Midnight Resistance

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Midnight Resistance

Midnight Resistance is a 1 or 2 player side scrolling shoot ‘em up and platformer. You play as mercenaries thrown into battle with alien forces who have kidnapped your entire family, it’s up to you to blast your way through each level to save them.  You’ll use a variety of weapons from flamethrowers (see below) to shotguns and special power ups such as a defensive barrier and homing missiles to defeat the enemies.

Midnight Resistance

Enemies come in all shapes and forms (and from all directions) which can make game play a little frustrating as the rotational control system of the weaponry is sometimes slow. For example to fire backwards you need to move backwards too, making shooting enemies running up behind you tricky. You’ll be up against foot soldiers, stationary heavy weapons, flying troops and plenty of bosses.  Bosses come in the form of tanks, planes, soldiers, and, eh, floating tv’s… as well as an impressively grotesque final showdown with a giant head.

Midnight Resistance

Luckily for the player keys collected from defeated enemies (the red things that look like lollipops) can be used to buy new weapons in the shop at the end of each level. And will eventually be used to save your family, although it doesn’t seem to affect the outcome of the game if you fail to save them all.

Midnight Resistance

Midnight Resistance is a colourful game with appealing cartoonish graphics, combined with the frivolous use of weaponry and no brainer action makes this a game to come back to again and again. It is an enjoyable play through but can be tough in places, its best points include nice backgrounds, 2 player co-op and an awesome choice of weaponry.

The 3rd Birthday

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The 3rd Birthday

The 3rd Birthday is the third game in the Parasite Eve series, I’ve already reviewed Parasite Eve 1, and Parasite Eve 2, so I thought I might as well finish off the trilogy, continue on to the review of this PSP game.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

Original release: March 29th 2011 (NA)

PSN Price: 19.99

Developed by: Hexa Drive

Published by: Square Enix

Gameplay

This series has changed a lot through each sequel. The first game was a mostly straight forward RPG with some cool shooting elements, the second game was a Resident Evil style shooter, this third game in the series is different still, a 3rd person shooter with some light RPG elements. The most innovative part of the game is a body jumping mechanic, which does something completely new.

The body jumping works sort of cruelly on the part of other soldiers. You switch between these other soldiers fighting against a mutated enemy called the twisted (I’ll speak more about that in the Story part of this review). So you take over their bodies and if you health has been exhausted you just switch to another soldier while your old “husk” dies. Other than that cruelty it’s actually a pretty interesting mechanic, it was done a few times before but never as well as in the 3rd Birthday.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

The shooting mechanic works well enough, especially if you’re playing the game on the Vita (the dual analogue sticks really help). It is a little repetitive though. Eventually you’ll get a cramp in your trigger finger. But there are a few things that make it a little different. There are some light squad controls where you can order your fellow soldiers to take on a target with you for instance, but you can really become them all with a quick switch, so if they aren’t in the correct spot (like not standing behind cover), you can jump into their bodies and get them back into place.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

There’s a more magical/biological aspect to the gameplay as well, the overdrive mechanics, in this way you can jump into enemies to deal more damage, and if you build up a special meter you can go into “overdrive mode” where you deal a way more damage and your speed is upped for a short period.

The RPG elements are limited to upgrading your weapons and your DNA, you get new DNA pieces by diving into enemies through the overdrive mechanic. Upgrading your weapons are a must, starting out with only 180 bullets in your assault rifle puts your in a tough place, and eventually I ended up with being able to hold 900 at a time. The DNA upgrades were always a bit of a mystery for me though, the game doesn’t do a good job at teaching you what you need to do to take proper advantage. You can take a look at some online guides… but that’s really a detriment to the game.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

Gameplay over all is decent enough, but every area is a grind, and other than a few new weapons and some light RPG elements, the gameplay stays the same throughout, making it tedious by the end.

 

Graphics

This game is actually gorgeous, it’s a PSP game but being released late in the cycle means that the game was really well optimized. Everything flows really well on screen even with a lot of enemies (and friendlies) on screen. The particle effects are actually pretty spectacular. The twisted are well designed, and their animations are pretty well done. Square Enix actually did a great job on the production side of all their PSP games, and the 3rd Birthday is no different. The music is done well, and the pre-rendered cutscenes are just as good as any game on a home console.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

The art style in the 3rd Birthday is pretty interesting as well, there are numerous types of “Twisted” that show a decent amount of imagination. Overall the graphics in this game are excellent for a PSP game, and it looks even better on the Vita’s OLED screen.

 

Story

Usually I put the story aspect at the start of the review, but this game deserves a special mention on story.

The game starts with the Twisted attacking New York, and the humans lose. You spend your time going back in time inhabiting people’s bodies to change history. After every mission history is altered, so perhaps you get a new character who survived, they come back to life and wonder why you’re acting so strange. This is interesting enough, even if it takes a bit of time to get used to. Every mission ends with a huge boss battle, some of which are pretty tough, and you actually need to think out a decent strategy before you proceed.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

You continue doing this right up until some of the final missions. At this point you’re looking for answers  as to what happened, why your character had lost her memory, etc. No matter what you think you’re going to get with the final act you’ll be disappointed. Out of almost any game I’ve played in the past few years, this game has the most disappointing and convoluted story. It seems like at one part they just fired the writers and just had the interns finish up the story. It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but you have to believe me on this one.

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

Also the characters in the game are mostly new (except two) and because they lost the rights to continue the original story (it started out as a Japanese novel), the ones that have stuck around, Aya Brea and Maeda are completely different. Aya changed from being a strong independent female to becoming an over sexualized and constantly victimized amnesiac. Maeda the Japanese scientist who helped out Aya in the other games has now become some sort of pervert who sends Aya creepy messages over radio. It’s just a tough sell to anyone that has played the other games in the series, and anyone who wants their game stories to make any sense. Even the translation of the script is badly done, I mean the voice acting is fine, but even the best actors couldn’t have made this story worthwhile.

 

Is the 3rd Birthday worth it?

Parasite Eve- The Third Birthday

Overall I would say no, the graphics and production values are top notch, the gameplay is decent too but it gets a little repetitive. The deal breaker is the story. It’s too bad that all the great production values were spent on this flawed story. Who knows if they’ll be another game in the series, but considering that they lost the rights to continue the original story, and they made their lead characters into one dimensional tropes, there’s no real reason to hope for another.

Baseball Simulator 1.000

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Baseball Simulator 1.000

Among all the baseball video games released for the NES console, Baseball Simulator 1.000 was certainly among the most transparent efforts to try and be unique, to stand out from the genre crowd. Released in 1990, it was developed by Culture Brain, who produced a handful of other 8-bit titles, such as Kung-Fu Heroes and Scheherazade.

Gameplay

Want to simulate an entire 165-game season among six teams in a pennant race? You can, with Baseball Simulator 1.000. You can even hop in and out of whichever games you choose, or stick to one particular game, or participate in every single match-up. Statistics are tracked all year long, batting and pitching alike.

Baseball Simulator 1000

Want to create your own team, entirely from scratch, down to their individual names and statistical aptitudes? You can with, Baseball Simulator 1.000. The instruction manual even winkingly suggests that you can use this feature to recreate an all-star squad composed of your favorite real-life athletes.

Want to just play a shorter season with one team, such as 5 or 30 games? Want to watch two computer rosters play against each other, just to get a feel for the simulation? Want to track pitcher fatigue over a series, change line-ups, or even shift fielders mid-inning? You can, with Baseball Simulator 1.000.

Baseball Simulator 1000

Really: Baseball Simulator 1.000 is quite a thorough, dynamic 8-bit baseball simulation. Even if you just want to play one simple game, you have options: You can play against the computer, or against a human opponent. You can pick one of six different fields, each visually different for its setting, including one set in space. You can still alter batting order. As you choose the teams, you can select which league they come from – which, intriguingly, affects the use of Ultra Plays, as only teams from the Ultra League can utilize them.

As it turns out, Ultra Plays are the primary hook of Baseball Simulator 1.000, the single biggest gimmick to try and differentiate itself from other sports titles. The premise is that, in additional to the usual nine innings of offense and defense across a standard 8-bit baseball simulator, the players have basically been given superpowers.

Baseball Simulator 1000

Pitchers can, for example, throw a pitch that comes to a complete stop for a moment before continuing its flight. Batters can, to cite one sample, hit a ball that will have multiple shadows on the ground, making it very difficult to field. But fielders, too, can utilize abilities such as leaping impossibly high into the air in order to make a catch.

These Ultra Plays are used by hitting a certain button, such as B as a fielder or hitting Up twice as a pitcher. Once selected, they will be visibly indicated by an icon, but usually also by a sort of special animation. Spectators will note pitchers bursting into flames for fiery pitches and batters whirling like a tornado before smacking an especially thunderous knock. These descriptors, of flames and tornadoes, are not figurative: They are the shapes taken literally in animation, cartoon-like in their appearance.

Baseball Simulator 1000

The Ultra Plays are optional, entirely dependent on whether any Ultra League teams are participating in a given game. As a concept, the Ultras hit a sweet spot: Well-planned, with much variety, and executed in a way that does not break the gameplay entirely. However, as a gimmick, it is one that ends up as annoying just as often as it seems fantastic. In an attempt for balance, teams are limited to how many Ultra Plays they can perform per game, but such effort seems a little futile.

The special plays do lean on the defense a bit, though. Pitchers are favored in Ultra Moves, where pitches are made nearly unhittable. Yet half the time a batter will try to use an Ultra Move, it will be wasted on a short pop fly, or a quick little ground-out to the shortstop.

Baseball Simulator 1000

Maybe the comet strike Ultra Move is the best for batters, but slapping home runs is not too terribly difficult anyway, given how tiny the field is. Seriously, fielding is a nightmare: The ballpark is small, the fielders run terribly slowly, and diagonal movement is a clunky joke. At least even non-Ultra fielders are given a little jumping ability at a tap of the A button, but it proves inconsequential in the face of stacked odds.

The actual batting screen is fine, just fine. As a baseball simulator, those intense pitch-by-pitch at-bats are well-done, and seem to be fine-tuned to a mechanical science by Culture Brain. It is a shame, really, that the fielding is done so poorly, then. When placed head-to-head next to other baseball titles, most of them will shine as being an obvious improvement in the field. However, the real strike against Baseball Simulator 1.000 is that even a new NES player can tell that fielding is wonky, without necessarily any prior baseball-game experience.

This is what dooms Baseball Simulator 1.000 to the middling, not-the-best pile of baseball games, in this reviewer’s mind: The intrigue of the Ultra Plays would be awesome, if they did not backfire half the time; otherwise, the core mechanical make-up of the matches is just not strong enough to completely hold the fort against its opposition, even in the same genre.

Graphics

With its crazy Ultra animations, very mold-breaking character models, and the gorgeous array of different environments to play in, not to mention the absurdly colorful scoreboard model – Baseball Simulator 1.000 is beautiful. The visuals are a strong point, and go a long way towards enjoying this to its greatest possible extent.

Sound

Savvy listeners will notice similarity to Bad News Baseball in the sound department, down to the cadence of a certain background track and its drumbeat section. Those tunes, and the effects, are pretty good, if not as explicitly pleasant as the graphics.

Originality

Well, Baseball Simulator 1.000 certainly goes out of its way to separate itself from the pack of baseball games on NES. To a degree, it succeeds: The Ultra Moves are provocative, the customization options are in-depth, and the ballpark selection might actually be among its best spots. But no matter what selections are made, the actual baseball mechanics still have to be used, and thus are revealed for its weaknesses. A very competent batting set-up cannot make up for piss-poor fielding control and other minor elements that may make the player feel stacked-against. Add the fact that the Ultra Moves are often just as much a hindrance as they are a bonus, and you can look elsewhere for superior baseball action, even if Baseball Simulator 1.000 is serviceable.

Overall rating: 3/5 stars.

Mission Impossible

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Mission Impossible 

Well known as being a crushing disappointment when it was released back in 1998, it’s difficult to know exactly who would want to play Mission Impossible nowadays.

What’s really surprising about revisiting it today though is how you can still see the potential underneath the myriad of design missteps. It wasn’t dubbed ‘dissapointing’ for nothing.

Based on the TV series rather than the movie, the game opens with that tune and with some truly shonky looking character introductions.

Mission_Impossible-N64

Supposedly made to look like each person is twirling towards the screen, they instead look like they’re suffering from some serious spasms.

Things don’t get any better with the opening cutscene, which is woodenly animated and incredibly ugly and angular. It was never going to look good next to modern titles, but it’s still noticeably poor.

The first mission is also dull, and lacks any of the verve or excitement of the opening of say, Goldeneye.

You’re tasked with infiltrating a frosty Scandinavian (well, I presume it’s Scandanavian – the game gives all of its locations fake names for some reason) base and destroy the submarine within it.

Mission_Impossible-N64

Sounds promising, but it’s almost insultingly simple. You go into a building once you’re into the base, knock out a guard, disguise yourself as him (face changing is a big part of the game) and then stroll to the exit.

You then get to the next section, and have to find some bombs (why you didn’t bring your own is never explained) and plant them onto the sub and escape.

This had the potential to be a tense and stealth-based affair, but the game allows you to alert all the guards in the complex and still survive.

Thanks to the huge health meter (that’s the fuse at the bottom of the screenshot above) you can take hit after hit and grab the bombs, attach them to the sub and escape with no trouble at all.

Mission_Impossible-N64

It feels cheap, and there’s no satisfaction to be had from defying the odds as it was so easy.

Still, it’s perhaps fortunate that stealth wasn’t an pre-requisite in the mission, as the controls are woeful if you’re hoping to avoid detection. The main reason for this is because it’s nearly impossible to control the camera.

You have to move your hand off the analogue stick and use the d-pad to rotate the camera, which is as clumsy as it gets.

This means the C-pad is used to select your items and the d-pad for the camera, whereas it should have been the other way around.

So after this limp opening you may be ready to give up hope, but the next mission is markedly better – or at least, it starts off well.

Mission_Impossible-N64

You must access the important areas of a Czech embassy while disguised as a waiter, while also having to rig the air ducts with gas bombs and assume the identity of the Ambassadors Aide.

The way you achieve the last objective is actually surprisingly enjoyable and amusing. You not only have to spike his drink, but also have follow him to the bathroom and knock him out (and then change your face to his).

Most amusing is the cutscene where you drag the unconscious aide into the bathroom. You see him being slowly pulled in, and it looks incredibly dodgy – this clip must have been included as a joke.

What even more hilarious is when you take out the female assassin in the same place. Look 4 minutes and 53 seconds into this video to see for yourself:

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This section ultimately makes you feel like an undercover agent though, and is a great example of why people’s hopes for this game back in 1998 were so high.

Somewhat inevitably it’s followed by a highly tedious trudge through a poison gas filled labyrinth however, which requires you to know exactly which explosive boxes to destroy to get through.

Choose the wrong route and you’re pretty much finished, as you only have a limted amount of ammunition.

Mission_Impossible-N64

To make matters worse the game froze while I was playing this section for no reason whatsoever, but with the game’s reputation for being a buggy this was no surprise.

My recent time playing the game is a perfect demonstration of the game as a whole. Small, promising snippets followed by crushingly dull or frustrating troughs.

Mission Impossible is not a complete disaster, but is sadly a case of a potentially great license squandered.

The James C. Burns Show

The James C. Burns Show

For this episode of the Obsolete Gamer Show we talked with actor James C. Burns about his upcoming film Coldwater which will be release in select theaters, iTunes and video on demand on August 15th.

james c burns - coldwater

 

Now gamers may know him best as Frank Woods from the Call of Duty Black Ops series. Check out cool video from his YouTube channel where he takes us on a quick tour of Vicon, where motion capture for the Call of Duty Black Ops series is done.

Earlier in the week we did a Gamer Profile on Mr. Burns where he told us about his favorite classic game, Space Invaders. In our interview (after some small technical difficulties) we started off talking about his start with Treyarch and what it was like playing Frank Woods and the values and skills he brought from being a professional hockey coach to being an actor.

james c burns - nam zombies

His experience teaching kids as well as playing Frank Woods was an important factor when it came to playing Colonel Frank Reichert in Coldwater. We also talked about an upcoming project he is working on called, Nam Zombies:

Nam Zombies is about a covert Special Forces unit that discovers the existence of the undead in the jungles of Vietnam during the cold war era. It’s like Predator meets Platoon meets Resident Evil and toss in Frank Woods and that sounds pretty awesome to us.

All in all, it was an awesome interview so check it out and let us know what you think.

Excitebike

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Excitebike

A title fondly remembered by any and all who played it. Introducing the thrill of motocross to millions who were years away from even thinking about a drivers license is one of the most popular and beloved of the Black Box titles, Excitebike!

Excitebike
Excitebike, October 1985, Nintendo

Conceived in Tokyo late 1984, Excitebike was the first NES title that gaming gods Shigeru Miyamoto and Toshihiko Nakago worked on together. These two along with Takashi Tezuka are often regarded as Nintendo’s “Dream Team” and have worked together for over 25 years, developing titles you may have heard of like Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda.

Excitebike
Part of the Un-Programmable Series. Is this is first instance of the title screen not being black other than Mario? The less black on your splash screen, the higher the rating!

The story goes that Miyamoto wanted Mario to ride a dinosaur right out of the gate but neither one thought the NES was capable of producing the exact feelings of accurately launching off ramps at high rates of speed and attempting to right your center of balance in mid-air. Determined to create a game that proved the NES was one malleable beast, they gathered that the physics for motorbikes was similar to what they were trying to accomplish with the unnamed Mario dino and Excitebike was born.

Excitebike
Look Ma! And you said dropping out would make me become a nothing! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

The game itself is a time tested classic. The graphics are bright, the variety of colors seem well thought out, and the music is classic NES fare, especially the catchy title screen tune. There are a total of two modes and 5 tracks but the action never feels dull or repetitive for a second. The first mode is a time trial where you are given a par time and must best it while dodging obstacles, aiming for ramps that shoot you into the stratosphere, and keeping an eye on your temp gauge to insure you don’t overheat. Overheating is one of the first challenges to overcome as having to wait for your bike to cool off can add precious seconds to your time. What’s awesome is that while A is your normal speed and B is your high speed, the game makes it impossible to not want to lean on B the entire time. There is definately strategy involved as to when to haul ass safely to your next opening in the action and when to slow things down so your don’t wreck or have to sit on the sidelines pissed off for a spell. Icons are laid out on the track as a sort of “instant cool down” for your engine and blend into the ramps, dirtpiles, and water puddles in a way to keep things intresting. The mechanics are simply amazing for the time as you can lean yourself forward or back in mid-air and it just feels right. Call it a lazy description but that is Excitebike as a whole, it just…feels…right.

Excitebike
So…which one of you assholes played Road Rash?

The second mode is just as fun but three times the white knuckle inducing challenge. You play the same five courses, but now have other “Excitebikers” to contend with. Sometimes, if you do much as scratch them, you’re picking yourself and your bike up off the ground. In real motocross, I imagine even a tenth of a second worth of impact can be catastrophic for the racers so it adds a feeling of true danger to the game. It isn’t difficult in a way that feels cheap as much as it feels like the challenge dares you want to try again an hour after you turn it off, the mark of any great game.

Excitebike
WHY GOD WHY? This mode would’ve been the standard bearer for mods years before they became as popular as they did.

Design Mode is exactly what it sounds like. You get your own NES canvas and get to paint it however you like. Starting with a completely bare track, there are 19 ways to litter it with shit that would drive anyone who tested your tracks out insane. The only bummer here is that it required the Famicom Data Recorder to save and load the tracks, which was never released outside Japan.

Excitebike
“It isn’t that Nintendo didn’t want to make more games starring me, my Lloyds of London insurance agents were PISSED when they got a copy of the original!”

In the actual Excitebike manual, it states “Save and Load menu selections are not operable in this game; they have been programmed in for potential product developments.” Seeing as this isn’t part of the Sports Series of the Black Box titles and one of the Programmable Series, not having the peripheral that would’ve made an already epic game into an even bigger landmark title is kind of a let-down. Thankfully, the rest rules and eventually Miyamoto got to use the lessons learned here to create one of Nintendo’s top mascots of all-time, Yoshi.

 

THE FINAL VERDICT

9/10 A must have for every NES library, Excitebike is easily a title you can pop into the old grey box and still have a blast with. The physics are spot on, the fun factor is off the charts, and the challenge can go from beginner to ready to kick down walls. Good news is that Excitebike is one of the common carts, so this one can probably be found from $3 to $6 on average and worth every cent.

Excitebike
Ah, the classic Mario Excitebike we all piled into the stores for back in 1997 to add to our growing SNES collec…wait, WHATTHEUNHOLYFUCK???

The Excitebike series, for as popular and endearing to the fans as it was, laid dormant until 2000’s Excitebike 64 here in North America. HOWEVER, there was a little invention called the Sattellaview that hooked in through the Super Famicom in Japan (it would take all night to go into detail exactly what it was, think Sega Channel, but Nintendo), and in 1997, they released the most mind-blowing version of Excitebike ever.

Excitebike
Such an awesome find that I had to share two pictures from it. Hear that sound? That’s Nintendo still flushing money down toilets today for not releasing this publicly.

Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium was a SNES port of Excitebike featuring characters straight from the Mushroom Kingdom! It is a fucking travesty that more people don’t know this game exists as the gameplay and all-around Excitebike awesomeness is 100% intact. This will be a first for me because I’m all about original carts but since this bad boy had no cart, I highly recommend emulating this unknown piece of history. Excitebike with updated graphics starring Mario characters? How they could pass up the millions of dollars this could have sold is way beyond me.

Thunderscape

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Thunderscape

First, a little gaming history. The AD&D gold box PC game series was a huge hit for SSI back in the day, but eventually technology outpaced the game engine, regardless of how many tweaks they could add to it. This meant a new game engine needed to be developed, which is exactly what SSI did for its next release, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands.

Thunderscape PC Cover

Of course, this kind of effort is expensive, and a company needs to either have a large cash cushion to absorb it, or a high sales payoff in the first game release using the new engine. Unfortunately, SSI had neither, and the company was bought out by Mindscape, Inc., ending an era.

The World of Aden: Thunderscape was the newly sold company’s effort to mirror the success of the Ultima series in the RPG market: an in-house game engine and concept that did not require 3rd party licensing. No fees paid to TSR for the right to use the AD&D worlds meant higher profits for the company. It all sounded so elegantly simple. So why don’t we still adventure in Aden today?

Thunderscape PC

The answer lies in the gaming experience. Thunderscape was a world highly influenced by steampunk. Muskets were an option (albeit an expensive one) for adventurers. Steam golems, archaic-appearing robots, could appear to threaten the party, and other steam-related technology, such as steam engines, could be found in the game. Most other RPGs were classic medievalesque fare; because of its steampunk leanings, Thunderscape was something different.

In some ways, Thunderscape played like a standard SSI-produced RPG, which made the game world even more jarring. Character development followed a familiar pattern: the player forms a party of adventurers based on race (Human, Elf, Faerkin, Jurak, Rapacian, Goreaux, Dwarf, or Ferran), establishes their individual attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Willpower), decides on their skills (fencing, sword, axe/mace, bow, shield, martial arts, polearm, knife, firearms, stealth, acrobatics, lockpicking, fast talk, see secrets, merchant, xenology, and cast spells), decide which spells any spellcasting characters may use, equip the character with weapons and/or armor, choose the portrait and name your character. Once the party is ready, off they go, looking for monsters to kill, treasure to covet, and quests to complete.

Thunderscape PC

The game played out in a first-person perspective, attempting to give the “you are there” feel. There are 20 levels of fun, including caverns, cities, mines, castles, sewers, and the great outdoors. Movement is controlled using the mouse, with right-click accessing the directional arrows. Combat is also controlled by the mouse, with a special combat menu appearing when hostilities begin. And since many RPGs seem to be a scavenger hunt, accumulating inventory is also controlled by the mouse, with a hand icon appearing when you get close enough to something that your magpie-like characters want to add to their inventory slots.

Thunderscape PC

Thunderscape wasn’t all hack ‘n’ slash, though. Puzzles needed to be solved to progress through the storyline. Clues were distributed throughout the gameworld that needed to be collected and used. Even combat required more than the standard, send in the walking tank while launching fireballs from the rear, as some enemies would not fall without discovering their weaknesses during gameplay. All in all,Thunderscape was a thinking person’s RPG, not a clickfest.

For all its good features, Thunderscape had some play issues. It followed in the time-honored path of releasing before all the bugs could be squished, but that’s what version 1.1 patches are for. Even so, the game did well enough to warrant a somewhat mediocre sequel, World of Aden: Entomorph Plague of the Darkfall. However, the sequel was not a huge seller, and became the final game in the World of Aden series.

Thunderscape PC

Thunderscape remains a game that some recall with fond memories of many hours of deep gameplay, and others recall as a stopover between Menzoberranzan andRavenloft titles. It’s a game that got lost in the shuffle, but a good enough gaming experience to warrant inclusion as a Forgotten Classic. For a little steampunk action that predates Sierra’s Arcanum by several years, give The World of Aden: Thunderscape a try!

Retro Arcade Watch

Retro Arcade Watch

Forget about wearable tech wristwatches like Sony’s Smartwatch or Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. If you want a cool retro timepiece on your wrist, then look no further than ThinkGeek’s Retro Arcade Watch.

Retro Arcade Watch

Once we received the Retro Arcade Watch, we knew a review was in order to let you know what we thought of the watch and most importantly, if it is worth shelling out your hard earned cash. Read on.

Design & Function

The Retro Arcade wristwatch is chunky. Don’t let the chunkiness dissuade you though – it sits comfortably on the wrist with no nagging bits poking and prodding your arm or hand. This is no flimsy timepiece. Made from stainless steel, the case is made to withstand normal day to day punishment. The case (arcade cabinet) is adorned with Galactic Defense decals and also has a joystick and fire-button to add to the arcade machine realism. For pure awesomeness, when the fire-button is pressed, it lights up the hour indicators and marquee in red and also makes pew pew firing sound effects. To power all this awesomeness, the watch requires a CR2032 and SR626 button cell batteries, which are included.

Retro Arcade Watch

ThinkGeek didn’t skimp on the band either, they partnered the cool case with a black leather band with white contrast stitching. The end result being a unique timepiece that is a throwback to the golden age of arcade gaming.  

 

Display

In keeping with the arcade theme, the analog-style time is displayed with a combination of dials – space rocks for the hours and minutes, and a spaceship for the seconds hand. Did I hear you say Asteroids? Well, you said that, we didn’t. As mentioned previously, when the fire-button is pressed, the hour indicator dots are lit up in red, so if you find yourself in a dark alley and you need to know what time it is, just press the fire-button.

 

Coolness

It’s an arcade machine on your wrist that can tell the time and has awesome lighting and pew pew sound effects.

Retro Arcade Watch

How much cooler can it get? Well, if you could play Asteroids or Galaga on it, then I guess it would have been on the super side of cool. However, for under 50 smackers ($49.95USD) you get a watch that can tell the time and provide a coolness factor for free.

Verdict

If you are an Omega or Tag Heuer kind of watch wearer, then the Retro Arcade Wristwatch may not be for you. If you like to show-off your inner geekiness, then you cannot go wrong with this watch on your wrist. At the least, you will send tongues wagging!

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

When Super Mario Kart landed on the SNES back in 1992, it was one of the most beloved racing games of all-time. Sega countered Mario with Sonic R on the Sega Saturn, and I considered it one of the most horrible games I’ve played. I did play a little of the original Sonic & All-Stars Racing on the Xbox 360, and was honestly shocked by its quality. Impressed by it’s predecessor, I decided to see if the sequel was any good.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Like Mario Kart, Transformed is a simple go-kart (sorta) racer with power-ups that either help you or slow down your opponents.  While I wasn’t terribly familiar with the original, I can tell the new feature in the game is the ability for your car to morph. It can fly in the air as a plane or ride the waves as a boat.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
 The single player features a rather impressive world tour mode which features challenges at your own pace. The good majority of the challenges are against A.I. opponents in a race to the finish. But there are also some unique ones here and there like a drift challenge and a challenge that has you maneuvering through traffic. And of course like any racing game from this decade, an online-mode to race friends and strangers.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Overall I ended up enjoying Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed a good bit. I thought the game had surpassed Mario Kart in offering a more full-filling campaign mode. Though the actual racing isn’t as fun as Mario Kart, and the boat and plane transformations aren’t that revolutionary. When compared to Sonic R, it’s a masterpiece, but overall Mario is still a good bit better than Sonic.
Score: 7 out of 10

Gamer Profile: James C. Burns

I blew a lot of lunch money on that bad boy,  but what really hooked me was when I got my first GAMEBOY…  I loved the game for a simple reason….endless ammo!!! and endless replays..well… until he battery dies…    I came out of the pin ball era where all you got for a quarter (thats about $50 in present day rates) was five metal spheres and it got really expensive really fast just learning how to play….

James C Burns

I could’ve bought a mustang  with the cash I stuck in that tin box. With a Game boy I could play SI all night and all day…I have no memory of any traveling I did for about 18 months because my head was bent over the GB perfecting the hold and sweep tactic…whole smoking of incoming…I loved the hold and sweep technique….similar to a spray and pray  in and FPS…just hold the trigger and move the canon back and forth…chicks just did not understand that  their love would not have cured me. ~James C. Burns

Favorite Classic Game: Space Invaders

Current Project: Coldwater

Inspired by true events. A teenage boy is sent to a juvenile reform facility in the wilderness. As we learn about the tragic events that sent him there, his struggle becomes one for survival with the inmates, the counselors, and with the retired war colonel in charge.

Coldwater will be in theaters and on iTunes August 15th.

James Bond 007

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James Bond 007

If you were to take a guess, you’d probably expect James Bond 007 to be a bland and utterly unremarkable platformer of some kind.

So for it to be a largely unconventional RPG style adventure is a very welcome suprise.

Although it never gets near being of the same quality of its obvious inspiration, Link’s Awakening, James Bond 007 offers up a virtual Bond escapade that feel genuinely different to the norm for the franchise.

James_Bond-gameboy

The game eases you in, with the first stage set in China. You’re tasked with finding some secret plans by fighting your way through a temple.

There’s no actual action until you’ve fixed a bridge and talked to several villagers, which definitely goes against the Bond tradition of an explosive opening.

Things get going once you steal the plans though, with several thugs and a boss (femme fatale Zhong Mae) standing in the way of your escape.

James_Bond-gameboy

This is where the main similarities to Zelda begin. To equip weapons and items you press select, where you can assign actions to the A and B buttons.

When you start you’ll likely equip just a block and a punch, but eventually you can choose from an arsenal of guns, machetes and various Q gadgets.

Action is admittedly stilted throughout the game, due to the limited size of the character sprites that are used, but bigger bosses do usually require a bit more than button mashing to defeat.

James_Bond-gameboy

Puzzles in the game are generally simplistic, and are usually nothing more than dressed up fetch or search quests, but there are occasions where a little thinking is required.

One example is early on in the game, where you have to sneak past a guard in a bar. To do so you need to shoot out the light so he can’t see you. There’s even a quip – “I left him in the dark” – to enjoy once you’ve complete this task.

James_Bond-gameboy

Its somewhat ironic that its the Bond license that maintains your interest though.

The quips, the globe trotting (locations include China, London and Kurdistan) and the fan service are what really keep you playing.

Bond flirting with Moneypenny, things going wrong in Q’s lab (sending a jet-chair through a wall is a highlight) and M’s blunt but caring attitude to 007 are all present and correct.

James_Bond-gameboy

It’s therefore safe to say that James Bond 007 probably wouldn’t be worth playing if it didn’t star England’s most famous fictional spy, but is undoubtedly still worth looking into if you’re fan of the franchise.

A little like Timothy Dalton, the game tries something a little different and isn’t entirely successful – but is still worth investigating if you get the chance.

An Optical Delight: No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses

No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses

In the world of competitive and casual gaming. Players will tend to go full out and search for any type of advantage. From high end machines to flashy accessories. Well I am here to tell you that you don’t have to break the bank to also take care of yourself.

No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses

Today I will be reviewing the first of many new reviews to the sight as I take on the No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses and put there claims to the test. I’ve “scoped” out other glasses that make similar claims and have seen there prices go in upwards of $85 dollars an even higher then that!! Well I am here to say you don’t have to break your savings to get not only a quality product but also a hidden gem that I believe will help you in the long run with those heavy gaming sessions! So sit back relax and take a read as I give you the information on these optical enhancements!

Pros:

Price point at $19.99 these glasses rival the ever popular Gunnar Glasses in desired results while not breaking the piggy bank. The lens quality is superb while lending its self to lessening eye strain during long gaming sessions.

High quality frame work while still being lightweight. During long sessions my normal glasses tend to move and bother me as they slide down some. Wearing my contacts and using the No Scopes allows me to not worry about any type of movement on the glasses as these seam to hold and fit very nicely on my nose.

Accessories like microfiber cloth and caring case are also included and much appreciated by users like myself.

Cons:

Do they come in white? lol

Overall:

For the price and quality of the overall product I believe you will not run into a better option then No Scopes Demon Series Gaming Glasses. These glasses are equal to anything on the market at a fraction of the cost. If you are looking to enjoy long gaming hours these are very beneficial and will reduce eye strain and also help you transition from long gaming sessions to sleeping hours as they reduce the blue light effect from monitors that may cause insomnia. These will forever be in my arsenal of weapons to take on the competition. Head over to NoScope’s website and enter code jhernandezog so they know I sent you.

Sincerely,
Josh”Shinhayabusa”Hernandez
Competitive Content Director
Obsolete Gamer

Final Verdict: 5/5 Obsolete Gamer Certified

Frozen Synapse

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Frozen Synapse

When Frozen Synapse first came out, I really did not pay much attention to it.  The visuals were really bad, and it was something that had almost no pre-release buzz.  Then I picked it up cheap as part of a bundle and finally decided to see what all of the fuss was about.

I went into this title blind.  I will admit that I saw the blocky, basic visuals and thought it might be a puzzle game of some sort – wow was I off-track on that one.  What you have is a turn-based strategy game that actually feels fresh.  Now, I cannot give the graphics a pass – they are pretty rough in my opinion.  The map and characters would feel right at home on a PC from two decades ago, though there are some decently rendered sequences between missions that show peoples’ faces and locales.

Frozen Synapse - PC

The reason this game works though, is because the strategy is actually interesting.  You really do get back what you put into it.  At first the learning curve was a bit high – there was a lot of information to take in right away.  That said, the layout was clean, the menus are helpful and easy to navigate and those elements helped ease the transition.

Frozen Synapse - PC

Essentially you are in command of a number of soldiers, who have different weapon types.  You move them to specific locations, set them up with options like hiding behind shorter barriers, guarding windows or trying to control intersections by positioning and aiming them.  You make these choices without knowing what your opponent has planned.  Then both sides ‘go’ and move through their commands, and the sides engage in firefights if they call into each others’ cones of vision.

Frozen Synapse - PC

If this all sounds a bit strange, that’s because it sort of is at first.  But there is a very long single player mode, and a fairly interesting multiplayer mode that handles rankings and matchmaking.  I enjoyed the multiplayer, and had a frustration with it at the same time.  The game plays out just like it does in single player mode, in that both sides plot out their turns and then flag themselves as ready to proceed.  Once both sides are ready, the computer handles how the scenario plays out, and you are informed that you have a new turn available.

Frozen Synapse - PC

You can then access that game again and watch your turn play out.  This was neat because I could react very quickly and have a handful of rounds roll out one after another if my opponent was still online at the time, or I could check back the next day and see if I was up yet.  I really enjoyed that sort of measured play.

Frozen Synapse - PC

 

The downside is it is way too easy for players to abandon games they have no hope of winning.  I had several matches I was almost certainly going to win, having my opinion down to their last soldier or two, but then they just never finished the map.  This can create a very false win/loss record.

Frozen Synapse - PC

The music is decent – certainly better than the graphics, but the meat and potatoes here is in the gameplay itself.  Adding further value to it, these maps are randomized.  So even if you lose on a map, you start the level over and you will likely have an entirely new situation.  I liked that because it forced me to actually get better at the game and not just memorize maps and movement patterns.

Frozen Synapse - PC

All in all, this game was a fun little surprise for me.  It’s not perfect, but it was a title I did enjoy playing all the same and would score a 7.5 out of 10.

Horace Goes Skiing

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Horace Goes Skiing

Format: Spectrum Genre: Arcade Released: 1982 Developer: Psion Software

Horace Goes Skiing is [drum roll please!!!] the first game I ever remember playing. I must have been about four or five, so I reckon it was 1984 when I took my first sip from the honeyed cup that is computer gaming. Or should that be poisoned chalice? What would life have been like if my Dad had never bought that Spectrum? Would I have become interested in sport rather than video games? Would I have grown up to be a famous athlete?

Probably not.

Horace Goes Skiing - ZX Spectrum

Anyway, looking back at Horace Goes Skiing now it’s amazing to think just how simple games used to be.  The game was basically in two parts: in the first part, Horace had to cross a busy road (a la Frogger) to get to the ski rental shop, and the second part featured Horace skiing down a mountain with his newly rented skis. And that’s it. When Horace gets to the bottom it all starts again, but this time with slightly more traffic and more gates to ski through.

Horace Goes Skiing - ZX Spectrum

It’s this simplicity that is part of the game’s charm, but it’s also its undoing. By today’s standards, it’s a wafer-thin idea for a game, and playing it recently (there’s an excellent emulator (in Spanish) here: http://computeremuzone.com/ficha.php?id=710&l=en) I was surprised how enormously dull it becomes after a very short while.

Horace Goes Skiing - ZX Spectrum

Back in the day though, my sister and I could play it for hours at a time – although, admittedly, most of those hours were spent waiting for the games to load. A lot of people look back fondly on the whole Spectrum loading thing, but even at the time I thought it was tediously rubbish. It generally amounted to staring at a screen of black and white fizz for around ten minutes, accompanied by a high-pitched sound somewhere along the lines of ‘WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE GRGRGRGRGRGRGRGR WHEEEEEEEEE NNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG’, only for the game to crash as soon as you started playing. Some people tell me that they enjoyed the protracted loading times because it contributed to a heightened sense of anticipation. I say these people should get out more.

Horace Goes Skiing - ZX Spectrum

The major flaw with Horace Goes Skiing, in my opinion, was that the Frogger-style game was incredibly difficult (at least for a five-year-old with under-developed motor skills), so my lasting memory of the game is one of seemingly unending frustration (as I tried to reach the skiing bit), followed by a brief seconds of elation (reaching the skiing bit), immediately followed by crushing disappointment (skiing into a tree and dying). Oh Horace, you cheeky little life metaphor!

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

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New Super Mario Bros. Wii

 The original New Super Mario Bros. on DS was a good platformer and a great revival of the classic 2D games. Though it was too easy, a little bland, and there was a lot they could have improved upon. I was surprised to see the first sequel appear on Wii instead of the DS (or the eventual 3DS), but I thought it would be about the same quality as the first. I was thankfully wrong about that.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Gameplay screenshot -
Don’t get me wrong, I did like the first game but I loved New Super Bros. Wii. It had such a variety of levels, proved to be a challenge in the later levels (though not terribly difficult), and had levels almost as fun as Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World. I have yet to play either the 3DS or WiiU sequel, but I will.

Virtual Pool 64

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Virtual Pool 64

In terms of content alone, Virtual Pool 64 is a success.

The big issue is whether this huge amount of content and modes is worth wading through today.

If you’re a pool fan it’s probably safe to say that it is though. Despite the game’s slightly dated visuals it plays a fairly solid virtual rendition of the ball potting sport.

The controls are undoubtedly the most important element of the game – without feeling suitably responsive and solid the main meat of the game would be largely worthless.

So it’s good to see they’re not bad. Not perfect by any means, but workable enough.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

Moving your cue (seemingly held by the invisible man) is done with the analogue stick. Adjusting the cue angle is done with the right C-button, while holding the R trigger helpfully allows you to see things from an overhead perspective.

Hitting the ball is a little odd though. You have to hold A, and then pull back the analogue stick, pushing it forward to strike the ball. The strength of the shot depends on how quickly you move the stick.

It’s unintutive at first, but eventually you get used to it. You can see what the developers were going for at least, attempting to recreate the cue movement with the analogue stick.

You can then start picking through the games many options and modes.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

There are nine variants of pool to choose from, and you can play in one-off matches, tournaments and more for each.

Four of them are the same thing but with a different number of balls though.

3-ball, 6-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball all see you potting the balls in numerical order, with the person to pot the last one the winner.

I personally have always found this version of pool to be a tad unfair (you can pot all but one ball and still be the loser), but I know many people who swear by it.

For everyone else you have the reliable, trusted 8-ball mode, with the option to play it US or English Pub style.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

If you don’t how this version of pool works i’m surprised you’ve managed to read this far into this revisit. Suffice to say, it’s the one version of pool you should think of when someone mentions the sport to you.

You choose a colour/ball type (plains or stripes) and you have to pot all your balls and the black before your opponent.

Straight Pool, on the other hand, is pretty much pot any ball on the table that you can up to a certain pre-set total. A little mindless, but fun enough.

Rotation sees you attempting to rack up a score of 61 before your opponent with 120 points available on the table. This is one of the less enjoyable variants.

Bank Pool is even more torturous, only allowing you to pot a ball if you hit the rail during your shot.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

One Pocket is slightly more interesting, and sees you elect a pocket from the far end of the table which you must then try to hit as many balls into as you can. This one is like a hybrid of Hungry Hippos and pool, but it’s still not quite as good as that sounds.

That’s quite a lot to get your teeth into, and if you’re in the market for a pool game on the N64 (well, you might be) you won’t get much better than Virtual Pool 64.

WarioWare Smooth Moves

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WarioWare Smooth Moves

Good evening, Seamus the Leprechaun here, guest blogger on the Decrepit Gamer, comin atcha from the bowels of Southern Ireland, where the weather is freezing my goolies off.

Well the old fella has let me loose on a review, so in a effort to give new life to the standard yawn inducing reviews we’ll take a little rumage at what ye the players have had to say about the bloody game.
WarioWare Smooth Moves

Well as if there was any doubt, scoring 83% from the readers reviews on Metacritic.com
the games the cat’s pyjamas.

Readers Reviews Summary:
Terribly stupid and shallow gameplay mechanism. At least Wii Sports was free and had bowling but Warioware is just DISGUSTING! Score 1/10
I find no enjoyment whatsoever in this. It’s painful to look at. How can I enjoy a game, regardless of the controls if I can’t stand the graphics? Score 0/10As you can see theres always some eejit willing to make a …(censored -elderly) of themselves in public.

WarioWare Smooth Moves

Gaf Comments: So I took me a trip over to the Wario thread on GAF forums, where spOrsk said
“the game seems over, way before it should be……..it just seems the game is missing the ambition of games like RT and Twisted.” Which frightened the crap out of a number of members till the following emergedPeru..This game is magical. It’s fantastic. It’s the best wario ware game by far
Memles… I think it’s a whole lot of fun, contains some moments of brilliant game design, but there just isn’t enough here.
Alternative Ulster…Wow, this game is beyond amazing.
wasting….Its awesome, finally a reason to turn my wii on again
2D mention…I’m quite impressed
Phife Dawg…I’m having a great time with this. Beating the high scores is fun and multiplayer is a blast.

Warioware_Smooth_Moves

So dere you have it… straight from the horses mouth, not those namby pamby professional reviewers who wouldn’t know a good game if it bit em in the ar…..(censored–elderly).

Right thats me done!. . . . . Oh yeah!!!

. . . . .theres a neat (I suppose) option over on the Nintendo site providing exclusive content. But to access it you’ll have to stick your pin in….. (elderly—-you actually have to enter a pin number contained in the special software insert included with the game)

TRINE 2

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Trine 2

Trine brought with it some fun platforming and cool puzzles, with local only co-op. Developer Frozenbyte added online co-op with Trine 2. Does that make the sequel better than the original? Read our review to find out.

Our three heroes, Amadeus the Wizard, Zoya the Thief, and Pontius the Warrior, have returned. Their world is now being taken over by strange plants and goblins. They are once again united by the artifact known as the Trine and it is up to them to save their world. The story is told through text and narrative and can be a little hard to follow at first. This doesn’t really affect the actual game play and doesn’t take anything away from the game.

trine2_gameplay

The gameplay is a mix of platforming and puzzles, in side scroller style. If you are playing solo, you’ll be able to switch between all three characters. Each one has their own special abilities and that adds to the intricacies of most of the puzzles. The characters’ abilities are upgraded through experience points that you’ll earn as you play along. Once you’ve spent these points, they aren’t locked in. You can reset them and apply them to other needed abilities for any of the characters. This is a nice little feature that comes in handy early in the game while you are still trying to earn more points. Points are earned by grabbing orbs that can be found all over the place in each level.

trine2_gameplay

The puzzles can be a little mind boggling if you don’t look at them through the eyes of each character collectively. Using the brute power of the Warrior can open up paths that only the Thief can get across. The Wizard is great for reaching higher places, but the grappling hook of the Thief might still be needed to get to those hard to reach places.

All three characters start out with little in the way of abilities, but this changes as you spend those experience points. The Wizard can earn the ability to create more boxes and planks out of thin air, as well as levitate objects and  goblins. The Thief will be given more powerful arrows which can freeze or explode enemies. The Warrior’s hammer becomes an actual throwable weapon, with auto retrieval. His shield becomes stronger and can freeze goblins, which can then be shattered into a bunch of goblin pieces.

trine2_gameplay

The original Trine used a mana bar, which limited you with the amount of magic you could use at any given time. Trine 2 does away with that and you can use your abilities without any restrictions. This is definitely an improvement and makes the game a little more user friendly.

The game can be played completely offline solo or with local co-op, but playing online with two other players is where this game really shines. Puzzles are a little easier as long as everyone knows their part. You can play with the three separate characters, or play Unlimited where as you can all play as any of the three. Having three Warriors in battle at one time will make any pack of goblins a mere speed bump along your journey. Having three powerful Wizards can also make life easier when you work together building things with your blocks and planks.

trine2_gameplay

The graphics for the game are some of the best looking graphics for a downloadable title to date. The level details and landscapes are crafted to make the game strikingly beautiful. Puzzle and level design give you the sense that much thought was given to their creation. Some puzzles can be solved in different ways, and it is the level of detail that adds to this design. A few glitches here and there may force you to restart a checkpoint or two, but it’s not a game breaker to say the least.

The sounds of the game vary from very relaxing, to up-tempo depending on the level. The rise and fall of the tempo matches the game play. The sound track is already available on iTunes and has some great scores. Ari Pulkkinen, the man behind the music, has created a great collection of music for this game.

trine2_gameplay

Trine 2 is hard to categorize as a single genre of game, and that adds to its overall appeal. Platforming, while not always perfect, is fun and entertaining. The puzzles can be quite intricate, but tend to be a little too easy once you start thinking using the collective mind of the three characters. The RPG elements are thin, but do give the title a nice RPG feel to it. Battling goblins and various enemies can get a little repetitive, but that doesn’t take away from the overall fun the game offers. Online co-op sets this game apart from the original, and definitely makes this game an upgrade.

Trine 2 is a beautifully crafted game, with a great soundtrack and intricately detailed levels. With it’s low price tag, and hours of game play, it is well worth its price.

Psycho Fox

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Psycho Fox

I must admit that when I first came to review this game, I failed to see why I had such fonds memories of it in the first place.  That was until I hit stage 2 and enter Skull Land!  From here the game picks up its pace a bit.

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

Like many other platformers of its time, the objective of Psycho Fox is to save a world that has been thrown into turmoil by some evil tyrant.  In this case the tyrant is known as Madfox Daimyojin.  With Bird Fly perched on his shoulder, Psycho Fox must trek through seven bizarre stages, each with their own stage boss, before encountering his nemesis the Madfox Daimyojin.  Who is Bird Fly you may ask?  Bird Fly is Psycho’s trusty sidekick that can fly out from his shoulder to defeat enemy creatures.  Bird Fly also acts a shield because while perched on Psycho’s shoulder, he can take one hit without dying…however you will lose your feathered friend.

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

One of the coolest features of this game is Psycho’s ability to morph between fox, monkey, hippo, and tiger.  However this is reliant that you have obtained a “Psycho Stick”, which can be found hidden away in the eggs that are scattered throughout the rounds or by killing an enemy creature.  Of course each transformation has its strengths and weaknesses.   Fox is the original form of Psycho Fox and his abilities such as walking, acceleration, punching power etc are standard.  The hippo has tremendous punching power with the ability to break bricks.  This allows you to enter some sealed off areas, but ultimately his weight will let you down.  Monkey is known for his high jumping ability, while Tiger is a bit of an athlete who excels in running and long jumping.

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

Another feature is the end of round lottery bonus game known as “Amida”  To play this game you must acquire at least one money bag during the round…one bet per money bag.  Psycho Fox places a bet on a pathway that he then travels along, before receiving the prize at the end of the pathway.  Prizes include extra lives, psycho sticks, straw effigies, and magic medicine.

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

Or if you’re unlucky like me, you might get the booby prize.

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

My favorite part of the game is defeating the stage 2 boss.  A fly of epic proportions, brain visible through his transparent shell, Psycho must douse his opponent with fly spray by jumping on the nozzle of the can provided!

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

The game takes you through a number of landscapes including desert, sky, wind tunnels, and underground caverns, before you meet your nemesis the Madfox Daimyojin.  In addition there are various hazardous implements you must avoid including disappearing bridges, slippery slopes, and needle-studded floors and ceilings.

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

Victory was mine and boy was it sweet!

Psycho-Fox-Sega-Master-System

One of the bonuses of this game is that once all your lives are depleted, there is an unlimited “continue” function enabling you to return to both the stage and round you left off.

However, my main frustration with Psycho Fox is the lack of a “checkpoint”.  If you happen to die, you must begin from the very start of the round.  This is very frustrating if you happen to die whilst battling a stage boss!  Another criticism is that Psycho Fox moves a little too slow for my liking.  This means that if you get to close to an enemy, and are not in a position to throw a punch, it is difficult to move away in time.  It is also hard to jump distances if you don’t have a bit of speed behind you.

By the time the credits had rolled I felt like it was ME going psycho, possibly because I had died at least 100 times!  But despite my frustration Psycho Fox is a great little platformer.   It features some neat realistic sound effects, for example when Psycho cracks open an egg with his fist.  The soundtrack is great albeit a little repetitive, and the game is rolled up in a bright little package.  The biggest plus it gets from me is the interesting modes of defeating the stage bosses it employs.

King’s Quest

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King’s Quest

Any blog about classic retro gaming simply MUST include a homage to Roberta Williams’ King’s Quest series, originally published by Ken and Roberta Williams’ Sierra On-Line company in the 1980s.

King's Quest
King’s Quest IBM PC Jr Version Front Cover

The story was a simple one: the Kingdom of Daventry is in trouble as three of its greatest treasures – a mirror that tells the future, a shield that protects its user from danger, and a chest that is always filled with gold – have been stolen.  The King sends Sir Graham, an honest and unpretentious young knight, on a quest to recover the treasures.  Should he succeed, he will become King.  Should he fail, he’ll become worm food.  Of course, how Graham accomplishes the task before him is up to the player!

King's Quest
King’s Quest Tandy 1000 Release

This was the original “big-game” release.  The industry was still very new, and it was not unusual for games to be coded by a single person over a couple of weeks for a low budget.  King’s Quest was coded by six people with Roberta Williams as the project leader, with a cost of $700,000, for an 18-month period.  This was completely unheard of, and was a very risky gamble that ultimately paid off, fueling an entire line of games from Sierra On-Line.

King's Quest

King’s Quest was a huge leap forward for gaming.  In a time when games either were completely text-based or with the occasional static graphic, King’s Quest provided character interaction with the game environment.  By pressing the arrow keys, Sir Graham could walk across the screen and could cross in front of or behind objects, making the game the first 3-D adventure.  And even though the interface was still text-based (you typed in what action you wanted to do), seeing the result of what you typed made for classic gaming.

King's Quest
King’s Quest classic “gold box” edition

Like any good adventure game, the puzzles in King’s Quest were varied and fun.  The Sierra team programmed puzzles to have more than one solution, and points were awarded to the player depending on what actions they took.  And unlike many of the action, destroy-everything-you-see games of the time, King’s Quest rewarded players with a higher score if they found non-violent solutions.

King's Quest
King’s Quest EGA 1990 Release

There have been several releases of King’s Quest over the years, starting with the original version in 1983, which was packaged up in the IBM PC Jr series of computers.  Fortunately, poor sales of the computer did not result in the termination of the King’s Quest franchise, as it was released in Apple II, PC (boot disk) and Tandy format in 1984 to general fanfare, and around 500,000 copies sold.  The game sold well enough that it was re-released in 1987 in the Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh and MS-DOS formats, which sent it back up the sales charts.  (It was at that time that the second part of the title, “Quest For The Crown,” was added.)  It even crossed over into the console video game charts with a version for the Sega Master System in 1989.

King's Quest
King’s Quest EGA Screenshot

King’s Quest was remade in 1990 with much better graphics and music card support.  The quest points were changed slightly, which meant that the game itself played somewhat differently from the original.  A fan-made King’s Quest was released in 2001 by AGD Interactive, which has seen many updates right up to 2009.  You can find it here: http://www.agdinteractive.com/games/kq1/

King's Quest
King’s Quest 2001 Fan Re-Release

King’s Quest was such a solid game that it spawned an entire genre, the 3-D animated adventure.  Sierra shot to the top of the gaming industry with hit after hit, including an entire King’s Quest series, Space Quest, Quest for Glory, Police Quest, and so forth.  If you haven’t played any of the original games, give them a try.  Yes, they’re incredibly simple and crude versus the immersive gaming environments we play in today, but they’re an important part of gaming history.  Be a retro gamer and Quest for the Crown today!

King's Quest
King’s Quest for the Sega Master System (SMS)

 

 

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

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Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of my favorite games of all time, and when the sequel Brawl came out on the Wii I was more than excited. It had been a good number of years since Melee and there was plenty of new features and characters. Including the first non-Nintendo ones being Metal Gear Solid’s Snake and Sega’s Sonic.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Nintendo Wii

The game was generally the same as Melee with the layout and moves. They did recreate the adventure mode with a story and impressive cut-scenes. Though I did miss the Adventure Mode of Melee, as I thought it was overall more fun.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Nintendo Wii

Besides the online matches barely working, and tweaks in the game physics (though only super-fans will be able to tell the difference), I was overall satisfied with Brawl. I did miss that Roy and Mewtwo were no longer around either, but even though I had less fun than I did with Melee it was still one of my favorite Wii games.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

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Conker’s Bad Fur Day

As i’ve said a few times before, buying N64 games back when I was a kid was expensive. Very expensive. With price-tags of up to £60 per title, I could only afford to buy a game once every blue moon.

It just so happens that one game I did end up paying full whack for was Conker’s Bad Fur Day – and I think I ended up getting my money’s worth.

Starting of development life as the sickeningly twee looking and kid-friendly Twelve Tales: Conker 64 – developers Rare made a complete u-turn, deciding to make the game an adult, swear filled romp instead.

It was an inspired move, and the game has a freewheeling charm that’s still refreshing today as a result.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

Unlike the bloated collectathon that was Banjo Tooie (released around the same time and also developed by Rare), Bad Fur Day is a more linear and focused experience – and has aged better as a result.

I say focused, but the game boasts such an eclectic mix of settings and genres it’s hard to keep up.

Starting off with a bright and colourful farmyard stage, the game then has you climbing a mountain of faeces, and then throws you into a prehistoric world – and that’s just for starters.

The game has a deceptively simple way of tying all these wildly different concepts together though, and that’s through the use of ‘context sensitive’ buttons.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

Simply put, these are pads which you can stand on, press B, and are given a relevant tool to help you in your current predicament. Whatever that may be.

Teetering on a thin walkway with bats attacking you? Press B on the relevant spot, and your fire off a flamethrower that sees those bats bite the dust within seconds.

Need to attacks a giant boiler’s brass testicles? Press B, and you can whack them with a pair of bricks.

A deviously simple way to inject even more unpredictability into affairs, these buttons are fortunately used reasonably sparingly – otherwise they have made the game’s design feel a little too amateurish.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

What’s really surprising when looking back at the game is how simple many of the challenges are, and how they sometimes only feel fresh due to how they’re set up.

An arena based combat section is nothing new for example, but riding a velociraptor and making it tear terrified caveman limb from limb is.

The game is also bolstered by some truly stunning bosses, and to list them all here would be to ruin the surprise.

One is much better known than all the others though, and is still as mad, operatic and quotable now as the day the game was released.

In terms of presentation Bad Fur Day is still impressive as well. The graphics may now appear a bit angular and fuzzy by today’s standards, but the full speech used in cutscenes and the quality of the game’s script still stands up.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

The humour is strictly lowbrow of course, and there are perhaps a few too many film references and parodies – but it’s genuinely amusing stuff for the most part.

The game’s flaws still stand out though, and against modern titles they look even worse than they did back in 2001.

The camera is very poor, and you’ll be wrestling with is by using the C-buttons a lot of the time. In terms of difficulty the game can also be very unforgiving, with the latter parts of the war section in particular being controller-smashingly unfair.

Another element of the game that is bemusing is the lives system. When you lose all your lives you see a game over screen, but once you’ve started up your save file you simply start from the latest checkpoint where you were before. What’s the point?

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

It’s nonsensical design choices like this that can end up making the game feel a little dated, but they’re not enough to stop the game from being worth playing.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is still a genuinely brilliant experience, and one that can be as frustrating as it is laugh out loud funny.

If you can persist through the occasional low-points the game offers up a mad-cap quest that hasn’t been seen before or since.

It’s just a shame that the game is so damn rare nowadays, mainly due to being released right at the end of the N64’s lifespan.

Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

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Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

This week we have an incredible RPG for the SNES. It’s Lufia & the Fortress of Doom for the SNES. The game was released by Taito and it’s one of the most memorable RPGs for the 16-bit console. If you want an awesome old school RPG adventure with an incredible story and more, then you have come to the right choice! Lets take a look!
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The music is just awesome. Taito had some memorable music in its time. You will definitely love the soundtrack of this game so much that you’ll have it on your Ipod! Also, the sound effects are superb 16-bit beauties. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The graphics are the usual RPG graphics for a 16-bit game back in the day. They aren’t at Chrono Trigger standards, but they are definitely good for the eye. You will not be confused in this game as to where is there is a door or not.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 The gameplay is what makes this game shine. It’s fun turn based classic style. You can’t go wrong with this choice of gameplay. Each character has their own style of fighting and can help other members out. If you keep a good balance of attacks and magic, your fights will be a lot easier than you might think. The game mostly takes places in caves where you must explore to your heart’s content. Definitely, addicting gameplay overall.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 RPGs don’t usually have much replay value as the games themselves take hours and hours to complete but there are extra dungeons and what not that makes some outshine. This one is more about going back to previous areas and see if anything has changed. This like many RPGs is not a game you would want to return to multiple times unless you’re deep in love with it.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
 One of the most awesome RPGs for the SNES and a must play for the console. If you are just getting into RPGs, then this is the best way to go especially if you’re a fan of 16-bit games. This is a must have for your collection.

Total Recall

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Total Recall

Video game developer Acclaim who put out games like Mortal Kombat, Smash TV and Spiderman Return of the Sinister Six released this licensed game in 1990.  The movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid and Sharon Stone as his violent wife Lori.  If you haven’t seen the movie it’s a sci-fi movie that involves a lot of crazy things like traveling to Mars, having new memories implanted into the brain and Douglas’ loving wife who starts trying to kill him.  Problem is with the new implanted memories, he doesn’t know which ones are real and which ones are the fake memories so he’s on a quest to find out what is real and what isn’t.  Sounds like a crazy movie that should have a cool game right?? In theory yes, but what Acclaim delivered was just a frustrating piece of junk that adds in a bunch of stupid things that weren’t in the movie.

Total Recall - NES

You start the game playing as Schwarzenegger’s character Douglas.  The sprite is slightly accurate and it is a big guy who could be based on Arnie, but overall it’s a pretty bad looking game with some serious problems with its animation.  It’s a 2D action platforming game, where you have to get Doug to a certain part in the level while you kill people along the way.  Normally I love games like this but Total Recall has poor controls, tons of enemies and is just frustrating making it very difficult. There is a variety of different stages like city streets, the sewer, subway, concrete factory and sometimes you will have battles in little apartment rooms.  Unfortunately most of my time was spent in the sewer, since every time you walk past an alley you get hit by someone and dragged down there.  Then you need to work your way out and start by the alley again, the one nice thing is the alley seems to have a lot of energy drinks for you to replenish your health a bit.

Total Recall - NES

You can jump and punch (then shoot when you get a gun).  One of the most annoying things is when your enemies are constantly jumping over you making it incredibly hard to hit them while other baddies are attacking at the same time.  Oh and since when were there pink mutant midgets attacking Arnold in the movie?  Maybe I just have a bad memory, but it seems very odd to me.  It’s hard to kill these guys too since they are short and you have to duck to have a chance of hitting them.  It reminds me of playing Goldeneye on the N64 when someone would take Oddjob and it was much harder to kill them when they are shorter than you. Plus you have to fight rats. Ya, I don’t remember Arnie punching rats in the movie…

Total Recall - NES

While you are playing and trying to figure out what exactly is going on you will have a happy bubbly soundtrack to listen to. This game is supposed to be a gritty, and dark at moments but the music definitely doesn’t represent that.  It’s very off putting, it seems like they pulled a music track from some other happy game and just dumped it in here.  The sound effects are also bad with a lot of thud sounds and a weird buzzing type sound.

Total Recall - NES

There are just too many things wrong with this game.  The game feels unfinished with hit detection problems and flickering sprites just to name a few problems.  Ultimately the choices made by the game designers are confusing at best.  Why have a theatre where you can earn a life by watching the Total Recall movie credits then follow it up with a death scene of Arnold saying “I’ll be back!”  Did they not do any research and realize this was from a different movie? I love cheesy Schwarzenegger movies but seriously this is a huge disappointment, and there is nothing about it I can recommend.  Why couldn’t it have been a good movie adaptation like Batman?  It’s not even worth playing to see how bad it is, that is why I consider it one of the worst games on the NES!

Robo-Squash

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Robo-Squash

Considering the genre was one of the first ones ever created, there’s been surprisingly few innovations in the world of bat ‘n’ ball games, but Atari, the very creators in question, tried doing just that with this slightly obscure release for their own Lynx ‘handheld’ (snigger). The objective does not, however, include the usual block-hitting tomfoolery that I had initially believed formed the basis of the game. Robo Squash is instead a tarted-up version of the very first bat ‘n’ ball game of them all, and indeed the very first popular video game full stop – Pong! Instead of the simple left-to-right-to-left-again gameplay of the original though, this example asks you to do the same thing but from an into-the-screen perspective! There’s a bit more to it than that though, of course.

Robo_Squash_Atari-Lynx
Luckily your paddle is transparent…

Set against the backdrop of a rather peculiar political power-struggle of the far-future, you, playing as the champion of the ‘World Party’ must face your opposite number from the rival ‘International Party’ to decide the future of the world – eeeek! At the start of the game you’re presented with a four-by-four group of balls. Selecting one will start a round which consists of an into-the-screen view of the playfield. Your ‘paddle’ occupies the end closest to the screen, your opponent’s the opposite end. About half-way between the two in the middle of the screen is an assortment of bricks and a few other bits and pieces. The winner of the round is the first to score three ‘goals’ past his or her opponent or, less often, a quicker victory can be achieved if you manage to hit the elusive ‘mechanical spider’. There are several things that can make the process of winning a round a bit more complicated though.

Robo_Squash_Atari-Lynx
Frog attack! Oops, I mean ‘dragon’ attack!

For one thing, the ‘ball’ appears to be a tomato or something similar as it leaves a big red splotch on the screen if you let it get past you! There’s also a seemingly random sprinkling of yellow and blue bricks which act as an obstruction but give you bonus points upon destruction, and there are a few power-ups items nestled among them too. These include a mouth (lets you catch the ball and shoot it from wherever you want), a dragon (lets you shoot fireballs to create a fiery distraction, although it looks more like a frog), a spiral disk (makes your paddle bigger), and an eye (helps you to see where the ball will end up). As well as all this, the ball predictably gets faster and faster the longer it’s in play as well which, along with the various visual impairments (splats, explosions, etc) can make this a pretty tricky game, especially when played against the near-infallible computer opponent.

Robo_Squash_Atari-Lynx
Oops, a rather unceremonious defeat again!

There are four difficulty levels though, and control of the quite accommodating paddle thing is surprisingly intuitive. Besides, games like Breakout and all its derivatives are the ones for solo-players; Pong and similar games were designed for two players and so is the case here. Aesthetically the game isn’t too troubling – the colourful bricks, power-ups, and the ball along with its splats work well against the grey backdrop, and the scaling is quite good too, as we’ve come to expect from the Lynx. The basic sound effects and lack of in-game music are less impressive but I still had a bit of fun with this one, albeit only for a short while as it’s a bit pointless playing it alone! That makes its appeal limited of course – these days, the chances of finding another Lynx owner are fairly slim never mind one also owns this game. If you should manage it though, Robo Squash would make the encounter a mighty entertaining one.

 RKS Score: 6/10