Ten Euro-Games Every Board Gamer Should Own

euro board games

The other day I started to look through my gaming shelf to see what my wife and I should play.  While looking through, I realized that most of my collection was made up of euro-games.  This really got me thinking about why this was.  I then realized that by game mechanics, euro-games were way more fun to play.  Even though they don’t have as great of a theme as ameritrash games do.  I had a great thought that hey maybe I should put together a list of games that every board gamer should own in their collection. In this list I’m going to start out with the best gateway games and work my way to the meatier games, so here goes.

Ticket to Ride

euro board games

Here is a game that to me was one of the first games I played that got me back into board gaming.  What amazed me about this game was the fact that it takes longer to set up the game than it does to teach the game to someone new.  This game takes such simplistic rules and adds a dash of strategy to it and boom you have an amazing game.  Basically you are collecting colored cards to lay down trains around a map of the United States.  Your goal is to connect two points that are tickets that you have in your hand.  I have taught this game to many of my friends and every one of them love it.  If you want to introduce some of your friends that are not sure about board gaming or have a loved one that you want to introduce into your hobby this is a game for you.

Stone Age

euro board games

Now here is a game that is considered a worker placement game.  It’s simplistic in the way you play the game.  You are the chief of a camp of primitive people that has to survive.  There are several ways you do this.  You have to hunt for food, go out and pick up resources, feed your people, and build buildings for them to survive.  The game takes turns in where players take turns placing people from your tribe out to do certain actions.  As you perform these actions you either collect resources, food, etc.  At the end you get points for the different buildings you make, cards you collect, and left over resources you have.  This is another game that is great to play with friends as everyone sits there and sees where everyone is going to place their people.  Once someone places their people down you will always have some great reactions from everyone playing and for this reason this game made my list.

Galaxy Trucker 

euro board games

Every time I think about the many games of galaxy trucker that I have played a smile comes across my face.  From the craziness of building my ship to the amount of screams and profanities that have been yelled as you watch your ship get blown to bits they were all great times.  In galaxy trucker you play the part of a space trucker that is trying to make him or herself some money.  The problem is that you are broke to begin with so to build your ship you have to use leftover scraps.  The game starts out with you having a basic grid where you can put squares that represent ship parts.  In the center of the table are all these little cardboard squares flipped face side down.  Once you yell go players start to flip the parts over only using one hand.  You place your parts down on your ship board until someone finishes.  The faster you finish the better your starting position.  After everyone is finished then the real fun of the game begins.  You flip over cards from a deck that represent what is going to happen on your trip through space.  Everything from space pirates to planets, to asteroid fields.  As the cards get flipped and these events happen you just have to sit and cringe as you realize that you forgot to place a laser on the side where an asteroid is about to slam into your ship.  If you want to have some rip roaring fun with your friends this is a definite buy.

The Castles of Burgundy 

euro board games

Now this is a game that had made a bunch of top games lists for many people.  I decided to pick this up when I heard that it was a great game especially for two people.  I figured this would definitely be a game that would be good for my wife and I.  Sure enough it only took one play through before she was hooked on it.  In castles of burgundy you have a plot of land where you have to build your kingdom.  The way you build your kingdom is that there are tiles that are out on the main game board that you have to pick up to place them on your own game board.  You accomplish this by rolling two dice and that is how you determine what tiles you can pick up or place on your board.  What makes this game great is the fact that every time you play the game the tiles that come out to the main game board are random.  Also there are several personal game boards for you to choose from so you can change which home board you have.  With all these different variables this game definitely is great.

The Settlers of Catan 

euro board games

This is another great gateway game for people as it is very simple to learn yet it is full of great strategy.  In settlers of catan you play a new civilization that has come to inhabit the island of catan.  Your goal in the game is to achieve 10 victory points before everyone else.  You accomplish this by creating roads, towns and cities. You get the components for these by rolling dice and the numbered squares that match the result of the die produce goods.  You trade in the required cards to create what you need.  The only catch to the dice is that if a seven is rolled the thief is activated by the person that rolled it and gets to move him.  The player moves the thief to a numbered square and from that moment until someone else rolls a seven the square he is on does not produce any goods. Also if there are any players along the boarder of where the theif is the player that moved him can take a card from that other player.  It is a great game to play and even though it may be a gateway game it is still a really fun game to play.

Tzolk’in

euro board games

Now we start to get into the meatier games on the list.  Tzolk’in is a game that came out this past year but has definitely taken the board gaming community by storm.  The game has a unique layout in that it has 6 gears that interconnect with one another.  What is really neat about this game is that when you turn the central big gear it rotates the other gears around the board.  This game is an advanced worker placement game where you place a worker on the lowest spot on the gear and as turns go by the reward that you get when you pick up the player gets greater and greater.  The trick to the game is that on your turn you either have to place or pick up a worker so you have to really plan out your moves so that you are not stuck pulling a worker before you intend to.  The game also does an awesome job in making it where you can’t just go through one spot on the board to score points.  It is definitely a game that everyone should play at least once and that is all it is going to take before you own it.

Power Grid 

euro board games

Now this was the first Euro-game that I played and fell in love with them.  In Power Grid you are trying to build an empire of power plants to power some cities.  The thing that makes power grid great is the fact that the winning condition for the game is not who builds the biggest empire but who can power the most cities at the end of the game.  The thing is that to power your plants you need to have fuel to power them.  The game does this by creating a real like economy for the fuel you have to buy.  Got a coal power plant? That’s great all you have to do is buy coal but wait, coal is going to cost me 7 electro per coal where if I had an oil burning plant it will only cost me 2 electro per barrel.  The game really does a great job in having you think about what power plants you want to buy based on how the market for supplies is.  Oh did I forget to mention that to buy a power plant you have to bid on one and hope that no one else out bids you??  It’s a great game that was one of the games that got me hooked on euros.

Trajan

euro board games

Another game produced by the same game developer that brought us the castles of burgundy is Trajan.  The game is great in how he made a few changes to how castles plays and adds a whole bunch of new things.  In Trajan you are trying to score the most points over a few rounds.  The trick to the game and what makes it so great is the fact that to perform actions in this game you have a player board that has your actions.  But to perform the action you have to move these colored wooden pieces so that the last one you place lands on the action you want to perform.  It is a really interesting mechanic to the game and it really makes you think about what you really want to do as the more of these wooden pieces you move the faster the game ends.  It’s a really tight euro that really makes you think about what you want to do and how fast you want to do it.

Lords of Waterdeep 

euro board games

Now here is a game that I felt was on the fence whether or not it was a euro game or an ameri trash game.  I felt that it was more of a euro game as at its core it is a worker placement game with a dungeons and dragons theme to it.  In lords of waterdeep you are trying to score as many victory points by completing quests.  You complete quests by collecting the right amount of colored cubes to complete it.  The twist to the game is that at the beginning of the game you are assigned a lord of waterdeep card that gives you bonus victory points at the end of the five rounds based on the types of quests that you completed.  It’s a very well made game that gives tons of fun when played.  I loved the fact that the dungeons and dragons theme to this game is very well done and gives the game a really great feel to it.

Pandemic

euro board games

And finally on my list of games comes a great euro cooperative game named pandemic.  In pandemic the players play as different parts of the CDC trying to prevent four viruses from growing into epidemics to the point where it becomes a pandemic.  In the game players get colored cards that they have to collect to create a cure to the diseases.  This game is a really tough game to beat and will definitely give everyone that plays it a great challenge.  Even though it is a great challenge you will find that you and your friends will constantly want to replay it.  The game has several losing conditions to it including if there are more than 8 outbreaks you lose, if you run out of disease cubes to place out you lose, and if you run out of cards that the players draw from you lose.  There is only one win condition for the game and that is that you have to research the cure for all four diseases.  I have played this game several times and have had no problems beating the game on the easiest difficulty as long as we have had the right combination of role cards.  I have not had good success with the medium difficulty and I have yet to try the hardest difficulty.  It is a game that is non-forgiving but it is so much fun to play.

Well guys there you have it I hope that this list has given you guys something to think about and that you will actually try some of these out for yourselves.  I have had a blast introducing these games to my wife and seen the reaction that she has had while playing them, and she is not a gamer.  If you guys have any questions feel free to drop a comment below.  I hope that you guys can do the same and until next time remember go out and play some games will ya.

Journey’s End

Format: Spectrum Genre: Adventure Released: 1985 Developer: Games Workshop

Nothing lasts forever. Here we are then, at game number 101. The last in our (not really) definitive list of games that made our lives slightly better. What game do you pick to adequately round off this 3 year journey? How can you represent 100 entries, thousands of words and several podcasts?

We’ve been through a lot on 101 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better. Doing this blog has been fun, has brought friends together and has given Lew and myself a great sense of achievement. At times it’s also been frustrating, has caused arguments, has been distinctly annoying and seemingly never-ending, and there have been long periods where nothing has really happened. Our final game was all those things for me, plus its name is perfect for the last post (natch). We have reached our Journey’s End.

journeys-end-spectrum

My best friend for most of my childhood was a guy called Tony. Between the ages of 9 and 16 we saw each other pretty much every day. We lived on the same road, walked to school together and were in the same class at school. During the school holidays we would hang out together along with my younger brother. When you’re 10 years old, school holidays seem to last forever and we were often bored and struggled to think of things to do. Things got pretty desperate at times; one holiday I’m pretty sure we went to Woolworths every single day just to look at the videos and toys, never buying anything. Those were the days eh?

Tony had an old Spectrum (a hand me down from his older brother I think) and we used to dig that out and play on it, especially if it was pouring with rain outside. Even back then the Spectrum was pretty old fashioned, but we had no other options. I may be wrong but I think Tony didn’t own any two player games either. We were forced to play collectively, with one person controlling the game while the other two gave advice. This was surprisingly fun and kept us occupied for hours at a time. By far our favourite game to play this way was Journey’s End.

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To the castle comrades! Just to warn you it’s further away than it looks…

Journey’s End was a fantasy game, featuring the usual fantasy tropes – bands of warriors, spells, dragons, goblins (or was it orcs?) and so on. The game stood out by being split into four distinct parts which all played quite differently. It was also a long game. A very long game. So it was the perfect distraction to fill those long summer holidays.

Everything about the game took time. To begin with, of course, you had to load the game. It’s an obvious point to make but it did take aaaaages to play a Spectrum game. I remember we would sit there waiting 20 to 30 minutes for a game to load. Or should I say try to load? Often games would crash half-way through loading so you would have to start again. I’m sure Journey’s End often did that. It was quite possible to spend 45 minutes just trying to start a game. Looking back it absolutely amazes me that two 10 year olds and a 7 year old had that level of patience.

journeys-end-spectrum
Here you can see all the gems, pots of gold and potions. But you can’t see the stupid invisible traps.

The first part of Journey’s End was set in a maze. You would move around, exploring more of the maze until you found a key and a gate to escape. There were gold, gems and potions to find as well. Unfortunately there were also traps. Stupid, invisible, impossible-to-avoid traps. One of the most frustrating things about the maze was that you would only find the traps once you had set them off. The mazes were randomly generated and there was no logic behind where the traps were so it was sheer luck whether you ran into them. Not only that, occasionally you had strength points taken off because of a trap your character had fallen into during the bit between mazes, when you weren’t even controlling him. IT WAS INFURIATING. But we played it all the same.

journeys-end-spectrum
ARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!

After a certain amount of mazes (again it seemed random the number you would have to tackle) you start the second part of Journey’s End: recruiting your band of warriors, wizards and warlocks (I know warlocks and wizards are kind of the same thing, I just wanted to use another ‘w’ word).

journeys-end-spectrum

Using the treasure you found in the mazes you recruit a group of men to come on the quest with you. Not enough gold? Well make some on the rat races!

journeys-end-spectrum
Just like my old Grandad used to say, always bet on the Green Rat.

Being 10 year old boys we particularly enjoyed renaming the mercenaries so they had stupid and/or rude names. As a 31 year old man I suspect I would still find that funny.

journeys-end-spectrum
After advertising this is all I got. Rubbish!

Once you’ve got your gang together it’s time to go to the enchanted castle where the ‘Elixir of Hagar’ is being guarded by a giant dragon. How exciting! Oh, first you’ve got to get there.

Yes the third part of the game was you making your way to the castle. It’s actually quite similar to walking around the map in Final Fantasy 7, with the same random annoying fights. It’s this stage of the game that I really remember. The image of Tony, my brother and I, sitting on a large cushion transfixed in front of the TV, using the cursor keys to sloooowly move our group up the map while being watched by Tony’s haughty cat Claude is burned onto my mind’s eye. That stage was hard and often we wouldn’t reach the castle. The battles would pick off your men one by one, it was easy to get lost, and of course there was always the danger that the game would crash.

journeys-end-spectrum
So here we go. Easy right. Nope.

Looking back, this stage of the game does successfully recreate the feel of the first Lord of the Rings book, which emphasises just how far the Fellowship of the Ring actually have to travel. The problem is, while a book can use that time to concentrate on character, and while a film can distract you with flashy CGI and battles, a 1985 Spectrum game can only recreate the feeling of travelling nowhere fast. Again, the patience we had was incredible.

journeys-end-spectrum
Thrilling action from the map screen.

If you did manage to survive the random battles, find the bridge to take you over the river and then find the castle itself, you could move on to the fourth and final part of the game – the Dragon’s Castle.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about this stage as we rarely reached the castle. Even if we had got through the previous three stages without dying, by the time we got to the castle it was usually dinner time and my brother and I had to go home.

The couple of times we did get there though it seemed impossibly hard. I think we reached the Dragon once, but by then our party’s strength had been massively depleted, and we had used all our spells so there was little we could do.

Despite all of this we loved the game, and I think there was more to this adoration than just being able to call one of your warriors Arsebum. The very fact the pace of the game was so slow allowed Tony, my brother and myself to play it together. We gave our characters personalities, argued over the way to go, shouted at the TV in unified anger when we had tripped over an invisible bit of stone in the maze losing 5 strength points, laughed at each other’s jokes during the dull slog looking for the Bridge across the river and cheered when we found the castle. We may have never actually reached the End but the Journey was fun in itself.

journeys-end-spectrum
Saw this screen a lot.

Speaking of endings, we’re at the end of this post and this blog. Well, we do have two more podcasts to come about games that didn’t quite make the magic 101, but our list of games is now complete. For those who have read/listened to all 101 posts I hope you enjoyed them and Lew and I would like to think that the blog has made your lives (very, very, very slightly) better. Or at the very least not worse.

Every ending is a new beginning though and our new project will be launched sometime in the summer. Hope you can join us on that journey too.

One last thing before I go: fancy playing Journey’s End? Then go here for this excellent repository of old Spectrum games. Isn’t the internet marvellous?

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

I had gotten and beaten Ocarina of Time shortly before this game came out. I couldn’t contain my excitement for awhile.
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask

Despite a lot of recycled graphics, Majora’s Mask is one of the most unique Zelda games ever. It’s dark, weird, has aliens, and is about the end of the world. Not exactly a typical adventure in Hyrule. Hell it’s not even set in our favorite Nintendo kingdom.

The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask

The moon in Majora’s Mask used to freak me out. Wasn’t so scary looking far away in the sky when I played Ocarina.
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask
I didn’t like Deku too badly. Blowing bubbles and gliding were pretty lame.
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Goron Link was much better, strong but slow. Unless you were rolling, which was beyond awesome.
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Zora Link was the best. I loved zipped zagging through the water. Plus the twin blade fin attack was pretty neat.
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I do admit my disappointment with Oni-Link. I worked so hard to get every mask, and turns out he just plays like Adult Link in Ocarina….
The-Legend-of-Zelda--Majora-s-Mask
I did hate the 3-day system, crappy ways to save your game/inventory, and the fact that there were only 4 dungeons. It did have the best side-quests in the series, so I still love it.

Payday 2: The Heist

Payday2_Tittle

As an avid player of first person shooters I believe the genre that unfortunately dominates gaming has grown mighty stale.  It would be challenging to muster up the enthusiasm for another cookie-cutter war-based storyline even if Activision programmed an unlockable Christina Hendricks sex tape into this fall’s Call of Duty: Every Single November.  Payday 2 intrigued the hell out of me however because its themes are mostly untapped in the realm of first person shooters, and honestly, who hasn’t dreamt about robbing a bank Point Break style?  Unfortunately what Overkill studios have given us is half a game here, which is a real shame because with a little more care this could have been an absolute masterpiece.

Payday 2

If you don’t plan on playing Payday 2 online with friends don’t even bother, the AI is so glaringly bad it’s a wonder that the title ever made it out of production.  Most of the missions inevitably involve your crew transporting some sort of cargo to an awaiting van, and your computer partners aren’t even able to accomplish the simple task of picking up an object and dropping it off in the correct location.  On a positive note the AI won’t completely muff up your perfectly planned stealth attempts on purpose, something I certainly can’t say for the majority of random players I encountered online.

Payday 2

The most enjoyable way to play Payday 2 is with three of your friends who actually use microphones.  When the missions are pulled off flawlessly you will feel extremely satiated as a player, but communication and precise planning are necessary, even on some of the easier and shorter selections.  One stupid mistake can cost you an entire run, and this will happen 99.9 percent of the time you even attempt, making robberies that don’t end up turning into the last act of Dog Day Afternoon both extremely rare and immensely rewarding.

Payday 2

There are only ten main missions, but the locations of goods, cameras, guards, and safes are always generated randomly.  This is the much-needed adrenaline shot of replay value that the game desperately needs, it would be far too easy to complete the levels if everything remained the same during every play through.  Picking missions can actually be a chore however, there’s no menu per say, just a map with jobs of varying difficulty appearing at random.  I understand what the developers were going for here, but after searching for a specific mission without success numerous times I was really longing for a traditional level selection system.

Payday 2

The character leveling is very addictive but also nothing original.  Four separate skill trees are selectable, and mixing and matching perks from each is encouraged, you’ll have plenty of flexibility by level 50, and that’s only the halfway point: Payday 2 is a long grind to 100.  Supposedly six DLC packs are on the way, this should alleviate the main ten missions growing stale even with the randomness factor figured in.

Despite its many egregious flaws I got tons of enjoyment out of Payday 2: The Heist when I was playing with a few of my buddies, alone however it was an absolute chore that frustrated me consistently.  If you have a steady crew you can recruit this is a must have game to scratch that criminal urge until Grand Theft Auto releases next month.

Battle Chess

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Battle Chess

I barely remember this one but it was in a way the first PC game I ever played and  that is why I am putting it here. Of course today there are countless chess games for the PC but this one was my first and I still remember how entertaining it was to watch the battles play out in front of your screen

What is Battle Chess

battlechess

Battle Chess is obviously a chess game developed and released way back in 1988. The cool thing about it was that all the pawns where animated and you could see them killing each other in interesting and funny ways. When I was playing it I was still a kid so I didn’t know what I was doing but I was trying desperately to discover all the killing animations that were available.

Why it’s Great
battlechessIts a nostalgia thing I guess but you can’t deny that it’s cool to watch the pieces come to life to kill each other (maybe I have low entertainment standards)

Where you Can Get it

You can find the special edition at Gog.com, the special edition includes the original Battle Chess, Battle Chess 2: Chinese Chess and Battle Chess 4000, if you are interested you can buy it HERE

Gamer Profile: Ashly Burch

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I really like games that are deceptively complex and that don’t hold your hand at all. One of my favorite modern games is Spelunky, as a point of reference. Harvest Moon is actually incredibly nuanced and difficult (I failed miserably the first time I played it), but — potentially unlike Spelunky — it’s an absolute joy to play no matter how well or poorly you’re doing. It does an awesome job of creating a simplistic but deep world that feels real and is filled with secrets and possibilities that aren’t apparent on the surface. Also, I think competing in festivals and courting a potential wife is empirically fun no matter who you are. ~Ashly Burch

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My favorite classic game: Harvest Moon 64

Boarderlands 2: Tiny Tina

On playing Tiny Tina in Boarderlands 2: As you might imagine, Tiny Tina is an incredibly fun character to play. I got the role because my brother — Anthony Burch — was brought on as the lead writer at Gearbox software and had me participate in a blind audition process. The team ended up picking me (hooray!) and the rest is history. Tina’s a really interesting character to play because, throughout the course of the main game and the DLCs, we’ve uncovered some pretty dark and sad aspects to her personality. Her insanity and energy is born out of trauma. She uses really elaborate coping mechanisms to deal with grief. But none of this detracts from how fun and absurd she is. I’ve got to explore a much broader emotional range than I anticipated with Tina. It’s been a really fun experience.

Ashly Burch Film Reel

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Whomp ‘Em

Whomp ‘Em

In 1991, when they were not busy releasing another Bases Load sequel, Jaleco released a side-scrolling platformer for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console called Whomp ‘Em. Following a Native American protagonist named Soaring Eagle on his quest to seek mystical totems, Jaleco put plenty of developer muscle into fine-tuning this title. But in tuning the mechanics so finely, did they miss the big picture?

Gameplay

Whomp em

A seasoned NES player recognizes the formular: The directional pad moves the on-screen character, the A button jumps, and the B button attacks. While Whomp ‘Em begins with this formula, it certainly adds many ingredients. On a minor note, Soaring Eagle can duck.

But in a major way, Soaring Eagle’s attacks can be incorporated into a variety of moves. Holding B while running keeps his spear ahead of him, damaging incoming foes. Holding Down in midair enables him to drop the spear’s tip upon the head of unlucky enemies. The spear can even be used as a shield against certainly projectiles, if held in the right manner and in the right spot. The spear can even be directed upward, by pressing Up when jumping. This gives the player a variety of ways to damage creatures, and many angles to utilize.

Whomp em

Then there are the items, which form quite an in-depth in-game economy. Although the player begins with just a few hearts on the health bar, these hearts can be increased by collecting gourds. But the number of gourds needed to gain a heart of health increases each time, until the player needs 99 gourds to gain the 12th and final heart unit of hit points.

And this is not even to mention the bonus items that add to attack or defense until the player is hit, nor the health-increasing grabs. Perhaps the most intriguing item-driven mechanic, however, is how Whomp ‘Em handles extra lives: The “magic potion” item essentially is an extra life, but the player is limited to holding three at a time. This is a strange, different-from-the-norm way to handle an extra-life mechanic. It does seem to add some tension, as it removes the possibility of simply hoarding dozens of lives, as can be done in other games, while also making it a priority at times to hunt for those crucial hidden potions.

Whomp em

Much like Capcom’s Mega Man series, Whomp ‘Em lets the player select what order he or she would like to conquer the stages in. At the end of each level is an environment boss. Defeating this character gives the player a new selectable weapon type to use; typically, a boss is especially vulnerable to a certain weapon, which gives the player incentive to strategize smartly as to their order of play.

Whomp em

Taken together, these separate elements would seem just fine, quite enough to put together in order to create a formidable video game. Whomp ‘Em does proceed crisply, offering the player well-honed fighting mechanics to use throughout a variety of stages in an experience that proves to be a worthy challenge. However, well-designed items and enemies aside, Whomp ‘Em does have some flaws.

Whomp em

The additional weapon are underwhelming. Most of them just make the basic attack reach a little further, which there is already an item for, and prove to not be any more useful against most regular enemies. This is a strange choice, and could have been for any number of reasons, but it is definitely disappointing to gain the flame weapon – and notice that it only shoots a small fire out of the tip of the spear, like a blowtorch.

Whomp em

Some of the stage designs are questionable. Among Let’s Players and others, the final level has gained notoriety for being rather difficult and just plain cheap. These design errors are evident elsewhere, though: Several areas force the player to make blind jumps, which is hardly ever fun. At least the player can aim the spear downward, likely helping the cause in these cases. There still remain, though, a few spots in which it is tough to tell which elements are mere background and which are needed platforms, along with dubious practices in enemy regeneration.

Whomp em

Then there are the bosses, which range wildly between very cool and a just-right level of difficulty – to ones that are spectacularly frustrating, with such traits that include the ability to instantly take away the player’s extra lives at a single touch. While none of the bosses are impossible, and all are pattern-based, the use of cheap tactics in order to artifically inflate their challenge is a bit eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

Whomp em

Overall, Whomp ‘Em is a pretty good game, and just that. It is not an all-time great. It is rarely seen on top-10 lists, but deservedly so; even then, it has perhaps been overlooked a tad, since it is still better than most 8-bit titles, and while nitpickers can find many flaws, the entirety was made well as a whole.

Graphics

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Whomp ‘Em looks great. The enemy designs are fun and varied, while some of them even move smoothly in interesting ways – check out the floating hands in some of the vertically oriented portions. The levels are lush with colors, but better graphical signals could have been used, such as with the bizarre “electric” clouds on the final stage. Also, this game does suffer from some flickering. The pixel artists was skilled, but the execution was not quite fully polished. For instance, that jump animation looks super weird.

Sound

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For a video game that feels like it was trying to be The Next Big Thing on NES, the music has a strange strata to it. While the composition mostly maintains a sense of skillful rendering, even summoning a vague Native American sensation at times, but at others falls flat or even gets downright irritating. At least the sound effects are satisfying.

Originality

Whomp ‘Em has been accused of being a Mega Man clone. You can offer the character stage selection right away alone without getting that accusation, or just borrow enemy powers, or have stage-end bosses, or involve pesky precision-jumping puzzles; but combine those, along with elemental weaknesses, and you have a recipe for such reputation. Then again, with a training level to start, the impressive in-game economy of items, the Native American flourishes, and an overall theatrical flair, Whomp ‘Em deserves a look, and is a bit more than a mere clone… even if it still never reaches the heights that a great Mega Man game achieves. Perhaps it would be a little better with a smidge more length, coupled with an adequate password or save function. Alas.

Overall rating: 3.5/5 stars.

Delve Deeper: Treasures and Tunnels

Delve Deeper
Delve Deeper is an excellent game. It’s smart, unique, easy on the retro-loving eye and, now that the Treasures and Tunnels DLC has been released, pretty huge too. Fresh off the indie forges of Lunar Giant and costing less than one (rapidly devaluating) dollar, Treasures and Tunnels extends the game with 10 new levels -including the brilliantly named Big Orc Candy Mountains- and 25 brand new relics; that is 50% more Delve Deeper maps, 30% more treasure and absolutely no extra fat. Oh, and apparently each level is custom-tailored to be tackled by different teams of dwarfs, whereas each new relic is designed to influence both new and old maps.
Delve Deeper
You can download Treasures and Tunnels via Steam; it does obviously require that you own Delve Deeper. As for the people still wondering what Delve Deeper is (besides -as already mentioned- excellent and a game), let me just say it’s a turn-based, strategy/RPG affair with lovely pixel-art graphics and board-game influences. Here are a couple DLC piccies to further entice you:

Luigi’s Mansion

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube - Cover

Format- Gamecube

Genre- Ghostbusters, but with Luigi

Considered an unrecognised classic by many, is Luigi’s Mansion really that good? I would say…no. It definitely doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but it’s not up there with the greats. It’s ‘merely’ very good.

Now that mild criticism is out of the way, lets me just say what the game does well.

It’s quite obvious why Luigi’s Mansion hasn’t dated as badly as other games of its era. Very tightly designed, the game’s small, self-contained environments have actually helped to give it a somewhat timeless appeal.

Sure, the detailed graphics don’t look quite as nice as they did on the Cube’s launch, but they still have a rather endearing appeal, and there are some nice touches present throughout.

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube

The gameplay mechanics are also commendable, with a pretty much perfect take on busting ghosts. The pull-back analogue control for grabbing ghouls is the perfect mix of randomness and skill, and feels physical enough to be hugely satisfying. Especially with a rumble enabled controller (sorry Wavebird users).

Puzzles are a mixed bag. The majority are nothing too taxing, but the way the game squeezes as many ideas as it can out of Luigi’s limited moveset is admirable. But occasionally you do feel the game is struggling to design a puzzle that is different enough to a previous one. This doesn’t really detract from the experience to any significant degree though.

Luigis Mansion - Gamecube

It helps that the game isn’t too long. This means it doesn’t outstay its welcome and is a manageable (but not too short) size.

For the most part, you’re just happy to soak up the game’s unique atmosphere. Sure, you’ve probably been through a scary mansion before (Resident Evil), and you may have had the chance to play as Luigi before (Mario is *shudder* Missing!) – but have you experienced both those together?

Luigi is a lovable coward (his nervous humming of the game’s theme tune is priceless), and the supporting cast of enemies and allies is a memorable bunch as well. It’s a game you’ll want to revisit every few years, for sure.

Overall, it’s very obvious why this game is close to many people’s hearts. It may not be perfect, but it’s a hidden Gamecube gem.

The Obsolete Gamer Show #36

William Watterson - Jim Peyton

This week on the Obsolete Gamer show we got to talk with actor, William Watterson. Not only is he a talented voice and screen actor, but he is voicing the main character, Jim Peyton in the upcoming game, Lost Planet 3.

Check out his gamer profile which includes the Lost Planet 3 trailer and his reel.

This was a great interview. William started out in a band and then made his way to screen acting and then voice acting working on L.A. Noir. He has worked on a number of screen projects and was even a body double for Nic Cage. Not only is he a gamer, but he even invented a drinking game for the Atari 2600 classic game Warlords.

William was also a comic book collector so we not only talk about that and the collection on my wall, but also the new of Ben Affleck getting the role of Batman. Check out the clip below.

Overall a great interview so check it out on our podcast page where you can watch the video or download the audio podcast for ITunes or listen to it via Stitcher Radio.

Gamer Profile: William Watterson

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4-player Warlords tournaments are the most fun you can have with any gaming system. That grinding sound effect and flashing screen when you toast someone? Brutal. Empowering. Priceless. Unforgettable. Just don’t get stuck being the purple king, you’ll never dig your way out of last place. ~William Watterson

William Watterson

Favorite Classic Game: Warlords for the Atari 2600

Here is a trailer from William’s latest video game role voicing the main protagonist Jim Peyton in Lost Planet 3.

William ‘Bill’ Watterson Dramatic Reel from Bill Watterson on Vimeo.

Our interview with William Watterson on The Obsolete Gamer Show

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

First Time to PAX? A Guide to PAX and Other Large Gaming Conventions

Pax guide

Four years ago I embarked on my first trip as a video game journalist and fansite administrator to Penny Arcade Expo 09, or PAX Prime as it is better known.  It was my first solo trip to any convention.  Scratch that.  It was my first trip to any convention at all and I was woefully unprepared for what I saw and my expectations of what I could accomplish as a reporter.

Four PAX Primes, two PAX Easts, a Comicon and a couple other events later, I’m still learning, but I’ve also learned some valuable tips that other newbie convention goers might be interested in knowing before they pack for PAX.

This article is for general convention attendees and speakers who have never been to an event like PAX before.  A separate article for journalists (and boy there are some fun things you learn as a journalist) will be forthcoming a few days after this article.

Pax guide
The beginning of the convention center for PAX Prime on Pike Street in Seattle.

Before I go into the nitty gritty, let me do a TLDR version of the talking points below.  These tips will have details if you keep reading, but if you want the quick and dirty tips, here you go:

  1. Keep hydrated – drink lots of water.  Not soda.  Water.
  2. Bring an extra pair of shoes, or two, and extra socks.
  3. Plan out a schedule ahead of time.
  4. Be in line for panels/events early.
  5. Expect long lines for everything.
  6. Eat at locations a couple of blocks away from the convention center.
  7. Care about your personal hygiene.  Shower.  Use Deodorant.  Etc.
  8. Staff are there to help.
  9. Wash your hands.  Alternatively, use hand sanitizer.
  10. Don’t buy badges from scalpers.
  11. Respect others.
  12. Have fun!

Now, for the explanations and a little added info for those that want more than just the TLDR version.

1.  Keep hydrated – drink lots of water.  Not soda.  Water.

Pax guide

This seems like something we should all know and follow, but trust me, even I didn’t realize how much bottled water and soda was going to cost at the convention center. That being said, buy a case or two of water from Bartel’s or Walgreens and put some in a bag or backpack and carry them with you.  This will help you save money.  But more importantly, after you drink them, refill them.  That way you always have water with you.

Dehydration is one of the problems at events like these because people get thirsty, then grab what is easiest – overpriced sodas or a quick drink at the water fountain.  You are supposed to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.  At events like these, that often slips past.  Follow it with after parties (if you are old enough) and dehydration can become a medical issue.

Most people don’t realize that dehydration can lead to exhaustion and grumpiness.  So keep yourself healthy and drink water in addition to soda, coffee and any energy drinks you consume each day.

2.  Bring an extra pair of shoes, or two, and extra socks.

Pax guide

This is going to be kinda personal and kind of gross, but having learned the lesson two years in a row of not bringing extra shoes, trust me on this one.

Your feet sweat.  A lot.  Changing your socks midday and not wearing the same pairs of shoes two days in a row will save a lot of wear, tear and blisters from appearing on your feet.  Blisters make walking not-so-fun at all, especially when you’re on your feet a majority of the day.  Trust me. If you have blisters on your feet the second day, the next two days will be miserable.

If you can, and have room for it, bring a third pair of shoes that you can wear for the night time parties.  Comfort is key.  If your feet are comfortable, you will be a much happier person at the end of each day.

Remember, you will be standing in lines – a lot.  Comfortable shoes will make those lines a bit more bearable instead of “OMGMYFEETHURTTHISFLOORISHARD” feeling you get with sandals and flip flops.  You will also be walking around a lot.  Not just to get back to your hotel at night, but to get to panels on opposite ends of the convention center (or at a hotel outside of the convention center).  Just more reasons to have comfort in mind when you’re at a convention.

3.  Plan out your schedule ahead of time.

Pax guide

There are panels you want to go to.  After parties you -have- to be at.  Not to mention game tournaments you want to participate in, people you’re meeting up with, give-aways at booths that are at specific times, etc.

This is when setting a schedule comes in handy – more so if you’re a reporter.  Panels are great to attend – but you have to plan to be at them not only the time they’re at, but an hour or so earlier to be in line for that panel.  For really popular panels, you may need to be in line earlier than that.  I recall one year I had wanted to get into the Tell Tale Games panel.  I found out that people had been in line for four hours.  FOUR.  HOURS.  My mind was blown.

Then there are game demos that may take hours in line.  Star Wars: The Old Republic, before it was released, had a six hour wait line at PAX East and PAX Prime.  Needless to say I didn’t bother with those lines.

4.  Be in line for panels/events early.

Pax guide
At PAX East, you could see the lines for booths easily from the platforms and skybridges over the show floor.

The first two PAX events I attended, I hadn’t even considered attending panels.  I’m not sure why, I think it was more because I was there for the gaming aspect of it.  Then I realized some of the panels were just as important as the games on the show floor.

It was then that the stark reality slapped me in the face.  There were queues (lines marked in color tape) where people would line up immediately once a panel filled up for the next panel.  If the panel was in the main Theater, the line was down below in a huge line waiting area.  People sit down in these queue areas once they’re in line -an hour, two, sometimes even four hours early – play Magic the Gathering, play DS games with each other, talk, write, draw, take pictures – whatever they could to pass the time.

It was mind blowing for a person who had never really been to conventions before to think about people being in lines way ahead of time to see something they wanted to see.  But when I thought about it, I realized why.  Every fanboy/girl wants to see something, they will be in line.  And for some games, some panels, there are a lot of fanfolks wanting to see the panel.  And they don’t want to miss it, so they they try to be one of the first folks in line since there is limited seating for each panel.

A great example for lines for this year – I expect people to be in line for the Assassin’s Creed panel hours before it opens as it will be an exclusive sneak peek at the game.  And let’s be honest, every Assassin’s Creed fan at PAX will want to see it – so it’s logical there will be a line.

5.  Expect long lines for everything.

Pax guide
Sometimes there’s even lines for going up the escalators to get into the exhibition hall.

It doesn’t really matter what event you are going to, when a convention draws 60,000 plus attendees each year, there will be lines.  About the only place I didn’t find a line was the restroom because they had plenty of those around the convention centers.

This tip is the reason why tips 3 and 4 exist.  There were lines to demo games.  Lines to get into the exhibit hall.  Lines to get food.  Lines everywhere the eye could see.  Those lines add some order to the chaos, but not a lot.

The key thing here is patience.  If you lack patience, the exhibit hall, heck even the whole convention, might not be a good place for you.  You will be waiting awhile for anything you want to do, unless you are extremely lucky.

So sit back, munch on snacks, drink some water, chat with other convention goers – maybe make some new friends – while waiting in line.   What else can you do?

6.  Eat at locations a couple of blocks away from the convention center.

Pax guide

If you want to get food fast and cheap, and escape the lines for a little while, take the time to walk a few blocks down to where the train to the Seattle Center/Space Needle is and grab food from the food court there.  You’ll have bigger selection than at the convention center and smaller lines.  Alternatively, there are all sorts of restaurants and little hole in the wall places to grab decent food at an okay price along the way.

There are also a number of sit down restaurants a few blocks away from the Convention Center.  Note: The Daily Grill attached to the Sheraton a block away from the Convention Center has great food, but it is always packed during these events.  Same with Gameworks and the Cheesecake Factory because they are so close.

Now, if you don’t mind standing in line, there are a number of really good places in the Convention Center, such as Subway, a Pizza joint and a Mexican burrito place as well as a smoothie shop.  There is also the Convention Center food service, which has good, but overpriced pizza, hamburgers, salads, sandwiches etc.

So if lines and price aren’t an issue to you, grab food at the center, but if you’re wanting something different, check out the places nearby – you will be pleasantly surprised what a short walk and a nice meal will do for you.

7.  Care about your personal hygiene.  Shower.  Use Deodorant.  Etc

Pax guide

There is absolutely nothing worse than being around a gamer who wears the same clothes day after day without taking a shower – or even with taking a shower – or who doesn’t use deodorant and maintain proper personal hygiene.

To put it in simple terms: It’s gross.

No one wants to stand in line next to someone who doesn’t take care of their hygiene, yet are forced to do so unless they want to lose their spot in line.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, ladies and gentlemen, you do not need to bathe in perfume or cologne.  There are a lot of people in the world who are sensitive to strong smells or allergic to things found in perfume and cologne.  I, for one, get massive headaches and migraines from certain colognes.  Be respectful.  If you’re going to use some, use it minimally.  Don’t spray your clothes down and your body down in it.  Dab it or spray it in a couple locations.  That’s all you need.  Otherwise, we might think you’re just covering up the fact you didn’t bathe so you’re covering yourself in pheromones to make up for it.

8.  Staff are there to help.

Pax guide
Picture is blurry, but the guy in the blue shirt with the word “Enforcer” is event staff.

Don’t know where an event is?  Did you get lost?  Did you lose your friends?  Or perhaps you don’t know where the first aid station is?  Or where does the line start for this panel?  Whatever it is, you will find (for PAX) people in blue shirts that say ENFORCER on them in big letters.  Enforcers are PAX Staffers who are there to help you and to enforce the rules.  There are also nicely dressed Convention Center staff members who are just as nice and helpful.  So if you need help with something, don’t hesitate to ask.

9.  Wash your hands.  Alternatively, use hand sanitizer.

pax guide

I attended my first PAX ever in 2009, and while I washed my hands a lot, it didn’t stop me from catching the swine flu.  Worst. Bug.  Ever.  After that event, hand sanitizer stations appeared all over the convention floor and by the bathrooms.  Wash your hands any time you can.  Play a game, use hand sanitizer afterward.  Play a bunch of games in the arcade, freeplay or other areas, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.

Do what you can to help prevent the spread of germs.  We can’t stop it completely and a lot of people come back from conventions with some form of conflu (those that don’t are grateful), but keeping your hands clean is a great way to prevent yourself from getting sick.  On that same note, get plenty of rest to help prevent yourself from getting sick

10.  Don’t buy badges from scalpers.

Pax guide

So you, or your friend, were unfortunate and were only able to get a couple of badges for the event, but you want to be there longer.  And hey, that person there on the street corner – okay a bunch of people along the street and in front of the convention center – are selling passes.  You could just buy another one.

Strong advice – take it for what it’s worth – if they don’t look like a gamer, don’t do it.  Even if they do look like a gamer – don’t do it.

In the past few years, there have been unethical individuals who buy badges then counterfeit them and sell them.  Unfortunately, for you, if you buy a counterfeit badge and are caught by event staff, there are no legal ways to get your money back.  You are stuck with the fake pass, loss of funds, and no access to the event.  It sucks.  I saw it happen a lot the past two years.  Don’t let it happen to you.

That being said, there are some legitimate sellers out there – but it’s hard to tell who to trust and who not to trust.

11.  Respect others.

Pax guide

This should be a given, but it does have to be said.  Be polite to others.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours, don’t invade personal space.  Ask for permission before taking pictures of a cosplayer or posing for a picture with them without them knowing.

Don’t shove folks, don’t be rude.

Which leads to the last tip:

12.  Have fun.

Pax guide

That should be tip number one, but really, all of the above things will help you to have fun.

PAX is in a week.  I hope these tips help you out.  If you have any tips, feel free to leave them on the thread in our forum for this article or in the comments section below.

Reposted From with Permission of Grace Snoke. View the original article here – http://www.videogamescoreboard.com/2013/08/first-time-to-pax-a-guide-to-pax-and-other-large-gaming-conventions/

Exploring the ColecoVision

ColecoVision

Once video games were invented it didn’t take too long for home gaming to get established too. A few ‘electronic’ games had started appearing in the 70’s before the first actual home consoles arrived starting with the Magnavox Odyssey which, despite achieving limited success, spurred on others to try the same. Fairchild had their Channel F and later Mattel’s Intellivision had been doing respectable business, but it was of course Atari’s immense VCS that had destroyed all who stood in its way. By the early 80’s even that was starting to look a little old and tired though, and this new breed of enthusiasts known as ‘gamers’ were eager for a more advanced successor.

This soon arrived in the middle of that decade’s third year courtesy of another American company – Coleco. Despite their name, which was a contraction of Connecticut Leather Company, and their history of producing plastic and indeed leather products, they were no strangers to the exciting realm of electronic entertainment. They had already produced a range of standalone consoles in the late 70’s called Telstar which each featured a few pre-programmed variations of existing games such as Pong and Tank. Their latest effort was called the ColecoVision and, unlike the Telstar range, offered games on inter-changeable cartridges. In fact, it was bundled with one such game, a conversion of the popular arcade hit Donkey Kong, no less, and its quality soon showed that perhaps this new contender was the system gamers had been waiting for.
ColecoVision
Unlike the blocky, low-resolution games found on Atari’s machine, Coleco’s games were like having an arcade in the home thanks to the Z80A processor that powered it. Indeed, many of the games it hosted were arcade conversions and most of them were close to arcade perfect – a term that had to be invented for their machine.

Thanks mainly to its many games of this type, the ColecoVision became popular immediately; sales soon surpassed one million units and several fancy accessories were released as well, including a steering wheel controller (complete with ‘gas’ pedal) and, ironically, an adaptor that enabled it to run Atari VCS games! Although this device automatically gave the Coleco a vast library of games, and provided a great incentive to buy it in the process, it was the system’s own games that impressed the most and the number available quickly passed the hundred mark. Unimaginable success looked assured for the former leather company but sadly the sudden, catastrophic collapse of the US gaming industry, the infamous ‘video game crash of 1983’, then took their console down along with numerous others.

Happily for us retro gamers though, a good few titles were released before that unfortunate event brought things to an untimely conclusion and I’ve selected a few of them at random to help me determine whether ‘the crash’ was a curse or a blessing in disguise. Here’s how I got on:

Lady Bug (1982)
Lady_Bug

Arcade conversions represented a substantial percentage of Coleco titles and this one, whilst hardly a jaw-droppingly original game, was a top effort. As is obvious from the screenshot, it’s a Pac-Man clone, but it may not be as generic as it first appears. As the titular beetle, your job is of course simply to collect all the dots (or x’s in this case) around each maze. However, parts of the walls are made of movable gates (the green bits) through which your twitchy bug can move but the scary enemy bugs cannot. This is particularly handy as there can be up to four of them scurrying around and they move as fast as you do! The graphics are simple and there’s no in-game music (aside from the odd jingle), but apart from a bit of detail on the bugs this is pretty much an arcade perfect conversion and as such is splendid! It’s a fast-paced game which requires quick reflexes but it’s great fun to play and very addictive too. A great introduction to Coleco gaming for me!

BurgerTime (1984)
Burger_Time

This Data East title must be one of the more famous games to have received a Coleco release but it’s also one that I’ve never really been too keen on, I’m afraid to say. It’s a single-screen platformer – a type of game I generally dolike, ironically – in which you, as Peter Pepper, must create tasty burgers by walking over the various components to make them fall down before the various evil foodstuffs who patrol the stages can stop you. Sounds good but I’ve always found it to be a rather frustrating game with unreliable controls. If you’re one of the many who like the arcade game though, chances are you’ll like this version too. The graphics are smaller and slightly more squashed but the stages are correct, the catchy music is spot on, and it plays just like its arcade parent. Not one I’ll come back to very often but a treat for fans.

From Out of the Jungle (1984)
From_Out_Of_The_Jungle

Even in the early days, most video games asked you to kill and/or destroy stuff so the premise of this game was a refreshing change. It instead asked you to rescue the ‘Great Apes’ and other animals that had been imprisoned through a tropical jungle filled with evil hunters and their allies. This may sound slightly familiar, and indeed, it didn’t come as a big surprise to find that the game is also known simply as ‘Tarzan’. It plays a bit like a slightly more advanced version of Pitfall and is viewed from an angled side-on perspective which allows Tarzan to more easily evade his foes. Unfortunately he only has a feeble punch versus their guns and ‘Beastmen’ but he can climb trees and swing from vines as well. It’s a fairly interesting game with some decent ideas but is let down by two things – there are some unavoidable hazards such as trap doors that open beneath your feet, and the controls are also rather clunky, often resulting in unfairly lost energy (sometimes repeatedly). Good try but needs a coat of polish.

Flipper Slipper (1983)
Flipper_Slipper

This one is almost that rarest of rarities – a Coleco exclusive (but there was an MSX version as well)! It’s not a game I had previously heard of though, and its strange name provided few clues as to what I could expect. A subsequent perusal of the instruction booklet reveals that it’s supposedly a weird pinball game but it actually plays a lot more like a weird Breakout clone. There are ‘forested’ areas in the top-left and top-right of the screen which can be cleared by hitting the ball into the ‘trees’ with two movable ‘flippers’ (actually just crescent-shaped bats). There are also animals (turtles, fish, etc) to kill for bonus points, two ‘beaches’ on the sides of the playfield, a moving ‘beach house’ in the middle of the screen, and an angry dog behind a breakable gate (although he looks more like a reindeer to me, complete with red nose!). So, like I said… weird! But, like most Breakout-style games, it’s also rather addictive!

Nova Blast (1983)
Nova_Blast

I was determined to find a shooter on Coleco’s machine before concluding this feature and went for this one based purely on its title. Sure enough, it is indeed a shmup and, unsurprisingly for the day, it’s one based on Defender. As Nova 1, the last of your fleet, it’s your job to protect the six ‘Capsuled Cities’ that occupy the looping planetary surface. Much like Williams’ classic, there are loads of airborne attackers to shoot down with your rapid-fire laser, but your ship can also drop bombs to take out the ‘Water Walkers’ which are the main threats to the cities. So, it’s not very original but the graphics are detailed (I particularly liked the stars and planets in the background), the controls are responsive, and crucially for poor old me it’s also an easier game than the hardcore Defender! Once again not an exclusive, but it still provided Coleco owners with some fast and addictive blasting action.

Verdict:
Despite coming from a less prestigious background than companies like Atari, Coleco did a pretty impressive job with their console. They were pretty brave, too, releasing it while the VCS was so dominant. It must’ve been a bit like Sega, and Atari again, trying to muscle in on the handheld market which Nintendo has sewn up with the Game Boy, to use an analogy that I can personally relate to, but on this occasion it worked. Or it seemed to be working until the entire market imploded in the US, ending their dream, and those of many other companies as well.

It’s always a shame when a system goes down before its time, of course, but for many the ColecoVision’s untimely demise was particularly upsetting. It was similar to other system’s that emerged around the same time such as the MSX and Sega’s SG-1000, technically, and accordingly these platforms shared numerous titles, and many of the Coleco’s other games were arcade conversions. This obviously meant that it had very little exclusive, truly original software. Perhaps it would’ve received a steady flow of titles like this eventually, if things had gone differently. However, the bulk of the user-base of the aforementioned systems was in the Far East which meant the Coleco received ports and conversions of games that many Western players hadn’t seen before, and generally their quality was of a very high standard.

My personal experiences of the ColecoVision are vague. I’m sure I knew someone who owned one when I was young but I can’t remember actually using it much, if at all. That obviously made my time with it for this feature my first such experience and it’s one I’ve enjoyed a lot. Having already spent a good amount of time with some of the systems to which it is technically similar, there wasn’t really much here that surprised me, but most of the games I tried (which included several more not covered in this feature) were pretty slick and playable. The controllers were never particularly popular of course, but several peripherals had already been released for the ColecoVision (including the cheeky VCS adaptor!) and others were on the way including a new controller, so there seems to be little that would’ve prevented the system from going on to great success.

Sadly though, all we can do now is imagine what might’ve been. Coleco did (perhaps unwisely) try to follow up the ‘Vision with a home computer version called the Adam but, while compatible with all of the console’s software and accessories, it suffered from a number of problems and never really even got off the ground and its failure pretty much put the final nail in Coleco’s coffin that hadn’t already been hammered in by the market crash. I suppose if I had to sum up the ColecoVision’s legacy, I’d say that it was a good piece of kit with some good games, but it was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time…

Stunt Car Racer

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Stunt Car Racer

Format: Amiga Genre: Racing Released: 1989 Developer: MicroStyle

 

Bizarrely, the inaugural post on this blog is for a racing game. Bizarre because generally I don’t actually like racing games that much; yet, when I think about it, the two or three that I’ve really enjoyed (Ridge Racer, Burnout 3, Gran Turismo) probably rank up there as some of my favourite game experiences, and Stunt Car Racer certainly deserves a special mention.

Most racing games before the mid-nineties were pretty rubbish. It was only with the 3D revolution that racing games really reached their full potential – before that it was all stripey grey race tracks and simplistic leftright leftright holddownthebutton gameplay (try playing a game like Lotus Challenge now and I guarantee the nostalgia won’t last beyond a couple of pixellated crash barriers). However, Stunt Car Racer WAS in 3D at a time when perhaps only a handful of games were, and what’s more it used the 3D space in a way that few games have, before or since.

stunt_car_racer

The raison d’etre of Stunt Car Racer is the tracks – glorious, insane, rollercoaster-like tracks that leave you gripping the joystick for dear life as you hurtle through the air after burning up impossible ramps, then gritting your teeth as you plummet back down, engine still racing, the screen cartwheeling as you miss the track by inches and smash into the dirt below with a bone-shattering crunch. At a time when racing meant dodging in and out of identical 2D cars, Stunt Car Racer did vertical – and how. There was even a loop-the-loop…

stunt_car_racer

The key thing about all this vertical fun was the ever-present sense of danger – there were no barriers to any of the tracks, so you always felt that just one small slip of the wrist could send you hurtling into the abyss, costing you valuable time as your stricken vehicle is winched back onto the track and, more importantly, causing potentially race-ending damage to your car. Above all, it was the intense adrenalin rush this caused that is my stand-out memory of the game; that and the excellent two player mode (only available over a link cable, but more than worth the considerable hassle of stringing together several wires and tellies).

I sold my Amiga recently (sacrilege I know), but I booted up Stunt Car for one last go before I carted the whole lot off to Mr Ebay. It’s lost none of it’s charm: sure, the graphics are basic (even for the time) and there’s only one other car on the track at any one time (believe it or not, that blocky red thing in the screenshot is a car), but it still retains an impressive sense of speed and danger as you hurtle round those suicide bends.

The creator of the game, Geoff Crammond (dubbed ‘Sir’ by Amiga Power), later went on to create the seminal Formula One Grand Prix series on the Amiga, but I’ll always remember him for this classic game. Nice one Sir Geoff.

Spelunker

Spelunker

I got this game for like .99 a while back.  Thought it was worth the  money just for the cool light on the cartridge:) Lights make everything better!  The game is Spelunker made by irem according to the game case, but when the title screen loads up it says Broderbund Software….

Spelunker

There isn’t much for controls, directional pad moves from side to side, A jumps and B uses your drill.  Thing is it’s insanely easy to die, jump down a couple pixels to far, you are dead and you will be dying a lot.  Check out my gameplay video…

It’s kind of frustrating, so I’m going to need a lot more practice and figure out what to do so I don’t keep dying constantly.  At least it was only .99 cents!

Spelunker

 

R-Type Dimensions

r-type-dimensions

If there was one thing I would not expect to do on a next-gen console, is to play games from the older generation. Boy was I wrong! Even though I do own a SNES and a Master System 2, I still happily play old and new titles on my Xbox Classic, the 360 and the Wii. The 360 and the Wii offer access to their exclusive online stores, and amongst the titles on there are a lot of old games from the older consoles. With that said, a lot of companies lately are remaking classics (and doing quite a faithful job of it as well!) Enter R-Type Dimensions.

r-type-dimensions

My past experiences with the R-Type games weren’t overly immense. A brief stint at a Timezone in Sydney back in the 80’s , the rental-to-almost-purchase on the Master System 2 in the early 90’s, and a sequel on the SNES (R-type 3). A frustratingly hard game? Some could say that, but I’ll go with exuberantly challenging. For those who don’t know what R-Type is, it is a side-scrolling shooter, think 1942 but with a side-on perspective. The storyline is that there’s the evil Bydo empire invading the universe, you are a pilot of a small ship sent to stop this evil.

r-type-dimensions

Okay, not much to it really, but this is the kind of game, where the storyline doesn’t mean a thing, and gameplay is where it matters. R-Type Dimensions is a faithful remake to the original game on the arcade. The graphics have been enhanced to a more modern (3D) feel, and I’ll be honest, they (IREM who were the original creators of R-Type, Tozai, and SouthEnd) did an amazing job of keeping the remake faithful to the classic, also by including an option to swap between HD and Classic graphic mode flawlessly, as the High-def visuals were rolled over onto the originals (Plural, yes, it includes R-Type I & II).

r-type-dimensions

The game was, and still is very challenging, getting to the point that many levels can not be passed easily unless you have 1-3 seconds of invincibility after you die, and a new ship appears. You have multiple power-ups, one of them infamously is your satellite, which is mounted to the front or rear of the ship, and can be jettisoned at will and returned back to the front or the rear of the ship. With the usual speed-ups and missile power-ups, you will find interesting methods on attacking the hordes of enemies, and figuring out how to defeat each end-level boss without losing 50 or so lives.

r-type-dimensions

Speaking about the lives, there is also an infinite mode, meaning you have unlimited lives to plow through the game with. The challenge there I suppose is to see who can finish the game with the least lives. There is also a co-op mode which would be beneficial for plowing through such a hard game.

On the XBLA for 1200 Microsoft Points, some would argue that the price for title like this is questionable. R-Type Dimensions is definitely a title for those who appreciated the original on just about any platform since it’s release.

4.5 out of 5

Pros:
– extremely loyal remake to the original
– ability to swap between new and old graphics
– challenging

Cons:
– Price may be questionable
– Plenty of moments where you could lob your controller across the lounge room from frustration

Magical Tetris Challenge

Magical Tetris Challenge

Magical Tetris Challenge

Format- N64

Genre- Tetris, Disneyfied

Has the addition of Disney in any form ever made a game significantly better? Meteos: Disney Magic added nothing to the rather good gameplay of the original, just added some pointless storyline claptrap.

Even Kingdom Hearts, the game which is pretty much built on all things Disney, suffers from having too many cartoon characters to be even remotely understandable by outsiders. A little selective culling of Disney would do wonders there.

Magical Tetris Challenge

Magical Tetris Challenge is worse than those two though. Much worse. The first thing that hits you is its quite appallingly shambolic presentation. It feels like a SNES game for the most part, trying to cover up it’s low rent attitude with colour and Disney characters. It doesn’t work. A SNES version might have looked better actually.

The story mode is clealry the main focus, so naturally you play that first. You can choose from a few characters but the outcome is pretty much the same. Two animated freaks meet up and natter about nothing for a bit, and then suddenly Tetris is brought up in the conversation and – hey! – you’re playing Tetris, just like that.

Magical Tetris Challenge

It’s almost as if Tetris is somehow the solution to all these characters problem, like some kind of block based currency. It makes more sense than real life though – Tetris battles should be used everytime two groups disagree about something. That will, sadly, never happen though.

Regarding the actual block twisting part of the game, it works well enough – up to a point. There you are, twisting blocks, winning, laughing, and cavorting, but all of a sudden a freakishly shaped block appears.

Magical Tetris Challenge

You weren’t warned. You didn’t see it coming. A freakish tetronimoe outcast, it could take one of many forms. A weird zig-zag abomination, a ridiculously long one block beanpole or a ‘screw you’ lardarse square spanning many squares in width. It could be any of these, and they all mess your game up like no-ones business.

I can make it through the first stage of the story mode, and the second at a pinch, but not much further. The addition of freak blocks mean a tough game is made much more difficult. Balance is thrown out of the window.

There are some other modes, and somewhere there’s an option to actually play a proper game of Tetris. But really, the game fails in my eyes.

It’s not exciting and effective enough to be considered a colourful Tetris side attraction, and it doesn’t play the game straight enough to be considered a worthwhile Tetris game in of itself.

Fortunately I only spent 60p on it (haggled the seller down from £1) in a car boot a year or so ago, so the game being a failure doesn’t work out too badly on me. I would consider a purchase very carefully if you were to pay any more than that though.

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

Growing up in the 70s and watching TV was awesome, with shows like Battlestar GalacticaThe Incredible HulkSpace: 1999Buck Rogers in the 25th CenturyMork & MindyWonder Woman, The Shazam/Isis HourThe Star Wars Holiday Special,Happy DaysThe Bionic Woman, and The Six Million Dollar Man.  Parker Brothers was quick to capitalize on the popularity of many of these shows within their own target demographic by releasing games based on each series.  Some were terrible, the board game equivalent of shovelware, but one in particular was a classic – The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis.

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

Bionic Crisis was a game that contained both elements of chance and deductive reasoning.  To set up, each player took one of the four Console Boxes and inserted a Console Card into it.  The red and yellow board pegs are placed somewhere where everyone can reach them. Then the deck of Bionic Circuit Cards was shuffled, and one was dealt to each player, who kept it hidden from his or her opponents.  Finally, the deck of Number Cards was shuffled, with each player given three cards and the rest placed face down for everyone to draw from during gameplay.  Once set up, the play began.

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

The object of the game was simple: be the first to use the Number Cards to duplicate the Bionic Circuit of the player on your left.  Each turn a player called out a number from one of the Number Cards.  If number was on his left-hand opponent’s Circuit Card as one of the ten red spaces, he got a red peg.  If the number was adjacent to a red space, a yellow peg was given instead, and if the number completely missed the mark, then the player ended his turn empty-handed. (Yes, I realize you now want to chant, “You sank my battleship!”…but control yourself.)  This process continued until the Bionic Circuit Card was revealed.

The Six Million Dollar Man - Bionic Crisis

A shortcut to winning the game was to simply map out the entire Bionic Circuit Card by making a guess.  If you were correct, you won the game.  However, if you were wrong – even by a single circuit – you were no longer able to win, though you still had to answer questions from your opponent.  This consequence were so severe that guesses were rarely worth the risk.  We had a House Rule that granted up to three guesses to each player, which added more deduction and less random chance to the gameplay.

The Six Million Dollar Man - Bionic Crisis

Parker Brothers labeled the box for ages 7 to 14, which is quite accurate, as Bionic Crisis was clearly not an adult’s strategy game.  However, the game still brings back fond childhood gaming memories, and must be judged for what it was: a child’s game based on a television property.  It was fun then, and if you can bring back your inner child, it can be fun to play even today.  Only the best classic games can do that!

Atari Inc: Business Is Fun

atari-business_is_fun

Atari Inc. – Business Is Fun‘ documents Atari’s history from its humble beginnings in the early 70s, to its meteoric rise and then, its downward spiral in the 80s. Atari had a big hand in bringing video gaming to the masses, and then almost bringing the same industry to its knees. These events are all retold in exquisite detail.

From its very beginnings, Atari lacked (business) discipline and clear market direction. It is evident from this book, that Atari just wanted to be part of the video games action, no matter what. Co-founder Nolan Bushnell aggressively advanced the company and Atari’s market and popularity grew rapidly. It seemed that Atari could not put a foot wrong – everything they created, from coin operated machines to the Video Computer System (2600) console, turned to gold.

There was a culture of ‘anything goes’ inside Atari, from their weekly staff parties to casual drug taking – it was all about having fun while creating video gaming hardware and software!

Stripping back the myths and misconceptions, this book sets the record straight in what went on behind the scenes at Atari. It wasn’t all glamour and high-fives. The authors spoke to the ‘real’ people at Atari who gave first person accounts of their experiences in the once titan of the video games industry.

The content grips you like a vice and does not let go until you have read every page. There are a few dry chapters where the authors cover the technical details of Atari’s home computer range, but these could be deemed optional for the non-technical reader.

You will be in awe of the people behind Atari and their many creations – which have withstood the test of time (even outlasting the company!). You will also be shocked to read about the back-stabbings, the parties, the drugs, and the backroom wheeling and dealing. I would not be surprised if Hollywood comes knocking on Martin Goldberg and Curt Vendel’s door.

Verdict: With never before seen photos and content exclusively obtained from the people at Atari, this book is a must read for any video games fan, not just Atarians. Buy it now!

Atari Inc. – Business is Fun [by: Goldberg & Vendel] is available in Paperback and Kindle.

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

Carmageddon II

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now

I am ashamed to admit it but the truth is that I have never played the original Carmageddon, what I do remember however is the hours I spent murdering people with my red shiny car listening to Iron Maiden’s Aces High and the Trooper.
Carmageddon II
What is Carmadeddon II
Carmageddon  II is a racing game (kind-of), a racing game that you get points from running over people and destroying your competitors with the most violent and creative ways. In this spirit, there where three win conditions for any level in the game, win the race, destroy all opponents or kill all pedestrians.
Carmageddon II
Why it’s Great
It is great because this game was criticised like few when it first came out for the violence it contained that according to parents at the time would turn us all into killing machines by the age of 18… I haven’t still killed a person and I had a blast with the game. although from what I know in some countries the changed the pedestrians to animals or aliens for that same reason.
Carmageddon II
Where you Can Get It

Good question, I know Amazon has some but if you know more places that sell it please let me know.

 

Special Forces

special forces

Format- Gameboy Advance

Genre- Side scrolling run and gun-em up

special forces

You’d think Contra and Metal Slug would be the type of games that would be fairly simple to clone. Lots of guns, lots of enemies, and lots of destruction. Simple.

special forces

It turns out, however, that formula is just a little too hard for some developers to handle. Too often sidescrolling gun games from lesser developers turn out to be either unfairly difficult, really dull, or both.

special forces

CT Special Forces almost gets it right, but sadly falls a little short of being considered a notable Metal Slug clone.

special forces

It definitely looks the part though, with rather attractive hand drawn graphics and a nice varied bunch of levels. A good range of weapons are grenades are also on show. The controls are also quite good, with the shoulder buttons used for throwing grenades and swapping weapons.

special forces

Problem is, the game requires you to be very patient when working your way through the (quite large) levels. You have to abide by enemies set walking patterns and pick them off accordingly. Although once you’ve adapted to this you can work through the game with some ease, but it doesn’t really make it a particularly fun or spontaneous experience.

special forces

Welcome variation arises from the occasional vechicle levels, but the parachute sections are most unwelcome. They’re frustrating in the extreme and can take several hard-earned lives from you each time. Considering the time you take working through levels, it’s a bit unfair to plonk these sections right in the middle of stages.

special forces

Bosses are also hilariously un-PC for the most part, with bearded terrorists aplenty to blast away at. It’s like what I imagine a American soldier’s wet dream to look like.

special forces

There is also the general problem that the game is a little too short, but seeing as you can pick it up fairly cheaply nowadays that’s probably not much of an issue.

special forces

There were a couple more CT games, but this was the only one I played. It’s incredibly dumb, sure – but it’s not without its charm.

Soul Calibur II

 soulcalibur2
Soul Calibur II was a huge hit on all 3 consoles, but I think many people opted out for the Gamecube version for one reason.

soulcalibur2

That reason was because Link from the Legend of Zelda was a playable character. Spawn was in the Xbox version while Heihachi from Tekken was in the PS2 version. I remember some fanboys of the other two systems saying Link didn’t even fit in the SC universe. Yeah I’m sure a weaponless fighter and an african-american demon from hell are perfect matches too. Link fit well with his master sword, bow, and bombs.

soulcalibur2

The rest of the game was good as the arcade version but with more modes and whatnot. Spent many hours playing this game. Unlocked all the characters, bought most of the weapons, even read some of the awful back-stories. My favorite in the series, and for the record I thought Soul Calibur IV was a big disappointment.

Dominique Vial: Domsware

domsware

Name: Dominique Vial

Company: Domsware

Position/Title: indie iOS developer

Favorite Classic game: Dungeon Master

Why is this game your favorite: The answer is not easy! But each time someone asked me this question it’s always Dungeon Master on top. I was 17 years old and I spend my days and night playing with DM with a friend: one playing and the other managing a map. My friend’s bedroom was full of DM maps pinned on the wall. We played on a cracked version of DM — sorry we were young — and from time to time there was a reset and we must start back from zero! And each tim we updated DM, the reset point was a little bit later in the game but still exits. I wonder if someone succeeded in cracking DM 100% !

We were on our final “lycée” studies and we needed to prepare THE french exam named “baccalauréat”. It’s very important to make a big score to this exam because it’s the passcard to university and High Schools. Anyway. We spend a lot of time playing DM instead of working our final exams. Locked on my friend’s bedroom, our parents believed we were working on our studies! Ah ah ah! It was a really immersive and addictive game. And, for the story purpose, a friend of my elder brother was working on some computer science laboratory on some kind of “network”. He was helping us by providing us printed listings containing the precious answers to hard DM’s issues: these was from this mysterious “network”. Later and later I found the name of this guy on a W3C document: I then understood he was one of the first working on the internet and that was the mysterious network. He was a pioneer while we were exploring dungeons !

novae

Check out his latest iOS game, Novae!

Dig Dug 2

Another week with another title. This time around is Dig Dug 2 for the NES. We have been hitting a lot of NES games lately so it’s only fair to continue with them but the next couple of months will showcase other consoles, that’s for sure. This game is different from its predecessor as it takes place in the open. The first one took place underground. I’m guessing the monsters found a way outside and our little hero must blow them up once again. It’s not an amazing title, but it’s definitely worth a mention.
Dig Dug 2
The music is simple yet fun. It doesn’t stop when you stop walking like in the first game. The simplicity of it makes it enjoyable. The sound effects are OK but seem to be the same ones from the first game. Nothing more to say about this.
Dig Dug 2
The graphics are OK. They could’ve been better if they changed some of the monsters around and introduced new enemy attacks. Nevertheless, there can’t be too much to say about a game that uses the same level design with just some mild differences in it.
Dig Dug 2
The gameplay is average. There aren’t many new tricks to use but it’s still fun overall. You have to think of this an arcade game so the point being that you have to increase your skills on your own instead of finding items to help you with it.
Dig Dug 2
The game is an arcade game at most and definitely a game to replay over and over for challenge purposes. The game itself gets tough like any of the arcade classics so be aware of the challenge that comes ahead. As a retro gamer though, this should be a no-brainer.

To conclude, there isn’t much to say about this game but it’s definitely a decent sequel to the classic series. I still prefer the first one over this one. I tend to have more fond memories with it but that’s the only reason why I would pick it. That’s about it, pick it up if you can as it’s quite cheap!

Twin Cobra

Twin Cobra

Twin Cobra is not officially a sequel to Tiger-Heli, but it sure seems like it. Although Micronics developed the arcade port for the NES for its predecessor, the pleasure of publishing Twin Cobra went to American Sammy in 1990, rather than Acclaim’s work to distribute Tiger-Heli.

TwinCobra

Gameplay

Twin Cobra is a military-themed vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up in which the player controls an advanced attack helicopter and wages a one-craft war against the evil enemy, who fights back with copters of their own, tanks, boats, turrets, in addition to other vehicles and obstacles. There is some horizontal scrolling as well, a bit to the left and right, adding a sense of size to the ten looping levels and an enhanced sense of flying freedom for the player.

The A button launches a devastating bomb, of which the player can hold up to nine at a time and find by shooting various objects for bonus items. The B button fires the primary weapon. Twin Cobra has a very solid variety of weaponry. To begin with, there are four types of ammo: The starting weapon, which has red-orange shells firing forward; a green-projectile weapon, which concentrates fire in a straight direction forward; a white-blue shot, which spreads in a radiated path forward; and a crazy multi-directional brown-ball weapon, which even slightly homes in on hostiles.

TwinCobra

In addition to the variance in weapon types, they can also be upgraded via collecting “S” items, with six total levels of upgrade, resulting in an annihilating amount of firepower. Even though only two shots can be on-screen at once, when fully upgrades, this still represents several projectiles in mid-flight, even up to a couple dozen in certain cases.

The player begins with three choppers, gaining an extra one when 50,000 points are reached; afterward, 150,000 points is required per one-up. Five continues are given. To grant the player a rest between frenetic rounds of bullet-blasting, each stage ends by landing on an aircraft carrier helipad for a brief rest from the firestorm festivities. Bonus points are totaled if the player was able to collect an amount of star items without dying. The white stars, rather than give bonus points, instead grant temporary invulnerability, as does a respawn.

TwinCobra

Twin Cobra does not have the most polished presentation, but it definitely offers a challenge that makes hearty demands on a player’s reflexes and flight tactics. Fans of the genre will enjoy discovering the absolute to-the-pixel limits of the chopper’s hit box, while casual players may be intrigued by the sheer amount of action on the screen at any given moment. There are even boss fights to contend with. Better than the plainest of shooters but not quite as refined in its quality as the better titles, Twin Cobra is quite decent, and will be fancied by some while ignored by others.

Graphics

TwinCobra

Twin Cobra definitely has to deal with flickering and slowdown. With multiple moving enemies firing multiple projectiles while the player-copter itself is firing multiple projectiles of its own, perhaps it is no minor miracles that the NES does not simply give up and freeze during the proceedings. The actual vehicle designs are alright, somewhat par for the course as far as these games go, but presentable. The staging is solid, as the player will find the chopper traversing over ocean naval forces, jungles, and even fighting some enemies on rails. The projectiles can seem a little odd, since most of them are just colored balls, but such lack of realism can probably be forgiven, given its 8-bit setting.

Sound

TwinCobra

Eh. The music is not awful in its composition, but the tonal quality leaves a bit to be desired. Those square-wave channels are a little obvious, and come off as tinny, plain (for digital musicianship), and not as rich as it could be. As for the sound effects, an enemy ship exploding sounds like a soft splash in the ocean, whereas the protagonist definitely suffers from “pew pew pew” syndrome, with very wimpy gunshot sounds. Twin Cobra is not a soundtrack powerhouse. Those wearing rose-colored glasses may find some appeal in its simplicity.

Originality

TwinCobra

Twin Cobra is undoubtedly not the first military-themed vertically scrolling shooter on the NES, and not even the first to feature a helicopter as hero. Thankfully, it features a much greater gameplay variety than Tiger-Heli, especially in the arsenal offered and enemy/boss designs. The basic level-loop, high-score-seeking shell is intact, and the general rule of “your mileage may vary” applies here. One does get the impression of Twin Cobra being somewhat rough around the edges, if anything. Overall, not the most staggeringly innovating 8-bit video game, but it can hardly be accused of being boring. A worse starting point for the shmup category could be found.

Rating: Two and a half stars out of five.

Kevin Cerdà: BeautiFun Games

 BeautifunGames

Name: Kevin Cerdà

Company: BeautiFun Games

Position/Title: Game Designer

Favorite Classic game: Magic & Mayhem

Why is this game your favorite: This isn’t a really known game. However, I believe that it was really innovative at the moment it appeared. It was made by Mythos games, with Julian Gollop, creator of X-COM. In Magic & Mayhem you really felt like a wizard, combining spells in many clever ways (such as levitating and enemy and turning it into stone to smash it against the ground, breaking it into pieces). It was like a strategy game with the full base inside one single character that was able to move around and create minions out of nothing without any cooldown at all. Really surprising, fresh and dynamic. A source of inspiration.

Dead Meets Lead

Dead Meets Lead
One of the reasons I don’t usually review games I haven’t particularly enjoyed is that I often can’t be bothered to properly play them, let alone take the time to actually write the review. Apparently then, Dead Meets Lead is quite an exception. I never particularly enjoyed it, didn’t play it exhaustively, yet here I am writing about it. Why? Because it does have some redeeming features, you see.
Dead Meets Lead
Dead Meets Lead is -at heart- an indie and definitely innovative arena shooter, that might not feature much shooting, but does try to make up for it by sporting both pirates and zombies. Sadly though, innovation isn’t a priori a good thing; some things haven’t been attempted for the simple reason that they just don’t work. Melee arena combat is apparently one of those ideas. Then again, things could have been better if the controls, the camera and the hits each enemy can take were balanced in a better way, but this is not the case. Enemies can take ages to defeat, more often than not the action takes place hidden behind a building or something, and the WASD-mouse combination isn’t ideal for sword-based arena shooters. Oh, and don’t get me started on the zombies that restrict your movement by ensnaring you in the most frustrating of ways…
Dead Meets Lead
To the game’s defense though one could add that by featuring a shotgun it does turn itself into a rather lovely yet more traditional arena-shooter. One would of course be only partly correct, as the ammunition for the shotgun (and the rest of the firearms that are eventually unlocked) is far too sparse and in certain levels simply absent, which is a crying shame. Shooting the zombie hordes as a cursed pirate on a bleak exotic island is immensely enjoyable and goes on to show how great Dead Meets Lead could have been; especially if it had bothered to include a few save-points in its brutally hard levels.

Sadly, as it is, all it manages is to more or less waste the potential its setting, plot, graphics, music, interesting upgrade mechanics and overall polish had created. Still, I’m pretty sure that you dear reader might just enjoy Dead Meets Lead more than I did. Guess you should have a look then; click here. The demo should help you decide whether this is for you or not.

Verdict: A quality indie production with some interesting touches, that has sadly been let down by its core gameplay mechanic.

Update: The game has since gone freeware: Here is the statement from their website:

We’ve had a great time with Dead Meets Lead, but since we’re shutting down operations (or rather, they’ve been down for a while now) we’d like to do one last thing for the community. Starting from today, we’re making Dead Meets Lead a freeware so that those who haven’t tried the game yet get a chance to play it too. Everyone is free to download and play the game, just use the product key below and go to the download section to get your copy. Hope you’ll have a good time with the Captain and his adventures!

17ad0e29-d567-4455-a7a3-108541e01558

Droidscape: Basilica

Droidscape: Basilica

Indie developer Kyttaro Games makes their App Store debut today with Droidscape: Basilica, a carefully crafted action-puzzle game more than a year in the making. This sprawling sci-fi puzzler features 60 challenging levels, clay-modeled characters animated with stop-motion technology, intuitive touch controls, and an optional “HeadTwister” mode that turns the gameplay hands-free.

The game can be downloaded worldwide from the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/droidscape-basilica/id586086388?ls=1&mt=8

Droidscape Basilica

The year is 4057, and a power-hungry Ecclesiarchy has plunged humanity into a new Dark Ages. One of few remaining Chronomancers dedicated to preserving the secrets of time-travel has been taken hostage on the gargantuan Basilica space station, and if he dies, an already dark world will get a lot darker. Only a small, unarmed droid named Bishop 7 can save him—and only with your help.

 Droidscape Basilica

In each of Droidscape: Basilica’s 60 two-stage puzzle levels, players use strategy to plot Bishop 7’s course around roaming enemy droids to pick up gems, recharge at power stations, unlock doors, and reach the exit. Then, using either simple finger swipes or the revolutionary HeadTwister controls, manipulate time to carefully guide the droid through the course without crossing the enemy’s path. As you travel deeper into the massive space station, Droidscape’s electropunk sci-fi world comes to life via stop-motion animation, futuristic music and sound effects, and a vast backstory presented in interstitial scenes between levels. Droidscape Basilica

 

Still in its experimental stages, Kyttaro’s HeadTwister technology uses the front-facing camera of newer model iOS devices to replace a flick of the finger with a shake of the head. In this mode, players send Bishop 7 along the plotted course by turning their head right to step forward, or left to step back. The developers plan to refine the technology based on player feedback, with the ultimate goal of developing fully head-controlled games in the future. For those with older devices or who prefer a more tactile experience, the game is also completely touch enabled.

Droidscape: Basilica is a Universal App playable on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It sells for USD $1.99 (or its equivalent in local currency. The game’s HeadTwister mode can be experienced on iPad 2 and up, iPhone 4S and up, or iPod touch 5.

Learn more about Droidscape: Basilica at the official website: http://droidscape.kyttarogames.com/

About Kyttaro Games

Founded in 2011, Kyttaro Games has until now been best known for its thematic, pay-what-you-want Bundle In A Box indie gaming bundles and the Indie Dev Grant designed to help indie developers create new games. Kyttaro Games approached their debut game, Droidscape: Basilica, like an interactive work of art, collaborating with sculptor/painter Hariton Bekiaris and composer Chris Christodoulou. Learn more at http://www.kyttarogames.com.

Oracle of Seasons

[youtube id=”fSb8J3sghxo” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The great thing about playing on the 3DS is that you can save anywhere and load back instantly. This will help you in some instances where you have to perform a few tasks to get an item or power-up. ~J.A. Laraque

Oracle of Seasons

As someone who loved the top down versions of the Zelda world getting a chance to play Oracle of Seasons on my 3DS was a real treat since I never got to play the Gameboy Color version. Now Oracle of Ages, which I will discuss in a follow-up article deals more so with the puzzle elements of classic Zelda games you would find on the NES, SNES and Gameboy. Seasons deals with the action element and much like, A Link to the Past, the game tosses you right into it. In fact, I would say that if you never played any of the top down Zelda adventures before it may seem a bit tough at first, but the learning curve is not hard at all and soon you are slashing down enemies and defeating dungeons.

Oracle of Seasons

Now as far as the story you kind of have to think of this as Link’s Adventures as it is not about saving Zelda or the Triforce except for the fact that it is the Triforce the directs you to the town of Holodrum. Once you arrive you meet Din and soon she is kidnapped by the evil Onox because she is the Oracle of Seasons. Because of this the lands weather is thrown into chaos which does add a cool element to the game since the weather changes periodically and that can decide where you can and cannot go and what items you will need to advance.

Oracle of Seasons

Most of what you need to do is told to you by the Maku Tree, but if you are used to the top down Zelda games the point is to get specific items that allow you to advance to even more places and defeat enemies in and out of dungeons. The great thing about playing on the 3DS is that you can save anywhere and load back instantly. This will help you in some instances where you have to perform a few tasks to get an item or power-up. For instance, in one area you have to dance to get an item. Now the dance is not hard, but if you are struggling then you can do a move correctly, save and then continue and if you mess up you can start from where you saved not having to begin the dance all over.

Oracle of Seasons

Now let’s pause for a moment to say that you should get both Oracle of Ages and Seasons as you can link them and when you beat one game you get a code that can be entered in the other game. I played Seasons first, but went back and played Ages and then Season and when you do you change the story a bit. I won’t spoil anything, but some of the changes are small and others are huge like a different final boss fight.

Oracle of Seasons

Now the zones in the game are pretty interesting. Remember going to the dark world in Link to the Past, well, while the changes are not that drastic there are four different versions of every screen you are on when in the outside world. This is because of the four seasons. As I said, the seasons changing can help you get somewhere you could not normally. For instance, a lake in the summer is frozen so you can walk over it in the winter.

Oracle of Seasons

In the game you will receive the Rod of Seasons which you will need to power up in the underground town of Subrosia. With the rod you can change the weather on command which is key to get to certain places. You will not get all the seasons at once, you start off with winter and eventually get them all.

Oracle of Seasons

Besides the rod you get many of the normal items you would expect including the boomerang, torch and bombs. You can select one of the items and assign it to your secondary button with your primary being your sword attack. You can also collect rings which add different abilities or augments existing ones. It is important to upgrade your items and weapons as the boss fights are harder than you might remember from previous Zelda games. The final fight with Onox is especially hard if you do not upgrade. Now if you are a Zelda vet you can do it, but then again if you are a Zelda vet then you want to explore, collect and upgrade via side quests.

Overall, Oracle of Seasons is a great addition to the portable Zelda series. The game is more action oriented than some of the other Zelda games, but that is not a bad thing.  The story is good enough and the graphics and changing seasons are a nice touch. I would recommend however, getting Oracle of Ages to go along with Seasons and if you do play Ages first.

SteelSeries & Valve Introduce The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition Headset

STEELSERIES AND VALVE INTRODUCE THE SIBERIA V2 DOTA® 2 EDITION HEADSET AND NEW MOUSEPADS AT THE INTERNATIONAL

SteelSeries & Valve Introduce The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition Headset

Illuminated Gaming Headset Includes Exclusive In-Game Item – Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet

 

SEATTLE – August 6, 2013SteelSeries, the worldwide leader in professional grade gaming peripherals along with Valve, developer of Dota 2 and creator of The International Tournament, today announced the Siberia v2 Illuminated Gaming Headset Dota®2 Special Edition which features an exclusive in-game item, Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet. In addition to the new headset, SteelSeries will also roll out two new SteelSeries QcK+ mousepads featuring character artwork from the game. The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition headset lets the player experience the non-stop excitement of the game while enjoying an incredible soundscape, lightweight over-the-head suspension design and the ability to customize what you’re hearing through an easy-to-configure software suite. Red LED illumination on the outside of each earcup can also be customized to exact user specifications and profiles via the SteelSeries Engine. At an MSRP of $119.99, the headset is equipped with large, premium driver units for the loudest and clearest sound while its circumaural earcups are wrapped in soft leather for comfort and increased passive noise reduction.

 

The SteelSeries Siberia v2 Illuminated Gaming Headset Dota 2 Special Edition $119.99 Combining lightweight comfort and an optimized soundscape with premium features the headset includes:

 

  • DOTA RED ILLUMINATION

Super-bright, red LED lights that glow through the outer mesh grill on each earcup. The illumination offers 6 different modes and can be assigned to behavior and game specific profiles through the SteelSeries Engine, including: Active Mode (responsive pulsing to sound effects, music, and/or voice), Slow Pulse, Fast Pulse, High Bright, Low Bright and Off.

  • EXCLUSIVE IN-GAME ITEM

The Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet has been originally designed and is available exclusively to players who purchase the SteelSeries Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition headset.

  • NOISE-CANCELLING MICROPHONE & CONTROLS

The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition headset features an active noise cancelling microphone system. The microphone processor reduces the “noise” and focuses on the sound that is closer to the mic, your voice. It can also retract into the left earcup when not in use. The headsets in-line volume and mute controls are found on a durable cord with a USB connector.

 

The SteelSeries QcK+ Dota 2 Edition Mousepads – $19.99
Each displaying unique character artwork from the game, the new SteelSeries QcK+ mousepads are comprised of the Tiny and the Vengeful Spirit Editions. The mousepads are composed of a high-quality cloth material and an optimized texture that guarantees both smoothness and glide while a non-slippery rubber base holds the mousepad in place. Because of its size, the QcK+ is perfect for players who are using low sensitivity settings or for those who prefer to have a larger, consistent surface for game play.

Attendees of The International 3, which will kick off in Seattle tomorrow, will be the first to purchase the new SteelSeries Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition products. The headset and mousepads will be available to consumers via the SteelSeries Web Shop and other etail partners later this summer. For more information about each of the new products, please visit http://steelseries.com/dota2. To get the latest news regarding SteelSeries sponsored teams competing during the event be sure to follow us on Facebook.

 

About SteelSeries

SteelSeries is a leading manufacturer of top quality gaming peripherals from headsets, keyboards and mice to controllers, surfaces, and software. For more than a decade, SteelSeries has been on the forefront of designing and creating gear for competitive gamers. The company’s continued innovation also comes in collaboration with the world’s leading professional gaming teams and partners. SteelSeries is a global brand that continues to support the growth of competitive gaming tournaments and electronic sports leagues through professional team sponsorships, partnerships and community support. For more information, please visit http://steelseries.

Switchblade

Switchblade - Atari ST

Switchblade (1989)
By: Core Design / Gremlin  Genre: Run ‘n’ Gun  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Atari ST  First Day Score: 9,240
Also Available For: Amiga, PC, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum

Switchblade

Whether you love or hate Rick Dangerous, there´s no question that it was a memorable game. Anyone wanting more of the same would have to wait for its sequel which would arrive a year later, but released the same year as Rick’s first adventure was this game. It’s similar in looks and gameplay so it comes as so surprise to find that the same team was responsible for both games, but the setting has changed. This latter effort takes place ten thousand years in the future rather than the recent past, and it appears to be an anime-influenced future ‘cyber world’ called Thraxx where the Undercity is now ruled by the evil Havoc who has shattered the Fireblade and filled the city with his minions.

Switchblade - Atari ST

It’s down to you to flush the Undercity of this filth and simultaneously find the sixteen pieces of the Fireblade, the source of the Bladeknight’s power, and rebuild it to ensure lasting peace. You do this as Hiro, the last of the Bladeknights. He has as much stealth and cunning as you can muster as well as a programmable cyber-arm. Only when the Fireblade has been reassembled will you be able to take on Havoc and help Hiro gain revenge for the death of his people. You’ll start this flick-screen adventure above ground but after only a few screens you’ll enter the underground depths of Undercity, a vast, sprawling labyrinth of rooms, tunnels, and passageways. A labyrinth it is too as only sections you’re in or have previously been in will appear – all other sections are hidden until you enter them.

Switchblade - Atari ST

This of course means there’s lots of secrets and sneakily-concealed areas which often require some exploration or experimentation to find. Hidden or not though, all areas of Undercity are patrolled by the hideous servants of Havoc, contact with whom will deplete Hiro’s energy meter. To begin with he can only use his fists or feet against them but there are six power-up weapons available as he makes his way through the game which are mostly sword or projectile-type weapons. They will all have differing ranges and some projectile weapons also have limited ammo. The effect of some of them (including Hiro’s default attacks) is also slightly different depending on your use of the charge bar. More ammo can be collected of course, and other things to look out for include speed-ups, a temporary shield, flasks and orbs which award you with bonus points, and increases to your power-meter.

Switchblade - Atari ST

It’s also worth looking out for Fireblade fragments, of course, and successful recovery of all sixteen pieces bestows a sizable bonus upon Hiro as well as the option of using the Fireblade as a seventh weapon power-up. It will be a while before that becomes possible though as Switchblade is a pretty big game. It consists of five levels but, although ending with a boss fight, each level continues on from the last so there’s no real break between them. This extends to the look of them. The graphical style is similar to the distinctive look of Rick Dangerous before it – everything is neat and nicely drawn with small, squat little sprites, and I can’t imagine it really pushes the 16-bit CPU of the ST very hard – but unlike Core’s previous game, there’s almost no variety between the levels, and unfortunately that’s as far as both graphics and gameplay are concerned too.

Switchblade - Atari ST

The grey bricks, crates, girders and ladders that you’ll first see upon entering Undercity are still prevalent an hour later as you approach the climax of the game. This was very disappointing to find as even the much shorter Rick Dangerous has some variety between its levels, graphically. One improvement made here is the audio – the sound effects are pretty anonymous but there is at least in-game music courtesy of Ben Daglish, and it’s great! Playing the game will also feel familiar if you’ve played Rick’s game. There’s less trial-and-error frustration involved here, at least with regards to completely hidden traps and the like, but exploring the levels is done in pretty much the same way – jumping around multi-tiered sections and nipping up and down ladders. Hiro also moves in a similar way to Rick but since he has an energy meter rather than one-hit deaths, it’s a little easier too.

Switchblade - Atari ST

Overall though, I’m not sure if Switchblade represents a forward or backwards step. Rick Dangerous got a mixed response due to its immensely unfair but addictive gameplay while Switchblade was apparently unanimously praised, but in my opinion the latter doesn’t possess either of the former’s most notable qualities – it’s fairer but less addictive since the whole game is pretty much the same as the first five minutes. I know it suits the story to have the whole city looking pretty much the same, but it doesn’t do much for the player’s desire to see it all. This, combined with a very annoying ‘hit mechanic’, which sees Hiro shunted backwards every time he takes damage, means I have less compulsion to continue playing this than I do Rick Dangerous. It’s far from a terrible game, and uncovering all the hidden areas provides some motivation to play it, but it could’ve been so much better with a bit of variety.

RKS Score: 6/10

Breaking down Everquest Next: The Rallying Call

What if a successful settlement opens an awesome dungeon and within that dungeon is incredible loot. What do you think will happen when some servers have it and others do not?~J.A. Laraque

Everquest Next: The Rallying Call

There is going to be a ton of news about Everquest Next and by now most people even slightly interested in it has read what they game is going to consist of. In all the reading and questioning I have done the one thing I hear the most is how it is supposed to change everything. I guess I could just roll my eyes especially considering the failures Sony has put together over the last several years, but then again Everquest did originally change everything as far as MMO’s. So perhaps the better question is who are they changing it for?

The way I read it, it seems almost as if the aim is to bring back people who loved the original Everquest. You continually hear them talk about the groundbreaking changes in the original and how people enjoyed EQ2. Obviously they are going after disenfranchised World of Warcraft players as well, but is that the right move?

When I asked, are we what is wrong with MMO’s, I talked about the changes within us and how we are different than we were during EQ’s days. Now, even more time has passed by and the question is, how many of us are really looking for something so new and different we will feel like it is 1999 again?

Everquest Next

The Rallying Call

Right away critics broke down all the new ideas that EN is to offer. Now the idea around the rallying call is that a call will go out across the server and everyone can come together to build and defend a new location. So while this new settlement is being built there will be quests and attacks from various monsters and crafting that will need to be done. Now the idea is obviously taken from world events where something big happens and everyone is involved.

Let’s stop there and look at the original EQ. Many will have fond memories of the world events in EQ, but then again many people look back on EQ like they do their early 20’s often making it sound better than it was. I remember a baby dragon event where people disrupted it so badly that the GM stopped the even and left. I also remember another dragon event where one guy stole all the loot and nothing was done about it. If you were that one person or small group that got to be part of the event or got the loot it was fun. For everyone else it was a waste of time and a zone of lag.

Now in games like Guild Wars 2, you have various events where you take down a big monster with everyone in the area. Once the monster dies you get your own points for the encounter and loot to go with it. I found it could be fun, but you also could just run in there and hit the boss once or twice and get the points and loot and still, even with a ton of players there it still did not feel as epic as you expected it to be.

Will the rallying call change this? So when a rallying call goes out it lasts for two months so right away that is different from the world or zone events you are used to. When everything is said and done your world will be changed and from what we here there are many different outcomes based on what happens during those two months. As an example, if you allow too many attacks and there are delays your settlement will be permanently impacted and on a different sever it could be completely different.

So with Cataclysm much of World of Warcraft changed, but every server changed the same way. With EN, sever A should not look like sever B, at least in theory. Now right away the question is asked, how many possible outcomes could Sony put into a specific rallying call? Well, we don’t know and this goes to another point.

I remember after Saturday morning cartoons on WGN in Chicago there was a chance they would show either Soul Train or a G.I. Joe block of cartoons. Now full disclaimer I’m in my 30’s so back then I did not have any guide or knew what was coming up next. I just sat there waiting with anticipation and when a G.I. Joe cartoon came on I was in heaven, it was an awesome feeling.

That is what Sony is going for, that feeling of not knowing that keeps you playing. Also, since the world is permanently changed if you miss it then to bad, you were not there and cannot share in the stories. Now will this make you want to play more and be part of the change? Could it make people feel they missed out like when you opened the doors to AQ in WOW?

Obviously if we are talking about new gamers then it may not matter. New gamers tear up content even faster than we did back in the day and they have a much more robust internet to rely on for it. If they are looking at us old vets then are we really after that kind of experience? Do we want to wander around waiting for what is next or have our lives changed so much that we almost rather have a simple liner world so that it will make our real lives easier?

Now what about the risk? Remember risk vs. reward? That was what was said a lot in the past. Hardcore people wanted real risk in a game and WOW was too easy and it did not matter if you died or not. In EQ it was about losing EXP and finding your body, but honestly new gamers would not tolerate that and most vets cannot deal with that anymore.

Sony said settlements that are successful remain in the game forever, so what happens if you fail? Can you imagine the crying that will go out if you see videos of a successful settlement and you think it is really cool, but on your sever for whatever reason it failed? Would the risk vs. reward people find it cool that it was even possible to fail or will they be mad they have such “terrible players” that they could not even finish the settlement causing issues within that severs community?

You almost have to assume that failing a settlement cannot have that harsh of a penalty. Some people speculated that a settlement could lead to portal points or new dungeons or even races. I just don’t see Sony allowing a server to not have access to something other serves get. What if a successful settlement opens an awesome dungeon and within that dungeon is incredible loot. What do you think will happen when some servers have it and others do not?

I get the feeling either these settlements will not have the impact players are expecting or that there will be multiple settlements or ways so that everyone can access the same thing. It is one thing if a building is a bit different or a city looks different in the end based on failed or successful settlements, but there is no way I can see them making a failed settlement cause you to miss out on something potentially cool and game changing forever. If anything that could tear servers apart and cause people to leave “fail” severs.

So there are a lot of questions about how the rallying call could work. While some players look upon the idea with a smile and think about how someday they can say they helped build Halas or Freeport, I know there are others thinking about the consequences of failure and yes, even a few thinking of how they can grief the whole experience. Anyone that plays MMO’s knows a community can make or kill a game and sometimes more freedom and player control does not equal a fun gaming experience.

In future articles we will be talking more about EN’s new features and their possible impact and target base and we will keep searching for more info on rallying calls. This feature could be a giant turning point for the game. Let’s just hope it proves to be a positive for us gamers.

Chew-Man-Fu

Chew Man Fu

Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar.

Chew Man Fu

 

In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console.

Nintendo Museum Exhibition

Nintendo Museum Exhibition

Osaka 2007

Nintendo has a history that is over 120 years long. A past that deserves to be shown.

There are a number of museums around the world that depict the history of video games in general, including Nintendo’s role in this. But there is no place where the public is presented the full history of Nintendo, including their days as maker of cards and toys. The only permanent exhibition that I am aware of, is the one on the second floor of Nintendo World in New York. This includes some nice items, but it is quite small and does not really do the rich history justice.

nintendo_museum

These showcases at Nintendo’s American flagship store, though modest in scale, are even an exception for this company, as they usually do not dwell too much on their (pre video game) past. They rather focus on the future and the latest, newest game systems and games.

nintendo_museum

The company history page on Nintendo’s US website even starts in 1985, with the NES! Completely skipping the first hundred year since the company started in 1889. A period, admittedly, when the focus was primarily on the Japanese home market. For that matter, the Japanese site shows the full history, but with very short statements only and without any illustrations.

nintendo_museum

In recent years, the Iwata Asks series of interviewes have given glimpses into Nintendo’s past. But overall, Nintendo provides the general public very limited options to see all the great toys and games that they produced over the course of their long history.

Up until now there has only been a single event in the world that presented Nintendo’s past in its full breadth. This was a temporary exhibition that was held in 2007, in a department store in Osaka, close to Nintendo’s Kyoto homebase.

The event was called “Nintendo Museum” (ニンテンドー ミュージアム), and Isao Yamazaki, who was featured on this blog in a recent Meet the Collectors episode, was involved in its inception. The items on display also stemmed for a large part from his collection.

nintendo_museum

In the interview below, Isao relates how this unique one-off event came about. Hearing his tale and seeing the pictures from this exhibition, I really hope a simliar event will happen again sometime in the future.


Nintendo Museum, Hankyu department store Osaka (2007)

Isao Yamazaki: “I started thinking about this event when my contacts in the Japanese monthly magazine Nintendo Dream called me.”

isao_yamazaki

“The Osaka Hankyu department store was about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, and they were looking for an idea for a fun event that could be enjoyed by all ages.”

nintendo_museum

“Because the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii were very popular at the time, the store’s staff wanted to involve Nintendo in this event. Nintendo in turn contacted Nintendo Dream to help them.”

nintendo_museum

“As a matter of fact, a few years earlier, Nintendo Dream had organised a small event in Tokyo with a few of Nintendo’s vintage toys, taken from my collection. This event was a big success in Tokyo.”

nintendo_museum

“For the Osaka exhibition, Nintendo allowed us to show more. There were still a lot of restrictions, like the space we could use.”

nintendo_museum

“This event took place for eleven days only, from Wednesday March 28 to Friday April 6. Originally it was intended to run up to April 2, but as the visitors came en mass it was extended for a few more days. There were more people than we expected, and it was a real success.”

nintendo_museum

“Lots of Nintendo’s employees came to see, including key persons. It was a pleasure to look at their nostalgic reactions, and talk with them and hear their own memories or experiences at Nintendo.”

nintendo_museum

“You know, all the Nintendo staff told me it was a small miracle, because Nintendo usually does not like to talk about their older history. They usually do not approve these kind of events.”

nintendo_museum

“Until this day I do regret that I had not enough time to prepare an official exhibition guide book.”

nintendo_museum

“I was very proud to be involved in such a project, and would have provided my time and collection for free. But the department story even gave me money to thank me.”

nintendo_museum

“And a funny thing: my collection was considered like and art exhibition. So the department store also paid some very expensive insurance to protect all my items.”

nintendo_museum

“Another great memory was the fact that one of my best friends, the noted French Nintendo researcher Florent Gorges, came over to Japan especially for this occasion. He helped make the event a success, and worked with us one night straight without sleeping, to prepare the exhibition. I remember having a breakfast with him after the work was finished, and we continued talking passionately about ways to make the event even more fun.”

nintendo_museum

“It was a very happy moment for me. Florent took his video camera with him and he recorded a few hours of film; from the preparation of the event to the real public opening ceremony. Afterwards he made a nice “making of Nintendo Museum video”, which he gave me on DVD. This movie is like a documentary about this event and is for me an important treasure.”

Above pictures of the Nintendo Museum by kind permission of Kris Vanderweit.
For more on the Nintendo Museum, check out these the-making-of pictures. If you want to find out more about Isao’s collection, please check this previous post.

Wonderland

Wonderland

Wonderland

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this installment: Wonderland, an adventure game developed by the British game developer Magnetic Scrolls and published by Virgin Games in 1990.

Wonderland

Wonderland was a game set in the Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland mythos. You played Alice as she made her way through the bizarre Wonderland landscape, solving puzzles and enduring plenty of puns. However, the plot of the game did not follow that of the book, although familiar characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, and the Red Queen all appeared to delight the player (or confound them).  However, only the characters from Alice in Wonderland appeared; there were no characters or scenes from the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (which meant no Tweedledum and Tweedledee!).  Even so, there were still around 110 locations to explore in all their surreal glory.

Wonderland

Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. Particularly enjoyable for those who tired of the constant switch between game map – inventory – action screen that most games used.

Wonderland

Wonderland received generally good reviews: “…very simply, it’s fun stuff to play” (Computer Game Review, June 1991); “Wonderland has shown me that the adventure-game genre is alive and growing” (Compute!, August 1991);  ”an atmospheric and cerebellum-crushing adventure game…“  (Amiga Power, June 1991).  It was (and is!) an enjoyable romp through a classic landscape. It doesn’t have much repeat play value, but being of the adventure game genre, it’s not really fair to expect it to. For those who have never parsed a text, give Wonderland a chance to show you what gaming was like twenty years ago!

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

 Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door
The sequel to the fan-favorite and practically only good RPG for the N64 was almost the hit as it was for the system that came before it.
Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door

With the game-play and story-style almost unchanged, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door did receive a good graphics boost. And when you have a decently fun RPG combat system, there’s not much room to complain when its not drastically different. I think all the Super Paper Mario haters can agree on that one.

Paper_Mario_Thousand_year_door

The second Paper Mario game has an epically long quest with lots of quirky humor (there’s a tranny ghost who has a crush on Mario; I’m completely serious), and interesting characters. Be warned that the difficulty jumps for no apparent reason right at the end. Other than that, I can say that Thousand Year Door is a worthy successor to not only Paper Mario, but Super Mario RPG.