Gamer Profile: Todd Friedman

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“The Legend of Zelda still stands the time as a fun challenging game.  The gameplay , music and story are just as fun as they were in the 80’s.   I can still play for hours.” –Todd Friedman

Todd Friedman

  • Video Game Trading Card #48
  • Todd Friedman
  • Favorite classic game is The Legend of Zelda for the NES
  • World record holder in DJ Hero 1 & 2 on the Nintendo Wii

Todd Friedman is a World record holder in DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2 as well as other records on the Nintendo Wii and the original Nintendo Entertainment system. An avid game collector, Todd owns over 1700 classic video games and 27 video games systems.

[Game Profile Wing: World Record Holders]

Holy Diver

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This game features unlimited continues, which is nice cause you are going to need them. ~Alana Dunitz

Holy Diver

Today I’m featuring a really cool Famicom game that you should definitely check out if you have a chance.  It’s called Holy Diver, and no it’s not the song by Dio. (I honestly don’t know that song but everyone on twitter kept mentioning it when I brought up this game)  ** correction! It is based on that song! So crazy!** Holy Diver was actually recommended to me by Parodius Duh on the Famicom World website.  I’m definitely glad that I listened to him cause this game is pretty awesome!

Holy Diver

When I was playing the game, it felt like a mix between Castlevania, Getsu Fuma Den and threw in some Mega Man just for fun.  The company with the crazy idea to release a  game like this was Irem, the same company that put out Spelunker II, Lot Lot and Kickle Cubicle.  Holy Diver hit the shelves in April of 1989, but of course it never saw the light of day in North America.


Story wise there was no manual or anything with my copy so I wasn’t too sure cause you just get tossed right into the action of the game.  So I did some online research and found a few different versions of the story.  One guy had the manual but couldn’t read Japanese so he made up a story based on seeing 666 in the text.  He thought your character was sent to save the world and had to kill the devil.  Luckily I soon found a translation of the story right from the manual…

Holy Diver

“Resurrected-The Legend of the Holy Magic King’s Justice

It is the 666th year of the world of magic. The Black Slayer, Demon King of the Underground Dark Empire, has extended the world of darkness and weakened the power of King Crimson whose wisdom has guided the world of magic for generations.

The 16th Crimson Emperor Ronnie 4th entrusted his two infant sons, Randy and Zack, to his faithful servant Ozzy. The three escaped the forces from another dimension in the hope to bring light back into the world.

Holy Diver

The next 17 years were difficult but Randy, Zack, and Ozzy devoted themselves to the cause of Holy Magic Justice. The Black Slayer had further extended his empire over the countryside and the interdimensional forces were even more powerful. Randy needed to find the Royal Coat Of Arms of the Crimson to battle the demons. He set out alone to carry out the will of his surrogate father Ozzy who had passed away. Thus begins the Legend Of The Holy Magic King’s Justice.”

Hmm wonder if Ozzy is supposed to be Ozzy Osbourne and Zack is like Zakk Wylde. It definitely does have catchy music!  Anyways so you basically battle demons, that’s enough of a story for me.


This game features unlimited continues, which is nice cause you are going to need them.  It’s definitely not the easiest game I’ve ever played, but it’s challenging in a good way.  I love how with your magic you have projectiles, just like if you were using the mega buster in Mega Man.  If you had to do close combat with punching, this game would be impossible to beat!  It definitely tests your reflexes, those enemies are fast!

Holy Diver

I’ve recorded myself playing through the first level of the game (this is the first time I’ve ever played).  Notice at the end what happens when you beat the level boss.

[Check out Retro Gamer Girl]


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This turns what I’m sure would’ve been a very frustrating and annoying game into a very addictive one which allows steady progress through its large number of screen… ~Simon Lethbridge


Crikey! No sooner have I reviewed one game featuring a ‘spelunker‘ – the game named after the rather hazardous pursuit, no less – than another one veers into my radar’s bloopiness. Unlike the previous example though, this adventurer has slightly more noble intentions.

Our nameless hero is apparently a famous explorer and, during his no doubt many and varied trips and expeditions, he discovers strange signs in the ‘misty mountains of Peru‘ (in 1950 if you’re interested). What else can he then do but head off into the spooky peaks and investigate?!

This results in a very basic flick-screen mazey game which you start above ground in a thinly forested area. Our stick-figure hero can walk only in the four basic directions and accordingly you can steer him any way you like from the first screen. Your first job, however, should be to find a shovel which has two main uses.



The first danger you’ll face are the enemies which can be found lurking on most screens in the form of snakes and frogs. They can’t be killed but move in predictable patterns so they can be avoided fairly easily. There are also a good few obstacles as well. Above ground there are trees and bushes and only the latter can be cleared (temporarily) by smacking them with your shovel. It doesn’t take too much exploration to find the entrance to the caves though, and down in these murky depths there are more bushes and enemies and even more hazards.

Areas only appear from the darkness as you get close to them, for one thing, and you’ll need to dig your way through many passageways with your shovel, but it only works on the lighter-colored loose dirt. By far the most common hazard, however, are the spike pits and arrows. At first these appear sparingly but before long entire screens are dominated by them, appearing, disappearing, and firing in increasingly complex patterns which require very precise movement.


Contact with any enemy or hazard results in instant death (which is accompanied by an amusing noise) but you only need to start that particular screen again. Given the huge number of obstacles and sometimes trial-and-error nature of the game, it would be torturously difficult to play through were it not for the bounteous gift of infinite lives. This turns what I’m sure would’ve been a very frustrating and annoying game into a very addictive one which allows steady progress through its large number of screens (played flawlessly, the game would take well over an hour to finish).

It’s somewhat reminiscent of the kind of games found on early consoles such as the VCS and Intellivision (which is rather cool actually) except for its larger scale, and it builds towards a satisfying and not-entirely-expected climax which includes some challenging-but-nicely-designed caves, temples, and watery bits (with restrictive currents, of course). Don’t be put off by the black and white graphics and largely silent gameplay – not only is Cavenaut an addictive adventure but it’s also a free one! 

Final Score

RKS Score: 8/10


[mp3-jplayer tracks=” Cavenaut-Soundtrack-Title-Music-Short-Version.mp3, Cavenaut-Soundtrack-Title-Music-Long-Version.mp3, Cavenaut-Soundtrack-Ending-Theme.mp3″]

[Via Red Parsley]

[See more from Bruno R. Marcos]

Check out more great [Indie Game Reviews]

[Download the Freeware version of Cavenaut]

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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Nothing like dangling a storm trooper over the edge of cliff using force grip or throwing him halfway across the map! ~James Hare

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

[infobox color=”blue”]Released: Sep 2003 (PC) Developer: Raven Software Publisher: LucasArts & Activision Genre: 1st/3rd Person Action Shooter [/infobox]

Decided to dust off Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and see who still played it online, I was surprised to see quite a few people still do so I thought why not play through from start to finish. By the time I gotten to my favorite part of the game (choosing between the light path and the dark path) I realized I’d never actually completed the ‘light path’ version of the storyline. All done but I still prefer the dark side ending.

Either way I realized how well this game has lasted for its age, the game play is still as fun and exciting and the lightsaber combat second to none. I’m still in awe of the amount of customization you were able to do (back in the day of course) on your character in a game that is a first/third-person shooter and not an RPG. It was developed by Raven Software and published, distributed and marketed by LucasArts in North America and by Activision in the rest of the world.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

You play as Jaden Korr, (a character you can customize to be male/female, human, twi’lek etc) a padawan who is travelling to Luke Skywalker’s Jedi academy on Yavin IV, along with other new Jedi hopefuls. Kyle Katarn, (the reluctant Jedi you played as in Jedi Outcast) returns as a mentor at the Academy and becomes your master. However your ship is attacked and crashes into the planet, leaving Jaden and one other student, Rosh Penin, to make their way to the academy on foot.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy



The storyline revolves around solving several questions related to this attack at the start of the game. From here you take on several missions, mostly with Kyle to begin with to find these answers and soon discover that a dark jedi called Tavion (Dessans apprentice in Jedi Outcast) is behind the attacks. Tavion is attempting to resurrect the spirit of dark sith lord Marka Ragnos by using his sceptre to drain dark force energy from locations across the galaxy. On each subsequent mission after the training you set about finding out more about the cult, battling with dark Jedi, the remnant and a few bounty hunters along the way.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

The options of customizing your character does not end at physical appearance, you are able to specialize and train in a selection of different force abilities, light and dark. You start out with eight core force powers; pull, push etc which are automatically upgraded every time you return to the academy after missions. There are also eight advanced force powers to choose from (4 on the light side and 4 on the dark) the light side abilities are; absorb, protection, heal, and mind trick. The dark side powers include life drain, force lightning, force grip, and rage. You receive a point when you complete a mission (each power has three levels of improvement) and you can distribute it in any of these eight powers at the start of the next mission.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

Personally force grip and heal are the powers of choice to get up to maximum level, and whether you choose the light or dark path nearer the end of the game (each with its own ending) you can have as many of the dark side powers as you like. Nothing like dangling a storm trooper over the edge of cliff using force grip or throwing him halfway across the map!

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

Jedi Academy captures the excitement of lightsaber combat perfectly and not to far into the game allows the player to select between single, dual or a staff lightsaber. The problem with Jedi Outcast was the amount of tedious levels you had to play before you got your lightsaber, in this game you have it from the start and can customize it to your liking. I tend to favor dual lightsabers in green and purple, I have no idea why. After completing the single player I was actually surprised when I logged into multiplayer to find servers still running and being played online.

Usually by now they’ve been taken over by bots and the odd nostalgic gamer but these were very full and active. Good times. The game itself is relatively easy to complete (mainly due to the lack of good AI in the enemy) and even has the option of avoiding harder missions if you choose too. Some of the better levels involve locations or characters from the movies. The Hoth mission is particularly good and the fight with Bobba Fett is awesome (although I feel they could have done more with this level).


Jedi Academy is a great game and still worth revisiting. It is still highly playable in single and multiplayer mode and has plenty to offer in the way of character customization and mission/weapon selection. I love the choice of the light or dark path nearer the end of the game as it actually evokes real emotions in the player and for the situation the characters are in.

All I can say is the dark side path isn’t easier by a long way. The sound effects, music and voice acting really add a great atmosphere to the game and an extra dimension to the characters. Jeff Bennett returns to voice Kyle Katarn and Jennifer Hale and Philip Tanzini provide the female and male voices of Jaden Korr, with some great supporting voice artists Bob Bergen, Kath Soucie and Cam Clarke.

[You can find Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy on Stream]

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs

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This was a fun little game in its day, but even then there was not much replay value, though, as once you mastered the fine art of fuzzballdom and cleared all its levels, there was nothing more to accomplish . ~Dan “Magisterrex” Epp

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs

With a title like Freakin’ Funky Fuzzballs, you can expect a little gaming weirdness will be coming – and you’d be right. This is the setup: you have a fuzzball that needs to be guided through various maze levels looking for the keys to escape, while avoiding its nasty fuzzball brethren who want to dispose of it. There are tiles on the floor of each maze, some which contain food for your little fuzzball, and some which contain treasures (like magic rings, armor, wands, potions, scrolls and shields). You better plan your route, as your fuzzball moves through the maze it can only cross the same tile twice before it disappears. There are also traps waiting for your poor little fuzzball, so stay on your toes!

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs - Gameplay screenshot

Sir-Tech was known for producing the Wizardry RPG series, so Freakin’ Funky Fuzzballs was a complete departure from their norm. (I picture the Wizardry team, burnt out from living an all-RPG, all-the-time existence, seeing this game and falling in love with its sheer absurdity.)  The game was credited as the work of Ian Currie (game design, graphics, and programming) and Robert Koller (game design and graphics).

Of the two designers, Currie would go on to work on several Sir-Tech games, such as Realms of Arkania: Star Trail, the Jagged Alliance series, and Wizardry: Nemesis, as well as more recent non-Sir-Tech offerings (since they went out of business in 2001, but not their Canadian chapter, which lasted until 2003), such as Star Trek: LegacyEmpire Earth III, and Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited.

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs - Gameplay screenshot
Freakin’ Funky Fuzzballs item list

This was a fun little game in its day, but even then there was not much replay value, though, as once you mastered the fine art of fuzzballdom and cleared all its levels, there was nothing more to accomplish . Even so, Freakin’ Funky Fuzzballs is a nifty little game that accomplishes what it sets out to do, and if you haven’t played it, worth picking up and playing through.  A true Forgotten Classic!

[Visit Magisterrex Homepage]

Defending Charity

defenderSome people might think that it would be impossible to beat a score of 79,976,975, but Billy Joe Cain of Austin, Texas, thought otherwise.  He calculated that it would take at least 80 hours to get 80 million or more points to beat the current marathon record.  He estimated it would take a little more than 1 million points per hour to make it happen.  Having won not only the First Annual Texas Video Game Championships in and setting records recently for VGS for fastest time to a million and most points scored in an hour, he should know.

The game in question?  Defender.

But Biily wasn’t just wanting to break a world record on Defender, he was wanting to do some good as well and with, Josh Jones, his event coordinator and RecordSetter officiator, they settled on raising funds for the Mission Soup Kitchen in Killeen Texas. The kitchen provides meals for homeless and limited income clients.

They called the event “Defender Marathon – Charity Drive” and are seeking to raise $1,000 for the soup kitchen.  The fundraising end date is targeted for Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Billy received numerous useful tips and advice from record setting marathoners, including but not limited to Tim McVey of Nibbler fame, Lonnie McDonald, who is known for rolling Joust scores throughout the U.S., Ed Heemskerk, who is known for his Qbert attempts that were thwarted by power issues, and many others.

The week leading up to the event was plagued with technical difficulties.  A bad ribbon cable caused a number of issues – but once it was replaced, things seemed to go smoothly.    Several sponsors endorsed the event, including local companys —  Chuy’s on Barton Springs and Mr. Natural — and Kings Isle which provided perks for people who donate specific amounts.  VGS also sponsored the event, providing T-Shirts to be given away.

Billy Joe Cain, left, with Josh jones. Photo courtesy of Josh Jones.

The event was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Nov. 16, but as Josh told me, Billy was wide awake and ready to go, so they started early, around 8:30 a.m.

Josh posted regular score updates to both the event page for the Defender charity run as well as his own profile.  A little after noon, Billy passed the 4 million point mark.  A little more than an hour and a half later, he hit 5.66 million.  By 10:22 p.m. he passed 15 million points and was still going strong.  At 2:17 a.m. Nov. 17, he had achieved 19 million points and by 10:10 a.m. he was at 26.5 million points.  Billy continued playing, averaging over a million an hour.  At 4:09 p.m., Billy was at 32 million, but then something happened – fatigue set in.

Billy started losing ships at a fast pace and after 32 hours and 35 minutes of game play, the marathon ended with a score of 33,644,725.

Billy posted this on Facebook regarding the difficulty of a marathon:

“In order to get your mind around this marathon run, combine rolling the million points, rolling the 256 ships, rolling the 256 smart bombs, and rolling the 256 waves into one giant mess, and while you’re doing that… keep track of:
– your food intake
– your water intake
– your ship count
– your smart bomb count
– your needed restroom breaks

And general human interaction while having news crews, online webcasts, online and in person interviews…

All the while being streamed on the interweb, managed by a referee, and not sleeping or leaving the machine for any reason without the game continuing to run, at a rate of losing ONE SHIP EVERY 7 SECONDS!”


One of the important tips Billy received was the he needed to stay mentally engaged, have conversations with others, etc.  Josh, while verifying the score and making sure Billy was okay, helped out with that, bringing in special guests, getting people to call in, reading questions to Billy for him to answer while he played.

After Billy and Josh get some rest, we intend to do an interview with them regarding the event.

Even though Billy didn’t achieve his goals of 80 million in 80 hours, he should still be recognized for setting an impressive record as verified by both RecordSetter and Video Game Scoreboard.  It was an amazing run even if it was cut short.  Congratulations Billy.

While the marathon attempt has concluded, the fundraising is still open for the Killeen Mission Soup Kitchen.  So far $803 of the $1,000 goal has been raised.  Donations can be made here.

[Defending Charity]

[Video Game Scoreboard]

Gamer Profile: Dave Vogt

dave vogt

Favorite Classic Game: The Legend of Zelda

Quote: That is a seriously tough question! In the end, not Mega Man, not Mario, not even Castlevania could take that spot. It had to be Zelda. This was the game that changed everything for me. The feeling of awe that overwhelmed me the first time I stepped foot into Hyrule has never quite been duplicated- and the intrigue built from there. That sense of wonder and exploration have not only had a huge part in my getting into game development, but truly cemented my love of video games.

My Gaming History: Gaming started for me, by accounts of my late mother, at the age of three. As my parents were already hardcore gamers, it was either on the Atari 2600 or Colecovision- the only time we were a one console family was during the NES era. As time passed, I just became more engrossed. The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, and countless others from the NES. The 80’s transitioned to the 90’s, and the charge was led by Street Fighter, Doom, and various JRPGs. Platform after platform, genre after genre, game after game- the fascination has never stopped.

This passion for the art form turned into a desire to create. Starting with Doom, Wolfenstein, and Quake mods, I began seriously considering a career in game design. Life had other plans as it often does, and I hung development up for music and family- and I wouldn’t start easing back into it until 2008. Fast forward through a lot of self discovery, world records, false starts, and just family life in general. August 2013 became the new start date for my roguelike score chasing RPG, [The Bounty]. Nowadays I’m knee deep in development of that title (and others in planning phases), and co-operate Gaming World Wide () with my friend and colleague [Eric Cummings], and the help of some really swell contributors.

[Gaming World Wide]

Little Big Adventure 2: Twinsen’s Odyssey

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It features a truly great and imaginative story and it’s gameplay is one of the best that I have seen in an adventure game… ~Harris Aspros

Little Big Adventure 2

The amount of time I spent on this game is unbelievable, partly because the first time I played it I couldn’t understand what was happening since I didn’t know English. But I played it more times a few years ago and whenever I remember this game I get overwhelmed with nostalgia
Little Big Adventure 2 -Twinsen's Odyssey

What is Little Big Adventure 2: Twinsen’s Odyssey

It’s an adventure game (again) and I find it one of the examples which show that the sequel can be better than the first game.  Developed by [Adeline Software] in 1997 and re-published by Activision (they used to not suck so bad) the same year with the name Twinsen’s Odyssey. It follows Twinsen’s adventure to uncover an evil plot behind some alien kidnappings around the neighbourhood.
 Little Big Adventure 2 -Twinsen's Odyssey

Why it’s Great

It features a truly great and imaginative story and it’s gameplay is one of the best that I have seen in an adventure game (some should take note). It is a great experience and you would do well to give it a shot.
Little Big Adventure 2 -Twinsen's Odyssey

Where you can get it

This one is actually (and strangely) available, you can find it at [Good Ol Games] for 5.99 USD.

Dudes with Attitude

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As unfair as it may be to those passionate coders, the end result does feels markedly amateurish, and as much as needless bells and whistles should be trimmed from some titles, this is a game that could have used some fancy additions and fine-tuned detail-worked. ~Eric Bailey

Dudes with Attitude

The year: 1990. The developer: American Video Entertainment. This was a company that produced unlicensed cartridges for play on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console. Included in their instruction manuals after 1990 was an entire page dedicated to explaining to consumers how they could help bypass Nintendo’s latest consoles that includes a new chip to prevent playing their games, and a somewhat martyr-tinged note of explanation that AVE sought to provide affordable family entertainment, even going so far as to offer free games with a mail-in offer.

Dudes with Attitude - NES

After having put such simplistic efforts like Solitaire and Blackjack onto the market, a quirky interesting game was pushed into existence, apparently thanks to the efforts of Michael and Cam Crick: Dudes With Attitude,” a frenetic action-puzzler hybrid that combined uniquely distinctive innovation with the usual pitfalls and pratfalls of small-time development operations.


Dudes With Attitude on the NES definitely qualifies as being among that category of video games that is much more easily understood when seen in motion, rather than reading an attempt at a worded description. Truly interested readers should probably consider checking out its video entry on for the full scoop to truly grasp what is going on.

Dudes with Attitude - NES

To try and summarize, though: Dudes With Attitude is an action puzzler, like a fast-paced arcade/puzzle genre hybrid. The player controls a Dude of his or her choices; these are little round head-shaped characters, who then enter play on a one-screen field. The grid-based field takes place on a black background and each level, to varying degrees, is filled with objects. The goal is to collect all the treasure on a particular stage without dying, which means avoiding static hazards and moving enemies. How this is accomplished is through a feat quite distinctive on the console: The Dude relentlessly moves back and forth across the screen, bouncing each time it meets a boundary or wall object, dying if it strikes a hazard or enemy twice (one “free hit” is allowed, visibly reducing the size of the round Dude), and collecting treasures.

These mechanics are all done by color-coding. Certain cups on-screen change the Dude’s color as it hits them. Then, that Dude is immune to enemies and hazards of that color, and can collect like-colored treasures. Remember, this is all done non-stop, as the Dude endlessly slides left and right in the field of play.

Dudes with Attitude - NES

So, a sample level may have a white locked door at the top third and a red locked door at the bottom third of the screen, behind each of which are its like-colored treasures, and in the center are a couple of hazards and/or enemies. In the center of the arena are the white and red cups that change the Dude’s color. Thus, the challenge is for the player to deftly maneuver the Dude in such a way as to change to a certain color, move through the like-colored door, collect all the treasure within, then switch to the other color and repeat. However, of course, that is a very simplified explanation, and the levels rather widely vary in their imaginative varieties of lay-outs in terms of their hazards, obstacles, enemies, and treasures.

Dudes with Attitude - NES

There is also a password option, a level editor, and a two-player mode. The entire experience is rather distinctive, with there being very few games anything like Dudes With Attitude on the NES; the one notable exception is Trolls On Treasure Island, which is just the exact same game, but with the licensed likenesses of Troll dolls used instead of the Dudes (with, granted, a few other palette swaps and level design changes at work), based on the popular toys of the time.

The gameplay emphasizes quick thinking, requiring excellent reaction timing and rapid decision-making skills, along with a some planning in later levels, to the extent required by the fact that there is a time limit for each stage. The odd, bouncing, back-and-forth gameplay may resonate with some, but even when accustomed to, likely grows stale after a while.


Dudes with Attitude - NES

With the heavy use of blues, whites, blacks, and pinks, this looks like an old four-color CGA PC game; which, if you could not guess, is a bad thing. Granted, considering the limitations of the small icons being used here, the actual appearance of the title can be forgiven, but not by much: The elements lack detail and, though vary, remain starkly monotone. The “gum” enemies will forever just be a one-color blotch with a few pixels to denote a face, and even the treasures usually just look like crude hearts, poor bricks, or watered-down Mario Bros. coins. This is definitely a case of a video game constructed for function over form, using the bare minimum of gameplay indications to get its mechanics clearly across and not at all aiming for style points.


The sound effects are simplistic buzzes and beeps; and there is virtually no soundtrack to speak of. The levels are conducted without background music, and simply jolly little ditties mark successful completions. Again: This is a small-team development job, that totally aims for just presenting a playable product, without frills or extras to speak of. Including, it would seem, any semblance of actual music.


Now, strangely enough, this is actually a somewhat unique 8-bit video game. The constant, frenetic, horizontally oriented gameplay is a marked departure from the vertically oriented, slow-at-times, one-piece-at-a-time material that many old-school gamers may be used to from such classic titles as Tetris or Dr. Mario. This may serve as Dudes’ greatest strength and appeal: For a certain small niche audience, this may be just their cup of tea, and may truly be a favorite among those select few.

Most, in contrast, can expect a disappointment. As unfair as it may be to those passionate coders, the end result does feels markedly amateurish, and as much as needless bells and whistles should be trimmed from some titles, this is a game that could have used some fancy additions and fine-tuned detail-worked. As it stands, it feels more like old PC shareware, something perhaps briefly played as a curiosity but at a noticeable drop in quality from the bulk majority of NES cartridges. The rating is one and a half stars out of five.

Reflections: Titanfall Beta

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I wasn’t sure what I would think about bots being mixed in with human players, but it really does increase the amount of action, downtime isn’t an issue because there’s always something to shoot at.  ~Eric Hollis

Titanfall Beta

Part Halo, part Mirror’s Edge, part Armored Core, this highly anticipated FPS amalgamation was released as a public beta this past weekend.  Does it live up to the immense hype?


Here are my initial thoughts:

Not to start on a down note, but it would be really remarkable if the environments were at least partially destructible.  Sure, this would make the battle a lot harder for the soldiers, but it would also add a little more heft to the formidable power of the Titans.  Also, blowing up buildings with shoulder-mounted rockets is always an enjoyable time.


Ejecting out of your Titan while it turns into a nuclear bomb and torches your opponent is absolutely thrilling.  You can actually sabotage Titans while in soldier mode which keeps the playing field a little more even.  My favorite moment over the 25 matches I participated in was ejecting out of my Titan, launching my would-be Titan-jacker into the air, and then shooting him in the face before I hit the ground.  I’ve never played a game where I could do that.


The leveling progression is taken right out of Call of Duty, pre-made loadouts are available at first, but after a few matches customization options open up at a frequent pace.  There is also the introduction of “burn cards” which enable you to temporarily power up your character, these are one-use only items you earn based on match performance.


Titanfall runs very smoothly, I didn’t notice any lag while playing, always a good sign, especially with an open beta.  I was playing on the One, not sure how it holds up on the 360 where most of the copies will be sold.


I wasn’t sure what I would think about bots being mixed in with human players, but it really does increase the amount of action, downtime isn’t an issue because there’s always something to shoot at.  For people like me who are abysmal at shooters, this means I actually get a few charity kills every match.


Surprisingly I didn’t feel completely out of my element like I normally do in first person shooters.  The gameplay seemed both balanced and accessible.  I’m sure this might change when the full game launches, but I didn’t have any moments where I wanted to quit due to frustration, something that happens to me in every single other online frag-fest.


Titanfall’s beta was level capped to 14, which was a really good idea, because a lot of people would be in the high 50’s by this morning if it weren’t.  The first taste is always free, after that it’s sixty bucks in March.


My biggest problem with the game?  The release date.  I had a blast playing it, but nothing in my mind can compete with the release of Dark Souls 2. Did you play Titanfall this weekend?  What did you think?  There’s plenty of time left to try it out, they aren’t talking the beta down until the 19th.

NES Baseball

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The worst part of this game, and the main reason is gets such a low mark is the goddamned fielding. The controls are just anarchy. Any fielder you control moves about the speed of a mudslide and the game has no concept of who is closest to the ball whatsoever. ~Mike “Nequester” Wright


nes baseball

MLB: The Show, Ken Griffey Presents Major League Baseball, MVP Baseball, and Baseball Mogul. Over the years, there have been a few excellent baseball games that have stood the test of time. These revered titles can be popped in to this day and still retain some of the magic that made them a blast. That being said, the first baseball game released for the NES is clearly not one of them. Today, we take a peek at the initial rendition of the Summer Classic to grace us in 8-bits, the creatively named NES Baseball.

nes baseball
Baseball spelled with it’s namesake is pretty sweet. The title screen music is used for about 5 other games as well. Nintendo must’ve paid their composers per tune and not per usage.

This is normally where I throw some history for the readers to soak in but c’mon folks, it’s baseball! Other than MMA, my personal game of choice. 9 players hit the field, 4 balls is a walk, 3 strikes and you’re out, 3 outs and you switch sides. The rules are well known to almost anyone and in that regard, it’s an easy game to pop in and instantly get going. Did Nintendo faithfully translate “America’s Pastime” into an enjoyable experience for kids to lose themselves in? It saddens me to say, not even close.

nes baseball
“After carefully considering offers from A, M, G, and X, I’ve decided to take my talents to H! I can’t wait to be a major part in the H vs Y feud and plan to play here at least two long years!”

Let’s begin with the team names. Granted, when a publisher doesn’t have the license to use real MLB logos and names, they normally run with the city name and the uniform colors. Usually, from that, we automatically gather that if the team’s name is “Bos” and the colors they sport are red and white, good money is on them being the Boston Red Sox. Baseball said “fuck all that noise” and gave us the legendary squads of A, C, D, P, R, and Y. Further examination will reveal the teams as the Athletics, Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies, Royals, and Yankees judging by the color schemes. Nowadays, we equate the Royals to a team that has had one winning season since 1993 and akin to the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NL, sort of a running gag. Seeing as this was launched October 18, 1985, Baseball was two days removed from George Brett and the Royals defeating Ozzie Smith’s Cardinals in the World Series, justifying their inclusion in this cart. What I don’t understand is if all 6 teams are EXACTLY the same with only uniform swaps, why couldn’t we just have all 28 teams at the time and add even one letter to the teams name so we could tell the Astros from the A’s? Also of note, did all the black and latino players go on strike before they hit the field? In these days and times, little details like that become rather noticable. One could attempt to argue that the game was made in Japan, however the MVP of the Nippon League in 1984, when Baseball debuted in the arcades, was Greg Wells, a black man.. 

nes baseball
Kansas City Royals, falling flat on our asses since 1993!

There is only one mode so anyone wanting a full season and deep stat tracking just had to make use of their noggin and create a custom schedule as well as track their own stats. One problem, you never knew who was up to bat. Every hitter has the same exact appearance and attributes, so it could be your catcher at the plate or your left fielder. There was no indicator as to who was 0-5 so far in the game or who had 4 homers, nor did it even matter.. Same with pitching as it made zero difference if you got rocked for 10 runs in your first inning, there are no substituions, the poor guy just has to deal with life and continue to get slaughterred trying to lower his 77.00 ERA futilely. Really, there should be a “swallow cyanide” menu option, because if there is anyone I feel for in this game, it’s the poor pitcher.

nes baseball
Throw so much as one pitch right down the middle and this will happen 90% of the time.

Other than frustration, the only other emotion this game can seem to conjure up is a deep sympathy for the pitcher. It truly is like Nolan Ryan on the mound with a gang of stoned sumo wrestlers in the background trying to field. Pitching is tolerable as you have 3 speeds to work with and the only complaint is after you hit A, he throws it pretty much whenever the hell he wants to. At times, it is instantly pitched to the batter and other times, he shakes off a sign and stands there mean-mugging the batter a few seconds before the wind-up, adding more time to an already long as hell game. 

nes baseball
That isn’t 3 left fielders, my fucking PITCHER is chasing a ball that far!

The worst part of this game, and the main reason is gets such a low mark is the goddamned fielding. The controls are just anarchy. Any fielder you control moves about the speed of a mudslide and the game has no concept of who is closest to the ball whatsoever. A routine pop-up was missed by my third basemen and instead of the game allowing me to control the left fielder and try to get to the ball, it makes my 3B run (more like freshly twisted ankle hobbling) after the ball all the way to the warning track. As if it could be worse, the fielder and the ball are often moving the same speed meaning you aren’t getting to shit until you make it all the way to the wall and pray the ball ricochets in your direction. Three fucking times a simple play was turned into something really damaging to my chances of a fair game. The routine groundball that rolled through my second baseman’s legs that turned into an inside the park home run almost costed me a controller.

nes baseball
I tried to exact revenge for the ’88 World Series but by the 2nd inning, I was getting spanked. Sorry Oakland, better luck next baseball review.

Hitting is easy enough. A baseball is hurled towards your batter and you try to hit A at the right time. Simple, yet effective, as is hitting in most baseball games. That is, until you actually reach first base. Even if you get the perfect slicer down the third base line for what should be an easy triple, your player grows fucking roots at first. I beat the everloving piss out of my buttons to no avail attempting to light any kind of fire under my players ass, yet all he could muster was to blankly stare at me and remain planted where he was. This game’s rules have no rules. The one time I got my guy to accomplish forward motion, it was by complete accident and I couldn’t get him to turn back around nor know why I even tried. Any semblance of strategy that might be thought up is just an exercise in futility. Your choices are pretty much limited to either knocking it out of the park everytime or having your ass handed to you on a silver platter. Good luck with option A.

nes baseball
When I think baseball, I think of these all-time great teams!

As for the sound, most titles of the “Sports Series” work extremely well without any background tunes, but this is one game that sorely needed it. Seeing as this was the only baseball title at the time, the poor consumer had to endure the rousing sound of nothing while the game was droning on. It’s as slow moving as it gets and I timed a full game at 58 minutes, far too long for the 6 or so sound effects to keep things intresting or me distracted from what a clump of 8-bit shit this is. As a matter of fact, when you are called out, it is the exact same sound that Punch-Out on NES gives when you press start and the boxing glove breaks through the screen. Noone can blame me for nstantly making me want to pop that classic in when I hear it. The tiny ditty when you hit a home run is also the theme when you win a fight in the arcade version of Punch-Out, giving a strange link to both versions of the greatest boxing game ever created on any console. Later for that one though.

nes baseball
If you’re one of those fans who just wish the Yankees lose everytime they hit the field, in this game all you have to do is play as them. Instant gratification!



nes baseball
Exactly how I’d have felt if I spent 50 bucks on this title on launch day…


Only slightly above Donkey Kong Jr. Math as an unplayable piece of NES history that should stay buried never to see the sun or be touched by civilization again. I spent 3 days mulling it over and trying like hell to give it the benefit of the doubt as the first baseball game and still can’t go any higher in good conscience. Nintendo squandered a great opprotunity here as launch day, noone knew what the hell an Ice Climber, a Clu Clu, or a Goomba was. We all knew what baseball was and, sadly, they completely dropped the ball. I’m sure the five superstar outfielders from Team Y is still chasing that bitch to the wall today.


Batman - NES - gameplay
While Batman has had a few video games before this on computer platforms, many remember the NES game as the Dark Knight’s first digital adventure. This one was not surprisingly based on the 1989 movie and came out less than year after the film’s release.
Batman - NES - gameplay
 Since it was based on the movie, there were plenty of impressive (for NES anyway) cut-scenes featuring key moments of the movie and some just for the game.
Batman - NES - gameplay
 Except the plot of the game is shortened to Batman just trying to reach the Joker. Doing so he must go through chemical plants, caverns, and even a cathedral to meet the insane clown. I guess a lot of the areas weren’t in the movie but were you expecting a dating mini-game with an 8-bit Vicki Vale?
Batman - NES - gameplay
I guess you could say the game was Batman meets Ninja Gaiden. You could wall jump in addition to using batgear like the batarang. Fans usually have a very positive opinion of Batman for NES, but I don’t think it’s aged too well. I played a little awhile back, and it couldn’t keep my interest for long.

Kasumi Ninja

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Kasumi Ninja is a fighting game that I unfortunately find fairly repellent. As soon as you boot it up, it’s clear that the game has an almost worrying fixation on blood.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

I’m aware that many classic fighters – Mortal Kombat springs to mind – use gore to give fights more of a violent edge, but Kasumi Ninja goes way overboard.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Blood trickles from the top of the menu screens, for example – which doesn’t make the game feel sinister, just feel incredibly cheap and second rate.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Diving into the story mode, things struggle to improve. The character select is viewed from a first person perspective, with one of the choppiest frame rates i’ve ever seen. It’s not like much is going on in this section, so I have no idea why it chugs along at such an alarming rate.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Pick your ninja and opponent, and you can then begin your fight (in an unusually nice touch the game classes your foe as being played by the ‘Jaguar’ rather than ‘CPU’), which is introduced by an unintentionally amusing oriental style announcer.

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

Fights take place in a range of very 16-bit looking environments, and where you fight seems to depend on your opponent. This brings me onto my next point – what exactly is up with the oddball characters used here?

You can play as a ninja, fitting in with the game’s title, but your foes can range from deranged Scotsman to scantily clad seductress.

There’s even a woman who’s an assistant Defence Attorney by day, and a fighter by night. I mean, what the heck? Why not call the game ‘Kasumi Random Selection of Weirdos’ instead of ‘Kasumi Ninja’ – it would be far more accurate at least.

The game fatally contradicts itself in tone in this regard – the light hearted nature of the characters is offset by the gore used throughout, making the title feeling a tacky mess as result.

It doesn’t help that the fighting itself is atrocious, with controls that you’ll struggle to grasp with any ease. You’ll probably have long since lost interest before you begin to ‘master’ the special moves.

Kasumi Ninja is most definitely your best bet if you’re looking for a fighting game on the Jaguar – but that is ultimately saying very little indeed.

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut (Multi-Platform)

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Just like in Oregon trail, things break on your station wagon, friends get hurt. They may get bit by a zombie and you may be forced to put them down, or they may get dysentary, or one of 9 other diseases, and if you don’t heal them with medkits they eventually die. ~Grace Snoke

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut

Published by: The Men Who Wear Many Hats

Available for: iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Linux and Steam

Reviews on: PC and Android Genre: Choose-your-own-adventure Zombie survival

Released: Jan. 10, 2013

Depending on your age, you may remember playing the Sierra Games classic, Oregon Trail, at school. If you were really lucky, and your parents had a lot of money, you got to play it on an Apple II at home. Personally, I remember playing the game a lot at school and only getting to the end once. It was a hard game filled with a lot of hard choices for a 10-year-old. But it’s a game we look back on fondly.

“NAME died of dysentery” is probably one of the most common quotes people give from the game.

If you miss the game, or just want to revisit the classic, you can download it and play it through Chrome here:


But if you want to see the modern take on the game, which is what this article is about, check out Organ Trail – a morbid twist on the iconic Oregon Trail game. Produced by The Men Who Wear Many Hats and released Jan. 10, 2013, the game is available for purchase, download and play via iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Linux and Steam. You can play a flash version of their game, for free, here:

They describe the game as “a retro zombie survival game. Travel westward in a station wagon with 4 of your friends, scavenging for supplies and fending off the undead; Faithfully recreated it as if it were on the Apple 2. Packed full of zombie mechanics, themes and references; this is a must have for any zombie survival fans.”

I first encountered Organ Trail at PAX East 2012 when it was still in development and was enamoured with the idea and kept an eye on it as it developed. When Humble Bundle had it as a part of one of their Android bundles, I immediately picked up the bundle so i could play and test the game on multiple platforms. It’s rare that I get the opportunity to play games on more than one platform and see how they compare to each other.


You start the game learning there has been a zombie apocalypse. You have to fight your way to safety. As you are fighting, you are joined by a priest named Clements. He rescues you and asks you if you know of anyone who would be handy in this situation. You and him talk and head to D.C. to pick up your friends…in a station wagon.

I won’t spoil the story too much, but Clements isn’t with you for long, but gives you his diary to help you out, explaining how much of what things you need. You and your party leave D.C. to head cross country with the supplies you’ve scavenged thus far. Just like in Oregon trail, things break on your station wagon, friends get hurt. They may get bit by a zombie and you may be forced to put them down, or they may get dysentary, or one of 9 other diseases, and if you don’t heal them with medkits they eventually die. As you travel from city to city, you have to scavenge for supplies such as food, ammo, fuel, money, medkits and car scraps and upgrades to survive. You can also buy, sell or trade for items at each town or rest stop. Pay close attention to the health of your car and your party members. Rest to heal, but know for each hour you rest you consume food. Repair your car when needed. You can even take on jobs at towns to earn money or parts.


As you travel, you have to survive driving through a horde of zombies, being chased by zombie dogs and other animals or fighting off bikers and bandits. Factor in a day and night cycle and a weather system and the game becomes very interesting and challenging.

I have yet to reach the final location of the game on the West Coast on either PC or Android, but I have made it decently far before I died. The game creates a custom tombstone with a phrase of your choice when you die and your score can be posted to the leaderboards.

Gameplay: 8/10 for PC; 5 of 10 for Android
There is a huge difference in controls for this game depending on the platform it’s played on. For PC, the controls were great. You were able to aim your rifle with your mouse and move around better than when playing on Android. With Android, you can try to aim the rifle, but unless you are very accurate with your fingers and you don’t slip up, it’s hard to aim and hit the zombies coming after you.



Graphics: 9/10 for both
If you keep in mind that the game is 16-bit and still looks good while being a stylized-retro game, you’ll understand why I rate the graphics 9/10. It’s not designed to look like a modern game. It’s designed to look like a late 80’s game and in that aspect they did extremely well.

Sound: 9/10
Also created in classic, retro tradition, the music fits the 16-bit game. If you’re interested in the game’s soundtrack, you can download all of the tracks, for free from here:

Story: 8/10
The story is very simple, very easy to follow and in the same mindset of Oregon Trail. Long story short, you’re traveling West to escape the zombie apocalypse with your friends in a Station Wagon.



Overall: 8.5/10
Packed full of zombie mechanics, themes, references and challenges, this is an extremely fun and frustrating retro zombie survival game. If you liked Oregon Trail as a kid, this is another game you would enjoy on any platform. If you want to test it out before you buy it, play the flash version linked above.

Disclaimer:  Author purchased the games through Humble Bundle and chose to review the game with her purchase.  No codes were given in exchange for review.

6 Great Flappy Bird Clones

6 Great Flappy Bird Clones

Flappy Bird was the King of mobile gaming, but now the king is dead. Here are some Flappy Bird inspired Games that will fill that void in your life.

Maverick Bird (Web)

This Flash game was written by Terry Cavanagh the Indie Game legend behind VVVVVV, Don’t Look Back and Super Hexagon. It has great music and visual and is like Super Hexagon it’s super difficult.



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This is a bit of a cheat as it isn’t out yet, but it looks amazing and is by Paul ‘madgarden’ Pridham. He has previously worked on Punch Quest, Sword of Fargoal (iOS) and forthcoming Death Road to Canada.

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Link: Coming Soon

Flappy Doge (Web)


If there one Internet meme even bigger (and possibly more annoying) than Flappy Bird, it’s Doge. Such Game, wow.

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Quack (ZX81)


If you require any proof of Flappy Bird simple gameplay, how about this conversation which is available for the 30 years old Sinclair ZX81 which boasts a whopping 1k memory.

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Flappo Bird (Atari 2600)

Flappo Bird (Atari 2600)

If the ZX81 is too British and Obscure for you, how about this flipscreen version for the Atari 2600 instead.

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CrappyFly (Windows)

crappy fly

Finally there is this. I’ve only added the Windows only game because I made it for FlappyJam, which is a Game Jam for creating even more Flappy Bird clones to support game developer Dong Nguyen. They are now over 150 games and the jam doesn’t finish until February 24th



You can find even more clones at the FlappyJam.

The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day

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The first time I heard a curse word, I was actually taken aback. The nice, clean comic-book look of the game doesn’t feel like an environment where you would hear R-rated words. Adding to this feeling you also don’t expect to see gratuitous violence and bloody head-smashing, but it’s there too. ~Justin Richardson

The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day

Do you hear that pounding? It’s not the Tell-Tale heart under the floorboards, no, it’s your own heart racing in Telltale’s newest game. A game where you actually care about the characters.The zombpocalypse in media has been popular for a long time now. Many people feel that it’s high time it dies and is finally laid to rest. While this may appear to be the overall vocal consensus, somehow the zombie craze manages to shamble on, selling movies, games, books and perfumes. Well, probably not that last part. There are still groups out there, banding together and hanging on for life, voraciously eating up the zombie media like the living dead gathered around a corpse. Why?Perhaps we like the excitement and the thrill of the concept – the adventure of it all. Perhaps it offers us a way to fantasize about venting our frustrations of humanity, on humanity, without feeling as much as a twinge of guilt. And perhaps we’re just fascinated with the idea of reanimation. Whatever the reason, Telltale Games has just released the first episode in their The Walking Dead Pentalogy, and overall it does what you might expect a zombie adventure game to do, but rather well.

This is my first Telltale game. After going into this without having any kind of expectation I can say that I finished this two and a half hour episode with a smile on my face. None of Telltale’s previous games have ever really managed to grab my attention, but The Walking Dead feels like a good match for a developer that is revered for its focus on story, humor and having a personal touch. While Telltale may not have a lot of experience with heavy material or gritty violence, they pull this off with aplomb.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 - A New Day - Telltale Games
The proper “I’ve just seen a zombie” face.

It was nice not to be stuck in the conventions of another run and gun game, which, for me, was a much needed break. Come to think of it, the protagonist, Lee Everett, throws down a shotgun in one of the first sections of the game, as if Telltale is saying, “No. This isn’t a first person shooter. We’re going to slow down and look at how these characters interact as the world collapses around them.”The game is quick to get you into the story. Lee, who I immediately feel an attachment to, finds himself in a squad car being escorted to prison for a crime that he may or may not have committed. It doesn’t take long for the player to pick up on the fact that, in the spirit of the show (and comic) you’re in Georgia, and have returned to your hometown after a long time away. There is an accident and the story quickly escalates into the chaotic mess that you have likely come to expect from The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 - A New Day - Telltale Games
Option A – Not For the Kiddies
 The quicktime events (QTEs) / decisions are just that: quick. They offer only a few critical seconds to make key decisions that could drastically change your game. Many of these decisions have a great deal of permanence and will persist throughout the episodes, so think on your feet and choose well. These choices will change how other characters view you, who lives and ultimately who doesn’t. I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t reload once or twice so that I could hit the desired response. If you don’t respond fast enough your character remains silent, which is a response in and of itself, which not everyone appreciates. Some of these QTEs come in times of great tension, and do a great job of boosting the heart rate a bit. If you hear pounding in your ears, beware, it could be the Telltale heart.You’ll spend your time mostly talking to people, exploring small open areas and reacting to QTEs when they arise. You’ll have to use your head a little bit, but not too much. If you aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to adventure games, the process of elimination will eventually make the solution clear. There are only so many interactive points. You’ve either clicked on everything available or you haven’t. Unfortunately, I suspect that there is only one way to solve any given puzzle.

With that being said, the puzzles are actually quite fun and varied, even if they are a bit simplistic and linear. In The Walking Dead, you won’t be straining your brain or doing nonsensical things like placing wine in a time capsule and visiting the future where it has turned into vinegar. Nor will you mix cat hair and honey to make a mustache disguise. No, these puzzles are designed to be intuitive. A nice touch is that during these sequences, your perspective is constantly shifting based off of the situation or the nature of the puzzle that you have to solve. Have to unlock handcuffs – first person. Need to get from here to there – third person. Need to see a larger area – here’s a zoomed out view of the yard. I found this to be a refreshing change from static mounted-camera views, and from other games in general.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 - A New Day - Telltale Games
This picture says it all. Sadness. Emotional depth. Baseball hats.

The first time I heard a curse word, I was actually taken aback. The nice, clean comic-book look of the game doesn’t feel like an environment where you would hear R-rated words. Adding to this feeling you also don’t expect to see gratuitous violence and bloody head-smashing, but it’s there too. As a result, there is a bit of dissonance between the cartoonish look of the engine, and the dark, apocalyptic feel of The Walking Dead. However odd it may feel, it’s not really a problem, and I’m glad they are approaching the material with the gravity that it deserves.

I say all of this not to fault the graphical engine. While it is admittedly dated, it’s still highly polished and works well for the comic book art style that they’ve gone for. It has the polish and feel of a late generation game  engine that has been pushed to its max. Again, not a problem as it serves it purpose while still providing a slick and attractive environment.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 - A New Day - Telltale Games
I’m an expert tracker. I have followed the bloody marks in order to locate the body.

This is predominantly a character driven story, and to this end the voice acting and dialogue is truly brilliant. A friend of mine was asking me how the voice acting was and I wasn’t immediately able to answer him. Not because I was uncertain, but because I hadn’t really noticed the voice acting at all. And I hadn’t noticed it because it was so well done that it never shook me from my immersion in the game. Bravo, Telltale. Sometimes, I was so swept up in the story that I yelled out in victory, or shrank down and felt shame over a decision I had made.

For the most part my complaints with the game are few. There were a few audio stutters and blips during the dialogue, but it wasn’t consistent enough to really hinder my experience. However one of the most glaring issues wasn’t technical at all. There is a section of the game where a character doesn’t know how to put batteries into a radio, or what kind of batteries it could possibly ever need. This really serves to undermine the believability of that character and to shatter the player’s suspension of disbelief. This wouldn’t have been something to point out in a bad game, but The Walking Dead is otherwise intelligent and well conceived.

I’m not sure how differently the game would have played out had I made different choices, and I’m anxious to go back and replay it in a different way. There are a total of three save slots, so Telltale has accommodated the curious player like myself. Heck, I’m curious like a cat. I have a couple of friends that call me Whiskers. So I intend to fill all three slots.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 - A New Day - Telltale Games
Hell comes to the suburbs of Georgia. Quick, hide in the tire!

The length of this episode felt about right for the first episode of five. I beat it in one sitting and never felt like my attention was drifting. For $25 this is a nice, bite-sized morsel of splendid content.

Fans of the excellent Idle Thumbs podcast will note the inclusion of names such as Sean Vanaman & Jake Rodkin in the opening credits. At an early stage in the episode, a character mentions “Ol’ Breckon” down the road, which is of course represents another Thumb member, Nick Breckon. This reminds me of the mention of Christopher di Remo and Jackie Rodkins in Bioshock 2, thanks to Steve Gaynor. Also himself. These guys are name dropping each other all throughout your videogames. Oh, Idle Thumbs. If you don’t know who they are, go check out their podcast.

Spolier alert! This video shows all of Episode 1

If you’re not entirely sick of zombies and are looking for a fun change of pace and some interesting characters, you should probably pick this up for PC, Mac, on the Playstation Network or Xbox Live Marketplace. I for one am not sick (or infected) of zombies. I realize that I’m in a constantly shrinking minority, but I find that there is something primal and fascinating about the juxtaposition of our modern world with this catastrophic zombie event. Perhaps even more importantly, I feel that we are drawn to the idea because it provides humanity with two important things that we perhaps otherwise lack: unity and purpose. Maybe reading World War Z has renewed my interest in the genre and Telltale happened to come in at the right time to give me an interest boost. At any rate, enough waxing zombitic. Go play The Walking Dead.

Gamer Profile: Carrie Swidecki

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There was something cute about those twin dragons Bub and Bob that hooked me into the game. Plus I loved the simplicity of the graphics and the background music. This was the 1st game that I became obsess with getting both a high score and trying to complete the game. I would blow bubbles against the wall in between moving up levels and killing enemies to get max points. I would restart the game if I missed any bonus food items on a level to max my score. Bubble Bobble is also the 1st game that I stayed up all night long, so I could make it to the 100th level to complete the game. It is the only game that I have fully completed on Nintendo and I was 10 years old!! I like to say it’s the game that made me a hardcore gamer!! ~Carrie Swidecki

Carrie Swidecki 2

Favorite Classic Game: Bubble Bobble

Current working on: In training for The Summer of 2014 World Record attempt:

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My Gaming History:

It’s no wonder I had an instant connection with exergaming, because I’ve been a gamer my whole life. I started gaming when I was 5 years old with Atari 2600, Nintendo, and Tetris on the original Gameboy! My mom put a couch in my brother’s room, because every day the neighborhood kids would come over to challenge me. Every weekend my mom took us to Toys R Us to walk the Nintendo aisle. There was something magical walking down the large aisles, seeing all the graphics on the cover of the Nintendo boxes, and pulling the ticket to get the game at the counter.

As a result I’m currently trying to collect all the Nintendo games in mint condition boxes as well as Atari games. I still have all my Atari and Nintendo games from my childhood! On the weekends I grew up playing Canasta, Dominos, and board games with my family. Every Sunday morning I played pinball at the bowling alley when it was league time. My favorite pinball machine is Swamp Thing! On Sunday’s my family always went to pizza. When I was a kid all the pizza places had huge arcades. I couldn’t eat my slice of pizza fast enough to play my favorite classic arcade games!

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I quit gaming for 6 years to focus on college. At 23 years old and obese, I came home to gaming. The arcade holds a special place in my heart.  It is where I rediscovered myself. Little did I know the 1st 10 steps I took on Dance Dance Revolution would change my life. This is where my exergaming story begins!

My story:

Everyday I’m waiting for someone to wake me up from this dream. 13 years ago I was 210 pounds, plus size 18-20, and living my life in the past until I discovered exergaming! Within 6 years from graduating from high school I gained 90 pounds. I went from being a 125 pound athlete to being obese.

carrie Swidecki at 210 pounds

While chasing a dream I lost 75 pounds, went down 10 sizes, became an advocate to fight childhood obesity, and set 5 World Records! Every gamer dreams of being in the Guinness Book of World Records Gamer’s Edition and on January 3, 2014 my dream came true. Guinness featured me as 1 out 4 gamers in their 2014 Gamer’s Edition after Just Dancing over 49 hours to fight childhood obesity. It’s an honor and the greatest moment in my life to represent the healthy side of gaming after surviving obesity.

On June 15-17, 2013 at Otto’s Video Games and More in Bakersfield, CA I set two Guinness World Records at the same time by Just Dancing 49 hours 3 minutes 22 seconds for both the Longest Marathon on a Motion-Sensing Dance Game and the Longest Marathon on a Dance/Rhythm Game.  I made history by becoming the only person in the world to hold a world record for marathon play on all three major dance games: Just Dance, Dance Central, and Dance Dance Revolution as well as the 1st female to set them. All to bring awareness to using exergaming in the schools to right childhood obesity. 

Carrie’s Gamer Profile

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Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Warner Bros. Games delivers a slap to the face of gamers

Until a large unified force speaks with their dollars there really is no reason for any of these companies to change.~J.A.Laraque


Arkham Origins Glitches

Recently it was reported that Warner Bros. Montreal will not be releasing any patches that would address several bugs and glitches with Batman: Arkham Origins because they are busy working on DLC content.  Even though I read this on a number of reputable gaming news sites I just could not believe it and hoped that it was misunderstood or overblown that was until I read this statement on the game message boards for Arkham Origins.

“The team is currently working hard on the upcoming story DLC and there currently are no plans for releasing another patch to address the issues that have been reported on the forums,”

I personally had some issues with BAO, but nothing that was game breaking, but there have been many confirmed reports of small glitches and minor bugs to game breaking issues including corrupted save files.  It is one thing to be told that it may be a while to get a patch, anyone who has played an MMO knows what that feels like, but to have a company just come out and say they are not working on these fixes because they are too busy working on something else to charge you for is just ridiculous.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with DLC because while it can extend longevity to a game, it can also cause companies to milk gamers for every dollar they can. The same goes for online patches and fixes. The idea is great, but it is almost as if it is now an excuse to rush a product out because you can just patch it later.

One of the worst experiences I personally faced with this was when WWE Raw was released for the original Xbox. The game had horrible game breaking issues from day one and these affected a large amount of the player-base and yet we had to wait weeks before a patch was finally released. It seriously felt like they released it knowing many people would not be able to play it, but felt it was fine because they could always patch it later.

Sadly, many companies know they can get away with this. In Everquest, there was a running joke about how so many of us were beta testing every content patch or expansion and this trend continued in World of Warcraft as well as many other MMO’s.  As much as we complained, we still paid for the subscription and purchased the new games so the real question is, why should these companies change? The same goes for Arkham Origins, just take a look at this quote.

“If we do move forward with creating a new patch, it will try to address the progression blocking bugs for players, not the minor glitches that do not prevent one from continuing to play,”


“The issues that are not progression blockers will unfortunately no longer be addressed. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused for some of you, and want to thank you for having been patient.”

Does that read like something a company that is really trying to win over fans would say? If we feel like fixing our bugs we will only fix the big ones and the little ones, no, we have no interest in doing that, and by the way, thanks for your money and we know you will by the next game so whose kidding who. This is pretty much what is being said.

Unfortunately, as angry as this has made many players other have already beat the game with little or no issues and are eagerly awaiting new content. In a way this is smart because these companies know how gamers love to fight with one another so you have those who beat BAO and want the content telling everyone else to “stop crying” and so in the end the company wins because when the DLC comes out it will sell and the next installment of the game will also sell. I would not be surprised that in case of emergency they will release a mini patch to fix a few things if there is too much of an uproar.

This is shameful, but the popularity of a game plus the fact that many gamers still have their games purchased for them created a splintered community. You might hear some outcry on the forums and comment sections now, but the same and worse has happened in games like Everquest and while they complained they did not quit. Until a large unified force speaks with their dollars there really is no reason for any of these companies to change.

What worries me is there have been companies that have been known for releasing great games and if there needs to be a fix it is addressed quickly. As much as people used to complain about Blizzards long development times, their RTS games were worth the wait, but look what they have become now. They still make good games, but you see the differences between now and before Activision. If we allow these practices to continue then we have to expect other companies to also slack off. If they can save money by releasing a striped down game and selling more DLC’s or rush a game out and patch it later then why shouldn’t they do so if it won’t hurt their bottom line. In the end,  only new IP’s  and independents will try hard because they have to prove themselves and win us over while fan favorites can do as they please because we will by their game anyway. I’m looking at you EA.

Even if you bought Batman: Arkham Origins and never had an issue and can’t wait for the DLC at least consider the brazen attitude by these statements. Maybe you are not effected today and don’t care, but what happens when you go to play your next favorite game and it is full of issues and the company laughs in your face while trying to pick your pocket. This trend needs to stop and only we can stop it.

The Logitech G19s

Logitech G19s

Logitech G19s

When I look for a gaming keyboard it is not just about gaming alone. I also spend a lot of time writing on my PC, so, the question of response, feel and durability is important to me. Also, I care about style and having a board that looks good on my desk and matches the rest of my setup also comes into play. When I got to try out the Logitech G19s gaming keyboard, I made sure to take my time playing games, working on writing and school work and trying out all the different features and then asked myself, does the Logitech G19s meet all my needs as well as price.

Logitech G19s

So let’s get right into it. One thing about any review be it video games or hardware is the question of, how can the reviewer give an honest review if their job is to continue to review products and maintain relationships with companies. I found after a lot of trial and error, that the key is to recognize the different aspects of people’s decisions in purchasing a specific product. For the Logitech G19s, a big issue is price and at $199.99 it is completely understandable. What you have to do is really look at all the features and then your own needs, wants and budgets and ask yourself is it all worth it.

Logitech G19s

Let’s start with the LCD panel. I loved my little screen on my older Logitech keyboard. I am the kind of person that will have my performance monitor up on the screen and looking at it. With the Logitech G19s, I found the game panel feature well done and am constantly surprised at how many games show up in the display. I admit I never think of using the video playback or image slideshows, but I know people that have. There are also applets you can get to work with it and as a guy who used lots of mods in games like World of Warcraft, I liked this feature a lot. So this is just one feature, but you have to understand that it is also a decent amount of the cost, so for me it is a plus and I will use most of the features. If you would not then right there you should consider a different keyboard be it from Logitech’s other offerings or somewhere else.

Logitech G19s

Some of the features most people will use are the programmable keys. This is mostly for gamers as this is a gamer keyboard, but you can set the keys to do anything and I know one or two people who use programmable keys for work or school including audio and video editing programs. You can also set the keys to work with your mouse or microphone, for functions in Team Speak and other voice programs. Backlighting is also a feature more and more people use so having up to 16 million colors is cool. You can create profiles, set a specific color to a specific key and have different settings per game or program. I personally like just setting different colors for say W,A,S,D even though on this keyboard they are already painted differently.

Logitech G19s

The Logitech G19s also has two USB ports. Now I read other reviews to see what other people view as a con because it may not seem like a con to me. In this case, many people look at the fact that the G19s requires a USB connection plus a power connection as a con. I guess I can understand just based on the fact that there are other keyboards that do not require this. I however, do not see it as a con. I use a ton of USB devices so having extra ports is nice and on other keyboards I found sometimes they were underpowered. Power for me is not an issue so I rather know I am getting the most out of the ports, the LCD screen and backlights than worrying about plugging in another device.

Logitech G19s

Let’s get back to the price point. Another con talked about was boards the construction. I will admit here that even considering the different features, I did kind of hope the board would feel different. Now typing, even for hours, felt find one this keyboard. I like the height and size of the board and the key placements are perfect for me. As was the response, no ghosting and the key presses felt good. However, I have felt this way with other keyboards as well with a lessor price point. I consider all the technology that went into the Logitech G19s to justify a higher cost, but I wish more was done with the materials used on the board itself. Some people said the plastic felt cheap, but I don’t see that. I have seen and felt cheap plastic on toys, controllers and other keyboards and the Logitech G19s is not cheap, but for the cost I think there could have been more accents to the keyboard to really make it stand out. It is like having a BMW, but the inside is like a Nissan Altima, still very nice, but you expected a little bit more from BMW. As said, I like the feel of the keys, the media buttons and even the volume control, but a little higher end on the materials would have made the cost more understandable.

Logitech G19s

So is it worth it? To answer this question you have to ask yourself will you take advantage of all the Logitech G19s has to offer and does the style fit yours. For someone who is constantly on the keyboard, be it work or play, you will get a lot out of this keyboard, but if you have no need for say, the display or the macro buttons, then a different model would be best for you. One important thing to consider is longevity. I used my previous Logitech keyboard for a long time and still use it at work today. It is still just as good today as it was 3 years ago and still looks good. Even something simple like UV coating so the keys don’t fade is something to think about if you don’t want to drop more cash on a keyboard anytime soon. This is definitely a board for the serious keyboard user who wants total control, visibility, features and style. There is no doubt the Logitech G19s has that in spades.

[Our Hardware Reviews]

State of Emergency

state of emergency - ps2
While Grand Theft Auto took the video industry by storm back in the early 2000’s, many companies wanted to copy it’s success. There was even competition internally by Rockstar themselves and the video game media sites paid attention.
state of emergency - ps2
Despite the apparent similarities, the two games are really total opposites. While GTA put you in the role of an anti-hero in a world of crime, you’re just some random person against a major corporation who took over after the government collapsed.
 state of emergency - ps2
While GTA gave you the freedom to do anything, you’re limited by a good bit in State of Emergency. There’s two modes and frankly their both boxed-in areas where you rack up points by taking down police guards, gangsters, and breaking all kind of things like glass, cars, and other kinds of property.
state of emergency - ps2
Even though the game was released in 2002, the game-play style is too old-school for much enjoyment. It’s too simplistic with little sense of accomplishment or hopes for being awarded anything. Combine that with aging graphics, and you got a game that should be forgotten. It certainly didn’t deserve the hype.

Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior

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The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multi-player side. ~Konstantinos Dimopoulos

Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior

Now, why would you dear readers care for a review of a spectacularly unremarkable 5 year old game, that was released to public apathy and less than stellar reviews? And why would I bother with a game that dared tempt the PC crowd without a proper save feature, while offering only lackluster multi-player options? Why should we even care about the existence of another generic FPS instead of, say, the joys of Blue Lacuna? Well, simple really. It’s all happening because I’m oddly enjoying playing through Fire Warrior, that’s why. Shockingly for the second time in my life too.

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

Better start at the beginning then. Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior is -as you might have already guessed- a pretty standard FPS set in Games Workshop’s dark and gritty sci-fi/Gothic world of Warhammer 40,000, where -as is customary with these things- there is only war and apparently many interesting stories to be told. You, the player, assume the role of a young warrior of the Tau Empire and set out to fight for the greater good in general and, in a more specific way, against the rather fascist Empire of Man. Actually, you get to live through the frenetic first 24 hours of your service while battling through 21 hour-long levels, essentially making this a properly real-time FPS in the strictest of senses. Interesting innit? Regardless. It still is longer than the average shooter and that sort of makes up for the fact that the game is definitely showing its age. It was after all a 2003 release.

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

Fire Warrior also was the first pure action game set in the Warhammer 40k universe and, frankly, this must have been why I actually decided to give it a chance in the first place. Let me explain my train of thought like this: Shooting Space Marines? Yes, please. Walking through Tau spaceships in glorious 3D? Definitely. Being a nameless grunt in a war-torn universe? Sure. Playing a lazy PS2port on the PC? Well, uhm, not that I’m thrilled with the prospect, but guess I could put up with it.

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

The problems with Fire Warrior, you see, are firmly rooted in its dirty console past. The game sports an incredibly annoying auto-save/checkpoints feature that forces you to replay levels again and again (only to be killed seconds before beating them), has pretty clumsy controls, very poor AI, astonishingly few tweaking options and an obviously tacked-on online multi-player side. Then, it doesn’t even try to add anything new to the genre and its sole innovation is a rather failed copy of HALO’s shield system. And don’t get me started on the extreme linearity of the thing or the truly archaic need to collect color-coded keys…

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

On the plus side -and besides the setting- Fire Warrior does manage to do some things rather well. Or at least, well enough to help you relax, turn your brain off and enjoy many hours of frenetic shooting a la Serious Sam. You get 15 different weapons to experiment with, an impressively balanced difficulty curve, a great (or at least engrossing for FPS standards) plot, a variety of well-presented locations, bits of horror, a couple of smart set-pieces, boss battles and tons of enemies. What’s more, there are more than a few fantastic cinematic sequences and I bloody love fantastic cinematic sequences. I am quite fond of them unlockable WH40K artwork goodies too.

So, and in order to reach some sort of a verdict, should you grab a copy? Well, if you don’t mind Fire Warrior’s flaws and lack of originality, care for a simple though highly atmospheric and extremely addictive FPS to last you for a week or so, then, by all means, I think you should. After all, Warhammer 40,000 Fire Warrior is indeed dead cheap. Oh, and Warhammer 40k maniacs that can forget their miniatures for a while will definitely appreciate it too. Mind you, Amazon has quite a few well priced copies lying around last time I checked.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

I am an unabashed fan of Final Fantasy. I haven’t played all of them – but I’ve played and beaten quite a few of them over the years – starting with Final Fantasy on the old NES. I was one of the many who had a first day of release copy of Final Fantasy VII and like many thought it was the best game I had ever played at the time. Years later, it’s story and game mechanics are among my most fond gaming memories. So when I heard that a prequel was coming out, I was really excited. That excitement was a bit tempered however when I saw my traditional RPG turn-based systems turned into a more live action game during trailers. I’m happy to say those particular fears proved to be unfounded.

Graphics: 9

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

The in-game engine is good, you don’t suffer any breakup and the full motion video scenes that the Final Fantasy series have become well-known for hold up beautifully on the small screen. Don’t let the fact that this is a PSP game fool you – it holds up very nicely in both artistic direction and execution.

Sound and Music: 8.5

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

The voice acting was good, though many of the sounds were a bit repetitive after awhile. Final Fantasy games are known for their quality music and this one while not among the best from the series, is still pretty good. I found the combat theme to be surprisingly catchy.

Gameplay: 7

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

Sometimes deaths feel cheap. The actual action-oriented combat works well; certainly better than I expected. My biggest complaint from this department though was the camera. Sometimes I just could not get it into a good position, especially in narrow spaces. Also, the combat was a bit predictable in terms of how it was triggered. In earlier games, most combat occurred at random while walking. In later Final Fantasy games you are on an active field with enemies you can engage or try to avoid. Here? It’s things like intersecting hallways that trigger the usually-random group of monsters you fight. You find yourself hugging the walls awkwardly, battling the camera angles if you’re in an area where you don’t want to fight. It’s not all bad though. The action comes in perfectly sized smaller chunks that fit with the handheld platform. I had played this game for nearly a year on and off. I’d just pick it up some days when I had fifteen minutes to kill and do a few missions. The PSP is not one of my primary systems, so its games tend to get neglected, but this one’s content felt just right for on-the-go gaming.

Intangibles: 9.5

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

There is a ton to do. The main storyline itself is not terribly long, but there are a bunch of side options to chew up your time. There’s missions that unlock over time or when certain criteria are met. There’s a fusion system in place that lets you upgrade items and materia (think of them as magic, skills and stat boosts). You get emails throughout the game from characters as well. There’s a handful of mini-games tucked in there as well throughout the storyline. To top it all off? There’s a New Game+ mode as well – always a favorite discovery of mine.

Overall: 8.5

To date this was probably my favorite PSP game. The characters and world were sentimental favorites of mine. The overall production values were high. All of this was expected. The unexpected? That the action-based combat would work so well. That using one character throughout the game instead of a party would feel so involving. That you don’t collect experience and level up in traditional fashion, but that levels, boosts and special attacks are all managed through a perpetually running slot-machine like system that augments the action itself. Last but not least? The ending is fantastic. After I beat the game, I was just really taken with the ending and did some searching on the topic online. I was not alone in my sentiments there. A lot of people out there list it as their favorite ending ever. Mine? Maybe not, but probably top 10 to date, and getting there was a blast.

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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Another limitation that the use of FMV incorporated into gameplay was the need to limit the choices available to the player, thereby making the game more linear.  Unlike some games that provided many paths based upon how a player reacted to each situation, The Beast Within kept players hemmed within a much more linear storyline.  The costs in both production dollars and CD space were simply too high to choose any other avenue. ~Dan Epp

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

In 1995, the phrase “full motion video” (FMV) conjured up the image of such classic games as Night Trap and Burn: Cycle – eye candy at best, and generally poor gaming experiences.  CD-ROM technology had been out a for a couple of years, and The 7th Guest was really still the only “must-have” CD-only game on the market.  So, imagine the concerns of adventure gamers when they discovered that the sequel to Jane Jensen’s awesome Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers was going to be released in FMV format.

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

However, these concerns were unfounded.  Sierra had been working on the Script Code Interpreter (SCI) game engine, which used full motion technology, for a Roberta Williams game, Phantasmagoria.  The development team for the second Gabriel Knight game, The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery, was able to appropriate the engine for their own use, which had the benefit of cutting down the game’s development time.  However, even with the game engine built, FMV was an expensive process, involving a production crew and professional actors, all of whom were paid well for their time.

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

Another limitation that the use of FMV incorporated into gameplay was the need to limit the choices available to the player, thereby making the game more linear.  Unlike some games that provided many paths based upon how a player reacted to each situation, The Beast Within kept players hemmed within a much more linear storyline.  The costs in both production dollars and CD space were simply too high to choose any other avenue.

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

The answer is multifaceted, but the first step was retaining Jane Jensen as the author of the entire storyline.  The first Gabriel Knight game was lauded for not only being fun to play, but having a deeper story than most adventure games.  Ms. Jensen had majored in computer science, but also had a deep fascination with creative writing, evidenced by her work on the Gabriel Knight series.  Interestingly, she did not become a published novelist until well after The Beast Within, with her novelization of the first Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers book in 1997, and then Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within’s novelization in 1998.  Her first non-computer game related novel, Millennium Rising, was published in 1999, the same year her last Gabriel Knight game was released.  She has continued to write books, earning a Phillip K. Dick Award nomination for Best Novel in 2003 for her book, Dante`s Equation.  But I digress!

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

The Beast Within was not only written well, it was acted well.  The game featured Dean Erickson as Gabriel, who would go on to leave acting altogether and become a real estate agent; Joanne Takahashi as Grace, who continues to take a variety of minor roles tailored for Asian women; Peter J. Lucas as Baron Friedrich von Glower, who continues to take roles for an ethnic European; Andrea Martin as Gerde, who was a Tony-award winning actress before working on The Beast Within and continues to work on both the stage and in voice-over work today.  None of these four ever worked on a computer game again! However, Nicolas Worth, who played Kriminal-Kommisar Leber, has not only had a successful career in film and television both before and after The Beast Within, but has also continue to work in the gaming industry, acting in Emperor: Battle For DuneCommand & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, and Red Alert 2, as well as lending his voice to Freedom Fighters!

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

The puzzles of The Beast Within were not particularly difficult, but were, on the whole, imaginative.  The game used “hotspots” on the photographic quality images to show that there was something of interest on the screen, so it was a simple matter to gain all the inventory items required to solve most of the puzzles the game threw at its players.  Like many adventure games, forward progress could come to a complete halt until you discovered the correct hotspot, but this generally was not a complete inconvenience.

Reviews of The Beast Within were very favorable upon its release.  Two of the biggest gaming magazines of the day gave it high marks: PC Gamer gave it a score of 96% and it’s coveted Editor’s Choice award, while Computer Gaming World (CGW) gave it 5 out of 5 stars, a Critics Choice tag as well as naming it the 1996 CGW Game of the Year.  It also managed to make #17 on CGW’s 150 Best Games of All Time , which is the definitive “must-play” list for retrogaming enthusiasts!  If you haven’t played this classic of the adventure game genre, you’re missing a rare treat.  Highly recommended!

Killer Instinct

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All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations.  If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from. ~Eric Hollis

Killer Instinct

Gamers are an extremely nostalgic people.  Whether fans are still clamoring for a Final Fantasy 7 remake or wondering whether we’re ever going to get a great port of Q-bert, we hang on to a good thing forever, sometimes to the detriment of newer and more inventive properties.  The original Killer Instinct and its sequel fall firmly in this camp for me, as I spent many a beer-soaked college afternoon challenging friend after friend to just one more match on the SNES from the comfort of my miserable dorm room.  I often wondered why no one had attempted a modern take on the franchise.  Double Helix picked up the mantle from Rare here; I guess Rare, one of the most prolific developers of last two generations, decided they now want to make Kinect games that no one will ever play.  Thankfully, Double Helix stays extremely faithful to the original titles, even if there are some major missteps with the total package.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

Killer Instinct on the One plays magnificently.  Everything you loved about KI—the combos, the breakers, the manuals, and special attacks—are all here.  Other than a few tweaks on the move-set, there is nothing added to the original formula, which is truly a blessing.  The remake took me instantly back to the Tate Center arcade (mad respect if you know where that is) where I played the KI cabinets religiously.   I’ve played over fifty matches against multiple opponents, and they were repeatedly a blast. Most of them were also very close, and for me that’s a huge part of the replay value of fighting games.  The battles are very fluid, extremely fast, and downright addictive.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

Gameplay itself isn’t a problem. The problem is that the total package just feels like bare bones.  For starters, the inclusion of only eight total playable fighters (one of whom—the illusive Fulgore—isn’t even out yet) feels like an Endokuken to the face.  I’m no fighting game expert, but the last game I remember with less than eight playable characters was the original Mortal Kombat.  Twenty-two years later, I expect more girth in roster selection, especially when similar titles generally have a lot more fighters to choose from.  Characters like TJ Combo, Cinder, and Riptor, all of whom have appeared in at least one of the other installments, aren’t even represented at all.  You also only start with one playable stage (out of a measly six); the rest have to be purchased with in-game currency that you earn from completing battles.

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

All in all, Killer Instinct is pretty disappointing for a next-gen release, especially since the game is a glut of microtranscations.  If you want the full game, it’s a standard twenty bucks. You can also just buy the individual characters if you want, which would be really cool if there were more than seven to choose from.  If you want everything the game has to offer, which basically boils down to a couple of aesthetic character accessories and a playable version of the original KI, prepare to double-up on that Andrew Jackson.   The only thing I was interested in besides the core game was the original that, unlike everything else, isn’t available separately.  This fact, my friends, is worthy of ire right there. Unfortunately, this is the model I see more companies gravitating towards.   I understand that Microsoft wants to nickel and dime me while making me squat on a rabid porcupine, but the company should at least have the courtesy of letting me enjoy that while its happening if I so desire.

If you’re a fan of Killer Instinct and you have a One, you’ve probably already put this game through its paces, and maybe you know what I mean. While it’s fun to bust out to show off the only fighting game on your new system, the lack of variety and annoying microtransactions left me dissatisfied.  While many parts of quality of life have improved since I lived in my old dorm, especially access to free pornography, at least back in that abysmal dorm room we had a much better version of Killer Instinct.  Let’s hope that Double Helix and Ken Lobb have a true remake or sequel in the works and that the lack of polish here was strictly due to a rushed launch window.

Rise of the Robots

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Rushing home we inserted the first disk and were confronted by a very impressive intro. ‘This is going to be great’ we thought. Then, after an hour or two, we both felt something was wrong. Could Rise of the Robots be… rubbish? Neither my brother or myself could believe it. In fact I remember assuming that we were playing it wrong, that it was our fault that you could beat every robot by doing a flying kick. ~Ian

Rise of the Robots

Format: Amiga 1200 Genre: Fighting Game Released: 1994 Developer:

Mirage ‘Even if you don’t believe in Father Christmas, it might be worth writing to him to make sure he doesn’t bring you a copy of this’. Jonathan Davies, Rise of the Robots review, Amiga Power 45. In 1993 various video game magazines ran previews of a beat-’em up that seemed to be from the future. It looked stunning, with graphics that promised to be far superior to anything else out there. Not only that but the gameplay was going to break new ground too, with computer opponents that ‘learned’ as they fought you, adapting their fighting style to match yours. All in all Rise of the Robots, for that was the name of this legendary game, was going to be THE game of 1994. Unfortunately, as Jonathan Davies alludes to in the above quote, Rise of the Robots was shit. Rise of the Robots was more than just a video game, it was an event. The previews of 1993 turned into a steady stream of hype throughout 1994. There was talk of tie-in books, comics, toys, cartoons and a film. It was to be released on practically every platform and giant cardboard robots were cropping up in video game shops across the country. Brian May was even going to write the soundtrack.

Brian May pictured with a relaxed GamesMaster

Being an impressionable 14 year-old I was extremely excited about Rise of the Robots. It looked simply amazing. I mean, you got to be a kung-fu robot! Just watch the video below for a taste of the building excitement. It ‘redefines the fighting genre and raises the ante on gamers with a futuristic motif proven in focus groups’. Focus groups like the motif, what more do you want?

Just after Christmas (the same Christmas I got UFO: Enemy Unknown), with a decent chunk of Christmas money jangling in our pockets, my brother and I went to Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street and, £40 later, we had picked upRise of the Robots. I always remember how huge the box was. Well in fairness it had to be. On the Amiga 1200 Rise of the Robots came on 13 disks. That’s right, 13.

Rise of the robots - amgia

Rushing home we inserted the first disk and were confronted by a very impressive intro. ‘This is going to be great’ we thought. Then, after an hour or two, we both felt something was wrong. Could Rise of the Robots be… rubbish? Neither my brother or myself could believe it. In fact I remember assuming that we were playing it wrong, that it was our fault that you could beat every robot by doing a flying kick. That there was a way of turning round and jumping over the other fighter we just hadn’t worked out how. That you could pick a fighter who wasn’t the blue cyborg, you just had to complete it or something. How could all the hype be wrong?

Rise of the robots - amgia

Rise of the Robots was crippled by its flashy visuals. So much computing power was devoted to having beautifully animated robots that there was nothing left for the rest of the game. I distinctly remember reading Jonathan Davies review and just feeling sad. Ok, at least now I knew it wasn’t my fault the game seemed to be poor. It was poor. But I felt swindled, the victim of a con.

Rise of the robots - amgia

An important lesson for any child to learn is that all that glitters is not gold. Sometimes that which glitters is simply that, a glittery thing. Not only that but rubbish stuff is often coated in glitter to try to distract you from the rubbish underneath. Rise of the Robots, covered in metaphorical glitter (plus fairy lights, shiny baubles and tin foil), taught me that lesson. So in that way, and in no other, Rise of the Robots made my life slightly better.

John Madden Football

John Madden Football SNES
While Madden Football is an easy favorite for many gamers, I would bet many of those fans were never around for the early releases. I hear the Sega Genesis version was pretty sweet, but I wanted to give the SNES version a try first.
John Madden Football SNES
This is also back when EA cared about promoting John Madden in the football video games. I think the newest releases don’t even feature his voice anymore. Sad really…….
John Madden Football SNES
Well anyway, John Madden Football on SNES isn’t totally bad. Compared to the older NES football games, this game is pure gold. It’s got all your favorite teams (well the ones around at the time of course), a big playbook, extra modes, and a lot of stuff the series still uses.
John Madden Football SNES
There is one fatal flaw with the game, and that’s the technical limitations of the SNES. The framer ate does not run smooth which really effects gameplay when you’re in a heated moment. Also when you pass you get a zoomed-in view of the players around you. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it kills your view on defense. It’s a shame really, because it seems like EA put a lot of effort in trying to make this the best football game ever in the early 90’s.

Score: 5 out of 10

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Format- GBC

Genre- 2D Platformer

With this and Sylvester & Tweety: Breakfast On The Run (GBC), as well as Tweety & The Magic Gems (GBA), the little yellow bird has a portable trilogy of sorts. Shame that all three games are of the bland and unmemorable variety.

This is probably the most traditional of all three though, or so it would seem at first. Solely focused on 2D platforming, you explore many stereotypical (yet nice looking), levels as Tweety, the annoying bird.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Instead of being a typical A to B adventure though, you have to collect paw prints from eight cats in each level.

To do this you can’t just walk up to them and get the prints though, oh no – you have to take them down with weapons you pick up throughout the stages. There’s nothing too violent in terms of you arsenal though – just plunger torpedos, slippery jam (?) and the like.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

Levels are therefore structured a little more expansively than in most platformers, and you have to check out both the higher and lower reaches of every level to find all the pesky felines.

Controls are solid enough, with jumping allocated to A and using weapons (which you can cycle through with select) set to the B button.

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

As you’re a bird however, your jump is a little higher than most, and you can stay in mid-air by mashing the button frantically.

The open level structure of the game is both a blessing and a curse though.

On the plus side, it’s slightly different to the swathes of identikit platformers on the GBC, and could be called a refreshing change of pace to the norm…

Tweety’s High-Flying Adventure

…if it wasn’t so clunky and dull. Unfortunately, levels settle into a very repetitive rut very quickly, despite the developers best efforts to conjure up a variety of different looking landscapes.

The lack of any punishment for dying also doesn’t help matters. Taking three hits simply sends you back to the last checkpoint you touched, and you don’t lose any of the paw prints at all.

Sure, this cuts down on frustration, but it also blunts any significant risk element the game may have had.

What you’re left with is a rather nice looking 2D collectathon, but nothing that’ll have you surging with unadulterated adrenaline.