King of the Monsters

King_of_the_Monsters

King of the Monsters (1991)
By: SNK Genre: Fighting Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: SNK Neo Geo MVS First Day Score: 47,640
Also Available For: Neo Geo AES, MegaDrive, SNES
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

King of the Monsters

The Neo Geo has gained a great deal of fame and adulation over the years for a variety of reasons but much of this has come from fans of its many one-on-one fighting games. The flagship series must surely be King of Fighters, but fighters are not the only thing it’s possible to be king of! All these human-based games are all very well but even the most creative minds can only do so much with our soft, fleshy, watery bodies. What we need is for someone to open their mind to the possibilities that other beings could bring to the genre. No, I’m not talking about robots, I think we’ve had just about enough of those metallic buffoons clanging into each other (eeek!). Something with the unpredictability of nature is still required I think, but a good helping of muscles, fangs, and a bit of primeval ferocity wouldn’t hurt either. Sounds like a job for the Japanese…
King_of_the_Monsters

The result is clearly inspired by Japan’s preoccupation with giant monsters and hideous creatures of various descriptions, known as ‘kaiju’, and is set in six cities around said country. Each city is home to a combat arena which is… the city itself! Due to the probably-radiation-assisted size of the monsters, they face off in city streets surrounded by appropriate buildings and other landmarks. Well, I’ve presumed they’re appropriate but I can’t say I’ve spent too much time in the cities in question. The action is viewed from a 3D overhead perspective meaning the monsters can move in all directions around the arenas which are encircled by an electrical barrier. Almost everything within the sizeable perimeter can be and usually is destroyed though – more often than not each city starts out all lovely and pristine and ends up looking more like a debris-strewn warzone!
King_of_the_Monsters

The titanic battles take the form of wrestling matches which, to quote good old Mene Gene, are ‘scheduled for one fall’ and are contested by six monsters – Geon (a Godzilla-like dinosaur), Woo (a blue King Kong-like ape), Poison Ghost (a creature made of toxic waste like Hydorah), Rocky (who is… umm… a rocky creature), Beetle Mania (a large Megalon-like beetle), and Astro Guy (a courageous Ultraman-like superhero). Any of them can be selected and all are fought twice (including your own character) before the game is finished. Their repertoire of moves doesn’t vary much from one to another, although they do have special moves of course, and they’re also taken from the world of wrestling which means many suplexes, throws, gorilla presses, DDT’s, pile-drivers, and some close-quarters grappling and even biting! It’s possible to pin your opponent (in some humiliating ways, obviously – see blue ape oaf below) any time you knock them down but it’s probably best to beat the crap out of them sufficiently first. If they’re weak enough, your ‘cover’ may result in a three-count and victory.
King_of_the_Monsters

And that’s pretty much it! One-on-one fighting games have become rather convoluted in recent years in my opinion but King of the Monsters is the opposite. Is that a good thing? Well, it could certainly do with having a bit more to it – some additional fighters at least, and perhaps also the ability to use the surrounding buildings as weapons – but its simplicity also works in its favour in some ways. The graphics and music are quite pleasing for an early Neo Geo title too. The tunes have an air of disaster about them and the monsters all screech/roar appropriately enough. They are also just the right size have some nice animations, and the attention to detail on the cities is superb. In classic B-movie style, the players are attacked by various human vehicles like tanks and boats during play and these can be picked up and thrown. Control of your chosen monster seems pretty good for the most part. Each has two attack buttons and a run button, although it often seems a bit hit and miss as to whether a strike/move is effective or not, but each one needs to count as your character is not restored to full power for the next match which can mean a very rapid defeat.
King_of_the_Monsters

And therein lies both the appeal and problem with King of the Monsters. It’s simple, even for a fighting game, and is very much an arcade game in the traditional sense – it provides a lot of fun and laughs in five or ten minute bursts but little beyond that. That’s to be expected of an arcade game but the Neo Geo home versions haven’t been enhanced in any way and the MegaDrive and SNES conversions even lose two characters! It certainly is an appealing game though, initially at least, and that appeal is heightened when a second player is added who, splendidly, you can choose to either fight against or alongside you against two CPU monsters! You’ll also likely find much to appreciate here if you’re a fan of the old Japanese films from which the game takes its inspiration. If giant rubbery monsters don’t do it for you though, you’ll probably lose interest fairly quickly. It’s a fantastic premise with some great ideas and there are few fighting games like it, I just wish there was a bit more to it.

RKS Score: 7/10

Boxyboy

BoxyBoy

Boxyboy

This could be called the Amazon warehouse game. In Boxyboy you control a worker in a warehouse and the overall goal is to push the crates on to the squares with the yellow dots on them. The game was developed by Media Rings and published by NEC on the TurboGrafx-16.

BoxyBoy

Part of the Sokoban series the game starts of pretty easy, but like all puzzle games it gets harder and harder each level. Speaking of levels, Boxyboy features a level editor that allows players to create and then play their own custom levels.

The Dig

the dig

The Dig

The Dig was released -after many a delay- in 1995 by Lucasarts and, despite failing to be a spectacular critical and commercial hit, should be considered one of the company’s most impressive offerings. Actually, I’d easily classify it as one of my all time favorite adventures and one of the few truly successful attempts at proper video game science fiction. What’s more, it still looks stunning and even has a whole museum (which, among other things, details The Dig‘s incredible development history) dedicated to its glorious, digital self.

Torchlight

Torchlight is An Affordable, Engaging Dungeon Crawler

torchlight

Torchlight’s art style is a fresh perspective. There is virtually no gray to be seen, unlike in games such as Fallout 3 and Gears of War. Instead, the visual style is bright and almost cartoony, which adds to the charm of Torchlight. The graphics are nowhere near being equal to Uncharted 2 but they serve well to fit the game style. In fact, in the options menu there is an option to turn on netbook mode. This helps scale the look of Torchlight so that your netbook and older laptops are able to play this game. I have not seen an option like this in all of my pc gaming life. When I saw that, I had to try it on my netbook and sure enough, it worked flawlessly. As you venture forth into the dungeons, the creatures you encounter are diverse; you will be killing skeletons, rats, zombies, imps, as well as giant boss monsters.
torchlight
While crawling through these dungeons you are welcomed with a beautiful score. This is no surprise because the lead on music is none other than Matt Uelman the composer for both Diablo and Diablo II. The soundtrack of Torchlight has a gentile quality about it. The music does not get in the way of the game but brings out a mystical feeling. When eerie music is playing, there are enemies nearby, building up what little suspense there is because soon you are in a fight. While fighting, the music does not get loud and obnoxious. It still plays gently in the background waiting for you to finish.
torchlight

You start the game by choosing which class you want to play. The three classes you can pick from are Destroyer, Alchemist, and Vanquisher. The Destroyer is the tank that bashes his way through the enemies. The Alchemist is the mage who can cast magic or summon minions to do his bidding. Lastly, the Vanquisher has a vast array of ranged attacks and weapons that he may use, such as bows, guns, and throwing knives.

torchlight

Each character has their own motives behind voyaging to the town of Torchlight. While you are there, the corruption of the emerald crystals resonates in the mines and you are asked to stop the evil from spreading, putting aside your own motives. If you want to fall off the beaten path of the story there are opportunities to do this as well. There is always something to do in Torchlight. The residents of the town will assign you side quests which are either “go kill so and so” or “go collect X object.”

torchlight

Alongside your hero are two pets that can accompany you on your missions. You can pick from a mountain lion or a wolf. Your pet acts as storage space as well as aids you in battle. The most effective way to have your pet help you vanquish foes is by feeding it magic fish you can catch. These fish transform your pet into a ferocious beast. These beast transformations include spiders, goblins and other monsters. Each beast your pet transforms into has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

torchlight

Torchlight is not a flawless gem, however. There are some issues such as a lack of multiplayer. That said, I have heard that there is a massive multiplayer online version of Torchlight under development. One thing that consistently bugged me was that the storage space you have while in the dungeon is small. Nonetheless, the developers gave you a pet so that you can give it items and you can send your pet to the store to sell those items, prolonging your need to return to town.

torchlight

The Final Word

Overall, Torchlight is a fun little game with lots of replay value. Despite its minor flaws, Torchlight does a lot of things right. If you are a student like myself and are waiting for class to start or if you are someone looking for a relaxing dungeon crawling game there is no need to look further than Torchlight.

The Scorecard

8

Streets of Rage 2 OST

Streets of Rage 2 OST

Streets of Rage 2 OST

So after reading through Nick’s article on Streets of Rage 2, I really got all nostalgic and went searching for my OST from the game. I remember this and Sonic 2 were the two games I played constantly on the Sega Genesis. Everything about this game is well done, but I specially love the music and wanted to share it with the OG Nation.

Streets of Rage 2 OST

Enjoy!

Little Money Avenue

S.O.R. Super Mix

Character Select

Go Straight

In the Bar

Ready Funk

Dreamer

Alien Power

Under Logic

Too Deep

Slow Moon

Wave 131

Jungle Base

Back to the Industry

Expander

Never return Alive

Max Man

Revenge of Mr. X

Stage Clear

Game Over

Good End

Go Straight Remix

In the Bar Remix

 

 

Streets of Rage 2

[youtube id=”F4S2z5mV17I” width=”633″ height=”356″]

I actually played Streets of Rage 1, 2 and 3 back then – but 2 for some reason was always my favorite of the trilogy. ~Nick Herber

Streets of Rage 2

This could fall under a Retro Reflection or a PlayStation Network Review, but I really did not want to break this down into a series of score points.  One of the titles I got to play while using PlayStation Plus was Streets of Rage 2 on the PSN.

streets-of-rage-2

This was a classic beat ’em up game from Sega that I played over and over again on my Sega Genesis.  I actually played Streets of Rage 1, 2 and 3 back then – but 2 for some reason was always my favorite of the trilogy.  By today’s standards, it can be a bit slow and sometimes the fighting is a bit ‘cheap’ – but it is still a good throwback to the older days of gaming for those of us who recall Final Fight, Golden Axe, Double Dragon and Streets of Rage so fondly.
  streets-of-rage-2
The premise is pretty simple – you walk from one side of the screen to the other, causing it to scroll in your direction as you take on wave after wave of street thugs.  Each level culminates in some sort of a boss battle that is equal parts amusing and frustratingly cheap.  Along the way you will pick up a variety of items like food, money and weapons stored in random barrels, benches and more from the environment around you.
streets-of-rage-2
You can play the game with a friend, which I recall doing repeatedly when I was younger and it is still fun today.  There is an online versus mode as well that does not hold up nearly as well, for a variety of reasons.  One, the fighting mechanics are really shallow – Street Fighter IV this is not.  Additionally, it seemed like the connections were flaky at best a lot of times.  If I can run around environments like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 and suffer no lag, then it seems baffling to me that a game like this would consistently have trouble keeping up during a single isolated fight.
Beyond that, it seemed like every time I was about to win, my opponent would disconnect with no fear of tangible penalty that I could detect.  Anyway, not a big deal as the majority of my time spent playing was just trucking through the actual story mode on my own.  I beat it two or three times over the span of a few days, and it definitely provided me with a nice dose of nostalgia along the way.

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile

“Smooth sprite animation, screen-filling spell effects, 2D backgrounds as good as the PlayStation can muster, and superb character art.”

Yup even the reviews sounded different back when……

Valkyrie Profile ヴァルキリープロファイル is a role-playing video game, released for original Playstation on December 22, 1999 in Japan. An enhanced port of the game was later released for the PlayStation Portable under the name Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.

Valkyrie Profile

Loosely based on Norse mythology, players assume the role of a valkyrie who recruits and prepares the souls of fallen warriors, before sending them to Valhalla for a final apocalyptic battle between the Æsir and Vanir: Ragnarok.

Several improvements were made to the English release of Valkyrie Profile, including more cinematics and the ability to adjust all characters’ armor.  Some editing occurred during translation, but visible blood, drinking, and sexual comments remain.

Valkyrie Profile

Badrach’s smoking was cut out but the animation of him smoking after a successful battle remains, minus the cigarette.

Original Playstation discs range from $59 to a staggering $499 for a mint edition.

Game Review on IGN where it scored an immaculate 91%
Game Faq and Walkthrough

Avenging Spirit

Avenging_Spirit

Avenging Spirit

When it comes to classic/retro gaming, most people would probably be amazed at just how many truly great, obscure classics there are out there that they’ve not only never played, but likely never even heard of. And so, as part of my ongoing Retro Ministry, I intend to reacquaint folks with some of these forgotten gems over time. As comes with the territory, these entries will not be about the bigger, more popular games that a lot more people know about. No, instead, these will strictly be focused on games that are rare, but awesome.

Avenging_Spirit

First up, we’re going to look at a little number called “Avenging Spirit”, or as it was known in Japan, “Phantasm”. Avenging Spirit was originally an arcade game by Jaleco, who also brought you such classics as Astyanax, the Bases Loaded series, and the Rushing Beat series. With Avenging Spirit, however, you had a game that was a bit ahead of it’s time and rather unique in it’s approach. It was, at it’s core, another action/platformer type of game, similar to Mario, Mega Man or Contra. But where AS really stood out, was also the “gimmick” that made it incredibly fun. The plot can be summarized as follows: You’re a dude who was walking his girlfriend home one night, when you are ambushed by villainous agents, who kidnap your girlfriend, and shoot you down, leaving you for dead. You come back as a ghost, and your girlfriend’s father, a research scientist specializing in spectral phenomenon, wants you to try and get his daughter back, as she’s being held for random to ensure her father’s aid in nefarious plans.

Avenging_Spirit

So that’s the basic setup. You play as a ghost, and while you have the awesome ability to possess enemies to use their powers, the catch is that if the body you’re inhabiting dies, you have a limited amount of time to possess another body, otherwise your energy will dissipate, you’ll pass on to the “Other Side”, and your mission to save your girlfriend will have failed. So while you get this bad ass ability to basically play as a wide assortment of various characters with all sorts of weapons and powers, you’re also challenged by your spectral limitations. And when I say you can possess enemies, literally, you can take over and play as pretty much every enemy type in the game, except for the bosses. Naturally.  As you can see above, you get an energy bar for your ghost, which goes down every time you leave a possessed body, as well as a life-bar for the enemies you possess at the bottom of the screen.

Avenging_Spirit

Different enemy types also give you varying speed, strength, jumping power, etc., in addition to their unique weapon. Of those enemy types, as mentioned, for a game from 1991, you get a pretty healthy selection to choose from. They include, as seen above, nefarious 1930s mobsters complete with pistols, and feisty Amazon women who look suspiciously like classic Wonder Woman, who use their raw power to punch waves of force at you.  You can also play Rambo-esque commandos with machine guns, ninjas who are very agile and throw stars, goofy wizards with magic wands, a baseball player complete with a bat, a robot, an invisible man, and even a fire breathing DRAGON (probably the coolest thing you can play in the whole game).

Avenging_Spirit

You have to use these awesome abilities to make your way through six stages, all while smashing the shit out of enemies, and possessing some at your leisure to accomplish this. Each stage has a boss, of course, and naturally, especially considering it’s an arcade game and wants our quarters, they aren’t easy. You are also tasked with collecting 3 keys in stages 2, 5 and 6 (random I know), which are used at the end of the game to rescue your girlfriend, as if beating the game wasn’t enough. And just to really stick it to you, if you DON’T get all the keys in those stages, you’ll actually be unable to rescue her at all, and even though you can still beat the boss and defeat the bad guys, you’ll actually get a bad ending (SPOILERS). So trust me, you wanna get those damn keys!

Avenging_Spirit

The game was also ported a year later in 1992 to the Nintendo Game Boy. Having played both versions, with obvious “downgrades” to graphics and such, the game holds up remarkably well, and I honestly can’t see too much different in the port. The Game Boy version seems to retain most of the enemies, all the stages and bosses, and plays basically the same (if not actually a little bit tighter than the arcade original). Sadly, Avenging Spirit was ONLY ported to the Game Boy and nothing else, which is too bad, because looking at that screenshot above, I could really see it having been great on NES in full color, not to mention being a no-brainier for the 16-bit Super NES. It’s actually a similarly odd case to another obscure arcade gem, Tumble Pop by Data East (which I’ll cover later), that was also ONLY ported to the Game Boy.

Avenging_Spirit

 

Damn Game Boy got all the luck. And while I did have a Game Boy as a kid, I didn’t get one until, I do believe the Christmas of 1993, and I never actually heard of this game until I was an adult. I just think it would have made a great NES game, and I would have had a higher likelihood of perhaps seeing at my local rental store and actually getting to play it as a kid. I only lament this, mind you, because while I love this game as a kid, you know how much more open and enthusiastic about everything you were as a child….I absolutely would have been nuts about this game back then.

Avenging_Spirit

Then again, there’s a very long list of games I never got to play or even heard of as a kid that I wouldn’t discover until my teens at least, when internet was more prevalent. Real damn shame, that. BUT, all things considered, the Game Boy version that we did get is a great port of the game, and is actually available for download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. You can also apparently get a version of the arcade original for iPhone, though personally, I just simply couldn’t see playing old school side-scrollers with those fake touch-screen “buttons” they try to get away with. Me, I need a real controller in my hands! Of course there are “other” means to find and play the arcade version if you wish, and considering that’s how I got to play it, I’ll just say that if you know what I’m talking about and can, by all means enjoy! You’ll be glad you did.

NES Baseball

 nintendo baseball

NES Baseball

The Nintendo sport series on NES was pretty bad, and Baseball is not much different.
nintendo baseball
The game really is not that bad in a technical sense. It’s baseball….and not much else. It’s got different teams and a 2 player mode but that’s about it.
nintendo baseball
The problem with the game are really three things. The first is the speed of the game, it really goes far too slow for it’s own good. The second are the controls which aren’t so hot when you’re trying to throw it to the right base. Lastly is the difficulty when playing against the computer. It’s far too good getting easy home runs while you struggle to get pass any base.
 nintendo baseball
It may be slightly better in some ways compared to some other sport games on NES, but it’s still garbage. Do not buy this game from anywhere.

Score: 3 out of 10

Super Mario Land 2

Super Mario Land 2

Another entry and another awesome classic game! This Mario game really takes me back as it’s the first one I played for the portable handheld. This game reminds me a hell of a lot to Super Mario World and why wouldn’t it as it’s very similar to it. Lets take a look at this gem!

Super Mario Land 2

The music is quite memorable. There are some levels such as the ghost stages that doesn’t have such upbeat music but there are some other ones that are just as memorable! Try reaching the moon why don’t ya?

Super Mario Land 2

The graphics are top notch for the Gameboy title. They had little room to work on but did an amazing job. Mario looks like Mario and the overworld is packed with detail! Of course, you can’t forget about the bad guys and a lot more other things you might have missed the first time. Totally awesome!

Super Mario Land 2

The gameplay is wonderful! It’s a joy to play such an awesome game! You couldn’t expect anything less from Nintendo. As sidescrollers were the shit back then, every other would end up mimicking the Mario titles. Of course, very few were successful in doing so which is why Nintendo and Mario were always on top. Mario has a whole new arsenal of power ups including the bunny ears which works like the leaf from Super Mario Bros 3. Be sure to play through this game till the final showdown against a now famous Nintendo character Wario.

Super Mario Land 2

As mentioned, this game is a wonder to play through. There are hidden stages and hilarious bad guys. There is always a reason to go back to this game and play through it once more. Be sure to pick it up any time you want to play a very awesome side scroller game for a portable handheld. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall, this game offers a lot of amazing gameplay hours. With such a vast overworld, ingenious bad guys, and some up beat music you are bound to be playing this game for hours and hours. This is definitely a must have for your classic portable collection or if you just want to play a well done game. This game does what you couldn’t in Super Mario Land.

Metal Slug: 1st Mission

Metal Slug - 1st mission

Format- Neo Geo Pocket Color

Genre- 2d platformer/shooter

Although i’m not the biggest fan of rock hard shooters in general, the Metal Slug series is a major exception to that rule.

Metal Slug - 1st mission

For the most part they’re incredibly slick and superb looking action titles, with explosions and bullets flying all over the place. The character and vehicle animations are just another bonus –  Metal Slug is the only game i’ve found that’s made a tank adorable.

I can usual overlook the difficulty of the games as well, due to their arcade infinite lives sensibilities.

So you might imagine that a Neo Geo Pocket game would be a rather pointless venture. Lacking home console/arcade machine style power, the game’s graphics would be blunted and the game would be nothing more than a muted mess.

Metal Slug - 1st mission

I like 1st Mission though. It gets a fair bit of stick for being a underwhelming entry in the series by many, good for the NGP but little else.

It’s better than that though. The game still retains the basic thrill of spraying loads of ammo across the screen, with the bullets rotating to give a quite cool off-the-cuff nature to the game.

Enemies are still animated enough to be amusing, and the levels are a fairly varied bunch, with vehicle missions thrown in at regular intervals.

Metal Slug - 1st mission

In fact the game’s main problem is how it structures its levels. Various circumstances (usually involving dying at a certain point) can leave you in random levels over and over again, such as the jail stage.

Level progression is not set along a linear path, and although this might be an interesting concept for a home console iteration, here it just feels frustrating. Especially as I only pick up and play it every now and then – it’s not a structure that’s ideal for a portable system.

Still, this is one of my favorite NGPC games, although I haven’t yet played the sequel. That will be rectified soon enough though. Another bonus for potential buyers of 1st Mission is that it is one of the easiest and cheaper titles available on SNK’s admirable portable system.

Civilization II

Civilization II

Civilization II

Just a quickie (oooo er) about Civilization II. After much twittering about this game the other day I decided to dust off my old PC copy and play it again. I found the disc in amongst a few other classics neatly stored away in a disc holder. Afraid it wouldn’t work (the disc looks pretty beaten up) I proceeded to install, it worked fine. First thing I noticed was that it was quite refreshing to install such a playable game that quickly, less than a minute from install to loading up (and not a sign of a game update required). I dove straight in to the action.

Civilization II

I made a custom world, medium map, played at prince level and stupidly selected the raging hordes for barbarians, I played against 4 other civilizations. I selected to be the Romans myself, so I could employ the unfunny name of ‘Naughtius Jamesius’, some things never change. The game started well until I realized I’d completely forgotten how to play, tactics and strategies were absent from the beginning and soon the 4 other civilizations were ploughing ahead with warfare, advancing technology and building wonders of the world. My only saving grace was the fact my people seemed to like me, therefore I could address my fellow leaders from a throne instead of a rock.

Civilization II

30 minutes into the game and the other civilizations knew I was weak (I didn’t need the pop up report to tell me that – puny Romans), it was time to make alliances and play dirty, let’s just say the Persians and Greeks had no idea what was coming and would pay for their earlier mockery. Triumphs however were short-lived, 2 hours later I was destroyed by the Vikings, Mongols and eh, barbarians. The score I reached really isn’t worth mentioning here. Still, the time playing this flew by and it is still an amazing amount of fun, I’ll be playing again over the weekend (now I’ve had a warm up game), so hopefully it’ll go a bit better next time.

Definitely one of my all time favorite turn based strategy games, I still prefer this version than some of the later Civilization games, just as addictive as it was back then too.

Limbo

limbo

First of all I’d like to say that for a puzzle platformer, Limbo is a solid game. It’s easy to pick up and play, the controls are simple, the physics are great, and it’s not terribly frustrating. It’s selling point however is supposedly the atmosphere that the game brings and the mystery behind the meaning of it all. It’s decent, not the best, but great for what it is. . .unless you’ve played other games like it.

limbo

There was a video on Youtube where in the comments people were talking about theories for the ending/non existing story for the game. The only thing i had to say was this;

limbo

My theory: he found his sister, the end. The only clues given about this game is the title and that this kid has to find his sister. That’s about it. sure there are things throughout the various levels that you can speculate about, but games of this style have been done before & better (another world, braid, etc). As much as I would love to pull theories out of thin air, I don’t feel there’s any reason with this game. it’s not THAT engrossing as a whole, & seems kind of lazy comparatively speaking. *end comment*
limbo
I guess the reason why I’m NOT ABSOLUTELY LOVING THIS GAME is because games like Another world and Braid were great simply because they were something different (and if you wanted a game shrouded in obscurity and dripping with existentialism, there’s always Passage and Yume Nikki) They were stand alone games. This whole “guessing game” within games buried in silent mystery and artsy-ness seems to be a new genre emerging.

limbo

I’m not sure that I like that idea of that so much. It’s not that I don’t like these types of games, in fact I love these games and games that make the player think and feel a sense of immersion, but I feel that it would give new developers an excuse to make a poorer product. This game seems to be an example of that. Don’t get me wrong, it’ still a decent game, and a lot of fun to play, but I feel they could have done more with it. It just doesn’t have the same charm as the other games.

Of course, if you haven’t played those other games that I mentioned, then yes, this game will be one of the most amazing things you’ll ever experience. It’s short, worth a play through, and definitely worth checking out.

Super Mario Bros

Super_Mario_Bros
(Super Mario Bros, October 1985, Nintendo)

Super Mario Bros

Perfection. That is perhaps the only proper word created to describe Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi “Ten Ten” Tezuka, and Koji Kondo’s realized vision of a sequel to the original Mario Bros. When it comes to the “Black Box” titles, none come close to this magical tale that whisked many a young mind away far off into a land unlike any we had ever seen before. Super Mario Bros. Perfection.
Super_Mario_BrosAll hail!

 What some don’t know is that SMB (as I will refer to it henceforth) was actually created as kind of a “goodbye” to the original Famicom system to make way for the Famicom Disk System, which was a huge motherfucker of a contraption that fit in underneath the original Famicom. The Famicom (FAMIly COMputer), for the uninitiated, is the Japanese version of the NES with little differences such as controllers hard-wired into the console and different sized cartidges. Little did they know that this platform/shooter they were working on (yes, a freakin’ shooter!) would become the landmark of a generation. Thankfully, we were spared “Mario With Big Muthafuckin’ Guns” as they could only map the A button to either jump or shoot the gun. Alas, cooler heads prevailed and a-jumping we all went!
Super_Mario_Bros

Who else makes the Mario face with these blocks?

As for the story, when you say it out loud, it sounds like you may have just left the Guggenheim with Tim Leary on enough LSD to kill a rhino. At the base level, it’s two dudes saving a princess from an evil dragon. That’s where the logic ends and the kick-assery begins. Aforementioned “dudes” turn out to be two plumbers who starred in the previous title (Mario Bros, apropos) who eat magic mushrooms, jump like Lebron on a sugar high, and throw fireballs. There were power-ups in games before but one that doubled your size? Another that shot fire out of your hands? One that turned you into an invincible Goomba destroying machine? Never before had anyone seen anything like this and it was just captivating. Every world has 4 stages, with the fourth being a castle controlled by a fake version of Bowser until World 8. The stages are greatly varied with only two stages being re-hashes of the previous ones. My personal favorite is what I called as a kid “The Void” because it was alot like 1-3 but all in black and white. It was the perfect adventure for young gamers, you ran through grassy plains, made your way through dark caves, swam to your next destination, and avoided flying fish and shit-kicking beetles the whole way.
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My personal fav, “The Void” 5-3

Let’s not forget the music. Holy mother of God, the music. Everyone, and I mean everyone knows the Mario 1-1 Theme (officially known as “Ground Theme”) created by Mr. Kondo. When you think that just his royalties on ringtone sales for that one theme alone have him set for life, it is staggering, considering he also did work on the soon-to-be reviewed Legend of Zelda. No bullshit, and I’ve done this, you can walk practically anywhere, start whistling the Mario Theme and people will follow suit. It is like a gamer handshake. We only think of it as what it is, but if you told me as a kid “Hey, that’s a Calypso beat with steel drums!”, you would’ve been looked at like you just puked on my feet while I was wearing flip-flops. Calypso my balls, that’s simply the Mario Theme.
Super_Mario_Bros

Firework mystery, talk of the playground.

The controls couldn’t be more spot-on. If you died, it was your own damned fault, pick your head up little soldier and try, try again. The magnificent part of it is that at the time, these guys were creating the mold as they went and did so in ways that would re-define gaming forever. Sure, you had Metroid, Zelda, Contra among others that were just as great in their own ways but there is something about Mario that is more than can be described but I’ll give it a go. You are CONSTANTLY doing shit in Mario. In just 1-1 alone, you meet the Goombas, Koopas, Mushrooms, 1-Up, Fire Flower, Star Man, break blocks to find hidden goods, keep watch on your coin counter, make sure you beat the timer, duck on top of every pipe to see if it will take you anywhere, and try to figure out how the fuck you just made fireworks appear after you grabbed the flag. THE FIRST LEVEL!!! That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of unlocking the rest of the secrets that I had to test out after hearing about it at school due to no internet in the early 80’s. Secrets exist like the -1 World, an infinite water stage glitch that I never thought was real until I saw it in Nintendo Power. One of the funniest things I’ve read was an interview with Miyamoto about the Inifinite 1-Up trick at the end of 3-1. He was asked about the glitch and he replied that there wasn’t one. He purposefully put that there and couldn’t believe people found it. Honestly, I’ve done it and the guy that figured it out had to have accidentally pulled that off, I mean, how the hell would you know?

Super_Mario_Bros

Gaming’s first catchphrase!

The only negative I can even possibly find with this game is the 2 player. If you are Mario, you have to die in order for it to be Luigi’s turn. If the person playing Mario was good, go to the store, take a shit, balance your checkbook, develop a written language for Sea Monkeys, and make a LEGO fully functional house and THEN, it might be your turn. In one of those weird “I’d never think anyone else would do this but me” things, I used to boot up 2 player, immediately feed Mario to a hungry Goomba, and rock the whole game as Luigi. Recently, I spoke to two other people who did the same thing. Awesome.

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Oh, 8-3 how I hate thee.

In what will be I’m sure one of the longest reviews of a game, no other game deserves it more. SMB is the benchmark of the Black Box games to this day is beaten by me at least twice a year. In an era where acheivements were real trophys on your dresser, noone cared which voice actors were used, and “X Box” was more likely to be the name of a seedy porn store on Westheimer, Super Mario Bros was the king. It has been ported and thrown on more systems than any other game besides Tetris and shows no signs of slowing down.
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The first final boss I ever met. I heart Bowser.

FINAL VERDICT
10/10. No other way this one was going. This game is mandatory to play.
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THE JOURNEY WILL NEVER BE OVER!!!!!

Special thanks to N-Styles for the info about the gun. If you think it’s bullshit, there are original archived documents from Miyamoto himself! Check them out here:

Lost Planet 2

Lost-Planet-2-

Everyone knows that it’s more fun to read a bad review than it is to read a good one. One thing you learn quickly in journalism school is that it’s also more fun to write a bad review. This simple fact has led me to always let myself cool off before writing a piece on something that has gotten under my skin. Even with this cool down period, I still find myself cursing Lost Planet 2.

The original Lost Planet was released in early 2007 for the Xbox 360 and later for the PC and Playstation 3. The third-person shooter showcased battles against massive bugs called the Akrid and impressive snow-covered environments. The story focused on Wayne, a young man who joins up with a group of Snow Pirates to combat the nefarious plans of NEVEC, your typical evil corporation.

The unmemorable story was given a pass because of how fun it was to jump in mechs known as Vital Suits (VS) and blast away soldiers and Akrid alike.

Lost Planet 2 receives no such pass. Now, in addition to an even more forgettable story, gamers must slog through a fundamentally broken game.

Lost-Planet-2-

Set a decade after the original, Lost Planet 2 features six episodes, each told from a different perspective. The snow-covered world of EDN III has been thawing for 10 years, causing an increase in Akrid activity. Many rival factions are fighting for the precious thermal energy (T-ENG) that is harvested from the big bugs. The plots of each individual episode intertwine in various ways but the ties are not strong enough to form a decent narrative. Characters in each episode are interchangeable thanks to Capcom’s decision to mask every character in the game. Your armor clad heroes are so indistinguishable that in one cutscene I believed my character had been killed, when in reality it was just a teammate that looked identical to the protagonist.

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The few times the plot gains momentum it fails due to the game’s pace-killing mission structure. Each episode is divided into chapters and each chapter is divided into several missions. The missions last at most 15 minutes, so any action packed sections end just as they really get going. Some of the shorter missions barely last five minutes making the front and back-end loading and statistics reports jarring and disruptive. Breaking up the chapters in this manner seems even more pointless when you consider the fact that you can’t save your game between missions.

The episode environments are varied but you’ll end up doing basically the same thing in every one. While the game tells you that the objective is to take control of a train or cause a mining drill to spin out of control it always comes down the same thing: taking control points. The T-ENG data-posts from the original game seem to be the most important thing on EDN III. These points are apparently the only control scheme on the planet so every mission has you capturing all of the posts on the map while shooting waves of faceless goons.

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While gaining control of the precious posts various small forms of Akrid will harass your squad and every so often a massive Category-G beast will show up. The battles against these colossal Akrid should be the thrilling highlights of the game. In reality they’re just as tedious as the standard objectives. Everyone weapon in the game, including those attached to the various Vital Suits, slowly chip away at the Cat-Gs’ life bars. The battles start out thrilling but a few minutes in it devolves into shooting the glowing weak point with your pea-shooters until the bug drops.

The Cat-G fights showcase just how little thought was put into Lost Planet 2′s design. In the very first encounter you’ll be forced to spend 15 minutes slowly killing the Akrid with the default machine gun. As the beast rises out of a lake you get a great view of Vital Suits and rocket launchers. The problem is, they’re on the other side of a door that doesn’t open until after thebattle. All the wonderful toys are for mopping up leftover Akrid while activating, you guessed it, data-posts.

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The design missteps drive the fun from Lost Planet 2. The clear focus on co-op makes playing solo an exercise in futility. The mini-map doesn’t indicate the altitude of objectives making finding data-posts in cluttered levels more tedious than normal. There are quicktime events peppered throughout the cutscenes but they’re so infrequent that it’s easy to put the controller down and forget they even exist. When one does pop up you have to fumble to find it and input a single button press. I know just about everyone complains about QTE-heavy games but putting just a random few into a title doesn’t solve anything. Unlocks provided by a slot machine more likely to give you nick-names than weapons, the fact that when hit you can’t fire back, being knocked-back by every attack (often sending you off a level), atrocious AI; the list of poor ideas grows more and more as you play the game.

Then there’s the unnecessarily convoluted controls. Buttons are given four or five uses causing you to often do the exact opposite of what you meant to. Want to transfer T-ENG to teammates so they can heal themselves? Press triangle and L1. Press triangle a split-second too soon and you’ll switch weapons instead. Press L1 a split-second too soon and you’ll throw a grenade at your pals. To activate a data-post you repeatedly tap circle. That also happens to be the button for melee attacks. I often found myself smacking data-posts with the butt of my rifle instead of activating them. It’s also sprint so you could very well just run past the posts.

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Capcom also expects you to read the game’s manual. While this is something I frequently do, major features should also get a mention in the in-game tutorial. The dodge roll, an very important maneuver, isn’t even referenced in the control page of the options menu. By the way, it’s executed by pressing X and L3 at the same time. Yes, dodge rolling forces you to either use the uncomfortable claw method of holding the controller or take your thumb off the right stick, causing you to lose the ability to stay focused on what you’re escaping from.

Also omitted from the game’s tutorial are the T-ENG powered weapon caches. The glowing boxes require an infusion of the precious energy to open up. The weapons inside are almost always worth the sacrifice but if you don’t read the manual there’s no clue about how to open them.

I desperately wanted to like Lost Planet 2. Capcom’s MT Framework engine does a stellar job making the massive Akrid and environments look great. The music conveys an epic feeling and the front-end menus are well-crafted. The game isn’t completely devoid of fun. Playing with friends greatly improves the experience but in the end it’s still a prime example of wasted potential. For every thing the game does right there are three or four truly awful design choices. Lost Planet 2 is easily the biggest disappointment, so far, of 2010.

Lost Planet 2 was developed and published by Capcom. It was released on May 11, 2010 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. A PC version will be released on May 18, 2010. A copy was purchased by this author for review on the Playstation 3.

Medal of Honor

I originally reviewed this game on the PSP and PS3, and at that point there was a bug that would stop you from continuing, if you A. Died, B. completed a mission, or C. looked at your console funny. Now on the Vita, it seems like those problems are behind us, so I managed to complete the game and here it is, another review.

Medal of Honor - PSOne

Original release date: November 11th, 1999

Release date on PSN: June 2nd, 2009

Price : 5.99

Story

Medal of Honor - PSOne

For the uninitiated Medal of Honor is a World War 2 game, you take control of agent Patterson a member of the OSS, the “Office of Strategic Services” which was a honest to god military intelligence service that was the pre-cursor to the CIA. You and Mr. Patterson go behind enemy lines and kill lots of Germans, and stop a lot of secret Nazi weapons programs too, that are also based in history.

Character wise you’re not going to get a lot out of it. Even though the story was written by the great Stephen Spielberg, there is no real story other than see Nazi, shoot Nazi. There’s no dialogue with other characters, as you’re a single operator through-out the game. Any narration you hear is in the cut-scenes between missions, they’re really interesting actually because they’re historical films of real WW2 weapons. But don’t expect to see you character grow or there be any twists in the story.

Gameplay

Medal of Honor - PSOne

This was built to be a Goldeneye like experience, and gameplay wise I agree, it plays a lot like it. You get many different weapons, the standards, hand guns, shot guns, etc. The accuracy of the weapons are a little off it seems though, making some weapons way overpowered. If you have a rifle, you’ll headshot everyone you see, being stuck with a shotgun and a machine gun in later levels though can be a pain. While playing on the Vita touching the back pad (where R2 would be) you get the cross hairs just like you remember on Goldeneye. This was a lot tougher on the PSP,  the dual analog sticks on the Vita make this game much easier to control

The missions are objective based, but there isn’t a lot of variety. You collect this list here, then plant a bomb here, sometimes you have to show a passport for a little stealth action, but that’s a very small portion of the game. There aren’t any escort missions which might be a godsend, but it probably would have given you someone to talk to at least. It gets to be a bit of a grind without a story.

The difficulty ramps up like crazy by the end of the game as well, (someone decided to give the Nazi’s rocket launchers at some point). That can get a little frustrating, but it’s not too bad.

There’s a multiplayer mode as well, but I didn’t test that out, but I heard you can get cheats to challenge a Velociraptor as William Shakespeare.

Shooting nazi’s pretty simple concept.

Graphics

Medal of Honor - PSOne

Medal of Honor is not a looker. It’s strength comes though animations. It was one of the first games where enemies would react depending where you shot them. They catch a bullet in the foot they hop around, the arm, they cover it and etc. They will even follow you by crawling into vents something I haven’t seen in games in the latest generation, which sort of surprised me. The music is excellent though, orchestral score by Michael Giacchino the Academy Award winning composer of films like Mission Impossible 3, Up, the Incredibles etc.

The levels are a bit like mazes, and you do get caught in a lot of corridor shooting. This is mostly due to the draw distance in Medal of Honor, it is really short. It’s even tough to use a Sniper rifle, because most of the time you can’t see the soldiers shooting at you due to the distance problem. This is obviously due to the PSX limitations at the time, but it’s still frustrating getting shot at by someone you can’t see, so you have to fire wildly into the night hoping you hit the source of lead.

Is Medal of Honor worth playing?

Medal of Honor - PSOne

I had fun with it, but going through the review has really made me a bit more negative on the whole thing. It’s an interesting game that’s for sure, but the little annoyances really nip at your heels. The end of the game does sort of end abruptly as well. You would have thought with a game backed by Spielberg you would get something, instead you get a 15 second clip announcing victory. The gameplay is decent in Medal of Honor, but the total lack of story doesn’t really drive you forward to complete it.

Medal of Honor is a functional shooter, but with nothing to really get you invested other than shooting Nazis.

7/10

Yoshi’s Island DS

Yoshi's Island DS
This was a really surprise sequel Nintendo came up with. Yoshi’s Story was a failure and a joke of a game. This however wasn’t bad at all.

Yoshi's Island DS

Unlike Yoshi’s Story, this is more like the original game on SNES.

Yoshi's Island DS

 Except that Yoshi can also work with other Baby characters such as Donkey Kong or Peach. Each one having a different power like super-sprint or hanging on vines.
Yoshi's Island DS
Even though it’s not nearly as awesome as the first game, it’s an acceptable apology after the Yoshi’s Story disgrace.

Dead Hotel

As I am semi-randomly and very slowly going through the Interactive Competition entries, I couldn’t help but notice that Dead Hotel is the only game that has been specifically programmed to run as a proper executable for Windows using its very own engine. Out of respect for the extra and, for all I know, difficult effort I decide to give it a look. Didn’t regret it, mind.
Dead Hotel
The game itself is a menu-driven affair, not dissimilar to Snatcher (sans graphics of course), that puts gamers (or should I say interactive readers?) in the shoes of a former policeman trapped in a hotel and facing a zombie apocalypse. Rather banal, I know, but it is pretty well written, though admittedly very short and obviously not quite complete. It’s more of a demo really. A demo with some interesting and i-f compatible combat mechanics.
More importantly, it’s like a demo of something really promising. The engine, you see, sports a lovely, retro-esque, chunky font, looks fine, can support such things as hit-points, combat and inventories, is fast and already features sound. With a few modifications and additions such as maps and graphics, it could end up being able to produce something really amazing, and I’m definitely looking forward to this. Not that I didn’t enjoy the 15 minutes I spent with Dead Hotel
You can download Dead Hotel, as well as the other IF Competition games, for free over here. Actually, you really should. There are more than a few gems waiting for your attention.

Mouse Trap

Has any game inspired so many budding engineers than Mouse Trap? If there ever was a game that taught cause and effect, Mouse Trap was it. Some have claimed it was “too difficult” to put the game board together. Heaven forbid we teach our children the value of perseverance and rewards from accomplishing something difficult, or take the time to pull ourselves from our daily grind to actually spend quality time with our children. Our microwave society seems hell-bent on celebrating “everyone gets a medal day” while removing any challenges from our children’s paths, while decreasing the level of difficulty for any task to the point of being ridiculously simplistic. But I digress…

mouse trap
Box front for the 1963 Mouse Trap game.

Mouse Trap was created by Harvey Kramer, while working for Marvin Glass & Associates, and in 1963, the game was licensed to the Ideal Toy Company. Mr. Kramer was an odd duck: a toymaker who disliked children. (Shades of old Stauf from The 7th Guest!) The original game design called for very little interaction, with players simply moving their pieces around the game board and trying to avoid being trapped. The lack of interactivity wasn’t surprising, as the game was originally envisioned as a toy, and it wasn’t until well within its development that a game board and die were added. The resulting game sold well enough to propel Ideal into the market as a board game publisher.

mouse trap
The incredible Sid Sackson.

The game was redesigned somewhat in the 1970s by the legendary game designer (and freelance game troubleshooter), Sid Sackson. He added extra game elements to improve Mouse Trap’s interactivity: players now collected pieces of “cheese” while roaming the game board, and could now contrive to get their opponents into the special trap space. This version was released in 1984 by Milton Bradley – who had assumed the game’s manufacturing rights from Ideal – and remains the one embedded in the gaming community’s popular consciousness.

mouse trap
A typical Rube Goldberg contraption.

Mouse Trap was indeed a GREAT game. It was inspired by the drawings of Rube Goldberg, whose complicated contraptions had entertained Americans through the middle of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, although Marvin Glass acknowledged Mr. Goldberg’s influence to the game’s design, declined to play the then quite elderly artist any royalties, which Mr. Goldberg had neither the resources nor strength to fight. It’s hard to believe, but board game history is full of dastardly deeds such as this –just ask who actually invented the game of Monopoly. (But I digress…again.)

mouse trap
How the Mouse Trap works…

In a typical Rube Goldberg drawing, many small actions build one upon the other to create a chain reaction. In Mouse Trap, the sequence is as follows: the player turns a crank, which engages a set of gears. As the gears turn, they push against a lever, which causes a shoe to kick a bucket containing a metal ball. The bucket tips over, and the ball is sent down a set of stairs and into an eaves trough (rain gutter), eventually reaching the bottom where a rod holding a “helping hand” sits. Once the ball strikes the rod, a large marble is dislodged, passing through a bathtub, and landing directly onto a diving board, which in turn sends a surprised diver sailing through the air and into a large wash tub. The impact causes a cage to drop down onto the “trap square,” trapping whatever poor mouse is under it. Whew! I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like a Rube Goldberg device to me.

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Mouse Trap game box.

Although Mouse Trap is a game for 2 to 4 players, and is recommended for ages 6 and up, it really isn’t meant for kids to play unsupervised. The game board is too complex and finicky for a child to set up on their own, without a parent to either guide the process or to offer encouragement when things go awry. However, the game remains one of the best teaching tools to show the relationship between cause and effect, and the consequences of small actions. It can lead to a great conversation between parent and child on this topic, or can be a segue to a long discussion on the unforeseen consequences of undesirable behavior. Any game that can accomplish those tasks is a classic board game, and highly recommended!

And just because it is the best live-action Rube Goldberg machine I’ve ever watched on YouTube, here’s This Too Shall Pass from OK Go:

Banjo Kazooie

Banjo Kazooie

Format- N64

Genre- 3D Platformer

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I think Banjo Kazooie’s a bit of a classic.

When I hear people doing retrospectives on the subjects of N64 or developers Rare however, they usually dismiss the game as a turgid collectathon.

That is completely and utterly wrong in my opinion. So without further ado, here’s my hastily assembled defence for this unfairly maligned 3D platformer…

Banjo Kazooie-N64

This was my first title for the N64, and as a result I naturally have a bit more affection for it than others might do. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s flawless though – just that most of the game’s faults are blown mostly out of proportion by its critics.

First, there’s the criticism that the game is only really about collecting items. Balderdash. Although there are far more items to bag than in, say, Super Mario 64, there really isn’t a suffocating amount so that it dilutes the actual gameplay.

This was arguably a problem in Banjo Tooie where you had several different egg types – but the original has no such issues.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

Next, the Rare staple of sticking a pair of eyes of an object is dismissed as a lazy form of characterisation. The game may go a little further than needs to at times (Loggo the toilet i’m *shudder* looking at you), but Banjo Kazooie is primarily aimed at younger players, and in that context this process is quite charming.

The same goes for the garbled voices. I like them dammit! They fit into the feel of the game perfectly.

The way people moan about these googly eyed and strangely voiced characters you’d think the game was attempting to be a piece of high art. It’s not, so this criticism is more than a little unfair.

Finally, the large move-set of the game comes in for a fair bit of stick. It’s a criticism I can actually understand – compared to the simple but deep skill set of Mario, Banjo and Kazooie’s moves seem a little less natural.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I personally don’t mind it, but other players may not like the way the game has more attack and jump types than is really necessary. A little streamlining might not have gone amiss.

In the standout parts of the game, the worlds you explore are nearly all wonderfully varied and lovingly designed. Each world is standalone, with different enemies and wildly different challenges in each one. They’re small but have a whole lot of things to do in them.

The game’s piece de resistance is definitely Click Clock Wood. A hugely ambitious multi-season romp, it stands out from the rest of the game every time I play it.

The other worlds are all fairly tight and well designed, but then this world comes out of nowhere and dwarfs them all. This world is the high point of the game, and in my view, the entire Banjo series. I haven’t finished Nuts and Bolts though, admittedly.

Finally, the game looks gorgeous. For an N64 game it still wows me, and I can’t see the game becoming out-dated or unplayable for a long time yet. The 360 hi-res version looks nicer still. The music is also great. Sure, it’s a probably a little too lively for some, but it’s catchy as hell and fits the game to a tee.

I probably haven’t convinced or indeed unconvinced anyone with the previous spiel, but it’s good to get it off my chest nontheless. Tomorrow – something a little more obscure.

Syndicate

[youtube id=”NBiHuAwyHR8″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

Syndicate

 

I’ve always been interested in politics and, well, power. I distinctly remember aged 7 or 8 explaining to a classmate that Margaret Thatcher was a Prime Minister, not a President as Britain didn’t have Presidents. When I was given the action figure of Hordak (main villian of She-Ra and former mentor of Skeletor of course) I considered the ramifications amongst the villians of suddenly having the old boss back. Who would they back? Could Skeletor be deposed? Could civil war break out on Snake Mountain?

I was an odd child in many ways.

By the time I was 13 I had started to think about how power should be used and, most importantly, who should be in charge. My conclusion? That I should be in charge. Yes, me. Sadly at 13 I realised I was some time away from seizing power. Sorry, did I say seizing? I obviously meant to say ‘become politically active, maybe getting involved in local politics or something’…

While I waited to get old enough to fulfil my political destiny I played games that seemed to have a political or, ahem, power-hungry bent. CivilizationCommand & ConquerColonizationRise of Nations, and, the subject of this post,Syndicate.

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See my Empire grow… Ooo har har har!

Syndicate is set in a Blade Runner-esque future where nation states and governments have been replaced by corrupt corporations. The people have been numbed into submission by having a chip inserted into their heads which alters reality, making them see a world of sunshine and lollipops rather than the dystopian nightmare it actually is. Imagine the iPhone ten years from now.

Rather than make you a freedom fighter or something similar (booooooooring),Syndicate puts you at the head of one of these naughty businesses. The aim of the game is to forcibly take over all other rival corporations – effectively take over the world. You do this by sending a team of four heavily armed cyborgs into various global hotspots to commit sabotage, oppression and bit of old-fashioned political assassination. Successfully complete the mission and a chunk of the world would become yours. It certainly puts the aggressive in ‘aggressive takeover’.

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A rival suffers from an unfortunate ‘accident’.

Each mission takes place in a city. One of the most impressive things aboutSyndicate, especially considering when it came out, is the way each level felt like a real city. Yes, they all look the same, but they seem like living, breathing places. Police are patrolling the streets, cars and trains are moving around the place and people are going about their daily business. Well, they were going about their daily business until cyborgs got in the way.

syndicate-amiga
Sorry everyone, boss says I’ve got to clear the area.

Of course you didn’t just have to kill people, you could also hypnotize them, kidnap them and turn them into cyborgs to use in future missions. You could raise taxes in each territory you owned and invest those funds in weapon research and upgrading your cyborgs, giving them fancy new legs, skin and eyes.

syndicate-amiga
We can rebuild him…

The great thing about Syndicate was, though simple to play, it had a surprising amount of depth. It wasn’t a case of just shooting everything that moved (though there was thankfully a lot of that) but also managing your resources. The way each of your cyborg agents reacted in missions could be altered by adjusting their IPA (Intelligence, Perception and Adrenaline). Raise taxes too sharply and you might have a rebellion on your hands in your territory. Want more intelligence before you start a mission? OK, but that info will cost you money.

There’s something about seeing the colour of your empire slowly spread across the map of the world that is just so appealing. Every time you successfully completed a mission you saw the cut scene below. I never got tired of watching it.

syndicate-amiga
In the manual it explains that like all power mad villains your base of operations is an airship. Oh yes!

 

Unfortunately, for various reasons I never played either of the follow ups – ‘American Revolt‘ (an expansion pack for the original game) and Syndicate Wars, a full sequel released on the Playstation and PC in 1996. I would love an updated version though. Even though it’s not something I ever do, an onlineSyndicate would be awesome, especially as the world of Syndicate seems to get a bit closer every day…

Ian

Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Released in 1989 by Seta Corporation after development by WinkySoft, the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game Adventures of Tom Sawyer was based on the classic book of the same title, as written by Mark Twain. Would the mischief of a boy in ol’ Mississippi translate well to a gaming experience?

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Gameplay

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is mostly a two-dimensional side-scrolling platforming game that also scrolls vertically in portions. There are also parts that resemble a shoot-’em-up, in both scrolling orientations, taking place on a river level and a sky stage. There are six areas in total, with boss fights after each, mini-bosses strewn throughout, and plenty of enemies and precision-jumping challenges along the way.

Fortunately, Sawyer is armed with an infinite supply of generic ball-like projectiles, possibly rocks. He throws these with the B button, while the A button jumps. The balls are not thrown straight forward; no, they have a modest arc, and drop quickly, much like his body upon each of his bounds. Every once in a while, Tom may pick up a slingshot, which enables firing perfectly straight forward for a limited time, although it is often just as well not to bother picking up this supposed upgrade.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

There is no hit-point system, no health bar, no armor setting, purely a scenario in which a single hit kills Tom Sawyer. He begins with three lives, though he does have unlimited continues, and all levels except the final have a checkpoint system at which he can reclaim his adventuring spot from there. In two-player mode, the second player plays as Sawyer’s friend Huck Finn, with alternating turns much like the Super Mario Bros series.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

The entire gameplay has a strange, slightly “off” feeling to it, somehow. Maybe it is the standard-breaking discrepancy in the fact that most of the bosses are rather easy, while some parts of the levels are frustratingly difficult to get past without utilizing tedious trial-and-error learning methods. Perhaps it is the opening cutscene, which places the entire game supposedly within a dream, which may explain why the settings seem to try and match the real-life era, until the life-likeness is spectacularly broken by the appearance of an impossibly giant alligator or outright dinosaur creature.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Warning: There are cheap deaths in Tom Sawyer’s little Adventures. Enemies with erratic movement patterns, enemies that will actually appear right on top of the player if the player is proceeding too quickly, enemies with strangely behaving projectiles, etc. Even for a video game, the creative liberties taken with the laws of physics are truly something amazing to behold. That, and the river level is just friggin’ annoying.

Yet play proceeds without major issues. Even if some parts are annoying, it is rare to feel truly helpless. The ability to duck is a niceand very necessary touch, even if Sawyer can do little else but climb ladders and grab the occasional helpful pelican or red balloon. The boss fight with the enormous zeppelin is a visual spectacle, yet other levels display drab one-color backgrounds. There is minimal flickering or slowdown, but the scrolling is a bit odd in some particular sections, when the screen pauses the action to take a moment to catch up with Sawyer’s movement.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

This a polarizing title, seeming to match of its faults with a stroke of benefit, each of its flashes of brilliance with a mind-numbing design decision. The pace shifts between sudden bursts of frantic panic and moderately long trudges through duldrums. Tom Sawyer is vulnerable, but nimble; the levels tough, but passable; the bosses easy, but captivating; this game is decent, but underwhelming.

Graphics

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Judging the visuals of this game is an odd endeavor. The first level seems bland, with its vast swaths of plain sky, straight-up weird “pirate” archetypes, and other lacking touches; but throughout the game, there are many pleasant surprises, ranging from the massive purple gorilla boss to the seemingly gradual adding of background detail. In the end, once the smoke of dying characters has cleared, this is neither a graphics powerhouse nor an ugly beast. This check-and-balance dichotomy seems to be the theme of the game. The cutscenes are actually pretty darn nice.

Sound

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

But the soundtrack is bad. The music, even if at a couple points reaching an admirable level of compositional depth and finally utilizing all of the NES hardware sound channels, is terribly repetitious, with melodies that are minimally pleasurable to begin with. Listening to this game’s music is an exercise in brazen masochism. The sound effects are okay, but typically not memorable. A bloop here, a pop there, a boomf over somewhere else. Conclusion: “Meh.”

Originality

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

Okay, well, the source material is undoubtedly an intriguing choice to form an 8-bit video game from. The boss designs are utterly zany. The levels hit a nice variety, even abruptly changing entire genre mechanics at a spot or two. The physics of Sawyer’s projectile weapon are a signature not really replicated elsewhere.

NES_Adventures_of_Tom_Sawyer

But: When boiled down to its base elements, what we have here is an average platformer. While it is somewhat skillfully programmed and would be difficult, at parts, to replicate on the homebrew scene by a small team, nonetheless is the playthrough simply not very fun or visionary in its execution, resulting in its rating of two and a half stars out of five.

Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.

Saints Row IV

Saints Row 4 cover

Saints Row started out as a GTA parody (which in itself is supposed to be a parody of real life) but has grown into something beyond that… way beyond that! Although I haven’t played the first Saints Row game (which I believe only came out on the consoles) I have played every game from Saints Row 2 and up. In Saints Row 2 you are the leader of a street gang and are fighting all the other gangs for control of the city. In SR3 you are fighting an evil megacorp for control of the city (again). Well in 4 you skip the scale of trying to take over a state or a country by saving the world from nuclear Armageddon and becoming the president of the United States of America. That’s not all but very quickly after the game starts Aliens attack Earth, the humans lose, you and your friends get abducted and placed in a virtual jail.

So, right from the start the game skips being a GTA clone and quickly becomes something like the game Prototype, and that’s a VERY good thing. Imagine the movie Chronicle meets the Matrix except that instead of being a pussy like Neo you go around trying to break the rules of reality and morality by doing a bunch of crazy shit! You gain super powers that completely change the game around the more powers you gain, as well as upgrade them to be even more metapowerful. Effectively you are the comic book character The Flash mixed with the main character from Prototype as well as a mage… basically you are a God. 😀

Now think of how awesome it would be to be a God in a universe with little or no consequence as well as being inside of Saints Row a game with some of the best humor ever found in video games. This is a winning combination!

You will find all sorts of references in this game to TRON, the Matrix, Dark City, Chronicle, most super hero comics you ever read, something like Highlander and Buffy, text adventure games, 90s side scroller games, 80s-90s arcade games, every previous Saints Row game, the Commodore 64, space operas, Mass Effect, Inception, pop culture, Pleasantville, Shadowrun, Warhammer 40k, Keith David, They Live, Roddy Piper, and so on.

Graphics: 10 out of 10
The Havok engine is simply beautiful and is efficient!

Music: 9 out of 10
Holy shit they put real songs in this game such as music from Aerosmith and Paula Abdul and others. Some of the game’s score is a remix of SR3 music and that’s amazing!

Fun Factor: 10 out of 10
It’s fun telepathically picking up a flaming garbage truck and flinging it into a stack of aliens. Most of the game involves going around doing mini games which often results in a lot of explosions. It took me a long time to get bored of it.

Difficulty: 5 out of 10
I found the game easy even on hard. Yes, there are a few parts that are freaking hard on hard but it doesn’t take many retries to finally beat them. Since you can summon allies the more you hack the simulation it becomes easy (at least for me).

Value: 10 out of 10
I would say buy it at any price, especially if you have a friend that has it, you can play the co-op campaign.

Overall score: 10 out of 10
Stop reading this and go play it. The universe needs you to save it from an evil alien overlord.

Astrosmash

Astrosmash - Intellivision

How often is it that a game plays a big hand in your life? I mean, really big. Like, it brought upon the birth of someone, big. Ok, obviously I’m going to have to explain THAT one…

In this edition, Prixel Derp’s Chris “Sledge” Douglas takes a look at 1981’s Astrosmash, for the Intellivision. Designed by John P. Stohl for Mattel Electronics, this game is not only a ridiculously addictive shooter, its also quite possibly the only game that will adjust it’s difficulty level as you play! And this tension… well, you’ll see…

Weird Games: Alive

Alive - FMV - PSONE

I was a fan of FMV (Full Motion Video) games, not so much as a player but as a watcher. Honestly, those games were often way to hard and cheesy even for a teenager. You would think that if all you had to do was act out a video game, movie style it would produce some great games. Sadly that was not the case.

Alive - FMV - PSONE

Case and point is this PlayStation One game from 1998 called Alive. This game was created by the now bankrupt, General Entertainment. I mean with a name like that is it surprising that they failed? This game featured a 20 year old Japanese girl that is accused of murder. Like in classic games such as, Dragon’s Lair, you needed to make quick movements and commands and make sure they are the correct ones or you die and its game over.

Now the game is in Japanese, but you can piece together the story from the video, sort off. As stated you are accused of murder and must fight to prove your innocence. Of course you are being hunted by the cops and there are a ton of dangers you have to avoid. You are in a futuristic city even though it says 2003 they have tech that looks way beyond that, then again it is Japan.

To say the graphics are bad is an understatement, but I guess you can give them a little slack, but just a little. As a side note and because I am a sick puppy, I laughed really loud watching this video and seeing the “vibrator on” open on the title screen. You play as Atsuko-Kawada and while the game starts off peaceful it isn’t long before you realized something is wrong and you need to get out of there.

So the gameplay works like this. During some sequences you have three choices, active, cleaver and escape. You have a limited amount of time to choose one and the wrong one can delay you or give you the game over screen. Later in the game you get additional choices to make such as, when you are driving you can go left or right or go up or down. Once you have a weapon you will get a moving target indicator and will need to time your shots to hit the enemy. Failure to do so almost certainly spells doom.

Alive - FMV - PSONE

As stated the graphics are not that great. Obviously it is FMV, but the added animation is not well done. You can really see this in the car crash and explosions scenes. It is pretty bad. You can also tell in the gun shots that they use squibs, but all this goes along with the bad acting and overdone death scenes. If there is something I would say this game is known for it is the death scenes, especially the knifing scenes and the abrupt Game Over screen with what sounds like a cheap version of the Law and Order gong.

Full disclaimer, I never got to play this game. There are like no articles or wiki’s on it. I had to piece together everything from the videos. However, the game is interesting enough that it deserves to be talked about if nothing else, but to watch some of the videos and have a good laugh.

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium

Released 1999

System: Neo Geo Pocket

Review done by Paul Monopoli

SNK vs Capcom

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium (from here on referred to as MOTM) is the first in the SNK & Capcom vs games. Being a fan of both franchises I purchased this game on release, & I didn’t even own a Neo Geo Pocket!!! It took another 6 months to get that, which means MOTM was sitting in the top of my cupboard eagerly awaiting it’s first play. So 6 months of waiting… it’s a long time. Was it worth it? In a word YES. WAIT, don’t leave the review yet. Don’t you want to know why it was worth it? Thought so…
This game is just so much fun. The game box promises “… the best of both worlds…” & it delivers.

When you first start the game you’re treated to a slide show of clips featuring the characters in the game in chibi form. Don’t let this put you off, it’s actually one of the best features of the game & makes it fit in a lot better than the main console versions. Let’s jump to the main menu:

SNK vs Capcom
So here are our options:

Tourney is the main game. Get in there & start fighting.

VS Mode. Do I need to explain this one? I probably should point out the obvious, being that you’ll need 2 Neo Geo Pockets, 2 versions of the game & the link cable. I don’t know if the wireless linkup device works on this game. Yes the Neo Geo Pocket had a wireless linkup device well before the Gameboy Advance ever did.

Olympic features side games which we’ll cover a bit later.

Entry allows you to customise you own character. I wasn’t very big on this feature. All you can do is create custom music & cheesy tag lines for the characters. Meh…

Sparring is just a non stop practice mode.

Record let’s you view your… well records. Win/Loss & all the rest of it. Let’s jump into Tourney, because this is where you’ll be spending most of your time:

SNK vs Capcom

This is where it REALLY starts to get impressive. SNK & Capcom fans are well & truly covered here. You can battle it alone, with a partner in a Capcom “vs style” match or in an SNK style 3 on 3 team. Let’s have a look at the characters:

SNK vs Capcom

Here’s the lineup. SNK on the left, Capcom on the right but HOLD ON. 4 blank spaces per side… Could there maybe be some HIDDEN characters? Why yes there are thanks for asking, & yes it’s 4 additional characters per side. I’ll get to unlocking them a bit later, as the review has been positive so far. I don’t want to ruin it. On this screen I’ve chosen Capcom “tag” mode, hence the 2 character boxes per side.

In both the TAG & TEAM modes you’re given the option of choosing who goes first, or in the case of TEAM who goes first & second.

SNK vs Capcom

The gameplay looks excellent. Sure we’re let down by 2 colour characters, but this is more a limitation of the Neo Geo Pocket than it is the game itself. The attention to details is amazing. Rivalries are all covered at the start of battles. Each Capcom character has an SNK rival & of course you have the original rivalries of Ken vs Ryu, Kyo vs Iori, Terry vs Geese (oops, did I just give away a hidden character??). They all interact & say things that highlight that maybe these 2 characters have a history. If the characters aren’t rivals then you get your generic statement & away you go.

Sound is great with every character getting their own background music. Music from Fatal Fury, Street Fighter 2, Samuari Shodown is all present. Hits feel like hits & while you’re not going to get an almighty HADOUKEN!! out of the little Neo Geo Pocket, you get suitable sound effects for every occasion.

The developers DIMPS are obviously fans. You tell me how many programmers would go into such minute details about making sure Ryu & Ken have different fireballs a la Street Fighter Alpha?

SNK vs Capcom

All the supers are there. From the Capcom vs games, to the King Of Fighters games, they’re all here

SNK vs Capcom
There’s Ryu doing his super Hadoken.

 

So the main game gets a 10 out of 10 from me. Superb playability. Yes the characters are chibi, but this makes them FEEL like they’re a part of the same universe, which is something I had problems with with the main console versions. Punches & kicks feel like they’re hitting, Massive fists & feet actually don’t feel out of place.

On a side note: The Neo Geo Pocket joystick is without a doubt the finest fighting controller used on a portable system, & after a few minutes of playing you can tell that SNK designed this little baby for fighters.

So it’s been all pretty good so far. Let’s move on…

Olympic mode is the other part of the game you’re going to be spending some time in. The only problem is that it’s really average. The olympic events are hosted by SNK & Capcom Characters. Rimururu will take you through the SNK section while Sakura’s rival Karin is your Capcom guide. Here’s Rimururu with a list of options:

SNK vs Capcom

Entry is obviously to enter an event.

Record is to check your records in the events

Master Skill is why you’re putting yourself through this. You can unlock new techniques for the characters in the main game.

Talk is to have a chat to either Rimururu or Karin… pretty uninteresting though their replies are mildly amusing.

Exit… I won’t insult you by explaining this one.

Rimururu & Karin’s event lists are the same save for 2 each side. Here are the girls with their event lists:

SNK vs Capcom SNK vs Capcom

First are the 3 first challenges. Survival is just 100 fights on one health bar which gets slightly replentished every so many battles. Time Attack is beating as many people as possible in the given time limit of 7 minutes. First Blast consists of 2 characters with 1 hit point on the health bar each trying to get that first hit in. Now onto the special events for each side.

I’ll cover Rimururu’s list first. Target 9 is based on Metal Slug whereby you pay Marcus & have to destroy all the Mars people. Blade Arts is where you play Jubei from Samurai Shodown & have to destroy straw dummies. It sounds more exciting than it is, trust me! Well if you don’t trust me, trust the screenshots.

SNK vs Capcom SNK vs Capcom

Now Karin has Ghost Trick & Cat Walk in her list. Ghost Trick involves you collecting gold while avoiding Red Arremer & Cat Trick is just a Dance Dance Revolution style game.

SNK vs Capcom SNK vs Capcom

Again, VERY ordinary single screen games. So why are we doing this again? Oh that’s right… secret fighting moves. Everyone has one more move that needs to be unlocked by doing events & earning points.

SNK vs Capcom

I thought I would show you this move in the screenshot above. I’ve actually got Leona highlighted, it’s just not showing on the pic. Apparently Leona can make you happy while you die. Quite how she does this… well I’ll keep it clean & suggest she might kill you softly with his song. Apologies for the obscure musical reference.

Now the rant I promised you. Unlocking secret characters is a PAIN. After you complete tournament mode you are presented with a box made up of 9 squares. One of the squares in this box is removed at random to slowly reveal the hidden character. So you need to clock the game at least 9 times to reveal 1 character, BUT take note of the previous sentence. I’ll repeat it with the bit I want to highlight in bold:

“One of the squares in this box is removed at random to slowly reveal the hidden character”

RANDOM. Yes this means even if a square has been removed the random thingy that removes the squares can land on that spot again. So you could be stuck with one or two squares left & the game just keeps going to over boxes. I played over 30 times before I unlocked Akuma. It is worth it however just to see Geese vs Bison. Firstly Billy Kane & Vega come out & square up, then they step aside to let their bosses duke it out. So frustrating, but worth it in the long run.

So that’s the game. Before ending the review I’d like to comment on the manual. Capcom characters are normally drawn quite mangaey (is that a word?) while SNK characters are more true to life. The artwork in this manual & on the box art should please both parties as it’s a very well done even mix. Sort of a half & half mix. Again this makes everyone feel like they’re part of the same game & the same world. Move lists are included for all but the hidden characters but hey, if they told you in the manual who was in the game they wouldn’t be hidden.

Finally a list of characters per side:

SNK                                    Capcom

Kyo Kusanagi                            Ryu
Terry Bogard                            Ken Masters
Iori Yagami                            Chun Li
Ryo Sakazaki                            Morrigan
Mai Shiranui                            Felicia
Haohmaru                            Zangief
Nakoruru                                Sakura
Athena Asamiya                        Dan
Leona                                Guile

Hidden characters per side:

Akari Ichijou                            Akuma
Yuri Sakazaki                            B. B. Hood
Geese Howard                            M. Bison
Orochi Iori                                Evil Ryu

The last 2 characters per side are INSANELY powerful, but as you’ve already unlocked them I guess there isn’t much else to do except unlock any special moves you missed from the olympic section.

 SNK-vs-Capcom

Summary:

I go back to this game VERY regularly for a quick bash. I’ve unlocked everyone & everything, but it’s still fun. If you’ve played other fighters for the Neo Geo Pocket such as Gal’s Fighters, Fatal Fury or King of Fighters you will notice the game looks & plays the same. This is still an essential purchase, particularly if you’re a fan of both franchises.

I give this a VERY easy 5/5

Gamer Profile: Cambria Edwards

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I didn’t have gaming consoles growing up, but my cousins did and I was over there all the time. Donkey Kong was one of the first games I ever played and I fell in love. Whenever a new console came out, of course my cousins had it and monopolized it. So I would go in the other room and play my Donkey Kong on the Nintendo. Even in the early 2000’s I would always ask to play until they finally got rid of their system. I was a bit heartbroken and it still remains one of my favorite games to this day. ~Cambria Edwards

Cambria Edwards

Favorite Classic Video Game: So I don’t know if this counts, but my favorite is Nintendo’s, Donkey Kong.

 The Tomb Raider Project:

Tell us about working on the Tomb Raider Project: It was brilliant! Being able to play the most iconic female video game character, having all of her gear and rolling around in the mud (there was a LOT of dirt involved, half of which doesn’t even register on camera). I got to wield my pickax, hang from trees, and I even build a fire for one of the shots. I do archery, so luckily that came in handy as well. In July I went to Comic Con as Lara and it was fantastic.  A lot of people recognized me from the videos and even more were astounded with the costume. It meant a lot to see so many people as passionate about the character and game as I am.

See more of her Tomb Raider work here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Alien Breed

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Alien Breed

There was a period during the early 90’s when being an Amiga gamer was nearly as great as being a console gamer with regards to arcade-style games (I know, hard to believe – hee hee!), and this was largely thanks to Team 17. Although not founded until 1990 – quite late for an Amiga developer – they made an immediate impact. Their releases were rarely very original but were almost always technically impressive and highly playable. One that remains among their most celebrated works is Alien Breed, an almost legendary overhead run ‘n’ gun blaster. It was reminiscent of many such games before it in concept and also took a good few cues from a certain sci-fi film, but was immediately successful nonetheless. This would indicate that it’s very good but when I gave it a quick try in my younger days I found it annoying and flawed. It’s reputation endures though, so maybe I judged it too quickly and too harshly. I shall now find out…
Alien Breed

The game casts you and an optional second player in the roles of Johnson and Stone, two members of the Inter-Planetary-Corps (IPC), an ‘elite band of tough mercenaries’ whose job it is to clean up the universe’s scum. On their way home from a long mission, they’re ordered to investigate the nearby ‘Intex Space Research Centre 4’ which has stopped responding to messages. This means landing their craft and scoping out the complex on foot, but they may have guests! Sound familiar? Indeed, there was a rather popular movie directed by a certain James Cameron released a few years before Alien Breed which has a very similar premise, and many more things will sound familiar by the end of the review as well, but that’s okay – a lack of innovation or imagination doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of enjoyment! The complex consists of six decks comprised of interconnecting rooms and areas. You have a set objective on each deck which is detailed before you start it. Once it’s complete, you need to find the lift and move to the next.
Alien Breed

You start on the first deck which is a docking bay, and a quick stroll around reveals a tidy, mostly metallic, and eerily quiet gameworld. The action is viewed from directly overhead and you can move freely around the decks in eight directions. There are lots of doors between areas which each require a key to open, and there are various bits and pieces dotted around the stages from barrels right up to active (but grounded) spacecraft, but it doesn’t take long to discover some slightly more dangerous stuff too – namely, the aliens – which look exactly as you would expect the Giger variety of xenomorph to look from above, and there are a lot of them. To help you reduce their numbers you start the game armed with a machine gun but the aliens, once onscreen, gravitate towards you, can move very quickly, and are infinite, so prowling the stages trying to take out every one you encounter will be a never-ending pursuit. Actually, it will end as contact with them depletes your energy quickly!
Alien Breed

Some things that are worth looking for include cash, keys, ammo, and health, all of which can be found laying around on the floor and all of which is necessary to make progress. The cash can be used to buy one of six different weapons (flamethrower, plasma gun, missiles, laser, etc) from the Intex computer terminals you’ll find now and then, all of which have finite ammo. The terminals also offer a map of the stage (which looks dauntingly large and intricate!), various stats and information screens, a game of Pong to kill time, and you can also buy a portable map, extra lives, and more of the stuff you can find on the floor in case you’ve developed a habit of squandering the existing supplies (although since that must also include cash, I guess you’d still be in trouble). They’re in fairly abundant supply though, so careful play should mean you can save your money for the arse-kicking weapons. Which are very much needed!
Alien Breed

Later stages introduce a few new features such as ramps and pools of acid (alien blood?), but most of Alien Breed’s six stages are pretty much the same thing – running around seemingly infinite corridors collecting stuff and shooting up evil creatures! Playing it reminded me several other games, notablyAlien Syndrome and my old favourite, Gauntlet, both of which are very enjoyable but rather repetitive overhead shooters. Team 17’s game should be much inferior to these two classics too. Although playing similarly to them, its visuals vary less than both. With the exception of the final stage, the graphics only change slightly from one mission to the next – usually a slightly different colour scheme, and there are very few different enemy sprites (facehuggers and two different ‘full size’ alien creatures). That said, the attention to detail is great and, along with the largely silent gameplay punctuated only by gunfire, occasional speech, and the screeches of dying aliens, helps create a pretty creepy atmosphere which does a lot to alleviate the repetition.

When I first played this game all those years ago on my trusty A600, I recall my main problem with it being its high difficulty. I remember running out of ammo quickly and having difficulty finding more. Playing it this time was much more enjoyable and leaves me wondering what on earth I was actually doing wrong the first time around! It’s a pretty damn tough game for sure, mainly thanks to the infinite aliens (there’s not even any Gauntlet-style ‘generators’ to stem the flow), but it’s not hugely unfair as I was expecting it to be either, even if you get trapped – you’ll probably often find yourself running away from aliens down a corridor only to find more coming from the other end! They do seem relentless to begin with too, but practise, as well as learning your way around the initially-confusing stages (buy a map!), will see you make steady progress. The first stage eases you in (giggity) and should be completed with minimal hassle but it’s just a ‘practise mode’ really, compared to the rest of the game, which I still can’t finish without cheating, incidentally (and there are a lot of codes too). Alien Breed is still a rather repetitive game but the great atmosphere and addictive action make it one that’s worth spending time on. Especially if you’re a fan of the film it’s (unofficially) based on!

RKS Score: 7/10

SGB Commander

SGB Commander

Thought I would share something cool that I ordered online. I never realized that something like this existed until recently when I was on ebay. It’s the SGB Commander! What’s that you ask, it’s a controller made specifically for the Super Game Boy. The awesome thing is that you can use it on the Super Famicom or on the Super Nintendo since the controllers aren’t system specific.

SGB Commander

The A and B buttons are in the exact same spot as on the Game Boy, but if you look above that you will see buttons that are specific to the Super Game Boy like Window, Color, Speed and even a Mute button. So now you don’t need to go into the menu to change your colors or frame, you just hit the button. You can speed up or slow down the speed of your game so if you are stuck on a part in your game you can slow it down a bit to help you get through it. The addition of a mute button is pretty neat, though I’m not totally sure how much you would use it. The one thing that I really like about this controller is that it’s a little bit thicker than your usual Super Nintendo controller, but not quite as thick as a Game Boy. It definitely feels a lot more like you are playing the game right on your Game Boy though which is awesome.

Check out this video review from Satoshi Matrix.

Street Fighter

Welcome aboard the Crapsville Express. Last time, Hard Drivin’ was served up as a turd for Review A Bad Game Day – this year the gong goes to another coin-op conversion.

Street_Fighter_1-c64

Game: Street Fighter
Genre: 
Fighting
Format:
 C64
Year: 1988
Publisher: GO!
Developer: Tiertex

Street Fighter

Prior to the sublime ‘Street Fighter II: The World Warrior’ SNES home conversion, there was the abhorrent C64 fighting game’ Street Fighter’.

Where does one even start with this game? For those of you not familiar with the series, ‘Street Fighter’ made its debut in the arcades in 1987. On the back of its success, the home version quickly followed on all conceivable platforms of the time, including the C64.

Street_Fighter_1-c64

Tiertex brought this foul stench of a fighting game to our trusty and much loved 8-bit home computer. I suspect the coding was done by a drunk programmer or their pet monkey. How this passed any quality assurance testing is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, on with the review…

‘Street Fighter’, as you may have guessed, is based on Capcom’s 1987 arcade game. You enter the worldwide martial arts tournament as Ryu and fight opponents from across the globe in order to become the street fighting champion. Ryu’s fighting arsenal is made up of various punches and kicks – that’s it (no special attacks!). Each battle has timed rounds; the winner being the last fighter standing. After each battle, Ryu competes in bonus rounds, smashing bricks to earn extra points.

Street_Fighter_1-c64

If you manage to bribe a friend to play ‘Street Fighter’, you could have yourself a two-player grudge match – Ryu vs Ken. The winner proceeds to take on the computer-controlled fighters, while the loser is subjected to watching this dreadful game being played – even the CIA plays by fairer rules of torture!

Street_Fighter_1-c64

The graphics are childish and messy – they do nothing to show off the C64’s abilities. The fighters tend to clash with the background. I reckon I could have drawn better sprites and backgrounds with crayons! ‘How about the sound?’ you may ask – let’s not even go there if you like your hearing the way it is. The effects and tunes are better suited for an Atari 2600 game, not a game that should be taking advantage of the C64’s SID chip. The clincher of this turdfest is the control – before there was button mashing, there was joystick and wrist breaking. The control is absolutely abysmal, by the time you attempt to pull off an attack; it is already too late, game over (which is probably a good thing!).

Street_Fighter_1-c64

The C64 had quite a few poor arcade conversions in its time, and sadly ‘Street Fighter’ makes this list. Had it not been for the stinker Hard Drivin’, this would have been number 1 in Crapsville. Play it at your peril!

GraphicsCrappy sprites with even crappier backgrounds.

15%

SoundTurn down the volume on your TV, I am warning you!

10%

PlayabilityLaughable. Apart from the terrible look and sound of this game, the controls let it down big time.

5%

LastabilityIt will last as fast as you can turn off your C64.

2%

OverallStay away! This is another poor C64 arcade conversion. If you want to play a great fighting game on your C64, try International Karate!

9%

 

 

Hello Kitty World

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We come to another edition of Retro Game of the Week, this time around we have a game that seems to be just a hack of a very awesome game for the Game Boy. Nevertheless, it’s here to stay and it’s just totally awesome. If you can look over the Hello Kitty characters, then you’ll be all set. Enjoy as Hello Kitty World enchants you with its magic!

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The music is the same one as the Balloon Kid game. The game does a great job at entertaining you with tunes you’ll surely remember. It’s not the best of a soundtrack, but it does the job. You can’t get any better than 8-bit music anyways…it’s making a comeback!!

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The graphics are good. Just think of it as being a colored Game Boy title. After all, it is based on a Game Boy game. Either way, everything looks great. You won’t run into any dead ends due to the graphical interface of the levels so you’ll not only enjoy the sights but enjoy the gameplay as well.

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The gameplay is quite entertaining. You keep yourself levitated with two balloons and your goal is to get across the level without getting your balloons popped! It may sound simple but believe me, levels get tougher and tougher as you move along. Even if you get your balloons popped you’ll be able to inflate new ones to fly into the sun! Of course, you gotta make sure you don’t land on the different obstacles that will definitely kill you such as fire.

hello-kitty-famicom

The best part about older games is the their replay value is infinite. That’s why you see people playing such games as Tetris or Pacman in their more advance devices. Simple fun stuff is always welcomed and this is no different. You can go through the entire game and go for it again and again. When you don’t need to remember passwords or save the game, you have less stress going on, believe me.

This is another obscure game that never made it to the NES but if you do want to play the cheap alternative then I suggest getting Balloon Kid, other than that you should import this game as soon as possible. It’s a lot of fun and well…it’s Hello Kitty!!