did present a challenge to the talented programmers charged with converting the fab game to home systems but even then the results were mostly spiffing!
Gauntlet_Atari

Sadly, the audio here is almost silent though. There are a few simple sound effects but no in-game music which is hard to get used to since the fantastic MegaDrive conversion that I’ve played so much has had an equally fantastic soundtrack added. Breaking the near-silence now and then though, is the famous voice of the unseen dungeon overseer who offers occasional advice and support. He may sound a little ropey today but back then he was a revelation and his many comments have proved to be almost as enduring as the game itself! Indeed, despite the inane wafflings of the many naysayers, Gauntlet is still great fun and a highly enjoyable challenge. Yes, it is repetitive, as most games in the early years were, but not many of them offered four players the chance to unite and fight evil monsters to the death! Even for the solo-player, the lure of seeing new mazes or achieving a new high-score is enough to keep you playing. A timeless classic that offers a near-unlimited helping of simple, addictive adventuring. Still hate those bloody Lobbers though. Grrrr!

RKS Score: 9/10

Little Samson

Little Samson

Little Samson

There are lots of NES games we missed from Japan because they didn’t think we were ready for them. This is one of the few gems that made it even though the NES was well past its prime as the SNES was already taking over the world. Little Samson is not only a hard to find game, but it’s a good one. In most cases, when the game is really hard to find it, it’s mainly because of low production numbers while other reasons would be popularity.

Little Samson

This one is a case of low production numbers due to the fact that the NES was long gone. Many people missed this gem but thanks to wonderful tools like eBay and emulators we can enjoy what we missed. I do remember playing this game back when the NES was still around and it was quite amazing. I had no idea it would be worth so much all these years later. Enough of this history lesson, lets check out the game in the different basis of review.

Little Samson

The music is marvelous. Each character has their own musical number that defines their character. It’s quite enjoyable for your ears. The game is also packed with great sound effects as well as music other then the character’s music. You’ll definitely enjoy this one if you are an 8-bit sound fanatic.

Little Samson

The NES was already past its prime but developers knew every trick there had to be for the console. Programming a beautiful game was no problem due to the experience developers had. In other words, since this game came out in 1992 and was developed by a brilliant team, it means the graphics are awesome! Each character looks as exquisite as the other. The backgrounds are live and vivid and the enemies are just as lively as everything else on the game! Well done!

Little Samson

The gameplay is probably the best part of this game. This game is just amazing to play with. Each character has their own abilities which will help you through the game. You have the mouse that can climb all over and drop bombs Metroid style, then you have the powerful stone warrior with enough strength to destroy anything. The dragon comes in handy as it can fly for a short period of time and then of course the main hero which has a little bit of everything. A great balance of characters makes the game ever so enjoyable.

Little Samson

This game is so enjoyable that it’s great to come back to. You can’t say no to another round especially when you get to use the cute little mouse!! The dragon is also awesome, well all of them are!! You’ll definitely come back to this game for another round because this platformer is just amazing!

The game itself is a gem but it won’t come cheap. I highly suggest you try it on an emulator and then decide if you want to buy it or not. It goes for around 100 dollars cart only. In the end, it’s just an amazing game that having a physical copy of it will look amazing in your collection. There is nothing more to say except that this game is amazing!! I think I’ve said that before but it’s just that enjoyable. Everything in it will give you hours of joy whether it’s the music, characters, and most of all the gameplay.

Nightmare

A game that’s a little more recent than some of the others I’ve reviewed in this blog, but that still qualifies as a classic board game, is Nightmare: The VHS Game.  This game struck a real chord when an unknown Australian company called “A Couple of Cowboys” released it in 1991, and the franchise is still going strong today with multiple sequels.  It was released as “Atmosfear” in some markets to avoid confusion with a similarly named game called “Knightmare” (shades of the Sierra Online/Milton Bradley HeroQuest / Hero Quest dispute!), but most North Americans know it as “Nightmare.”

Nightmare

The 1991 Nightmare VHS Game

This is a horror-themed game, and a Halloween favorite.  The Gatekeeper, a pallid looking character, challenges the players to survive his game.  Each player takes the persona of one of his Harbinger thralls: Baron Samedi (zombie), Anne de Chantraine(witch), Helin (poltergeist), Gevaudan (werewolf), Khufu (mummy), and Baroness Elizabeth Bathory (vampire), and wander the game board in a search for six missing keys that will help them escape the Gatekeeper’s clutches.

Prior to starting the game, players have to write down their greatest fear on the back of one of the reusable Nightmare cards, and on a little slip of paper which is put into the well of fears.  (Usually when I receive one of these games to sell there are common fears listed, like spiders or heights, but every so often some goofball writes something like, “Lucy’s stinky feet” as their greatest fear.  You’d be surprised how often similar phrases pop up.  But I digress…).  Once a player has all their keys, they make their way to the center of the game board and draw from the Well.  If they draw the paper with their own fear written on it, they have conquered their greatest fear, defeated the Gatekeeper, and won the game.

Nightmare

1991 Nightmare VHS Game Contents

The VHS tape keeps a running count of the time remaining in the contest, and the Gatekeeper shows up from time to time to both taunt and further challenge the players.  It’s played up, of course, as benefits a tribute to the “B” horror movie genre that this game truly is.  The actor, Wenanty Nosul, knows his job and does it well, providing just the right amount of creepy overacting to make his appearances on the screen memorable.

There have been several sequels to Nightmare: The VHS Game.  We’ve been treated to Nightmare II (starring Baron Samedi), Nightmare III (starring Anne de Chantraine),Nightmare IV (starring Elizabeth Bathory), Atmosfear: The HarbingersAtmosfear: The Soul Rangers, and Atmosfear: The Gatekeeper, just to name a few.  Each one follows a similar game structure (although Atmosfear: The Soul Rangers features new characters, as The Gatekeeper has been imprisoned by a bizarre skeleton dentist named Dr. Mastiff, and all the Harbingers banished from his realm.  No really, I’m not making this up!).

Nightmare: The VHS Game is suggested for ages 12 and up. Although the box states that anywhere from 2 to 6 players can play the game, to make it a memorable gaming experience, at least four players should be sitting at the gaming table.  It’s a perfect game to pull out of the gaming closet for a Halloween party – just don’t write anything about stinky feet as your entry into the Well of Fears!

Eva Tran: Spacetime Studios

Spacetime-Studios

Name: Eva Tran

Title: Artist

Company: Spacetime Studios

Favorite Classic Game: Earthbound (SNES)

Tell us why it is your favorite: I really got into the art style and the accessible, modern setting of Earthbound. You hung out with jazz musicians, took the bus and had to call mom when you got homesick. It was a funny, well paced little RPG and it ages pretty well.

Golden Axe

GoldenAxe

The powerhouse that was Sega in the late 1980′s indulged us in some awesome arcade hits. Towards the end of that decade, Sega released memorable arcade games: Crack Down, Dynamite Dux, ESWAT Cyber Police, Scramble Spirits and Power Drift. To keep up this pedigree of arcade hits, Sega unleashed Golden Axe in 1989. Once again, Sega proved that they were the king of the arcade hill.

The big rage back in the late 80′s was two player co-op, horizontal-scrolling fighting games, or in this case, slashing evil minions to pieces and getting to the final boss. The medieval theme of Golden Axe implements the hacking and slashing game play to perfection. The storyline is pretty much run of the mill – the evil Death Adder has kidnapped the King and Princess of Yuria and it is up to the protagonists to rescue them and also seek revenge on the evil that was done to their families.

GoldenAxe

To set off after Death Adder, the player controls one of three characters, Ax Battler (a Conan The Barbarian lookalike),  Gilius Thunderhead, the viking dwarf, and Tyris Flare, the Amazonian goddess (my first female video game character crush – sorry Lara!). Even though Tyris is a great character to use, her long-sword is no match for the battle axe that Gilius Thunderhead wields.

GoldenAxe

Anyway, on with the adventure – there are lots of different enemies to slash and if things get tough on screen, each of the protagonists can call upon their unique magic power – Tyris Flare has the coolest magic, she uses fire to incinerate everything on screen. There is finite magic power, so the player will have to pick and choose when best to use it. But wait there is more – mounted enemies riding creatures can be knocked off and the players themselves can then hitch a ride on the creatures and use them as weapons (swiping with their tail). The other neat attack is to charge and ram Death Adder’s henchmen by double-tapping the joystick right or left.

GoldenAxe

The level design is simply awesome – from Turtle Village (which is on a shell of a turtle), to the back of a giant flying eagle. Last but not least, there is the castle where you must defeat Death Adder and reclaim the Golden Axe.

SPOILER ALERT: Once the game is beaten, the ending shows a view of an arcade where the characters “jump out” of the game, run out of the arcade and down the street.

I have always been a huge Sega arcade fan. Whatever they pumped out, it was an instant hit. Golden Axe was no exception.

GraphicsUsing the Sega System 16 board, this was the pinnacle in visuals at the time. Great sprites and awesome looking levels.

87%

SoundThe background music and digitised effects and grunts add perfectly to the axe wielding and sword swooshing atmosphere.

88%

PlayabilitySega knew what they were doing when adding an Amazonian beauty to the mix. Golden Axe remains easy to get into, but its best played with a buddy.

87%

LastabilityIt is a run of the mill side scrolling hack and slash, but hey, there is nothing wrong with that.

88%

OverallIn 1989, I pumped the equivalent of my body weight of coins into this game. It was also one of the reasons I bought a Mega Drive when it was released. Best played with a friend, Golden Axe has it covered – great graphics, awesome sound effects and great game play.

89%

 

 

GoldenAxe

Manufacturer: Sega
Year: 1989
Genre: Platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Collaborative
Control Panel Layout: Multi Player
Controls:
– Joystick: 8-way
– Buttons: 3 [Jump, Attack, Magic]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

Knife Edge

Knife Edge

Format- N64

Genre- On rails shooter

Knife_Edge

One of the main appeals of a lightgun game is, obviously, the gun itself. The heft of it, the feel – it kindles our instinctive love of tactility. It does for me anyway.

Now, take that lightgun away from the experience. And make the actual game underneath a bit rubbish. Now, my friends, you have Knife Edge on N64.

It’s games like this that I fear the most during these retro revisits – its blurry 3D graphics and generally archaic sensibilities are so dated that it can’t even muster up a modicum of retro appeal.

The game wasn’t considered much cop back when it was released, so by todays standards it’s, naturally, looking pretty poor.

Knife_Edge

My cart of the game has been scrawled over, and alongside the dark murky colour scheme on the cart’s label it’s almost as if it wants to be forgotten and unoticed. I can’t blame it.

The label is actually a good representation of the graphics in-game. Low-res browns are abundant, and the text during cutscenes is of the weird thin scrawly font type that was strangely popular in the N64 era.

You play as a fighter pilot, and view things from a first person perspective. Basically you move your crosshair with the analogue stick and fire away at baddies. That’s it. All the main handling is done for you. It’s a generally sluggish and un-involving affair, with only the boss battles the moments graced with any gravitas.

There’s little else to say, besides the music is like something from a nightclub nightmare. It would have fitted in well with that club from the Robocop movie – and that’s not a good thing.

I feel a bit sorry for Knife Edge really. It has little cult appeal, and it’s not even so bad it’s good.

A small mercy for Europeans such as myself though – the game had the subtitle ‘Nose Gunner’ stapled onto it for its US release, but not anywhere else. At least I didn’t have to suffer that completely rubbish name.

Will Brierly: Soda Drinker Pro

 Soda-Drinker-Pro

Name: Will Brierly

Company: Soda Drinker Pro

Profession: Game Developer

Favorite Classic Game: Burgertime or Loom

Quote:  I love both of these games for different reasons.  Burgertime because I love the gameplay, and it’s a game that I’ve consistently come back to since a little kid, I still can’t get very far in it but i don’t mind.  I just love that game.  I also love Loom for the story and the beautiful artwork.  I loved how you had to use the spell book that came with it too to cast spells.  A truly creative game that I’ll never forget.

Bio: I live in Cambridge MA with my fiancee Ali & two cats Decaf & Polly.  I wrote Soda Drinker Pro, Get Outta My Face(Arcade), Living 2 Die Vs. Dying 2 Live, Vivian Clark, My Girl the Video Game, and a few other games!

Project: Soda Drinker Pro http://sodadrinkerpro.com/

Project Info: Soda Drinker Pro is the most advanced FPS(First Person Soda) drinking simulation in the world.  It has been featured at Pax 2013, Kotaku, Mashable, Giant Bomb, Game Informer and many other national outlets.