Neutopia 2

Neutopia2-turbografx-16

This week we look at the classic action adventure game Neutopia 2. Developed by Hudson Soft and released for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1992, it is the direct follow up to Neutopia where you are Jazeta’s son and your mission is to defeat the evil Dirth and save your father.

Neutopia2-turbografx-16

The game plays a lot like the Legend of Zelda games on the NES and SNES where as you explore a large 2D world taking on tasks and quests in any order you wish. A strange note about this game is at the end it mentions that Neutopia 3 would be coming soon, but no such game was ever released.

Elevator Action

Elevator Action

How many times have you walked in an elevator and starting thinking you were in the 1983 Taito game, Elevator Action? Never! Really? It must be me, I am strange like that.

Elevator Action

Since Elevator Action is turning 30 this year, I thought it was a good opportunity to have a game, for old times’ sake. So, how does it stack up after all these years – is it still fun to play? Read on.

Elevator Action

For those that have never laid eyes on this game, the protagonist is Otto, or Agent 17. Otto is tasked with collecting secret documents from rooms (behind red doors) within the 30-floor building. He makes his way between floors via the elevator (hence the title – d’oh) and on certain floors, he can use the escalators. To make things interesting, enemies appear at the most inopportune time to get Otto and derail his whole secret mission.

Otto is no slouch when it comes to defending himself. As a secret agent, he is armed and dangerous. His trusty gun can fire three bullets per shot. If that doesn’t work, the enemies can be kicked. By far the most satisfying way to eliminate the bad guys, is by shooting a light on the ceiling while in the elevator, dropping the light onto the baddies. The byproduct of a dropped light is that the hallways become temporarily dark which makes the enemies harder to see – makes the heart rate go up a notch too. Another way to get kills on the board is to crush the bad dudes with the elevator – gee I’m a sadist.

Elevator Action

After Otto collects all documents, he has to make his way down to the basement where he can escape via his getaway car. For some inexplicable reason, Otto proceeds to another building for more secret document hunting instead of driving off in the sunset. Ah, once an agent, always an agent.

The controls are four-way (up, down, left, right) with two buttons, one for firing, the other for jumping/kicking – Taito catered for right and left-handed players by having these buttons on either side of the centred joystick. The game can become hectic, with the timer ticking down and enemy spies that pop-up just when you don’t want them to. Even though the action may seem limited, the game is still as much fun to play now, as it was 30 years ago. The graphics and sound could do with a spruce up, but back then, it was all about instant playability – which Elevator Action has in abundance.

GraphicsVery basic in this department – enemies wear the traditional black suit with top-hat to match. Documents are hidden behind red doors, and the elevator is cool to watch go up and down.

76%

SoundRun of the mill bleeps and blops. Nothing to tune your ears into.

65%

PlayabilityTaito plonged the joystick in the middle, with buttons on either side – catering for both right and left-handed players. Pick your buttons, and away you go being a secret agent.

80%

LastabilityThe gameplay may feel limited, but this is not a game to play for hours on end. It is great to play in short burts from time to time.

78%

OverallUp, Down, Left, Right, Jump, Fire. No, not the Konami code, just the control mechanisms for a secret agent. Great game to kill 10 minutes of your time.

81%

 

Elevator Action

Manufacturer: Taito
Year: 1983
Genre: Platform
Number of Simultaneous Players: 1
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Alternating
Control Panel Layout: Single Player
Controls:
– Joystick: 4-way [up, down, left, right]
– Buttons: 2 [Fire and Jump]
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)

 

 

Elevator Action

Elevator Action

Released by Taito in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Elevator Action can somewhat be most accurately categorized as a platformer action game. The home console video game was actually a port from a popular arcade game; though it lost some of the bright-and-shiny looks of the arcade unit, the NES version of Elevator Action still played very similarly.

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

Gameplay

The player controls a spy character who has infiltrated a high-rise building with lots of doors and elevators, and must traverse from the top floor to the bottom without falling victim to enemy men-in-black characters, falls, or being squashed by said elevators. Certain doors in the building are red, and must be entered and exited before completing the level by getting to the getaway car.

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

After completing a level, the next stage is generated, with exactly the same building, but a randomization of red-door locations. Also, the A.I. gradually become smarter and more sneaky in their tactics (for instance, they may vary between crouching and not crouching when they fire at you), against the sole defense of the player: A semi-automatic pistol that can fire three shots at a time, and kills instantly, much like the one-shot deaths the player may endure.

Graphics

This is a basic, crude little game. Elevator Action for the NES has a cartoony look, to put it nicely and with as positive of a spin as possible. Otherwise, the line drawings are basic, but at least the elements are recognizable. The simple squishing deaths of agents stuck in elevators shafts are even humorous.

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

Sound

Although popular opinion varies widely, the general consensus is that the background music for this game is average at best, and mind-screwingly horrifying at worst. Either way, it does not make up for the “meh” quality of the sound effects, other than the somewhat satisfying “thud” of an enemy agent’s body hitting the floor.

Creativity & Innovation

Elevator Action - NES - Taito - Gameplay Screenshot

Perhaps unfairly, this video game cannot claim to have too much originality, only because Elevator Action was already an arcade game. Otherwise, the very foundational premise is interesting, forming something of a hybrid between a puzzler and an action adventure.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=durTn-5IAms[/youtube]

But beyond all other factors, most visibly prominent, is a cripplingly horrific rate of repetition. Being a high-score, arcade-style game, Elevator Action has no ending, and will only continue generating the exact same building schematic over and over. This truly, deeply hurts its replay value; although it is quirky, possibly interesting, and worth a try, its novelty and fun can only last so long before it becomes boring and stale. Almost single-handedly by this flaw alone, Elevator Actions gets its rating of one and a half stars out of five.

POD: Parasite Eve

Parasite Eve logo
Parasite Eve logo

Making a few changes to the picture of the day and focusing on games that are a little bit more classic. Today we bring you pictures, screenshots, wallpapers and artwork from one of my favorite games, Parasite Eve. It was developed and published in 1998 by Square Enix and follows the story of Aya Brea a New York cop that witnesses an entire opera house spontaneously combust. It is up to her to find out not only why it happened, but why she wasn’t affected.

And as a bonus here is the trailer for Parasite Eve: The Third Birthday

Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden screenshot
Ninja Gaiden screenshot

Ninja Gaiden

Have you ever known love and pure frustration all in one? I’m not talking about your girlfriend, I’m talking gaming. Ninja Gaiden for the Nintendo Entertainment System was a game I loved, but also one I grew frustrated with, so much so I destroyed my first NES over it.

Ninja Gaiden was released for the NES in March of 1989 after the successful run of the arcade version. Made by Tecmo the action packed side-scrolling platforming game was a hit with fans worldwide and is still acclaimed to this day. You play as a ninja named Ryu Hayabusa who is on a quest to avenge his murdered father. When Ryu arrives in America he finds out there is a plot by a man known as “The Jaquio” to take over the world.

Ninja Gaiden screenshot
Ninja Gaiden screenshot

As said the action is fast paced, but can be horribly hard. Your primary weapon is your katana, but you also have secondary weapons that require spiritual strength to use including throwing stars, windmill throwing stars and a fire wheel that gives you temporary invincibility. You find these weapons along with items to replenish your health, spiritual strength and even 1 ups by destroying lanterns and candles and other items hanging from walls.

Pretty much you are always running and moving forward which means you are constantly slashing at enemies and using your special weapons. Ryu can also climb ladders and can flip of walls to get to higher ledges. This may all sound easy, but trust me it is not. The first problem is like many games on the NES if you scroll from one panel to the next and back the enemy returns. What makes this horrible is when jumping from ledge to ledge and some damn bird knocks you to your death.

Ninja Gaiden NES box art
Ninja Gaiden NES box art

This was what hurt so much, Ninja Gaiden was a great game, it had cool graphics for the time and was fast paced and full of action. In addition it had awesome animated cut-scenes, cool music and a pretty good story, all things we want out of games. Then it had the worst learning curve of any game. Pretty much from Act 3 on you were in hell and when you reached Act 6 you were in hells toilet. It was not just the enemy placement and lack of health potions, many of the bosses were painstakingly hard and if you died it was a long way back to where you where.

Playing NG was like going through war, but once you did you were a better gamer for it and ready for the next installments of the series.

Obsolete Intros: Parasite Eve

[youtube id=”W9stRzyyuMQ” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Obsolete Intros: Parasite Eve

Aya Brea - Parasite Eve

Parasite Eve is one of my favorite RPG/Action games. It was developed and published in 1998 by Square Enix and follows the story of Aya Brea a New York cop that witnesses an entire opera house spontaneously combust. It is up to her to find out not only why it happened, but why she wasn’t affected.

Blackthorne (a.k.a. Blackhawk)

Have you ever dreamed of being a lone marauder/renegade whose only true friend was his faithful gun and whose purpose in life was to kill everything that moved within the shooting range? I bet you did… And I know that I haven’t, you psychopath! ^__^ But I don’t mind acting as one in a video game, especially in one as awesome as…

Blackthorne title screen

It was developed by Blizzard Entertainment (currently of Diablo, Starcraft & WOW fame) and released on multiple platforms by Interplay Productions in 1994. And 1994 was a GOOD year! Not only for me finally realizing the obvious difference between men and women but also for games and gamers alike. There were more active gaming platforms than ever before or after, and the sheer amount of games released at and around the year of 1994 left players witch many gems to pick from which was good but also caused Blackthorne to go by largely unnoticed…

And I have been preparing to write this review all my life… Or last five minutes… Whatever.

I’ve decided to try a bit different approach and instead of telling you what is the game’s current state of affairs genesis, I’ll include a video intro, so you can see it for yourself and then proceed with reading…

Now, since you’ve went through this quite decent intro, we can continue… ^__^

Blackthorne (a.k.a. Blackhawk – European title) is like Flashback on steroids. On some levels it’s a better game as it’s more action oriented and easier to follow in terms of both plot and puzzles, on others it lacks depth and genuine „WOW” factor of earlier mentioned production.

Blackthorne screenshot

I went through Blackthorne like a hawk goes through freshly caught rabbit – with blood on my claws and madness in my eyes. I didn’t follow the back story much though but I had fun regardless, which would not be possible in Flashback that was heavily story driven. Anyway, a character that player controls has a wide palette of on-screen actions with which he has to go through each level killing good and bad alike. He can run, roll, jump whilst standing or running, shoot in various directions, throw grenades, use objects or hide in the comforting darkness of shadows. When hidden he cannot be targeted or seen, so it’s a good idea to use this to your advantage.

Blackthorne screenshot

The game’s filled with little puzzles but they are really nothing that would either catch your attention or cause you to stop to think things through. They’re more like common sense – you have to remember not to use all the grenades at once because three or four screens from where you are there may be a door that needs removing with carefully placed explosives and such. Simple stuff! That’s good though cause Blackthorne does not claim to be a thinking man’s game – it’s a simple arcade/action platformer with loads of shooting and on-screen blood. Really, what’s best in video games!

Blackthorne screenshot

The game looks slightly different on each of the platforms it was released on due to specific limitations & capabilities of those gaming architectures. Gameboy Advance being the most stripped down and Sega 32X the most feature rich versions. Fortunately they all play exactly the same. And that’s good because there’s not many things that say “Relaxing Sunday Afternoon” like putting a bullet through a head of an unknown defenseless guy chained to the wall… Or so I heard.

Blackthorne screenshot

All in all, Blackthorne is not a game you’ll remember for being the most innovative or having immerse story behind it. No, it won’t happen! You will remember it as a game that provided you with tons of fun and mindless slaughter in the name of whatever… Cause it’s not the reason that counts here, it’s the act of doing it… And body count. ^__^

Blackthorne screenshot

…and one last thing to remember: in the beautifully red color stained World of Blackthorne we NEVER give up!

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Assassins Creed Brotherhood
Assassins Creed Brotherhood

Coming this fall for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 is the third installment in the Assassin’s Creed story.  Ezio is back, a legendary master assassin he continues his fight against the templar order and leads his own brotherhood of assassins to conquer the enemies of Rome. This time Ubisoft has added multiplayer elements to the game which will bring a new dynamic to the series.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Published by: Ubisoft

Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal

Genre: Action

Release Date:

US: Q4 2010

RP-M+ for Rating Pending

Also Available On: PC, Xbox 360

CDW Nintendo – Earthworm Jim

Black nintendo DSI
Black nintendo DSI

Coming to your DSi today is the classic game Earthworm Jim. This platform action shooter came to fame on the Super NES though it was released almost a year earlier for the Genesis. You play as Jim an ordinary earthworm until you come in contact with the super powerful cyber-suit that turns you into a superhero. When Jim finds out Psy-Crow’s evil plans he sets out to stop them and save the lovely Princess What’s-her-name.

Here is the official release information:

Earthworm Jim
Publisher: Gameloft
Players: 1
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older) — Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief
Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points
Description: The classic action platformer you used to play on the Super NES system is back in a remake that offers the essence and core game play of the original, plus a never-before-seen feature available exclusively on the Nintendo DSi system. Play as the grooviest earthworm in the galaxy. Run, gun, swing from hooks with your head, launch cows, bungee jump and rocket through speed levels in a dozen crazy universes. Earn bonuses with facial-expression-based challenges that track your face using the system’s built-in camera. Put on a smile, frown or make a variety of other faces to mimic Jim.

Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter
Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter

In the 80’s Spy Hunter was the game to play especially if your arcade was lucky enough to have the full sit-down version of the game that was actually shaped like the car. It had fast driving, a bunch of different weapons and a theme that stayed stuck in your head for months. I loved Spy Hunter; I just sucked really really bad at it.

Spy Hunter showed up in arcades in 1983, developed by Bally Midway you played the role of a spy driving a high-tech sports car. Your mission was to race down the mother of all freeways taking out enemy vehicles which later really seemed un-spy like to me. While it is true James Bond is known for his awesome cars it’s not like all he did was drive around taking out bad guys, but then again maybe that would have been better than Die Another Day.

Speaking of James Bond, the early versions of the game used the theme created by Monty Norman, but because of copyright issues Midway was forced to change the theme to a version of Henry Mancini’s, Peter Gunn. Strangely the theme only plays during certain parts of the game like the beginning and when you get a new weapon beyond that there is no music and only the in-game sound effects.

spy-hunter-arcade

Now the game itself is not too difficult in principle, you start off on a highway in your G-6155 Interceptor which was modeled after the 1983 Camaro Z28. On the top of your screen you have your score and a timer counting down from 1000. During this phase you have unlimited lives to get use to the game.

Along the route you will run into civilian cars which you are not to destroy even though some of them seem to move into your path or try to bump you. It is truly humiliating when one of the civilian cars blazes by you even when you are driving at full speed. If you destroy a civilian car your score counter stops denying you of points for a while and your weapons truck will only show up once per area to give you new weapons.

spy-hunter-arcade

Once your “free time” is over you will begin to encounter enemy cars such as ones with blades that come from its tires to slash yours sending you off the road. There are also armor plated cars which you can’t shoot, you have to knock them off the road or use a smoke screen or an oil slick. You also have a limo which will pull alongside you to shoot you in the face with a shotgun and finally a helicopter that drops bombs on you.

To help you out on your “Spy Hunting” your weapons van (which looks a lot like Optimus Prime) will come every so often and give you different weapons including an oil slick, a smoke screen or missiles. All these weapons have limited usage, but can be refilled if you live long enough and don’t kill any civilian cars. Your weapons van (which really is a semi-truck) will give you new weapons and refill existing ones.

spy-hunter-arcade

The graphics were what you would expect from 1983, it was a top down game meaning you played from an overhead view and the landscape only had minor changes in color and a plant or two on the side of the road. The exception was when you switched to boat mode and fought on the water and when you entered the winter area where the ground was icy.

I personally only made it to the boat twice and the ice level once, this is because I sucked really bad. Also you could have all three weapons upgrades on your car at one time, but again, you had to not suck as much as I did.

spy-hunter-arcade

The game was very successful and ported to pretty much every computer and console system of the day and a movie was even in the works starting The Rock, but there has been little news of its production of late.

Spy Hunter is classic action even though driving on the highway is not really Spy Hunting and your car is pretty lame at first and civilian cars drive faster than you and the switchblade cars sucked major ass and being shot in the face by a limo blows chunks and the music turned off making the explosion of my car audible to everyone and I ran out of quarters trying to get to the boat level.

You can find this game in its flash version pretty much anywhere and its worth trying out, there are other versions and a Spy Hunter 2, but the original was the best in my opinion and one day I hope to make it back to that icy level.

Steam Sale: all of SpellForce for 75% off

SpellForce 2 Gold Edition
SpellForce 2 Gold Edition

Steam Sale: all of SpellForce for 75% off

The entire action-rpg, strategy games SpellForce, by the same people who made BattleForge are now on sale on Steam for 75% off.

The games are RPG/RTS and they allow single player and co-op play.

Click here for the link to the sale.