Resident Evil Code: Veronica

Resident Evil Code: Veronica

Format: Dreamcast Genre: Survival Horror Released: 2000 Developer: Capcom/Nextech

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

I have a love/hate relationship with this game. Love because it’s one of the best Resident Evil games out there, with some of the most memorable characters and story-lines of the series. Hate because some IDIOTIC PUZZLE with an EMPTY FIRE EXTINGUISHER meant that I WAS UNABLE TO FINISH THE F**KING GAME. The memory still haunts me now, hence the extravagant use of capitals and self-censored swearing. I’ll explain…

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

In our student house at uni we’d often play through games together, or we’d play the same game but using different saves. Not long after I started playing Code Veronica, Paul, my housemate, began playing through it too. We’d swap stories about good bits in the game, and I’d drop excited hints about what was coming up next. All was fine and dandy until right near the end of the game, when I inadvertently uncovered a bug that made finishing the game all but impossible.

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

Earlier in the game, Claire uses a fire extinguisher to retrieve a briefcase that’s stuck inside a flaming room, but for some reason she keeps hold of the empty extinguisher. This either means that Claire is a compulsive hoarder, or the game is subtly trying to tell you that there may just possibly be a puzzle later on that might – just might – require an empty fire extinguisher. Seeing as Claire generally isn’t the type to push around a shopping trolley filled to the brim with carrier bags full of knick knacks and shiny things she finds in the street, I placed my bets on the latter option, and kept the extinguisher to hand.

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

A bit later on, Claire and her hapless companion Steve come across the chap in the pic above, who goes by the name of Nosferatu. History doesn’t relate how he came to bear this moniker – I’m imagining the label was thrust upon him after his unfortunate transformation, before which he was probably called Alan or Dave or Alfonse. Anyway, Claire makes no bones about swiftly dispatching poor Alan (or Dave or Alfonse) and we’re treated to a cut scene in which Alexia, the sister of antagonist Alfred Ashford, awakes from her long hibernation and unleashes the full force of the T-Veronica virus on Steve and Claire’s smiling, unknowing faces – the truck they’re driving is destroyed by one of Alexia’s handy new tentacles, and control switches to Chris, who’s just pitched up in Antarctica on the hunt for Claire.

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

I just want to jump in here for a second to say what a fantastic character Alfred is – definitely my favorite character of the series. Wesker is always held up as the series’ ultimate villain, but he’s so incredibly one-dimensional – there’s nothing really beneath the implausible hair and the Johnny Cash sunglasses. Alfred, on the other hand, has an interesting back-story, which the game goes to great pains to relate – from his possibly incestuous relationship with his twin sister to his penchant for dressing up in women’s clothing. You almost end up feeling sorry for him in a way – through no fault of his own he was born into an incredibly screwed-up family, was ruthlessly used by Umbrella and then ended up losing his mind. Having said that, I’d have a lot more sympathy for him if he stopped trying to kill me all the time.

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

OK, back to the story. After the fight with Alan*, control switches to Chris, and the difficulty steps up a notch. The Antarctic facility is infested with various horrors, including a giant spider that has somehow managed to survive the freezing temperatures, and these fiends quickly take their toll on Chris’s ammo supply. As I limped to the final showdown with Alexia, I was down to just a few assault rifle rounds and a couple of clips for my handgun, but I was finding plenty of ammo for the magnum. So where could the magnum itself be hiding? Wait, there it is, behind that wall of flame. No problem, I’ll just fill up my empty fire extinguisher with that handy extinguisher refill device nearby… Hold on, the extinguisher isn’t in the space/time defying inventory box. Wait a sec, didn’t Claire have it in her personal inventory when she got whacked by that tentacle?

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

 

With no access to fresh weaponry, it was impossible for me to defeat the final boss, and instead I watched impotently as Paul went on to finish the game. I suppose I could have used one of his save games to go and fight the final boss for myself, but by that point I was so rankled by the whole fire extinguisher thing that I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And anyway, I would have been finishing his game, not mine.

Resident Evil - Code Veronica

Yet, like a middle-aged man trapped in a loving but turbulent marriage, I still have a soft spot for Code Veronica, despite all of the seething resentment bubbling below the surface. It was denied the suffix ’4′ by its creators, but in my mind the game stands proudly with its numbered brethren, and possibly slightly above them.

*I’ve just found out that Nosferatu was actually Alfred’s father, who went by the name of Alexander, not Alan (or Dave or Alfonse). This is slightly disappointing in some ways (I would have preferred Alan), although I’d forgotten just how convoluted the back-story to Code Veronica is, particularly the history of the Ashfords. You can read about Alfred Ashford’s creepy upbringing here: http://residentevil.wikia.com/Alfred_Ashford.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-
Release date on PSN: July 17th 2007

              Original release date: October 2nd 1997

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Story

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

Castlevania is about the castle Dracula, and you play his son Alucard (Dracula backwards) as you try to defeat your father and banish him once again. There have been many Castlevania games, and this one is a direct sequel to Castlevania Bloodlines, but having not played that, I didn’t feel too lost in the story. It’s the gameplay we’re going for in this one.

Gameplay

SOTN as it’s called is a basic 2d beat em up type dungeon crawler. If you’ve played one 2d Castlevania, you’ve played them all, but this gameplay really works well and it’s extremely satisfying. The difficulty in this game is pretty high though, and dying is a huge pain due to the lack of a continue screen, and that it took me a while to figure out how to save (read the manual on this one!). Once while playing around with the controls I found a spell that kills everyone on screen and then heals you for the damage you caused. It was a life saver! But it didn’t make it too easy.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

The game is non-linear in a fashion, in that you have to go through the castle, searching for new abilities that allow you to access new areas. The amount of abilities is staggering as well, from turning into a bat, to spells, tones of special equipment, swords and armor, and collecting all of these really got me addicted (not to mention leveling up your character as well).  Not just OCD to collect everything, but because they added new elements to the gameplay, and gave you more options to defeat the bosses.

The boss fights in the game aren’t revolutionary gameplay wise, you’ll be hitting them with your sword just as you do with all the enemies in the game, your jump and strike skills will be tested, but once you memorize the patterns you’ll plow through them.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

What is interesting is the scope of the Castle, every part feels different which makes it easy to remember where you are, and where you’re supposed to go (the map helps too). Half-way through the game however (if you use a special item during what seems to be the final battle) the castle will flip over and you’ll play through the castle again (upside-down) while collecting more cool items and defeating more bosses. There are many endings; I didn’t go through them all, but those I witnessed were interesting and worth the playtime.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

At the time 3D gaming was coming into its own, but was usually poorly executed. The makers of SOTN made a smart decision in keeping the game 2D and making those graphics detailed and colorful. Some use was made of 3D though on some enemies. This really makes them pop out from the screen and they make for a good contrast.

The style of the game is slick as well. The design of the spaces shows a lot of time was put into it. With every area of the castle looking very unique, along with the monsters you’ll be killing in each area, it just adds that extra something that keeps it from being a grind, and more of an exploration.

How it holds up today

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

When I first started playing Symphony of the Night, I couldn’t get into it. I would die constantly, and it wasn’t much fun. But once I got over the learning curve I found a compelling experience that really had me hooked. The story was somewhat interesting, but it was the castle that drew me in, and the abilities I was unlocking that kept me going. And as well as colorful graphics and varied locations the music was spectacular, spooky, but catchy; a great companion while playing.

I was skeptical to begin, but the game soon won me over with its timeless style and classic gameplay. For ten bucks, this is a great time eater.

9/10

Played through on a PSP-3001 approx 12 hours playtime.

If you love the music of SOTN as much as I do check out the OST here.

Also for some humor based on SOTN check out this article.

Video Game Piracy: Counterfeiters are to blame, not piracy!

counterfeit video games

While it has been a problem in the industry for quite some time, it doesn’t seem that piracy or counterfeiting will be going away any time soon. Not only in the realm of video games, but everything from movies, to music, to chocolate, anything with any value has and will continue to be counterfeited and pirated in one way or another. When it comes to video games, people spend ungodly amounts of time, energy, and money into creating these experiences for people to have. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re shit. Regardless, someone needs to be payed for their work. let’s take a look at some reasons why some people may pirate games and how counterfeit versions of video games are making the problem worse.

Going back, let’s start with roms. Roms are video games that you can download to play on emulators, or programs that allow you to run the games. You can find all of your favorite classics from back in the day and then some, all free to play. Now, when it comes to roms, I can understand that some people can’t find certain games, they don’t sell them in stores anymore, and some of the harder to come by games can be priced up into the hundreds of dollars. Also, the makers of the games are going to see any of that money anyways so it’s not really hurting the industry so much. So what’s an oldschool gamer to do? Play roms. Even though I have a fairly large collection of old video games in their original form, I often play roms myself to record video footage for my own series. I use a combination of both “real” and emulated gameplay footage. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Now with newer games people are finding ways to rip, burn, copy, and distribute everything from Xbox 360 games, to DS games, to PC games and everything in between. This is a problem because these games are still in stores, the gaming industry is now actually losing money and fans are having to pay for shit that doesn’t even work, sometimes turning them off to gaming all together. People are getting counterfeit game disks, and cartridges, then passing them on when they find out they don’t work.

Now our hard copies of counterfeit games are getting mixed in with the good well-working games and everyone is having to pay. But then! Then the fan finds that they can download games for free and play them off of his or her computers. Fans and independent programmers get together and crack the games just so they can play one that works. Yes yes, I know that there are also those types that pirate software because they don’t have the money to purchase or feel that they shouldn’t have to purchase games ($60 for a game?!), but there are these others too that just want a game to work. Plain and simple. So I blame the counterfeiters creating a shoddy products on the rise in pirating. There, I said it.
But Wait, there’s more! An alternative thought, and this is going to make me sound completely crazy and like a conspiracy nut or something, but here’s another thought; What if the game companies themselves are creating crappier hard copies of games and distributing them themselves as a way to push the digital revolution in gaming. You know, they want everything to be down-loadable, convenience=more $$$ or something like that. People will click and buy, and if they lose the game, oh well, gotta buy it again. This sucks, but I think that it is a possibility. Stick with the hard versions of games. Pay for something that’s tangible. I know that a lot of us today are buying our used games online and there’s no for-sure way to know if it’s going to be a counterfeit or not. The only thing I can think to say to everyone, is just be careful with your purchases. Take your time, shop around, and always ALWAYS ask questions.

Why I Love Retro Games

I play Nintendo games cause I was raised playing NES and SNES games with my dad, plus I’m super cool right :p  I never realized that would lead me to have a serious retro gaming addiction in my later twenties.

retro--nes-wallpapers

So why did I feel the need to make a site and dedicate it to my retro games?  It’s actually simple: I love talking/writing about retro games almost as much as I enjoy playing them.  I also love watching other people play classic games, thus my love for Game Center CX.  I guess everyone has that one thing they are passionate about, whether it is sports, cars, clothes or whatever, for me it’s classic Nintendo games.  I don’t have many close friends at my age who really play anything other than ps3 or xbox so it’s kind of rare when I get to nerd it up and talk about NES games, let alone my Famicom games.

I read anything I can about NES games on Wikipedia and read reviews and blogs from other retro gamers.  I check eBay for NES and Famicom game lots, for cheap rare titles, the few old Nintendo Power issues I’m still missing and just cool Nintendo themed collectibles.  I constantly talk to my hubby about the cool deals I got, or the random NES or Famicom facts I read that day.  I take pictures of my son holding Nintendo plushies and I even got him a teething toy that looks like a NES controller called the Ninteetho.  I even painted Yoshi’s Island murals all over his room.  I’ve taken a vacation day from work just to play NES games I picked up online or at the local used game store. I have not one but two Nintendo themed tattoos.  I am a full-time Nintendo geek and I love every minute of it.

I appreciate everyone who comes to the site just to read my random Nintendo ramblings.  I know there are tens of thousands of sites online where people blog about games and I’m really humbled that you decided to come read what I have to say.  I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of confession before on someone elses site about the new games that are out there.  But I have to say it’s just not the same as playing a classic 8 or 16 bit game.  I think I’m addicted to the pattern recognition that was required when you played tricky NES games like Mega Man or Ninja Gaiden, it took hard work, good timing and memorization to get past some of those parts but the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finally get it is awesome.  Plus new games have nothing on the 8 bit chip tune music you would hear in classic NES games.  Nothing can compare to some of the awesome music you hear in games like Mega Man, Castlevania, or Mario, those songs really stick with you.

As I get older it gets harder to find time to play video games.  There’s work, family, and kids (which I’m really hoping my little guy will one day share my passion or at least want to play the occasional game with me), and all that other stuff you never used to have to worry about when you were a kid spending any time you had away from school playing games. Luckily I’ve been able to sneak in some time lately after my little guy gets to bed.  Once I get to sit down and play, it’s like I’m transported back to when I was young and only had to worry about the game sitting in front of me.  So I make sure every chance I get to expose my friends to classic games I take it.  I’m just hoping to give them an appreciation for it, or at the very least see the reason for my madness :p

So thanks to everyone who comes here to nerd it up, and messages me on twitter.  Thank you for sharing my passion for classic games!

Doom (GBA)

Doom - Gameboy Advanced

Format- Gameboy Advance

Genre- FPS

Doom! Doom. Doom. Doooooooom!

Doom - Gameboy Advanced

This is probably the most well known game i’ve looked at yet, but it’s also the title i’ve put the most hours into, the GBA version in particular, so permit me to talk a little about the game that’s firmly rooted in my top ten videogames of all time.

I own the game on GBA, SNES and Jaguar (expect me to look over each port in individual entries), as well as wasting countless hours watching my dad play it on out PC back in the day.

Doom - Gameboy Advanced

I even recall putting ‘watching my dad play Doom’ on a list of my hobbies back in Middle School – only for the teacher to cross it out.

So to have Doom on my own handheld was a joy, and I completed the game several times over.

The main disappointment is that the GBA version is scaled down version of the PC version, with certain levels missing and replaced with slightly smaller ones. There’s no Cyberdemon or Spider Mastermind showdowns here – a major let down.

Doom - Gameboy Advanced

Still, the game crammed in an impressive amount into the tiny cartridge, and is miles better than the SNES version in terms of looks (probably because of the smaller screen).

When I play through the game it’s odd that some levels i’m more than happy to play through for the billionth time, whereas some I really can’t stand to trudge through, to the point of not wanting to play the game anymore.

Containment Area, the one with all the boxes, is a level I can’t stand playing for example. It just doesn’t feel right, and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the game.

Doom - Gameboy Advanced

Unholy Cathedral is another. It’s the one with all the teleporters placed in sets of four everywhere. Can’t stand that one. There are others, but i’ll spare you the details.

In fact, the game makes me realize how great its sequel is. There’s a huge amount of variety in Doom 2, and even the GBA version of it doesn’t miss anything out (the huge final boss, for example, is present and correct).

The original started off the series though, and for that i’m eternally grateful. The GBA conversion is solid, but falls a little short of offering the ultimate handheld version of Doom.

The iPhone version is impressive though – but despite having a fair crack with touch screen controls, the wait for a definitive portable version of ID’s classic shooter continues…

Double Dragon II: The Revenge

Double Dragon 2

Double Dragon II: The Revenge

Honestly I haven’t played much of it since I was a kid, but I found an old copy of mine and took it for a spin.
Double Dragon 2

Double Dragon was a decent version on NES, but it had it’s own share of problems. Like a huge hit in the graphical department, and the complete lack of 2 player co-op in the main mode. Luckily they must of learned a few tricks for the 2nd game because you can play with a friend if you wish. The graphics are a little better this time around as well.

Double Dragon 2

The combat is also a lot faster and smoother than the first NES game. They also have a decent control set-up where one button hits/kicks opponents on one side, and the other button takes care of the other side. It’s a shame some of this is ruined by awkward platforming.  It’s a shame to lose one life because you got too close to an edge, or messed up a jump.

Double Dragon 2

It’s a pretty good game, however I don’t have someone who can play with me, so half of the experience is gone already. They also give very little lives which means you’ll have to be real good and play the game over and over until you can endure the countless hordes of thugs. It’s aged for sure, but it holds up better than I expected.

Score: 7 out of 10

Hector: Badge of Carnage: Episode 1

Hector Badge of Carnage
I’m not a particularly cynical gnome. No, not really. I’m just a realist who -admittedly- spends the odd day firmly believing that cynicism and the subsequent nihilism are nasty things, while trying to figure out ways to make this poor planet a better place. Then again, I just can’t help but enjoy the more cynical side of satire, and definitely can’t help but enjoy those rare cynical games. They seem so refreshing in the dire landscape of tired fantasy cliches, gun-ho militarism and vacuous cuteness that mainstream gaming seems to have created, and the first episode of Hector: Badge of Carnage is (probably) as cynically satirical as it gets.
Hector Badge of Carnage
It also is a rather traditional point-and-click adventure, which is always nice and despite coming from Telltale it’s both cynical and -shockingly- actually challenging. Now, don’t get me wrong,Telltale have done some wonderful things for adventure gaming. I can’t deny that, but it seems that after the excellent Tales of Monkey Island and the refreshingly odd Puzzle Agent they have become more, well, formulaic. And pop-centered. And, really, who cares for Jurassic Park games? I for one don’t. I definitely care about Hector though (to cunningly and subtly change the subject).
Hector Badge of Carnage

Hector, you see, the eponymous Badge of Carnage protagonist is a (shockingly and spontaneously anti-authoritarian) cop in what can only be described as Britain’s most run-down town. His moral compass is all over the place, his remarks biting, his humour dark and his pants struggling. He’s also more than willing to negotiate with terrorists, as this game’s full title is none other than Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1: We Negotiate With Terrorist, in which Hector seems hell-bent on fulfilling the ultra-conservative, yet at times rather sensible, demands of a deeply frustrated and particularly murderous terrorist.

Hector Badge of Carnage

What’s more, Hector does this in the most unconventional way imaginable, while inhabiting a beautifully illustrated 2D world and remaining true to the best of point-and-click traditions. He’ll have to combine inventory items, engage in brilliantly penned discussions, use everything on everything, explore the seedier parts of the urban fabric and even use a heroin-addict as a sex doll (oops, spoiler, sorry about that), while sounding both brilliant and very British. The voice-overs are after all excellent, as are the games graphics, music and most of the puzzles.
Hector Badge of Carnage

The only thing that’s not quite so excellent is the control method (click to look, double-click to interact), that simply doesn’t feel that intuitive, especially if you are a seasoned adventurer. Then again, this episode’s hefty size, challenging puzzles and overall quality more than make up for this minor hick-up. Oh, and yes, the humour does actually work.

Verdict: A humorous and gritty breath of fresh, episodic, adventure gaming air. Adventurers should apply here and Hector will definitely amuse them.

Zillion

Zillion - Sega Master System

By: Tatsunoko Productions Genre: Arcade Adventure Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System
Also Available For: Nothing

Zillion - Sega Master System

Zillion

I think it must be an indication of my gaming preferences and heritage that I’ve seldom been able to ‘get’ some of the most popular computer games that were doing the rounds during the 80’s. A great example of that is Impossible Mission – a supremely popular game, mainly on the C64 which I never owned admittedly, but I did later buy a copy of it for Sega’s splendid Master System. I found it an enjoyable, though very difficult game, but the puzzle elements caused me great confusion and in the end I’m ashamed to say I gave up on it. If only there was a similar game but with less puzzley puzzle bits… Before long I discovered that there was – Zillion – an unusual title even now in that it isn’t an arcade conversion and is exclusive to the MS which meant that not many people had the opportunity to play it. In the opposite scenario to which I usually find myself, however, I did have such an opportunity and I enthusiastically took advantage of it.

Zillion - Sega Master System

Like many Japanese games, this one is based on an anime series, albeit a shortish and relatively unknown one, even in Japan. Both the anime and the game star a fellow called JJ who is a member of the medieval-sounding White Knights, a peacekeeping force who are out to destroy the evil Noza Empire’s base which is located on the 50’s sci-fi-sounding ‘Planet X’. At the start of the game, the White Knight’s mothership has just landed on Planet X leaving JJ to infiltrate the underground base, rescue two captured comrades, and set the base’s mainframe computer to self-destruct. Sounds simple enough! After a short jog across the planet’s surface, JJ descends into the complex via a mysteriously-unguarded lift. From here he can make his way anywhere he wants really. The lift shaft and corridors lead to numerous rooms, each a single-screen in size. These usually contain various traps, some capsules, a computer terminal, and often a door to another similar room which will be locked.

Zillion - Sega Master System

JJ is less agile than the C64’s most famous secret agent but he can still jump around about the place (surprisingly high, too) and can also crawl along the ground. He packs a gun, too, which is used for destroying the sadly-infinite enemy guards who are found in pretty much every location – the planet’s surface, the lift corridors, and many (though not all) of the rooms themselves. Contact with their shots (though not the enemies themselves), or some of traps in the rooms, depletes JJ’s energy reserves, although he can get a ‘top up’ at any time by returning to the mothership. The gun is also needed for breaking open the capsules which contain power-up items including more energy, more powerful guns, goggles (which allow you to see some of the otherwise-invisible traps), ID cards (which are needed to access the computer terminals), and floppy disks which are needed to access the main computer.

Zillion - Sega Master System

More commonly found in the capsules, however, are code symbols. Each door has a four-symbol code but capsules only contain one so you need to bust open four in any given room, remember (or write down) the symbols, then re-enter them at the computer terminal. These capsules are, unsurprisingly, often protected by guards or traps which include energy-sapping barriers, conveyor-belt sections of floor, automated guns, mines, or trip-wires which trigger an influx of guards. The traps can all be turned off by entering a simple code in the terminals although, unlike entering door codes, you won’t get your ID card back so it’s best to work around the traps if possible. JJ is reasonable for this but, splendidly, you can also control your two kidnapped comrades once you’re rescued them. They include the awesomely-named Apple, a girlie who is predictably more agile than JJ and can jump higher but also takes more damage, and Champ, a bulky fellow who shrugs off enemy fire more easily than the other two but can’t leap around so well.

Zillion - Sega Master System

These two idiots also have their own energy reserves, so once you’ve rescued them you then basically have three lots of energy to get through the game with. Well, I suppose technically you have infinite energy if you can be bothered to go all the way back to the mothership every time you’re running low, but either way it makes Zillion a much easier and more accessible game than Impossible Mission, for me at least. That said, it can occasionally be rather unfair, as with the ‘unavoidable death loop’ I encountered. Contact with enemies or their fire knocks JJ (or whoever) backwards, you see, so if enemies are present very close to the point you enter one room and leave another, you can end up getting knocked backwards and forwards between them until you die. Boo hoo! Still, it only happened the once so far and the rest of the game is fairly accommodating despite some slightly iffy controls, mainly regarding the characters’ jumping abilities. Practise makes perfect though, although don’t expect to be able to play though the game quicker on subsequent runs – the door codes are randomly generated each time you play!

Zillion - Sega Master System

The presentation is of a high standard throughout the game and includes a few cut-scenes (including some girlie on the mothership crying if you die – unrequited love?) and the in-game graphics are quite good too. The sprites look a little weird to be honest (it looks like JJ has a blue face for one thing) and the way they shuffle along the ground is quite amusing. There’s a bit of flicker amongst the enemies when two or more are close together too, but there’s been a bit of effort to keep the nicely-detailed backgrounds a little more varied than I had expected. The audio is also good – there’s only one main tune but it’s a catchy one and the effects aren’t bad either which means that, all things considered, Zillion is pretty spiffy! It’s a pretty big game, spanning 136 screens I believe, and most of them are well-designed. You’ll need to return to some later (with a different character or more powerful gun, for example) and the sense of progress is keenly felt. Impossible Mission may well be an all-time great as far as most gamers are concerned, but my simple-mind would much rather tackle this lesser-known clone!

RKS Score: 8/10

Bible Buffet

Bible Buffet

Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

NES Bible Buffet

The 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System was a red-hot consumer item throughout the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, with its most popular games selling millions of copies. Part of its spectacular success was because, among a few other significant reasons, unlike its predecessor the Atari 2600, Nintendo did not allow third-party developers to release titles as easily. Every cartridge made for the system had to be officially licensed by Nintendo, and there was a lock-out chip in the unit to prevent terrible carts from being sold to an unsuspecting market, thus preventing another home video game market crash as had happened in the previous generation of gaming.

NES Bible Buffet

However, a select few organizations had the knowledge, resources, audacity, and diligence to successfully produce and sell unlicensed NES cartridges. Among these businesses was Color Dreams, which crafted a few sub-par games, and along with examples like Tengen underwent litigation from Nintendo. Then Color Dreams had a brilliant, bold idea: They changed their branding name to Wisdom Tree, and made video games based on the Bible. That way, any attempt by Nintendo to sue them would result in negative press; after all, what would a white-bread public think of a video game company “attacking” a seemingly Christian organization? Nintendo, amazingly, indeed did stay away, so Wisdom Tree put out a handful of quirky games on the NES console, including Bible Buffet.

Gameplay

NES Bible Buffet

Bible Buffet is a hybrid game that forms a juxtaposition between the board game category and the overhead adventure games as well. With up to four human players (someone can even play alone if they wish to undergo the quest solo), each person sets out across a board with a rather lengthy track, over 100 spaces. A six-sided die is rolled to determine how far a player moves their token on their turn, with certain spots enabling a shortcut forward several spaces, a bonus roll, or even losing a turn.

NES Bible Buffet

The twist is that regular segments of the board have a food theme, such as Dessert Land, Potato Land, Freezer Land, etc., with twelve realms in total, each having between eight and twelve spaces to their designation. Whenever the player lands on a space in one of the Lands, they then undergo the overhead adventure portions, controlling a character that must destroy anthropomorphic food enemies (pizza slices with faces and hands and feet, ice cream cones that zoom across the screen, etc.) while collecting items and searching for the exit. There is a health bar that begins with three hearts, exactly like the classic Legend of Zelda game, and a way of updating the character’s attack throughout the adventure, with an increased spoon count lending to firing more shots on a single screen, and collecting forks making the shots go farther.

NES Bible Buffet

Whoever gets to the last space wins and, considering the length of the board yet most of the time spent in the overhead portions, it can actually take a considerable amount of time for a four-player game to finish. Also, certain spaces bring up a Bible-related quiz (the sole Bible-related aspect of the game), yet without access to the instruction booklet, the player is just left randomly selecting “True” or “False” for the three question-number choices on screen. Why they could not simply print the questions on-screen, as they even did for other titles like King of Kings, is a reasonable question.

Graphics

NES Bible Buffet

The visuals of this game are somewhat crude. The board itself is especially so, though perhaps it is by necessity since the screen has to accommodate all the spaces, land descriptions, and the lower part for roll interaction. Even then, the bland palette sudden switches and the simple toy-man tokens lend this a “cheap” look. The top-down action areas look alright, and some of the enemy designs are inventive, but overall it still definitely looks like a video game that lacked Nintendo’s seal of quality.

Sound

NES Bible Buffet

Another intriguing aspect of this game is the sound. Despite the lack of background music except for short ditties for certain board-game happenings, and very plain-sounding effects, this cartridge boasts among the best voice-synth effects of any NES games, with the announcer’s exuberant cry of “ALL RIGHT!” ranking as perhaps the highlight. This is an appropriate mark of how far developers had come in taking advantage of the NES limits by 1993, yet begs the question: Why is the rest of the game not up to then-current standards?

Originality

For a title that is often derided as “Just one of those stupid Wisdom Tree games,” Bible Buffet is truly unique at least, and among the few NES games to support four-player play, even if not simultaneously. The respective portions of Buffet (that is, the board and adventure parts) may be below-average, but combining them creates something slightly more than a board game and something that is not quite a generic top-down quest.

Among the Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree games there are certainly some that are better than others, yet as arguably one of the best, Bible Buffet is by no means an all-around great game. For a not-quite-complete design, for the bizarre choice to not have on-screen questions in the quiz portion, and the lack of atmosphere in the overhead portions (despite an overwhelming theme), this quirky Buffet eats two and a half stars out of five.

 

Deadlight

Released for Xbox live arcade on August 1st 2012, Deadlight is a 2d side-scrolling survival horror cinematic platformer for Xbox Live Arcade developed by Tequila Works.

deadlight

(..takes deep breath…)
Plot:
Virus outbreak reanimates the dead, decimation of society, Randall Wayne (you) searches for his family.  Walking Dead meets Limbo.

deadlight
Positive critic reviews focused on the horrific and compelling story-line and challenging puzzle game play.  Negatives include issues around game controls, brevity and voice acting.  Opinion is polarized as to the game environment, impressive vs. bland and the plot, compelling vs pointless.  The game managed to score a decidedly average 69% from 52 critic reviews on Metacritic.

deadlightMy 2 cents
In fairness to the developers, I’ve only managed to invest an hour in the game since launch day, which probably says more about the game than I’d like to admit.  I found the voice over script contrived, the game atmospherics failing to impress and then there is that overly familiar nod to the walking dead, the “shadows” responding to loud noises…please!!.

deadlight
Alf The Helper: Yeah I noticed that too, they could have mixed it up, like the zombies responding to smell!
Elderly: Smell?
Alf The Helper: Yeah, like the zombies can pick up your smell if you’ve been sweating and stuff.
Elderly: What?
Alf The Helper: Yeah, like you’ve got to shower and brush your teeth, find cans of Lynx to put the Zombies of your trail..
Elderly: 8( …..oh sweet divine!!….where was I?

…..getting pummeled by “shadows” before I knew how to fight back, didn’t help either.  I do however intend to return and finish the game, at which stage I’ll update this little section…  without Alf!

deadlight
Quote of the Bunch:
Deadlight draws you in with its rich, pervasive atmosphere, but doesn’t give you much to do once you’re there. -Gamespot

deadlight

Reviews Summary:
The quality of content is amazing, psychotic storyline with fluid gameplay.
The full product is a disappointment to say the absolute least.
Probably the best downloadable title on the market right now.
Weirdly inconsistent 2D survival horror.
A breathtaking adventure, though the main campaign lasts only five or six hours.
It’s as mindless as the zombies it features.
All the style, substance, and gameplay you could want, with none of the originality you need
Without satisfying mechanics or narrative, there’s nothing pushing you forward towards Deadlight’s conclusion.
An incredibly slight experience, a single play-through comes in at under two hours.
Ruined by the lacking storyline and extremely short campaign.

Official Website

Warsong

Warsong

Okay, there is a chance you played it – but I would guess it’s unlikely.  This gem of a game came out for the Sega Genesis (and was called Langrisser overseas).  I am not sure what inspired me to pick it up at the time.  I had heard nothing about this game in any of the magazines I read, none of my friends had played it, but something about it caught my eye when I was mulling what game to purchase next.

Warsong-Sega-Genesis

But something about the back of that box must have sparked my interest, because I took the game home, put it and and began to play.  The define what Warsong is, I would say it was a fantasy strategy/RPG hybrid – maybe the first I had ever played quite like it.

I immediately loved the game’s art style.  The graphics had a colorful, anime feel to them when showing character portraits.  The actual battles that took place were actually pretty active as soldiers kill each other off.  The backdrops and map designs were actually pretty well detailed also.

Warsong-Sega-Genesis

The sound and music get the job done.  There was nothing terribly memorable about it, but this was a game that was more about the tactics.  It would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the music, but I don’t recall it ever particularly bothering me either.

So how did the game play?  Well, there were two aspects to it.  There are the leader characters, and they are the most important.  Hints of Fire Emblem here, as when a leader dies, he or she is gone for good.  I recall saving often to prevent that from happening.  Shades of Dragonforce follow, as each of these main characters had soldiers units they could control.  Each character has a range or aura of influence and if their soldier units fight within that range, they got bonuses to their stats.  Each leader can hire different kinds of soldiers at the start of each level, and there is a sort of rock/paper/scissors mechanic to which soldier units perform best against one another.

Warsong-Sega-Genesis

There are other factors as well, such as terrain and if your leader characters have any gear equipped (at the start of each level, a scenario is given to you and you have a chance to spend your hard earned gold on different kinds and quantities of soldiers, and that is also when you can choose to put a piece of equipment on a leader character).  I recall getting so good at the game that I could go through the first couple of levels or so without buying any soldier units, to conserve money for when I would need it more in subsequent levels.

Warsong-Sega-Genesis

When a leader character dies (the enemy units are made up of these as well), their support soldiers will perish as well.  Some levels also have assorted neutral characters who will go after anyone who gets to o close.  Some missions are designed for certain types of soldiers as well – for example one of your heroes can hire mermen and they are almost essential for water combat – but useless in levels without water to cross.

The game is made up of twenty levels, which may not sound like much, but each stage can take quite some time to get through.  The menu and controls are very simple to navigate and while it is easy to learn – there is are so many different tactics and unit strategies to apply that there is perfectly valid reason to come back and play again once you beat the game.

Warsong-Sega-Genesis
The story itself is nothing new – good guys are put on the run for attacking bad guys.  Good guys regroup after getting smacked around a bit in the first level, and rally a force to defeat not only the known bad guys, but the evil controlling them behind the scenes.  It is all really well presented though, with story pieces between levels and dialog scenes from characters on maps.  While you have no options to change the storyline itself, it was actually one that I found fairly interesting.

The RPG elements come in the form of gold, equipment, experience and levels.  In fact, this game was the inspiration to a leveling system I implimented on my MUD over a decade ago that I called a Tier system.  Your characters start off a specific class, level up to a point, and then choose one of two.  Level up some more, and you can again choose one more new class from a new set of branching options.  Some characters were so similar that their later tiers became the same thing, like Magic Knight, but there were unique ones too.  For example your lead character Garrett can become a King class, and no one else can.  Each tier brings new skills and powerful stat boosts and adds a good deal of replay value to the mix.

Warsong-Sega-Genesis

And replay I did – I can recall beating this game at least three times – maybe more.  And it was a hit among my friends who initially asked: Warsong?  What’s that?

But these were the same friends I had gotten hooked on strategy games on the NES years before too (Nobunaga’s Ambition, Bandit Kings of Ancient China and Romance of the Three Kingdoms to name a few) – so they gave it a shot and not a single one disliked it.  Most of them borrowed it long enough to beat the game once if not twice (and one other friend borrowed my copy for a day and a half.  I was a bit surprised when he handed it back to me and said I could have it back.  I asked if he had not liked it – turned out he simply went out and bought his own copy afterward).

Warsong-Sega-Genesis

To this day, this ranks as one of my favorite all-time video games, and influenced my opinion on what a strategy game could be.  It also had clear effects on my own game design years later for my MUD, Kingdoms of the Lost.  I played it again recently and feel that it holds up pretty well today still.  If I bring it up in conversation with most gamers though, none seem to have ever heard of, let alone played this under-appreciated classic.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDcZlC3oZWc[/youtube]

If you are interested in how it plays?  Here is a quick video down below that really shows off a lot of the game as you start off in a scenario where you and your troops are under heavy attack right off of the bat.

Spellbound Dizzy

[youtube id=”3nhKM7hT0ec” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Spellbound Dizzy

Developed and published in 1992 by Codemasters Spellbound Dizzy is just one game in a long series of egg related shenanigans involving the Yolkfolk (this time with the help of Theo the Wizard). Each game follows the usual set of rules and gameplay, (puzzle solving platformer with inventory menu and dodgy music) but each retaining its own unique charm. The series was originally developed by the Oliver twins, two British brothers, Philip and Andrew Oliver, who started to professionally develop computer games while they were still at school. However, they had little involvement with this title other than signing the game off and letting Big Red Software take over the design and development aspects of the game.

Spellbound_Dizzy

The game itself is well drawn and immediately boasts about its size *cough* but never really gets further than that in the interesting stakes. The graphics are bright and colorful, the usual combination of cartoonish scenery and well drawn objects throughout.

Spellbound_Dizzy

However, compared to earlier games, this one seems inferior in design and presentation, even with the extra animation scenes such as Dizzy becoming stunned, swimming and the mine cart.

Spellbound_Dizzy

Spellbound Dizzy does feature some minor differences in game play from other Dizzy games; fruit and cakes are dotted around to restore energy, water doesn’t kill instantly, although without the aqua lung drowning is inevitable, and the mushrooms (magic?) are spinny objects that can propel Dizzy to greater heights, allowing him to reach unseen platforms and the odd cloud. Unfortunately these minor differences in game play don’t really make up for the lack of storytelling (it’s nice to have a little bit), puzzles that don’t seem to make much sense, and some very irritating music.

Spellbound_Dizzy

Long and ever so slightly dull (being generous) the Dizzy games seem to work best when they are kept simple and short, this makes them a lot more fun to play as opposed to (an hour in) switching the music off and wanting to throw Dizzy from a great height shouting “Survive that!”

Spellbound_Dizzy

As much as I love other Dizzy games this one didn’t work for me, childhood memories tell me it was a lot more fun ‘back in the day’, in my opinion there are better games in the series, Fantasy World Dizzy (1991), Magicland Dizzy (1991), that are genuinely still fun to play as an adult.

Need more Dizzy? Visit this  fan site for more info!

Dragon Ball GT Final Bout

Dragon Ball GT Final Bout

So another week and another game of the week! This time around we have a very obscure classic that had a too little, too late release during the Playstation’s ending life time. Behold, Dragon Ball GT Final Bout! Why is it worth a mention? Just read on and find out!

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

The music is quite popular and unique for Dragon Ball games but this one is more of a hit n miss. There are some tunes that are quite catchy but other ones are just totally bland. It would’ve been real wise to bring the songs from the series into the game. I mean, it was a no-brainer. Overall though, you have a decent soundtrack and worth a remix or two if you are into that type of stuff. On the other hand, the voice acting is truly amazing as they had the real voice actors represent their respective characters. Makes you think, why not make the music from the series as well!

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

The game has very good graphics. The 3D is very detailed but of course it would’ve been a lot better with some more work. There are times where objects disappear but it rarely happens. The different battle fields are OK at the most. They do resemble parts of the anime series but somehow always fall flat. A little more animation would’ve helped a lot. Overall, just OK graphics and character animation is good at most. The voice acting does help but not as much.

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

The gameplay suffers a lot in this game. If you don’t have any patience then you’ll be looking to turn this game off as soon as possible. The game has a very odd control scheme but you can get used to it in time. The best part is when you go against the computer or a friend and battle it out with a button mashing power shooting extravaganza!

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

This game is always great when you have your friends over. It’s so crappy at times that you’ll want to get drunk in order to enjoy it even more. Believe me, you’ll enjoy it. It has a lot of other options such as a level up system where you can train your own Z fighter and then save the information on your memory card, take it to your friend’s home and use your memory card saved fighter data to go up against your friend’s created fighter. A little confusing? Nah, I don’t think so!

Overall, this game is a very good gimmick. You’ll end up enjoy it from time to time. There is a lot to love about this title especially in nights where you just wanna step back into the prime of the Dragon Ball series. The game has three different versions as well. There is the original that came out in Japan back in 1997, the release here in 1997, and the re-release which I believe came out in 2003. Get either one and you’ll be alright. Until next week!

Gamer Profile: The Unallied

the-unallied

Name: Callen Shaw

Company: The Unallied

Profession: Founder, Designer/Developer

Favorite Classic Game: Pokemon Blue

Quote: More than all other games, the original Pokemon was a game that hides its complex mechanics under a dead-simple interface. I like many Nintendo games for this reason, but I’m still impressed with how well they distilled the RPG formula into a one-on-one battle with just 4 actions for each side. The game gets much more complex simply by giving you many choices – you can customize your 6-Pokemon team, choosing them from 150 types, and choose the best 4 moves for each one. This kind of “layered complexity” is something I try to think about when designing games, and Pokemon was how I learned it.

Check out Jacob Clark on The Obsolete Gamer Show

Name: Jacob Clark

Company: The Unallied

Profession: Community Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Mega Man 3

Quote: My favorite memory of Mega Man 3, is that damn top man. He was the easiest robot master to kill and also you has the funniest special power. Who wouldn’t want to see to Mega Many kill his enemies with a ballerina twirl?

Bio: The Unallied was founded in 2008 so that Callen Shaw could release Xbox Indie Games. Over the years he collaborated with many artists and game enthusiasts, but still remains a solo development operation. After finding small success with the hit drinking game Drinkards, The Unallied began a path toward becoming a full indie game studio. This involved expanding the Drinkards line with Drinkards Beer Pong and Flip Cup by Drinkards, as well as experimental projects like3D-struction, a stereoscopic 3D game which works on standard screens with Red/Blue glasses or full 3DTV systems.

Recently, The Unallied gained a voice to speak our message, in the form of Jacob. As an experienced organizer and promoter of other successful indie games, his insight and people-skills are rapidly expanding awareness of our awesome games. Jacob brings with him years of experience coordinating events for his group Gaming In Public, including Indies Need Booze, a social event for indie game enthusiasts following PAX East.

super dwarf madness

Project Info: Super Dwarf Madness is a twin-stick shooter and the successor to Dwarf Madness for Xbox 360. It pits a rag-tag team of Dwarves with guns against wave after wave of zombies. The goal is to achieve a High Score by picking up Gold Coins, and not how many enemies you kill. Super Dwarf Madness takes the same great formula of Dwarf Madness but adds online co-op, custom, professional art, more items, more guns, more zombies, and multiple new levels to explore and loot. Super Dwarf Madness also brings The Unallied’s brand of humor with a town full of unique characters within the world of Dwyll.

Two Worlds II

Polish developer Reality Pump and publisher Southpeak games teamed up to bring us the sequel to an Role Playing Game that was less than stellar. Did they build a better game, or just send out more trash? Read our review to find out.

Two Worlds II

Two Worlds II released last month, and with over 50 hours of play time just to get through the story mode, it is easy to say the game is lengthy. The story picks up 5 years after the end of Two Worlds. Your character, the hero, is a prisoner in the dark dungeons of Gandohar’s castle and any hopes he has of saving his sister, whom Gandahor has taken captive, seem to have vanished along with his freedom. In spite of a self-sacrificing battle against evil, the twins were separated and Kyra is now under the influence of a powerful magic spell from which there is no escape. Evil influences are attempting to awake the slumbering powers of an old generation in order to dominate all of Antaloor, and the hero is powerless to do anything about it.

Two Worlds II

However, just as his despair has reached its lowest ebb, a faint ray of hope appears from a completely unexpected direction. The hated Orcs have put together a rescue squad and the hero is amazed when they free him from the chains of his tormentors.  Still skeptical about this newfound truce between two races which have always been deadly enemies, the hero once again finds himself confronted by a completely new situation. He has to find out why the Orcs helped him – and learn as much as he can about their mysterious leader, the legendary Prophet Cassara. She is both beautiful and mysterious – but the hero must trust her if he has to have his long-planned revenge. So he starts out on a dangerous journey through a land desecrated by evil – a journey he hopes will shed some light on Gandohar’s dark past and help him find a weak point in the defenses of this powerful Mage. Only then can he finally rescue his sister, Kyra.

Two Worlds II

The story is long and the map of the world is huge. Voice acting is good, but not cinematically great. The hero’s voice can pass as Christian Bale’s Batman, even though the hero looks about 5′ 8″ and not exactly buff. A lot of detail has been put into the story, and each sub-quest has its own sub-story. The writers must have spent a lot of time to come up with a story that is not only long, but also entertaining. The characters fit well together and most are well thought out.

Two Worlds II

As expected with a good RPG, there are plenty of side quests to complete that are mini-stories in themselves. They usually pay well and are worth the extra time they take. Some quests you can complete as you progress along with the story, so be sure to speak to people everywhere. You have a map that you can use and each point of interest has a colored pin that represents what that point means. Active Quest Givers have a Sky Blue pin, so keep an eye out for them. Each quest you unlock is added to your quest log, and once open, you can activate a quest and track it on your map. This is handy in showing where you need to go for each quest. The quest log is divided into three categories. Pending, completed, and failed and each quest has a description, and sometimes hints.

Two Worlds II

Gameplay is along the lines of a good hack-n-slash. Where TW II sets itself apart from other games is in the weapons upgrading system and looting system. As you travel around killing, maiming, and destroying, you’ll find items that you can pick up and take with you. There are chests you can loot from, and some of these require a lockpick. Most of the items can be broken down into their elemental parts and these parts, in turn, can then be used to upgrade your weapons and armor. You are limited as to how many items you can carry, but you aren’t limited as to how many elemental parts you have. Dropping items becomes unnecessary since you can reduce the items to basic parts and carry as much of that as you want. You can have three different weapon sets configured and you need to make sure to not disassemble items you have selected for an inactive weapon set, since no warning is ever given.

Two Worlds II

Having three separate weapon sets is another design that sets TW II apart from other games. You can have one set up as an archer, one set up as a Mage, and another set up as a warrior. This comes in handy when traveling through areas with more than one type of enemy. Different enemies require different weapons to defeat them so pay attention to the enemies on-screen health meter. The meter will indicate their weaknesses, so act accordingly.

Two Worlds II

As you progress along, you’ll earn Skill Points and Attribute Points. These are then applied to different skills and attributes depending on how you want your Hero to evolve. The attributes are basic but the skills system is very detailed. With six different skills categories, and each category with its own subset, you can have your hero evolve in many different ways. If you want to be able fully upgrade weapons, you need to build up your metallurgy skills from the Crafting Skills category.

Two Worlds II

The C.R.A.F.T. (Complete Reshaping And Forging Technology) system is what is used to upgrade weapons. Special crystals can be found in the game and these can be attached to weapons and armor to increase the damage or protection of that item. A fully upgraded weapon can go along way to helping you defeat any foe you come across, so it’s best not to ignore this system.

The menu has an Alchemy tab, and learning this system is key to creating useful health and mana potions. The P.A.P.A.K. (Portable Alchemy and Potions Assembly Kit) allows you to create useful potions from herbs and organic material found throughout Antaloor. Resistance potions are also useful for resisting fire attacks from foes. Killing animals along the way seems pointless until you find out that a baboon heart is perfect for restoring health and a hairball from a cheetah can make potions stronger.

Two Worlds II

The last tab is the Magic Tab. This tab provides access to the D.E.M.O.N.S. (Dynamic Enchantment, Magic, Occultism & Necromancy System). This system governs the creation and use of spells according to the five schools of magic. These schools are Air, Earth, Wind, Fire, and the mysterious fifth element Verita. DEMONS is used to customize spells created by arranging spell cards in a balanced manner. There are carrier cards, which determine a spells core functionality. Effect cards which determine the elemental magic that gives the spell power. Last, but not least, Modifier cards which influence the nature and effects of a spell based on the spell’s core.

Two Worlds II

The story has a depth and character list that goes well beyond most RPG’s, and you could easily spend weeks playing through the entire game. Lockpicking, pick pocketing, sword fighting, quests, and so on, lead you in to a world that is well designed and though out. The overall map of Antaloor is huge, but portals can be found that help you to quickly navigate between the areas of the map. There’s also a portal stone that will allow you travel to any given portal and a personal portal stone which can be dropped in a spot and become a temporary portal so as to be able to move between your current location and another portal. This is very helpful if you need to pick a lock but are out of picks. Drop your stone, teleport to a town and buy some lock picks, then teleport back to your personal stone. Be sure to pick it back up though.

Two Worlds II

The graphics for the game could be better. They are a step up from PS2 games, but don’t quite measure up to top of the line games like God of War III and Uncharted 2. This is the one area where improvements needed to be made. The enemies are well designed, but graphically aren’t as sharp as we had hoped they would be. The game had a tendency to slow down when a lot was going on graphically, and screen blur was often seen. This doesn’t make the game unplayable at all, but does take away from the overall experience.

The music for the game was enjoyable to listen to and well placed. Tempo is used quite often to help create the overall experience of a scene or battle, and it fit nicely. The music goes from soothing and delightful, to haunting and rough.

TwoWorlds2-

There is also a multiplayer element that allows you to play either with, or against online opponents. A seven chapter adventure mode is a fun co-op game. Village mode is a RTTS mode that pits you against an opponent and you race to build villages and keep them happy. Deathmatch, where you’ll team up against another group of online players. Crystal capture which is basically capture the flag. And Duel, where you’ll face off with an equal opponent and fight to the death.

TwoWorlds2-

The original Two Worlds was an utter mess that probably should have been scrapped altogether. Two Worlds II, on the other hand, is what any great RPG should be. Depth in every direction, a story worth having, characters worth remembering, and a game worth playing.

Biggest piece of advice for this game: Read the Manual before playing

8

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Format: GameCube Genre: RPG Released: 2003 Developer: Nintendo

Wind Waker was a brave move on Nintendo’s part. Radically overhauling the graphical style of one of the best-loved game series of all time takes some chutzpah, and I remember it caused outrage at the time.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

Fans were up in arms when the first shots of Wind Waker‘s cel-shaded graphics were released, and some quarters were quick to cite the new game as a signal that Nintendo was trying to ‘kiddify’ the Zelda series. As the finished game eventually proved though, this was all complete nonsense and bluster: if anything, it just goes to show that the kind of people who spit and rave on internet forums about these kinds of perceived ‘faults’ are generally the kind of people you can safely ignore.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

In my opinion, Wind Waker‘s graphics are an absolute triumph – the game’s cel-shading is utterly charming and distinctive, and whereas most games from 2003 have aged badly in the terms of graphics, Wind Waker still looks as fresh as it did when it was released. In fact, I reckon the Wind Waker version of Link is even more iconic than the ‘traditional’ version – so much so that a friend of mine recently featured cel-shaded Link on her wedding invites.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

I’m playing through The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess at the moment, which is what got me thinking about the Zelda canon. And yes, I know you’re probably shocked that I’ve only just got round to playing Twilight Princessdespite the fact that it came out four years ago – we try to keep our finger on the pulse here at 101 Video Games, even if the patient died some time ago. And anyway, at least I’ve actually played some games, unlike a certain other blog co-author whose name I won’t mention… But I digress. The point is that unlikeWind Waker,  Twilight Princess feels like a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time – perhaps the direct sequel that the internet forums were baying for back in the early 2000s. And the real point I’m trying to make here is that Twilight Princessjust isn’t as good as Wind Waker was.

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

Don’t get me wrong, Twilight Princess is an absolutely brilliant game, but whereas Wind Waker was a breath of fresh air that drew me in from the very beginning, Twilight Princess feels a little samey and derivative. The designers have obviously done their best to throw in a few new gameplay elements, but many of them fall flat – the sections where you play as a wolf, for example, just aren’t as much fun as playing in your human form, and of course they pale a little in comparison with the wonderful Okami (perhaps an example of a Zelda-imitator beating the original at its own game).

legend_of_zelda_wind_waker

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Nintendo went out on a limb with Wind Waker, and the gamble payed off brilliantly. I won’t bang on about all of the reasons the game is so wonderful (I’m sure you’ve probably played it yourself and can remember all too well), but I have to mention the sailing; there are only two games I can think of where travelling was just as enjoyable, if not more so, than reaching your destination, and this is one of them*. The fact that just moving around the gameworld was fun in itelf speaks volumes for just what an absolute classic this game is, and although we generally try to avoid including two games from the same series on our list, there was just no way for me to choose between this and Ocarina of Time. I might even put it on my wedding invites.

Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5

This is the hardest review I’ve ever had to write.  Unabashed love for all things Rockstar produces aside, I just don’t want to type any of this right now.  I’m at roughly forty hours logged between story and multiplayer, and all I want to do is play more Grand Theft Auto 5.

Grand Theft Auto 5

To call this the most anticipated title of the year would be a gross understatement.  Rockstar is known for releasing some of the best games of the past two console generations; this entry takes the bar that they always set so high and throws it directly over the sun.  The game has been in development for five years, after you sit down with it you’ll understand that not a second of that time was wasted.  Every aspect of the franchise has been improved, each frame absolutely drips with the highest attention to detail we’ve ever seen in a video game.  All of the signature trappings GTA is known for are thankfully included: the radio stations, the commercials, the fake movies and television, epic stunt jumps, hidden items, random pedestrian banter, political / social commentary, and the shameless parody of American life.  Everything in the title is presented with an impeccable and unprecedented level of care to even the minutest detail, the game is a brilliant masterpiece that will be imitated but certainly never equaled.

Grand Theft Auto 5

Let’s start with the feature I wasn’t excited about at all: the three unique protagonists.  My first thought when this addition was touted was “So what?  That’s exactly like GTA4 with two other people.”  Shame on me for being a doubter, character switching practically makes the game for me.  The other playable characters function completely separately in the world, and rotating between them on the fly is absolutely encouraged.  Just finished skydiving with Franklin and stuck with a long drive back from Mount Chiliad?  Time to catch up with Michael, you might find him mid argument with his adulterous wife.  Tired of catering to Michael’s spoiled rotten children?  Switch over to Trevor who you’ll find passed out in his underwear straddling a balcony overlooking the city.  You can also swap seamlessly to your multiplayer character at any time, and throughout the many times transitioning I never found any of the characters in the same situation.

Grand Theft Auto 5

The world of Los Santos is so gorgeously detailed I found myself following random pedestrians on the street just to hear their side of hilarious cell phone conversations.  A couple of the radio commercials and conversations made me laugh so hard I paused mid-mission just to hear the end of them.  Other games have shown similar levels in depth of world, but none of them have made me feel like the city existed without me playing the game.  You’ll lose yourself in Los Santos for hours on end, even if the game was only single player it would take awhile to get bored with everything you can explore and interact with.  I’m still hearing songs and hilarious commercials on the radio I’ve never heard, seeing signs and references I didn’t notice, and coming up with new ways to stymie the police.  Honestly, I don’t even feel like I’ve scratched the surface, I’m sure there are thousands of details, jokes, and allusions I haven’t even noticed yet.

Grand Theft Auto 5

The online world is also an absolute treat that adds exponentially to the gameplay.  Unfortunately not all of the bugs have been worked out yet, I did get to play a lengthy session with a few buddies this past weekend and we all had an unadulterated blast.  I can’t wait to see how everything shakes out after all of the issues are fixed; the multiplayer is essentially a celebration of everything that makes the single player so incredible.  The day one bugs were displeasing, but only if you were completely bored with the single player game.

Grand Theft Auto 5

Rockstar didn’t invent the sandbox style game but they have proven multiple times over that they are undoubtedly the pioneers of the genre.  Grand Theft Auto 5 is a fitting goodbye to this generation of consoles, one that truly shows the untapped potential our hobby still has still yet to uncover.  I can’t recommend this game enough, but odds are you are already playing it.  Enjoy every second of the experience; it might be another five years before we get to see something this prodigious and wonderful.

Gamer Profile: Ryan Culver

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For the arcade, don’t ask me why, but for some reason I was always drawn to Gyruss.  Every time I would hit an arcade, I’d play a bunch of games but always look for Gyruss.  Maybe it was something to do with wanting to fly but I also liked how the ship moved in that cool arc around the outside of the screen and everything came flying out of the middle.  I don’t know anyone else who actually liked that game, but I was bummed when I stopped being able to find it at the arcades. ~Ray Culver

Ryan_Culver

Favorite Classic Arcade Game: Gyruss

Favorite Classic Console Game: Super Mario Bros.

As far as my favorite classics, I have two, an arcade game and a console game.

Now one of my most memorable video game experiences was playing the original NES at my friend’s house as a kid and working every night to beat Super Mario Bros.  It was by far the most popular and talked about game at that time and the big challenge then was to beat that dragon.  We had gotten there a couple times before but got killed, so every time you made it to the last part, you’d get nervous, like something real was actually on the line.  You would get all set and sit up straight, ready to go, and then you would just go and go and go and then all of a sudden it’s over and we got to see what the end was like and how it all wrapped up.  I still remember exactly the night we beat that game for the first time.  We talked about it a lot at school that next week.

I got into Zelda and Metroid and Punch Out and others after that, but even after finishing those games, nothing stuck with me like that night I first beat SMB.  The funny thing is, back then it felt like it took forever to get through one of those games.  But a few months ago I sat down with a girlfriend to play some old school NES and we pulled out Contra.  I think it was less than an hour and we had gotten all the way to the end of that game.  I hadn’t played the old stuff in a long time and it made me appreciate how far gaming has come over the years.

I see some of the stuff now and I don’t think we ever thought it could look like it does now back then.  Getting to be a part of that process was blast and I look forward to doing more in the future.

More on Ryan:

Ryan on The Obsolete Gamer Show

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Ryan Culver is an actor who among many other projects played Nathan Drake for the PlayStation commercial for PlayStation’s All-Star Battle Royale. The guys not only nails the look for Nathan Drake, but is actually a man of action and adventure himself flying people all over the world.

Check out his commercial:

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Check out our podcast with Ryan here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Alien Trilogy

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Format- Playstation

Genre- FPS

Alien Trilogy

In my local car boot copies of Alien Trilogy pop up all the time, and I always ask myself – is it just because the game was popular in terms of sales, or are people really keen to toss it away like an errant facehugger?

In all honesty I think it’s both. I recall my dad playing the game a fair bit back in the day, and getting annoyed at its difficulty and resorting to cheat codes to progress. Perhaps it was hated by most people, i’m not sure.

But playing it now, it’s not bad. No masterpiece, but it has its charm. It can be difficult sure, but that’s because of two main flaws.

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

First, the controls are tough to use with any grace. The game was made when precise aiming wasn’t really part and parcel of FPS games, and therefore you’re pretty much lumbered with a control scheme that makes you feel like a ham-fisted fool.

Think Doom and it’s ‘all shooting on one plain’ philosophy. You eventually adapt to Alien Trilogy’s control related foibles, but don’t expect to ever truly embrace them.

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Second, the game is dark. Really dark. See the screenshot above? See how it’s hard to pick out much in terms of concrete objects? Expect to employ that level of squinty eyed-ness for the whole game.

That screenshot is one of the brighter I could find as well. The main advantage of this overpowering bleakness is that it helps to build atmosphere – but damn it’s dark.

Get over these two problems and you have a rather endearing shooter. Perhaps endearing isn’t the right term for a game which sees you working through gloomy corridors, ever aware of a lurking alien threat, but for me it sums up the game quite well.

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Some elements of the game are surprisingly well implemented for example. The enemy tracker nestled at the bottom right of the screen tells you roughly where aliens are, with small bloops alerting you to their increasing proximity. This can result in some brilliantly tense encounters.

In fact, the game thrives on offering up small memorable moments rather than offering a completely captivating experience.

Your first attack by a face-hugger. The first time you see an alien zig-zagging it’s way to you emerging from the darkness. Small bonus levels which have you gathering as many collectibles as you can within a time limit. All great

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Of course, you have a fair bit of drudgery, muddy design, dodgy weapons, and repetition to go alongside these spikes of excitement, but for an old PS FPS Alien Trilogy offers a lot more bang for your buck than you’d expect.

It probably sold a lot off the Alien license, but putting that to one side the game isn’t bad by its own merits. Set your standards accordingly and this is a game that deserves to be fondly remembered by more gamers.

So if you see a copy in your local car boot (and going by mine you probably should) and it’s a low enough price, pick it up.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

Harmony of Dissonance
The sequel to Circle of the Moon was a much better improvement. A bit before the GBASP era of games might of made it hard to see, but this game looked bright as fuck compared to Circle of the Moon.  The game stars Juste Belmont, the grandson of Simon Belmont, and is set 50 years after the original Castlevania.
Harmony of Dissonance
Juste’s quest was not to defeat Dracula originally, but to save his childhood friend, and smoking hawt Blonde semi-French maid Lydie. If you pay attention to the timeline she is the probable mother or grandmother of Richter Belmont of Rondo of Blood.
harmony of dissonance
I really liked the magic system in this game. Different elements that could be combine with the traditional weapons of Castlevania fame. Could also be tinkered to make some super blasts and powers. It may not be my favorite Metroidvania, but it was my first, and is still one of my favorite games ever.
harmony of dissonance
There was also a bonus mode where you could play (I think) a boss rush mode with 8-bit Simon Belmont. Neat-o!

Little Computer People

little computer people
It might have inspired The Sims and that happily forgotten Tamagotchi craze, but David Crane’s Little Computer People was far from a commercial success back in 1985. Surely the atrocious cover art couldn’t have helped much…
little computer people
The game itself though remains fresh, unique, innovative, pretty brilliant and beautiful in a way only those chunky Commodore 64 games can be.
little computer people
And did you know that its complete title is Little Computer People Discovery Kit and that it was also known as a House-on-a-Disk? Oh, I see…

Rise of the Dragon

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Rise of the Dragon

Rise of the Dragon is set in Los Angeles in the year 2053.  It’s a surprisingly mature-themed game, with drug overdoses, criminal behavior, and gruesome deaths all important plot elements.  The player assumes the role of William “Blade” Hunter, a private detective tasked with quietly solving who gave the Mayor’s daughter a fatal dose of a new designer drug, MTZ.  It seems MTZ creates monsters by altering its users’ DNA, and the Mayor is very torqued that his daughter turned into one, but not enough to call for a public investigation.  That’s where Blade comes in.  Along the way, a dire threat to L.A. is uncovered involving MZT and the head of the Chinese mafia, Deng Hwang, “The Dragon.”

Rise-of-the-Dragon

 

This game was a visual masterpiece, with its game backgrounds and portraits all hand drawn by Robert Caracol, of Dark Horse Comics fame, and ran in 256-color VGA.  The critics agreed, and Rise of the Dragon received the “Special Award For Artistic Achievement” in 1991 by Computer Gaming World, arguably the most influential PC gaming magazine at the time of the game’s release.

Rise-of-the-Dragon

 

Rise of the Dragon plays out in a real-time environment.  Blade has only three game days to solve the mystery, and the clock is ticking.  Every action costs time, especially travelling from one area of the game map to another.  Strategic play is a must, here, as time of day is an important game element, and must be accounted for.  For instance, some locations are accessible only at certain times, such as City Hall.  More importantly, Blade isn’t a super-human, and needs sleep.  He’ll doze off around 1am every evening, no matter where he is.  This leads to the amusing instance of Blade collapsing on the street and falling asleep, which quickly loses its charm when you realize that he was robbed during the night and you’ve randomly lost important inventory items.  In short, it’s best to get Blade home before he turns into a pumpkin.

Rise-of-the-Dragon

 

The real-time environment also plays out in character interaction.  What Blade says and does to each character will influence his future interactions with them or their friends (or enemies).  This can have devastating effects on game play as a snide remark that seemed so appropriate at the time can limit Blade’s access to important game areas, and make the game’s ending untenable. Again, it’s best to save before any character interaction to avoid running into a dead end (or use the hint book…but I digress).

Rise-of-the-Dragon

 

Rise of the Dragon was a moderate success for Dynamix, neither setting the PC game sales charts on fire, nor being a dismal failure, and was released on several platforms: IBM-PC in 1990, Apple Macintosh and Commodore Amiga in 1991, and a modified version for Sega CD in 1993.  It sold well enough to warrant a sequel, Heart of China, set in the 1930s, but the sequel parade ended there.  Regardless of how it fared, Rise of the Dragon remains a classic PC game that the pcgamerverse has forgotten, but well-worth the time to replay!

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

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Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

Plot: Arrakis, also known as Dune, is a planet rich in the valuable resource known as the spice melange, a rare resource that has caused 3 armies of the galaxy to battle for control over the planet. A challenge is set by the Emperor Frederick IV of the house Corrino to the other houses of Atreides, Harkonnen, and the Ordos to see who can harvest the most spice and therefore win control of the planet.

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

Review: Dune II: Battle for Arrakis is a far cry from its predecessor; its only comparison is that it is a game based on Dune. This sequel is a completely different type of game sharing; no story-line or game play, but is in fact an RTS game released in 1992 by the legendary Westwood Studios who also brought us Command and Conquer.

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

The player must select one of these 3 houses to begin playing. Each house is represented by a mentor who guides you through the basics of the game, structure building, placing, harvesting and building vehicles. Each mentor is characterized by its house, the creepy yet powerful Harkonnen, the noble and advanced Atreides, and, err, the Ordos (a race created for the game, the one no-one really likes to use).

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

The game starts off easy at level 1 (as you would expect) and your mentor takes you through the basics with a few minor attacks for you to defend against. The game then progresses each time you defeat the enemy (or in the earlier levels have harvested the required amount of spice). Credits are accumulated through harvesting the orange spice field on the map and returning the full harvester to the refinery, credits can then be exchanged in the usual manner for new buildings, defenses and vehicles.

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

The game is played over 9 levels, perhaps it doesn’t sound like much but the later levels require skill and patience to beat. Your enemies appear in the form of the 2 remaining armies you didn’t select at the start, later levels sees you pitted against both armies as they team up against you, the final twist coming in the last level when the 2 remaining houses and the forces of the Emperor’s Sardaukar (an unplayable elite force whose heavy infantry are particularly powerful) must all be defeated in one last epic battle.

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis

Even though the buildings style and appearance remain the same for each house (apart from the color) they each have their own special units, such as the Harkonnen heavy-duty Devastator tank, and the powerful Sonic Tank of the Atreides. The Ordos use the Deviator, a rocket launcher like tank that can change the alliance of any unit it hits for a limited period of time. Like modern RTS games you can take over buildings and build units of other armies as well as defend with walls, turrets and rocket turrets. As the game moves up through the levels you gain more advanced technologies, the final super weapon becoming available in the final levels through building the Palace. This provides the Harkonnen with a “nuke” type weapon known as the Death Hand, the Atreides can call on the help of the native warriors of Dune known as the Fremen and the Ordos rely on the Saboteurs to achieve their goals.

Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
Conclusion: Dune II: The Battle for Arrakis contains all those things we love in the modern RTS and can be seen as the father of all things war like and destructive. Take your combat tanks and siege tanks proudly into war (never mind how slow they’re moving) and watch out for sand worms (players claim the sand worms are not biased but I’ve lost more tanks to them in one level than the enemy). Dune II is one of Westwood’s greats and an inspiration for the beginning of the Command and Conquer series released by Westwood in 1995. Recent RTS games, (ignoring the heavy emphasis on graphics, movie style clips and network/internet gaming) still takes its basic style of game play of base and army building, unique super weapons and vehicles, and the collection of resources to fund this, from Westwood’s original classic.

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

There are 5 Super Bomberman games on the SNES/SFC. Not many people know this as in the Western world only the first 3 were released. The problem is that Super Bomberman 4 was released in 1996 which was around the time the SNES had started to drop in popularity. The world was anticipating the next generation of systems, & the 16 bit machines were being abandoned. Not in Japan however, where SNES games were made well into the year 2000. On a side note, recently a Bomberman article featured in Retrogamer magazine where they claim that number 5 was the only one never released outside Japan, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest 4 was so we’ll put that down to being a mistake.

So let’s have a look at the game. A very nice intro starts us off with Shiro & Kuro (another little known fact is that the 2 Bombers actually have names) asleep on a rocket ship which is attacked by a group of 5 evil bombers.

Super Bomberman 4

The guys are then awoken from their sleep & they are sent into a world full of clocks for some reason with a little girl dressed in cowboy clothes. Hey, it’s Japanese, I don’t speak it, so that’s the best I can give you. The manual has a little comic at the start which explains the story, but as it too is in Japanese I can’t refer to that for plot points I’m afraid. Does the plot of a Bomberman game REALLY matter though? We all know what we’re here for. BLOWING THINGS UP!!!

As you can see by the title screen at the top of the page you have your typical 3 options of “Normal Game”, “Battle Game” & “Password” for the normal game. If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game you’ll be pretty familiar with these options. If not I’ll explain as we go along. How does Bomberman 4 differ from the others? Well I’m glad you asked…

Here’s the first stage:

Super Bomberman 4

Not a lot in it, is there? Looks like Bomberman 1, Bomberman 2 & Bomberman 3. Bomberman 5 had a massive graphics overhaul which will be covered in another review later on. But here we are, typical Bomberman play. For the uninitiated, You play as Shiro (the white bomber) or Kuro (the black bomber) & using an infinite supply of bombs (though initially you can only use 1 at a time) you must blow up boxes blocking your path to the enemies, collect any powerups that may appear from those blocks, then blow up the enemies, then an exit will appear. You go to that exit & it’s level over. It really is the simplest of concepts.

Super Bomberman 4

Each Bomberman game has little things which differentiate it from the one previous. Bomberman 3 was quite innovative in that it had the Louies (Rooies), who were kangaroo type characters that you could ride. When blown up, some of the blocks in the level would reveal an egg you could collect. It would hatch into a Louie & you could ride it. Each Louie has its own special ability. Yes, it’s Bomberman’s version of Yoshi, but we won’t dwell on that as the Louies aren’t in this game. They do come back in Bomberman 5 however.

Super Bomberman 4

Bomberman 4 expands on this feature by allowing you to defeat enemies & use their special abilities. Some enemies when blown up will become green spotted, or metallic eggs. You collect the eggs, they hatch back into that enemy you blew up & they become your pets, allowing you to ride them & use their special abilities.

Unlike Bomberman 3 you can stockpile these guys allowing you to ride one & carry 2 eggs behind you in reserve. The problem with this is when you lay a bomb you must get those eggs out the way or they WILL be destroyed, even if you’re clear of the bomb yourself. If you are in a 2 player game your ally can come & pinch one of the eggs. This can be a problem in Battle Mode which we’ll cover later.

Super Bomberman 4

Another new idea introduced in this game is the idea of imprisoned Bombers who you can free. In some levels you will see a rattling cage such as the one pictured below. It’s along the left. side of the image.

Blow up the cage & you get yourself an ally for the remainder of the level. Here he is in the top left corner of the screen.

Why is he up there for seemingly no reason? Well the problem is these Bombers aren’t too bright, just seeming to lay bombs at random. This can cause problems as they don’t seem to care where you are when they place them. You don’t HAVE to free them to pass the level, so if you want to leave them to rot in their tiny cages go right ahead. They deserve it!!

Super Bomberman 4

I haven’t touched on the powerups yet. Upon destroying blocks you may find one of the following:

Skates for speed
Wooden sandals to slow you down
Additional bombs
Additional blast power
Viruses that cause random negative affects
Remote control bombs
Protection vest
The ability to kick bombs out of your way
The ability to punch bombs
The ability to be hit once & still remain in the game
Extra lives
Spikey bombs that go through blocks
Clock that freezes enemies
The ability to go through walls
The ability to pick up other Bombermen & throw them
The ability to push other Bombermen
2 others I can’t understand from the manual. One has a picture of a question mark & another as a normal human face. I never saw this item while playing the game, so I don’t know what it is.

Super Bomberman 4

The single player mode showcases some impressive bosses. The guys at Hudson really have a good imagination when it comes to designing some of these.

Not much to say here. Hit them 8 times with a bomb blast & they’re history.

Music is fun as always with variations on Bomberman themes featured in the earlier games. In Bomberman 3 as soon as you turned the console on you would hear a voice saying “By Hudsonsoft”. This voice is back but it’s slightly slower & less high pitched. The little Bombers will speak occasionally, but as it’s in Japanese I don’t really know what they’re saying.

Super Bomberman 4

Let’s move on to Battle Mode. Bomberman 4 gives us a little more yet keeps the improvements introduced in Bomberman 3. You can either choose a generic Bomber or one of the 5 enemies.

Now these guys aren’t just new sprites that look different. Each of the Bombers has their own special ability which can be used to cause problems for the opposition. For example, one of them can swing a ball & chain over their heads knocking items off anyone they hit & scattering them across the screen for other players to pick up. Another one can shoot fire destroying anyone it hits, but he loses all his powerup abilities for a short time afterwards. Now you & all of your friends will want to play Battle mode over & over trying all 6 of them… presumably that was the idea anyway…

Super Bomberman 4

When a Bomber gets blown up you can switch on an option that will allow them to come back & exact revenge on the players still in the play field. They pilot little ships that hover on the outside of the play field & can lob bombs into it. If a player is hit on the head with one of these bombs they get stunned & lose some of their items which will scatter around the screen, so if you blow someone up watch out!!! They may come back & hunt you down.

Super Bomberman 4

Summary.

This is without a doubt my favourite Bomberman game & it’s a shame it was never released outside Japan. What makes it my favourite? I personally think it’s the most innovative of the 5 games. Lots of new ideas which expand on an old favourite. It’s got to be 5/5. Sheer Hudsonsoft brilliance.

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions

Killzone was supposed to “kill” Halo. Despite Sony playing avoidance with regards to sparkly magazine hype, covers began to explicitly plant Killzone as Sony’s hyper contender against an unexpected Xbox juggernaut starring armor-clad Master Chief. Killzone, as many would realize upon its PlayStation 2 release with a system-taxing engine, was not even set to punch Halo, let alone kill it.

Oddly, we didn’t learn from history. As Street Fighter II perched up arcades and sanctioned head-to-head competition with Midway’s ferocious Mortal Kombat, it was Sega who would potentially “kill” Street Fighter II.

Eternal Champions was their weapon.

Eternal Champions

Video game magazines, never one to shift shelf space to blitz sensationalist, exclamation point-filled text (GamePro’s embarrassing run of multi-issue Bubsy exclusives never matched), primed Genesis owners who were long deprived of Capcom’s Street Fighter IIEternal Champions would tilt the console war, or rather, we were told it would. EGM’s December, 1993 issue came complete with dual covers, declaring the title, “Truly amazing!” before a four person review team scored it 8,7, 5, and 5 in the next monthly installment. EGM would reset the cycle a few months later, declaring dinosaur rumbler Primal Rage better than Mortal Kombat 2.

Eternal Champions

In many ways, Sega and Sony both charted analogous pathways: Each first party were stout believers they had something. Sony continues to stress Killzone as a tentpole PlayStation franchise, and its improvements with each subsequent entry show growth amidst dominating first-person competition.

Sega drifted Eternal Champions from its Genesis origins onto a glossy Sega CD update, complete with grisly fatalities sprawled onto the disc with eerily smooth animation. Gangster era enforcer Larcen would be shrunk to clumsily occupy space on Sega’s handheld, the Game Gear, via Chicago Syndicate. A final gasp, an unplayable multi-verse in X-Perts, signaled a franchise collapsing in on itself. Sega’s dreams of elaborate spin-offs and knock-out financial competition with Capcom and Midway (and indirectly Nintendo) would die there.

Eternal Champions

Eternal Champions would plunder its time faring gimmick from 1992′s Time Killers, a sickly exploitative brawler that pitted past & future in blood splattering conflict, enough to make Mortal Kombat whimper. Sega’s headstrong fighter would eschew colorful, explicit ferociousness, partly due to subdued hardware capabilities. Locked to 64 colors (the Sega CD port finding itself a rare 256-color mode user), Eternal Champions ran with enlarged sprites to make Super Nintendo Street Fighter characters appear trifling in comparison, yet meek with dried up purples and browns. With system exclusivity allowing for peak fidelity, Champions would still fall prey to lackluster splash in an era where saturation was an attention hook.

Eternal Champions

Sega tried, creating a strategic fighting landscape with limitations on spammy projectiles, and in turn, forced spacing. Sega instead locked themselves out, explicit in their trendiness as they grabbed for something other than Street Fighter’s blast of uppercuts and fireballs. Unfortunately, without familiarity, Champions was instantaneously off-putting and uncomfortable (literally when conjoined with Sega’s Activator peripheral), while publicized violence – especially on Sega CD – was something executed on random timing or luck.

Eternal Champions

For its inarguable clumsiness, Champions is locked to Sega hardware, exhibiting design ideals which aimed older in order to pick away at an aging Nintendo audience, game playing landscapes maturing as they entered ’90s. Nintendo would learn their lesson. Fixating on a grungy campaign of illicit fonts, technological gains, and wonky TV ads, Nintendo’s spirited attitude would splice itself into Sega’s methodology.Champions, while a lesser influence in that drastic marketing modification than censored Mortal Kombatports, remains a historical relic. Released as the two console companies became embroiled in heated competitiveness, Nintendo was still playing nice as Sega reached for a teenage jugular.

Amazingly, it’s still happening. Microsoft’s glowing pink cavalcade of Covenant weaponry in Halo trots out playfulness against Sony’s bleakly visual saga of inter-species warfare in Killzone. Indirectly, the war begun by Eternal Champions still plays out, only with different combatants.

Clu Clu Land

Clu_Clu_Land
Clu Clu Land, October 1985, Nintendo

Clu Clu Land

Now here is an strange one. This is one you’ll either love to death and spend quality time daydreaming about how to conquer the next level or you’re going to throw this sumbitch right off a balcony and never think twice about it. Either way, let’s dig into this oddball Black Boxer, Clu Clu Land!
Clu_Clu_Land
Most of the early games have this sort of black title screen.
Let’s start with the box art. If you were a strapping young lad wishing to rent a new game, what the holy shitstain would you even think this one is about if you hadn’t seen it in the arcades prior? It looks like two Rupees in between a fried egg on the left and a first year graphic designer’s interpretation of Mr.Krabs holding a fried egg balanced Rupee while mentally talking to Professor Xavier via 1960’s psychic wave drawings on the right. In other words, no fucking clue what is going on on the box.
Clu_Clu_Land
Unlike the US version, the Famicom box art perfectly illustrates everything you need to know before popping it in.
Onto the meaty part of the burger. You’re a fish named Bubbles trying to collect coins while avoiding the Unira, a nasty type of sea urchin. Without the game manual, I wouldn’t have clue one that this was even a fish. She’s fairly badass in her own way because she has these extendable arms with claws that grab onto poles and turn however you grabbed them via momentum. Black holes can suck you in and bounce walls will send you eyeballs first to your doom but your main enemy in this game? The fucking timer. That’s right, you thought 8-1 of Mario forced you to haul ass through a level? This game is brutal with it’s timer and even if you die, the fucker doesn’t reset! Up the ass with Mobil gas I say! It’s biggest comparison would be Pac-Man but in reverse. Imagine Pac-Man’s mazes but instead of grabbing the power pellets, you need to uncover them while incapacitating the Unira. That’s the whole of it. Recover all the coins of a level (which usually creates a picture of some sort) and you move onto the next stage.
Clu_Clu_Land
We all live in a yellow submarine…
Graphics are nice and bright as they are in most of the launch games. There is never so much going on that you lose track of Bubbles and the Unira don’t blend in to the background in any way that would lead to cheap fishy-death. The sound is my favorite part about the game as it presents some catchy bittunes that  really get you bobbing in your seat like a kid again.
Clu_Clu_Land
One red, one green? Hmm, familiar 2 player color scheme there!
Bad news for those hoping for two straight 10 scores, these controls are the drizzling shits. I spent almost 90 minutes playing through and still had trouble making a simple left turn at times. The timer is a bitch and in some levels Bubbles moves normally, and some she smokes a fat bag of crank right before the level starts, so the pacing seems screwy. It looks simple enough becomes an untamed whoredoggie to say the least. The “sound wave” she shoots always hits it’s mark but ramming the Unira into the wall to kill them can take way too much valuable time. In other difficulty news, this becomes impossible around level 12, as you have to go over the coins twice to reveal them. I like impossible so stuck with it and was rewarded by having levels where if you uncovered the coin, you couldn’t touch it again or it flipped over and didn’t count. SADISTS!
Clu_Clu_Land
Is this Bubbles or Meatwad from ATHF?
THE FINAL VERDICT

6/10 This really wasn’t a bad game at all. The controls have a high learning curve and can run you ragged, but it wasn’t Kid Kool or anything (shudder). At times it was very addicting and you get a real sense of accomplishment when you uncover the picture of the level.

Clu_Clu_Land
Bubbles seems like she should’ve been more popular than she was. Cute as hell and just what NES fans seemed to love in their characters.

Those wondering what may have happened to Bubbles, she has popped up over the years in various places. The most well-known would be as a trophy in SSBM, but fuck, everyone from the Black Box era is represented there so no big surprise. Her most prominent role since Clu Clu Land was as a hidden character in the GBA game Donkey Kong : King Of Swing. Along with Ms. Pac-Man, she would be also be one of the first female starring roles in early gaming which makes me wonder why more people don’t know about this game? Oh yeah, goddamned box art.

Clu_Clu_Land
I’ll just say it, BRING BACK BUBBLES!!!

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

lunar silver star storyLunar: Silver Star Story Complete

The game Lunar didn’t rang a bell to many as only real savvy Sega fans would know of its existence. The game was original released for the Sega CD and many thought it was a lost gem. Working Designs decided to port it to the original Playstation and this is the result. An amazing cinematic RPG of mass proportions! Lets take a look at it….
lunar silver star story
The music really reflects the beauty and atmosphere of this game. If there is anything this game stands out on is the music. You might see it today as a dated game but the music will always shine on this one. We all still listen to Beethoven right? Enough said!

lunar silver star storyThe graphics could have been better but they were good enough. You’ll feel like if you are playing a SNES RPG at times due to the graphics module the developers decided to use and lets face it, with games such as Final Fantasy 7, the standard of how RPGs played and are supposed to look like was raised. It won’t affect much of the gameplay anyways as it’s what the game’s strong point is.
lunar silver star storyWith every RPG comes every type of gameplay. You will find yourself battling through tough bosses and dungeons in this one. This game is not as easy as you might think so you better be ready to use all your skills for it. The challenge factor is what makes you keep coming for more so in a way it’s not too tough that you would want to rip your head off but it’s also not too easy to make it a cakewalk. Just try it for yourself.

lunar silver star story

RPGs are very tough when it comes to replay value as they tend to take a long time to finish so this will depend on how a hardcore a RPG gamer you are. You can’t say not to a second run at this beauty. If you overpass the difficulty, then you’ll be fine and enjoy multiple hours of this masterpiece.

The game delivers an experience like no other. You will fall in love with the characters and storyline. This game will suck you in from start to finish! Be sure to pick it up even though it could be pricey!

Frogger’s Adventures: The Rescue

 Frogger adventures
This was the last batch of games my girlfriend had left over beside one other game I already had played on GameCube. From here on I must obtain PS2 games on my own. Which shouldn’t be too hard since they’re so cheap. So yeah this is the first Frogger game I’ve played since the first game.
Frogger
Obviously I mean the arcade original. I didn’t exactly play it in the arcade. I did play it on some arcade collection disc for some system. I also had a bad version of it on Atari 2600. For such an old arcade game it holds up decently. I don’t mind a game or two of Frogger.
Frogger adventures
Frogger has had many re-releases, remakes, and reboots over the years. This is a more modern take, and it’s very kid friendly. Well at least graphically and story wise. The game-play is a bit old-schooled, and pretty challenging. I also had some problems with the controls, Frogger died many times because I accidentally jumped too far or turned the wrong way.
Frogger adventures
I did get the hang of it after awhile, and mastered the game a bit more. It’s still pretty tough for the demographic they were targeting. It’s got decent levels, colorful graphics, and an ample amount of content. It’s not the greatest game in the world, but I had a lot more fun with the game than I expected.

Score: 7 out of 10

A rant about Facebook games and Micro-Transactions

tetrisbattle

For the longest time I tried to stay away from Facebook games, not only because of my own personal bias against social games, but because I already knew about the bullshit micro-transactions, not to mention the lack of quality games in general. It works like this, purchasing credits with real world money is completely optional, the credits are then put towards power ups and exclusives in-game that would be otherwise inaccessible. The psychology behind said transactions is simple enough. They work on a simple rewards system, they’ll let you win at first, and even though no skill of your own was lost and levels haven’t gotten any harder, you’ll start to lose a little bit. Just as you hit a low, the game will pick you right back up. They will repeat this pattern until you start to wonder whether or not you should actually invest money into the game. What they are doing is called operant conditioning. In layman’s terms; they’re fucking with you, intentionally, so that you will hand over your hard earned cash. They will give a little, and take a lot more. They will intentionally make you lose so that you start to actually think that you need the things that they can provide to you, which are completely unnecessary.

candy-crush_

Now, I have no problem with paying for a good game, hell, I don’t have a problem paying for a bad game so long as it’s entertaining. What I do have a problem with is micro-transactions within so-called “free” games. Because now instead of a company being completely honest with you (just selling you a game), they will hide behind their games pretending like they’re doing you a service providing a free game that is designed to make you fail. Not only is it frustrating, most of the games are those in which you are doing simple mindless tasks in succession. Those patterns play into it too. When you give them just a little bit of that money, you will think “oh well, that’s not too bad, I can afford that”, but as you do the same tasks and keep justifying it the same way, that money adds up and you have lost more money (and precious time) than you had expected. No one will be there to pick you up when it happens, the gaming company won’t say they’re sorry or admit to their knowingly draining your bank account, but you’re just as much to blame. YOU, the PLAYER, let it happen.

Bejeweled-Blitz-iPhone

So what do you do? Educate yourself to their tactics, and don’t let shit like that happen. It’s that simple. I, personally, have never given any of my money to those Facebook games because it just seemed stupid. Of course, I’m only a few college credits shy of having a BA in psychology, so I guess it was probably obvious to me. In other words, the reason I wrote this article is because I know that there are some people out there that are still completely oblivious to the sick game that they’ve become part of.

facebook credits

Another reason I wrote this is because, Fuck you Tetris Battle! They use those very tactics to try to sell you “armor” to stop from people stealing your “stars”. If you start doing too well, they will slow down the game, make it so that you have to press whichever key more than once to drop a piece, and just generally mess up the controls. And no, I’m not bitching about the game because I’m not good at it, in fact I’m really good at puzzle games, especially Tetris. I have played about 20+ other versions of Tetris, solo and against other players, I have set records, and NEVER had I had a problem until this piece of shit trying to sell me virtual crap came along. Tetris Battle on Facebook, I quit!

Game wisely everyone!

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto

The first Grand Theft Auto was created back in 1997 from DMA Design and I am proud to say the most hated sentence…. “I was playing GTA before it was cool”. The original game was a comedic action, driving free roamer with a top-down view. Unlike later installments of the game (except GTA 2) the game was actually a score-attack like game where you were stealing vehicles and murdering people, earning points in the process
Grand Theft Auto
Why it’s Great
Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto gave birth to one of the biggest (if not the biggest) franchises today for Rockstar and like Carmageddon 2 it was the subject of major controversy when it was released. Unlike Carmaggedon the franchise is still alive today and has produced millions of.. MONEY for the publishers , it is a blast to play and despite it’s age it still remains amazingly enjoyable until today.


Where you can get it
You can download the game for free here.

U.N. Squadron

U.N. Squadron

Format: Super NES Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up Released: 1991 Developer:Capcom

Back in the day, I used to be a massive fan of shoot ‘em ups (or ‘shmups’ as people are trendily abbreviating them nowadays). I don’t play them so much anymore, but there’s still something satisfying about a good shooter – the frantic button hammering, the screen-filling bosses, the feeling of constantly being no more than a gnat’s hair away from explodey death… yeah, there really is nothing like a good old shoot ‘em up.

un_squadron-snes

Having said that, I think you do need a special kind of gaming autism to really enjoy them: the hallmark of the genre is a level of difficulty that cultivates armchair-gnawing, joypad-snapping frustration in most gamers, but shmup players have developed the Zen-like patience/sheer bloody-mindedness to not only persevere with but enjoy these most unforgiving of games. In this respect, U.N. Squadron was a little more lenient than its peers, featuring – horror of horrors – an energy bar. Energy bars are like kryptonite to hardcore shoot ‘em up players, who believe that they detract from the intensity of the shoot ‘em up experience. For sane people though, they offer the opportunity to get past the end of the first level without retrying several hundred times.

un_squadron-snes

Despite the energy bar, U.N. Squadron was by no means easy, although it was a lot more forgiving than some of its contemporaries, such as Gradius III. It also had the added bonus of featuring various paths through the game, something that we take for granted now but which at the time was fairly rare. This meant that it was rare to get stuck on one level, and the sheer variety of planes and weapon upgrades was a compelling reason to keep playing (and replaying).

un_squadron-snes

Surprisingly, U.N. Squadron had a plot. I say ‘surprisingly’, because I’ve just found out that it’s based on an old manga called ‘Area 88′ – you can read all about it here. I’m always surprised when games like this have a plot – it seems so utterly unnecessary and ridiculous, like the ongoing plot of Tekken. I mean, in what possible situation would a single plane go up against an entire air force? I’m not sure where the U.N. come into it either – I presume that in this scenario the G8 have withdrawn funding, so the U.N. can only afford to send one plane at a time on peacekeeping missions.

un_squadron-snes

Looking back at this game, it’s clear just how much gaming has moved on in the last twenty years, and I even remember thinking at the time that shoot ‘em ups were ‘a bit old-fashioned’. The entire genre is based around repetitiveness, and any attempt at complexity rarely extends beyond choosing which special weapons to equip. Having said that, it’s hard to beat shmups for a pure adrenaline rush, and now that I have less and less time to play games, a quick five-minute blast on a traditional side scroller like this has more and more appeal. U.N. Squadron was certainly one of the better genre efforts, and it’s surely overdue for a revival.

un_squadron-snes

Shoot ‘em ups are a sort of prehistoric gaming genre that has somehow survived into the 21st century – like the Coelacanth, they keep being declared extinct, and then a thriving colony of them pops up somewhere unexpected. After all, a healthy clutch of shooters was recently spotted on PS2, and reports of new shmups being released on Dreamcast persisted long after the console’s ‘demise’. Here’s hoping that  U.N. Squadron will throw off its extinct status and resurface on Xbox Live Arcade sometime soon.

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 Review

logitech c920
logitech c920

I’ve been using this webcam for the past 5 months using it a couple of times a week. So far it’s been the best webcam I’ve ever owned. This camera is basically a Logitech C910 camera but on steroids.

Video Quality:
The C920 has a full HD resolution of 1080p which works when you are making your own videos and when video calling somebody, so long as your network connection has enough bandwidth (1 Mbps for 720p and 2 Mbps for 1080p quality). The maximum video capture resolution is 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps. The camera natively takes 15 MP pictures as well. The camera comes with automatic low light correction built-in so it is good for using it in a dark room (like at night). The camera also tends to auto-focus on one’s face which is a really useful feature especially when video chatting with other people.

Audio Quality:
It has dual microphones for recording in stereo as well as built-in automatic noise reduction (could help with barking dogs, etc).

Compatibility:
Supposedly the C920 only works on Windows systems, although I have ran into some people that made it work on Mac. Some people have even gotten it to work on most Linux distributions.

I’ve used it with Skype and Google Hangouts and it was detected and worked automatically on my system, which is great because I have many peripherals installed (2 microphones and another camera connected most of the time).

Software:
The camera comes with Logitech software that you need to install to be able to use it to its full potential. You need it to be able to do the crazy video effects such as putting on a robot head on yourself and other silly/trippy video effects.

Mounting setup:
You can mount the camera to your monitor with the plastic mounting clips it has like the ones most webcams implement. If needed you are able to mount the C920 to a tripod because it has the required threaded mount for it. It has a 6 foot cable which should be enough for most applications (you can always use a USB extension cable to extend it).

The swivel support is not as good as I would want it to be but if you know how to place the camera on the correct surface then it’s not that much of a problem.

Hardware Requirements:
First off you need a free USB 2.0 port or better. USB 3.0 is highly recommended especially if you intend to use the built in microphones as well as record/broadcast at full 1080p. I would say to have at least dual core but since quad core CPUs seem to be the standard minimum these days that shouldn’t be a problem. Still, that’s something to consider if you are going to use this on an older system.

Value:
At the time I wrote this review this camera costs $72 on amazon with free shipping. Now yes there are webcams out there for about $20 but most people that would get something in that price range don’t usually care much about image quality. If you have a web show this is the best camera you can buy for the money right now that supports 1080p, hands down.

Conclusion:
I highly recommend the c920 – the image quality is well worth the price.

Amrack’s Gamer Profile

Picture of me 1

Hey folks, my name is Amrack, as of now I’m a platinum League of Legends player who is getting back into streaming. But before we get into anything present, let’s go over a little history about my past.

My Name: So my name originated from my youth (like most people). To me a name is like a connection to the past that you can never experience again; it’s a memory of what I once was. When I was little (~8 years old) I use to write crazy RPG adventure books. I used to stay up talking to my brother (because I bunked with him) and role played stories with him so I had more content to write in my chapter books. Though my characters changed from story to story their names remained the same. Names like “Drakis”, “Amrak” (yes, it’s misspelled for a reason), and “Larkins”, to name a few. These were my online names that I gravitated to choose when playing games with my brother.

I took more of a liking to Amrak more than any of the other names I created because, my family wasn’t very religious at the time but my mother use to tell us things like: “what comes around goes around”, meaning if we lied or misbehaved bad karma would come our way. Well, when my siblings and I were younger (some not even born), we used to travel to Newark, NJ to see family (or what is left of my outside relatives) and on these trips we played all sorts of road games. One that really stuck out was when we played the ‘palindrome game’, it didn’t last long but it was a good mind exercise. I don’t recall being able to shout one out, my older brother and sisters always beat me to it. But I did try to make sense of the word ‘karma’ since it comes right back at you (‘back’ being the keyword here, as in ‘BACKwards’). I thought I was clever in thinking: “What is the opposite of karma?” – “Well what is karma backwards?”. The word “Amrak” didn’t mean anything but I liked the ring to it; thus creating a main character in all of my stories.

– I dont know when but i’ll be posting a part 2.

Stream: http://www.twitch.tv/amracklarkins

AND REMEMBER!!!!

Teemo 420

Oh, I got RP for this. Be Jealous! 🙂

Air Fortress

Air Fortress

Air Fortress is a strange name for a video game, but this did not stop HAL Laboratories from developing and producing this odd title, released in North America in 1989. Did the makers of such cult classics as Rollerball and Adventures of Lolo have another lovable hit on their hands?

Air Fortress - NES

Gameplay

Air Fortress has unusual gameplay, formed of a hybrid between shoot-’em-up action and platforming segments. There are eight eponymous Air Fortresses, and they are evil. In fact, they have been destroying entire civilizations, and it is up to our hero character, at the player’s control, to destroy them.

Each stage begins with your standard fare of side-scrolling science-fiction shooter action. While blazing laser cannons with either the A or B button, dodging obstacles, and firing at enemy craft, icons “B” and “E” will also be collected, which form the Bombs and Energy inventory for the next half of the level.

Air Fortress - NES

In those latter halves, the player goes into a multi-directional scrolling platform environment that takes place in the Air Fortress itself. Firing a laser pistol with the A button, or those oh-so-powerful and limited Bombs with the B button, the player must venture further into the depths of the Fortress. There are many sorts of enemies, ranging from free-roving dive bombers to stationary platform guns, for the player to conquer, along with precision-movement puzzles and occasional timing challenges.

Eventually, the core is reached. Much like in Bionic Commando, but unlike Captain Skyhawk, the core is the target to be destroyed, done quickly using those special Bombs, but does not even bother firing back at the player. Once the core is destroyed, the level goes dark, and the player must get back to their spaceship for another round of Fortress-blasting patrol.

Air Fortress - NES

Really, that is about it. A few mechanical flourishes are interesting: The player can have several hundred Energy within the Fortresses, but it slowly depletes no matter whether moving, firing, or even standing still. Furthermore, even those platforming portions take place in zero gravity, allowing the player to jump as high as desired (with the Up button held), along with the neat visual of the player-character jolting backwards with each shot fired in midair.

Overall, however, Air Fortress is a bit dull and tedious. Even though it does show some flair in its design, it just does not feel rewarding enough to make the spent time worthwhile. The shmup segments feel watered down, with the enemies never really mounting an overwhelming attack, while deaths inside the Fortress take forever to accomplish, thanks to the huge amounts of hit-points Energy that can be racked up.

Is this a functional, fully-formed video game? Sure, but one would have to have a special little fetish for hybrid-genre games in order to find Air Fortress landing amongst their favorite NES cartridges. At least there is a password function, accessible at the title screen, for the sake of taking this game in small, healthy chunks.

Graphics

Air Fortress - NES

The pixel placement in this game approaches a hefty level of niftiness at moments, which cool-lookin’ sprites almost like rotating polygons in some segments, and backgrounds expertly designed to match a sci-fi motif. The player-character itself is oddly bland, and some of the color choices do leave a muddled tone strewn across the screen. Not bad, otherwise, ending up a little more appealing than not so.

Sound

Air Fortress - NES

The music is similar to the graphics, in terms of its quality: Composed professionally, and matches the tone of the game, without ever approaching interstellar levels of unforgettability. Above-average, never distracting, no complaints needed.

Originality

Air Fortress - NES

Well, Air Fortress sure is different, but difference alone can hardly guarantee a great gaming session. While HAL has managed to craft an 8-bit shooter/platformer hybrid with loving care, it lacks punch and gravity (ironically?), ending up as just another piece of flotsam floating among the morass of its genre competitors.

Overall rating: 2.5/5 stars.