No More Heroes

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The game features a free roaming world with Travis moving around on foot or on his trusty scooter, the “Schpeltiger”. Originally planned as an ultraviolent title to rival Manhunt 2, the copious amounts of blood were later replaced with black pixels and coins spurting from fallen enemies, resulting in final ratings of Pegi 16+ and ESRB M. ~The Elderly Gamer

No More Heroes

Off to the bargain bins again and this time out we’re looking for a Wii original “No More Heroes” which first hit the shelves way back in January 2008. It’s popularity spawned a sequel in 2010, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle and a port  to the Xbox 360 and Ps3 titled “No More Heroes’ Paradise”.
Designed by none other than Suda51 aka Goichi Suda, you play as Travis Touchdown, a card carrying otaku, who lives in the fictional town of Santa Destroy, California. After an unexpected turn of events, and the purchase of a light saber on ebay, you find yourself on the bottom rung of an Assassins’ organization. You must  prove yourself worthy and defeat 10 other bloodthirsty killers, all with deep stories of their own, to make your way to the top of the assassin’s league.


The game features a free roaming world with Travis moving around on foot or on his trusty scooter, the “Schpeltiger”. Originally planned as an ultraviolent title to rival Manhunt 2, the copious amounts of blood were later replaced with black pixels and coins spurting from fallen enemies, resulting in final ratings of Pegi 16+ and ESRB M.
The reviews at the time were resoundingly positive, withMetacrtic awarding it a score of  83% from 64 critc reviews.

Quote of the Bunch:
“SUDA-51 has delivered a game that can match its absurd premise with equally stimulating gameplay, making for one of the most unique and satisfying action games in recent memory”
Reviews Summary
A true joy of creation that is too rarely seen in gaming.
The overall weird factor of the game are the main reason to check it out
F…ing awesome.
Some mystic element about it that makes it worth playing.
Top-tier mature gaming and pitch-perfect swordplay.
A funky, fun third-person hack and slash marred by some boring open world side-missions.
A unique title with some genius moments.
Open world sections do more harm than good
A love letter to videogames that never grows old, tired, or dull
There are few games as good as this on any platform.

The only surving…
Official Game site (Japanese)


WET is a unique-looking game with a lot of fun features. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for with a Kill Billesque storyline and visual styling, and ridiculous gunplay that is over the top and absurdly fun. Unfortunately, WET isn’t a perfect game because it lacks creative depth and can feel repetitive, but it is definitely a fun shooter if you’re just looking to kill a couple of hours. ~Geoff Calver



WET tells the story of female assassin Rubi Malone. Rubi carries a pair of revolvers and a sword, and she dispatches her foes with style. The game obviously focuses on having fun while completing your mission. Rubi is beautiful and athletic. She is able to run along walls, jump high over obstacles, and slide for ungodly lengths of time along the floor, all while shooting not just at one enemy, but at two. The game encourages you to run along a wall and then jump into mid-air and slide along the floor while killing enemies left and right. As you perform such combinations, you have points rack up. The more points you gain putting together awesome acrobatics and the more enemies you kill while performing the acrobatics, the faster your health will replenish and the more points you’ll have to spend towards upgrading Rubi’s weapons at the end of each mission.

WET - Xbox 360

WET tells an interesting, if a bit convoluted story. The game begins with Rubi watching a suitcase being handed between two men in an ornate room in Chinatown. The suitcase is her target – she needs to retrieve it – and she crashes through the glass ceiling and begins shooting up the place. This leads to a chase where she follows Simmons, the man carrying the suitcase. It turns out the suitcase holds a heart, which a man named Ackers has hired Rubi to retrieve so that he may have heart surgery. He rewards her well and comes back a year later asking if she can go to Hong Kong and find their heir to his crime fortune, Trevor. From there, Rubi travels around the globe through a twisted plot of backstabbing, lies, and falsehoods. She gets beat up a few times, engages herself in high-speed chases, and in the end, prevails.

WET - Xbox 360

The story of WET is fun in that it is over the top, just like the gameplay. The twists and turns are at times so ridiculous that you feel you are watching a ‘70s B grade action film. And that’s the point. WET is fashioned to look and feel like a Kill Bill or even more aptly, Grindhouse style of film. It is over the top, action-packed, and features a grainy visual style meant to replicate cheap 70s Technicolor film.

WET - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot

Unfortunately, though the upgrades to Rubi’s weapons are decent (she can eventually gain access to shotguns, SMGs, and crossbows); they don’t change the gameplay dynamic much. The novelty of putting together acrobatic kill combos begins to get stale when you realize that the AI isn’t very intelligent and are mostly just cannon fodder. The difficulty in playing through WET is fighting off huge numbers of enemies rather than thinking about how to do so.


The graphical style of WET is completely unique to recent video games. The only other game I can really think of that reminds me of WET in terms of atmosphere, film influence, and graphical styling is the old driving combat game Interstate ’76, where bellbottomed 70s hipsters drove around vehicles outfitted with guns. It, too, was over the top in its action and in its depiction of its heroes, and it screamed of 70s B-movie styling.

WET - Xbox 360

WET makes great use of its graphical deficiencies. The graphics engine behind WET isn’t all that great. The character models look decent but not special, the locales are colorful and varied, but the amount of detail on the buildings, vehicles, and in everything else around you isn’t anywhere near that of many newer titles. What is impressive is how the team working on WET managed to work around the weakness of their graphics engine. The 70s B-movie looks manage to make it okay that the graphics aren’t like Gears of War or Metal Gear Solid 4. The screen has little dots all over it like grainy film, and occasionally a bar will move through the screen like a slide in a film that suddenly shows itself. If you’ve ever see a Quentin Tarantino film, you know what the visual style of WET is. And it’s really unique and fun.


The sound in WET is a mixed bag. The music is fantastic. It features a great score, and beyond that, there is a ton of original music made specifically for the game by artists ranging from Gypsy Pistoleros to The Chop Tops. It is excellent music that is loud, vicious, and fits right in with the game style.

WET - Xbox 360

The voice acting ranges from good to great. Rubi’s voicework is fantastic. Voiced by Hollywood actress Eliza Dushku (who is the lead character, Echo, in Fox’s Dollhouse) she sounds great and her voice really gives life to her over the top female assassin character.

The Final Word

WET is a fun, action-packed game that takes lots of inspiration from 70s B-grade action movies and Quentin Tarantino’s work. It isn’t going to keep you up at night wondering about where the plot will go next, and it isn’t going to be on any “game of the year” lists, but it certainly is a fun title that is over the top and features great styling, music, and an innovative approach to how you go about taking out enemies.

The Scorecard


+ Great atmosphere that evokes Kill Bill, Grindhouse, and cheap 70s action films

+ Fun gunplay

+ Easy to pick up and play for just a few minutes

+ Excellent music

– The storyline is a bit convoluted and doesn’t really draw you in

– The graphics are dated

– The AI is about as smart as my fish

Containment: The Zombie Puzzler

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Containment: The Zombie Puzzler

Do you like games wtih zombies?  Do you like puzzle games?  What if there was a game that put those two things together?  There is.  Learn more about Containment A Zombie Puzzler in this review.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

I recently acquired Containment A Zombie Puzzler through Indie Royale’s May Hurray Bundle.  Having heard of the game from a number of friends who are game developers as well as hearing about the game being selected for PAX 10 this year and seeing as a part of the bundle, I decided to get it.  Fast forward to July and I finally got around to playing it.

Unlike a lot of zombie games, this is not a shooter.  This is not a see how long you can survive.  This is not a run for your life, you’re going to be eaten by zombies, nor is it close to Plants vs. Zombies.  It’s a true puzzle game WITH zombies and boss zombies you have to fight.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

The game has two play modes:  Campaign and Survival mode.

In Campaign mode, you play through three acts which tells a story of how the zombie apocalypse started, what people are doing to survive.  The story is actually pretty entertaining and leads into new puzzles as you go on through the story.  Each act has 5 parts.  Depending on how good you are at puzzles and how fast you are at moving people around in the game will tell you how long it will take you to complete it.  The campaign will take at least 2 to 3 hours to complete.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

In Survival mode, you have to complete puzzles quickly.  You get rated on how many zombies are killed, time it takes to complete and how many survivors you have.  There are 3 different survival modes and you can rank up against other s in the game Leaderboard depending on how well you do.

Both versions are a lot of fun to play, but I have to say that Campaign mode gets harder and harder with new zombies and new bosses to defeat at each stage and Survival mode gets harder the further you get into the game.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

Did I mention that the zombies can turn your puzzle pieces into zombies?  I think I forgot to mention that.

I mentioned this was a puzzle game.  You get 4 types of non-zombies:  The Soccer Mom (as I call her) dressed in Pink, Army Dude dressed in Green. Police Officer in Blue and Anarchist in Orange.  To defeat the zombies, you have to surround on four sides (corners do not apply) with the same color.  You can surround groups of zombies.  Zombies on the edges only have to have 2 sides (sometimes three sides) before they are killed.  The colors vary each time for the fighters.  As you use them, they disappear and more fill in from the top.  Continue matching colors as you can until you defeat all the zombies.  But you have to do it quickly, otherwise the zombies will keep eating your defenders and you will run out of defenders and lose the round.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

You get bonus points for various events in the game, such as if you trap zombies or have a cascade effect. A cascade effect is where defenders drop down into a region and can automatically surround and kill a zombie already there.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

A nice feature of the game is you can restart individual blocks in an act, or the entire level.  It’s up to you.  If you fail, you get to chose where to restart as well.

Overall, as a puzzle game, this was pretty fun, especially as it tells a story.  In addition to putting puzzles together, you get bonus items to use (grenades, firebombs, airplane attack, etc.) but you also kill your people with those attacks.  There are also areas where you can interact with the environment to blow pieces of it up.

Containment - The Zombie Puzzler

There are also additional mini puzzles in the game.  For example, in one act, you need to surround several power supplies with defenders of the same color.  While defeating zombies and preventing zombies from walking into the group and turning them.   This game definitely makes you think.

The only downside of the game is the freaky repetitive noises.  The sounds get quite annoying after a while.

If you like puzzle games and zombies, this is a great game to add to your collection.  This is available on PC through Steam, as well as for iPads and other iDevices through ITunes.

For more information on Containment or on the development company, BootSnake Games, you can visit the following websites:

Game Rating: 4/5

You can also check out this video by bootsnake games  to see some gameplay:

Eye of the Beholder

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The holy symbol or spell-book must be in the characters hand and right clicking brings up a menu from which you can select your spells. Again players of current gen games will be familiar with the spells as they have only been added to over the years, not removed. ~Rusty Quiva

Eye of the Beholder

To this day one can often find reference in  any official Dungeons & Dragons game to “the Heroes of Waterdeep”. This game is what they are referring to and i count myself lucky to have played this and its 2 sequels (Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon and Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor). I have fond memories of sifting through reems of old-school laser print-outs of maps made entirely of ASCII characters trying to find my way through some complex dungeon puzzle.

Story: Waterdeep is having some problems with their sewers. The local council employs 4 heroes to do something about it. A few steps inside the sewers and a trap is sprung sealing the intrepid party inside. To escape they must venture deeper into the sewers which turn out to be the beginning of a sinister dungeon.

Gameplay: You start by creating your 4 heroes. Players of current gen D&D games will be somewhat familiar with the character creation process.

Once you have all 4 created you can enter the game and begin your adventure. Characters have 2 hands each in which can be placed a variety of weapons, or in the case of clerics and paladins a holy symbol, and a spell-book for mages.

Dungeons and Dragons - Eye of the Beholder

The weapons are activated by right clicking on their image next to the characters portrait. Melee weapons will be swung and ranged weapons will be fired or thrown. The hand that was just used becomes temporarily unavailable as the character recovers from its use. Spells are managed in a similar manner. The holy symbol or spell-book must be in the characters hand and right clicking brings up a menu from which you can select your spells. Again players of current gen games will be familiar with the spells as they have only been added to over the years, not removed. All spells had to be memorized before hand and the number of castable spells was limited by level. So a player would choose which spells to memorize and would then need to rest to be able to cast them. Inventory is a bit similar to Diablo in that each character has slots for particular equipment and a number of backpack spaces for everything else.

Everything in EoB takes up a single space and nothing stacks, with the exception of arrows fro which there is a quiver. Something not seen in D&D games since the EoB series is food rations. Characters get hungry and failing to feed them when their food bar is empty would result in hit-point loss. Movement in the game was square based like wolfenstein and relied on the numeric keypad. Puzzles were solved by interacting with the environment, for example clicking on a lever or placing a gem in a hole.

Dungeons and Dragons - Eye of the Beholder

The player party could grow to include 6 characters total, either by finding other living characters or resurrecting the bones of dead ones found in certain places. Characters in the front rank of the party could use melee attacks while those behind were limited to ranged weapons and spells.

Monsters range from kobolds at the start of the game right up to the Beholder itself at the end. Beholders have 11 eyes, 10 on tentacle-like stalks and a main central one. In the rules of D&D each eye is supposed to cast a spell, but for this game the beholder is limited to about 5 spells. Like its predecessor games EoB would also allow players to move their parties that had successful completed the game into the next game (EoBII) a feature not seen in other games until recently (mass effect 2). The dungeon is broken up into levels, but the gameplay is not entirely linear, requiring the player to return to certain levels after obtaining certain items or to gain certain equipment.

Dungeons and Dragons - Eye of the Beholder

Graphics: Excellent back in its era. Made full use of VGA graphics and was colorful and appropriate. The interface was simple and required little to no explanation. there were not a lot of sprites for each monster, but enough to let you know which way it was looking and which way it was moving and how it was attacking you. The screens I’ve included are only from the first few minutes of the game, but suffice to say there are few different looking areas, each inhabited by its own monsters.

Sound: Again, pretty awesome for its era. Made good use of your sound-blaster pro, but like most games from this era was equally good, just pumped out of a PC speaker. It is a common misconception that a PC speaker is only capable of beeps, but this is not true. The speaker is capable of the same range of sounds as any sound-card it just takes longer to program. However i do know of games that were released even earlier than this with better sound (like pinball dreams which had sound coming out of the speaker akin to today’s MP3s…  No really! It had voice and all).

Controls: Keyboard only or keyboard and mouse. Keyboard only is more difficult, but the game is paced so that with practice a mouse user would only have the advantage of convenience not speed. movement is via the numeric keypad using 8 for forward, 7 for turn 90 degrees to the left, 9 for right, 4 and 6 for strafe left and right and 2 for step backwards.

Overall: An excellent game which will keep you busy for days without a walk-through and at least a full day with one. Has some replayabilty by trying different party make-ups. The ability to move your party into the sequels is awesome. The simple GUI means that back then and today a gamer could pick up how to play in minutes. I never saw a single bug and the game never crashed out.

Soul Blazer


Soul Blazer for the SNES is just another wonderful title by Enix to keep us RPG geeks with something to do during the SNES era of greatness! The music is nothing but wonderful. Enix sure did a great job with the soundtrack and sound effects of their games. You can’t beat the 16-bit sound effects from yesterday. If anything, they motivate you to continue with your quest and finish up a wonderful title. Graphics wise, it is decent. You won’t find any graphics like from lets say Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger but you’ll find some decent graphics that’ll be more than enough to keep your eyes happy till the end of the game. Things look like how they are supposed to so be happy to at least have that.


As far as the gameplay, it is quite satisfying. You will have to come up with your own strategies to defeat certain bosses. You just can’t run to them and kill them, it’s a good way to use your head in a way. There is also a level up system that of course makes you stronger. Weapons, and other items are on the way to help you finish your quest. Everything an action-RPG title should bring is here! Don’t look anywhere else! The game is quite fun but would only be good for a replay if there are extra things you might have missed on your first run. Then again, if you find defeating bad guys and playing this game as satisfying then I suggest you go for it! It’s a great experience overall and experiencing it again would just be joyful and action packed once more.

To conclude, this is a must have for anyone’s collection and anyone willing to step down the golden ages of the 16-bit era. You can’t go wrong with titles from Enix! They always delivered high quality stuff.

Troy Doerner: Cosplay Deviants


Name: Troy Doerner

Title: CEO of Cosplay Deviants

Author of: Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up

Favorite Classic Game: Dragon Quest

Quote: My favorite classic game would have to be the original Dragon Quest. I remember playing it when I was younger and spending hours simply exploring what (at the time) was a massive open world. I also love the art of Akira Toriyama which helped so much more.

Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up

About the book: Cosplay, dressing up as characters from pop culture, has swept fan conventions around the world. Now, explore the adult side of this popular phenomenon. This enormous collection of pin-up style photos provides a tantalizing look at sexy female cosplayers from around the world. They are not afraid to shed their costume to bring your character fantasies to life. Stepping away from the “booth babe” stereotype, Cosplay Deviants’ models are engrossed in nerd culture along with the fans who make up the community and appear as popular characters from gaming, comics, anime and manga, and science fiction. With a foreword by Edgar Munster, model interviews, and more than 360 images, you will see just what it means to undress the art of playing dress up.

About the Author: Troy Doerner started Cosplay Deviants in 2007 as a joke to spite a college professor. Since then, it has grown to the largest and most successful cosplay-based adult site on the web with more than 100 models in 7 countries around the world. ONce a cosplayer himself, Troy has been attending fan conventions since 2000 and has wond awards for both his costuming and photography. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife Kimberly

Gamer Profile: Stephen Barton

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 I don’t remember many single player games that I played around then having much replay value, they went in a cupboard or in a box once beaten once or twice – but playing other people, especially when you couldn’t see them like you could on a 2 player arcade game, was clearly the future and felt way ahead of its time. ~Stephen Barton

Stephen Barton

Name: Stephen Barton

Occupation: Composer

Company: Afterlight Inc

Favorite Classic Game: Doom

Quote: I loved 3D Monster Maze on the Spectrum ZX, but Doom really reset the bar entirely. The soundtrack was awesome (especially given the resources available), but what really got me hooked was that it was the first game I ever played involving a network. That you could be on one computer and playing someone on an entirely different computer in a different room with just a null modem cable between the two, before we even had an internet connection – that was special, and way more so than just playing something like Solitaire – it was actually walking around a virtual world with another person walking around in it, and it was unpredictable. I don’t remember many single player games that I played around then having much replay value, they went in a cupboard or in a box once beaten once or twice – but playing other people, especially when you couldn’t see them like you could on a 2 player arcade game, was clearly the future and felt way ahead of its time.

Current Project: Titanfall

The rising expectations of gamers for an immersive, cinematic experience outpaces
even the demands on the highest grossing blockbuster movies, and composers are part
of a group of people finding themselves as much in demand in the game industry as in
Hollywood. Music is integral to the operatic scope of major video game franchises as it is
to the movies: the latest generation of composers must move freely between these two
worlds, understanding that in both the key element is serving the story.
One of the composers in this new group is Stephen Barton, whose principal scores
include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the upcoming Titanfall amidst an extensive
slate of movie and television projects.
A British native who moved to Los Angeles in 2001 at the age of 19 to write additional
music for Dreamworks’ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Barton worked with Harry
Gregson-Williams for seven years as a composer, programmer and orchestrator. Barton
had himself been a performer from a very early age, both as a singer and classical
pianist, but in these early years and then subsequently founding his own studio he
quickly became immersed in the technological side of music-making during a time where
electronic music moved from an influential niche to the dominant mainstream.
His personal tastes are as eclectic and omnivorous as his resume: his work in film has
coincided with a general shift from purely orchestral scores towards a palette more
representative of the music industry as a whole, requiring the composer to move,
chameleon-like, between the homegrown indie and the major blockbuster. “Wherever
there is a good story that you can be a part of telling, that’s where I like to be.”
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward perfected a genre that had its roots in
games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Barton provided the game’s cinematic score
which fused heavy electronic elements and unusual ethnic instrumentation (such as
hurdy-gurdy and numerous wind instruments) into the traditional cinematic orchestral
score. The game went on to be one of the most successful and influential first person
shooters ever made, selling over 14 million copies.
He has recently completed the score for indie darling Patricia Clarkson’s latest film Last
Weekend, and is currently working on the music for Titanfall, the highly anticipated first
game from Respawn Entertainment, a new studio founded by Vince Zampella, Jason
West and the majority of the original members of Infinity Ward. The game is to be
released in March 2014, but has already won over 60 “Best in Show” awards at E3 2013.
Other recent projects have included Disney’s Motorcity, a series with the animation
studio Titmouse with whom he has frequently collaborated, as well as scoring James
Cameron’s Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away for Paramount Pictures. These projects join a
diverse resume of over three dozen major feature films and video games to which he
has contributed music, such as Jennifer’s Body, Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven,
Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu and Man On Fire, Ben Affleck’s Gone, Baby Gone, and extensive
work on both the Chronicles of Narnia and Shrek franchises (for which he wrote a song
on the platinum-selling Shrek 2 soundtrack).

Mighty Final Fight

Mighty Final Fight
Feel the hi-top of Justice

 The Nintendo Entertainment System certainly had a rather wide variety of game types during it’s 10 year existence. From platformers, to action games, to shooters, to puzzle games, sports games, role playing games, you name it. But the one genre we’re here to talk about today is a fine little slice of gaming known as the “Beat ’em Up”. What defines a “Beat ’em Up”, as opposed to a “Fighting Game”, is that in fighters, your objective is to beat the snot out of the guy across the screen from you, and the person who takes the most rounds wins. But in a “Beat ’em Up”, the objective is to beat the snot out of every single thing that moves on the screen, and to do so until you beat all the bad guys in every single level, and finally save the day. So in other words it’s the difference between a Mohammed Ali fight, and a Jackie Chan film. The NES had it’s share of this fine genre, which enjoyed it’s “boom” period in the late 80’s and early 90s. Double Dragon, Renegade, River City Ransom, Toxic Crusaders, and of course Battletoads all graced the classic console. But I’m here today to tell you about one such game, released late in the NES’ life, years after the Super NES had launched, that may have gotten passed over by many. I’m here to correct that, because it just might be the best of the bunch….

Mighty Final Fight
Back when almost everything Capcom made was gold…..

Most gamers worth their salt know that the first game to truly establish the conventions of the genre known as the “Beat ‘Em Up”, was 1987’s Double Dragon. Developed by Technos, DD became an arcade smash hit that spawned a franchise, and the rest is history. Most gamers worth their salt are ALSO aware of the fact that while Double Dragon started it, another game that came along in 1989, pretty much perfected it. And that would be Capcom’s Final Fight. Originally meant to be a semi-follow up to their first (and terribly obscure) Street Fighter game, this classic was originally going to be called “Street Fighter ’89”. But once they realized it had really nothing to do with their first foray into one-on-one fighting, they renamed it “Final Fight”, and it was off to the races.

Mighty Final Fight

Now, Final Fight was an amazing arcade game, which received a very good port for Super Nintendo, and believe it or not even a solid one for Sega CD. The game was also popular enough to spawn two SNES only sequels, which saw it change characters, but kept the overall look and feel. WELL, around the same time that FF2 came out in 1993, another little known gem also released, for the by then fading-but-still-awesome original NES. And that game, was called “Mighty Final Fight”. Mighty Final Fight is a strange but wonderful beast. It is a fairly comical retake on the arcade original, complete with “chibi” (small, cartoony) versions of the main characters and enemies, and a goofier feel over all. But with the goofieness also came something that most wouldn’t expect, especially out of an NES “port”, and that is the fact that while the SNES version was a great game although lacking 2-player, this NES “remake” was actually superior in a lot of ways, even to the arcade original.

Final fight
The arcade lineup, as seen in the Sega CD version.
Mighty Final Fight
The lineup as seen in the NES. Notice the differing art styles.

For one thing, unlike the better known SNES port, where you could only play characters Cody and Mike Haggar for some strange reason, in MFF you get to choose between all three from the arcade, which includes the ninja characer Guy. Like the SNES version, MFF is only single player, but honestly, that’s small potatoes compared to what they added to the game. Not only does the overall action feel even “meatier” with a superior sense of hit detection, but Capcom also took a page out of the NES port of Double Dragon’s book, and added an rpg like element wherein your character gains experience for every baddie he thrashes, and eventually you “level up”, with each level unlocking new and cooler attacks, as well as extending your life bar.

Final fight
The game’s first boss, “Damnd”, also known as Thrasher.
Mighty Final Fight
Thrasher as seen in the NES version. Aren’t they adorable?

The game also includes most of the content from the original, though it only has 5 stages instead of the arcade’s six, in this case missing the “Subway” area. That aside, it’s got everything the arcade did with a bit more besides, and beyond that, even has one hell of a bad ass 8-bit soundtrack. And again, the soundtrack is arguably superior to the arcade or even SNES versions. All around, Mighty Final Fight is one hell of a game, loads of fun, and a perfect example of why the NES lasted an amazing 10 years in North America, because up through 1994 it kept getting sprinklings of high quality games such as this. In fact, 1993 was a huge year for the ol’ NES all around, as it not only got Mighty Final Fight, it also saw the releases of games like Kid Klown, Zen the Intergalactic Ninja, Duck Tales 2, Battletoads & Double Dragon, and of course Kirby’s Adventure.

Mighty Final Fight
An example of the upgraded moves you get with each level, in this case Cody’s uppercut.

So there you have it folks! If you haven’t ever gotten a chance to get your hands on this true “Beat ‘Em Up” classic, or haven’t even ever heard of it until now, please do yourself a huge favor and do so.You really can’t do much better in it’s genre, and as far as I’m personally concerned, it’s one of the greatest games ever crafted. So fire this bad boy up, and have a great skull-knocking time, on me! Cheers!

Castlevania II: Dracula Densetsu II

Hi everyone!  Time for a new post, I’ve gonna highlight a really cool game I got recently called Castlevania II: Dracula Densetsu II aka Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge if you get the North American version.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

I have the Japanese version of this game so story wise I’m not totally sure what’s going on but based on what I looked up the game takes place 15 years after the first Castlevania game boy game.  Dracula has returned and he has kidnapped Chris Belmont’s son named Soleiyu and turned him into a demon.  Dracula uses Soleiyu’s powers to retake human form so he can rebuild his castle.  So once again Christopher must face Dracula to save his son.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

When you first start the game there are four initial levels.  Each level has a unique theme like earth, crystal, plant and air and takes place in a separate castle.  The cool thing is you can complete them in any order you like.  So if you get stuck on one of the large trap rooms you can try out another one.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

If you play the Japanese version you will notice that the axe will be replaced with a cross, instead of making the arcing motion the cross moves in a horizontal motion almost like a boomerang when it comes back to you.  This can be very useful as it can go through walls to kill enemies.

Castlevania II - Dracula Densetsu II

My only complaint is I wish Christopher would move a little faster, he seems to be going pretty slow at times especially when you are trying to make a bigger jump or avoid an enemy. Other than that it’s a really fun game!  It looks really good for a game boy game and the music has been done very well.  I haven’t completed the game yet, but if I discover anything else I will let you know.

So make sure if you get a chance to pick up this game definitely do so!  Don’t forget that the Japanese version is still playable on North American gameboys as they are region free.  I’m so glad Heidi from Retro Gaming Blog told me about this game, now I just have to get the other 2 game boy ones in the series

Haunted Castle

Haunted Castle a.k.a. Akuma-Jou Dracula by Konami (1988) – Arcade

Haunted Castle - Arcade

So there I was, messing round with MAME again when I selected yet another random, rather generic-sounding title to try. The resultant title screen was pretty cool and from there followed a brief intro which showed some girly getting kidnapped by a pesky Dracula-like nincompoop, and I also noticed that it was a Konami game. Hmmm, something about this was starting to seem familiar, but before I thought about that too much I started the game.

Haunted Castle - Arcade

At this point, a feeling of unbridled horror soon fell upon me like dark clouds casting their mighty shadows over a once vibrant landscape, but it wasn’t the game’s spooky horror theme that caused this; noo, this was down to the game itself which stunk like a garlic-riddled corpse. Intrigued by this badness, I then looked into it in more detail so I could know exactly what/who I was cussing, paying more attention this time. Then… egads! Sure enough, it was confirmed – Haunted Castle is actually a Castlevania game!

Haunted Castle - Arcade

As someone who largely avoided Nintendo consoles until the mid-90’s, one of several well regarded IP’s I never got around to looking into properly is Castlevania. I know of their glowing reputation though, and I have played a couple briefly, which makes this effort all the more surprising. It takes the form of a scrolling whip ’em up and involves guiding a suitably heroic-looking fellow through hordes of skeletons, bats, and zombies with the object, presumably, of rescuing the aforementioned girly. So far, so familiar.

Haunted Castle - Arcade


Aside from some clunky controls and suspicious collision-detection, however, there’s one big problem – it’s ridiculously hard as well. Our hero (Mr. Belmont, presumably) can take a few hits but has only the one life with which to face the infinite enemies which require fairly precise strikes from his whip. Then I reached an insanely tough screen on which chunks from a castle wall fly across the screen, and it gets even harder from then on. When I eventually get around to covering the Castlevania series I’ll take another look at this (once I’ve mentally prepared myself) but for now… uurghhh. And people whine about Ghosts’n Goblins being too tough? Holy crap, I hope the other games are easier!

RKS Score: 1/5

Battlefield 1942 (PC)


Developer: Digital Illusions

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: First Person Shooter

Release Date: 2002

Awesome little FPS this, many hours of addiction and therapy needed to drag myself away. Even though the game is getting on a bit now, the graphics for one are certainly looking dated I still keep coming back for the odd game now and again, especially multi-player. The main game consists of capturing and controlling certain strategic points on the game map, almost a multiple capture the flag scenario. Once a team captures a point team members can spawn there, however when a team loses control of all of these points they cannot respawn and if all the players are killed the team with no spawn points loses (deep breath).


The player can choose to play as either the Allied powers or the Axis powers. The Allies consists of the US, UK, Soviet Union, Canada and the French. The Axis consists of Germany, Japan and Italy. Regardless of which side you chose you’ll get a choice of five different character classes to choose from; Scout, Assault, Medic, Anti-tank, and Engineer. All have certain distinct advantages depending on individual tastes, I tended to stick with Scout and Assault as they move quicker, helpful in making it to the coolest vehicle first or for general running away.


Some of my favourite scenarios in this game feature air combat. Let’s be honest, running across the vast maps, especially El Alamein, is a tad boring, driving or flying is much more fun and recommended. The game has a nice choice of vehicles to use and destroy and it’s always satisfying landing that bomb on target or engaging the enemy in a dogfight.


Although the game play remains fun (there’s nothing like trying to fly a bomber like a fighter, or seeing the pilot parachuting out of the plane you’re all in) the graphics are  looking a bit naff, and the control system seems slow and clunky, especially if you’ve been sitting there playing something newer and shinier. It’s a game for Sunday afternoon when it’s raining and you’re not in the mood for anything to stressful from the gaming library.


Also released were several expansion packs for the original Battlefield 1942 titled; Battlefield 1942: The Road to Rome and Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII. Both added various new game play modes and design concepts but in my opinion didn’t really offer anything amazing or new in terms of playability.

I enjoy this game probably more than I should but then I can’t help it. The catchy intro music even has a certain appeal, so much so I even looked up the composer Joel Eriksson for this blog, see his IMDB page here! If any of you have played Dogfight for the Amiga the theme tune gives me the same sense of nostalgia and charm for a game, on its release, I couldn’t put down for 5 minutes without getting the urge to play it again.

Lode Runner 3-D

Format- N64

Genre- Puzzle Platformer

Lode-Runner-3-D - N64

I have quite a few N64 games. Not as many as the true collectors out there – but far too many to actually have played them all.

So I flick through my un-played carts, all picked up for pennies and lurking at the back of the draw, flicking through Earthworm Jim 3D, Road Rash 64, Twisted Edge…until I decide to take a punt on Lode Runner 3-D.

Lode-Runner-3-D - N64

Why it has the dash between the 3 and the D, I do not know. But anyway.

A puzzle game based on an ancient title from 1983, I recall Lode Runner 3-D was given a lukewarm response by N64 Magazine at the time of its release – so how bad could it be?

Well, it turns out it’s not a bad game. Just one that was considered slightly archaic even at the time of its release – and, well, time has not been kind.

Lode-Runner-3-D - N64

It’s hard to describe whether this is a 3D (or ‘3-D’) or 2D game to be honest. Although your movement is fixed on a 2D path, levels branch out into 3D space, twisting, turning, and overlapping with a certain frustrating rigour.

The game is based around completing self-contained stages by collecting a set amount of tokens, with different obstacles and challenges set against you.

Most involve the destruction of boxes though (see the purple ones above), which can be blasted away with a burst of your laser gun, fired with the Z button.

Lode-Runner-3-D - N64

These boxes come back after a certain time though, and if you’re in the space which they pop back into, you’re dead.

A more likely death will come about by walking into the red suited monks that stalk you in most of the levels though – and if killed (by either blowing them up with bombs or trapping them in the boxes) they simply re-spawn and chase you all over again.

These creepy monks (you never see their faces) are a little out of sync with the space theme, but do offer up a very tangible threat. Even if all they do when they catch you is jog back and forth on the spot where you fell. The fools.

In most levels one wrong move is enough to scupper any chance you have, but due to the sprawling nature of some stages a trial and error approach can be the only way to get through them.

Although you can see a fair bit of the stage with the solid camera (although for such a simple game i’d expect this element to be decent), there are still many times where you’ll die because you won’t be able to predict what the game will throw at you.

Eventually then, you might get a little bored, and for the larger levels you simply won’t have the motivation to play any more.

Generally Lode Runner 3-D looks a little tired by modern standards, with its chunky 3D graphics and one-note puzzling. Despite good intentions, this is a game best left in the past.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain

Release Date on PSN: September 10th 2009

Original Release: November 15th 1996

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain


Blood Omen is the first game in the Legacy of Kain series. As the name would suggest the story is centered on Kain, a noble who is murdered in the first few moments of the game, but he is given a chance for revenge by a Necromancer who brings him back to life or un-life as a vampire.

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

What really makes this game stand out is the quality of the voice acting, casting trained thespians as the characters was a stroke of brilliance and this is the best part of the game.

The way they use voice as makes you really invested in the story and gives you that push to keep you playing. Voice acting in games today could still learn a thing or two from this PSone classic, and at original release this feature was unheard of.


Blood Omen plays just as you’d think Diablo would with a directional pad. The controls are easy to get used to and rarely were there any issues with control except for a few jumping sections that can sometimes be confusing.

Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

As you progress through the game you gain new abilities, spells and equipment, that range from raising your health and magic bars to learning how to become a werewolf and tear your enemies apart. Health as you would imagine is gained from drinking the blood of your enemies, if you hit them the right number of times they’ll hold this very Mortal Kombat “finish me” pose where you can feed. Also while traveling to villages you can feed on the locals before heading off to defeat one of the games many interesting bosses.

The difficulty isn’t too bad, but you’ll have to watch your resources carefully at some points, the learning curve is good, but you really get into the gameplay when you start receiving new abilities and equipment. All of which add some strategy to the game and make it that much richer.


Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

Although Blood Omen is a dated game, the 2d graphical style suit it well and the art direction in the game still make it immersive. Also some graphical decisions that were made (like having blood you drink from enemies spurt through the air into your mouth) make is still a gruesome game which was certainly surprising for a game of this generation. Graphically there is nothing spectacular but the attention to detail doesn’t make graphics a hindrance to the story.

How Blood Omen Legacy of Kain holds up today

Blood Omen Legacy of Kain certainly makes an impression on the first time player. This comes from the excellent voice work and gripping story that is so rare in games even today. The amount of time it takes to run through this game is also impressive. It took 35+ hours to complete and I was glued to my console for the duration. Graphically you’ll not be impressed but there are a few nice touches you’ll notice that Silicon Knights threw in that will keep it from being a problem.

 Blood Omen - Legacy of Kain

For the standard PSone classics fee of six dollars and with story elements and gameplay that keep you interested for 35+ hours, this gives you a great bang for your buck. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Highly recommended (if you have the time), and if you liked this one check out it’s sequel Soul Reavertoo.


Maniac Mansion

Maniac Mansion PC

Maniac Mansion

Maniac Mansion is one of those games that it’s repetitive “music” is still following me in everything that I am doing. A game developed by Lucas Arts and the creator of the Monkey Island games, Ron Gilbert in 1997, an adventure game that let you control many different characters and gave you a sense of actually sneaking around in a mansion you were not supposed to be at.
Maniac Mansion PC
The story of the game was very simple, Dave’s girlfriend Sandy has been kidnapped by a mad scientist who is pretty obviously leaving in a scary mansion.What is cool about this game is that you dont control only Dave but in addition you can select to play us any 2 other of his 6 friends that want to help him rescue his girlfriend. Any one of his friends has his own set of skills that influenced the flow of the game (similar with what Ron Gilbert tried to do with “The Cave” which in my opinion did not come out as good as many Maniac Mansion fans where hoping).
Maniac Mansion PC
 Fun Facts

  • The legendary SCUMM engine was created for Maniac Mansion and  was later used on many of the company’s signature “Adventure Games”
  • A version of Maniac Mansion was ported to NES but with some changes as Nintendo considered some of the content of the game to not be suitable for children
  • There was a Canadian Series inspired by the Maniac Mansion called… “Maniac Mansion”
  • You can play “Maniac Mansion” inside “The Day of the tentacle” on an in-game computer



Every so often I get a little spoiled with too much classic retrogaming goodness, and begin to take for granted the great storylines, coding and sheer fun that most of my game collection contains.  It’s at that point that I find it helpful to look back on a game that is best played while under the influence of mood-altering substances.  Such a game is the pile of stinking defecation brought to us in 2000 called Daikatana.

Daikatana - PC
Front cover of the 2000 PC game, Daikatana.

What hopes everyone had for this game.  After all, the lead designer was John Romero, he who was quoted to say, “Design is Law”, was one of the co-founders of id Software, and was one of the co-creators of the industry-changing Doom.  This was a person who gamers could count on to bring his “A” game to the design process.  Or so we thought.

Daikatana - PC
Hello, I’m John Romero, and you’re not.

Much has been said about the incredible excesses of Romero’s studio while working on Daikatana.  Around $40 million was spent on this game, which was a result of both Romero’s desire to be surrounded by luxury (complete with a multi-million dollar office at the very top of a skyscraper in Dallas), and his inability to keep the game on schedule.  Critical errors were made from the start of the project, as Romero estimated a seven-month development cycle using the Quake engine.  But id Software beat him to the market with Quake II, which meant retooling Daikatana with the Quake II engine to avoid looking like a tired old retread.  If that wasn’t enough, Romero saw his entire development team quit, which meant further delays.  Add these factors together and it’s easy to see how Daikatana quickly became a money pit.

Daikatana - PC
Gameplay screen for Daikatana.

Perhaps if Romero didn’t project himself as such a larger-than-life personality, gamers would have been more willing to forgive him for such a catastrophe.  But even the advertising campaign was offensive to the buying public.  “John Romero’s about to make you his bitch. Suck it down.”  Seriously, how does an ad copy like that make its way all the way from a brainstorming session to publication?  Simultaneously insulting, crude, and a challenge to all gamers, everywhere, this ad campaign created an expectation that anything short of a coding love child between Sid Meier and John Carmack would be marked a failure.

Daikatana - PC
The offensive Daikatana ad campaign.

Once the game was released, the sheer mediocrity of the product became evident.  The game mechanic was wonky, with the player getting the “benefit” of two sidekicks that you needed to keep alive to help solve various puzzles during the game.  Of course, they had the AI equivalent of a gnat, so you tended to see them die. A lot.  And did I mention that if the sidekicks died you lost the level?  That’s just bad design, which is unforgivable from someone who believes, “Design is Law.”  The good news for the sidekicks is that the AI for the enemies is just as bad, perhaps worse.  If a solid object is between you and your enemy, fret not, as they’ll keep trying to walk straight toward you rather than go around it.  You could even go out for a smoke break and come back in to see them still trying to become an irresistible force.  But you can’t take that break, as your stupid sidekicks will take the opportunity to walk directly into the line of fire while you’re gone.

Daikatana - PC
Gameplay screen for Daikatana.

In the end, Daikatana sold 200,000 copies, probably to people who wanted to create a drinking game based on how bad it was.  The stark reality was after $40 million in development expenses and only 200K of boxes sold, Daikatana was an epic failure on a scale reserved for such amazing debacles such as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (for the Atari 2600).

Atari 2600 E.T.
Daikatana is E.T.’s bestest friend!

So, game designers, study well the example that John Romero has left you and take note of what happens when ego and extravagance trumps hard work and diligence.  Let’s not have another Daikatana happen to us again, shall we?

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Review

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

It is amazing to me that a studio would be releasing an MMO at all in this day and age. We live in a time period where the fickle masses are buying games on a whim and usually own more games than they have time to play thanks to services like Steam. We live in an age where microtransactions are becoming standard and the masses have demonstrated that they will pay FAR more than a couple bucks a month to obtain that special look or feel they’ve been after for soo long.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

Yet here we are. Square has decided to bestow us with a reboot we didn’t ask for of their attempt at an MMO set in the Final Fantasy universe. While the game might be OK for the phony hardcore and awesome for the Brazilian huehue crew, it just doesn’t meet the expectations that the MMO enthusiasts and the hardcore have for these types of games nowadays. The pink elephant will not be caught here.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

On the positive side, the game has a very easy-to-digest questing and leveling system. Quest hubs are spaced out in such a way where you feel like there is a logical progression from one spot to the next. Scattered across each area are these random mini-events called “fates” which are pretty fun and provide an alternative means by which one can obtain experience as well as a special currency to interact with the NPC factions of the game. The commendation system implemented in patch 2.1 is a smart way to promote a positive culture in an environment that has the potential to be extremely toxic.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

A paragraph had to be specifically set aside to properly express the level of detail that went into the graphics of the game because they are THAT good … for a MMO. This game is one of the few which actually gave me a moment of pause when looking from a vista because of how beautiful it was. After obtaining a quest piece at the very top of this peak that took me a good 5 min to figure out how to climb, I couldn’t help but understand the feeling Ethan Hunt must’ve had at the beginning of Mission Impossible 2. From character modeling to shading to particle effects to terrain and flora, the guys at Square really made one of the prettiest MMO’s I’ve ever played.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

Too bad anything good I have to say of FFXIV:AAR stops there. The matchmaking and instancing is reminiscent of WoW’s very first implementation of the LFG tool. The level of grinding involved in attempting to raise more than 1 class or trade skill at the same time on the same character would make a Korean LAN cafe operator sick to his stomach. The inconsistency in voice acting on the main scenario quest is laughable. The tiered approach to gearing for end-game past darklight seems like an afterthought and not consistent with the level of polish that went into other parts of the game.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

Class balance is absolutely broken in the game and this has never been more apparent than in the newly released PvP system in patch 2.1. The housing system is hilariously expensive and simply out of reach for most. I could probably go on forever. It makes me sad that a game with so much potential and an excellent intellectual property couldn’t do better the 2nd time around with the same MMO.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

However, in all my years of playing MMO’s, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion. The quality of the player in relation to the general community will usually dictate my appreciation of the game itself. Let’s put this into perspective, shall we? We can all acknowledge that there are some bad MMO players in the World of Warcraft. By bad, I mean like those people that play a healer and spend their whole time casting the same spell over and over again till they run out of juice. Or how about the melee DPS player who literally stands in everything he can and ignores mechanics.

Final Fantasy XIV - A Realm Reborn

The second I drop into a virtual world – my assessment of the inhabitants of this world begins. Since I’ve always hated questing, I always try to be chatty and cool with my group mates while we endlessly grind instances to max level. Using my MMO gaming barometer, I can confidently say that FFXIV:ARR has one of the worst communities when it comes to MMO gaming skill in the history of the genre. Worse than DCUO, worse than EQ1 or 2, worse than WoW, worse than Rift, worse than CoH and worse than ToR. Thinking back, I feel like FFXIV is full of those tryhards from that WoW guild that people would use as a stepping stone to get into a real guild – yeah this game is full of people like that. While I’m sure this is due to the fact that the game exists on both PlayStation and PC and the clients can cross-play within the same realm … it doesn’t make the situation any more bearable.

So, for the hardcore and the enthusiasts that will always spend their time and money chasing that pink elephant of gaming; you will find no such joy here. Remember that inexplicable rush you got when you and your squad beat that other group to the Efreeti boots spawn even though they were there first? Maybe it happened on your first Ragnaros kill in vanilla. Wherever it was, that feeling will NOT be found in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

Marty Newcomb: Raising My Superkid!

Raising My SuperKid

Name: Marty Newcomb

Company: Social Media Applications

Profession: Game Designer

Favorite Classic Game: Ultima VII: The Black Gate

Quote: Ultima VII (including its follow-up, The Serpent Isle) was one of the first games I remember playing where you could do almost anything in the world that you wanted to. It was enormous, with seemingly hundreds of unique characters, and you could do nearly anything, including making bread from scratch. Add on to that a dark storyline beginning with a gruesome murder, and I was hooked.

Bio: I am a 7 year veteran game designer and have worked on over a dozen shipped titles, including Death Jr. 2: The Root of Evil, Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, and Where the Wild Things Are.

Project: Raising My SuperKid !

Stan Lee

Project Info: Raising My SuperKid! is a game where you raise and train your own super-powered heroes. Along the way, you’ll play with them, watch them grow, discover their personalities and powers, so that one day they’ll grow up and take on a life of fighting crime. You’ll build a home for them to live in, take them out around the city of SuperTown, and help out the eccentric citizens. There are toys, training equipment, clothes, and food that you can use to create your own experience. And, as you play, you’ll be helping others, thanks to the involvement of organizations like the Stan Lee Foundation.

Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero

Before he became the governor (or Governator, that is) of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest box-office draws on the planet as the big-muscled action star of such classics as Commando, Predator, True Lies, and the first two Terminator films. However, during a brief foray into such comedies as Junior, Twins, and Kindergarten Cop, Arnie lost his edge a bit for the lighter roles and, arguably, almost ruined his legacy. Among these not-quite-hits was the critically derided meta-movie Last Action Hero.


But, of course, since it was a big-budget film with a big-name actor, it was worthy enough to have a video game developed for it as released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console in 1993. And, like so many others, this license title proves to provide low-quality gameplay, the result of publisher Sony Imagesoft wanting nothing more than to turn a quick profit on a media commodity with a low shelf life in the popular culture of the time. This is not a video game that showcases imagination or innovation.


The first mistake this side-scrolling, two-dimensional (not even the third dimension of being able to walk into the “depth” closer to the background, but purely left and right or up and down) beat-’em-up is that the A button attacks and the B button jumps, which is not only in reverse from the legendarySuper Mario Bros. original NES game that set the golden standard, but also serves as a stark reminder as to what camp this cartridge belongs to: The crappy one with all the terrible games.

Oddly enough, though, in addition to the typical movement left and right, the player is also granted a move other than the basic punch: A kick, initiated by holding up when pressing A. This is a nice touch, it could be supposed. The player can also crouch, punch from the crouch, and try to attack in mid-air as well, with mixed results.


The player takes control of Jack Slater, the movie-star protagonist of the movie-related movie, in a plot that loosely follows the film. It actually, at first, seems to follow it rather closely, down to the oddly rendered cutscene still frames that depict shots from the cinematic experience. However, rather head-scratchingly, the NES game departs from the movie right around the second level, when the boy dreams of a medieval setting involving a Robin Hood-like environment in which the player must then traverse. This seems like a tacky random add-on.


Now, a rundown of the entirety of the gameplay of Last Action Hero the NES game: There are seven levels. Each ends with a boss. Each consists of either running to the end of a one-way path, or repeatedly going back and forth and ascending to higher levels. The enemies infinitely respawn. There are no points or other rewards for killing enemies, so they are best avoided. The best strategy for bosses is to crouch and repeatedly punch until the boss dies. Some projectiles can be dodged by crouching, some cannot. The player begins with three lives and a six-hit health bar for each, measured in hearts. Occasionally, health refills can be found. Continues are offered if all lives expire. Attacking range is short and hit detection is terrible. This is Last Action Hero on the NES.



This video game actually looks really good for an 8-bit title on the NES; though, by 1993, the console was in its twilight years and developers had little excuse to not know how to best make the on-screen action look. Examples from the first level alone: The police cars are displayed in bright detail, the background cityscape is creatively drawn in little pixels denoting window lighting per building, these windows flicker in moody atmospheric effect to match the rain, the protagonist actually wears a two-color outfit and is thus not prone to the Monochromatic Character Syndrome that many NES figures were drawn in, and the action proceeds fairly smoothly with little-to-no flickering or slowdown. That being said, some portions look better than others, the enemies get repetitive, and no amount of good looks can make up for awful gameplay.



The music is not outright awful, but it hardly tries to break boundaries either. You can fairly clearly hear the buzzy and bumpy-grindy notes of the two square-wave channels on the hardware struggling to complement the non-ambitious whines and weak lilts of the triangle-wave piece. The effects are even worse, though; a series of hisses, thuds, and hollow bonks. With such a plethora of previous NES classic titles to have witnessed before, some with truly spectacular soundtracks, it is somewhat remarkable that the developers really did not try to at least grant the background tracks a broader range or add some punch to the punch effects.


By its very nature, a license game lacks originality. However, there is some flexible wiggle room that allows for potential innovation and creativity to nonetheless still be expressed; unfortunately, there is very little true vision to be found on this cartridge. The beat-’em-up gameplay mechanic is even more monotonous than the usual genre strictures, the lack of reward for dispatching of enemies really breaks the entire motivation for combat, and it may be the worst of the handful of Schwarzenegger-movie NES license games, turning in a magic ticket for one star out of five.

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr - NES
I remember playing Donkey Kong 64 many moons ago, and I’m pretty sure they included the first game in there as an easter egg for fans to find and enjoy. I found it, and thought it was pretty sweet. I also played the version they included in the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing.
Donkey Kong Jr - NES
However despite all that, I never got to play the sequel Donkey Kong Jr. A notable but forgotten classic. While the first game had you playing Mario trying to save his girlfriend, the roles are reversed this time around. You play as Donkey Kong’s son, who must save his father from the obviously unforgiving Mario.
Donkey Kong Jr - NES
The game plays remarkable similar to the original, yet with a new twist. Instead of being a short Italian dude with concrete shoes, you’re a monkey that can barely jump but can grab hold of vines, ropes, and chains. The game has a few levels to enjoy and can be replayed for high score record keeping if you’re into that.
Donkey Kong Jr - NES
Though I admit it’s pretty short game even though you can have fun playing it multiple times. It’s 4 levels of fun, but that don’t last too long. Yet I can overlook the fact that it’s an Arcade-to-NES game and forgive some it’s natural faults.

Dark Arena

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

Format- Gameboy Advanced

Genre- First Person Shooter

I’ve tried to revisit the 12 FPS games for the GBA in the order they were released, but have sadly messed it up a bit. Doom came after Ecks Vs Sever – a fact that i’m ashamed I overlooked.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

But i’m putting that right, and the next game on my revisit radar is Dark Arena. Perhaps the most forgotten of the whole flock of GBA FPS – apart from perhaps the too late for the party Ice Nine – this is was actually the first FPS announced for the handheld.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

It’s also the only GBA FPS that isn’t a port or continuation of an existing shooter series, or without any conceivable tie to a movie (Ice Nine was based on the film The Recruit but the licensing fell through).

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

This fact probably didn’t help Dark Arena reach a wider audience, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for it, due to the fact it’s a rather turgid effort all round.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

Perhaps it was rushed to a release in an attempt to be the first GBA FPS, in which case it failed in a truly dismal fashion due to the fact three games beat it to the punch, but ia lack of attention to detail does show through in the final product.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

It’s opening is very effective though, in an adorably budget stricken kind of way. Green text is type out on a black screen, with a sinister soundtrack burbling away in the background.

It recites the plot of Doom pretty much ad verbatim – lone marine stranded in a infested space station, blah blah blah, escaping is a near impossible task, etcetera etcetera – only with a slightly more clunky syntax.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

Only a rubbish looking pic of a red beast attacking a bald space marine sullies the dark-edged tone.

When you enter the first stage though, all the effort gone into this set-up evaporates very quickly indeed.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

This is not a scary game. Not by a long shot. There’s no music here, just the sounds of enemies and gunfire. On a system with more graphical oomph this could have worked – but here it mutes, quite literally, any potential atmosphere.

Controls are simple and work well however. Shooting enemies higher than your current level can be fired at by simply aiming in their vague direction, Doom style.

Dark Arena - Gameboy Advanced

Guns are plentiful, but most are ineffectual in terms of their power. You can be tooled up with a rocket launcher, sniper or laser gun, but there’s no real satisfying clunk-click- bam feel to the game – like, say, Doom (sorry for constantly making the comparison).

This is something most of the FPS’ on GBA suffered with actually, but was not a problem in Doom or Duken Nukem Advance – perhaps as much to the way your enemies die more than anything else.

In Dark Arena they simply slump straight to the ground once you’ve pumped enough bullets into them, like sad cardboard cut-outs.

There’s no real sense that you’ve conquered anything evil at all, and this doesn’t help to stimulate you to push on through the game’s fifteen levels.

Most of the alien beasties don’t even carry any tangible threat either. Most can be defeated without you you needing to exert any caution – just walk near them and fire away.

Only the robot mechs and larger aliens near the end of the game can do much damage to you in a straight up firefight. And the final boss of course, is a challenge, as you’d expect.

Dark Arena is miles ahead of, say, BackTrack – it’s got clearer graphics and a proper single player for one – but it does very little to set itself apart from the GBA FPS pack.

Although when I was younger I think I got scared a little for abut 30 seconds in one of Dark Arena’s stages, it was probably because I was at the end of the stage and had to beat several tough enemies – and had to go back to the start if I died, something I was very keen not to do.

Generally, attempting to mimic Doom is unwise at the best of times – but especially when Doom has already been released for the system you’re coming out on.

Kung Fu

Kung Fu - NES
Kung Fu, October 1985, Nintendo

Kung Fu

Where can you find a game loosely related to Jackie Chan, All Japan Pro Wrestling, every major Neo Geo fighting game, freaky oriental threesomes, and Tiny “Zeus” Lister? Grab your dogi, throw on your favorite slippers, and strap yourselves in because we’re in for a wild ride today Nintendo lovers! Who’s ready for some good old fashioned Kung Fu?

Kung Fu - NES
I’m a sucker for digitized dragons. Game B is just a fraction tougher than A.

Originally released in the arcades as Kung Fu Master, this was one wildly popular game. If you were alive, had a spare quarter, and were able to hold a joystick in the early 80s, you played Kung Fu. Everyone of age who experienced the thrill of kicking three baddies in a row hauling ass towards you never forgot it. The things about this game we DIDN’T know are easily just as interesting to say the least.

Kung Fu - NES
Jackie Chan didn’t hit it big here until 1995’s Rumble In The Bronx but we had unknowingly played a game for years that featured him in it and noone knew!

Launched in Japan as Spartan X, Kung Fu was actually based on the 1984 Jackie Chan film of the same name. Martial arts legend Chan played Thomas, the protagonist of the movie and game, who is attempting to save his girlfriend Sylvia from the most generically named baddie ever, Mr. X. The movie was released here in the U.S. as Wheels On Meals. No, that isn’t a typo, they actually thought that title was going to bring movie-goers out in droves. What the goatfuck you ask? Get this, the last two films the Golden Harvest studio shat out were named Megaforce and Menage A Trois. The executives got the oogy boogies about their next venture starting with the letter M, so Meals On Wheels got flipped on its ass and became Wheels On Meals instead. I couldn’t make this insipid shit up if I tried.

Kung Fu - NES
RIP Mitsuharu Misawa 6/18/62 – 6/13/09. Never forgotten.

Excuse me a moment for an out of character pause. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the main theme for Spartan X was used as the entrance music for Mitsuharu Misawa, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of any era who tragically passed away in the middle of the ring in June 2009. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and a true ambassador to the sport. Rest in peace Emerald Warrior. I miss you.

Kung Fu - NES
Tell me this screenshot doesn’t make you just want to pop this fucker in

Beat ’em ups seemed to be released every week in the late 80s/early 90s with some legendary titles like Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Streets Of Rage, and Final Fight at the forefront. These and every game like it owe everything they are to Kung Fu. The first of it’s kind, they made it count (unlike Dk Jr Math) and it spawned more games that ate quarters than can be mentioned in one review. The lead programmer, Takashi Nishiyama, went on to Capcom where he was the head of a little game named Street Fighter. He could’ve been quite content with his legacy left at that but the guy went on to even greater heights when he was hired by SNK and designed a cutting edge contraption called the Neo-Geo System Board. This mad professor of gaming could’ve stopped THERE but what did this under-appreciated genius do as an encore? He created every major SNK fighting IP as he went along. Yes, the head programmer on Kung Fu is responsible for all-time heavyweights Fatal Fury, Art Of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, & the epic King Of Fighters franchises. Quite the fucking résumé no?

Kung Fu - NES
“What you got on my 40 homie?”

Onto the game itself, this is definitely one of the better Black Box games. By today’s standards, it would seem pedestrian but if you look at it in the same vein you’d hear a garage band’s first album before they refined their sound, there isn’t alot to complain about. You play as Thomas, going from floor to floor kicking and punching your way to the level boss. The true innovation here was that no two bosses were the same, a feat even Mario didn’t pull off. They aren’t just lazy palette swaps either as one throws a boomerang, another resembles Deebo from Friday, and Mr. X himself looks like Deadpool unmasked to reveal an 8-bit Owen Wilson. Even more awesome is the way they will laugh in your face if you grind through the level only to be defeated at the end. Oh, will it ever piss you off proper until you have the sweet joy of handing them their ass. In my opinion, alot of games today are missing that type of motivation to move ahead. Could be just me, but I’ll lose sleep to beat you if you laugh at me for failure digitized or not.

Kung Fu - NES
“Hmm, then again, I’ve been trying to dump her for a month now…”

Some may cavetch the game is too short but it’s in the vein of quite a bit of the older NES games in that when you see the ending, it’ll just throw you back onto level 1, ramping up the difficulty until you can’t handle it anymore. Sure, it’s possible to save the girl within a day of first playing but try to save her 5 times and watch controllers explode through windows. There is only one music track as you plow through the level but it is note for note faithful to the arcade version and doesn’t distract from the hectic action. Only negative I can think of is the unevenness of the challenge. Stage 2 is twice as hard as any of the other levels. If you can survive the falling snakes that take a third of your life and disco balls that explode into a 5 way spread shot the 2nd floor offers, this game is your bitch.

Kung Fu - NES
The, um, intimidating Mr. X


8/10 All beat ’em ups should look up at Kung Fu as their granddaddy and shower it with the respect it deserves. Hell of a challenge (bite me stage 2), original bosses, and a fun factor that forces you to get that much further each time you play. There was a sequel released only in Japan as Spartan X 2, but it didn’t capture very much of what made the original so special. One measure of a game to me is the ability to pick it up and play it without having to memorize a moveset, read a long-winded manual, or spend hours learning the controls a la Clu Clu Land. You moved forward and fucked shit up until the stairs, climbed up, and commenced to fucking more shit up, which sometimes, is all the good dumb fun you need. After all, it’s meant to be a game, not a college course, and this one hit the new concept it brought out of the park.

Kung Fu - NES
Only disappointment follows this here title screen.
This one was for one of the coolest cats I’ve ever had the honor of working with. Good luck in your upcoming future endeavors Chivo!

A Call to Restore FMV Games

It’s important to remember and acknowledge our culture, even the stuff we’d like to forget. These “games” existed, and should not be held to their awful encoding forever. ~Matt Paprocki

A Call to Restore FMV Games

Full motion video games sucked. None of them approach even the simplistic playability of modern mobile titles.

prizefighter FMV game

But, there is a fondness for them. The black & white footage of Prize Fighter, the dopey Top Gun knock-off attitude of Tomcat Alley, a wild Mike Ditka barking orders in Quarterback Attack, or a friendly prospector in Mad Dog McCree still made these inherently dumb games nostalgic.

However, these games look awful. Baked onto the miserable 64 colors of the Sega CD or burned out on sub-VHS MPEG-1 compression on the 3DO, the visuals are forever marred by technology that is nothing short of archaic to modern eyes. Look at this emulated run of Prize Fighter:

Dragon’s Lair (and its sequel & spin-off) has been restored. You can play it on Blu-ray in a dazzling restoration. The colors are brilliant, the sharpness is impeccable, and the detail stunning. Originally released on Laserdisc, Dragon’s Lair looks better now than it ever did in its original incarnation.

Dependent upon their source, any one of these weirdly enjoyable titles could undergo the same revisionism, provided the hardware was capable of actually running them. Some of these games were likely shot on tape, a limited resolution format that condemns the footage to a lifetime of sub-HD quality. Others, especially the professionally crafted efforts like Wing Commander IV, could have utilized 16mm film, or maybe 35mm. The resolution potentially awaiting those titles is still unavailable in the home, but even at the current standard of 1080p, they could be dazzling.

It’s important to remember and acknowledge our culture, even the stuff we’d like to forget. These “games” existed, and should not be held to their awful encoding forever.

Yes, it would be illogically expensive, certain never to make a profit no matter the platform. In the scheme of things, as a side project for someone with the materials and a studio willing to take a risk, it’s worth it just to see this quirky piece of digital history preserved.

Who’s up for it?


San-X Land: Theme Park de Asobou

Sanrio can suck it

San-X Land - Theme Park de Asobou

For those unfamiliar with cutesy stuff from Japan, San-X is a company that creates characters that are plastered all over stationary, novelty items, and the like. Not unlike Sanrio, who is responsible for Hello Kitty, Badtz Maru, Keroppi, ect, San-X is very popular and probably best known for characters like Rilakuma, Tare Panda, and Afro-Ken, among many others. Mascots are big in Japan and people are willing to pay stupid amounts of money for anything with their favorite characters slapped on it, this includes mediocre video games. I found a copy when I was at Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas last month. It was the only Japanese DS game the vendor had and I’d be damned if I was leaving a gaming convention without picking up a couple of obscure titles.

San-X Land - Theme Park de Asobou

While the description of San-X Land: Theme Park de Asobou says that it’s an action game, it more accurately falls under the category of ‘Party Game’. Like, you know, Mario Party, or Sonic Shuffle, which is pretty much a less entertaining rip-off of Mario Party. San-X Land places you in a theme park based on characters from their various franchises. You can choose from 8 different characters, each with their own themed game board. When picking up this game I was only somewhat familiar with 4 of the 8 characters; Tare Panda, Monokuro Boo, Kogepan, and Nyanko. The other 4 characters are Afro-Ken, Mikan Bouya, Wanroom, and Nanka. Nanka wasn’t even in the san-x wiki of characters so I had to go back to the game and decipher the hiragana and look it up on Google Japan. I don’t even know what this character is supposed to be anyways. It’s like a seal with a phallus protruding from his head or something. Nan…ka? Oh! It’s a word play joke (an informal way of saying “what is this?”), you cheeky, cheeky bastards.

San-X Land - Theme Park de Asobou

So once you’ve chosen a character, it’s time to get on with the game. Each board is played out the same no matter who you choose. You spin a wheel to choose the number of spaces you move. The boards are fairly small, but even if you reach the goal you will be turned around because you need to first finish a puzzle of an image of your character, each piece being obtained by either landing on a particular place or playing any of the various mini games. The mini games include said puzzle, slide puzzles, mix and match memory games, a random cut scene, or character specific action mini games. These action mini games are just about the only fun you’ll have playing this game at all, unless you get your thrills from puking rainbows and sparkles on to fluffy woodland creatures and furniture with animal faces on them. Each of the action mini games can be played on easy, medium or hard, and even on hard they aren’t hard, not in the least bit. Of the 8 character specific games, I’d have to say that Tare Panda’s is the most entertaining. It’s a balancing game where you must stack pudgy pandas on top of one another without all of them toppling over. It’s fantastic, really, the first couple times you play it. After you’ve unlocked everything, you can just play the mini games by accessing them from the start menu, so it’s not necessary to have to actually play the game to get to the fun part.

San-X Land - Theme Park de Asobou

The only reason you would want to play through this game more than once is to unlock everything. Luckily for me, whoever had this game before me must have been fluent in Japanese and must have also had OCD, because everything was already unlocked. All of the characters, their stupid digital trading cards, all of the art, the mini-games, everything was at 100%. This game would have been damn near impossible to review accurately otherwise(as I’m NOT fluent in Japanese). This game is, more than anything, a novelty. Something for the fanatics of the mascot trend to add to their ever-growing collections of fluffy stuffs. It’s one of those games that you might want to try if it just happens to be around, but nothing I would recommend going out of your way to play.

San-X Land: Theme Park de Asobou gets a 6.5/10

And why does Sanrio suck more than San-X? Click here.


[youtube id=”n7cSBTduz7M” width=”633″ height=”356″]

If you’ve read other reviews or talked to folks who have played Homefront, no doubt you’ve heard it described as “a worse version of Call of Duty.” This is accurate in some respects: it’s not, overall, quite as tightly executed and the range of available weapons is smaller. ~Seth Rosen


Homefront packs a punch, and it doesn’t wait for the first bell to ring before socking you hard, right in the belly. The game starts with the player being abducted and put on a bus to Somewhere Bad. I sit on the bus for a few minutes, peering out the windows, unable to move or twist around to get a better view of the proceedings of a depressed suburban Colorado town. At first, the restriction on my view bothered me, but then I realized that it had to be this way: the Korean People’s Army (KPA) guards wouldn’t take too kindly to me jumping around the bus, repeatedly ducking and standing back up on top of the seats (which is exactly what I did on the trains in Half-Life and Half-Life 2). So, I settled in, ready to play their way. Soon I saw that “their way” really delivers on the game’s tagline: “Home is where the war is.” The bus trundles through the town and I see several limp bodies, their heads covered in blood-spattered sacks, strewn across the sidewalk. I see people desperately pleading for mercy. I see parents gunned down in front of their wailing child. Truly a horrible and disturbing scene. What’s more, given Unified Korea’s rise to power as laid out by the game’s alternate history in the introduction, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched.


Though Homefront is not really an adaptation to the interactive medium of writer John Milius’ previous work (Apocalypse NowRed Dawn), you can see their ehem influence throughout the game’s story and setting. The world is intricately and brutally realized and I was itching to join the fight. In short order, my bus was rammed by a Resistance cell in order to secure me, the all-important pilot, for their mission. Unfortunately, the the game’s mechanics immediately got in my way. I was hot-blooded and ready for the warpath, but I had to wait for my savior to finish what he was saying before the game prompted me to press ‘E’ to climb out of the bus, rather than let me duck and crawl out on my own when I wanted to, which would have been immediately. It was primarily little things like this that prevented me from fully engaging with my tasks at hand and immersing myself in the world. All-too-often, I would end up waiting for the game to catch up to me (sometimes dialog and sometimes the actual characters) before I could proceed, despite the fact that I was the slowest runner in the entire resistance force. I would get frustrated watching my comrades press their bodies against cover and lean out, while I was stuck with standing, crouching and going prone. Summed together, these small annoyances would periodically break my immersion.


These complaints are valid, but plenty of excellent games came before Homefront, overcoming somewhat clunky controls, so I didn’t want to abandon it. And I didn’t have to stick with it for very long: I finished the single player campaign on Hard in about 5 hours. Though the recent trend of military shooters sporting such short single player components is a disappointing one, it sort of worked in Homefront’s favor. Over the course of the entire game, though your path is oft waylaid, your mission is relatively small in scope: escape the bus rescue, commandeer a few fuel trucks, drive them to San Francisco and then lase a target on the Golden Gate bridge for the newly-fueled air support to bomb the ever-living shit out of.
On that note, Homefront rarely lets you lead the charge, resulting in a genuine sense that you’re just another foot soldier, though there are some set-pieces that you have to take down in order to advance.  Your comrades do a good bit of killing themselves and some of their dialog excellently portrayed the atmosphere of the resistance and their venomous hate of the KPA. You’ll also find old newspapers scattered throughout the game that relate more background of how the U.S. got to be in such a dire position. Interesting stuff that helps build the world, but the interface for the blurbs felt more like a game menu than a newspaper in your hand.
When it came to handling the futuristic high-tech weapons, it seemed like an order had come down from on-high that you were the only resistance fighter capable of wielding the blasted things. This was to the detriment of the fun and believability of the game. For one, you had a tech-wiz with you for at least half of the game who I’m sure was capable of using the weaponry. Second, the technology behind the Gladiator (a vehicle that riddles with holes any enemy you can look at for a full second) just doesn’t seem to fit with the grittiness of the rest of the world. Lastly, the Gladiator targeter simply wasn’t very satisfying to use. I found it significantly less fun to pop out from cover and target the next KPA soldier and have a vehicle drive over to him and unload a machine gun in his face when compared to the visceral experience of creeping around the suburban yards and through the White Castle, shooting baddies as you went.
Similar to this imbalance of how enjoyable the different weapons were to use, Homefront suffered from some uneven pacing. In particular, I found the levels taking place in and around the countryside to be a bit slower. It didn’t help that the vehicle sections were significantly easier than the ground-fighting (which, inexplicably, was suddenly against extremist American conspiracy theorists). I found a few spots to be massively more difficult. Some of these sections I died and reloaded at the last checkpoint 10-20 times. There was, however, one moment that I really enjoyed in the country level: our small force was attempting to cross the camp of the extremists undetected and we came upon a pair of hooligans that were torturing a KPA soldier, shooting at his feet to make him dance. I saw this and I was disgusted. Without considering my actions, I walked up behind one of the men and sank my knife into his back. The mission was failed (I guess the other guy standing there noticed his buddy getting shanked), but I felt vindicated. For me, Homefront was about doing what needed to be done to get our land back, not about acting maliciously towards the  invaders.
To that end, it’s in the first few and final levels (out of 7) that Homefront truly shines. These are the levels that take place in the remnants of civilization and you find yourself battling across yards, sneaking through gaps in broken fences, and dashing through a burning computer parts store next to a Hooters. You see what this war has done to our homeland and you are compelled to right the situation. It truly feels like you’re fighting to get America back to its rightful owners when you’re running from abandoned car to abandoned car on the Golden Gate Bridge, getting into a position where you can call in air support and kickstart the rebellion.
While the game’s environments were very rich, its graphical fidelity wasn’t top notch. The music, on the other hand, was spectacularly done and very effectively instilled in me a sense of patriotism. I played Homefront on the PC and I am forced to wonder whether the fact that Kaos Studios outsourced the PC development toDigital Extremes impacted the quality of the port.
If you’ve read other reviews or talked to folks who have played Homefront, no doubt you’ve heard it described as “a worse version of Call of Duty.” This is accurate in some respects: it’s not, overall, quite as tightly executed and the range of available weapons is smaller. As for the multiplayer, which I played briefly, it is more or less what you should expect from a military shooter: realistic weapons and environments with unlockable content based on your performance. The maps seemed to differ wildly in quality, with the better ones tending to be smaller, more tactical suburban environments and the worse ones being large, open country settings that beg for snipers. Homefront’s multiplayer does feature some ground and air vehicles, which mixes up the gameplay a bit. As far as I’m concerned, there are two interesting aspects of the multiplayer. The first is small deployable bots (also ground and air) that players can pilot remotely. The second is Homefront’s capture point game mode, which has a tug-of-war dynamic: only 3 points active at any time and in order to access and capture the points beyond those, one team had to control that section of the map.
Yes, Homefront is, on some level a worse Call of Duty. Honestly, though, how different can military shooters truly be? I say, “so be it, judge the game on its own merits.” Homefront, unlike a certain other recent release, had a somewhat humbler goal in mind than to be the next Call of Duty: tell a compelling story in a rich and emotionally-charged environment where the player is not playing the hero at every turn. Though it wasn’t stellar all the way through, I think it succeeded in that respect.
Should you play it? If you’re interested in emancipating the United States of America from the control of United Korea, hell yes. If you’re a Communist and just want to shoot more dudes so you can rank up and get a new scope, don’t bother. Seriously, Homefront is not one of the best executed interactive experiences I’ve ever had, but if you were at all interested in playing the game just based on the premise, I’d say go for it.

Pining for the Days of Weird Video Game Football

Let’s remember back to when Madden NFL had competition. No, not just 2K. Before Sony’s NFL Gameday too. Let’s roll back to the wild football grounds of 16-bit, and dabble a little in 8-bit as well.

You didn’t always need a license to sell your football game. It was merely a bonus to see logos, teams, and players. You could be Capcom for instance and release a football game with your namesake, ignoring the NFL license you carried with Capcom MVP Football. Maybe you could ignore most of the team and just sell your game on a position: Pro Quarterback. The latter didn’t work so well, so it was upgraded to Troy Aikman Football which made an appearance as the Atari Jaguar’s only true football title, in addition the usual SNES and Genesis arenas.

ESPN Sunday Night Football

The single player licensing must have worked. John ElwayEmmit Smith, and Sterling Sharpe all had their moments of cover honor in video games.

What of the outliers who had nothing? Sammy tried appeasing kids with the simple Football Fury (great music in that one) and SNK arcade’d it up with Football Frenzy. Sega pumped out a great NFL series that began with Joe Montana, and even Nintendo had to try with three iterations of Play Action Football (NES,Game BoySNES). Sports Illustrated decided football wasn’t enough, and crammed their game with baseball as a two-fer.

NFL Quarterback Club 98

This still doesn’t scratch the surface. Mike Ditka Football (oh dear), Super High Impact (a predecessor toNFL Blitz), Konami NFL Football (an unplayable mess), NFL Quarterback Club (Acclaim’s flashy contender against Madden), the Tecmo Bowl series (which greatly expanded on 16-bit), ABC Monday Night Football (a mode 7 nightmare), or ESPN Sunday Night Football (all tech, no style) all had their own approaches to the sport… and that’s off the top of my head.

Mike Ditka Ultimate Football

The point is each of those titles stood out. Whether they had a license or not, they all tried something. Some took advantage of the hardware, some took some goofy chances, and a handful were uniquely identified by their quirks. Whether or not they were good didn’t matter (most weren’t); they all brought something to the table to influence the others.

Super Playaction Football

Now we only have a few outliers. Backbreaker Football and BCFX (to a lesser extent, the enjoyable Backyard Football series as well) are effectively it for this generation. Publishers avoid anything sans license, and thus, we’re stuck with only a handful of options. While few would want to relive the likes of the SNES Monday Night Football, doing so reveals an interesting mechanic that lets players break free for huge gains in a 2D, button mashing mode. Mike Ditka tried stopping gameplay while the QB selected a receiver. Pro Quarterback gave a shot in the arm to visuals via digitized sprites.

Capcom's MVP Football

Each time you put one of these outliers in, you ended up with something different. While most would try a third-person, behind-the-QB view after Madden took off, most did something weird with the passing game. Maybe they toyed with the perspective, or became creative in their presentation. Whatever the case may be, each time you plunked a cart into the system, the experience was certain to be unexpected.

ABC Monday Night Football

When was the last time we could say that about our modern licensed sports games? The start of the PS2/Xbox generation saw Gameday collapse and Microsoft give up their underrated NFL Fever franchise to draw EA onto Xbox Live. Sega tried with NFL 2K, and I assume we all know how that turned out. It’s hard to remember anyone else trying to give the football genre a shot in the arm. The few times it has happened recently, the results were obvious: Backbreaker added physics, 2K created the presentation standard.Madden has since upgraded both.

Imagine if Madden was taking heed from all comers. Where would the core NFL franchise be today?

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special

As I’ve talked about herehere and here, joshi (women’s) pro-wrestling has been, at various times, a popular form of entertainment in Japan over the years. And since having been introduced to it via some TV exposure in the United States and via tape trading (GOD I feel old whenever I talk about the concept of tape trading nowadays), I’ve pretty much become a fan myself, even going so far as going to see Eagle Sawai’s retirement in 2007. But, the concept of women’s wrestling to be mainstream enough to get an actual licensed video game was quite novel to me at the time. So that’s why I did a bit of a mini freakout when I found that there were actually quite a few. For instance, did you know that Pro-Wrestling on the SEGA Master System was actually converted from a game based around the Crush Girls and their fued with Dump Matsumoto and crew?

Well, I found out about these while researching Fire Pro Wrestling games. This was well before my time in Japan of course, and therefore thought I’d never have the chance to be able to buy them, so I played the hell out of the roms. And the one I played the most was Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicom
Released in June of 1995 on the Super Famicom (and apparently there was a PC Engine CD version released in February of that year), Queen’s Special was unique in that it was an officially licensed Fire Pro game. Besides the joshi games, all Fire Pro games, from the first one on the PC Engine to the last one released on the PS2 even here in the US (I’m not counting that little XBLA loser) have been unlicensed games. Sure, the characters would strongly resemble real life wrestlers, but they had no official permission to have them in the game. However, these were different. And they were officially licensed from All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling.

It wasn’t until 2007 while living in Yamanashi that I was finally able to receive a full, in the box copy, and I’ve since played it to completion a number of times.

Let’s take a closer look.


Control is similar to just about any Fire Pro Game, IE you walk up to your opponent to initiate grapple, and press your desired button or arrow direction plus button at the proper time to execute a move. The game will then internally do some sort of rock-paper-scissors with both you and your opponent’s stats to decide who’s move gets done.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicom

One thing to warn “y’all” about, and its something I catch myself doing from time to time, is that, like every Fire Pro game, when you perch yourself on the top rope, you’d better be sure of which button you want to press. This is because it doesn’t matter if the opponent is standing up or lying down… if you press that button, it’s only gonna do one move.

Unlike the wrestling games we’re familiar with today, Fire Pro had a single move dedicated to a single button in this case. If your opponent is down and you press A, then your Manami is going to attempt a top-rope dropkick, and miss horribly.


Animations are completely new and have not been seen in any Fire Pro before or since.


Joshi Bridge!

Also, no breathe button!
Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicomMoves are animated to look very… joshi. If you’ve seen Japanese women’s professional wrestling before, you’d know that they work very differently from the men. This game does well in capturing that, and is probably why these animations have not been seen since.


You work the match by wearing down your opponent using weaker grapple moves in the beginning, and then mixing it up with submissions and peppering in a few lucky strikes whenever you can. All of your moves are available from the outset, and you DON’T have to work up any “momentum bar” up to any “Specials” or “Finishers”. Nope. It’s all there.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicom

Now why wouldn’t you want to use it?

Because you’d be reversed to HELL if you did. Sure, you might be able to land a lucky few… and if your character is relatively stronger than your opponent, maybe you’ll be able to pull off a few. BUT DON’T TRY IT.

Or, you know what, go ahead. Try it. See where it gets you.

However, I’ve noticed that as soon as you’re able to knock them down with a single strike, then they’re pretty ready to receive just about any grapple you want to hit. Just about.

Character Name Changes:

Chigusa Nagayo – Vampire Woman
Devil Masami – Demolition … something
Dinamite Kansai – Kansai Dinosaur??


– Like any other Fire Pro game, the CPU logic makes no distinction between moves that should be done on the outside versus moves that should be done on the inside. Your opponent will always eat up valuable count-out time wrapping you up in a submission hold.

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2

So why did I picked the second one? It’s only because it’s the only one I can play at the moment. The rest of them are in storage. The game is quite fun and odd at times. The point of it is simple, Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend has been kidnapped and it’s being held captive at this castle. It’s only up to Bugs to save her if he wants to get laid so the quest starts! The object of the game is very simple, I mean any idiot can figure it out that you have to collect keys in order to open the master door. You can also use items in order to beat your enemies down although I suggest you know how to use them efficiently so that you won’t run into a one on one without any items to defend you. You will encounter other interesting twists in this game as I’ll go over them as we move along.

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2
The gameplay is quite demanding at times because you have to figure things out fast if you don’t want to be killed by your enemies which for some reason used to be your buddies in the cartoon at least! You will encounter the Rooster, big headed bird, Sylvester, among others. There are also some freakshows from other series or probably made up. Overall, you have to be careful with everyone! They mean harm! Furthermore, the game offers a variety of ways to kill them. You can either blow them up with a terrorist bomb or shoot them with a bow and arrow through the heart, it’ll depend on the level which weapons are available. You can also pick up a hammer to break bricks that get in your way. Amazingly you can’t use this item as a weapon to break your enemies’ head open….go figure! The game also has this mega lighting bolt that destroys everything on screen. That’s Bugs’ most powerful weapon!

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2
The graphics of the game are quite good. Things look how they are supposed to look and you won’t run into objects you think are part of the background. Even people with vision problems like myself were able to detect the scenery quite successfully. Even the enemies look how they are supposed to look and that’s a very well done task by the developers. I do have to mention that the big headed bird Tweety was made bigger than its size but that’s understandable as you are playing a portable game and won’t recognize him if you see him…Speaking of which…Tweety is a him? I found that out not too long ago and I’m in shock! SHOCK!! The music is repetitive but what can you expect for a puzzle game. You have a couple of tunes and that’s it! I don’t see people saying the same for Tetris but then again Tetris music kicks ass. If you do have a problem with the music then just mute it and play your wonderful emo music for all I care.

Overall, you have a very solid game that can bring you hours and hours of fun. With a nice password system that won’t make you write down a billion phrases and then get it wrong, you can’t go wrong with this one. Be sure to check out the other games in the series and try to look for them online as they are quite affordable. If everything else fails, just download the rom! Until next week!

Dragon Power

Dragon Power

So recently, I wrote up a nice big review on Dragon Ball Z Budokai HD Collection for the Sony PlayStation 3. Seeing as this game was a remake, it was only natural that I would have some nostalgia toward Dragon Ball Z games. This is especially true when you consider that Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 was my favorite Dragon Ball Z game of all-time, and remains so today despite its years.

Funny thing is, this got me looking back even further than the PlayStation 2. My first encounter with the Dragon Ball franchise actually took place way back in 1988 before I knew anything at all about Dragon Ball. This happy accident came in the form of Dragon Power, which released on the NES in North America back in March of that year. This game, along with Joust and Elevator Action was among my very first titles.
Dragon Power NES

It sure doesn’t look like Goku…

Obviously this was back well before Dragon Ball Z got popular along with a handful of other anime programs, so the rather curious decision was made to change many of the actual references to Dragon Ball. Even the titular objectives – Dragon Balls – was changed to ‘Crystal Balls’. There are a lot of things I did not remember from this game, only that there was a very loose connection between this game and Dragon Ball Z, starting with the main character named Goku.

Probably the most curious item was that while the cover art makes this look like an average martial artist, the game character was made to look more like a monkey than how Goku looked in the Japanese version of the game.
Dragon Power NES

US Version…

Dragon Power NES

Japanese version…

At least the your main character’s name remains Goku, but basically every other name gets changed around for the US release. Even the famously overused Kamehameha move is replaced with Wind Wave. As you can see in the above pictures however, most of the characters (in this instance ‘Nora’ in the US version and ‘Bulma’ in the Japanese one) look the same. The exception to this appears to be Master Roshi, who got a complete overhaul.
Dragon Power NES

US version, with ‘sandwiches’

Dragon Power NES

Japanese version with ‘panties’

If you notice the captions, the character art was not the only difference, but some of the more Japanese themes (such as Master Roshi being a pervert) were taken out to set better with US audiences

The game itself? Not very good. At an age where the word ‘dragon’ usually meant something awesome to a kid (Double Dragon anyone?), this game suffered from poor controls and collision detection and tough difficulty. The story itself made very little sense, but given that the localization was not only changing the language, but also in may places the content, I guess that is not a huge surprise.
Dragon Power NES
The majority of the game played out in a 3/4 overhead view like The Legend of Zelda or Deadly Towers, though boss fights switched over to a side view. These boss fights were tough too, because your attack types were so limited while they just kept plowing into you head-on with their weapons/moves.
Dragon Power NES

Oh this looks promising…

Matters are further made worse by the fact your health is constantly depleting even when you are not getting hit by enemies, a sort of timer that makes the game inherently more difficult with every passing second.
Even though this game really is not very good, it was one of the first NES titles I got to play as a kid. It was still leagues ahead of what I had experienced to date and showed me that there was a world of more complex games waiting to be discovered (let’s face it – Elevator Action and Joust were cool enough arcade games at the time, and they translated well enough to the NES, but they were endless loop games originally built to take your quarters. This was probably, along with Super Mario Bros, my first video game that had a true set of objectives or ‘end game’ to strive for). For that I will likely hold a soft spot for Dragon Power in my memory, despite its shortcomings.

That it turned out to be my first brush with the Dragon Ball Z universe was an amusing realization years later.

Softporn Adventures

Softporn Adventures

I always wondered if there was a text based game about the pursuit of sex would it be almost like sexting is today. So, how many of you know On-Line Systems, perhaps you know them under their more famous name Sierra On-Line. Before we were introduced to the iconic Leisure Suit Larry, there was Softporn Adventure.


Designed by Chuck Benton, the game was produced for the Apple II in 1981 and was a text based game where you played as a down on his luck party animal. The gameplay consisted of you trying to collect certain items that would win the affections of various women.

So let’s back up a little. This is a text game and for those not familiar with text based games, they kind of worked like a mix between a Dungeons and Dragons game with real life dungeon master and a, Choose Your Own Adventure book. You would start off with text telling you where you are and enough information to get you started. From there, you would enter commands to get an idea of your surroundings and what to do.


An example would be typing, “LOOK” to get a description of where you are and, “INVENTORY” to be told what you have on you. So the game starts off like this;


I’m in a sleazy bar. Behind the bar sits the bartender. A sign hanging over

him says ‘BEER-$100 WHISKEY-$100’. The Place isn’t furnished too well. A

curtain hangs on one wall. There’s a button on the wall next to it. A fan

whirls slowly overhead moving the stagnant air around.

Here you would type something like, “Order Whiskey” and go from there. It might sound boring to some, but text adventures were just as engrossing as a book and for a gamer even more so.


Now this game had a lot of controversy for being so racy and it is said it was copied and distrusted to a lot of high schoolers not interested in Math Munchers and more interested in reading forbidden text such as;


She says, ‘Lay down, Honey- Let me give you a special surprise!’ I lay down

and she says, ‘OK- now close your eyes.’ I close my eyes and she starts to

go to work on me. I’m really enjoying myself when suddenly she ties me to

the bed!! Then she says, ‘So long, turkey!’ and runs out of the room!!

Well- the score is now 1 out of a possible 3…but I’m also tied to the bed

and can’t move.


Sure, this is nothing compared to the scenes in games like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain, but for its time, it was enough to get computer geeks like myself a little hot under the collar. Now for those who played the LLL games you will notice the first game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, is pretty much exactly like Softporn Adventure, but in graphical form.

Now the game was not just controversial because of the racy subject matter, but the cover as well. Here is the info on it straight from the Wiki;

The game’s cover features three nude women and a male waiter in a hot tub. The hot tub is actually that of Sierra’s owners, Ken and Roberta Williams. From left to right, the first woman is Diane Siegel, On-Line’s production manager. The second is Susan Davis, On-Line’s bookkeeper and the wife of Bob Davis, the creator of Ulysses and the Golden Fleece. The waiter was Rick Chipman, an actual waiter from a local restaurant, The Broken Bit. The woman on the far right is Roberta Williams. The ad was considered somewhat scandalous at the time because of the degree of nudity displayed.

To me that is the most awesome thing about this, putting real people from your own company on the cover in such a manner. I couldn’t imagine that happening today.

“Hi, you’re an intern for EA right, so yeah, we have this new game called EA Semi Nude Tennis and we need some sexy women for the cover. Sure, we could have hired some models, but you want to make it in the business right? So, go ahead and put this bikini on, don’t ask how I know your size and report to studio A.”

This was one of the first instances of sex in a video game even though you never got to “see” anything. As far as the game itself you can actually play it online, but before that, here is an interview from Chuck Benton himself on Softporn Adventure.

Here you can view a Walkthrough for the game, thanks to Game FAQ’s for this.

Last but not least you can play it here: Softporn Adventure.