We talk about in game microtransactions and the outrageous prices for items that do little for you in video games.
J.A and Randy have scoured the internet for gaming related stories designed to get you clicking away furiously in the middle of the night.
In this episode we take a look at some of the most sexy video game adds of the last decade. We also look at House Party, a game about hooking up that was so raunchy that Steam forced the developed to censor the game. Stepping away from gaming we visit the sexy mud pit at the Polish Woodstock and finally J.A. investigative reporting on his experience with the gaming hook up site Shag a Gamer.
HunieCam Studio is the 2nd game from the Studio that brought you Hunie Pop. In this game it’s basically a business tycoon game mixed with a clicker game where you manage a camwhore business while the clock is ticking.
To view all our HunieCam Studio videos, click here.
To view more of our Gameplay Videos, click here.
To check out more of our Let’s Plays, click here.
Here is the third mission for the campaign for Battlefleet Gothic: Armada being played in the normal difficulty, including the cut scene that shows the Orkz.
To visit the game’s website, go here.
To see the rest of our Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Videos, click here.
To view more of our Gameplay Videos, click here.
To check out more of our Let’s Plays, click here.
Whether fighting on the frontlines in a heavily armored MBT or causing havoc from the back in a tactical artillery vehicle or finding someplace in-between one can always find their place of enjoyment in Armored Warfare. Set in the modern world, players find themselves either playing the role of a mercenary making his way into the world in Armored Warfare’s notable PVE environment or making the difference in immersive PVP settings. When ready to go even the most casual players can dive right in with a simple WASD movement controls and a point-and-shoot mechanics; unique maps, tanks, and tactics however it also keeps even the most hardcore gamers engaged in the action.
Similar to its biggest competitor and predecessor World of Tanks, each player starts out with a personal “garage” and two starter tanks. From here the player can look at possible upgrades and retrofits for their selected vehicle, look at the two currently available dealer trees, customize their “base”, look at their dossier, choose to create or join a battalion, or hop right into their first battle as a PVP or PVE tanker. The most original idea being the “base”; simply put it is a players own customizable buff-station. By using the 100 free “raw-materials” given to the player on a daily basis he or she could choose to purchase buildings which would increase the rate crewman earn experience, cut premium costs, or even cut the repair cost for a tank!
As for the dealer trees, Armored Warfare took an inventive spin on typical progression trees by allowing players to change their mind at the end of a tree instead of forcing a player who realized a certain role isn’t their style abandon their work and completely restart their progression on another tree. How does this work? Simple, currently the trees are set up in a tier system of 1 through 9 (similar to other progression trees the lower numbers are generally needed to be unlocked before the higher) for each vehicle type other then artillery. However the big twist comes into effect between tiers 8 and 9. After becoming renowned (completely maxing out the experience needed to advance to the next tier) with a vehicle, instead of simply continuing down the progression, the player can redeem one “tier 9 unlock” which allows the player to research and purchase any tier 9 from the same dealer without specifically having to complete the vehicles tree.
Sadly Armored Warfare is close to identical to its competitors when it comes to vehicle customization. In the actual garage tab the player is able to change a selected vehicles ammo type, consumables (such as repair kits to fix damaged modules), retrofits (such as intercom systems to boost crew skills), and some aesthetic options such as decals and paints. The distinctive portion comes in the way the crew members work. Unlike other games in the same genre, Armored Warfare not only has a set crew for a specific tank that provides set bonuses but it also has a commander with unique attributes that can transfer from tank to tank. These commanders are both given to the player at his or her first launch of the game and can be unlocked through dealer progression trees. Another slight difference is when you select the upgrade tab for a specific tank. Although it resembles World of Tanks in its module progression it has a slightly different experience bar. Instead of simply getting to 100% completion and being able to move onto the next tank, Armored Warfare also has tank exclusive unlocks that can be researched after reaching 50% of the total progression on a chosen tank (such as the commanders that were mentioned earlier)
Last but not least are the dossier and battalion tab. In comparison to similar games Armored Warfare has the same basic dossier (statistics page) layout with a slightly different format which allows the viewing of certain stats in graphic form. As far as the battalion is concerned from the looks of it – it is just a standard clan layout but because I have not experimented with it I cannot say with 100% certainty.
When inside the game, be it PVP or PVE, Armored Warfare isn’t much different from any other game. The main objectives consist of either destroying all enemy vehicles or capturing and securing a specified point. Nevertheless it still does have its differences. When playing an artillery class a player’s attention is increasingly brought to counter battery as a large indicator on the players minimap occurs to opposing artillery upon firing as well as a set sound alert. If you are in any other form of tank and you are fired at by an opposing artillery a large text indicator will appear to warn the player of an incoming artillery shell. Also artillery get two special shell types: smoke shells and illumination flairs. The smoke shells can be placed between a spotter and a specified target to cover the advance or retreat of an ally. Likewise, an illumination flare can be shot to bring vision of any target within a certain radius underneath it to the entire allied team.
Another big part that sets Armored Warfare apart is its ability system for both scout and tank destroyer type vehicles as well as specific MBTs. When playing a scout vehicle (whether it is a recon or a fire support type) by default your “E” key will trigger one of a few specific abilities. These range from marking a target (force lighting them even if they go out of view as well as guaranteeing max pen rolls) to decreasing terrain resistance for a short period of time. Some of the fire support type scout vehicles even get rockets which are medium pen high damage guided missiles. The tank destroyers’ ability is very beneficial as well; upon activation a TD can fire three shots from the same position and only lose a small percentage of their camo rating. Lastly certain MBT’s come with the ability to launch smoke shells a small distance in front of their turret which would act in the same way as artillery’s smoke shells upon landing. Along with this some MBT’s unlock a active protection system which, while active, can shoot down incoming heat and missile rounds (artillery not included).
Armored Warfare is a fun and easily immersive MMO tank shooter with competitive graphics and some unique gameplay mechanics and whether you are new to the genre or an experienced tanker you are likely to enjoy its style.
If you loved Saints Row, the Batman Arkham series of games, Borderlands, and the Mad Max movies then you will love Mad Max the game. The game consists of taking the role of Mad Max after his ride has been stolen, recruiting a crazy mechanic that will help you build a car that will let you get your ride back, and rebuilding civilization in the region along the way.
-It’s Mad Max!
-Really captures the low technology and scarcity of the post-apocalypse world.
-Gives more insight as to what might have caused the Armageddon.
-Game engine performance is amazing (very well optimized).
-The sand storm parts are terrifying.
-As much carnage and slaughter as a Mad Max movie or anything from Warhammer 40k.
-Persistent auto-save system that works flawlessly so it doesn’t interrupt gameplay.
-Fast travel system that although convenient can also be used to cheat in many situations (such as low health/water).
-Too expensive ($60 price).
-Car combat is not as good as Auto Assault.
-Game events/activities are too repetitive. Some events/activities you might expect are missing such as escort missions, etc.
-Game ending was TOO EASY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Game is badly in need of a 2nd campaign (DLC please!)
-Damage system is not realistic at all (I was ran over by a car going at full speed without dying).
-Pretty much no replay value (unless they add DLC that changes the game a lot).
-Mechanic fixes car too easily (it’s basically immortal if you know how to play).
-In a world of finite extremely-limited resources, you’re going around blowing up oil production plants which is the OPPOSITE of you would want to be doing in the post-apocalypse! This major logic-fail makes the game stupid when you really think about it.
Review score: 6.5 out of 10
Hearts of Iron III is not just a strategy game, it is a strategy simulator. This game is the definitive World War 2 simulator. It takes all the aspects of World War 2 into a game where you plan the war by the hour as if you were the leader of a real nation. It is an interesting hybrid between being turn based strategy and real time strategy. On one hand it is a pausable RTS game, on the other hand, the game has the hour as the basic unit of time which means if you slow the game down, it plays like a turn based game. This is especially useful if you want to track the war step by step, in this case hour by hour. As the ruler of the nation, not the general, you only make the large scale strategic decisions, not the tactical decisions, which are all taken care of by your generals.
As the leader you also take care of diplomacy which is unlike other strategy games where you can “talk” however often you want, and about whatever you want. Again like in real life you spend intellectual manpower to send diplomats abroad on missions such as negotiating trade agreements including not just trade of goods, but debt related issues, and paying for a country to produce units for you. There is also the political aspect of diplomacy, where you can sign defensive pacts, non-aggression pacts, even alliances. Most importantly, if you are part of one of three “factions”, the Axis, Western Allies, or Communist Allies, you can use diplomacy to influence other countries to align with you over time. If you are playing as a neutral country, you can just align yourself with a nation, so if you want to be the axis leader of Sweden, this game is for you :D.
Let me pause for a moment and say that unlike other games, this game includes every country that existed during World War 2, and you have the choice of playing any one of them. You can even play as a commonwealth country independently of Britain.
You also get to control production and the distribution of the production to different industries, however I have no idea how this game works for capitalist countries as I’ve only played fascist and communist countries in this game. I have picked up hints that you have less of a degree of control over your country in weaker governments, which is not the most appealing gameplay to me, but to each his own.
There is the brainpower aspect of the war, mainly: politics, technology, and espionage. These elements of gameplay are separate but interdependent. One thing to notice is that under the technology tab in the game, you not only control which technology your country is researching but how brainpower is distributed among the other categories mentioned above. In politics, you really cannot change your government system, but you can change your different political policies from social to economic issues. This is the political playground for those of you who want to test out your political beliefs (just kidding, social and economic policies are already set for you by the government in power and its ideologies. However, you do have control over things like conscription laws, degree of freedom in your country, how much emphasis on education or industry or military mobilization etc.). Political support for parties can change slowly over time, meaning if you are a republican country, you must beware of not being re-elected.
Finally, regarding espionage, you can do classical spying, or get involved in sabotage and political mingling. The only weakness of this game is the espionage, where you don’t really have control over the numerical amount of spies you send per country, although you can set priorities for them on a scale of zero to three, and you can only have one spy mission per country even if you have multiple spies. Other than that this game makes absolute perfect historical sense, and you will feel as if you are making real decisions for your country if you are playing this game.
The only other detail that is inaccurate is the german flag. We all realize that the Nazis were responsible for the genocides of around 30-40 million civilians but that does not mean that one should sacrifice a historically accurate flag with a swastika on it to make the game “politically correct”. Simply displaying a flag in a game should not equal support for that regime, especially when it is displayed to identify people of that regime. That way of thinking is so erroneous, I can accuse paradox interactive of supporting communism because they displayed the historically correct soviet flag in the game for the soviet union. Instead, the game designers have identified Germany with the flag of the German monarchy, which is even more offensive to monarchists as that is saying that the Nazis who killed 30-40 million, and the king of Germany who only cared for the well being of his people above all, are the same people.
Historical Accuracy: 5 out of 5
I would go as far as calling this game a historical simulator. This doesn’t mean that the computer artificially make sure certain events happen, but it makes sure the game makes historical sense if the leader of the nation was you instead of *insert historical leader here*. Aside from the fact that the flag of Nazi Germany in this game is the flag of the German monarchy for some reason, this game follows historical detail to the finest details. It should be really appealing for people who are World War 2 buffs.
Realism: 5 out of 5
The game is truly epic in scale and you get to experience all aspects of being a leader. I cannot describe even the basic details in a few sentences.
Difficulty: 5 out of 5
If it isn’t obvious already, a game with fine detail like this game is harder to learn than most games out there. The task seems overwhelmingly impossible at first, however if you are willing to put the time and effort, if takes only a day or two to learn. I suggest starting by choosing “The Gathering Storm” historical start, then find Spain on the map and choose Nationalist Spain. This is happening at the end of the Spanish Civil War, when it is clear that the Nationalists who are just outside of Madrid, are winning. It is relatively small scale, and hard to mess up, so it is an ideal first game to learn the game mechanics.
Sellability: 2 out of 5
This is a somewhat important factor, but shouldn’t bother anyone picking up the game if they truly love deep strategy. What sellability means is how well this game is doing on the market. The big failure of capitalism is that smart people who should be playing games like this are prevented from finding this game because only the big companies can advertise the hell out of you, making most smart people waste their brains on dumbed-down games instead of brain stimulating games such as Hearts of Iron. If you are a person who has found this game, consider yourself one of the lucky few. Consider yourself one of the chosen.
Popularity: 5 out of 5
This is not based on how many people play this game, this is based on how well this game is liked by people who have tried it. Pleased to say that if you have a circle of intellectual buddies, go ahead and present this game to them, and the chances are very high that they will like the game.
Affordability: 5 out of 5
For a game like this, I would expect it to cost $100-$150. However it costs a mere $10, or $45 if you are willing to buy all of the extensions to the game. In short, this is one of the best deals you can find in your lifetime, and the game costs a few dollars on sales on steam, or $10 with all the extensions if I remember correctly.
Final Verdict: 5 out of 5
An attempt to mimic Mario – in a few ways at least – Kid Chameleon offers something much different to Sonic’s speedy antics on the Mega Drive.
It’s a solid platformer, and for fans of the genre it’s worth investigating.
You play as Kid Chameleon, who must enter a virtual reality arcade machine and defeat an evil entity who is trapping kids within the game itself.
There are several worlds, with each one containing two to three levels.
The game starts off, as so many platformers often do, with an ordinary looking forest level – but even these aren’t as dull as you’d expect, thanks to the title’s main gimmick.
You can collect suits throughout stages by hitting the various P blocks (most of the time they just hold gems), and grabbing masks which transform you into various forms.
These include a sword wielding samurai, a knight who can charge and destroy walls, a Jason Vorhees clone who can fling axes, and – most amusingly – a tank driving skeleton.
Fortunately the costumes aren’t the only entertaining thing here, with the enemies themselves an interesting bunch.
They all pose different threats, including crawling hands who restrict your movement, lava-men who leave a trails of fire behind them, and tiny green slime beasts.
The only surprising thing about the cast of foes is the lack of bosses at the end of each world. They would have been worth seeing if the smaller foes in the game are anything to go by.
It’s a shame then, that the level design itself isn’t up to the same standards of the cast of enemies and power-ups.
Too often the game expects you to somehow understand its strange design quirks, such as the fact you can walk through some walls as they’re in the foreground – even though they look nearly exactly the same as all the other walls.
Other times it can be plain cruel, like in a Under Skull Mountain level, which slides you down ramps straight into pits of spikes. It does this twice as well – talk about unfair.
The game only gets harder as you progress as well, and there’s a lot to get through.
With no save system very few people will see the end, or even want to – despite the game’s admirable qualities.
Despite its problems, Kid Chameleon doesn’t hold up too badly today though.
Its simple graphics can look a little dull if the world you’re in isn’t set in an enthralling setting, but there are enough inspired moments to hold your attention.
It doesn’t stand out in a crowded genre, but it doesn’t disappear out of view from it either.
[youtube id=”Gj_YOgi9nkA” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Originally, I picked Darkspore up because I wanted to see what Maxis would do with an action RPG built on Spore’s creature creator. Spore was a mediocre sandbox game in which you guided a species through its entire evolutionary process. The highlight was the creator, which offered the player a deep level of customization. How does this system carry over to an action RPG? It’s not quite what I expected, but the game does a bunch of things well.
If you’re like me, you thought you’d be making your own genetic heroes from the ground up for this game. Wrong. While this is disappointing, what they’ve done instead is fairly robust. Customization of your heroes is driven by what gear you pick up, which is then integrated into their bodies. You can mount dropped items almost anywhere on the hero’s body, with a couple exceptions like boots and weapons. There’s a wide palette of colors and color schemes, for even more tweaking.
I didn’t spend too much time playing dress up, but there were definitely a lot of options for crafting a unique appearance. In addition to making cosmetic changes, the gear solely determines your level. That is to say, there are no skill or stat leveling trees for individual heroes. Instead, you gain “Crogenitor” levels as you play, allowing you to do things like unlock additional squad slots, heroes, and the option to chain-finish levels in succession for better loot.
Not everyone will like it, but I feel it’s a fresh twist on the classic RPG formula. Probably a consequence of this leveling system, there is no way to trade with other players. I suspect the devs don’t want people getting power-geared too much, which would definitely happen if trading was a feature. I’ve been told that they’re implementing a way to drop items on the ground, which will allow friends to trade but doesn’t help much for trading with untrustworthy strangers.
You start the game on your ship, which is your hub for genetic hero customization, multiplayer chat channels and anything else that isn’t standard gameplay. To prepare for actual combat, you make squads of 3 heroes each. You select one of your squads for each deployment and you can swap between squad members at will, albeit on a short cooldown. Each hero has a unique standard attack, 2 core skills, one or more passive abilities/auras and a squad ability.
The squad ability is interesting because it is shared amongst all 3 heroes. Since there are upwards of 40 heroes in the game, there are many combinations of squad abilities to mix and match. At higher difficulty levels, you will need to find the right balance of survivability, damage and crowd control to avoid becoming dead. The possible combinations only increase as you add more buddies to your squad in multiplayer, which capped out at 4 in beta. There are two other considerations for squad composition.
There are 5 genetic types that your champions and enemies alike share: Necro, Plasma, Bio, Quantum and Cyber. Enemies of the same type as your hero will deal double damage, so you’re not going to want to bring a bunch of Cyber heroes to a planet that’s all Cyber monsters. Additionally, heroes are separated into Tempest (Mage), Ravager (Rogue) and Sentinel (Tank) classes. You’ll want to mix and match appropriately for different situations.
My overall impression of the game is mixed. On one hand, the combat is crisp and fun, especially when you’re cooperating with friends. The abilities are satisfyingly destructive and the heroes that I played all felt unique. It’s like playing league of legends in action RPG flavor, in that you only have a handful of spells available at one time, but a ton of different characters to choose from. There’s a good mix of enemy types with various special abilities you’ll need to adjust to. On the other hand, there are aspects of the game that worry me.
The level design is boring. All the missions unlocked for the beta had simplistic layouts, making you feel like you’re on rails. There’s only the bare minimum of exploration. The game rewards you with loot for finding badly hidden obelisks, which is hugely disappointing to me. Level randomization is almost nonexistent. Zones layouts do not randomize AT ALL when you replay them, other than obelisk placement and location/composition of monster packs.
This has the potential to get incredibly stale, especially since the game follows the Diablo format where you play it 3 times over on different difficulties. Additionally, the game offers arena style PvP which may prove impossible to balance given the sheer number of heroes. The hero customization, while not a failure, is mostly cosmetic, which is basically a cop-out. I would rather they left out any attempt at PvP balance and gave the player some manner of ability customization outside of items. Lastly, the hero editor interface is somewhat clunky. If there is a way to view all a character’s equipped gear at once, I haven’t found it. You have to assess it one slot at a time.
That said, I will be playing this game. The core gameplay is solid enough to provide action RPG fans with hours upon hours of casual fun with friends. But Diablo III this ain’t.
[youtube id=”63HozLo8eME” width=”633″ height=”356″]
The Mummy is good. No you, read that correctly.
Although it had no right to be anything but absolute codswallop, this licensed title is actually a rather lovable NES style puzzle platformer.
It’s nothing spectacular, but it keeps thing relatively straightforward and is all the better for it.
Perhaps it’s no surprise when you consider Konami were involved though.
Or, more accurately, Konami Compute Entertainment Nagoya – a now dissolved subsidiary of the huge Japanese Developer and Publisher.
The main thing that works about The Mummy is that it never feels that strongly tied to the movie. Instead it feels more linked to a game like Solomon’s Key – in spirit at least. This is a good thing.
It has you tackling self-contained stages, with the main task to collect a set amount of relics as you venture deeper into the tomb.
The most interesting element of the game is that there are three characters to play as, and you’ll have to utilise each of their unique abilities to reach the end.
Evelyn has the largest jump, Rick is good in combat, and Jonathan handles the explosives.
Most stages just involve pushing crates, jumping over pits and detonating explosives to open up walls, but it’s suitably enjoyable in a firmly old-school way.
There’s a fair bit of trial and error involved though, and sometimes you can mess up completing a level with one vital mis-step in the latter stages. A rewind feature would have been a welcome feature in such occasions.
Fortunately there’s a password system – finishing the game in one sitting would have been an impossible task.
Still, if you treat the game as an old-fashioned experience you won’t be disappointed – the dinky graphics and solid controls do feel like they’re from another era, but it’s largely an era you’ll be happy to revisit.
Just make sure you don’t pick up the woeful The Mummy Returns by mistake.
[youtube id=”HlDZg-vYAyg” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Format: GameCube Genre: God Game Released: 2002 Developer:Nintendo
I’ve got to admit that this game was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s obviously a kids’ game, and I obviously wasn’t a kid when I was playing it, but let’s face it, kids shouldn’t get to have all the fun.
Doshin the Giant managed to suck me into its world entirely. At its core the game is incredibly simple, yet somehow utterly compulsive: you play a friendly yellow giant whose aim is to help four tribes scattered across several islands. The villagers’ requests are pretty simple – they generally amount to raising or lowering the ground or moving trees about – and every time you help them out they send a bit of love your way. The more they love you, the bigger you get, so that by the end of each ‘day’ in the game Doshin is usually towering above even the highest mountains. However, come the next day, he always reverts to his original size, although all the changes you made to the islands remain the same.
A lot of the game’s charm comes from its visual appeal – all primary colours and smiling faces. More than anything though, it’s the sound effects that wormed their way into my head: there’s no music as such, but the background noise is a symphony of birdsong, animal noises, the lapping of the sea and the weird, high-pitched mewlings of the villagers. The whole soundscape is strangely hypnotic and relaxing: playing Doshin is almost like undergoing brain massage. Click on the video below and you can hear what I mean for yourself:
It’s not perfect of course – the simple concept, although appealing, ultimately becomes repetitive – but it’s the way this game made me feel that ensures its place on the list. As you make your way from village to village, planting and landscaping, you can’t help but build up an affection for your tiny wards, and there’s a sense of fatherly pride as you watch your little denizens go about expanding their villages and building monuments in your honour.
But there’s the catch – the ultimate goal of the game is to get the various villages to build all 15 possible monuments, but only half of these are ‘love’ monuments. In order to get the remaining ‘hate’ monuments, you have to terrify your villagers by tapping the shoulder button and turning into Jashin the Hate Giant, allowing you to destroy the villages and murder the inhabitants.
After nurturing my villagers for so long, watching their families grow and listening to them burst into cheerful song at my approach, I was quite reluctant to rain down fiery destruction upon them, yet it was the only way to proceed. As they ran in terror while I systematically destroyed their houses, I couldn’t help but feel terribly guilty – and there are very few games I’ve played since that have managed to provoke such emotion.
Who’d have thought a kids’ game could be so provocative?
Wasteland 2 Review by Honorabili
Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10
Wasteland 2 is the direct sequel to the original Wasteland, the game that Fallout was based on. Wasteland 2 takes the setting from the original game and updates it with isometric gameplay elements we love from similar games such as Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Jagged Alliance, Jagged Alliance 2, the X-COM series, and Silent Storm 2, as well as the lost Amiga classic RPG Perihelion. In spirit, to me, this game is what Van Buren would have been like for Fallout 3 rather than the Fallout 3 Oblivion-like game that actually got made. The writing for Wasteland 2 is also a lot like the one in the games I previously mentioned as well as Fallout: New Vegas.
The game takes place in an alternate timeline. The nuclear apocalypse happened in 1998 (although if you play the game it feels like 1988, maybe even 1983 based on the computer technology you find in the game) and it’s now nearly a hundred years after the end of the world. The kind of destruction of civilization and barbarity that take place would be at home in the Mad Max universe. Out of the chaos of the apocalypse, some engineers and military personnel in the territory that used to be the United States of America organized itself in the shattered remains of Arizona to become a paramilitary organization that would police the wastes. They are called the Desert Rangers. Your party are new members of this group that are quickly sent to investigate the murder of Ace, one of the characters from Wasteland 1.
Not only must you contend with the surviving psychopaths of the Wasteland but you are also trying to survive in an environment where you are not only battling radiation, limited ammo, limited healing, but also the lack of water. This is an element that was also found in original Wasteland and it will make you feel a lot like playing a Dark Sun Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
Every location and they way you interact with the people in those locations affects the world in a large or limited way, depending on how relevant they are to the storyline of the game. Much like Fallout 2, this game is also filled with easter eggs, pop culture jokes, and inside jokes. Exploration is encouraged as the game will reward you with rare items which usually don’t seem useful but they may be useful to a character that you might meet after 10-20 hours of gameplay later. It’s this kind of depth that makes Wasteland 2 as enjoyable as playing all the RPGs I mentioned previously.
The game consists of making your characters explore and interact with locations (people and objects) as well as a LOT of combat. I would say this game is the polar opposite of Planescape: Torment (another favorite RPG of mine). Whereas Planescape: Torment had very little combat, the slaughter in Wasteland 2 is legendary! Combat happens very much in the same manner as Jagged Alliance, Fallout Tactics, and X-COM games. You position your crew in a square-system based grid and they move and shoot based on Action Points. These action points are based on your characters’ statistics as well as reduction in AP based on what armor you are wearing and also a bonus/penalty to AP based on whatever trinket you have equipped.
The game uses a hit point based system, much like most games do, which although is not the most realistic system is not as punishing to new RPG players as some other systems are (Vampire or Shadowrun proportionate health systems). Much like the original Wasteland, the game uses a very intricate healing system for which first aid and surgeon are two separate skills. First aid is mainly used to increase the efficiency of first aid kits in healing hit points, whereas surgeon is used to recover fallen soldiers and bring them back from the brink of death, as well help them recover from bleeding, and other status ailments.
Combat aside, the game has a very straight forward attribute and skill system. Most of the skills have a use which is self explanatory towards objects in the environments of locations. What’s interesting is that what is the speech skill in Fallout is implemented in this game instead as three separate kind of social skills: smart ass, kiss ass, and hard ass. Smart ass applies towards dialogue options in which logic is usually involved. Kiss ass involves towards stroking other people’s egos. Hard ass involves threatening (usually physically) some weak minded fools to bend to your will (basically intimidation). Much like many other games only social skills will open up special dialogue options that will lead to new plot lines.
Hectic combat is a lot of fun
Completely customizable player characters
Well written characters for NPCs (including party members and town NPCs)
Really well made audio (both sound effects and music)
Can run on most systems (even obsolete ones)
Very immersive environment
Many hours of game relative to the cost of purchase
Buying this game will continue to fund more games like this
Using the radio saves having to return to home base and that saves time
NO DEADLINE (aka gun to your head) like in Fallout 1 and 2
The funny, detailed combat log from the old Bard’s Tale games as well as the original Fallout games is implemented in this game too
This game is proof that really good games that people need can come out of crowd-funding projects
Single-player game only
No editor for making custom campaigns
AI is not that effective in combat (in fact, it’s pretty dumb)
Unity graphics engine looks dated
Unity engine is sluggish (latest updates have made it faster though)
Inventory management could be a little bit more polished
People who did not play 80s-90s-early 2000s RPG games will be not interested in playing it
Lots of loading and saving because of sometimes ridiculous skill tests (10-13% probability of passing with 45% critical failure rates)
Loading games on a hard drive can be slow and since loading happens often because of critically failed skill tests the game can get boring
I found some bugs/expoits (they have been patching the game every week or two since it came out so soon there will be none)
We finally got the Wasteland sequel that we needed. How much did we need this? Well, fans of the original game had reverse engineered that game in order to modify it. That was a project that took years and a lot of patience. It’s been years since an actually good science-fiction, especially post-apocalypse RPG has come out. The wait was worth it.
All fans of the original Wasteland and especially fans of Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics MUST play this game. I highly encourage you to BUY IT especially since inXile did such a great job and they will continue to make the RPGs we crave. Keep the dream alive! Now here’s to hoping they make Wasteland 3! 🙂
[youtube id=”O1uCtRGgvb8″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant had no right to be good.
The artwork for the game’s cart and box looks goofy beyond belief (just look at Bryant’s expression in the picture below), the name is a bit rubbish, and it was only released in America.
All these factors would seem to point towards only one outcome – the game is a failure and has been rightly forgotten.
But no. Somehow NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant is a polished basketball extravaganza of a game, and is accessible for people who don’t even have an interest in the sport (such as myself).
It starts off as many sportsmen sponsored titles do though, with a pixellated image of the sports celebrity in question and some lively backing music.
All the options you’d expect are here as well – Pick Up (where you can play a one-off match), Season, Play-Offs and Rosters (where you can look at individual’s statistics and even create your own player).
You can also choose from a huge number of teams, all with their own cool names and flashy logos, such as the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings.
It’s the actual basketball itself where the game impresses though.
The small court is viewed from an isometric perspective, which could be a recipe for disaster, but actually works well- mainly because of the colourful but clear visuals.
There is some ghosting on certain players when there’s a lot of action on screen, but generally the game is impressive in the visuals department, especially for a GBC title.
Matters are helped further by the controls being simple to understand, but still offering enough depth to stop things from becoming boring.
While attacking A is pass, B lets you pull off a fake shot, and A plus B lets you throw the ball.
Defending is usually difficult in basketball games, but here it’s actually fairly easy to pick up if you’re patient.
B allows you to swap your player, and A lets you swipe to attempt to regain the ball. Doing this at the correct time is crucial, and thanks to the game’s clear graphics it’s easier to do than you’d expect.
So the game’s well designed and fun to play, but it’s elevated even further by its excellent presentation.
An example are the sound effects that you hear during games, such as when you dispossess someone of the ball, manage to score, or lose the ball yourself.
They all sound like SFX from an Atari 2600 shoot-em-up, and are therefore brilliant. It helps stops the game from feeling too serious too.
Little cutscenes when you make a slam dunk, start a game, and win a match all add noticeably to the experience as well.
Overall, NBA 3 on 3 Featuring Kobe Bryant feels like it has had some real effort put into it, and it still holds up today.
As complete a portable sports game as you’ll find, this is well worth investigating if you’re into basketball – even if you’ll have to import a copy from the US.
[youtube id=”cZ1oA-QBflI” width=”633″ height=”356″]
City Connection was a somewhat classic arcade game that debuted in 1985, offering players a fast-paced high-score challenge that demanded intense concentration and twitch-speed reflexes. In 1988, Jaleco published an 8-bit version for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Was the cartridge any better than the cabinet?
City Connection is a platforming puzzle game with a unique premise: The protagonist is off to see the sights that the world has to offer; however, rather than paint the town red, he wants to paint the streets white. This means that the goal is to just drive over every square inch of road that each city has to offer, completing a stage when every blank grid space has been marked in white.
But rather than drive over one single road, presentation is given from a side view, with four tiers. This means that the controlled car must be constantly jumping up to higher levels, falling to lower ones, or hopping across gaps. The A button is used for jumping, as proper, while the directional pad corresponds with movement, of course.
However, the challenge arises in the fact that our mysterious driver does not explore these streets alone. There are always multiple police cars patrolling the byways, along with cats that just sit in the road and instantly take a life if struck. The player begins with three lives, and can earn extras when hitting 100,000 and 300,000 points.
To both foster bonus points and defend against cops, there are oil cans strewn throughout the stages. Picking them up adds them to an inventory, whereas the B button fires them ahead of the vehicle, striking law enforcement vehicles to render them harmless. If the player can stockpile oil cans without using them, 100 bonus points are awarded for each when the city is completed.
If the player stays on one of the tiers too long, metal spikes begin erupting out of the ground, just one, that will sit there until moving to a different level. The cats, the spikes may disappear if the player simply turns around and lets them go off-screen before returning to their spot; although unlike the felines, the spikes tend to appear much more aggressively.
Thus, the player ends up with a maze-completion type game in the vein of Pac-Man but with platforming mechanics drawn somewhere through the ages from Donkey Kong. This is an arcade-style game, with six stages that endlessly repeat, purely for the pleasure of seeking the highest score. Two players can try in alternating turns.
Oh, and there are balloons. They are worth bonus points, and grant a city-warp effect when three are collected. Magical warp balloons, yes. Even with those hexing helium semi-spheres, City Connection just poses too many cheap deaths in the player’s direction to really be any fun. This is a “challenge for challenge’s sake” sort of game, where only those who played it without other choice or in search of something utterly difficult and minimally rewarding would ever truly grow fond.
In this reviewer’s opinion, the visuals of City Connection on NES are the game’s highlight. The protagonist car has some nifty animation frames, having the policing vehicles appear differently in each city is a nice touch, and the background details for the cities themselves are wonderful, with recognizable sights like Big Ben in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, along with portraying the locations in differing times of day. There is even a faux parallax scrolling effect at work, whereby the background is scrolling by a little bit slower than the streets themselves.
Then again, this game has some serious flickering problems, with many police vehicles constantly blinking in and out of existence, which can be a distracting nuisance for the eyes. Also, while the arcade original actually used colors to fill in the streets, all NES players get is a bland, tepid, boring, depressing stark white across every roadway. Bleh.
The sound effects are barely noticeable, and never more than a brief one-note blip across the player’s consciousness. The music, while presenting itself as a decent arrangement of three sound-channel instruments, feels somewhat uninspired and gets repetitive. Eh.
While arcade-style high-score games have their place, and within their own category have varying tiers of quality, many of them lost something in their porting to home consoles in the 8-bit era.
City Connection may have been one of them. Whatever the case may be, players are left with a subpar experience that, while not atrocious and certainly representing a game, raises a tough question: “If I had other NES titles to choose from, why would I play City Connection?”
[youtube id=”Ilsx3wm1nVY” width=”633″ height=”356″]
The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island
[youtube id=”QYoh-JZ04AI” width=”633″ height=”356″]
[youtube id=”zlNqtY76ho0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
10 Yard Fight
THE FINAL VERDICT
[youtube id=”0F6duC2kYXg” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
This game was originally released on the original Xbox as Ninja Gaiden Black, then it was updated to “Sigma” for the PS3. The Sigma plus you would rightly assume is the Vita port of this game, should it have been left out of the launch window or is it one of the best titles on the system?
Keep reading to find out.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus isn’t a narrative powerhouse, but it’s full of a great kind of kitch story telling. It’s about honor and family, sensei’s and demons. The fun is actually in the cheese, and in that way the story doesn’t disappoint. You play as Ryu Hayabusa, a member of the Dragon lineage (and the Dragon Clan as it turns out). Your family protects the Dragon swords, one evil sword and one…not so evil one that Ryu carries around. In the first chapter Ryu’s village is attacked and your adventure begins.
You meet a few interesting characters along the way, and even get to play as another character in the story (a monster hunter named Rachel). Really though this game is about the great action and challenge you’ll face while playing this title. The story doesn’t drive you forward like some of the great narratives in the medium, but it keeps you interested with the next strange conversation you’ll hear, or by learning a little more about Ryu and his famous sword.
This is where this title really shines. As an action game Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a thrilling experience, the action is challenging of course, but it’s never cheap, and you always know that when you die, no matter how frustrating it may be, that if you practice you’ll improve. You start with the Dragon sword, but as the game continues you get numerous other weapons to rely on. Throwing weapons, bombs, staves, dual katanas, nunchuku, etc. etc.
Some of these weapons are necessary for certain enemy types, but they’re all fun to use, and easy to learn. Ninpo magic is something you’ll work with as well, which is a bit of a help especially in boss battles. I didn’t use it very often preferring the melee combat, but the Ninpo magic certainly saved my butt when I was in a jam.
There is a bit of platforming in the game, but luckily Ryu is an agile guy, and can run along walls, climb ledges, and do just about anything you need. Don’t expect Assassin’s Creed level of platforming, but those sections in this game usually make you think, and although they were sometimes frustrating, just like the combat, it isn’t cheap.
Upgrades are another thing you’ll find in Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, you can upgrade your accessories for upgrades (like extra health or defence) and every weapon can be upgraded to do more damage ala God of War. Upgrades, health potions and accessories are all available for purchase from in game shops and strangely enough statues of blacksmiths. You buy upgrades with the yellow orbs you collect from killing enemies. It has a familar economic feel just like other action games, and it works well, and there’s just that much more incentive to go out and kill some more baddies.
Some of the shooting mechanics are a little annoying though, you use the touch screen to shoot arrows and other projectiles. They take a little while to get used to, but luckily they’re not that common of a hindrance. You’re lucky in the way that you can kill almost any enemy with your awesome melee combat.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus actually looks quite good on the Vita. The game runs really smooth, and the animations are great. The first time you see Ryu use nunchucks you might get a flashback of Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon. They took a lot of care when they first made this title. The animations are different for each weapon as well, making them all really interesting to use.
The environments in this game aren’t the most exciting, but then again you have to take into account when this game was made. It won’t blow you away with amazing settings like Uncharted Golden Abyss did, but the places you see in this game are at least quite varied, you’ll go from a small village to a large capital city, to dungeons, and even an Egyptian crypt. I don’t give away all the environments of course, that would spoil it a bit, but you’ll be surprised along your way, that’s for sure.
The voice overs are actually well done too, they really push the cheese factor that the story calls for. The pre-rendered cutscenes are great too, you’d be surprised how over the top they are. The music is decent as well, but it won’t really blow your mind. I don’t ever remember it being annoying or memorable in either way, I guess I was more working on the great combat.
Is Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus Worth it?
Undeniably yes. If you’ve never played this title and have a Vita, buy it. There was a ton of content in this game too, it took me almost 20 hours to complete the main story, and there are many “ninja challenges” that test your skills too. The difficulty in this title is a little extreme as well, and for perhaps good reason they developers put in a mercy button for you (after dying a few times they ask you if you would like to continue your quest, if you say no, you’ll be pulled back into the game at a lower difficulty, this wasn’t explained sadly though, so I unwittingly ended up finishing the game on the lowest difficulty, there being three).
What really had me hooked, and I mean up till 3am in the morning hooked on this game is the great gameplay that is visceral and satisfying. This is a great title for the Vita, make sure to check it out.
[youtube id=”OljpPWRJAAU” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Martian Gothic: Unification
Survival horror titles tend to be less scary the older they get – they still retain some impact, but the ageing graphics can sometimes have a direct impact on how immersed you become in the game’s world.
Martian Gothic: Unification doesn’t suffer as much as you’d expect in this regard though, mainly due to the game’s slower paced nature.
It starts off with a fairly long opening cutscene, which sees a three person rescue team being sent into a Mars space base to investigate why nothing has been heard by its crew for ten months.
It’s a predicable set-up, but that doesn’t make the amount of effort that’s gone into the game’s presentation any less impressive.
The music is dripping with dread, and the opening voiceover sets the dark and foreboding tone rather well.
You’re then thrown into the game proper, and you have a choice of three characters to swap between – Kenzo, Matlock and Karne.
Each character has entered the base at different doors, mainly due to their instructions to ‘stay alone – stay alive.’ Yes, that’s possibly the worst reason ever to have characters split up, but it does mark the game out as being a little bit different.
This is mainly as you can only progress to certain areas by co-operating with your colleagues by, for example, sending each other relevant items using delivery tubes (or ‘vac-tubes’) and opening doors for the others by using computers in your section.
The game is also aided a great deal by the decent voiceover work and a solid script that helps maintain your interest – although there are exceptions to this.
Kenzo talks like he’s on dope for example (just listen to entries 42 and 13 on this Youtube list for a sample), and he does ruin the atmosphere a little as a result – the way he calmly reports seeing a floating reanimated corpse is ridiculous.
But by and large, the script is well crafted, and you’ll be surprised at how much work that’s gone into it. There are several audio logs from members of the now departed crew, and each character has realms of voiced dialogue.
The game doesn’t even look too bad nowadays, mainly due to its Resident Evil style rendered backdrops with fixed perspectives.
There’s very little movement in each screen – but that actually works in the game’s favour, as it’s even scarier when the infected humans drag themselves into view.
Despite the game’s admirable qualities – of which it has several – it’s a little too frustrating to be enjoyable though (perhaps being enjoyable isn’t the aim of a survival horror title, but you get the point).
One minor problem are the awkward rotate and move controls which can make avoiding the re-possessed humans and various beasts a struggle (the constantly changing perspectives when you’re going from place to place doesn’t help), but more problematic is the occasionally confusing design.
With three characters the possibility to miss something vital is tripled, and the unhelpful map doesn’t help matters.
Some of the puzzles also have overly vague solutions, and you can often be wandering aimlessly looking for the right item or clue – this isn’t ideal when enemies re-spawn constantly. The fact there are very few complete guides to the game tells its own story.
As a result, there are probably very few people who will enjoy Martian Gothic: Unification nowadays – but if you have the patience of a saint you may be able to savour the game’s finer qualities, namely its plot and script.
[youtube id=”L_IUlcXo8jg” width=”633″ height=”356″]
The Night of the Rabbit
The point-and-click adventure game is not extinct, but it has been largely in hiding over the last several years. It is not a surprise, video games have evolved a great deal over the years, with a lot of AAA titles sporting amazing, fully animated visuals and high-priced voice and musical talent. Still, I have a soft spot for the genre. They are not generally the first games I go out to play when I see one released, but every now and then a storyline, or some gorgeous artwork will catch my eye and I settle in for a good old fashioned bit of video game nostalgia.
I think perhaps my most recently point-and-click adventure was also courtesy of Daedalic Entertainment, back when I reviewed The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav – which I liked quite a bit. I happily scored it an 8 overall and it was definitely time well-spent.
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to play The Night of the Rabbit, and it has a lot of the same hallmarks found that title as well – a likeable main character, a distinctive art style and good audio that helps present a story that is probably the biggest Daedalic has released to date and definitely worth your time if you are a fan of this genre of video game. It is still somewhat short of a play compared to some titles, but for an adventure like this, it holds up nicely.
Graphics – 9:
These are not a technical achievement by any means, but sometimes visuals simply resonate with you.
The art style here is bright, colorful and shows incredible style and detail. The animations are quite good, especially for the lead character Jerry Hazelnut, a twelve year boy reaching the end of his summer. It is not going to tax out anyone’s video cards, and that is a good thing in this instance as I was able to just settle in on my laptop and run it very smoothly from my bedroom.
Sound & Music – 8:
The sound effects are usually minimalistic in nature, but are woven into the game’s events skillfully.
The music was also quite good, never grating on my nerves and offering up enough variety to keep it from ever really getting repetitive. Best of all, there is a ton of well-voiced dialog to be had here. You can skip it if you want, but you lose some of the vibrance of the world all around if you do.
Gameplay – 7:
This is a click-and-point adventure, so from an interface standpoint you should know exactly what you are getting here.
I never had any detection issues, it all ran smoothly enough. The puzzles generally work well, but there are a few that can strain your patience. I admit that sometimes I wish the games would point you in the right directly a bit more than this one did, but maybe that is my own personal preference.
Intangibles – 8:
I thoroughly enjoyed the story in general, and Jerry in particular as our protagonist.
I touched on the length above, and I would guess I spent about fourteen or fifteen hours with the game. I suspect a big factor is how often you get ‘stuck’ on puzzles – which can certainly happen. There is some bonus content in the game as well, most notably a fairly basic card game called quartets – all of which is welcome because once you have beaten the story and seen it through to the end, there is not much reason to give it another go.
Overall – 8:
I actually liked The Night of the Rabbit a bit more than The Dark Eye.
Both games have a distinctive style about them, both are point and click games, but they do some things differently as well. The spells you can learn on your quest in The Night of the Rabbit are actually quite fun to attain. As soon as I got one, I found myself pondering how it might be used in an upcoming puzzle of some sort. Point-and-click adventures are not for everyone, but if you are a fan of the genre, The Night of the Rabbit is very easy to recommend.
Chase HQ was my first arcade love. It’s the first arcade game I can actually remember, well, remembering. I knew the name, I would actively seek it out in the various horrible, dingy, seaside arcades I forced my family to take me to as a kid.* It was colourful, it was noisy, you got to drive a car, bash into another car, and a man leaned out of the window and fired a gun. Brilliant. Simple, effective arcade action. I did whatever Nancy told me to do. I still probably would.
So it was only natural I would want my very own version to play at home. As Lewis has already touched on here there was a time when everyone was obsessed with something being ‘arcade perfect’. The dream held by every school boy was that they could play an exact replica of the game they played at the arcade in the comfort of their own bedroom, away from the frightening puffa-jacketed older boys who might beat them up or intimidate them by standing right behind them and watching them play.
Of course it all seems so quaint now, bloated as we are on fancy graphics and plasma tellys. Why, the arcade itself now struggles to compete with home consoles, relying on ever more elaborate and expensive gimmicks to try and get people to fritter their pound coins away as they once did with their 20ps. Ahhhh, ’twas a different time.
At the time my brother and I were proud owners of an Amstrad CPC6128k (with disc drive, and I’m sure it was spelt disc not disk back then). Now the Amstrad CPC version of Chase HQ was never going to be arcade perfect. Even at 10 years old I knew that.
While the arcade version looked like this:
The Amstrad CPC version looked like this:
Didn’t matter though. I was well used to such differences and had lowered my expectations accordingly, I just wanted the chance to play Chase HQ at home. Is that really so much to ask?
I found a mail order company in an Amstrad magazine selling Chase HQ at a very reasonable price. I can’t remember how much now, something like £5, but it was cheap. I saved up the odd 20 pence and 50 pence given to me by grandparents and aunts and uncles until I had enough. I got my mum to write a cheque for me, posted my order and waited.
And after about 2 months my parents tired of me asking if Chase HQ had arrived every time I got home from school. My dad called the company, it seemed they had gone bust. I wasn’t going to ever get the game. They had though, in a thoughtful parting gesture, cashed my mum’s cheque, effectively stealing from a 10 year old.
Now this is were Robert Maxwell gets involved. At least I think he does. I’m sure I remember my Dad saying the company had gone bust partly because one of Maxwell’s companies, I presume Mirrorsoft but again I don’t know, owed them a huge amount of money. So, in a roundabout way, Robert Maxwell stole Chase HQ away from me. How did he sleep at night? Maybe that was the final guilty nail when he was on that boat…
Though now I think about it (and having done a little bit of research on the internet – I checked wikipedia) that doesn’t seem that likely. Still, I like to blame him, he did enough crooked things that adding another seems fair enough.
I never got Chase HQ. Very soon after that incident it became increasingly difficult to find places selling Amstrad CPC games, certainly older ones. It seemed I just wasn’t meant to play it at home. In fact after that experience I stopped playing it in the arcade. The game had been soiled in some way.
So, how did Chase HQ make my life slightly better? Well, it taught me to be wary of ads in the backs of magazines – an important lesson to learn whatever your age.
[youtube id=”o8xGfpcl4uA” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Dig Dug (Digu Dagu)
A lot of people are probably familiar with this game as it was an arcade game but I never really had an arcade near me when I was growing up so this was a whole new game for me when I played the Famicom version, as I was only familiar with Dig Dug II that actually was released on the NES.
You play as Dig Dug, a little blue guy (kind of like a smurf in white overalls) who is basically an underground exterminator who uses something like a bicycle air pump to exterminate his enemies. There are only two types of enemies you will encounter, Pookas who are the cute red round guys with the goggles and Fygars the green dragons who breathe fire at you through the dirt. Gotta be careful or if you get hit you will be BBQ.
Since this is based on an arcade game your objective other than just clearing levels is getting as many points as you possibly can. This can be accomplished in several different ways. Just digging will earn you 10 points a block, which is alright but your time is better sent going after enemies. Dropping a rock on an enemy will earn you 1000 points, if you kill 2 or more 1500 points each and any more than 2 is worth 2000 points for each enemy. Once you have dropped 2 rocks in the level other bonus items will appear for you in the middle of the screen, if you are able to get to it. Fruits and Veggies or other bonus items like the ship from Galaxian, which is awesome by the way, for you to collect to get extra points. The item worth the most at 8000 points is the pineapple so if you see it be sure to grab it! Also keep in mind that popping an enemy further down in the dirt is worth more so it may be worth trying to lure the enemies further down if you want to try to get max points.
This game originally came our in the arcades in 1982 (I wasn’t even born yet) its not the most graphically impressive game out there, but the sprites are cute and colorful and definitely get the job done. At first sight this game gives the impression that it is very basic and simple, this is very deceiving. It definitely requires some quick reflexes if you want to successfully evade and exterminate the enemy.
As far as I can tell we never got a copy of this game in North American on the NES, only Dig Dug II was released here which is also good by the way. So if you want to play this you will need to pick up the Famicom version. The nice thing is you don’t need to know any Japanese, so you really don’t have any excuse not to play.
For some fun arcade action Dig Dug definitely fits the bill!
One eBay you can find it complete in box for $39.60, at the moment there aren’t any loose ones listed though mine was like $2.
[youtube id=”ClFN–YZyjA” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Diddy Kong Racing
[youtube id=”l9NvIMYAhjY” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Austin Powers: Oh, Behave
Classed as an oddity when it was released, time has made Austin Powers: Oh, Behave an even bigger curio.
Coming out alongside a Doctor Evil edition – subtitled Welcome To My Underground Lair! – it attempts to be a computer in a cart.
If that sounds like a ridiculous concept – that’s because it is.
Unfortunately the developer seemed to have spent most of its time thinking up the game’s concept – and forgot to actually make it fun.
The game opens with a main menu set-up like a PC desktop, with three folders on the far left of the screen. To access them you move your cursor onto them and click them with B (A would have surely been a better choice?).
Each folder contains three programs, with one allowing you to alter the sounds, cursors and Color Scheme. This folder is incorrectly labelled as ‘groovy stuff.’
The other two folders are more interesting, if only by default.
One offers incredible basic version of computer programs. A word processor is dubbed ‘Austin’s Pad’, there’s an ‘internet’ program which allows you to look through descriptions of the film’s characters, and finally a calculator (or, as it is deemed here, a shagulator).
Alas, these will only maintain your interest for mere minutes (even with Gameboy printer support for the word processor), and you’ll probably end up looking into the games folder for some proper fun.
Sadly, the games on offer are incredibly basic.
You get a Rock, Paper, Scissors game which allows you to face various enemies from the first film, a dull Pac-Man inspired title called Mojo Maze (see screenshot above), and a simple board game titled Domination (otherwise known as Othello).
That really is it, and ultimately there’s little contained in the cart that could be described as fun.
The only thing it has going for it is its original concept – and even that isn’t that much of a plus point.
It goes too far in wanting to be a pocket PC, with an example being that you have to actually tell the cart to shut down before you turn your Gameboy off. If you don’t the cart pretends to do a virus search when you play it again. Bizarre.
Overall, this ‘game’ is only worth playing today if you really have a desire to see how far a brave experiment can go horribly wrong.
[youtube id=”9dJ69Mlcph0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
Capcom & Disney just fit together so well. You have Disney’s memorable characters backed up by Capcom’s outstanding record of classic game after classic game. Back in the day the Super Nintendo was THE machine to own Capcom games on. It had Street Fighter 2 before anyone else, it had Mario & it had some of Capcom’s finest Disney releases, including Goof Troop & the 3 Mickey’s Magic Quest games.
While the 3 Mickey Mouse games were platformers, Capcom decided to make Goof Troop a Zeldaesque title. The view is similar to Zelda, the gameplay is similar to Zelda, you have some items that were in Zelda making appearances here. So why don’t we just play Zelda??? Good question.
Let’s answer that question with another question. What are the similarities between Zelda & Goof Troop? Here’s a list:
– Same viewpoint
– Same items such as keys, the hookshot & a candle (instead of a lamp)
– It’s just as fun
That third one is the clincher. It’s just as fun as playing Zelda. Yes it blatantly rips off certain parts of the A Link To The Past, but it stands on its own as a fun game that’s a lot easier than Zelda & is going to appeal to kids.
For this review I managed to finish this in one sitting, it really is a very easy game & extra lives are in abundance. You collect red gems for extra lives & pieces of fruit to build up your life metre. Cherries give you 1 heart & bananas give you 2. Once you have 6 hearts you get an extra life. This is both good & bad, you see, when you have no hearts & you get hit you die. When you have hearts & get hit you can continue. If you get 6 hearts & then another life, it means you have an extra life but no hearts, so whereas before you could get hit & continue you now die when hit. It’s a very strange setup.
The game features little cut scenes that explain the story over the course of the game. Goofy, Max, Pete & PJ were out fishing together in separate boats. All of a sudden Pete & PJ’s boat is taken by a pirate ship. Goofy & Max go to rescue them but along the way find out that Pete resembles Keelhaul Pete, the pirate’s leader hence the problem. The pirates thought they were rescuing their leader. Pete of course takes advantage of this, but when the real Keelhaul Pete returns the rescue mission kicks up a notch as Pete & PJ really are in danger now.
The player can control either Goofy or Max, or in 2 player mode one player controls each of them. Goofy is the slower of the 2 but doesn’t slow down when holding an item, whereas Max is quick, but does slow down when holding something. Max can sometimes take 2 goes to hit an enemy whereas Goofy only takes 1. I preferred to use Max as he’s quick to get away when you don’t have a weapon, but it’s down to personal preference.
The controls are simple, you walk around with the D pad, B picks up, throws objects & allows you to catch, Y uses an item selected & L changes the selected item. Strangely enough Select pauses the game instead of Start. I always find it odd when a game does this, Turtles in Time is the same. Why the different button? Who knows…
So what are some of the differences between this game & Zelda? Firstly when the hookshot (or rope gun as the manual calls it) is used to bridge a gap the rope stays in place & you lose the item. There’s no overworld, the game is just a series of levels, & the game tends to focus more on puzzle solving than Zelda which is more action based.
Also unlike Zelda you can only carry 2 items at a time, but it’s not a big issue here as you don’t need to backtrack after leaving an important item behind. The game is structured so it feels like a lazy trek through the levels. That’s the best way I can describe it really. There are no real tense moments where you’ll get stuck, or face an enemy that’s difficult to beat. If you do get stuck there are passwords for each of the worlds.
The music gives the game a very Disney feel & the final level music just feels right for being on a pirate ship. The sound effects fit the gameplay well, but there’s nothing really special to note about them.
If you like Zelda but have either played it to death or just want to relax a little then Goof Troop is the game for you. The levels are a walk in the park, the bosses aren’t terribly taxing & it’s just plain fun. A bit too easy & a bit short, but it does the job.
I give this one 80%. It’s a lot of fun, but way too easy.
[youtube id=”SQPvA0OvR24″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
Sonic The Hedgehog
[youtube id=”JNfvGm3fmYA” width=”633″ height=”356″]
The Simpsons Wrestling
[youtube id=”5GZmnQ8zZf0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
Whether or not these were a success has already been decided by history, but I’ve decided to revisit them, mainly because I’ve not played them all before, and also because I love the original cartoons. I have fond memories of the Top Cat and Scooby and Scrappy Doo Amiga games back in the day so it will interesting to re-visit these two most of all, however, the rest I am playing for the first time. Purely for alphabetical reasons out of the games I’ve selected, I’m going to first take a look at The Flintstones (1988) from Grandslam.
The title screen and theme tune appear nice and quickly on this single disk game, with even a little animation (inspired by the cartoon show) to get us into the game.
You play as Fred Flintstone, who cannot go bowling with pal Barney Rubble until he has painted a wall, once this mini game is completed you drive with Barney (also another mini game) to the bowling alley. The bowling section of the game makes up the majority of the game, once done you then go on a completely unrelated (in all senses of the word) platform style mission to rescue Pebbles, avoiding giant nuts and bolts along the way. Yeah, okay then.
The game play is, um, varied to say the least. A couple of mini games which consist of painting a wall and bowling, intercut with a driving game and rounded off with some platform action (Ed – I wouldn’t really call it action). With such a rich source of material that is The Flintstones cartoon series, that can be applied to a multitude of genres, you wonder how they could have failed. It’s a pure and simple case of “what were they thinking?”, or maybe they just weren’t thinking at all? Why did they think painting a wall would make a great game? Domestic chores, really? Even more frustrating is that if you don’t finish in the alloted time, the game resets and you have to start from scratch, with Wilma basically calling you useless and lazy.
However, for me, painting the wall was probably the most bearable part of the game, the controls weren’t as bad as I had read about, and with a little thinking involved it was actually pretty easy to beat if you stuck with it (good tip, do the top sections first, working from right to left, then the bottom working left to right). Painting done Fred is allowed to go bowling. The driving section consists of a side scrolling ride in the car, with Barney in the passenger seat, just don’t hit the rocks in the road, well, that’s if the terrible collision detection will let you avoid them. Oh wait, the car jumps? Really? Yup, you basically have to make the entire car ‘jump’ over rocks, otherwise your wheel falls off and you have to replace it. I’m really sure they could have thought of something a little more mind numbing, tedious and pointless? (Ed – Sheldon, sarcasm)
Controls from this point onwards really do let the game down a lot. The bowling section really needed some more thought in this respect, the little Fred and Barney animations when they bowl could have made for a really fun part of the game, instead it is painfully slow, difficult, and boring, even the scoring is hard to read, and given this fills the majority of the game it seems like a plus not to make to the next section (lucky for me, I didn’t make it to the next section). Thankfully, someone else has been brave and kind enough to do the hard work for us, the Amiga long play of this game is on YouTube, see link below, where the wonderful cubex55 has saved me from tearing my hair out.
Finally free from the tedium of bowling with Barney, you suddenly have to rescue Pebbles in the games final section. It unfortunate that the game descends into this, it looks rushed, and the enemies are completely unrelated to the show, it seems like the worst idea I’ve ever seen for a platform section of a game. I’m still not even sure how we got from a night out bowling to having to rescue Pebbles? Domestic chores to kidnapping, who would have thought it. In the end it looks like the Flintstones family are all re-united and happy, awww.
I do like to try to find some good in games, but this one was tough, the painting part of the game was okay, and the character sprites and little animations were pleasing to the eye (with low expectations, naturally).
Overall though it’s a frustrating menagerie of under-developed and miscalculated mini-games with the Flintstones name slapped on it. I guess in all honesty I don’t expect much from these types of licenses but occasionally you do get a good game in amongst them. There is also a Spectrum version of this game and a Master System one, in which the latter the characters are all the right colour on the title screen. Yay. For a game that retailed at £19.95 back in the day I expect a few people were disappointed with this choice of game.
A few stone age related games that won’t make you want to lob your Amiga out of a window are Prehistorik, Ugh! and Chuck Rock, so if you fancy a quick jaunt to the era of the caveman I’d recommend trying these 3, and leave The Flintstones firmly were it belongs, in the past.
[youtube id=”eUnc2ghaSXA” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Escape Plan was one of the original launch title for the Vita, and one of the games that had me most interested in the system when I first saw it demoed. The game just oozes style, and I wanted to see how it played on the new device. Is this game something to load up on your Vita or should you just leave it to look cool on other people’s Vita’s?
Keep reading to find out the whole story for Escape Plan on the Vita.
This is a puzzle game so story is pretty bare bones… You play as two different characters, Lil and Laarg, two strange ink people who are for some reason imprisoned by a guy named Bakugan.
Considering that no one ever speaks in this game (although you do hear Bakugan getting upset once and a while), there’s no personification to speak of, and it’s sort of not the point, like in any puzzle game that isn’t Portal, the Story isn’t the focal point.
This is something that I was really wondering about when I first saw the game play. Escape Plan uses almost exclusively the dual touch screens for controls. This input method have you control your characters, and the things around the environment, like moving objects in the level to help Lil and Laarg survive and make it to the next screen.
The sad part about this, is that it doesn’t really work quite well… I don’t think this has anything to do with the developers not knowing how to use the touch screens, but I think that sadly touch screen controls will always be less comfortable than button controls.
Feats that would be easy to perform with regular buttons become difficult and frustrating using the touch screens, and another problem is if you don’t have massive hands it’s difficult to switch between the back and front touch screens without changing your handle on the Vita, and that lead to a lot of unnecessary deaths in this game. The controls just never got out of the way like they do in other games where you just “are” the character.
Many times I had figured out the puzzle quite quickly, but because of the slow and clunky controls it made me want to smash my console. This game does not play well.
Here is something that the game does really well. Escape Plan runs in a retro black and white art style that really does look great, if Tim Burton worked in game design you might see a few more games with this design.
The music in the game is also great, using classical music and old tunes to – with the black and white art style – create a cool atmosphere that certainly does make this game a pleasure to look at. It does show a great attention to detail, but sadly that great style doesn’t prevent the gameplay from getting in the way.
Is Escape Plan worth playing?
This is a game with a lot of style, but really it doesn’t deliver on the gameplay side. They had an interesting idea, but at the end of the day
I felt like I was playing something more at home on an ipod than a “hardcore” gaming device. It shows that the limitations of Touch screens still persist even when you have two of them. It was a noble effort, but the idea was ultimately flawed.
A good idea but Escape Plan’s controls are clunky and obtrusive.
[youtube id=”ymOZGS0rhf8″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
In 1991, when they were not busy releasing another Bases Load sequel, Jaleco released a side-scrolling platformer for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console called Whomp ‘Em. Following a Native American protagonist named Soaring Eagle on his quest to seek mystical totems, Jaleco put plenty of developer muscle into fine-tuning this title. But in tuning the mechanics so finely, did they miss the big picture?
A seasoned NES player recognizes the formular: The directional pad moves the on-screen character, the A button jumps, and the B button attacks. While Whomp ‘Em begins with this formula, it certainly adds many ingredients. On a minor note, Soaring Eagle can duck.
But in a major way, Soaring Eagle’s attacks can be incorporated into a variety of moves. Holding B while running keeps his spear ahead of him, damaging incoming foes. Holding Down in midair enables him to drop the spear’s tip upon the head of unlucky enemies. The spear can even be used as a shield against certainly projectiles, if held in the right manner and in the right spot. The spear can even be directed upward, by pressing Up when jumping. This gives the player a variety of ways to damage creatures, and many angles to utilize.
Then there are the items, which form quite an in-depth in-game economy. Although the player begins with just a few hearts on the health bar, these hearts can be increased by collecting gourds. But the number of gourds needed to gain a heart of health increases each time, until the player needs 99 gourds to gain the 12th and final heart unit of hit points.
And this is not even to mention the bonus items that add to attack or defense until the player is hit, nor the health-increasing grabs. Perhaps the most intriguing item-driven mechanic, however, is how Whomp ‘Em handles extra lives: The “magic potion” item essentially is an extra life, but the player is limited to holding three at a time. This is a strange, different-from-the-norm way to handle an extra-life mechanic. It does seem to add some tension, as it removes the possibility of simply hoarding dozens of lives, as can be done in other games, while also making it a priority at times to hunt for those crucial hidden potions.
Much like Capcom’s Mega Man series, Whomp ‘Em lets the player select what order he or she would like to conquer the stages in. At the end of each level is an environment boss. Defeating this character gives the player a new selectable weapon type to use; typically, a boss is especially vulnerable to a certain weapon, which gives the player incentive to strategize smartly as to their order of play.
Taken together, these separate elements would seem just fine, quite enough to put together in order to create a formidable video game. Whomp ‘Em does proceed crisply, offering the player well-honed fighting mechanics to use throughout a variety of stages in an experience that proves to be a worthy challenge. However, well-designed items and enemies aside, Whomp ‘Em does have some flaws.
The additional weapon are underwhelming. Most of them just make the basic attack reach a little further, which there is already an item for, and prove to not be any more useful against most regular enemies. This is a strange choice, and could have been for any number of reasons, but it is definitely disappointing to gain the flame weapon – and notice that it only shoots a small fire out of the tip of the spear, like a blowtorch.
Some of the stage designs are questionable. Among Let’s Players and others, the final level has gained notoriety for being rather difficult and just plain cheap. These design errors are evident elsewhere, though: Several areas force the player to make blind jumps, which is hardly ever fun. At least the player can aim the spear downward, likely helping the cause in these cases. There still remain, though, a few spots in which it is tough to tell which elements are mere background and which are needed platforms, along with dubious practices in enemy regeneration.
Then there are the bosses, which range wildly between very cool and a just-right level of difficulty – to ones that are spectacularly frustrating, with such traits that include the ability to instantly take away the player’s extra lives at a single touch. While none of the bosses are impossible, and all are pattern-based, the use of cheap tactics in order to artifically inflate their challenge is a bit eyebrow-raising, to say the least.
Overall, Whomp ‘Em is a pretty good game, and just that. It is not an all-time great. It is rarely seen on top-10 lists, but deservedly so; even then, it has perhaps been overlooked a tad, since it is still better than most 8-bit titles, and while nitpickers can find many flaws, the entirety was made well as a whole.
Whomp ‘Em looks great. The enemy designs are fun and varied, while some of them even move smoothly in interesting ways – check out the floating hands in some of the vertically oriented portions. The levels are lush with colors, but better graphical signals could have been used, such as with the bizarre “electric” clouds on the final stage. Also, this game does suffer from some flickering. The pixel artists was skilled, but the execution was not quite fully polished. For instance, that jump animation looks super weird.
For a video game that feels like it was trying to be The Next Big Thing on NES, the music has a strange strata to it. While the composition mostly maintains a sense of skillful rendering, even summoning a vague Native American sensation at times, but at others falls flat or even gets downright irritating. At least the sound effects are satisfying.
Whomp ‘Em has been accused of being a Mega Man clone. You can offer the character stage selection right away alone without getting that accusation, or just borrow enemy powers, or have stage-end bosses, or involve pesky precision-jumping puzzles; but combine those, along with elemental weaknesses, and you have a recipe for such reputation. Then again, with a training level to start, the impressive in-game economy of items, the Native American flourishes, and an overall theatrical flair, Whomp ‘Em deserves a look, and is a bit more than a mere clone… even if it still never reaches the heights that a great Mega Man game achieves. Perhaps it would be a little better with a smidge more length, coupled with an adequate password or save function. Alas.
Overall rating: 3.5/5 stars.
[youtube id=”VH9raawXdWs” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Intros be damned! Today is a special day because I only have four words for you. The same four words that have become a personal battle cry anytime I spot a douchebag recklessly swerving between traffic on his little pathetic Honda. YOU. ARE. MACH. RIDER.
Mach Rider, as is the case with a few of the launch day NES titles, has curious beginnings. The name and concept debuted as a Japanese exclusive toy way back in 1972. Children were given the choice of a red, yellow, or blue car that was propelled at high speeds from a launcher that came with it. One of the rare instances where Nintendo didn’t create an intellectual property first, it was licensed from Hasbro and Nintendo distributed it. The toy itself was a bomb so around the time the powers that be at “The Big N” were looking for new titles to draw people into their debuting system, the Mach Rider license was bought on the cheap and re-packaged into the game we know.
In an uncharacteristically dark story for 1985 Nintendo, the setting is a post apocalyptic Earth in the year 2112 after an alien invasion of the evil Quadrunners. Whether the programmers were Rush fans or randomly picked that year is a mystery that may never be solved. Mad Max’s pixelated brother in spirit, Mach Rider, is the protagonist who rides like the fury of vengeance on the aptly named Mach Bike to different parts of the Earth. His main goal to begin with is simply finding a new spot to call home but along the way finds other humans that need assistance being liberated from the alien’s tyranny.
As with most early NES games, there are a few different modes of play. The main story mode is the Fighting Course, where you are presented with the troubles of the sector you are in and given the choice between two tracks to race on, giving it a feeling of variety which is pretty neat. “You are Mach Rider!” crawls across the screen before each mission and gets you amped for the upcoming hellride. The game itself has more advanced controls than most in this era of the NES as you can upshift or (if you are feeling suicidal) downshift all while firing a finite number shots at the Quadrunners who try to not only run you off the road but post-invasion, decided to litter the road with as much shit as they could find.. The feeling of speed is well executed here for the paltry 5 frames per second and there weren’t many mistakes on turns that I couldn’t recall the next time I tried and could correct my previous errors. The sound is great as a frantic tune accompanies the journey and the bike gives you a different sound when an upshift is needed as opposed to many games where you have to look at your dashboard while a pebble in the road somehow atomizes your entire vehicle. It really gets my goat when racing games do that.
The difficulty of the bike’s controls and the Quadrunners themselves are decent, but the relentless amount of crap in the road can make things quite unforgiving at times. More often than not a little puddle of water will send you directly into a barrel on the shoulder which can’t be avoided or shot. When an obstacle is plowed into, you oddly break completely apart and pull yourself together not unlike a blocky T-1000. After a few hits, the game ends and it’s time to try, try again. My major complaint with this mode is that Mach Rider’s story is never resolved. If you beat the 10th sector (after a load of practice), you are transported back to the first sector to start it all over again. It would’ve been nice to know if the poor guy ever found a crash pad to live out his life.
The second and third modes are almost exactly alike. Almost. Given a set number of kilometers to make it to in a predetermined amount of time, the second mode, Endurance is basically Fighting Mode without the storyline and an infinite amount exploding/reassembling, only costing precious time required to advance. This mode was used personally as a way to practice for Fighting Mode, as it gives you a great feel for the courses and how to avoid certain ways to go kaboom. Solo Course is the same as Endurance except everything on the course has been removed, so once again, if practice is needed, this is the place to go if you’re struggling with some of the high speed turns. As with Excitebike and Wrecking Crew, the unusable Design Mode rears it’s ugly head. Recently, I’ve gotten messages about the Virtual Console versions of the Programmable Series now being able to save/load so that’s awesome. However, for the sake of the original carts being the ones I’m reviewing, it’s a disappointment we couldn’t do it over for 25 years.
THE FINAL VERDICT
7/10 A really fun romp to kill a few hours with, the mastering of the controls can take a little while and even then there will be death, death, and more deaths. The premise is very Road Rash-ish and as great as I think this title could’ve been, there are a few control issues, like the puddles, and being read-ended to oblivion can make it seem more cheap than fun at some points. It does have the distinction of feeling very different than others of its era as a futuristic story featuring machine gun shooting biker vigilantes wasn’t standard Nintendo material at the time and is worth checking out for that alone. YOU. ARE. MACH. RIDER!
Sadly, the story of Mach Rider was never resolved even in the “Vs” arcade version released the following year. In interviews, it has been brought up more than once that the F-Zero is the spiritual sequel of Mach Rider and Captain Falcon has a few of the same traits our mysterious wasteland wanderer possessed. Still, one can only wonder what became of him. Did he find peace in a new home that we never saw? Did the looping sectors mean he was only destined to ride and avenge until his eventual end via exploding barrel? Seeing as we all say we love a mystery yet deep down don’t, I elect a revival of the Mach Rider franchise!
[youtube id=”Q1DpTTLGfAo” width=”633″ height=”356″]
TMNT Smash Up is everything that’s wrong with fighting games in the modern era. It lacks any sense of cohesiveness, more content with slapping characters on-screen to flail around without a sense of pacing or flow.
Trying to discuss motion controls in a fighting game is pointless. They simply shouldn’t exist. That said, even with the classic controller Smash Up is awful. Jumping is floaty, creating a disconnect between the player and the character. The lack of d-pad controls are unforgivable, making the already loose movement nearly impossible in terms of preciseness.
That creates an additional issue when attempting to complete the mini-games, forced on the player whether or not they simply want to continue in the arcade mode… twice. Asking for any accuracy in a game with so little is absurd, yet that’s what Smash Up’s mini excursions are designed around.
An atrocious tutorial is a simple video, not one tailored to your chosen control scheme. The mechanics, such as ninja powers, are never explained. It creates a learning curve that forces the player out before they can be drawn in, something that makes a supposedly accessible melee brawler out of the reach of many.
Mirage artists craft cinematics tailored to mimic the art style of the original comics, but also clashed with the in-game visuals capitalizing on the recent animated cartoon film. The comic drawings also appear rushed, with oddly proportioned characters and limited detail.
If Turtles fans will gain anything, it is a set of voice actors who instantaneously create familiarity with the Turtles. They fit, even if the rest of the game does not. Smash Up doesn’t even seem to be a case of rushed development. There is not a game here that could have become anything besides a sloppy melee fighter. The end results are nothing short of disappointment.
[youtube id=”1slHVxeGLGE” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Ever since first hearing about an RPG set as a parallel story (and not just a retelling of known events from the television show and books) in George R.R. Martin’s amazing fantasy world, I was holding out hope that it would lead to an excellent game with a compelling story. My basic thoughts on the matter? Well, we got halfway there.
Game of Thrones is a third person action-RPG that follows the exploits of two characters, Alestyr and Mors, though their own stories that eventually wind up intersecting in later chapters. Much like the books (but on a much more limited scale since it is just these two characters), you go from one point of view to the next, getting pieces of the story delivered to you along the way. While the narrative execution is excellent, the game itself was sorely lacking.
Graphics – 3:
The graphics are just terrible and I do not really have anything to sugarcoat that opinion with. The textures lack detail and tend to be very bland. The colors are dark and limited. Character animate stiffly and little graphical oddities and artifacting popped up regularly as I played. Considering how pretty Skyrim was on this same PC with settings set to half, it is amazing how bad Game of Thrones looks by comparison.
Sound & Music – 6:
Some of the musical scores, including the television introduction (which I am very fond of) sound pretty good. The sound effects by and large do their job – they are unremarkable and not terribly varied but they never got on my nerves either. The voice acting was a mixed bag of mediocrity. Almost none of the voice actors stood out as particularly impressive, though there were a handful that were painfully bad in their delivery. Honestly most of them just muddled around average at best,which is a shame since the game is so heavily voiced and relies on these voice overs to tell the story.
Gameplay – 5:
I really disliked the controls using a keyboard and mouse, but I could never get the game to recognize my PC controller. I am not certain if a control would have made it any better, but I have serious doubts it could have been any worse. Even adjusting all kinds of settings like sensitivity, I found the control of your character’s movement and the camera in particular to be awkward at best and frustrating the majority of the time. A few gameplay items were implemented like a slowdown system during combat that does not freeze the action as you make tactical choices, but dramatically slows it down help. The character customization of class and skills was fairly detailed as well. Still, when basic movement is such a chore, it does drain a lot of the life out of the game.
Intangibles – 9:
The story is excellent. Fans of the series will not be disappointed on that front. Both of your main characters are well-written and very different protagonists who have very distinct roles in this twisting story. At first their paths are completely disparate, but by the time you reach the last portions of the game, they are interwoven very nicely. There is also a good deal of freedom of choice and some of these decisions do nothing more than change conversation branches, but most seem to have some tangible impact on things like whether or not a character will be around to talk to later in the game. Beyond that there are multiple endings that branch off events in the final chapter, so there is some replay value to be had here as well.
Overall – 5.75:
You would think that with a score like this and the remarks above that I completely regretted my time with Game of Thrones. While I regretted the technical shortcomings and some of the painfully awkward movement and combat, I enjoyed the story a great deal. For me that was enough to at least enjoy the journey for the most part, though I will probably not replay this title again any time soon. Unfortunately I suspect a lot of people, even those who are fans of the books, may not want to put their time into this game because of those shortcomings. That is a shame too, because it is an excellent story with some good gameplay ideas that never really reached their full potential.
[youtube id=”zGnZo5g-BQY” width=”633″ height=”356″]
The other day I was looking back through the games I’ve covered so far on the blog, and it dawned on me that I have a very odd taste in games. Loads of people have been asking me when I’m going to cover classics like Sonic the Hedgehogand Sensible Soccer, but to be honest I’m more interested in writing about oddities like Doshin the Giant and Emergency Call Ambulance.
That’s partly because odd games are a bit easier to write about of course. One of the most difficult posts to write so far was the one on Super Mario Kart – it’s clearly a fantastic game that had to be included on the blog, but how do you write something new and interesting about a game that everyone already knows everything about? I ended up going with the whole ‘which version of Mario Kartis the best’ angle, but I think I rewrote the whole post about three times before I was reasonably assured that it wasn’t incredibly boring.
But the main reason that I tend to pick odd games to write about is that I genuinely like them. Give me the choice between playing Katamari Damacy andHalo 3, and Katamari would win hands down. That’s not to say I don’t like the Halo games of course, but in the end they’re just a more refined version of a genre that’s been around for nearly 20 years, whereas there’s just nothing like Katamari Damacy out there (except for its sequels of course).
But it’s not just originality that attracts me – a good story is a plus too. I’m not one of those people who just keeps playing the same games again and again (I’m looking at you Ian) – I generally just play through a game once and then move onto something else. But the game has to make me want to see what’s around the next corner to keep me playing, and story is a big part of that.
Dark Sector is a good example of a game that doesn’t quite get it right – the story is all over the place, to the point where the game would probably have been better off without a story at all (watching the developers painstakingly try to explain why some young man has ended up with an organic, psychically controlled throwing blade for an arm is excruciating at times). Not only that, the limited story available is delivered through incredibly dull, poorly scripted cut scenes that actually leave you even more confused about what the hell is going on rather than illuminating the finer details of the hackneyed plot (which mostly centres around the usual mad scientist/femme fatale/betrayed friend gubbins). Thankfully, the game was saved from utter mediocrity by the small spark of originality that is the glaive – the amusement to be had from lopping people’s heads off from a distance was just about enough to keep me playing to the end.
The wonderful Psychonauts, on the other hand, has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to originality and story. In fact, it almost goes too far in the opposite direction – basic things, like the controls (which are ridiculously floaty), seem to have been added in almost as an afterthought, such is the focus on telling the sublimely ridiculous story. I won’t go into the details of the plot here (you can read the Wikipedia entry for that), suffice to say that at one point you get trapped inside the mind of a giant mutated lungfish and lay waste to an imaginary city – populated by tiny little mutated lungfish.
Graphically too, the game is exploding with imagination, and the stylized characters and landscapes are totally unlike anything I’ve seen before in a game (think The Nightmare Before Christmas, but set in a psychic summer camp). Not only that, in a welcome change from the norm, the voice acting is absolutely fantastic, and the deadpan one-liners often had me (genuinely) laughing out loud.
Most importantly, the game kept me playing not because I was trying to collect 100 of this, that and the other, or because I was desperately trying to get some obscure, yet utterly meaningless ‘Achievement’ – I kept playing just because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Which is the way all games should be.
[youtube id=”d7DzAiAH9k4″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
Usually with games from the early 80’s you can either claim that they still retain a basic charm – or you can dismiss them as utterly archaic and not worth playing nowadays. I’ll do the former.
Venture hasn’t aged as badly as you might expect though. Sure, the graphics are incredibly basic, but it’s compulsive structure is timeless.
A basic dungeon crawler at heart, the game has two main styles of play. The first is a large view of each level (see screenshot below) where you control a tiny dot.
Even on a huge television this dot is tiny – but once you figure out where it is (it’s at the bottom in the middle of the screen in the picture above) you’ll be fine.
Each level has four rooms for you to explore, which you enter using white doors. At first entering these rooms is easy, but the further you progress in the game the more aggressive the green squid-beasts that patrol the corridors become.
One touch from them and you lose a life, so when you exit rooms you have to be very careful not to immediately bump into them. There’s no way to fight back against them either.
This is contrasted by the challenges within the rooms themselves, where you can actually fight back (see top screenshot).
In these you are a much more distinguishable entity, taking the form of a smiley face with an arrow launcher (its name is Winky – no i’m not kidding).
Within each room lies a treasure which you have to grab and escape the room with.
There’s always an obstacle to avoid or defeat in each one though, and most of the time it’s a group of enemies – which can either already be in the room or appear once you grab the treasure.
Sometimes there are other traps to avoid, such as tidal waves (blue rectangles – you have to use your imagination) and disappearing walls.
There’s a basic thrill to be had not knowing what’s waiting behind each door, and the way enemies take a second to appear once you’ve entered a room only adds to the suspense.
The sound and music is also excellent, and not just for the time – it may consist of basic bleeps and blorks, but it’s genuinely charming and adds a lot to the old school atmosphere.
Although Venture isn’t a must-play by any means, it’s well worth a look if you ever get into the ColecoVision scene – it’s gameplay may be simple but it’s still a enjoyable slice of old-school action.
It even has a solid amount of content thanks to its range of difficulty settings and a serviceable two player mode.
[youtube id=”Xe0avtFGl7g” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
I remember very well the buzz at the gaming table about a certain balding protagonist of a now-classic Sierra adventure game. He wasn’t your typical adventure game hero: he was a bumbler, a loser, an everyman shooting for the DD stars. All he wanted was a piece of the action. Well, a piece, at any rate. With the release of Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards Sierra On-Line in 1987, the 3D animated adventure game series entered a new, more (im)mature era, and a gaming icon was born. (A little tidbit: 3D in this case meant “Dancing, Drinking, and Dames.”)
Poor Larry was a luckless virgin with absolutely no game. He dressed in badly dated clothing and wore a gold chain, and by the start of the game, had come to the city of Lost Wages for one last shot at sleeping with a woman. The game began outside a bar with Larry vowing to become an ex-virgin. For many gamers, Leisure Suit Larry symbolized their own struggle to negotiate the turbulent waters of dealing with the opposite gender, and the game struck a nerve. If Larry could get lucky, any of us could, darn it!
The creative force tapped to make Leisure Suit Larry a reality was a programmer at Sierra who had previously guided some of the Disney licenses, such as The Black Cauldron, Donald Duck’s Playground, and Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood. Based on that body of work, who knew that Al Lowe would have such a twisted sense of humor? Al Lowe was an accomplished musician (complete with a degree in music), and had spent 15 years in the public school system teaching music. He enjoyed playing games, and decided to teach himself programming to make his own, and enter a new career. He completed a few games (Troll’s Tale and Dragon’s Keepwere two of them) and sold them to the fledgling Sierra On-Line company, and stayed with them for 16 years.
By his own admission, Al Lowe based much of Leisure Suit Larry on an old text adventure game written by Chuck Benton called Softporn Adventure. The game revolved around the player finding various inventory items to get into the pants of several women – sound familiar? Softporn Adventure was released for the Apple II system in 1981, selling 50,000 units for its publisher, On-Line Systems, (which eventually became Sierra On-Line). Considering Apple had sold around 350,000 Apple II systems by 1981, Softporn Adventure was a decent sized hit. Given that the Software Piracy Association’s estimated piracy rate was 40%, it was more likely that there were 70,000 copies floating around, which would be closer to 20% total market penetration. (Al Lowe claims the ratio to be 100,000 Apple II PCs and 25,000 Softporn games sold, but his statement may have been a little bit of poetic license.) Here’s a little historical tidbit for you: check out the lady on the right in the pic above…that’s Roberta Williams, in the buff.
With sales like this, it’s little wonder that Ken Williams (husband of Roberta and one of the founders of Sierra) approached Al Lowe to make a new game with a similar motif. They discussed updating Softporn Adventure to fit in the new 3-D animated adventure line-up, but as Lowe recalls telling Williams, “There’s no way I can do this as a serious game. It’s so out of it that it should be wearing a leisure suit…But if you let me mock it, I might be able to do a spoof of it.” And so, six months of programming later, Leisure Suit Larry entered the marketplace, with a very quiet launch to avoid incurring the wrath of Sierra’s major distributors (like the unamused charcoal-gray suits in the Tandy Corporation headquarters, who were responsible for up to 40% of Sierra’s software sales).
Sales were very soft that first week, with only 4,000 copies sold; no advertising and no fanfare had its expected result. However, word-of-mouth was as powerful in 1987 as it is today, and sales jumped to an impressive 250,000 copies sold. The game even managed to garner the Software Publishers Association’s Best Fantasy, Role Playing or Adventure Game of 1987. It was eventually released on several platforms, including IBM PC (MS-DOS), Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Apple Macintosh, and the TRS-80.
With the advent of VGA technology, Sierra brought Leisure Suit Larry to a new audience in 1991. It was relaunched with a completely redone game engine that used an icon-driven interface rather than a text-based parser, which was touted by the game packaging as an opportunity to “point-and-grope.” The re-release used an updated SCI (Sierra Creative Interpreter) engine, which permitted 256-color VGA graphics. This was quite the improvement upon the original 1987 game, whose highest graphics quality was 16 colors in a 300×200 screen.
Another avenue that Al Lowe was able to exercise his creative spirit within Larry’s universe was putting his music roots to good use by composing the theme music for the Land of the Lounge Lizards. The music was an integral component of Larry’s impending iconic status, using the primitive sound technology of the early PCs to create a jaunty tune that was easily identifiable as Larry’s theme. The VGA remake also had access to better audio technology, and so the music is much richer. There’s also much more of it, as Lowe could really only fit so much audio into a single 3.5″ or two 5.25″ floppy diskettes (what the original 1987 game came loaded on).
Al Lowe’s creation sold well enough that sequels were a highly anticipated inevitability. Lounge Lizards was followed by 1988′s Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking For Love (in Several Wrong Places), which was followed by 1989′s Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals. Typical of Lowe’s humorous approach to the series, the fourth game released in 1991 was actually entitled Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work. Lowe followed up that game in 1993 with Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up Or Slip Out!. Lowe’s final Larry game was 1996′s Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sail. The dawn of true 3-D adventures was upon the gaming industry, but Sierra did not have the cash reserves to retool their flagship titles to the new standard. Subsequently, Al Lowe was let go, ending his run as the narrator of the Leisure Suit Larry series, and ending Leisure Suit Larry‘s relevance. Yes, more games in the series would be released, but they would be empty shells, devoid of the charm that Al Lowe captured for so many years, victims of the rise of the bean-counters in the gaming industry. (Al Lowe is still on the Internet, and you can find him at his website: allowe.com How this creative man isn’t absolutely deluged with consultation requests from up-and-coming indie software developers amazes me.)
If you have managed to avoid playing the original Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, it’s time for that to end. Yes, the graphics are hopelessly dated in comparison to the real-world graphic opuses that populate the gamerverse these days…but the joy of Leisure Suit Larry isn’t in the eye candy, it’s in the situational comedy coupled with Al Lowe’s scripting. Pick up a copy – this game is worth any retrogamer’s retrogaming time!
[youtube id=”7Wx9TsiKx4k” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Eurogamer Review 4/10
Gamespot Review 6.3/10
1up Review 6/10
Screenshots from Eurogamer
Walkthrough from Gamefaq
I’ts been out for a while in the US (july ’04) but only recently released in the Eu (April ’04) hence the walkthrough.
Kuon takes place in a haunted mansion in ancient Japan during the Heiankyo period (dating back to the late 1100s, and no i am not that elderly).
The main character is a 15-year-old girl who has wandered into a huge mansion in search of her father and sister. Together with four trainee exorcists sent by their master to uncover the mansion’s mysteries, the girl must use a number of seals (similar to medallions) to survive numerous Japanese-style monsters. An action title with a ghost story theme, Kuon allows the player to assume the roles of several different characters in an effort to explore a multitude of plot threads.
The game’s story is set in the Heian period. Strange things are happening in an old mansion — eerie singing voices and moving shadows. You play as three characters, Uduki, Sakuya and Seimei Abeno, each with their own special chapter, respectively the Shadow Chapter, the Sun Chapter and the Kuon Chapter. A key focus of the gameplay is the use of martial arts, which the protagonists have to use to defeat the evil water spirit that inhabits the mansion. You’ll find beasts aplenty as well as numerous traps and puzzles, giving the game a Resident Evil-feel.
[youtube id=”7lvWw2gsyjg” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Metro: Last Light
It’s time to return to the underground world of Moscow in a post apocalyptic world. Will Metro: Last Light make you care enough to save what’s left, or should it all be left in the dark and damp underground subways of Moscow?
Read our review to find out.
Back in 2010, 4A Games teamed up with Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky to take his post apocalyptic book and turn into a top of the line video game. Metro 2033 was unleashed on the masses for the PC and Xbox 360 and received better than average scores, and turned out to be a fun and well thought out IP. Fast forward to 2013 and the sequel, Metro: Last Light, is ready for its world premiere.
Metro: Last Light picks up the timeline right where Metro 2033 left off. Our hero Artyom has just wiped out a race of creatures known as the Dark Ones by raining missiles upon their hive. These are creatures that could fight you from within your own mind and make you see things that weren’t what they seemed. A dream sequence shows us how the Dark Ones led Artyom to kill his own friends by simply making him hallucinate and see his friends as creatures that were trying to kill him.
We are introduced to the different characters in the story through a first person narrative that really puts you right into the world of Last Light. Instead of cut scenes, most of the story is told during the game play, meaning you’ll need to stand around and pay attention or you may miss some finer points of the plot as well as some side quests that pop up from time to time.
After the destruction of the Dark Ones in the first game, the underground world becomes thrown into a power struggle between several groups with Artyom being a member of The Rangers who are tasked with defending D6, which is believed to be a huge food cache amassed by the previous government. Those that control D6, will control the known world. The other groups are the Nazis of the Fourth Reich, the communist Reds, and bandits that will do anything to help themselves.
Having never played the first game or having read the book Metro 2033 I was worried I might have to read up on it, but the story was pretty easy to follow and understand and the intro gave me enough information from the previous story. Quite often story lines aren’t the first thing a developer starts working on, and there aren’t too many games that have a story that could stand by itself. Developer 4A games, with direction from author Dmitry Glukhovsky, seems to have made sure that this story could stand by itself. It is well written and left us having actual feelings about Artyom and his decisions in the game. The story consists of thirty one total chapters and should take most gamers ten to twelve hours to finish.
Gameplay will have you moving between the dark and dangerous tunnels of The Metro, which hold not only human enemies but other deadly creatures as well, and above ground where your breaths are measured in seconds and death can come from anywhere, including from above. Creatures you’ll run into, and that may run into you, vary from shrimp like critters, to ground crawling things on legs, to flying dragons that want nothing more than to pick you up and take you to their nest to feed their young.
Two things that are in short supply, and that are key to your survival, are your gas mask filters and ammo for your weapons. Gas masks have replaceable filters which can be found, quite sparingly, in boxes and on the bodies of the recently deceased. You can also damage your gas mask, so keep an eye on the face mask. If it starts getting cracked, grab another as soon as you have a chance. You wear a very useful watch that might not look like a Rolex, but is worth more to you than any diamond encrusted timepiece you may have coveted in the past. Your watch has a timer counting down the life of your current air filter, whenever you are actually wearing your mask. Pulling up your menu will show you how much time you have as far as filters in your pocket, but don’t swap them out until your watch hits zero because each filter has a set amount of time and this time doesn’t stack. Once a filter is swapped out, it is gone for good and you lose that time.
Almost all levels give you the ability to stealthily move through them and when sneaking up behind a bad guy you’ll have the option of either killing him or just knocking him out. There is an achievement for finishing the game without killing any humans unless forced to, so going the stealth route is a distinct possibility. Your trusty watch also has a blue light that lights up whenever you are visible and is dark whenever you are hidden from sight. That blue light becomes key to your stealth as it will light up whenever you leave the shadows.
Ammo for the various weapons in the game is just as scarce, so picking your shots should become second nature because a well placed bullet is much more efficient than running and gunning with guns blazing. Spray and pray will only leave you with nothing more than your trusty knife and no one wants to bring a knife to a gun fight. There are two types of ammo in the game as well. There are bullets that were created down in the Metro that are effective, but not as powerful as the military grade rounds that are much harder to come by.
The weapons in the game are many and range from a variety of shotguns, auto rifles, sniper rifles, hand guns and stealth weapons like dart and bolt guns.Stealth weapons are air powered and will have a gauge of some sort to let you know how much pressure is available. Once the weapon is empty of pressure, you’ll have to pump it back up or it will no longer work. On the PS3 all you have to do is hold L2, press right on the d-pad and then R1 to pump it back up. Your flashlight also requires being pumped up to continue working so you’ll need to make sure to check that often. On the PS3 all you have to do is hold L2, press left on the d-pad and then R1 to pump the generator.
Weapon dealers can be found in a few areas in the game and they offer attachments for your weapons that can make them quieter (but weaker) and add better sights like laser or ACOG. With in-game currency being hard to find though, you’ll find yourself being a very frugal shopper. You may also want to save some of that money for a nice lap dance in Venice, but then again maybe not.
This is a dark game and definitely not for the young gamers, with the ‘M’ rating truly being earned. Killing bad guys with a gun is your typical shooter fare, but taking someone out stealthily gives many different variations of executions with your knife. These are all brutal, but some can seem extra disturbing. Plunging a knife downward into the back of a bad guys neck, knowing you just severed his spinal cord, is a pretty effective way to take someone out, but very graphic in nature.
Gameplay is mostly linear, but a couple of locations do allow you to roam freely, albeit in a limited area. Venice has a shooting gallery, an adult theater complete with a stripper pole, and the aforementioned lap dance parlor, as well as an arms dealer and ammo dealer. A couple of other locations are similar, but there’s very little free roaming available. There are collectible items strewn about that will help tell the story through Diary pages, and some of these are well off the beaten path, so completionists will be busy with those for a while. Once you’ve completed a chapter it becomes selectable to re-visit so if you do miss a note, the game will tell you and you’ll be able to start that chapter over again if you quit to the main menu.
Metro: Last Light is a great looking game on both the console and the PC. We played in 1080p on the PS3 and were very impressed with the graphics. The level of detail across the board was incredible. When traveling through the darkest reaches of the Metro and using your flashlight, these details pop out at you with a sharpness you might not expect. We did run into a few glitches along the way where we fell through the map and had to reload the last checkpoint in order to remedy it. We never ran into any fatal glitches and the game only froze up on us once during the twelve or so hours of game play.
Developer 4A Games did a great job of staying true to the world created by Dmitry Glukhovsky and wrote a great story, with characters you’ll like and characters we know you’ll want to put a bullet in. Sometimes, there aren’t enough bullets to go around.
Protip: Holding your breath in the real world doesn’t help in the game.
[youtube id=”jRyyS08P7mU” width=”633″ height=”356″]
WWF No Mercy
In every console cycle there are always games that get lost in time for whatever reason, waiting for the day when an ardent fan would bring them back up to a volley of puzzled looks. When AKI Corporations’ WWF No Mercy debuted on the Nintendo 64 in mid 2000, people were already looking towards shinier, newer things that they were told would blow their socks off, destroy their wallets and take them to the elusive ‘Third Place’.
Concurrent to No Mercy‘s release, wrestling popularity was at its height, and kids everywhere wanted to be The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin ( including me). When WWF No Mercycame out my local Kmart’s game shelves were filled with nothing but copies of Waialae Country Club and the odd exorbitantly priced copy of Conker’s Bad Fur Day (something for another article to be sure), so at this point I was mighty wary of what I was getting into. It’s handy then that No Mercy was both a fantastic representation of wrestling and a damn good game. In fact, it was one of my favourite games of all time!
All it took was five buttons of destruction and the loving cradle of the Nintendo 64 controller and you could be beating up a virtual Triple H in no time. Never mind the overblown simulators that wrestling games have become today, No Mercy had an easy to learn, yet robust grapple system which meant that all competitors were (usually) similarly skilled, moves were easy to pull off and wonderfully animated for the time. There is something awesome about seeing your opponent somersault through the air rag-doll style after a well-timed clothesline, or smash into the canvas after a power bomb.
If you became good enough, simple strikes could be turned into match winning counters – all the more sweet when you could hit an opponent with their own finisher. When I say hit, I mean really hit! No Mercy captured the big hits of wrestling so well and with such great sound effects that when I used to go town on friends with a set of steel steps or a ladder I almost felt sorry for them…almost! The grunts and groans heard during submission moves are also pretty awesome but in more of a, ‘I suddenly feel disturbed’ kind of way. The bell sound effect that rang when a player copped a low blow is still hilarious to this day.
But it wasn’t just the game play that made No Mercy stand out – we’d already seen a similar engine in the previous games Wrestlemania 2000, WCW vs N W O Revenge and WCW vs N W O World Tour. It was the fact that the game is pure fan service with over 60 wrestlers to choose from, including some wacky retro long-retired ones. Nearly every wrestler came with their own unique move set and entrance video with authentic music and taunts. They even modelled the different arenas from the show for extra authenticity.
In addition to all of this is a wealth of content including a championship mode for every belt that had dialogue, branching paths and even choices you could make to influence alliances. A survival mode – where you were charged with defeating forty opponents without getting knocked out of the ring, custom multiplayer tournaments and one hell of a create-a-wrestler mode. I would spend hours crafting a character to my liking before loading it onto my memory card and heading to a friends place to take them on.
Of course, I’d love to call No Mercy a perfect game but there are a few minor things that have always irked me. If you played the game regularly you’ll remember a rather annoying glitch that randomly deleted your content. There are also other versions of the game where characters wouldn’t bleed. But hey, I’m willing to let a couple of troublesome glitches slide after so much fun, especially for something that’s still enjoyable to this day. So much so, thatNo Mercy remains a very popular choice for wrestling fans on the PC. Although, seeing as they’ve patched and modified the game so much to bring it up to ‘modern’ graphical standards it has become very much a different game – with some people going so far as to replace the older wrestlers with the current ones. Sacrilege!
So if you’ve read this far you may have worked out that I hold this game in rather high regard. For me, it’s a game that sits up there with Goldeneye for multiplayer on the Nintendo 64 and is easily the best wrestling game of all time. The gameplay holds up so well and there’s so much to do that even though I don’t watch wrestling anymore, I can still return to it with three friends and have as good an experience as I had 11 years ago.
So not too long ago an issue came up where it was believed I was out searching the online dating world for a love nougat, while it wasn’t the case it did get me thinking about online dating again, but more specifically the profiles of the women out there. Everyone has tips and tricks to turning their profile into the winning one in order to get the most attraction and hopefully a date.
However, there are many, many similarities between the profiles of women. The key is to learn how to decipher their true meaning, because we all know women never say what they mean unless it’s hurtful. So I am here to help you because, well because I’m bored at the moment.
I would never use online dating, but my sister signed me up so here I am
Translation: I don’t want to admit I am desperate and need a date, oh and I am also bad at taking pictures.
Your sister is a slut and by slut I mean she gets laid on the regular and since you do not, you hate her. Since you are the only woman alive who cannot get laid going to a drunken party you have signed up to an online dating site. You are also the only woman in the world who does not have one good picture of herself so you used the one your mom took of you at the family Christmas party four years go. You hope he will like you for you.
I’m looking for a real man, a man who likes kids, someone family oriented
Translation: I got knocked up at 15, 16, 18 and 19, but now I’m responsible, can you come help me raise my kids?
Remember that hot girl in high school, the one nobody could touch. Well a ton of people touched her, just not you. Let’s replace touched with unprotected sex and you have the twenty something family gal looking for her prince charming which really means Mr. Mom.
See real men like taking care of four kids from four other men. I mean that’s how it works in the wild right? Before the hate mail comes pouring in. I have nothing against single mom’s I was raised by one. What I have a problem with is those of you who pretend you don’t want a baby daddy when you do. Tons of women struggle every day to raise their kids and they can still date without laying the whole family plan on the man, (at least not at first) so follow in their footsteps and for the love of God take down the picture of you bending over at Atlanta fest 1999.
I want a nice guy, someone who is sweet and kind and wants to start out as friends
Translation: I need attention because the cute boys aren’t replying to my smiley faces, so talk to me mister nerd, I will lead you on then Friendship Zone ya.
Ladies, most nice guys do not make a profile where their profile picture is them shirtless standing next to someone else’s Lexus. You don’t find nice guys in the club dancing with six other girls. Now this does not mean nice guys have to be horribly ugly people, but chances are the higher up the beautiful people chain they are and the younger they are the less of a nice guy they will be.
This does not matter to some people. The reason being is they don’t want a nice guy they want someone they can show off too their friends. The nice guy is the sap you call up to go to dinner with, make him pay, complain about how you cannot find a nice guy and then have him drop you home without so much as a reach around.
Chances are the nice guy is right in your face, but there is something about him you don’t like. Do you know what that is? It’s that he is a nice guy. It is not that all women want jerks, but the only women who like nice guys are the ones who need a nice guy personality. A nice guy, pays for stuff, listens to you bitch and won’t make any moves on you. He is safe and a true trusted friend and you will never give it up to him because, it would ruin everything.
I do believe you have to like someone and be friends with someone if you want to have a lasting relationship, but if you wait too long you will be friend zoned and once you are there is no going back my friend.
This is a mix between a rant and a joke, so don’t get all mad. While much of what I wrote in here is true, it does not apply to you, does it now? See, you are different and nothing like the people I described above. “That J.A. is just bitter.” Maybe so, but you have to taste something to know it is bitter, you have to experience it.
There is much more to decipher, but that will have to wait until next time. So until then watch your back out there in the online dating world, it’s a jungle.
[youtube id=”vzxyVkIos34″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
When I was a kid, once I had my own NES, I was able to rent a game for it at least once a month or so. At the local All The Best Video where I lived, they had a surprisingly decent game rental selection for a small town, and their NES stock was, I’d wager, at least 100 or so games deep at one point in time. Sufficed to say, from about late 1990 to mid-1995, I rented myself a fair share of games. I’d even go so far as to say that over that time I probably rented well over half of what they had available. Every once in awhile we’d rent from a different store, but it was usually All The Best, and so I got well acquainted with their rental section.
I was the kind of kid that would check something out just to check it out, and playing game roulette was pretty much like any other form of gambling: sometimes you won big, sometimes to lost hard.
The worst game I ever rented, hands down, was “Defenders of Dynatron City”. Now mind you, I rented some really shitty games, games that were barely playable, crappy stories (if there even was one), you name it, but I almost always stuck with them and tried to beat them if I could. I didn’t mind if a game was “bad” as a child, I just loved playing video games. But there was one in particular that stuck out as just pure, unadulterated horseshit, and even in my childhood innocence and tolerance, this was one stinker that I just couldn’t put up with. It was so bad, I only played it one time after renting it, and only for about an hour before I probably literally said “fuck it” (to myself, quietly of course). Honestly, I might have to do a whole article on that shit-fest someday, as obviously I’m already having flashbacks and going on about it way too much.
But of course, for every stinker I rented, I’d have to say that there were at least two decent games I’d also get, I lucked out in usually having some pretty good taste. A lot of times, all you had to go on to key you off on what you should try, was box art. Box art back in the 8-bit era genuinely was ART, literally it was typically hand-drawn, some cool image to draw you in. Sometimes the image was a total lie and the game was crap. Other times you lucked out and the image was a preview of how awesome the game was going to be. Every once in awhile, I’d really strike gold, and get a game that, at least to me, was pure awesomeness. One such game was an obscure little nugget by the title of “Monster Party”.
Just look at that box art. One quick glance at it should be all you’d really need to see why I was instantly attracted to this game. Hell, if I’d never played this game in my life and saw this cover today, it’d STILL draw me in. To be fair, not all those monsters pictured are actually in the game. I’m not sure there was a Gillman, nor a Yeti/Sasquatch/Whatever that thing is, or Dracula. But that hardly matters, what matters is that that art is freakin’ awesome, and seeing it at 10 or 11 years old, I absolutely HAD to play it.
For a bit of background, the game was developed by a group called Human Entertainment, creators of the equally bizarre NES game “Kabuki Quantum Fighter”, as well as the Japan-only Fire Pro Wrestling series, and the slightly more well known Clock Tower series which would later appear on the original Playstation. It was published by toy company Bandai, who had a video games division mostly used to promote their properties like Mobile Suit Gundam. The game originally released in the states in June 1989, but I didn’t personally play it until probably around 1992 or 1993, I’m going to say. As for the game itself, in a nutshell, the story features a young kid named Mark, who is on his way home from a baseball game, when he was suddenly happened upon by a gargoyle of a fellow called Bert. Bert needs his help in ridding his home world of evil monsters who are out of control. Mark says “No thanks”, but Bert convinces him it’s totally kosher, grabs him, magically fuses with him so they are one being, and away we go to “Dark World”.
One look at the title screen, with it’s weird but oddly cheery music, that toothy-grinned monster face, and a parade of monsters that pass by the screen if you wait awhile (all of which are bosses later in the game). Just look at that green slime, and even the Jack O’Lantern icon with which you choose “Start” or “Continue”. This game right from the get go just kind of screams “Halloween Game!”, which is why I’m here talking to you about it now. Catchy music? Check. Cool looking title screen? Check. Jack O’Lantern? Check. Parade of interesting monsters that makes me want to see more? Check. Everything in order to make me super interested in this game, right from the first screen. So you press start and…….
As you can see, this is the very next screen you get after pressing start. I must tell you, as a kid I had never ever seen anything like this in a game before. I was so momentarily shocked to see a dripping blood-filled screen with bloody skeletons, that I’m pretty sure I must’ve done a double take, and then looked over my shoulder to make sure my grandmother didn’t see. Because if she had, it might’ve been game over before I even got to really play the thing. Deep down inside, I was probably excited (if not also a little scared) by this image, but even though I should have known better, seeing this didn’t prepare me for what would come…
So the very NEXT screen you get to, is the first level, and you are immediately smacked in the face by an overdose of bright and colorful and cute. I was probably as genuinely surprised by this as I was by the bloody screen before. The music is bright, chirpy and bouncy, there’s hot pink in the background, the platform blocks are smiling at you. I mean what’s a few flaming ninjas trying to kill you and human legs sticking out the ground trying to kick you between friends? Even the first boss encounter is fairly tame, a talking plant that spits bubbles at you. The gameplay was solid, it seemed fun, I could get over the weirdness of going from bloody bones to happy faces. What the hell, I was digging this game. And thus I was totally suckered in, just like the game wanted me to be, totally unprepared for what happens when you reach the screen above….
So like I said, you get to this huge, weird looking tree with happy faces all over it, which comes at about the stage’s half-way point, everything seems normal, hunky dory, no problem. Then you take a few steps from left to right on the screen, and suddenly the game has a flashing lights seizure. When the lights stop flashing, it goes from cute to what you see above. Gooey, gory, grotesque and just….goddamn. Again, as a kid, I had never seen anything like this in a game before, and even that “Round 1” bloody bones screen before had not prepared me for the “GOTCHA” transformation moment this game pulls on you in the middle of the first level. It isn’t just that bright colors and happy faces are replaced by slime and bloody skulls and melting zombie faces. The happy, bouncy music also changes, to a slow, dark, brooding (and awesome) piece that really sets the change in tone, even more so than the graphics. Just so you know, this is the only time anything like this happens in the game. The rest of the levels, while all unique and bizarre in their own right, stay what they are the whole time. But then again, to be fair, I’ve never played any other game where something like this happens. So just for this first level shake-up alone, the game is noteworthy. But that is hardly all.
This is one of the “bosses” from the game, in fact the second one you happen upon before the level goes batshit. This one picture pretty much tells everything you need to know about Monster Party. It has a quirky but dark, sense of humor that pervades throughout, and an overwhelming (but still cool) cloud of “What the hell?” weirdness that just kind of hangs over everything. The way the game works, is that you play as Mark most of the time, but can change into Bert buy getting the occasional “Dr. Mario” looking pill capsule, that will temporarily transform you. Of course, you WANT to play Bert as often as you can, because he’s a cool dragon/gargoyle man who can fly and shoot beams from his eyes. Mark is cool too, but I mean, really, he is just a kid with a baseball bat. As Mark, you hit things with your bat, or as you quickly learn is better for boss encounters, you hit projectiles that some enemies shoot back at them. As Bert, of course, you flap around and try to shoot them from a distance with your beams. As for those boss encounters, the way this game handles bosses is a bit different from most, as with the exception of the very last boss, there are no real “end of level bosses”. Instead, there are rooms scattered throughout the level you can enter. Some have nothing in them, but a few (usually 3-4) in a given level will hold a boss you must defeat. You have to destroy all the bosses in a level to get the key to open the gate at the end and move on. And of course, all of the bosses are very, very strange.
The “Sorry I’m Dead” monster is more of an in-game joke than a “boss”, as it’s already dead when you get there, and you get a little question mark power up from it (usually) for doing nothing. But the other bosses in the game, with only one real exception, you actually have to fight. Some aren’t so bad. Others, like this Jerk O’Lantern above, can take some real effort (and patience) to beat. He in particular jumps around the room and shoots tiny pumpkins at you in various directions. The bosses in this game vary wildly, and most are weird as hell.
The picture above shows a boss encounter from the second level. The background is a visual homage to the 1980s “The Fly” remake, and the boss itself consists of three different kinds of giant friend Japanese food that you must fight one at a time, as they bounce around the screen trying to kill you. Other bosses include a mummy that throws it’s wrapping at you, a giant spider that wants to drink your blood, a zombie rock star with a killer mohawk, a super annoying dragon, the Grim Reaper, and even an adorable kitten that turns evil and throws TINY KITTENS at you, which you have to bat back at it to kill it. Yup.
Another thing about the game’s bosses that should be noted, is that each of them says something right before the battle starts, and a lot of the quotes are very off-kilter or even cheesy. For instance, at one point you fight a Sphinx statue that complains it’s legs have fallen asleep. There is a giant Samurai ghost who tells you he’s a slowpoke, which he is. A minotaur that yells “MOOOOVE IT!” (get it, MOO?), before hurling cows at you. A giant Pharaoh head that exclaims “Oh boy, Mark soup!”. And perhaps the most dastardly of all, a pair of zombies that rise up out of the ground, and tell you to “Watch My Dance”. The reason this is dastardly, is because you naturally assume that like all the other bosses, you have to beat the shit out of this boss until it dies. Problem is, you beat it and beat it and beat it, and they just keep getting back up and dancing some more. Quite frustrating. It isn’t until you give up in exasperation and just sit there for a minute, that you realize these zombie guys never once attack you. Literally all they do is dance. And if you watch them dance long enough, their song will end, they’ll melt back into the ground, and you get your reward. “Watch My Dance” indeed.
It kind of goes without saying by this juncture that Monster Party is one of the single oddest and most outrageous games ever made. The fact that so few gamers have probably ever heard of it, let alone played it, makes that both better and also worse. Better because it’s like this awesome secret that only you and a few others have shared. But also worse because it’s a good enough, and weird enough game that you know it’s a secret other people NEED to get in on. Any gamer worth their salt, as far as I’m concerned, needs to check this game out. It’s hard as hell (especially towards the end). And it’s even sadistic at times if you don’t know what you’re doing (such as with the goddamn haunted house maze level). As you can see, you’re able from level one to build up a lifebar that stretches the whole length of the screen almost. But the trick is, it’s harder than hell to actually KEEP it anywhere near full, and you don’t regenerate much health between levels. This game is, in fact (while I kinda hate the phrase), the epitome of “NES hard”. But it’s still totally worth playing. It puts you through eight stages of hell. But it’s a hell that if you’re persistent enough, and also a bit lucky enough, you’ll maybe get through, and be glad for it.
[youtube id=”8PvC_UoRwuQ” width=”633″ height=”356″]
South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack
There are hardly any South Park games released on home consoles nowadays, but back in the late nineties a trio of titles based on the show were developed.
There was an FPS (South Park), a racing game (South Park Rally) and a party game (Chef’s Luv Shack).
Despite the difference in genres, they all shared one common trait – they were all at their best when played with friends.
It isn’t just a recommendation that you play Chef’s Luv Shack with friends though – but almost a requirement.
Set up as a quiz show, the game has you competing with up to three other players in order to gather the highest number of points (or dollars) at the end.
It’s as shallow as a puddle in terms of modes, with no dedicated single player option (you can choose how many rounds you play, from 2 up to 8 – and that’s it) but fortunately the main body of the game is enjoyable enough.
Each round consists of a few quiz questions and a mini-game. Questions fall into certain random categories, such as ‘people who eat people’, ‘aliens, assholes and anal probes,’ and ‘DNA holes.’
Sometimes questions are simple, and other times they’re purposefully random – making answering them a gamble. Getting one right wins you 500 points, and getting it wrong deducts the same amount.
You have to press a buzzer to attempt to answer the question as well, which inevitably makes thing very frantic indeed if there are several contestants.
There are some variations to break up the question and answer format, such as the wheel of fortuitousness (where if you land on a certain section you get a points bonus or are allowed to play an extra bonus game) or a pressure round – where if you get enough questions right a huge anal probe/drill is rammed up Cartman’s…well, you can guess where.
As you might expect, the mini-games are where the most fun is to be had, and most of the challenges are incredibly simple but perfectly suited to simultaneous competitive play.
‘Asses in space’ is an Asteroids clone for example, and has you destroying as many rear ends as you can before you lose all your lives. It’s easy to pick up, and with more than one ship on the screen things can get joyously messy.
A game that requires button mashing is ‘Eat this,’ which has you taking part in a pie eating contest. You have to press A and B to eat the pies, and the d-pad to get rid of the empty tins, and if you can get a rhythm is enjoyably hypnotic.
One other example is the Game & Watch inspired Scuzzlebutt, which has you moving left and right to bounce falling water balloons off a trampoline onto a tree (that’s on fire and has scuzzlebutt trapped on top of it).
Although each game is basic, they each have a slightly different concept or control scheme behind them, and there’s enough of them to stop the game from getting dull too soon.
It goes without saying that you have to play it in short bursts to keep it fresh though, but brief plays are what it’s seemingly been designed for anyway.
The game still holds up fairly well today as well – for two main reasons.
One is that the basic graphics actually depict South Park fairly accurately, and secondly there’s very little out there quite like this, even today. Sure, there are slicker quiz game experiences – but none of them have the cast of South Park.
The game admittedly isn’t as funny as the show, but there’s more than enough here to satisfy fans.
Overall, the anarchic nature of the show is well suited to the party game format – and if you’re a South Park fan this is an essential purchase. It’s fairly cheap nowadays as well.
[youtube id=”OQ3TQ3CB5FM” width=”633″ height=”356″]
While it’s true that the first video games to employ the combination of a space vessel and a landscape with a fairly realistic interpretation of gravity came earlier than this one, the first one you could really call an actual game was Gravitar. Like the earlier Lunar Lander and Asteroids, it makes use of lovely vectors to create its landscapes and other bits and pieces, and this time they’re in glorious technicolor! Unsurprisingly for a ‘gravity game’, it’s also set in space and involves cleansing several star systems of the many gun emplacements, or ‘bunkers’, that are sprinkled across the surfaces of their various planets. Your ship is a small blue thing somewhat reminiscent of the craft in Asteroids and is controlled by five buttons. Two turn it left or right, one shoots its feeble but invaluable cannon, another thrusts its engine to counteract the gravity, and the last activates its shields.
By making use of these buttons you’ll need to guide your craft through three solar systems and clear them of bunkers. You start off emerging from a portal of some sort from where you’ll immediately be drawn towards the nearby star. Getting too close will cost you a life so you’ll instead need to use the ship’s thrusters and head for one of the five planets that lie further out. Touching any of these switches the action to a side-viewed section of land featuring several red bunkers. Destroying one takes only a single hit but they’re constantly shooting as well so you’ll often need to be a very good shot! Once you clear the section of bunkers, simply head back to the top of the screen to re-enter the ‘home’ area and head for another planet. Do the same for all of the planets and you’ll move to the next ‘phase’ which has some new ones. If you manage to clear all three phases and you’ll then be transported to the next ‘universe’ where the same job awaits.
It’s not quite as repetitive as it might sound though. Each planet has a different layout – one might feature a flat (though ‘bumpy’) landscape, others require you to go underground and take out the bunkers around tricky caverns, and one stage consists of what seems to be an asteroid with bunkers all around the outside of it. Each solar system also features a ‘red planet’ which contains a reactor at the end of a winding tunnel. The tough part is, you have to get to it, destroy it, and get back out within a tight time limit. Doing so will ‘complete’ that solar system. The planets also have different points values which indicate how difficult they are – not only in terms of bunker positions/numbers, but also how strong the gravity is and therefore how much fuel you’ll need to use, for your supplies are indeed finite and, unlike Lunar Lander, you don’t get more simply by inserting more coins.
As well as the thrusters, fuel is also used by the shield so it can disappear quickly! Luckily, there are more fuel cannisters available on most planets which can be grabbed using your tractor beam (activated the same way as the shield). It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the bunkers are pretty good shots, and enemy ships also appear now and then and zero in on your position, so hanging around to grab fuel can often be costly. It’s not an overly tough game though, at least in theory. Lives are lost often at first but the stages are well designed and control of your ship is well implemented too – it’s one of those games where mastering the controls makes a lot of difference and can potentially see your game last forever (almost). Like many early arcade games it does keep repeating too. There are four ‘universes’ in total – the second one reverses the gravity (which will mess with your mind big time), the third one features invisible landscapes, and the fourth one has both features, but if you complete all of them you’ll just go back to the first one.
The only thing that changes for each universe is the time limit for destroying the reactor which gets smaller and smaller until it becomes impossible, but that can take a good while – the amazing world record score for this game was achieved over a continuous 24 hour (almost) period! I’m not sure I’d want to play Gravitar for that long even if I was good enough (and I’m pretty far from that – I can generally only last between 5 and 10 minutes!) but it is a pretty decent game. The sound is limited to a couple of effects but I’ve got no complaints about anything else. The vector graphics are as crisp as you would expect (and are even all glowy on the Xbox 360 port!), the ship movement and collision-detection is fine, and those controls, while initially a little confusing, do at the very least challenge you to do better. It may still be a bit too tough for some but it’s a challenge that I enjoyed anyway!
RKS Score: 7/10
[youtube id=”xsxi27MD0E0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
Metal Gear Solid 4
[youtube id=”i61HEDYN8TQ” width=”633″ height=”356″]
Asterix and the Great Escape
The French comic book star Asterix has questionable appeal across the globe (especially in the US and Japan), but has still been the topic of a literal smorgasbord of games.
This Mega Drive is far from the worst outing for the French ‘hero’ (although I will admit I have played only a few Asterix titles), but it still has some sizeable flaws that make it hard to truly enjoy.
The standard plot involves Getafix and Dogmatix getting kidnapped by the Romans, with Asterix and his rotund pal Obelix setting off to rescue them.
To do this they travel across Europe completing short stages.
You can choose between Asterix and Obelix before you enter each stage, although you can only select the other (if you want to) when you lose all your lives and use a continue.
The game starts as it means to go on however, giving you no guidance and beating you over the head with a misjudged difficulty level.
Opening with a simple stage set in a village that lasts around a minute, the game then truly throws you into the deep end with the second level.
It not only demands that you to know how to equip items, it also expects you to realise that you have to go backwards from where you start to grab an essential potion.
Even if you do somehow figure that out you’ll need to act fast – the clock is ticking.
The time-keeping aspect is one of the most notable elements of the game in fact, and helps and hinders the title in equal measure.
You are rarely given any time at all to complete levels, and you’ll often be reaching the ‘exit’ (a special potion) with milliseconds to spare.
Obviously this is massively unfair at times, but it does inject an added amount of tension and panic when you’re leaping and punching your way through stages.
Unfortunately constant design mis-steps threaten to make the game an entirely frustration filled affair.
One example is the underwater level that arrives early on. Even when you overlook the design inconsistency (in one of the previous stages touching water hurt you) it’s still got a sadistic streak a mile wide.
It not only has an irritating wibbly-wobbly filter in front of the screen, there are also foreground objects that actively hide dangers from you.
The main example is falling blocks, and the seaweed mostly conceals them from you – meaning you’ll have to tread very carefully.
But a conservative approach isn’t possible if you’re going to complete stages in time, as previously mentioned.
So here lies the game’s main problem, and if a correct balance between challenge and unfairness had been found this could have been a hidden gem.
As it stands the game only occasionally glimmers – some potion based abilities are genuinely interesting, such as ones that inflate you and help you build cloud platforms – but is ultimately dulled by repeatedly poor design choices.
It still looks good though, and it’s colourful cartoon graphics and comic book flourishes (see the ‘paf!’ bubble in the screenshot above) have clearly had a lot of work invested into them.
It’s just a shame you can’t say the same for the gameplay.
[youtube id=”DHwBb4VVz-4″ width=”633″ height=”356″]
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.
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.
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 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.
[youtube id=”KCr-s8S7PhM” width=”633″ height=”356″]
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.
Original release: March 29th 2011 (NA)
PSN Price: 19.99
Developed by: Hexa Drive
Published by: Square Enix
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
[youtube id=”TluK6rufg8o” width=”633″ height=”356″]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.