Month
November 2013

Altered Beast

Graphics wise, the game looks good in stills, but in movement doesn’t appear so impressive. There are lots of things that look out of place, like the mist which bosses dissolve into when you defeat them, that just don’t fit into the aesthetic of the game. This results in giving the game a weirdly low budget veneer, even when you take into consideration its age. [...]

Gamer Profile: Evan Hahn

Windforge is a steampunk building block RPG, with fully buildable airships. It’s kind of like a mix of Contra and Minecraft with flying airships. It’s a game that embraces freedom, creativity, and chaotic emergent action. There a million things to do in Windforge, even pretty outrageous things like mining whales for meat, or even turning them into airships. [...]

Family Game Night 4

Mr. Potato-Head is the host of the game, and though he is not annoying like the bizarre host of the Family Feud Xbox game (the memory of whom has scarred me for life), he also doesn’t add anything to the gameplay. The animations of the avatars are a bit silly, and not dismissed immediately with a button-click, which makes them a little irritating. The play-by-play voice was a constant, “go get ‘em, tiger” kind of happy, which lost its charm over time. Note to developers: if you want to see how a host can be engaging, perhaps even annoying, and yet bring you back for more, check out theYou Don’t Know Jack series of games. [...]

Sword Master

Aside from the black-and-white flaws and strengths, there are a few elements that must be judged on a player-by-player basis. The foremost example may be the level-up system. As the player slaughters creatures and kills people, an experience bar increases, until filling up and gaining a level, which grants a couple more ticks on the health bar. This is an intriguing way of going about things, but later in the same, enemies are doing more damage, while the health pick-ups (a potion) still merely heal a minuscule amount. This discrepancy is questionable, even if nitpicky. [...]

Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom

Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t even be sure that we’re playing the game as Buck! Oh well, whoever may be at the controls, it’s your job to guide their ship through a tonne of dangerous stuff, and the best means of doing this is by blasting the crap out of it all. To this end, the ship offers unlimited use of its cannon, and you can also move it around the screen freely and increase or decrease its speed as you see fit. Each round is divided into eight stages (or sectors) of which there are three types – trench (as seen in the screenshot to the right), open space (next shot down), and planet (bottom shot) – but the object of each is the same; namely, to either fulfill an enemy quota or to finish within the time limit. [...]

Donkey Kong Jr. Math

The game sure looks like DK Jr. from the arcades but that’s where the similarity ends. There are 3 modes to “play” but the only difference between A and B are that B uses negative numbers. The gist of it is that Papa Kong gives you a number and you have to jump to a vine with a number (you can only hit one at a time), then travel to the mathematic symbol you want, then hop to another number, etc, until you have the total Donkey asks for. Example, Papa gives me the number 77, you have to jump to 9, then the times symbol, then 8, then hop your baby gorilla ass back to the plus sign, then back to the 5 and you “win”. That is IT. [...]

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

The gameplay is sensational. You have the A and B buttons to equip whichever combinations of items you feel more comfortable with. Of course, you have to know when to use certain items because you can only get so far with a shield and sword. With an array of weapons, challenging dungeons, and comical situations this Zelda game is as enjoyable as the day it was released. The freedom Link has in this game is nothing but great. You’ll feel as if you can do almost anything! Exploring and discover is also a huge plus in Zelda games! Be sure to find all the heart pieces and don’t forget to knock against certain trees. There is a lot to love indeed. [...]

Capcom Vs. SNK: Pro

It’s basically what you would expect from Capcom in the past 15 years. Since I already played the 2nd game to death, I was a tad unthrilled at the offerings on the table. I was also mad that they didn’t include analog control even though the PS1 version was released in 2002. I loathe the PS1’s D-pad, and during fighting games my hands feel cramped and the stiff buttons prevent me from reaching my true potential. If you’re not bothered by the PS1/PS2 controller’s D-pad then this a decent fighter, but there’s plenty of better ones to choose from. [...]

TumblePop

The game plays out over 10 different areas, representing (mostly) real places on earth, such as New York, Moscow, Japan, Egypt, Australia, etc. In the final two areas (SPOILERS) the game sees you travel to Outer Space and finally The Moon. Each area features it’s own themed monsters, as well as typically one big boss fight at the end. And as you have seen in these pictures, there are some crazy bosses, like a giant octopus, a killer snowman, a giant clown robot, a flaming dragon, an enormous genie, etc. And if that weren’t enough, if you failed to defeat all the monsters in a given time, a Dracula-type dude will wander on screen and if he catches you, you lose a life. Major bummer. Totally bogus! But I digress. [...]

Yolanda

The game play is platform based on a single screen, and as soon as it starts it looks like it could be quite an enjoyable game; platforms in place, check, enemies present, check, protagonist standing heroically, check. However, a few seconds after the level starts the platform beneath you either gives way or bursts into flames. Um, right… try again? Sure, why not. Level re-starts… hey wait… this isn’t the same lev….. Poompf. Arrrgghhh!!! (Ed – expletive replaced with generic sound of frustration). This is pretty much a summary of how most of the game will go for any player, novice or pro. You have to learn quickly that you only have a few meager seconds to move off of the platform you start on otherwise you will instantly perish in fiery style. [...]

Skies of Arcadia

In terms of set-up, Skies of Arcadia is pretty much your standard Japanese RPG fare: a young boy from a small village is summoned by destiny to save the world by fighting random, turn-based battles across strange new lands filled with a multitude of manga-style characters, and so on, and so forth. We’ve been here before (Grandia, Final Fantasy, etc. etc.), but the difference with Skies is the sheer imagination that has been poured into the game world, along with the strong sense of ownership you feel over the characters. [...]

Rival Turf

Rival Turf isn’t terrible, but it’s generic and brutally difficult. The two characters, Jack Flack and Oozie Nelson (seriously) patrol the streets in levels that are nothing short of blatant knocks on better games. Enemies are the real issue, coming in with names like Skinny and Butch. They’re incredibly overpowered, laying on unblockable combos at will. [...]

Bodycount

The story for the game is fairly generic. You play as Jackson. A former US soldier who is now an agent for an organization called The Network. It is your job to find solutions to problems that governments can’t handle. Genocide in Africa? No problem. Grab a few weapons and grenades and wipe out the genocidal horde. Want to end a civil war? Take out the leaders and their forces. While on these missions, you’ll run across some enemies that don’t belong, and it’s up to you to find out who is really behind the civil unrest in both Africa and Asia. The story isn’t exactly gripping, but it’s not thrown in as an afterthought either. There was some thought put into it, but the bottom line for Bodycount is the gameplay. [...]

Hydra

I can kind of get what the developer was trying to do – up to tip the boat back to slow down – but in reality it doesn’t really work, especially with a d-pad as rubbishy as the one the Lynx possesses. It’s very difficult to accelerate and have a decent level of control at the same time. The driving bit of the game itself is simple though, or so it seems. You clip along the river at a decent pace, shooting bad guys and collecting weird sparkly orbs. Suddenly, you find yourself running out of gas. Where are the gas pick ups? [...]

Cabal

Ask any arcade gamer about Cabal, and you will notice a wry smile come over their face. Cabal had you ducking behind walls to escape enemy fire all the while you shoot back and destroy everything on screen, from buildings, tanks, helicopters, submarines, walls and trees to animals! Using your onscreen crosshair, you aim and fire. Your soldier starts with his trusty single-shot gun (with unlimited ammo), however, there are power-ups (shotguns, machine guns, grenades) hidden on each screen, hence the importance of shooting and destroying everything in sight. Once the screen has been leveled out, your soldier moves on to the next screen or stage. [...]

Retro Gaming: Brasil

During my stay in Sao Paulo Brasil my wife and I made a stop at Bubsy Games. Retro gaming stores are sometimes hard to come by and I am very glad there are still a few around. Every time I’m in Sao Paulo I make sure to stop by Bubsy Games. I ended up trading some games with them and always enjoy stopping by. [...]

Interstate ’76

The game is set in the mid 1970’s where there was an oil crisis in the United States. You play as Groove Champion, the main antagonist (who is set out to find out who killed your sister), alongside with your partner Taurus and the mechanic Skeeter. The story unravels more to find that the villains have a plot to destroy the main oil supplies across the US and Groove alongside with Taurus have to stop them. [...]

Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a Point and Click adventure game by Westwood studios that was released back in 1997. Unlike the movie, the game follows Blade Runner Ray McCoy who is trying to hunt down a group of replicants. It is one of the first 3D adventure games ever and it does a great job of telling us a side-story inside the Blade Runner universe. [...]

Splash Lake

The idea of a bouncing Ostrich with a very sharp beak named Ozzie was enough for me to at least take a look at this game. Splash Lake was released by NEC in 1992 for the Turbo Grafx-16. This puzzle game features an Ostrich named Ozzie who uses his sharp beak to break holes in the bridge he is on causing his enemies to fall, into the lake, where they splash, hence, Splash Lake. [...]

Gambler

This is not a game for the anti-gambling crowd. When playing this game you gamble at every opportunity, and often entice your opponents to gamble with you. You bet on the horses. You visit casinos. You play bingo. You play the lottery. If there’s a way for you to gamble in this game, the designers’ thought of it and you’re part of it. There is even a special “Sweepstakes” dice shaker that you use to try to win big. Mind you, my sister and I played a lot of this game in our younger days, and the biggest gamble I make these days is taking a chance on a new brand of coffee at the grocery store, so it doesn’t seem to have corrupted our psyches with its wicked ways. [...]

WWF Superstars

Despite my apparent frustration with this game, I actually love it! At this point, wrestling games, at least in the US (with the sole exception of Pro-Wrestling for the NES) were pretty much garbage. WWF Wrestlemania for the NES was garbage, and Microleague Championship Wrestling (the C64 / Amiga game which was pretty much rock-paper-scissors with primitive FMV) was nothing but novelty. WWF Superstars was pretty much the only game in town for a “proper” wrestling game. It was great for its time, and it still holds up pretty well today! [...]

Burnout

There are a total of fifteen named courses through the game but only five of them are wholly unique – Interstate, Harbor Town, River City, Hillside Pass, Gridlock USA – the others are made up of sections taken from these courses, sometimes reversed or at different times of day (or night). Although they’re all comprised of public roads, there’s still a reasonable variety of types and features. Their names should give you a good idea or what they’re like but you can expect to tackle inner-city areas, motorways, coastal roads, quiet country lanes, and various others featuring undulating surfaces, tunnels, long sweeping corners, sharp right-hand turns, bridges, and lots of other stuff. [...]

Bucky O’Hare

This title boasts the usual high-quality Konami effects, many of them recognizable from their library of other NES games (try the Start/pause button in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartridges, or notice the explosion sound of the defeated bosses), along with good background music in place for appropriate ambiance. The skillful renditions reflect painstaking attempt at optimizing what the hardware had to offer, and results in an action-oriented, multi-layered beat throughout. [...]

Half Life 2: Episode Two

The lighting and other graphical qualities are fantastic, and even though better graphics can be found across current-gen consoles, Valve enlisted such incredible art direction that the Source Engine’s age is barely showing. The environments look wonderful, the spaces feel appropriately vast, and the character models still look amazingly realistic. They display emotions on a level I’ve never seen before in a game, and I still don’t think any graphical engines model human characters so well. [...]

Hogan’s Alley

Game A is your standard 3 target shooter. This would be one of the rare times I enjoy no kind of musical track because if you’re an FBI agent trying to concentrate, the last thing you want is bouncy chiptunes blasting in your ear. There are 3 types of townsfolk in the sim you can shoot and 3 you can’t or else it registers as a “MISS!” and your game is over at ten. The tricky part is that the professor is colored just like a baddie and the grunt with the shotgun is colored like the stand-alone ‘stache sporting policeman, so it does take a bit of skill not to accidentally send Professor Sad-Shit to hell. [...]

Ninja Gaiden 2

The gameplay is tough! If you really want an old school 8-bit challenge, then this is it! Look no further unless you want something even more difficult like Battletoads. You’ll be trying to beat this game for hours, days, even weeks! Once you do, you’ll feel so accomplish and will never want to play through it again! [...]

Kung Fu Kid

About halfway through the third stage a small frog comes a-leaping at you. As with any enemy, you prepare to unleash a kick. But unlike the other enemies, which are knocked back a little and destroyed when hit, when you kick a frog they fly like a missile across the screen, taking out any other enemies that appear in their path. It is one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen. [...]

Profiled: Daryl Rodriguez & Jeanette Garcia

World 1-1 is the first in a documentary series on the history of video games. This chapter is about the early years including Atari and how they helped to create a new industry. It focuses on the business deals, the personalities of the pioneers, and the creations of the engineers. This documentary will be a combination of interviews, archival footage, and reflection that retells the story to a new generation that may not know the roots of their favorite hobby [...]

Demon’s Souls

This is a tough one for me. The game responds pretty well most of the time, though the lock-on mechanism can get you in trouble early on until you master it. As I’ve mentioned, the game can be hard. Now, I don’t think it’s quite as hard as some people make it out to be, but there are some cheap deaths in there (a pit you see that it looks like you should be able to descend but actually leads to death, any time something knocks you back when you’re on stairs/a ledge, or a ridiculously hard enemy you have no business fighting but might not have any idea of). [...]