Mega Man Legends

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Imagine Metroid meets Ocarina of Time with walking/movement akin to Resident Evil, and you sort of get the picture. ~Adam R.

Mega Man Legends

While the original Mega Man series has only seen ten original games, Capcom’s favorite blue hero also had different spinoff and subseries. Like Mega Man X which features a new Mega Man built by the original Dr. Light in his last days. Later came along Mega Man Legends which introduced a new Mega Man into a 3D world.

Mega Man Legends - PSOne

Its story is also somewhat indepdent and perhaps unconnected to the rest of the series from what I can tell. This Mega Man is referred to as Mega Man Volnutt who travels with Roll Caskett (who shares the same name as the original Mega Man’s sister), her grandpa, and some monkey. It had something to do with mining and random robot attacks. Didn’t make much sense.
Mega Man Legends - PSOne
The game was not a traditional platformer but instead a 3D action-adventure. Imagine Metroid meets Ocarina of Time with walking/movement akin to Resident Evil, and you sort of get the picture. You travel around towns, and go into caverns/dungeons defeating bad robots.
Mega Man Legends - PSOne
The game met very positive reactions when it first came out on PS1. The complete overhaul was praised for the most part, and the 3D gameplay was likable. A PC and N64 version were later released but they were met with a fair harsher criticism. I played a little bit of the N64 version, but I was saddened to hear that the 3rd game in the series got cancelled.

Super Monkey Ball Jr.

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You know those moments in the Gamecube version where you couldn’t believe you just managed to avoid death? Well, in Jr, those moments increase tenfold. ~Simon Reed

Super Monkey Ball Jr.

It strikes me as a little odd that I haven’t revisited a Monkey Ball game yet, but that’s probaby as the only ones I own that can be classed as retro are the Gamecube original and this, the GBA incarnation.

The irony of this is that they’re technically the same game in terms of the levels offered. So the real fun is eking out the differences.

The most obvious difference is, of course, the graphics.

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Jr is still looks as good as you could hope though, with the simple maze layouts losing little in their transition to the GBA in terms of clarity.

After all, Monkey Ball has never been a series that’s relied upon its looks – sure, everything apart from the mazes are flat 2D cutouts, but that doesn’t detract much from your enjoyment.

But that’s the one sad thing about the game – when it was released it was held up as a mini technical marvel, much like other 3D titles on the GBA (Star X anyone?), and therefore may have been treated better by reviewers as a result.

And now, with its ‘technical marvel’ status now firmly a thing of the past, the game has to rely purely on its content.

Fortunately, it still holds up rather well in that department. But boy, is it difficult.

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For one there’s no analogue control, with the d-pad a workable but hardly satisfying alternative.

You know those moments in the Gamecube version where you couldn’t believe you just managed to avoid death? Well, in Jr, those moments increase tenfold.

Every quickly taken corner feels tougher than it should be, and even the added feature to adjust the gradient of the courses with A and B doesn’t make things much easier.

One nice touch is that you can save during the single player stages though – when you’re trying to scrape you way though expert this is a godsend.

So what about the mini-games? Well, you have to unlock them with points from the single player first of all, which is irritating, but aside from that they’re pretty good efforts.

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First you have Duel, which is basically the main game but with two players. A solid addition.

Then there’s Fight, which basically sees you bouncing around tiny arenas punching each other with oversized boxing gloves. It’s chaotic, but can get dull suprisingly quickly.

Bowling is impressively similar to its home console counterpart, and Golf is as quietly addictive as you’d expect.

But no, there’s no Monkey Target. Perhaps it may have been too tough to pull off on the GBA, but still, it would have been nice if it had been attempted.

Even if it looked atrocious I would have welcomed it with open arms.

So that’s Super Monkey Ball Jr. As long as you don’t expect it to be as good as the home console version you’ll have fun with it.

And it’s miles better than the recent 3DS outing.

Rage

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Rage also has a driving element. At first glance, you might think this was just an add-on thrown in without much thought, all just bells and whistles. You would be wrong. ~Louis Edwards

Rage

It’s the year 2029 and our planet faces impending destruction by the Apophis asteroid. Unable to stop it from impacting, groups of people are sent underground into cryo-pods, known as Arks, where they are frozen in suspended animation. Here they are to wait out the destruction above and to resurface at a later time to rebuild the planet. You are one of these people. Upon your awakening you find that your Ark has malfunctioned and you are the only survivor from your pod. Over 100 years have passed since your cryo-sleep began, and it’s now time for you to face the New World.

Rage - PC Game

The story is well written and original, with many unique characters and a deep storyline. The opening sequence itself tells the entire story of the impending doom and how the people of Earth dealt with it, and is worth the time to watch. The story is continued with dialogue from different characters and does not disappoint.

The world of Rage is separated into several different towns, and all are separated by the vast Wasteland. Each town has a unique set of characters that will want to send you on a task that will have you blasting through bad guys, or racing and shooting your way to the finish line. The tasks will vary, but each one ultimately will have you shooting your way towards a certain goal.

The tasks vary in difficulty and length, but all are fun and non-repetitive. Throw in some boss battles, and you can easily kill 12 or so hours in the campaign. Difficulty can be set to one of four settings depending on your skill level. If you are in the mood for a real challenge try Nightmare difficulty. Fair warning, it does live up to its name. Always be sure to check corpses to see what they may have on them. Ammunition can be hard to come by early on in the campaign, so taking money and ammo from dead bodies is to your advantage. It’s not like they need it anymore.

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The Wasteland is controlled by six different clans that you’ll have to come up against.

  • The Wasted Clan is a dim-witted bunch that enjoys mechanics, home-brewed alcohol and fighting. They would rather grab a club than a gun.
  • The Ghost Clan is fearsome and fearless. What seems like a nod to the roots of Doom, they deal in the occult and stage gruesome sacrifices in order to gain power in the afterlife. They use the environment to their advantage while fighting and can be seen climbing around walls and hanging from beams. Their wingsticks provide both melee and ranged opportunities for them to cut you to pieces.
  • The Scorcher Clan believe the asteroid Apophis was the horse of a demigod. They believe that tapping the energy of the asteroid will make them invincible. The Scorchers like fire and cover everything they can in its images.
  • The Shrouded Clan are deserters and are a combined group of all other clans. They use a mix of fighting styles, ranging from clubs, to guns, to exploding RC cars.
  • The Jackal Clan are a vicious clan that covers themselves in fur and look and act more animal than human.
  • The Gearheads are the most intelligent of the wasteland’s factions. These bandits have built advanced machinery and weaponry that make them a force to reckon with.

The cities and the Wasteland are detailed nicely and well designed. Tasks will have you fighting your way through dungeon style rooms reminiscent of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. iD Software definitely knows how to make a first person shooter. Flanking can be used effectively, if you are aware of the side paths. These aren’t always easily spotted, so keep a keen eye out for them.The number of enemies isn’t overwhelming and they use frags sparingly for the most part.

Rage - PC Game

Your path will be mostly linear, but there are a few offshoots where loot can be found and collected. Loot can be just about anything from collectible playing cards to dress shoes in a box….. WTH?….. Dress shoes in a box?….Really?….Why do I need dress shoes in a frickin box??!!….

In each city there will be a shop of sorts where you can purchase upgrades and ammunition. All of the strange items you may find along your way can be sold at these shops. Be careful what you sell though, as some of these items can be used to make helpful items. While shoes can’t be used for anything other than cash, there are plenty of other things that can be used to make useful items. A bunch of rags can be used along with some antiseptic for a nice little health boost, and those are always handy. Blueprints are acquired by completing tasks and these tell you what is needed to build different items. Shops carry everything you may need.

Rage - PC Game

Rage’s weapon system and inventory system turned out to be more RPG than FPS. There aren’t too many weapons to choose from but each weapon can be enhanced or changed by changing it’s ammunition type. You main weapons are the pistol, shotgun, AK style assault rifle, M4 style assault rifle, sniper rifle, crossbow and a rocket launcher. To give an example of how a weapon can be changed, load up some explosive rounds for your shotgun and it’s now a grenade launcher. Throw some electric bolts in your crossbow and you have a perfect weapon to take out a group of bad guys standing in a pool of water. The ability to change ammo type takes your modest arsenal and turns it into a vast array of weapons with exponential choices.

Rage - PC Game

Rage also has a driving element. At first glance, you might think this was just an add-on thrown in without much thought, all just bells and whistles. You would be wrong. Your first vehicle in the game is a small, unarmed buggy that is great for getting from point A to point B. Nothing too fancy, but it has a decent boost so you can get there in a hurry. The vehicles drive with power and precision, and can turn on a dime if needed (gotta love the e-brake). As you progress through the story, you’ll unlock better vehicles as well as mini-guns and rocket launchers to arm them with. These make traveling through the Wasteland a much more enjoyable trip. Taking out bad guys in the Wasteland can also earn you cash, so make sure you talk to the proper person in a bar to activate your bounty hunting task that will then be ongoing. Eventually you’ll unlock even better weapons for your ride, so don’t think your weapons will always be the same.

Multiplayer has also been included with Rage and offers a few choices. You can opt to play through one of nine side stories with a friend in Wasteland Legends. Either online or split screen, you can play through missions that you may have heard mentioned in campaign mode. You can choose either Normal difficulty or Nightmare difficulty.

Road Rage offers a mix of different styles of vehicle game play. Meteor Rally has a mix of Zones and CTF styles of game play where you collect meteors and drop them off to capture Zones. Chain Rally will have you capturing Rally Points and chaining them together for an increased score. Triad Rally has you capturing three consecutive Rally Points to score. Carnage is exactly what you think it is. It’s a free-for-all death match where killing the other drivers earns you points.

Rage - PC Game

iD Software introduced us to a genre that has long been a staple across every gaming platform known to man. Wolfenstein 3D took us on a mission to eliminate Hitler in WW II, while Doom took us on a mission to eliminate Satan’s minions. So many franchises owe their very existence to both of these games. For id Software to break away from known franchises and to embark on a brand new one took guts, ambition, and balls of steel. Not only did they succeed in creating an incredible game in RAGE, they also created a story that can easily be built upon and expanded on in this age of DLC.

Where Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake created the bar that all FPS games are measured, RAGE raises that bar a few notches above any other shooter this generation by using RPG elements, mixed in with vehicle combat, and downright awesomeness.

Black 4 In One

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There is a certain cute factor to Mr Postman (you are a teddy bear after all) yet its quickly forgotten by the sheer brutality of that constantly shitting and spitting bird. ~Joseph Tobin

Black 4 In One

Manufactured by a German company (from what little I can find out online about it) named Bit Corp. (which sounds like a really cool chiptune artist name if you ask me) is the Black 4 In One cartridge. Why I refer to it as the Black 4 In One cartridge is because years after acquiring that one (I’ve had it since I was about 10 or 12) I managed to acquire an orange one with a different mix of games on it and the same name (which I may review later).

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Anyway the cartridge has 4 games on it and it uses 2 switches to determine which game will play when you turn on the Atari console with it plugged in. This weird as I’ve never seen the same switch system used on any other Atari cartridges yet its very effective.

Something of interest is this cartridge was only released in PAL territories so they are considered pretty rare in USA.

As you can see my personal copy had taken a bit of damage thanks to my kids. Somehow it still works – further proof of how durable these old Atari carts really are (even the cheap third party ones).

Anyway these are the games that are on Black 4 In One –

  1. Space Tunnel (right/right)
  2. Phantom Tank (right/left)
  3. Bobby Is going Home (left/right)
  4. Mr Postman (left/left)

Now for the games themselves…

Space Tunnel

Space Tunnel reminds me a lot of Vanguard except you move up and down instead of scrolling left and right. Alien ships at varying speeds and sizes come at you in squadrons of one, two or three at a time. What makes this a challenge is the bullets they fire ricochet off the walls and they tend to be as fast as the ship that fires them. slow ship – slow bullets. Fast ship – oh my god how do I dodge this thing?!? Its usual Atari fare of an endless amount of waves and trying to survive as long as you can whilst scoring as high as possible.

Space Tunnel

This game is pretty fun – the controls are responsive and the adrenaline shoots up when the fast ships are firing bouncing bullets at you. When you die (by touching a wall, an alien ship or a bullet) your ship becomes a twisted piece of wreckage and there is a loud bang sound. When its game over you can still move your wreckage left and right, further rubbing in the fact your ship is screwed. Whether intentional or not I like that.

Phantom Tank

In Phantom tank you drive a tank in a maze trying to kill phantom tanks which are attacking your base at the bottom of the screen. What is really cool is this is one game where flickering graphics are actually a good thing because they make the phantom tanks look very ethereal. So you navigate your way around, shoot 20 tanks and on to the next level.

Phantom Tank

While the first level or two aren’t too tough the third level is an absolute bitch. You are fighting in mostly open terrain with a small barrier to protect the top. Where this sucks is you can only have one bullet on screen at a time and only the screen walls or the moving tanks to stop it. Not to mention if you sneak up the top a single stray enemy bullet can drift down and kill your base. When your base goes it doesn’t matter how many lives you have – GAME OVER!

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In spite of this Phantom Tank has remained one of my favorite all-time Atari games.

So the first two games are pretty straight forward. Not a lot to say about them – they are what they are and are pretty fun. The next two is where it starts to get weird…

Bobby Is Going Home

Warning – this game is cute. I’m talking obnoxiously cute here. How a bunch of Germans came up with this game is beyond me – Germany is known for industrial efficiency, hard electronic music and good beer – NOT FOR CUTE! Don’t believe me – take a look at this screenshot!

Anyway you are Bobby (who is supposed to be a little boy but looks more like an elf on his way to a funeral) and you are trying to get home. In this brightly coloured world you have to traverse such obstacles as fences, ponds, retracting bridges, chickens, bats, butterflies, rolling stones and so on. Controls are pretty good although the high jumping can get you killed sometimes.

Bobby Is Going Home atari 2600

Throughout the game an obnoxiously cute tune plays to make this German kawaii nightmare complete. That happy tune will get stuck in your head. Anyway you go from left to right through various screens dodging obstacles. When you jump it plays a little tune which plays instead of the background music’s bass line (yes the game music has treble and bass parts – something that Atari doesn’t have often).

If you hit an enemy Bobby farts when he dies. If you fall into a pond you sink ito it and drown with a bubbly drowny-type sound. As you near your house the music slows down – I guess Bobby is starting to get tired by this point. The final screen is a snow storm with you going into your house and you are treated to a happy ‘there’s no place like home’ type tune. Then it all starts again except a little harder.

Bobby Is Going Home

This game most certainly has camp value and is very fun to play in spite of the cuteness blasting from every pixel on the screen made even worse by that tune you will find yourself playing in your head for years to come. For what it is this game is very well made – lots of colour, great looking backgrounds, butterflies that look like butterflies, house that looks like a house and so on. However those black things they call rolling stones look pretty weird.

Mr Postman

This is a game most reviewers can the crap out of mostly because they can’t get past the first screen so they dismiss it as being a bad game. Personally I think these reviewers are just being AVGN wannabees and are deliberately looking for stuff to trash in games in an attempt to be funny. A bad game is a bad game but Mr Postman is a lot better than many other Atari 2600 titles.

There are three screens in all and I can make it through all of them. But it took a hell of a lot of practice to do it.

Mr Postman

In this game you are a postman represented by a teddy bear. The aim is to traverse the three screens and deliver your letter to a house in the ‘City of Silence’. Why I know this and most reviewers don’t? I used to have the scrap of paper that came with this cartridge they laughingly called the instruction manual.

The first screen is very hard, the hardest part of the game in fact. You have to run across the bottom of the screen, climb the tree jump onto the swinging rope, jump off the rope and land on the bird.

Jumping onto the bird is hard enough but many people don’t even get that far as the bird is constantly shitting while spitting at the tree. So you risk being shit on by the bird (which of course kills you). If you make it that far you risk being spat on as you climb the tree (which also kills you). Timing your jump to catch the rope is the easiest part of this screen (again, if you miss the rope or bird it kills you). As the bird is moving a lot its hard to time the jump onto it. But it can be done and when you do a triumphant tune plays and you can fly around on the bird for a bit. Yay.

The second screen you are flying around in a hailstorm. If you touch the trees at the bottom you die. If hailstones hit you (which you have to shoot) you die, if the lightning bolt hits you (kind of like a faster moving missile like in Missile Command) you die. Plus you have to shoot the birds at the top of the screen through the gaps in the clouds. Surprisingly its not as hard as it looks. Anyway you kill all the birds and the hail you make it to the third and final screen.

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Congratulations Mr Postman you’ve made it to the City of Silence – now to make your way to the house and deliver that letter. But its not so simple as there are some tight squeezes to slowly inch your way through else you die by touching the walls. As long as you take it slow its not so hard but a couple of those spaces are pretty tight. Ironically there is a simple tune playing in the background as you roam the City of Silence.

There is a certain cute factor to Mr Postman (you are a teddy bear after all) yet its quickly forgotten by the sheer brutality of that constantly shitting and spitting bird. The hailstorm is chaotic and keeps you on your toes. Crawling through the City of Silence can be nerve-wracking navigating those tight corners. You really feel like you’ve accomplished something when you deliver that letter. But wait… it doesn’t end there. Thats right, this is Atari – you go back to the beginning to do it all over again!!!

So there you have it – all four games and for the most part four fairly entertaining ones. All games have excellent responsive yet precise controls so you can’t blame those if you suck at the game. I like the varying difficulty between the games as it caters to gamers of all skill and patience tolerance levels. A rarity for a small third party company as they are generally known for bad games.

Our Rating

  • Space Tunnel – 7/10 – Its fun, action packed space shooting in a confined space. The changes in speed keep the challenge going and the richochets keep you on your toes.
  • Phantom Tank – 8/10 – Great game even if the third screen is nigh impossible to beat
  • Bobby Is Going Home – 7/10 – Fun but gets repetitive once you know the patterns. Has some replay value as its the sort of game you just have to show to people and laugh when they can’t make it home even once (then you proceed to breeze through it). I can imagine people on drugs having a lot of fun with this one.
  • Mr Postman – 5/10 – The sheer brutality of the first screen will turn many people off playing it. Yet there are those who will be determined to beat it if only once.

Overall an excellent cartridge to pick up if you can find a copy.

ISS Deluxe

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 Konami made sure you sweat when you play this game. ~Luis Zena

ISS Deluxe

This is one of the games that brought back interesting gameplay to a very interesting and abandoned sport genre, Soccer. The game itself is very easy to handle, of course you won’t be able to do much with the weaker teams so I suggest you start playing with the stronger teams like Brazil or Germany.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe

The goal keeper is something else as he will guard the post like if it was a matter of life and death! I’m totally serious, this guy gets to a point that you just want to break the controller. HE SAVES EVERYTHING!! The post is also as big as it can get and the bastard always somehow makes the save.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe

Either way, it’s always a challenge to beat him. I usually just lure him out of the post and pass the ball back for a kick on the side he is furthest from and he still manages to save the ball half the time. Yeah, Konami made sure you sweat when you play this game.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe

The teams are also very unbalanced in the aspect of weakest to strongest. I know that most games are very playable even with the weakest character (TMNT Raph, I’m talking to you!) but this one makes you want to just pick Brazil or Germany half the time. You can try it with other teams but you’ll end up having a very hard time beating the goal keeper or even catching up to the offense as your guys aren’t even as fast as your rival. This uneveness makes you work harder and truly think like a pro to find a way to win. I haven’t played the game so much to get to that point, but you will know what I mean when you play it.

International Superstar Soccer Deluxe

To conclude, the game is very entertaining just don’t let yourself pick any other team other than Brazil or Germany when you start playing. With enough practice, you can beat the team with the weaker teams like Japan, USA, and even Mexico.

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters

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One of the knocks on this game is that it’s too repetitive, and I’ll grant that it really is. ~Jesse Moak

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have figured out by now, via my site logo, and various graphics employed on the Twitter and Tumblr pages, etc., that I’m a pretty big Godzilla fan. In fact I pretty much decided from the moment that I began Retro Revelations, that Godzilla was going to be the unofficial mascot. When I created the logo banner graphic, I did so with several thoughts in mind. The foremost among them, was that having a depiction from a video game would help convey my love for video games, Godzilla, and film in general, as well as helping to convey what this blog site is all about: All things Retro and Classic. Plus I felt that utilizing that particular pic, which is actually from the ending of the game I’m about to talk about, was especially poignant, because the blog slogan is “Revisiting the Past, One Blog at a Time”, and I felt the image of Godzilla and Mothra looking at the Earth from the Moon, was especially evocative and kind of helped drive that home. So there ya go, a free peak into the creation of this site!
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I grew up loving Godzilla, and while I have yet to get around to writing about the classic movies I love so much, trust me, it’s going to happen.  I do not clearly remember which Godzilla film I saw first, as I grew up in a (better) era of television, when local stations would often show old monster movies late at night. But the first G-film I do clearly remember, is the first one I ever got on VHS tape. It may well have been the first VHS tape of my childhood that was actually “mine”, and not just the family’s. That movie was “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” (1966), which is still my second favorite Godzilla movie to this day. My first, of course, being likely the second movie I ever got on VHS, “Godzilla vs. Monster Zero” (1965). Regardless, from at least the age of 8 or so, I was a Godzilla fanatic as a child. In fact it sucks that there were several Godzilla/Toho films I didn’t get to see as a kid, because they were never on TV or I never saw them on tape, that I wish I could have just because I would have enjoyed them so much more as a child, when everything generally felt more awesome. You know, before we all grow up and die a little inside. But sufficed to say, being a kid obsessed with both Godzilla, and Nintendo, discovering there was a Godzilla NES game was bound to lead to love at first sight.
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The game in question is “Godzilla: Monster of Monsters” for the NES. It was actually published by Toho, the studio who created Godzilla and produced his films. It was developed by a little known (now defunct) studio known as Compile, mainly known for their classic shoot ’em up games such as Aleste, Gun-Nac, Blazing Lasers, and The Guardian Legend. But with this game, they took a crack at the side-scrolling action game, and it certainly is a unique take on the genre. As an adult, I have heard many negative things said about this game, and to be fair, it’s not the greatest game I’ve ever played. But to also be fair, for what it is it’s also pretty solid, and doesn’t deserve some of the shit that the internet retro gaming community has heaped upon it. As you can see in the pic above, in the game you travel to different planets, trying to stop the forces of Planet X, and each world map is depicted as a kind of chess board, with hexagonal spaces. In a way, the game plays out, at least on the surface, similar to a turn-based strategy game, as both monsters you control (Godzilla and Mothra) get a turn to move on the board, and then the enemy monsters also get a turn. Though that’s about as far as that goes, as there is literally no other real strategy to the board, you simply have to move across it, defeat the enemy monsters, and take out the enemy base on each planet (the space with the satellite dish thingy). 
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Each space on the board that you move to, represents a short side-scrolling level that you must play through as either Godzilla, who can move two spaces per turn, or Mothra, who can move four. Godzilla is stronger, with punches, kicks, a tail whip, and of course his “destroys everything” thermo-nuclear breath. But Mothra is faster, can fly, and attacks with eye beams and “poison wing dust”. Basically, it’s a lot easier getting through shit as Godzilla because he’s a living wrecking machine, but Mothra is able to fly over many of the ground enemies, so it is technically possible to get through some stages faster with her. Once you reach a space on the map next to an enemy monster, or they move next to you, it initiates a more fighting game style one-on-one battle. For each monster you defeat, your power and life bars upgrade a bit. After you defeat the monsters, and take out the enemy base, which consists of just getting to the end of that stage, you have beaten that world, and move on to the next. One of the knocks on this game is that it’s too repetitive, and I’ll grant that it really is. There is a bit of variety to the stages, with moon levels, weird alien jungle levels, firey volcano levels, strange subspace levels, and of course the robotic enemy base stages. But that’s about it, and they all pretty much play out the same, move left to right, destroy enemies, get to end of stage, move on to the next. So in that sense, for that part of the gameplay I can see how some could get turned off by it. But as a kid, I didn’t give a single shit. This was GODZILLA, on NINTENDO, and I actually received it as a gift for my (if I remember correctly) 9th birthday, along with several other games such as Loopz and Spy vs. Spy. But Godzilla was the one I cared about, naturally.
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After apparently traveling throughout the solar system or at least some of their moons, the final destination is Planet X. In the film “Invasion of the Astro Monster” (aka Godzilla vs. Monster Zero), the only Godzilla film to actually feature him going into space (and in my mind the best Godzilla film ever made), Planet X is depicted as a small, barren, rocky planet. But in the game, it’s depicted kind of like the Death Star from Star Wars, as every stage on the board is now an “enemy base” stage, complete with non-stop guns and missiles and ships firing at you from above that you must trudge through. It’s worth noting, for fellow Godzilla fans out there who would know what the hell I’m talking about, that while the game does feature several generic enemies, such as that goofy space dragon and fiery phoenix bird in that screenshot further up, many enemies from the game are also taken from other Godzilla/Toho films. Some of these include the Moonlight SY-3 ship from “Destroy All Monsters” (1968), the Gotengo ship from “Atragon” (1963), the Super X ship from “Return of Godzilla” (1984), and Planet X flying saucers from “Godzilla vs. Monster Zero”. There were also generic missile launchers and electric “Masers”, etc., featured in various classic Godzilla films.

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On Planet X, as with the previous worlds, you have to face all the monsters you previously faced, plus of course the game’s final boss, King Ghidorah, who also naturally happens to be the hardest monster in the game. If you can manage to take his three-headed ass out, and destroy the final enemy base, you have saved the Earth, send the Planet Xians packing out into space exile, and get to enjoy the end credits. One thing that has to be said about this game, is that while the gameplay is “so-so”, and the graphics are decent, the one area that really shines, is the music. “Godzilla: Monster of Monsters” features one of the best NES soundtracks I’ve ever heard in my life, I mean the tunes in this game genuinely rock. Every planet has it’s own tune, as does every monster (with the exception of Moguera and Baragon sharing a tune). The ending/end credits theme, is honestly up there with the Super Mario Bros. 2 end credits theme as one of the coolest and most satisfying “I just beat the game” songs I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. And similarly, it’s very soft and somber, kind of a nice closer to the game.

godzilla-monster-of-monsters

If you’ve never played “Godzilla: Monster of Monsters”, while it’s not the BEST game in the universe, if you’re a Godzilla fan, merely curious, or just want to enjoy some great “chip tunes”, I highly suggest checking this game out. It brought me a lot of great memories (and a few frustrating game deaths) from my childhood, and I still to this day consider it a “classic” in it’s own right. Cheers!

The Castlevania Adventure

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So you can guess that a lot of gamers found this game difficult. There was only 3 lives per each half-stage in the four very long levels. The people who managed to get through the game noted that it was a very vanilla adventure once you take away the harsh difficulty. ~Adam R.

The Castlevania Adventure

In 1989, Konami had great success with two Castlevanias on NES and with another soon on the way. But they also produced an original Castlevania set in a different time than Simon Belmont. In-fact, it’s a prequel game set 115 years before the original.

castlevania the adventure

 It was pretty much the same deal as the original game on NES with a few differences. Like the absence of sub-weapons, and hearts actually restored your life which finally makes sense. You could upgrade your whip, but every hit of damage would drop the power so it was kind of a double negative there.
castlevania the adventure
 So you can guess that a lot of gamers found this game difficult. There was only 3 lives per each half-stage in the four very long levels. The people who managed to get through the game noted that it was a very vanilla adventure once you take away the harsh difficulty.
castlevania the adventure
I never played the original, but I did play the “remake” Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth for WiiWare. Though looking at comparison screenshots, I think the only thing they remade was the story. Because it wasn’t hard at all, and I enjoyed it.

Lucky Luke

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Admittedly, Luke isn’t the most intimidating of cowboys though. Firefights are played for laughs for the most part, an example of this being when enemies’s pants fall down when they’re hit with one bullet.~Simon Reed

Lucky Luke

While pondering which game to revisit today I was leant a hand by my mother, of all people.

lucky luke gameboy color

Rambling on about the rather dull GBC card title Cool Hand (which will inevitably get a revisit sooner rather than later), she unveiled her annoying habit of calling it ‘Cool Hand Luke.’

lucky luke gameboy color

This immediately made me think of the colourful platformer/shooter Lucky Luke on the GBC. I’ll be honest though – the game doesn’t rank highly on my ‘memorable games’ list.

lucky luke gameboy color

Hence only remembering it after having my memory jogged by my Solitaire loving parent.

lucky luke gameboy color

This is probably down to the fact that it’s yet another 2D platformer by developer Infogrames on the GBC however.

lucky luke gameboy color

Although many of their platformers were solid enough, and there were notable variations between each of them, you can tell which platformers are by Infogrames straight off the bat.

lucky luke gameboy color

The almost pastel shaded colour schemes, the heart based life meter, one off chase stages, bloodless combat (in that it lacks heft, not blood) – all signs Infogrames are involved.

lucky luke gameboy color

Lucky Luke isn’t a bad game though. In fact, it’s a well presented little title.

lucky luke gameboy color

Based on a Franco-Belgium comic character, Lucky Luke is set in the Wild West, and therefore has towns to fight through, gunfights to survive and horses to ride off into the sunset.

lucky luke gameboy color

The game mainly works becuase of its setting. Not many titles, especially not back in 1999 when Lucky Luke was released, centered around the Wild West, so to have a cowboy as a star was interesting in itself.

lucky luke gameboy color

Admittedly, Luke isn’t the most intimidating of cowboys though. Firefights are played for laughs for the most part, an example of this being when enemies’s pants fall down when they’re hit with one bullet.

lucky luke gameboy color

Aside from the gunplay, the platforming levels usually involve pushing objects around to reach higher areas or getting tools to allow you to do so. One example is when you have to make a makeshift see-saw to catapault your way onto a roof.

lucky luke gameboy color

It’s all done in the most simplistic way possible to appeal to the younger crowd, but it’s decent stuff all the same.

Set piece levels round off the package, with the best one I played involving riding on a stagecoach and surviving the attacks of vultures and angry native Americans. The music in this section was ace to boot.

lucky luke gameboy color

So overall, Lucky Luke is hardly a spectacular game – especially by today’s standards – but is worth looking into if you have a thing for 2D platformers on the GBC.

Return Fire

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As technically impressive as the 3DO was for its day, it’s a sad fact that anyone who met the rather immense outlay required to own one had little in the way of high-quality games to play on it, and even less that actually made use of the new machine’s impressive abilities. ~Simon Lethbridge

Return Fire

One game that appeared to do just that, however, was Return Fire, and it was an exclusive too! Well, until the 3DO started floundering at least, at which point it was also released on the PS1 and PC, but still – for a while, 3DO owners had something to show off, and it was a game worthy of envy. It’s a simple military-based strategic frolic at heart which pits two forces against one another – green and brown. Player one controls the latter while a second player or the console itself controls the former, and the object is simply to seize your opponent’s flag and return it to your base. As you might expect, however, it’s not quite that simple.

Return Fire - 3DO

There are somewhere in the region of 130 stages altogether and they are divided equally into two groups – one consisting of single player stages, another of two player stages. They are viewed from a scrolling, angled-overhead perspective and most of them consist of an island with opposing forces occupying a different end each – two player maps give each side about half of the land area each while one player maps just have a few buildings on the player’s side with most of the island taken up by enemy buildings and defences. In either case, your job is to find the building which houses the flag, destroy it, collect the flag, and return to base, and there is initially only one mission on which to do this. Once this is completed, however, the next tier of stages is unlocked which has eight new maps. Finish any of these and the next tier becomes available with eight more, and so on.

Return Fire - 3DO

Your means of vanquishing your opponent and completing these stages comes in four forms. You start each stage safely within the confines of your bunker and here there are four vehicles to choose from – the Tank, which moves at a reasonable speed and can fire shells at ground or air targets with its rotating turret, the Armoured Support Vehicle, which is slow but has meatier defences and can fire air/ground rockets and drop mines, the Helicopter, which is fast and obviously unimpeded by buildings and suchlike, and can fire air/ground rockets, but is obviously a bit more delicate, and lastly the Jeep which is fast and nimble, can move across watery areas with its inflatable air thingies, and can launch grenades, but is of course incredibly weedy. Eight of the jeeps are available for each stage and these are the only vehicles with which you can grab and transport the flag, but you also get three each of the other vehicles for blasting your way to it.

Return Fire - 3DO

If any of your fine vehicles are destroyed you’ll automatically return to your bunker to choose another (unless you somehow manage to lose all seventeen of them!), but you can return at any time anyway to switch if you want. Helpfully, doing this also replenishes their limited fuel, ammunition, and armour as well, although this can be done ‘on the fly’ too, by stopping off at one of the relevant depots nestled amongst the gun towers and other buildings of either side. The depots though, like everything else in the game can be destroyed (even the trees!). This doesn’t present a dilemma for the solo-player as you’re only up against the enemy gun towers, but with a two-player game you then need to decide whether to preserve them for your own use or to destroy them to prevent your opponent from doing the same. Indeed, despite the extensive amount of shooting and destroying you’ll no doubt engage in while playing Return Fire (its ‘tagline’ is even “Destroy, Destroy, Destroy!”), if you want to actually play it properly, there’s a lot of strategy involved as well.

Return Fire - 3DO

One aspect of this is of course choosing the right vehicle at the right time, and they all differ enough for each player to find a strategy that suits them. You might want, for example, to use the chopper to scout out your opponent’s stronghold and try to locate his flag tower (there are usually some decoy towers too) and find the easiest route to it. Alternatively, you may choose to plough head-first through everything in a straight line from your bunker to your final goal. Whichever method you employ, it’s best not to hang around for too long or annoying little helicopters will turn up and start taking pot-shots at you (although it is very satisfying to shoot them down!). Other things to consider are the design of the stage in question. They all consist of one or several islands and in the case of the latter they’re linked together by rickety (and very destroyable) bridges which presents numerous possibilities in itself. As you probably already guessed, this is therefore a game which was not designed for solo play and accordingly is immeasurably more enjoyable when playing against a friend.

Return Fire - 3DO

As undeniably awesome as this mode is, I’ve also spend quite a bit of time with the one player mode and, while it is good fun, either for practise or for mere wanton destruction purposes, it does get a bit repetitive after a while. A big part of this is down to the graphics which are quite splendid but pretty much the same throughout the whole game. In spite of the angled-overhead viewpoint, the stages are presented in 3D which allows the camera to zoom in or out rather nicely depending on how fast you’re moving. Things do get a little blocky when the view zooms right in but that’s not too often. The worst thing about the visuals, though, is without doubt the total lack of variety. All stages are set in the same environment – sandy areas with surrounding water, bridges, the odd patch of grass – and all feature the same few types of building with the same roads around them. The only differences really are the shapes of the islands and the actual location/arrangement of the buildings and features, and even then, some stages are merely mirrored versions of others.

Return Fire - 3DO

One aspect of the game that definitely impresses, however, is the presentation. From the tank that trundles onto the screen to destroy the glass 3DO logo, to the dramatic title sequence, and the FMV clip of a WWII victory parade that greets completion of a stage, everything is very slick and polished, especially the audio which, famously, consists of several pieces of classical music. The aforementioned title sequence features Requiem Dies Irae while, in-game, each of the vehicles has its own theme tune including Mars: Bringer of War for the Tank, Flight of the Bumblebee for the Jeep, In the Hall of the Mountain King for the ASV, and of course Ride of the Valkyries  for the Helicopter, and the volume of the music even increases or decreases according to the intensity of the on-screen drama! There is also the occasional use of ‘incidental music’ such as upon discovery of your opponent’s flag, and victory is hailed by the Hallelujah Chorus which certainly gives the sense of a job well done.

Return Fire - 3DO

The ingenious use of this music, as well as some spot-on sound effects, is what really gives this game its fantastic atmosphere which is helped further still by some great attention-to-detail. Shooting a building often sees its occupants flee, for example (and yes, you can squash them if you so desire, complete with squelching noise). This superb atmosphere plays a big part in drawing you back to Return Fire too, even on your own. I don’t usually play it for long at a time by myself own as, despite the tremendously enjoyable and satisfying game mechanics, it’s easy, a bit repetitive, and largely pointless to play solo, but I still return to it often. Besides, it’s nice to play it with a full-screen (well, the upper two-thirds of the screen) now and then rather than half of it which can feel a bit cramped. If Silent Software came up with a decent back-story and incorporated some sort of mission-based one-player mode this could be an all-time great. It is a two-player game really though, and offers a rare chance to outfox a friend with cunning stategies rather than brute force, and in this capacity alone it’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played.

Human Killing Machine

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“Worst game ever? Human Killing Machine, Capcom. Seriously, look it up. I have a copy of it on disk, given away by Amiga Power, I believe.” @GuyFawkesRetro

Human Killing Machine

The above tweet peaked my curiosity, I boldly replied “Worst game ever? I have a sudden urge to try it.” And so I did. As you know I recently reviewed Yolanda! for review a bad game day, however if I’d known about this one it would have been a serious contender. I actually felt like playing Yolanda! after this, in fact, I felt like playing Rise of the Robots just to wash away the memories.

Human Killing Machine

You play as Kwon, who is apparently strong. You have to knock down (no K.O’s here) your opponent a number of times to win, your first battle is against Igor, once you’ve defeated him you then fight his dog (I’m assuming) which in my mind is just plain mean. I didn’t get much further than that, the collision detection is terrible, the controls unmanageable, and the poor animation lets down the relatively good graphics and backgrounds. At points I had no idea how or what I was doing to hit the opponent as the controls didn’t really match with anything on the screen.

human_killing_machine

A  player comment from Lemon Amiga:

“A clone of Street Fighter. Strangely, they took the Amiga version with its bad animations as reference and not the arcade version. So you got the same gameplay as SF, but executed even worse.”

And another.

“Often described as the next best thing (or something like that…) on many games-mags previews at the time, this soon revealed itself for the unforgivable, unplayable, Tiertex-developed utter disaster it actually was. If you played it for more than 10 minutes and survived, congratulations: that sure was a big task…”

Anyways, if you must see more, see above for the game on YouTube, someone has kindly played through the whole thing. Also good luck to @GuyFawkesRetro on twitter, who is on the search for the ultimate bad game…. (I think you may have found it?)

Sonic Heroes

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Sonic Heroes was a good bit different than the Sonic Adventure games. While those games stopped the furious speed with adventure elements, this game was more true to it’s 2D roots. It was a pretty straight forward platformer with little distractions. ~Adam R.

Sonic Heroes

While Gamecube fans liked the ports of the two Sonic Adventure games, Sonic Heroes was the first original Sonic game for the system. Ironically Sega also produced PS2 and Xbox versions which gave Sonic a home on all the major consoles. Though most critics cite the Gamecube version as the superior edition.

Sonic Heroes - Nintendo Gamecube - Gameplay Screenshot

 Regardless of platform, Sonic Heroes was a good bit different than the Sonic Adventure games. While those games stopped the furious speed with adventure elements, this game was more true to it’s 2D roots. It was a pretty straight forward platformer with little distractions.
Sonic Heroes - Nintendo Gamecube - Gameplay Screenshot
 The game also made use of Sonic’s friends and enemies being forced upon the player. You can pick between four teams of three. So you had the good team (Sonic, Tails Knuckles), the evil team (Shadow, Rogue, Omega), the girly team (Amy, Cream, Big), and the weird team. The last team was comprised of the awful characters from Knuckles Chaotix. I have to give Sega credit for bringing back such strange characters for no reason.
Sonic Heroes - Nintendo Gamecube - Gameplay Screenshot
The game was received well by critics, and fans but nothing compared to the praise of the Genesis generation. I ended up never playing the game myself, but I was very tempted at the time. At least it wasn’t as awful or bizarre as some of the sequels that followed.

Moho/Ball Breakers

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Even the single player is better than you might expect, with ten prison worlds to play through.~Simon Reed

Moho aka Ball Breakers

Trawling through my local car boot, I spotted a copy of Moho on the Playstation.

Moho - Ball Breakers - PSOne

Actually, judging by the weird font used on the cover, I thought it might be ‘Motto.’

Either way, i’d never heard of it or seen it before, so snapped it up (50p if you’re interested) in the hope that it was rare.

Moho - Ball Breakers - PSOne

It turns out that it’s incredibly common. Oh well. At least it’s not too bad an effort – in fact, it’s above average.

Last week I berated Crash Bash for being a rather tepid collection of minigames. Moho is structured in a similar way, but is a far more successful in nearly every respect.

You might be surprised to hear that Rockstar even had a hand in making the game, and (of less interest) the title was called Ball Breakers in the US. But not when it came to PC, where Moho was used in both EU and the US.

Moho - Ball Breakers - PSOne

But that’s enough pointless trivia.

Starting off with a CGI cutscene, the game sets an odd tone – one that is both brooding and lighthearted. If that is even possible.

You then choose a robot to play as, and are then thrown into individual jail based worlds where you’re set a certain challenges to complete.

These range from last man standing battles (‘last man rolling’), straight out races, collecting all the pick ups in an arena (‘tag’), to ones that set you a goal to reach – piling obstacles and various foes in your way.

There are a few more, but all revolve around one main gameplay gimmick – you’re a robot on a sphere shaped wheel, and therefore you’re fighting against momentum and physics all the time.

Moho - Ball Breakers - PSOne

Instead of being annoying this actually makes the game feel far fresher and varied that it has any right to be.

It transforms what could have been a solid but unspectacular mini game collection into something much more interesting.

In terms of modes the game inevitably has a multiplayer mode, which is as frenetic and competitive as you’d want it to be.

Even the single player is better than you might expect, with ten prison worlds to play through.

Overall, Moho is a solid and reasonably experimental minigame collection that’s worth 50p of anyone’s money.

Crash ‘n’ the Boys: Street Challenge

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  All in all, the richness of Crash ‘n’ The Boys: Street Challenge is certainly appreciated, and serves to place it on a level above the usual standard multi-sport fare. Even the introductory cutscene is enough to truly make this cart something special.~Eric Bailey

Crash ‘n’ the Boys: Street Challenge

Developer Technos was best known for their beat-’em-up titles on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console, including the Double Dragon series and the classic River City Ransom. What would happen when the company tried to take on the multi-sport genre, like the arcade port Tack & Field, straightforward World Games, or distinctively wacky Caveman Games? The result was something called Crash ‘n’ The Boys: Street Challenge.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge - NES Gameplay Screenshot - 1

  This was a sports video game on the NES that actually had a story; basically, our hero Crash Cooney and the Southside Boys are rivals with the rich snobby kids that live up on the Hill. After the Southsiders beat the Hillers in the big track meet, whiny brat Todd Thornley III was a sore loser and challenged the Boys to a street-sports gauntlet of various events with minimal rules, while his family secretly plotted to plant superpowered adults on his team in Thornley’s favor.

  Gameplay

To summarize, the Street Challenge consists of five events: 400 Meter Hurdles, Hammer Throw, Swimming (humorously referred to in the instruction booklet as Water Slaughter), Roof Top Jumping, and Fighting Scene. Each has their own distinctive appearance, mechanics, goal, and controls. Gameplay is divided into three modes: Practice, in which the player can pick one event at a time and try it over and over; Short, in which the player progresses through three events; and Normal, in which all five events are attempted through the storyline. This game is also playable for 1-4 people, with alternating controller usage.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

  Once the play mode is determined, the player actually has a choice of four teams to pick from, two of which are the Southsiders from Southside High and Thornley’s school, Washington High. The two others are Lincoln High and Jefferson High, the relational nuances between each of which are awesomely explained in the instruction manual, but the remarkable thing is that each school then has five different characters to choose from, each with their own individual statistical ratings in Power, Speed, and Defense, the usefulness of each of which will depend on the event.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

  Incredibly, and especially so for an 8-bit cartridge, not only is there the tournament of events, but between rounds the player(s) can actually shop for items using both money they begin with and the coins they additionally collect throughout the events. Items can boost stats, heal hit points, or even gain all-new techniques for the next event. This feature definitely adds a level of depth that is not quite seen in other multi-sport titles for the system.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

  Of course, the main attraction is the five events, each of which deviates from the norm and either is not a traditional sport or simply goes for all-out combat in favor of athletic competition. In 400 meter hurdles, the player must tap right on the directional pad to keep up with the opponent, but while jumping or sliding under hurdles, the characters can spin-kick each other or even throw chunks of broken hurdle at the opponent. Hammer Throw is actually Hammer Golf, as the player must throw a heavy weight across a two-dimensional course until getting to the hole in a certain number of strokes, and including trying to avoid hazards. In Swimming, there is not even the pretense of competition, just the goal of trying to kill the other character, and tacking both hit points and oxygen intake. Roof Top Jumping is a fun one, as a mix of tightrope-balancing unicycles and pole vaults is used to traverse rooftops, trying to get to the end of the course.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

  Then there is the Fighting Scene, worth considering on its own for one key reason: This may be the best representation of the fighting-game genre there is on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with the possible exception of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. Not only is character selection with distinctive characteristics intact, which Mortal Kombat could hardly even boast in its original iterations, but there are even special grapple moves per character in addition to the usual arsenal of punches, kicks, rushes, and jumping attacks. Some of the special moves, earned when reducing the opposing character’s stamina bar more quickly in a grapple, are especially funny and/or brutal.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

  All in all, the richness of Crash ‘n’ The Boys: Street Challenge is certainly appreciated, and serves to place it on a level above the usual standard multi-sport fare. Even the introductory cutscene is enough to truly make this cart something special. However, not all is perfect, as the control schemes can be very unintuitive, inconsistent, and even confusing, as there is no real format that connects each event, a different button may jump from one sport to the next, and there is a learning curve involved as well. The curve is welcome, actually, especially to make one-player playthroughs worthwhile, but it can be difficult to gain initial practice when the computer is in constant “must kill the new guy” mode.

  Graphics

Judging Crash ‘n’ The Boys: Street Challenge on its audiovisual merits is an intriguing endeavor, since those aspects are of unquestionably high quality, given the context of the hardware and comparison to the rest of the NES library of carts, but they are also noticeably recycled. This is a later release than their previous titles like River City Ransom and Super Dodge Ball, so you know that many of the graphics are recycled.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

Yet, this may not be the worst thing, since the Technos style of characterization is largely what gives their games their appeal to begin with. Sprites aside, action proceeds smoothly and the backgrounds are gorgeous (in fact, among the best on the console, and somewhat underappreciated, in this viewer’s opinion – check out the city’s layered skyline in the background of the Hammer Golf event and how it reflects in the water hazard), so maybe Technos should just be given the benefit of the doubt here: This game looks great.

  Sound

It sounds great, too, but in the case of the background tracks and effects, the recycling effect is much more noticeable, and hardly bothered to be disguised as all. For example, the hurricane kick sound effect used in the 400 Meter Hurt-les is the same as used in the game Double Dragon II: The Revenge.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

Other combat sounds are taken from River City Ransom, while many of the same short themes and ditties for the music have been conglomerated from the sporting titles like Super Dodge Ball and Super Spike V’Ball. They at least sound very, very similar, but some samples are definitely repeats. Nonetheless, again, this is likely not the worst thing.

  Originality

Crash ‘n’ The Boys is undoubtedly an original, creative, and innovative game. Fans of the multi-sport NES titles absolutely must give Crash a shot if they have not already. Playing alone is fun already, but multiplayer adds a whole new dimension of enjoyment.

Crash 'n' the Boys - Street Challenge

This is a title where the developers really seemed like they had the player experience in mind, and wanted to make it joyous and memorable. This is a four-star game, a rating out of five.

Popeye

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You control the affable sailor throughout three repeating levels, catching whatever icons Olive Oyl throws your way. While she is dropping either hearts, notes, or the letters that spell out “HELP ME”, Popeye catches a set number while attempting to steer clear of Bluto, who was renamed Brutus here for reasons unknown. ~Mike NESquester Wright

Popeye

One of the most regonizable figures in American pop culture as well as the original premise for the game that became Donkey Kong, today we take a nice, long look at a game that was another arcade port of a Miyamoto smash hit, Popeye.

popeye
Unlike the many revamps other character go through nowadays, Popeye remains practically unchanged from his very first appearance.
Popeye began as the brainchild of writer/artist E.C. Segar. Making his debut in 1929 in the popular Thimble Theater newspaper strip, he was a minor character at the start. Popeye was just a sailor hired by Olive Oyl’s current boyfriend, Harold Hamgravy to captain a ship to an island to thwart an evil casino operator. His adventures were meant to end there, but readers took such a huge liking to the oddball that he was quickly brought back.
popeye
Popeye easily sported one of the most unusual, yet awesome supporting casts. Not just of his time, but ever.

As the years went on, the strip evolved as Olive left Hamgravy for the goofy sailor, a baby named Swee’Pea was introduced, and Thimble Theater quickly became the Popeye show. A plethora of weird shit began debuting as well such as Eugene The Jeep, the Sea Hag, and the burger hoarding Wimpy. The comic strip and the cartoon that followed had little in common as in the funny pages, Bluto was only featured once and spinach was a rare plot device. Both being commonplace for Popeye mythos shows how powerful the medium of television was at the time. The animated version was done by Fleischer Studios, the same crew who also created the most beloved of Superman cartoons right around the same time. Strangely enough, Popeye debuted in that form alongside the famous Betty Boop in 1933. To this day he remains a household name having his unique mug plastered on everything from lunchboxes, t-shirts, and even his own line of spinach. Robin Williams portrayed the live-action version in 1980 and to this day, the town built as the set of the movie stands tall and is one of the largest tourist attractions of the Island of Malta.

popeye

Should it be any suprise that Shigeru Miyamoto loved Popeye? Weird met weird to create awesome in the NES port of a 1982 arcade classic. You control the affable sailor throughout three repeating levels, catching whatever icons Olive Oyl throws your way. While she is dropping either hearts, notes, or the letters that spell out “HELP ME”, Popeye catches a set number while attempting to steer clear of Bluto, who was renamed Brutus here for reasons unknown. Later levels add the Sea Hag, who drops objects to make life difficult as well. Popeye is given a weapon the Marios and Kongs didn’t have at the time as he can swing his mighty fists at anything that moves with the exception of “Brutus”. To take that huge, burly tub of fatfuck down, there is one can of spinach per level that will make our hero red-dog mad enough to knock the big man halfway across creation. The stages are varied enough to stay fun and there is even a cameo by Swee’Pea. The music is excellent and when the third stage is clear, you are treated to the signature song, complete with the toot-toot, which is a nice touch and causes the ‘Quester to smile everytime. It is obvious that Miyamoto loved the source material and wasn’t going to create anything that didn’t have the same feel of the classic cartoons he grew up adoring. As with Donkey Kong Jr, this is another port that could’ve easily been made in 1986 and still been a hit.

popeye
You don’t always need to hide and re-load different styles of guns for a game to rock. A great songwriter said it best. All you need is love.

THE FINAL VERDICT 9/10 If that’s too high, then create your own blog and reviews and feel free to adjust as you see fit, but I appreciate this game even more now than I did as a kid. The graphics and tunes scream out Popeye and the challenge is balanced enough to make me want to play for hours instead of hitting the road block alot of the ports do where it goes from head-ache inducing to requiring the X-gene.

popeye
“That paycheck you cashed on the gorilla game was MINE!!!”

Thanks to Mason V. for seeing my post and contacing me about having a double, thereby saving my ass on this one! Folks like you are the ones I do this for. Fuck you Ebay! (Until you are the only place I am able to run to in the future. I’m an honest hypocrite like that.)

Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls changed the way I play video games.  Every other modern game seems undemanding in comparison, and certainly not half as fulfilling.~Eric Hollis

Dark Souls 2

The original Dark Souls is one of my favorite titles of all time.  Truth be told, I hated it the first time I picked it up.  I couldn’t even defeat the first boss, and in a fit of geek rage I took the game back to the store, vowing to play something more enjoyable. This decision to give up so easily haunted my pixilated nightmares.  Six months later I attempted it again and I’ve never looked back, it’s slowly becoming one of my favorite games of all time.  The main reason: it’s so damn rewarding.  Sure, it’s tougher than leather, but also completely fair, impatience and bad timing are your greatest enemies, not the gigantic bosses who can (and will) demolish your health bar in one well-timed combination. Needless to say the sequel had a lot to live up to.

Dark Souls 2 - Gameplay

Thankfully From Software hasn’t made many changes to the original formula that still feels so close to perfection.  The game is a lot prettier graphically than the original, oceanfront hub Majula is certainly a more visually comforting place than Firelink Shrine, though both areas function exactly the same.  Bosses are consistently brutal and seem to appear a lot more frequently, and normal enemies can still take your souls after one ill-timed blocking attempt.  Prepare to die.  Often.

Dark Souls 2 - Gameplay

Dark Souls 2 also never holds your hand or provides more information than absolutely necessary.  I’ve had numerous friends restart entirely after finding out they were using items the wrong way or making character builds that just don’t succeed in combat.  I even completely respec’d my own character after I realized that a very strong shield was needed to get past a certain boss.  Granted, you can locate tons of information on the internet, but that takes away all of the gratification earned by figuring things out for yourself.  Playing this with a walkthrough will completely rob you of one of the most worthwhile and demanding gaming experiences out there.

Dark Souls 2 - Gameplay

One major tweak that might infuriate gamers is the new health bar reduction.  When you die, a small portion of your health bar is permanently removed.  The only way to restore it is with a very rare item called an effigy; these also essentially replace humanity from the first game.  This new twist on the formula made me a lot more cautious at first, but eventually I just learned to function with half a health bar at all times.

Dark Souls 2 - Gameplay

The other major change is the ability to fast travel from the very beginning of your quest.  The player didn’t gain this ability until roughly halfway through the original and it definitely changes the overall pacing of the game for the better.  I was never faced with conquering one boss to move forward, there were always at least three paths open to me I could utilize at any time.  This overcomes this sheer frustration I felt on the first title when I was stuck in Anor Londo for over a week trying to best Orenstein and Smough.  There are always multiple options in Dark Souls 2, which in a title this exhausting can never be a bad thing.

Dark Souls 2 - Gameplay

Dark Souls changed the way I play video games.  Every other modern game seems undemanding in comparison, and certainly not half as fulfilling.  When I walk up to an unopened treasure chest I always take a precautionary swing.  Always.  Even if I think there is no danger, I do it just in case the chest turns into a toothy monster ready to devour me down to the marrow.  I expect a trap around every corner because there usually is one.  It’s made me a shaky, paranoid mess and I’ve begged for and enjoyed every single second of it.

Dark Souls 2 - Gameplay

Dark Souls 2 is more addictive than pure heroin.  I’ve never done heroin, but I have a few friends that have.  I’m basing this statement on how quickly they were willing to sell me their game collections to obtain more heroin.

Mega Man 9

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If Capcom was so intent in keeping Mega Man 9 in an era of NES classics, why are we paying for downloadable content? All of that work to keep this firmly planted in its roots is wasted if you can unlock secret characters with cash instead of skill. ~Matt Paprocki

Mega Man 9

There’s something wrong with Mega Man 9: It doesn’t fit. That’s not necessarily a knock against the game itself, but purely a poor design call by Capcom. Why have we went back all the way to Mega Man 1 and 2, when the last game was on the PlayStation and Saturn?

MegaMan 9 - PS3

The true 8-bit stylings run deep through this retro revival, in the truest sense. This is a NES game, right down the flicker. The music is phenomenal, the pixel art excellent, and boss design mostly interesting (Galaxy Man looking a little too much like the obscure Japanese monster Guilala).

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Here’s the problem though. Mega Man 9 is hard, and any fan of the series should expect that. However, Capcom has taken that mentality and multiplied it, creating some absolutely absurd level designs that even die-hard masochists will frown upon. While past Mega Man games relied on memorization and precision, Mega Man 9 requires a higher level of both. You can almost hear the level designers laughing at how devilishly difficult certain segments are.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

It’s certainly up for debate whether or not this is an attractive feature or a reason not to buy. Regardless of where you stand, you have to agree that a certain level of fun is still necessary for this game to succeed, and much of the difficulty saps that away.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Part of the problem is the original 8-bit style, and that means true original 8-bit. Even though Mega Man 3 introduced the slide move and Mega Man 4 brought us the Mega Buster, Mega Man 9 has neither of those. If you can get past the graphical downgrade which doesn’t let this game fit into the timeline, not including these classic maneuvers really messes with your head.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

That’s not saying the visuals are bad. In fact, they’re wonderful, especially just to see the style brought back (the dragon mid-boss is arguably the highlight). The problem is in calling this Mega Man 9, it’s following a 16-bit and 32-bit entry. Making a Bionic Commando sequel that looked like this would have made far more sense given that franchise lived and died on 8-bit hardware.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Also, if Capcom was so intent in keeping this in an era of NES classics, why are we paying for downloadable content? All of that work to keep this firmly planted in its roots is wasted if you can unlock secret characters with cash instead of skill. This is such an authentic experience, you can’t switch weapons with the triggers. You need to enter the pause menu. Yet, we need to pay more for a complete game.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

From a pure play perspective, Mega Man 9 is fine. It’s the same game any true gamer should have played numerous times before. The platforming is spot-on, as are the controls. The bosses maintain their own attack patterns, acquired weapons do extra damage to the right enemy, and the final castle stage is an absolute nightmare to pass.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Had this come out and been called Mega Man 7 on the NES, it would have been slammed by critics for being more of the same with nothing new to offer (much like Mega Man 6 was). However, the passage of time has gave way to warm nostalgia, which Mega Man 9 tried to bring back. In most cases, it does, but it more or less limps its way into your nostalgia-fueled mind instead of Mega Busting it.

Batman: Arkham City

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Batman: Arkham City doesn’t really rock the boat, content instead to offer up what is essentially an improved and expanded version of the last game. Apparently, sometimes that is more than good enough.~Aaron Izakowitz

Batman: Arkham City

When Batman: Arkham Asylum came out in 2009, it was a revelation. For decades, gamers had been conditioned to assume that any game based on a licensed property, particularly a superhero, would be at best decent and at worst execrableAsylum ignored all that, vaulting from relative obscurity to become a surprise Game of the Year contender and making Rocksteady Studios a top-tier developer overnight. Now, two years later comes its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, and the circumstances surrounding its release could not be more different. While Asylum had everything to prove, City has the perhaps even more unenviable task of trying to top its exemplary predecessor.
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Arkham City more than rises to the challenge, and it does, paradoxically, by taking the safe path. This is the very definition of an iterative sequel, with very few if any changes to the formula that made its predecessor a success. The environment is bigger, you have more tools, the combat has been improved with more combos and more varied enemies, you face more of Batman’s iconic villains, and the Riddler challenges are more numerous and more devious. It is what fans wanted and expected.
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It is also an astonishingly good game; unquestionably one of the best released this year. While this is perhaps more a testament to the quality of the first game than anything, the fact remains that Batman: Arkham City renders Asylum utterly obsolete, and makes it look easy.
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The story kicks off six months after the events of Asylum. Following the total breakdown of order on Arkham Island, the city of Gotham has cordoned off an entire district and converted it into a sort of megaprison, the titular Arkham City, with the megalomaniacal Professor Hugo Strange in charge. Surprisingly, Arkham City soon descends to the state of “wretched hellhole,” with Gotham’s supervillains rapidly setting up rival factions to vie for supremacy in the prison and forward their own nefarious ends.
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At the game’s outset, Bruce Wayne finds himself arrested and framed under ill-defined pretenses (more on this later). Before long he has donned the cowl and cape from within Arkham City and set out to get to the bottom of the mysterious circumstances surrounding Hugo Strange and his own incarceration. The plot, as you might expect, only spirals outward from there, and before long many prominent members of Batman’s rogue gallery have a part to play, including the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, a few others I shouldn’t spoil here, and of course, the Joker.
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While Arkham City qualifies as an “open world” game, it is not really a sandbox. Other than fighting random goons, there isn’t a whole lot to do if you are just wandering around. Rather, it is closest to something like Assassin’s Creed II. You always have a single story objective to work towards, but as you grapple, glide, and fight your way across the city, smaller, quick objectives will reveal themselves. By far the most common of these are the Riddler trophies, which are scattered quite liberally across the city, and many of which are in plain sight but require you to solve some sort of puzzle or riddle to obtain. Beyond these, there are crime scenes to investigate, bullet trajectories to recreate, Riddler informants to interrogate (which reveal the location of trophies on your map) and, for some reason, holographic rings floating in the air to fly through. It can all be a little overwhelming at times, but fortunately it’s all completely optional, and it’s always clear where to go next if you are only interested in advancing the story. Even better, if you see a Riddler trophy that you don’t feel like tackling immediately, you can now tag it and it will appear on your minimap, a very welcome feature.
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Once on a story mission, things become very similar to the first game. Stealth and hand-to-hand combat are both back mostly unchanged, with some added wrinkles. In stealth mode, for example, certain enemies might have a signal jammer which disables your detective vision, or a thermal vision upgrade which allows them to see you even when you are hiding in the rafters, which will obviously influence your plan of attack. Combat sees similar additions. Goons equipped with body armor, riot shields, knives, and stunguns are all in the mix, each requiring a unique approach. Fortunately, your arsenal has also been expanded. The game’s story thankfully does not contrive some reason to strip Batman of all his abilities at the beginning, so you start the game with a healthy range of options, and your toolset only grows over the course of the game.
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Once you complete the campaign, which took me somewhere from 12 to 15 hours with moderate sidequesting, there is plenty of additional content on the disc to keep you coming back. The Challenge modes, both combat and predator, return largely unchanged, complete with online leaderboards. A new addition is what they are calling Campaigns, which have a string of different challenges to be played in a sequence, with optional modifiers to either assist the player, such as regenerating health, or provide an extra challenge, like a time attack mode. There is also a New Game Plus, which lets you play through the game with all your upgrades and trophies unlocked but retools the game somewhat to provide an extra challenge. On top of all this, there is a huge amount of supplemental material including concept art, character biographies, and a lengthy history of Arkham City, all of which are unlocked by collecting enough Riddler trophies.
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Again, in many ways these are exactly the sorts of enhancements and tweaks that we have come to expect from a sequel. It’s true that Batman: Arkham City doesn’t really rock the boat, content instead to offer up what is essentially an improved and expanded version of the last game. Apparently, sometimes that is more than good enough.
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In short: Batman: Arkham City, is really, really fun. It’s so fun you will literally yell in disbelief at how sweet whatever you just did was, and you will do it a lot. It’s so fun you will make your roommate/significant other/whoever walks into the room watch you play it so that they, too, can appreciate just how awesome you are. I can think of very few games that are more satisfying to just play. Simply traversing the city, using your grappling hook to fling yourself into the sky and then divebombing and pulling up to gain momentum, is an absolute joy. The predator sections of the game are even tenser than before, with the enemies’ new gadgets robbing you of what little security you once had. The rhythmic combat system, which at first seems like a button masher but which ultimately rewards careful observation and focus, remains the best brawler that I’ve played, period. Whether you just race through the story missions or take your time to explore all the extra content to its fullest, the game is expertly paced, invisibly propelling you forward. Layered on top of all this is a satisfying progression system, which provides you with a new ability or gadget just when you feel like you have mastered the game.
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As in the first game, Rocksteady has taken a fantasy that, let’s face it, everyone has had at some point in their lives and made it as close to a reality as anyone will ever experience. Every aspect of the game’s design reinforces the notion that you are Batman. His strength is in his careful planning and execution, and if you are impatient or sloppy in Arkham City, you will be punished. You are stronger and smarter than everyone else, but you are not invincible, and few games make you feel so powerful in such a tangible and realistic way.
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This pervasive sense of Batman-ness extends into the game’s presentation. Its world is an alchemic combination of elements from the comics, the animated series, and the various movies (even Joel Schumaker’s monstrosities have something to contribute), creating something familiar, yet distinct enough to stand apart from any of those universes. The new character designs are excellent, Mr. Freeze in particular. The game is not afraid to drift into the fantastical, indeed reveling in it at times, yet the universe feels gritty enough to give the characters’ actions some weight.
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Vocal performances are also generally pretty sharp. Mark Hamill reprises his outstanding performance as the Joker, who finds himself in an unusually vulnerable position this time around.  The Riddler remains incredibly obnoxious, as befits the character, with his constant taunts and boasts. The new characters, for the most part, make a strong impression. Unfortunately, nameless thugs have uniformly terrible dialogue and acting, constantly spouting off lines that no person in the world would ever say, shouting exposition at the top of their lungs for any passing Batmen to pick up on, and yelling ridiculous taunts to Batman as he flies by or hunts them from above. It’s not quite Splinter Cell: Conviction bad, but it does infringe on the authenticity of the game’s atmosphere a bit.
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While the premise and setting are very effective, the actual plot has some significant problems. The most immediate concern is that the game’s writers seem to have forgotten to include a beginning. The central conceit of the game, that Gotham would rededicate an entire district for a prison, run by known madman Hugo Strange, is pretty outlandish, even for a comic book property, and this is only made worse by the total lack of explanation. There is a comic book that comes with new copies of the game that fills in the gaps between the last game and this one, but if you haven’t read it (as I hadn’t, and as I suspect many won’t), or actively sought out information on this game online, then the opening of this game will be very confusing, and indeed many things are never explained at all. The plot’s twists and turns can at times feel a little contrived, like they exist solely to get Batman to a new location, particularly towards the beginning of the game. Some of the characters’ motivations also don’t really make a lot of sense under scrutiny. The ending, while better than that of Arkham Asylum, is a little abrupt, and ends on a fairly lazy cliffhanger.

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More significant problems lie in the game’s handling of Catwoman. She was a major part of its presentation and marketing, and we’ve known for months now that she would be a playable character. This is indeed true, as there are a handful of episodes strewn throughout the game in which you control Catwoman. Unfortunately, these episodes are all very short, and it turns out playing as Catwoman is a lot like playing as Batman but without any of the gadgets that make playing as Batman enjoyable. She has very few combat options compared to Batman, and she gets around more or less just by pouncing really high. Her stealth sections are entirely dependent on her ability to jump up and hang upside-down from chain-link ceilings and then descend on enemies when they are isolated, which…is not a thing that cats do. Also, what kind of building has chain-link ceilings? Beyond that, Catwoman herself is annoying, with absolutely no depth beyond making pointless cat jokes and flirting lamely with everyone she sees.
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There is another, rather ugly, aspect to Catwoman’s presence in the game. In an effort to curb used game sales, Rocksteady (or, more likely, Warner Bros.) have chosen to lock off the Catwoman portions of the game with a code included in new copies of the game. What this means is that the first time you play the game, you will have to enter this code and then download around 250MB of data, just to play a part of the game that was clearly meant to be there the whole time. This is after the requisite patching and, on PS3, installation. If you didn’t buy the game new, you will have to buy the Catwoman DLC for $10. While the Catwoman sections are the weakest part of the game, I feel like their absence would result in some confusion, and it’s disappointing to see what was clearly intended to be an integral part of the game gated behind an anti-used game sale measure. It’s more annoying than anything, but I sincerely hope this does not become a trend.
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Despite all of these problems, the fact remains that Batman: Arkham City is an absolutely stellar game. Its story issues, while substantial, do absolutely nothing to temper the quality of the overall experience. From its thrilling open world traversal to its hair-raising predator sequences to its unparalleled melee combat system, every element of the game reflects dedication to the source material and the talent and expertise of Rocksteady Studios. It’s a tour de force that cements their position at the top of the industry. At the risk of sounding gushy or hyperbolic, Batman: Arkham City is the sort of game that will remind you of why you like videogames in the first place.

Elf Bolwing 1 & 2

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 One of the reasons why it had a faithful following on PC was because it wasn’t posed as a legitimate game. Just a fun little side-project of sorts. It was no challenger to say Half-Life. ~Adam R.

Elf Bolwing 1 & 2

Back in the early days of the Nintendo DS, Elf Bowling 1 & 2 was released. I had no idea the series had a decent amount of popularity on PC. However that wasn’t enough to convince me to get this strange little Christmas game.
elf bowling DS game
 The game is basically about Santa Claus taking revenge on the striking elves at the north pole. How? By striking them down in bowling. Get it? Yeah it’s not funny.
elf bowling ds
 One of the reasons why it had a faithful following on PC was because it wasn’t posed as a legitimate game. Just a fun little side-project of sorts. It was no challenger to say Half-Life.
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However it’s crude graphics, bare-bones game-play, terrible music, and weak content was an insult as a DS game. To make matter worse they also made a GBA version too. Both were universally panned by critics and gamers alike.

Alien 3

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Irritatingly Alien 3 has many hallmarks of a top title – but I can’t help but feel some of the design choices have been made purely for masochists. ~Simon Reed

Alien 3

In yesterday’s Lucky Dime Caper entry I rambled on about how I preemptively expect most old school 2D platformer style games to be infuriatingly tough. Alien 3 is a prime example of exactly why I have those expectations. Irritatingly it has many hallmarks of a top title – but I can’t help but feel some of the design choices have been made purely for masochists. The first thing that strikes you as you’re thrown into the game is how clear the design of it all is. Rather than the overly dark and grimy recesses of the film, there’s a pleasing crispness to the game.

Alien 3 - Sega Genesis

You play as Ripley, with your first mission to save a set amount of fellow humanoids who have been trapped by the aliens. To complicate matters you have to escape using a specific door, as well as reach it before the clock at the top of the screen reaches zero. You’re also never told that this is what you need to do, but fortunately it’s a fairly straightforward mission. Still, some instructions would have been nice.

Alien 3 - Sega Genesis

One other notable feature is your large arsenal you have at your disposal. A missile launcher and a machine gun are two of the finest from the selection available to you. These weapons aren’t enough to stop the aliens regularly handing you your ass on a plate though. Instead of going down the slow, tension addled route the game throws aliens at you like they’re going out of fashion. They leap at you so quickly that they can be nigh on impossible to avoid completely. Worst of all Ripley takes far too long to get up once hit – not a good thing when you’re up against the clock.

Alien 3 - Sega Genesis

It doesn’t help that your control of Ripley can feel a little stiff. You feel slower and far more useless than the aliens – this concept works well in the films, but in a game it’s a potent recipe for frustration. The game may be a good looking and reasonably varied in its design – but the difficulty kills it.

Phenomenon 32

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Phenomenon 32 is an incredibly immersive experience, designed to be savored slowly and carefully. It is after all a hard and demanding game, that simply cannot be completed in one sitting.~Konstantinos Dimpoulos

Phenomenon 32

I’ve been meaning to write about Phenomenon 32 for quite some time now, but hurdle after hurdle, combined with the fact that this is an impressively vast game, shamed this very Lair to a belated coverage of the game. Still, better late than ever, eh? After all, the thing is still around, freeware as ever.

phenomenon 32

So, uhm, let’s start with some basic facts first. Phenomenon 32 was developed by Jonas Kyratzes, the immensely (multi) talented, inventive and controversial developer of The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge and The Museum of Broken Memories, and can briefly be described as a black and white, 2D, exploration, platform game, albeit one with quirky RPG and strategy elements. The game can be downloaded here.

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Phenomenon 32, being Kyratzes’ most ambitious project so far, is much more than the sum of its parts. Besides the beautiful black and white visuals, its atmospheric soundscape and a deeply depressing and simultaneously surreal game world, Phenomenon 32 is an incredibly immersive experience, designed to be savored slowly and carefully. It is after all a hard and demanding game, that simply cannot be completed in one sitting. It also is a game filled with surprises and little touches of excellence, that go far beyond what you might expect from a free game.

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As for the plot, well, it’s one of the best I’ve ever encountered in a video game ever and a key part of Phenomenon 32. Set in an alternate version of the 70s the game is engrossing, deeply political, truly unique and thought-provoking, and is supported by some quality writing and impressive voice-work. You really have to play it. Really.

Dark Scavenger

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This is flash-driven game that stores its save data in your browser cache.  The game does warn you of this during start up, which is nice – but an odd design choice in my opinion. ~Nick Herber

Dark Scavenger

I will admit that this was a game I had heard nothing about, despite getting mentioned on Destructoid and winning an honorable mention at an indie games convention.  When our friends at Digitally Downloaded asked me if I wanted to review it, I said sure!  Dark Scavenger is a mesh of genres, with a sort of over-the-top sci-fi story presented in a hybrid point-and-click adventure game with a somewhat more traditional RPG combat system.

Dark Scavenger

Psydra games pulls together a mostly static, but bright and colorful art style as you move around maps and click on items that then generate events.  Sometimes you simply find a resource, sometimes you initiate a fight with something or someone, and other times you wind up with branching dialog.  Some of these dialog pieces present puzzle-like elements as well, where you can leverage items you have in your inventory.

Now, speaking of inventory, this is really where the game does most of its heavy-lifting.  Your goal as you move around from one map to another is to pick up and find resources for the rest of your motley, Dark Scavenger crew.  When you move on to a new map screen, you are given a chance to turn your resources into one of your three crew members.  That resource is then turned into a weapon, an item or an ally.
These new inventory items degrade with use – so your tRUSTY sword may run out in 7 uses, whether that be as a puzzle use or in combat.  Combat takes place with a sort of traditional enemy-facing-you approach with some limited combat animations occurring.  You can combine items and weapons in some instances, which is a big help.  My favorite was the ‘big red button’ – which then allowed your single-hit weapon to strike every enemy on screen (particularly helpful during a tougher-than-average fight with a three-headed brute late in the second chapter, for example).

Dark Scavenger

You get the usual number-crunching that takes place in this kind of combat behind the scenes.  For example, the wolf-like creature you are fighting may be vulnerable to your static gun’s electricity damage, but resistant to another type.  Or maybe your weapon and item combination can stun the creature, forcing him to forfeit an attack that round.  You do have a health bar, which can be replenished with items as well, and can be diminished by not only combat, but as a result of how you interact with certain environmental puzzles as well.
Dark Scavenger
Working through the environment itself is a pretty straightforward affair.  If you can interact with an element, your mouse will cause that element to glow with a red outline if you hover over it.  You can then left-click on it to interact.  Pretty basic, but it does the job.
This is a largely text-driven game.  There is very little in the way of animation to discuss here, and I will be honest – by the end of the game the menu-driven combat and heaps of dialog were starting to blur together.  What started relatively fresh and interesting had lost its sparkle during the last leg of my 5-ish hour session (it may not have helped that I sat there and literally played it straight through over the course of an afternoon only getting up to use the restroom or grab a soda).
Dark Scavenger
So, what did I think of the game?  It was alright.  I always have a tough time with indie games, because they are generally lower in production value (usually by a significant margin) than more polished games, and because their distribution tends to be a bit more limited (Psydra did say that Gamersgate plans to carry this title as well), they might not feel like as good of a bargain for what you get.  Dark Scavenger rings in at $10.  Given the very unique nature of this game, I would strongly suggest giving the demo (which gives you a limited taste of the first chapter) a try if you are considering purchasing, and their site can be found here.
Dark Scavenger
Scoring this game?  I’d probably say a 7/10 – it’s a decent indie effort, and I don’t feel like my time was ill-spent, but it’s not a game that’s going to overtake the Mass Effects or Final Fantasy titles I play either.

The Next Evolution in the Golden Age of Board Games

I think this partnership is a great idea as it helps to support two local businesses instead of just one. I believe that it is great that local businesses can come together like this to help one another out as it helps to grow the sense of community. ~Randolph Chacon

Golden Age of Board Games

Knight Moves Board Game CafeIn one of my earlier articles, I mentioned that I totally agreed with the idea that “we are in the golden age of board games”.  We can say this because in the last couple of years, the amount and variety of board games released have increased, the amount of video/blog reviewers have tripled and also, the amount of board game kick starters have been on the rise…so, the question is what’s next? Where is this trend going and how is it evolving?  And the answer is: Board game cafés.

This idea just clicked in my mind after watching a few video blogs, one of them being Watch it Played in which they went to a board game café called The Board Room located in Halifax, Canada. In the video they showed the layout of the café as well as the game shop that the owner runs out of it.  When I saw this video I thought to myself could a person really run a business like this?  Would people actually be interested in going to a place that has board games that they could play?  The more I thought about it the more it made sense. I mean, if Starbucks could get away with selling 5 dollars cups of coffee and have people just hang around, why couldn’t a board game café work? After doing some research, I found out that there are very few board game cafés in the U.S. Luckily, I recently moved to Boston and learned about Knight Moves, a board game café opened not long ago in Brookline, and the first of its kind in Boston. As you could imagine, I was really excited to go because I wanted to have a firsthand experience of what it is like to spend time and play at a board game café!!

From the moment my party and I walked into the café we were greeted by the owner, Devon Trevelyan. He gave us a nice tour of his café. While I was looking around in awe, I saw people from different ages just hanging around having fun playing different games. I thought to myself “this is awesome!!” then, he brought us over to his huge collection of games and said “feel free to grab any one of these to play.” He then asked me if I had any questions on the rules, and I said with surprise “you know how to play all these games?” In turn he replied to me “Why yes, yes I do” with a huge smile across his face. At that moment I knew that he was passionate about gaming and wanted to share his passion with other people. I also realized that it is people like him that could help this next evolution of board games keep growing as they attract more and more people into board games. Devon is just starting in his business, and I know that if he could get this café off the ground, that more and more people would see what a great hobby board gaming could be.

So, my wife and I chose a game and sat to play. As the night was falling, we noticed that more and more people kept coming into the café and join in on some games. At one point, there were so many people that came in that they ran out of tables and people had to wait to play! Since that day, my wife and I have gone back several times to play and it is a delight seeing so many people (especially on weekends) at one place having wonderful moments of fun together. I think board games are successfully gaining more adepts but, I also have to give credit to Devon, as he is very friendly and he truly cares about his customers; he will solve/explain any question about the games that you could have.

board games at knight moves board game cafe

If you are wondering about pricing, well it depends on what you would like to do, for example, if you just want to go and hang out at the café, drink some coffee while working on your computer then, you don’t have to pay anything. If you are a casual gamer or if you would like to try a game only one night (or day) there is a small fee you need to pay but it is worth it, because you can play as many games as you want (and he has a great variety of games you could choose from). However, if you are a gamer and would like to hang out there more often, then you could check out the packages that involve a membership to the café and that entitles you to a cup of coffee as well as a discounted rate to play the games.  In addition, if you end up liking a game so much that you decide to buy it, Devon has worked a partnership with Eureka (a board game store located one block down from the café) for you to get a discount towards the purchase of the game. I think this partnership is a great idea as it helps to support two local businesses instead of just one. I believe that it is great that local businesses can come together like this to help one another out as it helps to grow the sense of community.

Overall, I feel that the price for everything in his café is great and you get such a great value out of it considering you can try out a bunch of games that you may be interested in without having to buy them and then return them; but most importantly is that you have a place where you can go with friends, eat, drink coffee, and meet new people to whom you share the same hobby: play board games, now that is PRICELESS!

[Knight Moves: Board Game Café]

If you live in Boston I highly suggest checking out this place which is located on 1402 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA.  You won’t be disappointed.  I hope that Devon’s café gets more and more popular to the point where he has to think about expanding it because his place is a great example of how someone with great passion for a hobby can introduce it to multiple people.

Until next time my friends go out, play more and new games and most importantly, have fun will ya!

Super Metroid

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Of course, hardcore players like me don’t need strategy guides (“Ha! I laugh in the face of your pathetic guide of weakness!”), and I blitzed my way through this enormous and complex game with nary a moment’s pause. OK, maybe I peeked at the guide a teeny weeny bit, but only when I was really stuck. Honest. ~Lewis Packwood

Super Metroid

Format: Super NES Genre: Adventure Released: 1994 Developer: Nintendo

Metroid Prime on the GameCube was a strong contender for the list, but in the end I decided to go with Super Metroid as my most fondly remembered Metroid game. If you’ve never played it, I urge you to download it from the Wii Virtual Console with all possible rapidity – it really is an absolute classic, reflected in that fact that it’s still knocking around the top of the Game Rankings ‘All Time Best‘ list.

Super Metroid - SNES

The thing that always stands out in my memory about Super Metroid is the bloody great big box that it came in – bizarrely, Nintendo decided to ship the European version of the game with an enormous strategy guide detailing every last corridor and secret item in the whole game. I don’t think this kind of marketing tactic has been attempted before or since (correct me if I’m wrong) and you’ve got to admit that it’s a bit of strange decision. It’s as if Nintendo were about to launch the game and then suddenly thought:

“Ooooh, maybe it’s too difficult for them? What if they get a bit, you know, frustrated? I know, let’s tell them exactly how to do everything in the entire game. That should do it.”

Super Metroid - SNES

Of course, hardcore players like me don’t need strategy guides (“Ha! I laugh in the face of your pathetic guide of weakness!”), and I blitzed my way through this enormous and complex game with nary a moment’s pause. OK, maybe I peeked at the guide a teeny weeny bit, but only when I was really stuck. Honest.

The highlights of Super Metroid were undoubtedly the bosses – particularly the screen-filling Kraid (see screenshot below). He (I presume he’s a he anyway) doesn’t seem to learn though. Put it this way: if I was entirely invulnerable except for a weak spot in my mouth, I would probably keep my mouth shut the entire time, rather than periodically unleashing reptilian screams of fury then wondering why I kept getting hurt.

Super Metroid - SNES

However, I think the overall reason that Super Metroid was so successful was that it constantly drove you to see what was around the next corner. Every few screens you’re presented with some sort of barrier to your progress – perhaps a seemingly impassable lava pit or a platform that’s just out of reach – and one of the game’s joys is collecting a new item or ability and then backtracking through the game to see what new areas it will open to you. In fact, Super Metroid engendered an almost compulsive urge to explore every nook and cranny of the game world in the hunt for elusive weapons and upgrades, and the triumphal music that accompanies the discovery of each item is right up there as one of the most pleasing game sound effects of all time (possibly only beaten by the music accompanying the opening of a treasure chest in Zelda: Ocarina of Time).

Super Metroid - SNES

You could argue that its excellent graphics and inspired shift to 3D make Metroid Prime the instant stand-out game of the Metroid series, but in terms of gameplay there’s very little Prime does that Super Metroid doesn’t.

Excluding duplicated games, Super Metroid is currently at number 8 in the All Time Best games list – which is frankly not high enough in my opinion. Buy this game now: you won’t regret it.

[101 Videos Games]

Super Mario Galaxy

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Reviewers did have some minor complaints with “the spring suit”, a power-up which at times proves difficult to control and the occasional niggle with the auto-camera. ~The Elderly Gamer

Super Mario Galaxy

We’re going back, back in time, back to November 12th 2007 and the release of
the game that saw the Nintendo hero take the ultimate step … out into space.
Now available for your Wii at a bargain bin near you.

super-mario-galaxy-wii
The game follows
the protagonist, Mario, on a quest to rescue Princess Peach from the principal
baddy “Bowser”. Levels are galaxies filled with minor planets and worlds, while
gameplay is updated with gravity effects and power-ups. The game also features a
co-operative two-player option called “Co-Star Mode”.
super-mario-galaxy-wii
The 9th best
selling Wii game to date, with 8.84 million copies sold as of May 2010.  At the
time the game was hailed by several gaming websites as one of the best video
games of all time even managing to pick up it’s very own BAFTA.
super-mario-galaxy-wii
The
game’s soundtrack won numerous critic awards, which belies the story behind
the composition of the astonishing 81 tracks featured on the Platinum Edition
CD.
super-mario-galaxy-wii
Reviewers did have some minor complaints with “the spring suit”, a
power-up which at times proves difficult to control and the occasional niggle
with the auto-camera.
super-mario-galaxy-wii
A sequel Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released on May
23, 2010, many reviewers claiming that it is even better than its
predecessor.

The game Scored a staggering  97% averaged from 73 critic scores on
Metacritic.com.

super-mario-galaxy

Quotes of the Review
bunch

“It will frequently hug your inner child,
evoke tears of joy and tug at the heart.”
NTSC-uk

an astoundingly brilliant
game. It’s filled with wild new ideas (that work), is huge, looks brilliant and
should be taught at game design courses.” Gnomes Lair

Reviews Summary:

It is as if the boundaries of the genre have become
transparent, allowing a unique light to shine
forth.
A bravura piece of design that pulls off stunts no
one else has even thought of.
May feel a little too easy
for most gamers
Nintendo can still make something old feel
new again
Generates a consistent level of excitement that
few games can replicate.
Gameplay, visuals, sound,
presentation and overall value and fun are off the
charts
Not as technologically pioneering as its
grandfather
Level for level, more fun to play than “Mario
64.”
The only word to describe fighting Bowser with an
orchestral score in the background is “badass.”
After 25
years he’s still fat, still round, and still bouncing on the ground. And still
the greatest.

Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)

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Red Dead Redemption is a game that really is unparalleled when held up to any other current title. It is more vibrant and alive than any game, including GTA IV. ~Geoff Calver

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is an awe-inspiring game. From the get-go, Red Dead Redemption fascinates with its unique characters, witty dialogue, deep storyline and beautiful game world.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot

Red Dead Redemption begins, appropriately enough, in the small city of Blackwater, a town at the edge of the wild west. As John Marston, the hero of the game, gets off a boat with two federal agents, a car is lifted by a crane from the ship onto a dock. A newspaper boy calls out headlines and a train waits at the station, ready to carry passengers into the wilderness beyond.

This opening scene segues into a train ride. As Marston looks out the window, we, the gamer, see plains turn into desert plateaus. As the sun sets, John Marston listens to ladies describe the savages who live in the west and a preacher explains to a young woman that only through an acceptance of God into their lives can people reach heaven.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot

These opening scenes set the tone for the game. The car arriving represents the onward thrust of modernity into a west that, in 1911, was still very wild. The land of Red Dead Redemption is one of liars, thieves and murderers. But it is not a soulless world, and that is something that lends the game a stark beauty. Amidst the gorgeous yet savage setting, there are people with good hearts who need saving but who also, frequently, offer help to Marston.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot-

Marston is a former outlaw tasked with bringing his old comrades to justice. The newly formed Bureau in Washington, DC has taken his wife and child hostage in order to force him to help bring law back to the wild west. And in his journeys, Marston meets a huge variety of characters.

A small sampling of the characters would introduce you to a well-educated, well-grounded young woman who prefers ranching and lassoing wild horses to civilization and banking; an old woman who is waiting by a church for the man she intends to marry, unaware that he died 20 years ago, madly in love with her, and is buried in a cemetery nearby; an enterprising swindler with a flair for histrionics and musician who sleeps with whores and who implores with you to convince his wife to stay with him. Some of the characters are downright evil and some who appear evil at first are shown to have a soul after all. And that isn’t a coincidence, as Marston himself is a reformed outlaw, forced back into a life he wanted to leave behind.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot-

The characters in Red Dead Redemption are truly human, and that is a high compliment, because most games feature wooden characters who drop one liners and stiff discussions with pregnant pauses. The characters in Red Dead Redemption are unique, expressive and wonderfully voiced. They come to life, and with them, the world of Red Dead Redemption is made vibrantly real as well.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot-

Red Dead Redemption’s most prominent feature is simply it’s landscape. Spread over a huge area, Red Dead Redemption encapsulates the American west. Great plains give way to huge, snowcapped peaks which transition to wetlands, mesas, deserts and canyons. There are hidden treasures in the landscape. Caves, waterfalls, lakes and small chapels nestled in the hills. Striking through the middle of the game world is a large river which separates the United States from Mexico, which is equally gorgeous with its scorching, hot days and star-filled nights.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot-

This is a believable world. Animals chase each other through the wilderness, lightning flashes in the distance as a storm approaches. The light of late afternoon is harsher than the light of early morning. Characters request your assistance on the side of the road; some with intentions, some with bad. Travelers halt their horses to relieve themselves in the woods before continuing on their journeys and every once in a while the sounds of a shootout carry on the wind.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot-

Red Dead Redemption is a game that really is unparalleled when held up to any other current title. It is more vibrant and alive than any game, including GTA IV. It’s landscape is diverse, huge, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It’s analysis of the retreat of the wilderness is simple and elegant. It’s characters are more alive than any that have come before them, and the sheer amount of things to do in the world of Red Dead Redemption is nearly endless.

Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360 - Gameplay Screenshot-

Red Dead Redemption is a game that I heartily recommend to everyone. It is a Rockstar Game, so it isn’t intended for youngsters with its violence, seedy characters and stark portrayals of life in the west, but it is an essential game in that it truly represents a step from interactive medium to an emotional, involving, beautifully created experience that truly blends the line between cinema, game, and art.

Running Battle

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Not much can be found on the internet about this game, except that it was developed by Opera House in 1991, famous for porting to home consoles from Arcades like Midnight Resistance, Rastan Saga 2, and Captain America and the Avengers. Those games were somewhat decent at least. ~David Kudrev

Running Battle

The SEGA Master System 2 was the first home console I’ve had. It was a new experience in gaming for me as I was used to the arcades and Game & Watch games prior. I still don’t remember why we went for the Master System over the NES at the time. Might be the cost factor, as I did enjoy the games on the NES at the department stores when trying out which home console to go for. Although one thing about the Master System, was even though it had a large library of games, a lot of them were quite bad. This is one of the worst. Enter Running Battle.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Not much can be found on the internet about this game, except that it was developed by Opera House in 1991, famous for porting to home consoles from Arcades like Midnight Resistance, Rastan Saga 2, and Captain America and the Avengers. Those games were somewhat decent at least..

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

So the storyline in short: The Dark Zone, which is the name of your town, has been taken over by gangs and crooks, you play as Detective Gray, a cop who’s partner was gunned down by said crooks, and you’re avenging the death of him by plummeting yourself into 5 levels of fighting through monotony and cardboard cut-out characters to defeat “M”, the big boss of said town.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Okay, first off, the graphics are what you’d expect from a game on the Master System. Simple, yet effective for the given hardware there (granted I’ve seen decent graphics pulled off nicely on a Master System, I mean look at Sonic Chaos for example, or Fantasy Zone even! They’re very colorful games, Running Battle tends to go for blander colors.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

The music in this game is the only thing that shines, when I first hired the game in 1991 and sat there playing it. The music was what stood out. Oh sure forget that this game has horrible animation in the characters, kind of like waddling a piece of cardboard across the screen, except cardboard doesn’t flicker/disappear when moving..

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

Forget that the collision detection in this game is beyond arse.. as in you can’t even get close enough to the thugs with your fists or kicks. Thankfully you do get some power-ups, like a pistol, rifle, super strength (one hit and the thugs are dead.. if you get close enough to hit them), and then there’s 5-second invincibility.

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

And forget the storyline and character development, you just fight 5 bosses, defeat the end boss and then greeted to a one-screen, one sentence, one picture end sequence.

I honestly don’t know what happened when this game was developed, whether it was meant to be a tax write-off? There were some great titles in that time on the Master System (Sonic 1, Asterix, Strider, Castle of Illusion) as well as it’s other competitive consoles (Battletoads and Star Wars on the NES).

Running Battle for the Sega Master System - Gameplay Screenshot

If you see this game in the stores, grab it for the music. But don’t expect anything to pull you in and keep you playing for hours on end..

1.5 out of 5

Pros:
– Music
– A great party game to piss friends off with

Cons:
– Graphics and animations are bland (and at the time other games did better)
– Controls are way too hit-and-miss
– Not much in the way of story

World of Tanks

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World of Tanks Xbox 360

I would have gotten more enjoyment out of World of Tanks if the learning curve was a little more gradual. Unfortunately, the game throws you into the fray with about as much wartime knowledge as Maxwell Klinger.  This is certain to minimally frustrate even the most seasoned gamer. ~Eric Hollis

There’s something about reviewing a free-to-play game that makes me feel extremely ungrateful.  I’d never complain about a free lunch, or a mercy hand job, so I certainly have no room to complain about a free game, right? Wrong. But at least World of Tanks doesn’t feel like either a free-to-play crapfestival or a micro transactional grind, both of which make it an extremely refreshing and pleasant change, especially on the 360.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

If you love blowing up tanks with other tanks, you couldn’t ask for a better game.  While the content is a little dumbed down from the PC version, you still can choose between multiple vehicles from American, German, and British stables.  Upgrading said vehicles can become a chunky grind. Even if you are willing to throw down real cash for a new ride, you still have to play multiple matches with each vehicle to move to the next tier.  The higher-level beasts will take most players weeks to obtain, and that’s with a lot of dedication and perseverance.  One hundred plus hours of gametime that cost absolutely zero is nothing to scoff at, especially when you aren’t getting something that feels even close to a budget title.  Hell, I’ve played tons of sixty-dollar games that, by comparison, should be ashamed they charged at all.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

The premise of World of Tanks is simple—it’s a third-person shooter that uses tanks instead of soldiers.  Players participate in large 15 on 15 battles that involve either capturing a base or annihilating the enemy team.  The seven included maps represent varied terrain. Fortunately this concept works very well. As far as control, besides a few tweak to the aiming, if you’ve ever played Battlefield, you’ve already learned everything about the actual controls you need to know.  There’s also a very brief tutorial that explains how to traverse the map.  Unfortunately, map use is about all that is explained, which led to my biggest frustrations with this title.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

The biggest problem with the game is the sheer lack of critical information.  Nothing is ever explained in detail, with the exception of a few scant loading screens. Armed with only minimal quality instruction, I felt extremely over my head during almost every match.  Why do tanks disappear off the map at random?  Why do my shots immobilize enemy players as often as they do no damage whatsoever?  Why can I crush some objects like aluminum cans yet others stop me dead on my treads?  I would have gotten more enjoyment out of World of Tanks if the learning curve was a little more gradual. Unfortunately, the game throws you into the fray with about as much wartime knowledge as Maxwell Klinger.  This is certain to minimally frustrate even the most seasoned gamer.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

My other issue is the rhythm of gameplay.  In World of Tanks you never respawn in the match; death is always permanent.  With that, hastiness in battle never proved to be an intelligent option.  (Trust me, I tried the old bum rush the enemy base play.)  This kind of mortality causes the player to think more fully about strategic methods, which is fine, but lasting death also means that even the most minor mistake will force you to stare at another player’s screen while waiting for the next match to start.  Thankfully, there is no penalty for quitting a match early, but an early exit hinders the chance to make friends and talk trash at length with other Tankers, two activities that are crucial not only to shooters but to online gaming in general.  Some of the matches also felt extremely unbalanced, but this was probably due to the fact that I was absolutely garbagedick at the game. Simply put, I never felt like I figured out how to play well enough to enjoy myself.

World of Tanks - Xbox 360

Unfortunately I couldn’t get into World of Tanks, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least give it a try.  If you really want to get into the vast community that WarGaming has created, my research tells me that the PC version is a lot more substantial and developed than the version I played on 360.

Mega Man V (Gameboy)

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Mega Man V for Game Boy is awesome on many fronts. It’s the only all-new, completely original game in the Game Boy series. ~Jesse Moak

Mega Man V

Back again, with  another installment of the Forgotten Gems series, looking at more obscure (but awesome) classic video games from yesteryear! Today, in honor of classic Mega Man being announced as a playable fighter in the new upcoming Smash Bros. game, I decided it was a good time to look back at one of my favorite games, in fact my second favorite, and quite frankly, the second BEST Mega Man game ever made, Mega Man V for Game Boy!

Mega Man V - Gameboy

Not to be confused with Mega Man 5 for NES, this particular gem was the fifth and last of the Game Boy series of Mega Man games, known in Japan as “Rockman World”. And also, while Mega Man 5 on NES was a decent, solid game, Mega Man V on GB is without question a far superior creation. The Mega Man games on the Nintendo Game Boy had, up until now, basically been rehashes of the NES games, using bosses and elements taken directly from those, with only a few things (like the Mega Man Killer robots) actually new.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

For example, the first game, “Mega Man: Dr. Wiley’s Revenge”, features four of the six robot masters from the original Mega Man on NES, then after defeating them, in Wily’s Castle, you must fight four of the robot masters from Mega Man 2. In Mega Man II (the GB series used Roman numerals), you fought the other four robot masters from MM2 on NES, and then four from Mega Man 3. This continued on through Mega Man III and IV on Game Boy, as a typical formula. But then, lo and behold, the wonderful oddity that is Mega Man V came about, a game possessed of a totally, 100% brand new story, bosses, level elements, etc. And not only was it all new, but it was/is also AWESOME. Allow me to elucidate.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

Mega Man V actually released after the also-fairly-good Mega Man 6 on NES, in September 1994. Along with being it’s own, all-new game, it also was the only Mega Man game to make use of the Super Gameboy peripheral, which allowed Super Nintendo owners to play Game Boy games on their home console, and even add limited color palettes to them. Some later Game Boy titles, such as Mega Man V, came programmed with some SGB compatibility, so as you can see above, they had their own pre-set palettes, as well as cool little graphic borders at the edge of the screen. Beyond that nifty addition, the game itself was one hell of a package.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

I didn’t personally get a Game Boy until Christmas 1994, but when I did, I was surprised by a fairly random-yet-awesome assortment of games. Among them, were Kirby’s Pinball Land, the awesome 100 level Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong, the first Wario Land, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (still to this day my favorite classic Zelda game), Tetris, and Mega Man V. I’m not 100% sure all these years later that I got ALL those games on Christmas with the GB, or if I got a couple of them later which is totally possible. But there were several, and Mega Man V was among them. Looking back, Mega Man V has to be, hands down, my second favorite Mega Man game ever made, behind only the unbeatable classic Mega Man 2 on NES. Mega Man Vreally has everything, from the Super GB functionality, to a cool original story, to the fact that it is one rare case in the series where NONE of the weapons you gain from beating the robot masters seem useless. They all are at least somewhat useful, a few of them being arguably the best weapons in the series.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

The coolest, and most memorable, out of all of these, is Saturn’s weapon, the “Black Hole”, which allows you to create a small black hole in the air which sucks up all items and enemies on screen, and drops any items neat-as-you-please right into your lap. Easily the coolest Mega Man weapon ever conceived. But even so, some of the other weapons you get are pretty sweet too. Such as the “Salt Water” attack, where you fire a ball of water, which then splits on impact into three smaller balls that bounce all around the room. Or the “Grab Buster”, which fires a shot that leeches energy from enemies, refilling two units of your health meter.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

Mega Man V is so stuffed full of awesome, that even the standard Mega Buster is pretty much the coolest it’s ever been, before or since. In every other Mega Man game (from 4 on NES onward) you could charge the Mega Buster to build up and release one big, powerful blast. Well in Mega Man V for Game Boy, Dr. Light, Mega Man’s creator, upgrades the Mega Buster weapon to create the Mega Arm, which instead of charging and firing a huge shot, you fire a huge Mega Man fist at enemies. And if you collect enough bolts (the in-game currency), you can upgrade this even further, to make it charge faster, to grab items from clear across screen, and to lock on to regular enemies and hit them over and over till they explode.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

If THAT isn’t the single coolest regular weapon in just about any video game ever, I don’t know what is. Rush, Mega Man’s robotic dog pal (introduced in Mega Man 3 on NES), even gets into the act, transforming into “Rush Space” for the space journey form Earth to (SPOILERS) Dr. Wiley’s secret space station. In this level you ride in Rush like a spaceship, and the level plays out like a classic side scrolling shoot’em up game, similar to R-Type or Gradius.

Mega Man V

The actual plot of the game is pretty unique as well. The Earth has been attacked by mysterious space robots called “Stardroids”, and in Mega Man’s first encounter with their leader, Terra, his Mega Buster has no effect on their super-hard space metal. Thus Dr. Light upgrades it to the more powerful Mega Arm, and once again he must rush off to save the world. The robot masters themselves are singularly unique in the Mega Man universe as well, because unlike the classic Mega Man series, where every boss is named “____ Man”, or the X series where almost all bosses are named/based off of some kind of animal, in MMV on Game Boy, the “Stardroids” are named after the 9 planets of our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Terra (Earth), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto (which is STILL a planet, fuck the haters). As it later turns out, it was Dr. Wiley who discovered these mysterious space robots in some kind of ancient ruins, and reactivated and reprogrammed them to, what else, take over the world.

Mega Man V - Gameboy

After defeating them, surviving the hard-as-nails space shooter level including the boss fight with the Skull on the front of Wily’s space station, and then making it through the station, fighting the “Mega Man Killer” robots one last time, and once again stomping Wily himself, (SPOILERS), you even have to fight one last super-top-secret space robot that Wily also discovered, a fairly all-powerful guy called “Sunstar”. He’s one hell of a final boss, let me tell you.

Mega Man V

I can’t possibly talk about Mega Man V, however, without telling you about possibly the coolest and most unique asset this game has. Dr. Light also creates a new robot pal to assist Mega Man in his battles. And unlike Flip-Top Eddie, or the robo-bird Beat, etc., who are-yet-aren’t useful, THIS little guy is fucking bad ass. It’s a little green robo-cat named “Tango”, and while he only has one function, it’s just about the most awesome function you could hope for. When you summon him, he teleports on-screen, lets out a “meow”, and then transforms into what basically looks like a giant buzz-saw, bouncing all over the screen and destroying everything in sight. And like Rush, you can refill his energy, so that you can use him throughout the game.

Mega Man V

The developers originally added Tango because they wanted a new robot pal that wasn’t in the NES games. But sadly, as cool as he is, he more or less got forgotten in the future. He can be bought as an item in the SNES/Game Boy Advance game Mega Man & Bass, and makes a cameo playing in the item shop in the downloadable game Mega Man 10. But outside of that, he never has the prominent role he had in Mega Man V. And to me, that sucks, because he’s an awesome, and incredibly useful character.

Mega Man V

So, in summary, Mega Man V for Game Boy is awesome on many fronts. It’s the only all-new, completely original game in the Game Boy series. It’s the only game in the entire Mega Man franchise, to my knowledge, that has totally unique names for the bosses. It’s the only game that features the super-useful Mega Arm weapon. It’s the only Mega Man game I can honestly thing of, where MOST of the robot master weapons you gain are actually useful. It’s got the cool Rush Space shooter level. It’s got a great soundtrack. It’s fun, even though it’s tough as nails to beat. It’s got fuckin’ TANGO the robo-cat! Basically, the game just has everything you could want in a Mega Man game, or an action/platformer game in general. It truly stands alone, and I would have to say, in my opinion at least, is the second coolest Mega Man game ever created.

Mega Man V

So if you’ve never tried it yet, give it a whirl! Though sadly, as of now, Capcom has yet to release this game for download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Hopefully they eventually will, sooner rather than later, because it is one forgotten gem that ABSOLUTELY deserves to be played and recognized by a wider audience. Cheers!

[Check out more from Jesse on Retro Revelations]

FIFA Soccer 96 (Game Boy)

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FIFA Soccer 96 is a must have for your portable collection. It would be an immense joy for me to have this game complete in a box and maybe someday I will have it but for now I’ll have to be happy just playing it on an emulator. ~Luis Zena

FIFA Soccer 96 (Game Boy)

Fifa 96 - soccer - gameboy

Back in the era of the classic Gameboy we had our fair share of horrible sport titles. It was a very difficult task to make a sport game playable on such a small screen. With the usual yearly titles though, someone had to eventually get it right. FIFA 96 came out to be a game of greatness that no other title was able to live up to in the portable world. The game is quite fascinating as it contains one of the best responsive controls ever for a portable game of its time. You have your usual modes of play such as friendly, world cup, among others. You can pick over 100 nations so I’m sure your favorite will be there.

Gameplay

Fifa 96 - soccer - gameboy

The gameplay as I have mentioned is amazing. With such little room for detail, the players look how they are supposed to look. The game is as difficult as you can get according to how difficult you want to play, I hope that made sense. In other words, the game is as tough as you want it to be. The best feeling in the world is when you shoot from the outside and beat a flying goal keeper. The crowd screams and you as well for scoring such an amazing goal. Just so you know, that’s the easiest way to score a goal although you have to practice is very well.

Sound

The sound is not amazing at all. You will hear the main song while you are picking teams but when it comes to playing the match, everything will be silent except the ball. If you do want to hear something though, just foul an opponent real hard and you’ll hear the crowd!

Graphics

Fifa 96 - soccer - gameboy

Graphics-wise the game is not bad at all. You see what you are supposed to see and with such limit on the portable handheld, you only have so much to work with. The realism of playing a soccer match is there and will be joyful as you will be able to do things you can usually due in the console soccer games. It’s a great way to play soccer on the go, classic soccer!

Final Thoughts

Having put that aside, this is a must have for your portable collection. It would be an immense joy for me to have this game complete in a box and maybe someday I will have it but for now I’ll have to be happy just playing it on an emulator. Enjoy the most beautiful sport in the world, portable style!

[Retro Gaming Live]

Gex: Enter The Gecko (PSOne)

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Look past the painful attempts to make Gex a gecko with ‘attitude’ though, and this is a platformer that’s still worth a look. ~Simon Reed

Gex: Enter The Gecko

I recall in my revisit of  Gex: Enter the Gecko on the Gameboy Color that the titular lizard had precious opportunity to make his abrasive personality come across – and how that was a real blessing. Sadly, in ‘Gex,’ the game in which the gecko was first introduced to the world, he manages to give you a very good idea of his ‘persona and you know what I find even more annoying than Gex himself? The game underneath is actually not half bad – but it’s overshadowed by the green ones constant chatter.

Gex - PSOne

Set up like an old school platformer, Gex sees you travelling around small hubs, each one focusing on a specific location – such as a horror world and a kung-fu universe. So far, so unoriginal. Of course, the game originally came out on 3DO in 1994, so perhaps these old fashioned sensibilities are to be expected. In each stage you have to recover a remote (or two) which then allow you to access new levels. Fortunately each remote can usually be found fairly easily, and are placed in clear view when you’re working your way through a level.

Gex - PSOne

Stages tend to feel a little open, although in actuality they’re quite linear. Gex has an ability to stick to walls you see, and this can make you easily go up, down as well as left and right. Further variety comes about through power ups, which you can either whack with your tail to add to your health bar or eat (by using your extendable tongue) to access short term abilities, such as fireball breath or a super jump. Despite these interesting gameplay mechanics however, the game itself can occasionally feel a little generic – but some credit must go to developer Crystal Dynamics that the game remains playable throughout. Controls are solid, and there are rarely any moments where the game feels broken or unfair.

Gex - PSOne

The only truly annoying design aspect is the password system – which requires you to collect a tape in every other level (and they’re usually hidden away) or beat an end of world boss. Whether the game is worth playing thought, simply comes down to whether you can stand Gex himself.  His wisecracks are just about acceptable – the first time your hear them. They’re repeated so much that they end up getting more than a little irksome though, and he seems to have to comment on something nearly every five seconds. Look past the painful attempts to make Gex a gecko with ‘attitude’ though, and this is a platformer that’s still worth a look.

 [Check out Simon’s Homepage]

Holy Diver

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

Holy Diver

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

Holy Diver

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

Story

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

Holy Diver

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

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

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

Holy Diver

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

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

Gameplay

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

Holy Diver

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

[Check out Retro Gamer Girl]

Cavenaut

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

Cavenaut

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

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

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

Gameplay

Cavenaut

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

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

Cavenaut

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

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

Final Score

RKS Score: 8/10

Extras

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

[Via Red Parsley]

[See more from Bruno R. Marcos]

Check out more great [Indie Game Reviews]

[Download the Freeware version of Cavenaut]

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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

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

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

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

 

Story

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

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

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

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

Star-Wars-Jedi-Knight-Jedi-Academy

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

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

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

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs

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

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs

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

Freakin Funky Fuzzballs - Gameplay screenshot

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

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

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

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

[Visit Magisterrex Homepage]

Little Big Adventure 2: Twinsen’s Odyssey

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

Little Big Adventure 2

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

What is Little Big Adventure 2: Twinsen’s Odyssey

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

Why it’s Great

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

Where you can get it

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

Dudes with Attitude

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

Dudes with Attitude

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

Dudes with Attitude - NES

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

Gameplay

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

Dudes with Attitude - NES

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

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

Dudes with Attitude - NES

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

Dudes with Attitude - NES

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

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

Graphics

Dudes with Attitude - NES

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

Sound

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

Originality

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

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

Reflections: Titanfall Beta

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

Titanfall Beta

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

Here are my initial thoughts:

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

Titanfall_beta-gameplay-screenshot

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

NES Baseball

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

Baseball

nes baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE FINAL VERDICT

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

3/10

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

Batman

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

Kasumi Ninja

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

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

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

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

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

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

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

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

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

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

Kasumi Ninja - Atari Jaguar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut

Published by: The Men Who Wear Many Hats

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

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

Released: Jan. 10, 2013

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

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

If you miss the game, or just want to revisit the classic, you can download it and play it through Chrome here:http://www.virtualapple.org/oregontraildisk.html

Organ-trail

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

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

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

Organ-trail

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

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

Organ-trail

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

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

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

Organ-trail

 

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

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

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

Organ-trail

 

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

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

6 Great Flappy Bird Clones

6 Great Flappy Bird Clones

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

Maverick Bird (Web)

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

maverickbird

 

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Link: http://terrycavanaghgames.com/maverickbird/

FLAPTHULHU (iOS/Windows)

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

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Link: Coming Soon

Flappy Doge (Web)

flappy-dog

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

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Link: http://www.dogetek.co/game/

Quack (ZX81)

quack!

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

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Link: http://www.bobs-stuff.co.uk/quack.html 

Flappo Bird (Atari 2600)

Flappo Bird (Atari 2600)

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

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Link: http://tacsgames.itch.io/flappo-bird

CrappyFly (Windows)

crappy fly

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

 

Link: http://glenmcnamee.itch.io/crappyfly

You can find even more clones at the FlappyJam.

The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day

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

The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spolier alert! This video shows all of Episode 1

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

State of Emergency

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

Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior

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

Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior

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

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

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

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

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

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

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

warhammer 40k - fire warrior - pc

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

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

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

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

Graphics: 9

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

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

Sound and Music: 8.5

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

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

Gameplay: 7

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

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

Intangibles: 9.5

Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - PSP

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

Overall: 8.5

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

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

The Beast Within - A Gabriel Knight Mystery

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

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

Killer Instinct

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

Killer Instinct

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

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

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

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

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

Killer Instinct - Xbox One

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

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

Rise of the Robots

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

Rise of the Robots

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

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

patrickandbrian
Brian May pictured with a relaxed GamesMaster

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

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

Rise of the robots - amgia

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

Rise of the robots - amgia

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

Rise of the robots - amgia

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

John Madden Football

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

Score: 5 out of 10