WoWS: A disappointingly close loss in the Tier 6 Russian DD Ognevoi

World of Warships: A disappointingly close loss in the Tier 6 Russian DD Ognevoi

No matter how hard we tried we still lost but it was a good effort! o7 My Ognevoi wasn’t fully upgraded either. It was missing the final hull and final torpedo upgrade.

If you want to play this game go visit http://worldofwarships.com/

If you like this gameplay video and would like to see more like it please visit and subscribe to our youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/OGobsoletegamer

How my Mom saved Christmas

This is a repost from a story I wrote a long time ago and has been featured a number of times, hope you like it.

In the age of online shopping and overnight delivery, the hunt to get the game or game system we want is less of a hassle than it used to be in the past. Sure, we can camp out for special deals and sometimes miss out on getting something on day one, but overall we have it easy. Regardless, for many of us gamers we had parents who struggled to make us happy on Christmas morning and it is important to remember what they did for us especially during the holidays.

NES Controll Deck

This is a story about my mother going on a hunt with me for my NES.

It was about a week before Christmas and the Nintendo Entertainment System was on every kid’s wish list. I had made bargains and promises and finally my mother agreed to get it for me. She was old school in that she did not keep up on anything technical and didn’t really even know where to go get it, so I was tasked to find out where to get it and she would go and pay for it.

It was Friday night and I was at home searching the phone book to call stores asking if they had the NES. Many of the stores were sold out and the smile on my face that I had when I started had quickly faded. Then I got a stoke of good luck. A Toys-R-Us had one, but the store was thirty miles away. To me that was nothing and when my mother walked in the door I had the address and directions to the store ready to go. I was bouncing around with all the energy of a child not taking notice of my mom’s condition. I doubt I even gave her a moment to rest before I was dragging her back out to the car.

Chicago

 

Now I grew up in Chicago, so in December it was bitter cold and snowing. There was ice on the ground and tons of people going home from work, out for the night or shopping as we were. The traffic was horrible, but all I could think about was my new NES and how I’d soon be playing Mario Bros.

We get to Toys-R-Us and I fly inside not waiting for my mother. In seconds I was at the electronics section. By the time my mother got there I was almost in tears. They had sold the last one just ten minutes ago. I had no back-up plan, no other store directions or addresses. I just wanted to die. My mom suggested we try a few stores on the way home which temporality lifted my spirits.

toys-r-us-nes-retro-ad

Seven stores later with no NES in sight I just wanted to go home and quit. I felt Christmas was ruined and didn’t even want to celebrate it anymore. Nothing my mom said or did make me feel any better. I had laid down in the backseat of the car when it came to a stop. I knew we couldn’t have arrived home yet.

I looked out the window to see another store. Now for the life of me I can’t remember the store name, but what I can tell you was it was not known for any toys or electronics for the matter. It was what I would call an “old ladies” store. My mom had dragged me there many times for clothes or home appliances and stuff.

I was actually upset that my mom had brought me to a store like this that had no chance to have my NES. However, I was pretty well behaved thanks to my mom’s firm hand so I did not put up a fuss. We entered the store and my mom headed for the electronics section. Then I caught a glimpse of it. My eyes widened, my heart began to race. It was a display of Nintendo’s behind a glass counter. There were at least ten of them. I couldn’t believe it and I guess that was the point. The store normally would not have carried NES’s, but since it was such a hot item and it was the holidays they did. I guess kids and parents alike did not think to go there to look for a NES so they had them in stock.

I was in heaven until my mom pulled out her checkbook. The lady behind the counter said they no longer accepted checks, only cash or charge. As I said my mom was old school and did not have a credit card and surely did not have the cash on her. I was ready to die again until the lady looked at my mother’s check number.

Now some of you might not know this but the number to the right of the check not only tells you how many checks you wrote but, at least back then, was an indicator of your credit status. Think of it like a credit score, the more checks you wrote the better your credit was. My mother had written over eight thousand checks which showed she could be trusted. The sales lady spoke to the manager and he agreed to sell my mom the NES. It truly felt like Christmas morning. I had my NES and all was right in the world. I was energized all the way home dying to play it.

Even though I was really excited I did take a moment to thank my mom and that was when I saw it. She was tired, like the tired you would have after working ungodly hours as a nurse. My mother was an LPN (licensed practice nurse) and she worked 12 to 16 hours shifts all the time. In fact many times she would work back to back and even overnights. As a kid with no responsibility, I did not fully understand the strength it took to come home after working that hard and having to drive me all over town for some game.

She could have ended our trek after the first store or told me to wait until the next day to go. I understood a bit more that day what it took to raise me and my sister as a single parent, but it took years for me to fully understand all her sacrifices. I made sure to think of that night whenever I got mad over something stupid. Sometimes I forgot and acted like she had never done anything for me, but then I quickly remembered that night and many other things she did for me.

That was not the first or last time that my mother and I went off on an adventure for something gaming related. Perhaps one day I will tell you about our hunt for Texas Instruments software. For now, think about your own parents and what they did for you and if you can, tell them thanks.

Games & Candy 3

Games & Candy 3

Check out Games and Candy Part 1 & Part 2

Found some neat arcade/video game toys and candy at a candy store the other day.

Pac-Man Arcade Candy

Pac-Man Arcade Candy

Mario power Up energy drinks and some Mario Kart candy.

Mario power Up

A ton of Pez candy

Pez candy

Mmm Bacon candy

Bacon candy

Simpsons lunch boxes and mugs

Simpsons lunch boxes

And of course I had to get some Pac-Man candy to bring home.

Pac-Man Candy

Pac-Man Candy

Pac-Man Candy

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission

Alpha Mission was originally an arcade cabinet, produced in 1985, before being released on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) home console by SNK in 1987. Cribbing from the earlier shoot-’em-up mechanics of Xevious, this title is perhaps best remembered as a cartridge for shooter purists only.

alpha mission-nes-gameplay-screenshot-1

Gameplay

Alpha Mission is a vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up with the typical science fiction flavoring of alien landscapes, starfield backdrops in space, big alien bosses, and starships sporting formidable firepower. Like Xevious, the player can fire at airborne enemies or ones affixed to the ground. The B button fires the laser that hits fellow aircraft (spacecraft?), while the A button launches missiles for fixed ground targets. The environment automatically scrolls, and the player is given free reign to fly about the entire screen.

There are twelve stages, which repeat in true arcade style toward the goal of just getting a high score, and loosely grow more difficult, beginning with new flight-tracking enemies in Area 2 and proceeding toward the eventual all-out madness of double-digit stages. The end of a level has a juicy fight with a big, bad alien boss.

alpha mission

Power-ups can be gained via colored letters found on the battlefield, primarily by destroying ground targets. These can provide upgrades such as increasing the strength of the laser, increasing the strength of the missiles, and enabling faster movement speed.

Along with the score, there is also an energy meter, which grows by increments of 2 each time the letter “E” is gathered. Increasing the energy meter total unlocks additional types of weapons and other options which, when can be afforded, are selected by entering a selection screen with the Select button. Examples include an eight-way shot and a short-range-but-constant flamethrower.

These elements, in and of themselves, do not necessarily comprise bad game design. A very workable, playable shooter can be formed from these components. In fact, ingredients such as power-ups and differing weapons have been combined to create some of the greatest shooters of all time. However, rather than content to introduce these items and merely tweak them closer to perfection, Alpha Mission instead tears itself off the hinges with some poor choices along the way.

alpha mission

Case in point: There are power-downs; in other words, not all of the gainable items are beneficial. There are items that decrease weapons power, items that decrease movement speed, and even a letter just to throw the player back to an earlier point in the level. This only makes the game less possible to enjoy, to a potentially downright irritating extent, and takes quite the imaginative stretch to defend as a good idea.

Furthermore, the mechanic for weapon selection is maddening. It can be admirable to make this a player choice, rather than simply shift the weapon as the protagonist ship passes over a power-up. But the mechanic used here is terrible: Pressing the Select button opens up a black background, onto which are pased icons for different power-up, depending on what the player can afford. There is, too, the icon of the ship itself. The player actually has to take the time to maneuver the ship over to an icon and, once over it, press Select again. The effect is not always smooth; during a boss fight, this can cause the boss to reappear. Also, pressing Select again will suddenly cancel the power-up out and return to that selection screen, which can be dubious depending on the weapon being used, since different ones use up the energy meter at different rates and may not be immediately available again. This method of choosing weaponry is slow, clunky, buggy, and just plain bad.

alpha mission

Alpha Mission already suffers a blow in being ported to a television setting, since vertically scrolling shooters are much more apt to their original arcade screens, oriented to provide an optimal perspective and taller screen. With so much working against it, and forcing the player to deal with a ship that begins so slowly and existing under the constant threat of downgrades (which, by the way, actually serves to discourage quickly going after power-ups, which seems outrageously philosophically counter-intuitive of shooter design), this video game is just not good. Even worse, it is not fun.

Graphics

Aside from decent production values and the nifty way missiles accelerate to full speed a moment after being fired, not only is Alpha Mission graphically unimpressive, but even has some noteworthy issues. The flickering and slowdown problems in this game are atrocious. Enemies constantly blink in and out of existence, some projectiles cannot exist on-screen at the same time as others, and the slowdown happens often enough to truly be a drag. Even if some of the boss designs are interesting and the backgrounds crafted with pixel-precise skill to an extent, these potential visual treats are muddied and muffled by the display problems.

alpha mission

Sound

The background music is too repetitive to be considered high-quality, and the sound effects lack any sort of crunch, punch, power, gravity, or oomph. What more needs to be say? This is a video game that provides only a bland little snack for the ears, and does not manage any aural feats worth mentioning, despite the best efforts of those who composed the basic tracks. In fact, if you hate the music, you are completely out of luck, since it even plays when the game is paused.

Originality

At first glance, Alpha Mission seems like the average 8-bit shoot-’em-up with a generic premise and arcade-style gameplay. At its core, the formula presented is not completely awful. The lesson to be learned here is that execution is everything, and the execution here misses the mark. This game is not original, visionary, or innovative in any discernible way, save for maybe its stupid weapon-selection screen mechanic.

This is an example of a game where nothing about it seems great and everything about it seems to have a problem. There are worthy complaints to air about Alpha Mission. For its crimes against the shmup genre, arcade ports, and the act of gaming in general, this mess gets one and a half stars out of five.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars.

Independent Adventure Games for the masses

paris
Independent video game developers are like the artisans of yore. They aren’t wage slaves, they don’t exploit anyone else’s work, they are neither masters nor slaves, but creative people who strive for the quality of their product and don’t have to succumb to whatever ridiculous market realities managers can come up with. In short, they are to be supported, fiercely guarded even, as they’re (more or less) involuntary combating dominant modes of consumption and production. Oh, and let’s not forget the fine games the indy/bedroom developers have historically come up with. Games like Another World, Skool Daze, Darwinia, Simon the Sorcerer and countless others that are all the proof you should ever need…

Then again, I simply refuse (i.e. can’t be bothered) to let this post deteriorate into a quasi-political rant with artistic tendencies. We’ll hopefully have time for this at a later date. For now, I think I’ll stick to the news. The indy adventure gaming related news to be precise.

XiiGames

Well, for starters (not that there’s much more on the menu, mind you), xii games of What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed, Anna and Spooks fame are working on a brand new adventure game set in a not-so-distant future when a particle physicist’s mysterious and spectacular death sparks a race to find his hidden vault and claim his terrifying new discovery. An indy dream team has already been assemble, but despair not. xii games is still hiring.

Fatman

On to some SOCKO! Entertainment news. Remember them? How about the first commercial AGS adventure ever released, the cunningly named Adventures of Fatman? Ah, lovely, I knew you would (pssst, if not, the game has been released as a freeware memory stimulant; get it here). Well, seems that the seemingly defunct SOCKO! team was just that: seemingly defunct. Behind the scenes they’ve been working on Fatman S.O.S. (Save Our Superheroes) their second game, which they hope to fund by selling a brilliant and particularly deluxe re-release of the original Fatman game. Give ’em a hand.


Java Based NES Emulator

nes
This post could have been a rant about Nintendo’s censoring policies of yore, focusing for example on the convenient paradigm of Maniac Mansion (for NES, apparently). Of course, it’s not.It’s a simple, albeit glorified, post about a link. A link to a Java-based NES (or Famicom, accordingly) emulator, wisely code-named Andre’s NES Emulator. Visit it and play such classics as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Punch Out, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mega Man and Castlevania. Each one of them a piece of gaming history. Each one of them quite free and without the need for any downloads.

Oh – it almost slipped my mind – here’s the link. Have fun, but don’t break anything.


Pathologic: The Demo

pathologic

Pathologic

Pathologic is a game with a pretty interesting official site. Then again, it also is a breathtakingly unique game developed in Russia and one best described in this Eurogamer review. As for me and Pathologic, well, I’ve been playing it for quite some time now and the only thing I can compare it to is Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the US). Thus, I’m in awe. Quite confused too. Think I might try writing a review or a something on it someday.

You, on the other hand, should better try its hefty demo. Get the roughly 650MB file here.

The Interview: Dr Peter Favaro

Dr. Peter Favaro was the man behind the excellent Alter Ego life-sim and also one of the few psychologists deeply interested in the Internet (think Tendrilmedia) and video gaming. What follows is quite obviously an interview with said gaming legend regarding both the past and the future. Have fun reading it and feel the retro gaming nostalgia …uhm… feeling.
Alter Ego disk
It’s been quite some time since Alter Ego hit the shelves and impressed the press. Have you designed any other video games since?

Well, Alter Ego was to be followed by a game called Child’s Play -a humorous simulation about raising children, but Activision fell on financial hard times and had to be scrapped. The project manager was someone named Brenda Laurel, whom everyone first referred to as “The Lizard Queen” in the early days of the Internet.

Since then I have had some game ideas. One is finally coming to fruition. It’s Internet based and code named K-OS.

K-OS? Will it be an MMO sort of game? Could you describe it briefly?

Only briefly. People purchase computer generated DNA. They feed, train and teach the creature that forms from it. The creatures meet in a virtual world on line, fight, consume each other’s attributes until one becomes most superior. You know, the kind of touchy feely activities psychologists are known for.

Any idea when it should be available to psychologist adoring masses?

Well a lot depends on how much time I can slice from my media business which is doing quite well right now. My guess would be Winter 2007.

So, back to the old days, if you don’t mind. Alter-Ego. How would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

Alter Ego was a life sim, written in a tongue in cheek style which permitted people to explore the consequences of their decision making. It was built on a foundation of hundreds of interviews I conducted with people about their most memorable life events. Combined with stuff I just made up!

AlterEgoBoxBack

And how did you decide to undertake such an apparently mammoth task? What was your inspiration? Your PhD in psychology perhaps?

Actually, it was the other way around–it was my love of game design and the prospect of making some money. Psychology was a way of breaking out of the pack of other designers.

Hehe… A cunning plan indeed!

Well, its more than that, although I am cunning. Technology is by nature an exploitative enterprise. You have to strike while the iron is hot and you need to innovate in order to achieve that. That is what juices me up about working in this business and that’s why I rarely sit in a room with people who tell me about their anxieties.

Alter Ego, despite being critically acclaimed, didn’t sell very well. Why do you think this happened?

It sold well enough to buy me a house and a car. However, it did not sell like Mortal Kombat.

Why? Well, the egoist in me thinks it was before its time. It was developed during a period of gaming that did not know what a game activity was. It came after the initial shoot em ups and after some Zelda like stories, but was quite different than both. People have been begging me for years to re-do it.

Actually, should you re-do it, it would still be innovative and unique… Creativity in the mainstream gaming media seems to be at an all-time low… Or not?

Well, a project like that needs some cash behind it. It would have to go through a big developer like Sony. It would also have to be multimedia because that’s what turns people on -and well it should be- better for the nakedness and the killings and all. However, large developers wisely stick to their franchises–sports games, carjackings, and war themes. I don’t know if it would make it past the funding stage.

Then again, the Sims did it… And it was the only truly successful spiritual child of Alter Ego.

Yes it was, damn it. Can’t do the Sims again though; it would be me imitating an imitator of me.

AlterEgoScreen

How surreal and psycho-confusing….

Thank you. If someone would toss a few million my way, I am sure I could come up with something.

Which reminds me, have you played Timothy Leary’s game? Actually met the man? Helped him with his game?

Only by phone. Tim was an interesting sort of fellow. Lots of ideas about technology but no real clue. On the other hand, I don’t like people mucking about with my stuff, so I learned programming from the ground up. I am actually quite a technical person.

But where did you learn game-design and coming up with intuitive and never before seen interfaces?

I think game design is a function of a person’s idiosyncratic way of living. To some, life is just one big game. HA!

Wow!

I just realized what that implies about Alter Ego.When I was younger I used to make up games to amuse myself and to torment my little sister.

Did you ever hit her with an Alter Ego manual, then?

No, she was already too old and strong to mess with.

Sisters, tsk… Like reviewers really. Remember any of the reactions and/or reviews back in the day Alter Ego was released?

We all grew up in Brooklyn and had to learn to street fight relatively early in life.

Oh people loved it, the reviews were excellent with the exception of two guys from Compuserve who hated it because it relied on manipulation and was nothing more than a simulation based on psychology. Imagine! I laughed my ass off when I read that review.

Besides laughing at reviews, what else did you enjoy from the Activision era?

Well, also, loved the perks. Activision was big on treating their designers like rock stars. It was hilarious that when we showed at Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas we were always right near the porn stars!

Now, one final question. Which games did you recently enjoy?

I like the online multies. World of Warcraft is a good game -causing quite a stir with parents who say their kids are too involved in it

Well, parents can be funny, but WoW is a huge and all consuming time sink….

Sure, but you can expect more of the same. People are becoming more vegetative, and the more they veg, the more they will be looking for these kinds of activities.

Now, that I’ve never thought. Quite the vicious circle really…

There’s a reason televisions are getting bigger and bigger, and if you listen to Bill Gates everyone of them will have a web browser built in in just a few years.

Actually, quite a few anarchist believe that a color TV equals a black ‘n’ white life…

I can see that, but what’s going to stop the deluge? Nothing.

I see. Now, care to add anything else?

Well, only that there will always be a fascinating interplay between people and the widgets they keep themselves occupied with -and in that there is still a lot to learn, explore and exploit.

Thanks so much for the interview. Oh, and good luck both with K-OS and Tendrilmedia!


Ten Questions: Yehuda Berlinger: It’s Alive

Yehuda Berlinger a blogger, avid gamer, all-around artist and game designer, is also the creative mind responsible for the forthcoming and frankly brilliant looking It’s Alive board game by Reiver Games. What follows is an interview Yehuda was kind enough to offer to the rowdy lot that inhabits Gnomes Lair. Enjoy it.

Yehuda Berlinger
1. Let’s start with something personal, shall we? Nice. How did you get into game design?

The same way that artists get into art: it’s something that I must do.I can’t help but tinker with any game I have, while, at the same time, trying to figure out the reasons that the designer or publisher came up with the final rules as they are.

After some experimenting, I began to realize that there is nothing holy in the end results of a game. Often as not, they are just that way because the designer or publisher had to choose something. Often, it was the first number they came up with, or whatever matched the type of game that they liked to play.

Since different people like different things, it seems obvious to me that games should be played differently by different people. There is no “right” way to play the game, despite what the rules say. There are better and worse rule sets, but even then, if people like playing the worse one, why stop them?

After tinkering with other games, the next natural step was to take different game ideas and try putting them together into new games.

2. Is it only board games you’re interested in designing or are you looking to expand into video gaming and/or RPG territory?

Definitely not video games; they’re not my thing, even though I’ve programmed for many years.RPGs: if someone wants to hire me, I’d take a stab at it. Naturally, whenever I play RPGs, I’m always making up new classes, weapons, spells, and so on.

3. Care to mention some of your favorite games?

I interpret the word “game” fairly liberally. Not only does it include different game genres, but it would have to include different ways to play the games that I have.For computer games, I’ll play board and card games or rogue-like games. In board and card gaming, Go, Bridge, Scrabble, Anagrams, Puerto Rico, El Grande, and a few other top Euro-games. For Puerto Rico, my favorite is playing with random buildings from the sets I created. For CCGs, it’s drafting cards, and building decks on the fly.

I also love Frisbee and Soccer. I like word based party games. I like dice-light role-play and biblio-drama. And I like inventing games, as a game.

Yehuda Berlinger

 

4. So on to your brand new It’s Alive! board game. It’s your second one right? Care to describe it a bit?

It’s actually a re-theme and slight tweak of the first one. The new theme replaces the Menorah theme which appealed to Jews and probably some religious Christians.It’s gone through several other themes as well.

5. A set-collection and board game it is, then. How do those game mechanics work?

It’s a simple set-collection, auction game, where you have to collect eight different items in order to complete the set. Each round, you either buy the item for its value, toss it out for half its value, or auction it off.That’s the heart of the game. In most games, you likely have to do all three in some combination. And the game is naturally balanced so that almost every game is fairly close.

The simplicity and auction ideas are fairly reminiscent of Knizia’s design style, I believe.

6. Regarding the weird an wacky game setting/plot. Did you decide on it? Could you briefly describe it?

The new theme is entirely Jack’s idea. I merely gave my approval. I think it’s a good theme for the market he’s aiming at.It’s about a mad scientist trying to collect enough body parts to build a monster. Sometimes you find whole coffins, and sometimes the rampaging villagers try to burn you down. The truth is, I think Jack chose the theme because, when you have your entire body, you get to yell “It’s Alive!”

The game won’t be able to sit on the same shelf as games like Rummikub and Canasta, and I know that some little old ladies would buy the game if it did. But that’s not the first market Jack’s looking to approach.

7. Still, should be fine for kids. What’s the target group of It’s Alive?

Gamers and geeks.

8. Are you happy with the final product and Reiver Games? Why did you decide to go for a limited 300 copies only release?

I haven’t seen it yet, and, in fact, it’s not actually ready yet. The 300 copies is, again, Jack’s way of operating. He hand cuts and assembles each game by himself.

9. Anything planned for the future? Should we be looking forward to more designed by Yehuda games?

Absolutely. I always have a few game ideas buzzing around. Every once in a while I’ll make up a prototype and bring it to my game group. If it’s good, I’ll move forward with it.

10. Improvise, please. Is there anything you ‘d like t add. Something related to your blog perhaps?

Game design is just another art, like writing, poetry, and creating literature parodies of famous poems and legal codes. It’s what keeps me going.

Thanks for taking the time, best of luck with It’s Alive!

Thanks, Gnome.

Kondtantinos or Gnome is a classic and indie gaming writer. You can see his wonderful blog by following this link – Gnomes Lair.

Video of the Day: Game Deaths

Classic video game deaths

This video is just to awesome not to share. This video shows death scenes from various classic games to a great remix tune. Enjoy.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ6APKIjFQY[/youtube]

(Dir.: Rob Beschizza, BoingBoing. Music is Rob’s MIDI homage to “Mad World,” by Tears for Fears, and you can download the MP3 here:http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/28/game-deaths-mp3.html and buy their original song here [MP3]: http://tinyurl.com/4wzqgry ).

Ten Questions: Vince Twelve of xii games

x_games

Vince Twelve, the evil mastermind behind xii games, the creators of such innovative, excellent, very freeware and quite indy adventure games as Anna, What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed and Spooks, gets interviewed. Right here. By a gnome. Read on, read on…

1. So, is it Vince Twelve or Vince xii? Oh, and do please add a bit of further personal info to spice things up… The tabloids will love you.

I am not Vince the Twelfth. I do not come from a long line of Vinces. I am Vince Twelve. However, if you want to save a few keystrokes, roman numerals will do.

Quick personal run-down: I’m 24, married, have a one-year-old daughter, and I live in Japan where I teach English in a Junior High School. And for the benefit of the tabloids: I’m dating Jennifer Aniston, have an eating disorder, a drug problem, an illegitimate love-child, and I’m gay. How’s that for spicy?

2. Are you more of a game designer, a programmer or even (don’t deny it) an evolving visual artist?

I’d like to someday be able to say, “Hi, I’m Vince Twelve. I’m a game designer.” But I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that yet. I have a piece of paper in the form of a college degree that proves that I can program. There’s very little subjectivity there. But proving that you can design is a very different thing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to design games. The only way I can prove to myself that I’m capable in that regard, however, is to release games and get feedback from the players. That’s why I’m always starving for any kind of feedback I can get.

As far as being an artist… while I’m quite pleased with the final looks of both Anna and Linus, I don’t have the artistic skill that I need to realize some of the games that I’d like to make. Plus I take way too long to draw anything. I’m learning as I go, but it’s a slow process.

3. Xii games. Quite a few people have been credited in your three (brilliant) games. Is it indeed a group or are people just coming and going?

Well, Anna was completely a solo outing, but I made the game entirely in a week, so I wasn’t lonely for long.

Spooks was definitely an amazing team effort, but it was still Erin’s baby. She designed, wrote, and drew everything. I joined the project after her previous programmer vanished and took all the game’s code along with him. Erin and I were in constant communication for the next few months as she finished up art and animation and I put the whole thing together. Chris Moorson was also there the whole time working on music and sound.

For Linus, I was back in the designer’s chair. After I worked up a working prototype of the game, I got Nikolas Sideris on board to do the music. But he ended up being much more than just a musician. I sent him updates throughout the development for suggestions and motivation. He was really awesome. The third major member of the Linus team was my wife, who wrote all the Japanese translations as well as providing a lot of support (and if you finished the game and saw the super-secret ending: that was her playing the sexy nurse!). It was really great to be able to share my love for making games with my wife. I definitely plan on involving her in more of my projects.

linus1

 

4.From Anna to What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed… What’s next? A paragraph long name?

What’s in a name? As the bard wrote: “A game by any other name would still not emit any odor, because it’s really just a collection of ones and zeros and not a tangible object.” Or something like that…

Yeah, I was totally pleased with the long name. I thought it up really early in development and it just seemed appropriately strange… and it makes more sense if you see the super-secret ending!

5.Right. Names aside, what’s more impressive is your tendency to constantly innovate. Anna is quite possibly the only 3D, keyboard controlled AGS adventure, and Linus really did something never attempted before. So, how important is innovation? Do you believe gamers are actually interested in it?

I do think that innovation is important, but I don’t think it’s necessary in every game. A lot of people are making games with more consideration for nostalgia than innovation, and that’s perfectly fine. Afterall, refining and perfecting old ideas can be just as important as coming up with new ones. If you’re making a game, especially a freeware game, you only have to answer to yourself, so you can make the kind of game that you want to make.

That being said, freeware game makers are in a unique position to innovate. Since they don’t have significant money invested in the game, it isn’t such a big deal if their clever, innovative idea doesn’t work so well in a game as it did in their head. Compared to a big developer with millions of dollars invested in a title’s success, or even a small developer who scraped together every last penny they could find to fund their game, this is a big opportunity to take some risks and try something new.

As for the gamers’ interest in innovation, I suppose that depends on how successful the innovation turns out to be. Afterall, “innovation” implies “new” not necessarily “fun”. I do think that most gamers are always on the lookout for something unique and exciting, and when that new idea turns out to be genuinely fun, you have a real gem of a game. I think Linus was moderately successful in this regard.

anna

6.Linus, well WLBSWHEAC, lets the player simultaneously play two games and experience two stories and two totally different visual styles with only one mouse. You’ve already mentioned the DS (and your shower) was an inspiration. Care to elaborate?

I remember reading a book about game design several years ago that had a lot of advice from big names in the industry. One of the designers, I can’t remember who, said that a good game designer is always thinking about games and should be able to come up with ten game ideas before breakfast. That quote just stuck with me, and since then, I’ve always been challenging myself to come up with different types of game design ideas.

When the Nintendo DS was first announced, I began thinking of the new types of games that could be made for the system. I figured that if I thought of myself as a game designer, I should easily be able to think up some unique new types of gameplay for such an innovative system. One of the ideas that I really liked was having two completely different worlds, one in each screen, and playing them simultaneously. I carried that idea around in the back of my head for a while until I decided to start fleshing it out for a PC game. The idea eventually grew into Linus.

One very rewarding thing is seeing professional designers coming up with ideas very similar to yours and turning them into real commercial games. I was almost finished with Linus when I heard about a DS game called Contact which displays two different worlds on the two screens using two completely different art styles for each. Even though the gameplay is very different – it’s an RPG in which you control only one of the characters – I had to immediately buy the game because of the similarities. Also, Square Enix just announced a new DS game in which you control two characters simultaneously, one on the top screen, one on the bottom. But rather than your commands being mirrored in both screens like in Linus, you control the characters separately – one with the d-pad and one with the stylus.

It’s very interesting to me to see how professional designers play with these similar ideas. It’s also quite gratifying. It makes me feel like I was on the right track with my design.

spooks2

7.Why is it such a hard and complex game?

Here’s another tidbit for my bio: I also have a degree in mathematics and love brain-bending logic puzzles. Linus, from the start, was going to be a fairly complex puzzle game with a shiny adventure exterior. I know that everyone doesn’t adore a good brain-twister like I do, so I thought I was toning down the difficulty here, I really did!

At the time of me writing this, out of the thousands of downloads from my site and from the other places that it’s been picked up and hosted, only fourteen are listed in the online Hall of Completion. (Though I’m guessing it’s just that most people don’t care enough to go online and type in their completion code…)

That being said, I knew from the get go that this kind of game wouldn’t appeal to everyone. I’m sure that a lot of people download the game because of the promise of something unique and then start to play it only to find out that the gameplay and logic puzzles don’t really appeal to them. But that’s the benefit of making a freeware game. My only real customer is myself! Sorry if anyone found it too hard.

8.What should we expect next of xii games? More innovative thinking? A sequel to the almost traditional but excellent Spooks? An action game? Erotic interactive fiction?

Right now, I’m programming a small game for someone else that I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about. It’s just a small project that should only take a couple of weeks. After it’s done, I’ll start preliminary work on my next game.

I’ve got several ideas which I’ve trimmed down to two to decide between. I want to do something longer than Anna or Linus and tell a full story. One of the two ideas relies on me finding an artist or two who are willing to help me realize the game, so we’ll see about that. (Any artists out there want to help me out?) But you can be sure that there will be some innovative thinking included in the design. I wouldn’t make a game that didn’t have something unique to offer.

As for the sequel to Spooks, Erin is still working on the story, design, and art. It’s coming but it’s a ways off. And whether or not I’ll be coding it or xii games releasing it is still up in the air.

And I think I’ll leave the erotic fiction up to the fans. I don’t know if you’ve read the recently released “Linus Bruckman Tosses Mortia a Bone,” but it’s quite tittilating.

skyward

9.Any thoughts of releasing a commercial game?

Definitely. I would love to release something commercially. Again, however, I would need to find some artists to work with because I don’t feel that my art is of commercial quality. If I could assemble an adequate team right now, my next release would be commercial.

10.Now for the final/double-feature question. Enjoyed any of the recently released adventure games? How’s your Wii doing?

Commercially, I really enjoyed the Blackwell Legacy. Other than that, I haven’t really played many commercial adventure games lately. In 2006, my favorite game was easily Phoenix Wright for the DS. I picked up the sequel here in Japan recently. I don’t think it’s out in the West yet. I haven’t had a chance to start it yet, but I’m really looking forward to cracking it open.

Totally loving my Wii. WarioWare: Smooth Moves has to be the most fun I’ve had (and the dumbest I’ve looked) in quite a while. The one downside of the Wii is that my wife consistently beats me in tennis, and so of course that’s the only game she ever wants to play!

Cheers!

Thanks for taking the time to interview me!

Thanks for taking the time to answer, thanks for the games and good luck!


Knightsquire

Knightsquire

Aaaah, yes, summer-time. Beaches, Tequila with a slice of orange, fruit with a slice of Tequila, overheated PCs and the chronic lack of money. Enter Independent Gaming and its brand new freeware find: Knightsquire (and not Knight’s Quest). A brilliant short adventure game that might just help you save enough money to treat yourself to your favorite alcoholic poison.

Knightsquire, lovingly crafted by none other than buloght (?), is apparently a game about a knight and his squire. Make that better a game about a knight, his squire and a door stuck shut. Not very epic in scope, but funny, quirky and touching on the delicate subject of squire-maltreatment (quite the class issue in medieval Europe), Knightsquire is a rather traditional point and click adventure, that’s slightly reminiscent of Gobliins 2 (see Gobliins 2 @ mobygames). Following a long adventuring tradition it lets you pick up , examine, interact with and use a variety of inventory objects, sporting mostly inventory driven puzzles. Oh, and it will entertain you for at least a couple of hours, provided of course you aren’t the ultimate adventure gaming genius.

Knightsquire

Anyway. On to the visual arts front, oh most perceptive and observant of readers, where as you should have already noticed Knightsquire sports brilliant low-res 2d graphics, with a distinct comic-book feel and buckets of color (well 32bits of it actually). Stylish eye-candy I would characterize it, were I not so majorly irritated by Firefox, thus getting all cranky and nasty, thus avoiding any good-hearted exaggerations.

Still, you get the point. It’s beautiful. It’s a precious little gem after all. And it lets you control both the knight and the squire. I swear I even heard of a resident princess!

That’s a (nine) out of (ten).

Feyruna: Fairy Forest

Feyruna Fairy Forest - PC - Gameplay Screenshot
Detailed sprites, a colourful cutesy game character, pure arcade action and fantastic hand-painted backgrounds… it’s got to be another (only slightly) retro Amiga game, right? Well, shockingly, no. It’s Feyruna – Fairy Forest, a brand new PC indy game from Germany, sporting some refreshingly old fashioned game mechanics and lovely 2d visuals. Interested? Good, let me elaborate a bit then.

 

FFF, as Feyruna – Fairy Forest will henceforth be referred to, probably features Feyruna, a fabulous fairy (which could also be the name of FFF’s setting mind you, but really, I like the idea of calling the fairy Feyruna), and is quite frankly an alliteration heavy casual and/or retro gamer’s wet dream. It also is one of the more polished (but less innovative…) indy games I’ve recently seen and one of the few PC offerings with three unlockable mini-games. They might not be much, they might be simple, basic even, but they’re definitely a touch that shows the amount of care gone into the game.

Feyruna Fairy Forest - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Then again, bonus games are just that, a bonus. The main course of FFF has the player assuming the role of a fairy (you know, the one probably named Feyruna), a decidedly non-slutty female character, and going on to liberate places from the Princes of Darkness in a rather ordinary plot, that certainly doesn’t takes itself that seriously. After all, FFF, just like every other action heavy game before it, isn’t about plot, it’s about fun, and this it delivers in abundance.

The game, a reflex honing experience with slight shoot-em-up tendencies, is surprisingly non violent and thus quite appropriate for kids, families and small orgies. You, the player, the happy lil’ sprite, travel through 60 levels, each comprising of a beautiful screen, enemies trying to kill/stall you, power-ups and glowies (and butterflies and stuff) you must collect, and …uhm… collect stuff and avoid/destroy the baddies. Eventually you’ll have enough stashed glowies to progress to the next level, that will definitely be more challenging and might also add a new enemy, power-up or tactic to the whole experience. Mind you, that even though the gameplay does indeed get repetitive, these constantly appearing new elements do keep FFF an addictive little pass time, while some progressively tough boss battles to spice things up.

Now, have a try for yourselves. Download the FFF demo. Oh, and I suppose…

That’s a (seven and a half) out of (ten).

RISK, Strategies Explained

risk

Risk (BGG entry), according to sources that prefer to call themselves voices and are not to be taken seriously, is one of the most successful, imitated and thus influential board games ever devised. It also is a particularly enjoyable game, that comes in a variety of flavours ranging from Star Wars to Lord Of The Rings to Classic, with the added bonus of being less prone to shatter friendships than Diplomacy. Also, also, Risk has the dubious honour of being the first truly mainstream wargame.

With wargaming, though, come tactics and strategies. Strategy guides too. Some of the best can apparently be found over at the rather specialized RISK, Strategies Explained… website. It even has a basic beginners guide. An advanced one too, obviously. Try them out in battle (for free), over at netRisk or by downloading the very Risk-esque Dominate Game.

Demonlord

demonlord

Dwarfstar Games, a former division of Heritage USA, that was recently (as in 2003) saved from ultimate financial doom by Reaper Miniatures, was quite the board game creator back in the early 80s. They released solo-games, micro-games, epic-games, goblin-games, strategy-games, even 2-player games (!), with such lovely 80s names as Barbarian Prince, Dragon Rage, Goblin, Demonlord or Star Smuggler. Good news is you can download all these games for free, print them out and play them. Or just browse through their PDF manuals, tokens and maps and have a glimpse at gaming history…

Anyway. Just visit this beautiful and cozy corner of the web for you downloads. Ah, don’t thank me. Thank Mr. Forbeck instead (who actually thanked Mr. Costikyan for first discovering this little treasure).

[UPDATE]: The excellent Vintage Gamer blog has reviews of both Barbarian Prince and Demonlord. Check them out, you really should…

Adrian Smith’s Art

Adrian Smith‘s art needs no introduction, it only asks for bandwidth. Thus, this being a post on Adrian Smith’s art, it’s picture heavy, but words light. In case you’d like to find out more on Mr. Smith, you’d better visit his official website. Or flick through a certain Games Workshop book.

Now, look at the pretty pictures…

 

Warhammer artwork:

Adrian Smith Artwork

Adrian Smith Artwork
Warhammer 40,000:

Adrian Smith ArtworkAdrian Smith Artwork

Black Library artwork:
Adrian Smith Artwork

 

Inquisitor artwork:
Adrian Smith ArtworkAdrian Smith Artwork

 

Sabertooth Games artwork:
Adrian Smith Artwork

 

Chronopia Artwork:

Adrian Smith ArtworkAdrian Smith Artwork

The TI 99/4A

Ti 99 4A - Long Version
TI 99/4A, usually referred to (well by us gnomes at least) simply as the Texas Instruments, was the first computer I ever touched and the only computer of mine I just can’t remember where to find. Damn! This Space Invaders cartridge was so utterly amazing, and so unbelievably better than its Atari 2600 version, I’d just love to play it again… Show it to them silly Atari loving kiddies. Take it out for a beer even. Ah, the days, the days…
spacebandits - TI994a game

 

Nostalgia aside though, the TI 99/4A was also a rather impressive machine for its time. It was 16-bit, could output 256-colour graphics, had an almost proper keyboard, could use Atari’s digital and quite lovely one-button joysticks, could load programmes via tape or cartridge, was immensely expandable and had loads of RAM (that was 16Kb actually). As for the games, well, a visit to the TI-99/4A videogames house should convince you. For the rest, watch this commercial (and please avoid the dreaded Bill Cosby one):

 


Interested for more? Great, here are some sites you might just enjoy:


Mutant Chronicles Monopoly

mutant chronicles

Quite straightforward this one, I believe. Save the picture (taken from this excellent site), print it, spend a few hours preparing thematically appropriate game-cards, use your Warzone minis, 2d6 and enjoy a game of Mutant Chronicles Monopoly.

Dead Rising: How to murder 60k Zombies

Dead Rising Zombies

Aeropause produced this most impressive of Dead Rising video walkthroughs, designed to teach aspiring undead slaughterers, how to swiftly rid their game worlds of enough zombies to earn them the prestigious Zombie Genocide Achievement. Go on. Watch the video. Gooood… Now, try it out yourself. You’ll make old mother happy again….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPNr3qXkRn8[/youtube]

Grand Theft Auto: LEGO City

grand-theft-auto-meets-lego-city

Simply put, it’s just a brilliant GTA video. In LEGO City. More of a stop-motion animation with LEGOS actually. And a definite GTA theme. Cute. Enough said. Words can be expensive.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMY9VlMIEJk[/youtube]

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Osama got Ganked

Osama Ganked

This week on the Obsolete Gamer Show we were joined in the studio by Mark who you may have seen from the Starfox gameplay video we did. The show began by talking about Sony’s recent hacking of their database where access to over 25 million accounts may have been gained. When then turned to our main topics of the night. In honor of Osama getting ganked we talked about our favorite wartime and counter terrorist games. We had a great time and we hope you enjoy the show.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Osama got Ganked

Or have a listen on our official OGS page and let us know what you think.

Or download our podcast from Itunes

 

Nintendo Rube Goldberg Animation

Nintendo Rube Goldberg Animation
The greatest artists have mostly been inspired by the grand and perpetual human drama. Be it personal or social, Art has always been about us. Not digital Italian plumbers, or peculiar Far Eastern brand names. Apparently times have changed. A simple, but admittedly quite inspired, YouTube video can prove it:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_4VZOjKRxA[/youtube]

The ZX Spectrum Bible

Actually, more of the ZX Spectrum PDF emulation Bible, but this would be too long a post title… Still, oh wise and cheap-ass retroheads, just click here and you’ll get yourselves the brilliant 82 pages long PDF of the aptly (and rather eloquently) named The ZX Spectrum on your PC. Brilliant, educating, handy, quite free and sporting a nice cover, this is as retro as an ebook can get.

 

Germ Attack

Germ Attack

I’m not the type to say no to a free game, even if it means reviewing it, and Germ Attack, was indeed given to me as a free review copy. Further good news is, it is actually a smart, nice little game. Bad news is, it’s another color-matching casual game, in the style of Sweety Puzzle (by the same developer).

Germ Attack, though, introduces an interesting and rather successful twist to the color-matching mechanics, that makes for quite a refreshing gameplay experience. Instead of placing colored candy on a grid a la Sweety Puzzle, arranging falling colored objects a la Columns or utilizing a Baku Baku mechanic, Germ Attack lets you rotate (apparently colored) germs, as they are placed on the playing area. Not easily described, but simple and intuitive, and you’ll get the whole idea by playing the demo for 15 seconds. Here’s a screenshot:

Germ Attack Gameplay Screenshot

Got it now? No? Doesn’t matter. Trust me, it’s really addictive, and for the price of 6.95$ you get 60 well designed and quite varied levels, presented with great hand-drawn graphics. Have a look by clicking here. Or here. No, here!

That’s a (seven) out of (ten).

Zombies 2

 zombies2

Zombies!!! 2 is, as should have already been noticed by any bearded board games’ scholar, closely related to the excellent board game Zombies!!! An expansion actually, or to elaborate a bit, a great, tidy, compact and beautifully produced expansion. Assuming those interested in Zombies!!! 2 are already Zombies!!! players (well, they really should be, as the original game is quite required to enjoy the Z!!!2 affair), I’ll get right to the new stuff. Ruleswise you get a slightly tweaked core ruleset, that helps speed the game up and clean up slight problems, a nice FAQ and quite a few brand new rules. Without wanting to spoil the overall fun-of-the-fan I’ll just mention two of them: 1) you get to ride vehicles, 2) tougher (government enhanced) zombies are introduced. Add to the improved rules:

– 15 new map-tiles that will let you fight the undead in a military base
– 30 new event cards (actually 2*15 new ones)
– 6 goofy looking but definitely nice glow-in-the-dark (super) zombies
– some blank replacement cards & tiles
– and (at last) quite a few (around 50) red heart tokens

and you’ll understand why this expansion too, is a no brainer!

That’s an (eight and a half) out of (ten).

Sweety Puzzle

Sweety Puzzle - Gameplay Screenshot
Non-gamers are Nintendo’s Wii little target, non-gamers were the people the PlayStation turned to gamers all those years ago and non-gamers are the market casual games are aiming for. But what are casual games (ask the masses in their booming and state-shattering voices)? Well, according to Wikipedia they are “a category of electronic or computer games targeted at the mass audience, which are peculiar for their simple rules, engaging game design, require no time commitment or special skills from an end user as well as comparatively low production and distribution costs from producer“.

 

Sweety Puzzle - Gameplay Screenshot

A wise and brief description, that so just happens to perfectly fit the subject of this quite modest review: Sweety Puzzle. A quirky, simple and extremely addictive indy-game that comes from Thailand. Yes, Thailand-Asia. A beautiful country you really should be visiting. But, as usual, I digress. Ahhh, yes, Sweety Puzzle. Haven’t played a game like this for years: elegant, fun, retro looking and with fine music playing in the background.

Sweety Puzzle - Gameplay Screenshot

The game feels like the mutant offspring of Go, Tetris and Columns. You place colored candies on a pink grid, rotate them, and apparently try to make them go pop! before you run out of time or space. It is actually one of those things that are better experienced, not described. So, just visit Sweety Puzzle’s homepage for a hefty demo; then come back here. I have not finished yet.

 

Sweety Puzzle has an excellent learning curve and a few very tiny glitches, mostly centered around its not-so-well Thai to English translation. It costs less than 7$ or 6 euros. Ok. Now, I’ve finished.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

For a downloadable or Java demo (or a purchase) of Sweety Puzzle click here. For an Independent Gaming Sweety Puzzle review, here.

Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide

In case you haven’’t figured it out yet, today’s post is about the ‘Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide’’. A 170 pages long, full color and (very) well-priced volume published by Games Workshop, that doesn’’t limit its content to neither monsters nor mercenaries. A great variety of armies are dealt with instead: Dogs of War, Regiments of Renown (up to the very recent like the cutely and aptly named ‘Mengil Manhide’’s Manflayers’), Kislev and Ogre Kingdoms. Each army’’s units and models are presented, both in fully painted and in component mode(!), while every entry is accompanied by a short piece of fluff (sorry kitty). Obviously and as we’’ve come to expect no actual rules are included. On the other hand component codes and prices are mentioned. [You can find the Dogs of War and Regiments of Renown armylists here.] Oh, there are contemporary, collector’’s and archive models presented, as well as the Monsters, Siege and parts of the Mordheim ranges. Even drakes and golems are included…

The book also gives (brief) background information on relevant issues, such as the Tilean cities of Remas and Luccini or the Ogre tribe of the Blooded Gut. It is lavishly illustrated too.

The most impressive thing in the ‘Monsters & Mercenaries Collectors Guide’’ though, is not it’s size or the amount of useful information included. Neither are the usual photos of Golden Demon winners’’ entries nor the dioramas and conversions presented. It is the fully converted Araby themed army by Justin Hill. It simply has to be seen to be believed.

Finally do check what G.W. has to say for this collectors guide…

P.S. I do consider this guide a very good buy. Just not intended for everyone. It is a glorified miniature catalogue after all.

 

Batsu Games: No-Reaction Pie Hell

gaki

So here is the deal. A bet was made on which team would win, the loser had to stay in another persons house and live there for a day like it was his own home. Here is the rub, four people will follow him around all day and throw pies at him while an announcer tells him to do various things. The trick is the man cannot react to being hit by the pies.

Only in Japan.

Here is Part 1:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5XSWDQz2xw

Part 2:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs3Fo9e_IU4

Part 3:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uinb4tgDQBg

The CD-i

It danced, it singed, it was good for audio, video, Karaoke and CD+G discs, while at the same time (not literally, mind you) it played games. The CD-i you see, oh dear retro-minded reader, had a decent library of gaming and educational software. ~Konstantinos Dimopoulos

The CD-i

It’s really weird feeling nostalgic for a console never actually owned, played or in any way experienced… Still, the CD-i was the second CD console I ever craved (promptly following the equally unsuccessful CDTV). And it was ads like this (via), that spawned my ungodly craving:
cdi-ad
Even though the console was a commercial failure, it was rather an interesting kit of hardware, that somehow managed to become the home of some weird, rare and quirky Mario and Zelda games. Featuring a 16bit 68000 based processor (@ 16MHz), 1.5 whole MB of RAM, a single-speed CD drive, optional MPEG-1 capabilities and dazzling 32k color graphics, CD-i was quite the home-entertainment hub Philips had wanted it to be.
It danced, it singed, it was good for audio, video, Karaoke and CD+G discs, while at the same time (not literally, mind you) it played games. The CD-i you see, oh dear retro-minded reader, had a decent library of gaming and educational software.
Litil Divil - CD-i
Top titles included Burn:Cycle, Myst, Dragon’s Lair, Litil Divil, Mad Dog McCree, Rise of the Robots and a dozen more.
Surprisingly (to me at least), the CD-i failed, and I never got one. Why? Guess it was a money thing. 1up, has more to add to the sad story. As for an emulator… Tough luck. There’s the freeware CD-ice that’s capable of emulating one game (Rise of the Robots, in case you were wondering), and the shareware Cd-i Emulator (free demo).

Both though need the CD-i’s ROM images. Tough luck. Again.


Guillotine

Ladies and Gentlemen,

King Louis the XVI was neither the worst nor the dumbest of the rulers of France during the 17th and the 18th century. Although one could say that he lacked a certain determination – a fact that may be perceived as an indication of cowardice, he cannot be considered as particularly mean or nasty for his era (let us not forget that the competition in that domain was rather fierce…). On the other hand, the publicity given to some “saucy” details regarding the private life of his wife (the fabled Marie Antoinette), definitely affected Louis’ public image, but then again, no one can sanely claim that the scandals of a queen may be the sole cause of a revolution (unless we’re talking about some amazingly humongous, supergalactic, inter-species-erotic scandals)

This card game is not about the scandals of Marie Antoinette. After all, it is called “Guillotine”, not “Scandals”. On the contrary, it focuses on heads: Initially, as parts of the human anatomy; after a moment in time, as contents of baskets or spike ornaments.

Guillotine Card Game

The players (2 to 5) are given the privilege to impersonate for about 30 minutes (the duration of each game) the sensitive souls with the modest hats, those deeply political figures, without the help of which history would not have evolved as rapidly. At last, ‘Guillotine’ pays appropriate homage to the underestimated class of executioners, and portrays them in a time when there services were very much sought after: Revolutionary France.

Gaming purpose focuses on “collecting” the heads of the most famous of nobles, military officials and members of the clergy, or any other rotten supporter of the Ancien Régime. Of course, the value of each collected head is connected to the reputation of the deceased: The executioner who reaps the iconic head of the King is valued much more highly that another, who only manages to behead a puny piss boy, or a court guard.

Game mechanics are wonderfully simple: the noble cards are arranged in a line, each player collecting the head of the noble at the front. Players can alter the arrangement of the line, by playing specific action cards (such as bribing the guards, rescuing a Noble etc.). The player with the most valuable collection of heads wins. It’s that easy. It’s luck you need in this game, not wits.

Still, this simplicity adds to the overall enjoyment. It is not only the hilarious artwork of Christopher Rush, Quinton Hoover and Mike Raabe; Guillotine exudes an aura of lightness (in a “let’s-all-chop-heads-and-sing-till-we-get-tired” kind of way). Chopping and singing. Or to put more eloquently: chopping as entertainment for the masses.

The game keeps a loose connection with historical events. Players can reap the heads of King Louis, Marie Antoinette, Rovespiere (whose decapitation historically marks the end of “la Grande Terreur”, which partially takes place in the game as well), while other action cards make reference to famous punch lines (‘let them eat cake’) or literary figures (the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’).

Nice game: easy as pie; and funny. “Guaranteed to brake the ice at parties

Spooks

Spooks Gameplay Screenshot 1
Well, in a nutshell: Spooks is the first creation of a person named “The Ivy”” along with a very small team, it’’s a freeware adventure, it looks good, sounds ok, is size-wise a very modest download and anyone who is smart enough to have reached this review, shouldn’’t have any trouble downloading it from the xii games website. And to wet your appetite, here is a nice screenshot:Nice, isn’’t it?
Spooks Gameplay Screenshot 2
Of course it is, and it should be enough to convince you to have a look and to stop me from writing this review. Problem is, Spooks is a very good game, and one worth having a (slightly) more detailed look at. First of all the graphics are unique, mostly in grayscale and with a rather innovative use of color. Then, the three very important pillars of a comedy adventure game are there: the story is good (albeit a bit short), the dark humor is sarcastic and actually funny, the puzzles are varied, interesting and decently implemented.
Spooks Gameplay Screenshot 3

Naturally, as Spooks is the Ivy’’s first foray in adventure game design, not all is rosy (what a weird and subtle pun -–eh?). Puzzles are a tad on the too easy side, which isn’’t necessarily a bad thing, as is for example the lack of obvious hotspots, which eventually leads to some annoying pixel-hunting. Other minor problems include a few quite obvious time-triggers, lack of a full soundtrack, the inclusion of one (easy yet uninspired) Myst-style puzzle and a lack of polish here-and-there.

On the plus side, the dialogs, handled with a typical multiple-choice interface, are very well written, the finale is unexpectedly unexpected, the Sierra styled interface works in an okay way, and as I’’ve already said everything is fine and dandy. Even the lead character is like Diamanda Galas in joke-mode. I guess that in order to find out more you should rather download and play the game. Here are more screenshots, and a hint on the plot: It’’s about ghouls. The female kind. That should do it. I’’m sure I’’ve convinced you to have a look.

Spooks can be downloaded from the AGS website.

That’’s an (eight) out of (ten).

Little Wars

Playing with toy soldiers is apparently as ancient a hobby as playing with ones self (well … almost). Ancient Egyptians did it, the Romans did it, Indians did it and the Chinese must have surely entertained the thought.

Playing with toy soldiers in a modern context, on the other hand, is -as expected- a rather more recent development, and as such a more cruel one too. The whole thing, you see, didn’t start as playing per se, but more of as a way to train Prussian military officers in the subtleties (?) of war (Kriegspiel they called it, and it used dice to simulate random battlefield events). The concept didn’t actually evolve into something less blood thirsty till H.G. Wells decided that a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books would be a nifty idea.

A game that would be the first modern miniature wargame not intended for being used in slaughtering actual people in particularly gruesome ways. A game Mr. Wells would cunningly name Little Wars. Also a game (published in the most traditional of book formats) lovingly preserved by the good people of Project Gutenberg and thankfully available in full and for free right here. Go on. Read the thing. It’s brilliant and you’ll get to feel all 1913 too. Seems pretty playable, mind you.

The top non-slutty female characters in video games

Claire Redfield

The top non-slutty female characters in video games

It’s always a Top 10, a Top 5 or a Top 100. Not this time though. This is a Top 7, and it’s about the Female Game Character; an endangered and usually stripped down to its panties species. This is different, as this post will not be about Lula, Lara or any other two-syllable named bimbo. It will be about interesting characters, that even a woman (gasp!) could enjoy…

 

Ms. Pac-Man

Number 7: The legendary Ms. Pacman. Not a proper female, I know, but she …er… does dress like one. If you’re into round, yellow, pill-poppers you’ll just love the old lady.

Princess Peach

Number 6: Princess Peach, ruler of Mushroom Kingdom and Mario’s personal fetish. Childish, but also a part of video gaming history. Definitely not a slut.

elaine_marley-monkey-island

Number 5: Elaine Marley from the Monkey Island series. Funny, spirited, Ron Gilbert’s creation and a governor. Good looking and old fashioned. Won’t strip for you, let alone make a naked public appearance.

shodan - system shock

Number 4: Shodan, from System Shock (and apparently SS2). Call her a slut and she’ll fry you; perhaps even destroy earth. An amazing piece of homicidal AI, if I ever saw one and a perfect match for Wintermute.

Sarah Kerrigan - Starcraft

Number 3: Kerrigan, another villain, and not 100% human either. Great looks (for a Zerg hybrid at least), a member of the order of the abominably nasty and key figure in the best RTS expansion ever: Starcraft Brood War.

April Ryan - Longest Journey - Dreamfoil

Number 2: April Ryan from the Longest Journey and Dreamfall. Uniter of worlds and magically inclined, April is also a talented and rather ‘alternative’ girl from the future, who just so happens to star in adventure games. Recently into hot arcade action too.

Beyond_Good_and_Evil_Jade

Number 1: Jade, the star of the amazing Beyond Good and Evil action-adventure game. She has style, flair, good looks and a kind heart (Ooooh! that’s sweet). She’s also a revolutionary. Like Rosa Luxembourg only with green lips. Just have a look at this great game. Control each and every Jade‘s action. Follow the link.

RPG Sex

(Disclaimer: This is a naughty post. Not explicit but naughty. If, by any chance, you happen to be a minor, I advise you to not read it. Better click here. Or google words like porn, bouncy and boobs.)

RPGs and sex. They go together like bicycles and fish. Like unwashed teenage boys and 19th century architecture. Like the police and democracy.

Despite this, RPG sex is definitely lacking. The real problem seems to be a distinct lack of sex rules, that would seamlessly integrate the whole carnal experience into the game world. Rules that would intrigue the average Game or Dungeon Master. Rules covering such topics as Inter-Species Fertility, The Wild Thing or Sexual Psionic Powers. Rules that would be free.

Thankfully, another nonexistent problem has been solved. Just download The Complete Guide to Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (a.k.a. the AD&D Book of Sex), retrieve your trusted Advanced Dungeons and Dragons manuals and have a bath. A drink too. (Download link)

OR (and that’s an apparently big or) try the BBSW Roleplaying Game, widely recognized (by me and a few mates) as the premier Hentai RPG. Download it here. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is a full-fledged stand-alone freeware RPG. And BBSW stands for Big Breasts Small Waist. Quite a shock, that.


Apprentice Deluxe

Apprentice Deluxe - logo

Do you know what the difference between a “review” and a “critique” is? No? Yes? Good for you. You can skip the rest of this paragraph. If your answer was no though, all I can do is provide you with my (very personal and quite copyrighted) view: A review is a critique from a consumer’s point of view. It is there to tell you if something is worth the money it will cost you. A critique on the contrary, judges something on its own and usually on its artistic merits alone, without taking price into consideration. On the other hand, computer games tend to be reviewed, as is customary and as they are considered inferior to -say- movies or apparently novels. So what shall I do with ‘Apprentice deluxe’? It is a PC game (an adventure to be more precise) and it is freeware. Should I review it? Critique(sp.) it? Take it out for a beer? What?

Apprentice Deluxe - PC Gameplay Screenshot

Well, let me tell you. I am in neither a theoretical nor an analytical mood, so I’ll just review the bloody thing, taking into consideration that it costs nothing.

Apprentice Deluxe is evidently the Deluxe version of the famous and award winning AGS adventure Apprentice [If you want to know more about the free AGS authoring system visit the official site. It will also help you find out what AGS is.] The deluxe part consists of a full voice-over with almost professional voice quality, of some bug and graphic glitches fixes, of a brand new soundtrack and of multilingual support. You even get to toggle the voice-over or subtitles on and off. And since Apprentice and its deluxe sibling are literally the same game, I’ll be referring to both of them simply as Apprentice.

Apprentice has a simple, but enjoyable story, set in a traditional fantasy setting with ironic and satirical splashes. It is about a young wizard’s apprentice called Pib, whose not so epic quest is to collect the ingredients needed for his first spell and … that about sums it. Consequently the game is extremely short, albeit with allusions to a much grander story. The average gamer will not need more than one to two hours to beat it, and only if every item is looked at and everything explored.

Apprentice Deluxe - PC Gameplay Screenshot 3

Pib is controlled in typical point-and-click fashion, which does feel like the correct method, despite the minor control and navigation problems. There is for example no right clicking to alternate between actions. Then again the inventory system is well implemented, attractively designed and fully compatible with a fantasy setting. Dialogs are handled the Lucasarts’ way using dialog trees, and almost every puzzle (except one –no wait; except two) is inventory based and rather on the easy side. The only puzzle that truly requires lateral and bizarrely inventive thinking is the one in which you’ll have to produce cheese, but after you solve it (in typical try everything on everything else adventurers’ fashion) the game does explain the reasoning behind it, and it does actually make sense. In a weird and almost funny way, but sense nonetheless.

Apprentice Deluxe - PC Gameplay Screenshot 1

The most impressive aspect of Apprentice, being an amateur freeware adventure and all, are the incredibly high production values. The music is very good, the low-res cartoony graphics are excellent and carefully animated, the game is full with detail and everything is clickable and verbally described. The humor and the minor in-jokes are good too. Not Monkey Island or Monty Python level, but Pib’s comments will put a smile on your face.

Apprentice offers an overall very pleasing (and brief) gaming experience, which continues with the already released and much improved Apprentice 2. You can download both games for free at the website of Herculean Effort Productions.

That’s a (seven and a half) out of (ten).

Talisman Returns

 TalismanBoardgame

Games Workshop, even if via the deceptively named Black Industries, seems to be returning to a few beloved games of yore, that don’t necessarily fit into the wargames category. It all began (Oh, praise the Dark Gods, cherish the Ruinous Powers, thank LotR!) with the new edition of the excellent Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay RPG, went on to its 40k counterpart and is now maturing with the forthcoming release of Talisman edition 4, bound to happen when the stars are right or sometime during October 2007; whichever comes first, really. Oh, and yes, I did mean Talisman, as in Talisman.

TalismanBoardgame

Why not then hop over to the official announcement? Why not indeed. Just click here, or there for a nice press release. Expect to read something along the lines of: “Talisman is a cult fantasy board game for 2 – 6 people. Players control a myriad of characters from a heroic warrior to a powerful sorcerer. In this perilous adventure, play centres around the journey of these gallant heroes to find and claim the Crown of Command, a magical artifact with the power to destroy all rivals and make the bearer the true ruler of the kingdom.”


Puttanopoly

puttanopoly-

Monopoly. Definitely not a good thing, thoroughly described by Lenin, detested by most, but also one of the landmark board games of the 20th (and apparently 21st) century. And with more than 100 different versions too. Problem is, Monopoly doesn’t have the history we all believed it had… Head over at SnakeOil labs, read everything about Anti-Monopoly, the true story of the game and the obscure Landlord’s Game , thus preparing thyselves for something completely different. The actual point of this humble little post.

Puttanopoly:

puttanopoly

An Italian adaptation of Monopoly, that does to board games, exactly what Pimp: The Backhanding (by none other than the prestigious White Wolf of Vampire fame) did to card games. Unfortunately, it’s only in Italian. Still, the idea is internationally understood. Be a hooker, avoid evil pimps, get to the rich customers, avoid Jack-the-Ripper wannabes and cops and (that’s the Monopoly bit) protect and expand your turf.

If you must know, Puttanopoly derives from the word puttana, a mostly Italian -partly Greek- word that could not mean anything else but whore…

Great stuff. Let’s wait for a translation, right?


Dear Video Game Manuals, I’m Just Writing To Say I Miss You

Video game manuals. If you’re over the age of 19 you know what they are and what they used to be like. For those younglings who are reading this who have yet to have had their balls drop, video game manuals consisted of more than “THIS BUTTON SHOOTS AND THIS BUTTON JUMPS!” and the repetitive warnings of “Hey just to let you know, you could have a seizure playing this game.”Read More

C64 nostalgia

Remember the legendary C64? Remember the loading problems? The impressive color graphics? Actually I don’t, but I am not the disrespectful type. I do know what C64 meant (and means) to a lot of people. And those people (and us of course) are in for a treat.

c64game

C64s.com is offering a huge variety of Java emulated C64 games for free. Head over there and take a look at classy classic games like Adventure, Dizzy and Rick Dangerous.


A New Challenger Approaches…

Princess Peach Daisy driving
Princess Peach Daisy driving

A New Challenger Approaches

Life can throw you a lot of curveballs. You might find yourself unexpectedly becoming a father, be picked first when people choose their teammates, and even find a million dollars in a duffel bag. The point is, there will always come a time where you will be blindsided. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes it is for the worse. It could hurt your ego or even boost it. This one event, though, could leave you with a knotting feeling in your stomach. You don’t quite know how to take the news and you don’t quite know if you can accept it.

The event I’m talking about is when someone you hold near and dear to you takes you down a peg. You’re supposed to be their knight, their champion. You’re the one who crushes roaches. You’re the one who walks through the dark hallway unafraid. You’re the one who chain roots a Tauren warrior underwater so that your loved one can flee to safety. You are one who is not fearful but accepts fear for what it is. You are the hero and the guardian.

Then, the day comes when you realize this person isn’t as helpless as you’d think. There comes the time where you are the underdog and the fragile swan becomes the marauding murderer.
I had always thought of myself as an above average gamer. One game I thought myself exceptionally good at was Mario Kart for the SNES. I had played every version of Mario Kart because it always held that great competitive yet joyous multiplayer aspect to it. I was a first place kind of player. Yeah, sometimes I’d get second or third but I was always on that pedestal and more times than none I was the one towering over the runner-ups. I had never met a player who was greater than me in Mario Kart. We were either equal or I burned brighter.

It filled me with great happiness to be as skilled as I was at Mario Kart. Yes, it was a game where I would dominate but it was fun not only for me but for friends and family that played a long side myself. It was simply an entertaining game, one that I especially enjoyed throughout my life.

Then, Mario Kart Wii came out. I will admit, I was there at the midnight release with all the nine year old kids who were dressed as Mario but I didn’t care. Mario Kart was something I had to have in my collection and I bared no shame being the only person with hair on his balls in the line. To my lack of surprise, it played practically the same as the previous titles but had a couple of changes that added some gusto to the mix. I would certainly dominate in this Mario Kart again.

How wrong I was… I was so naive.

This was the first Mario Kart to come out since my wife and I were married and I had never played Mario Kart with her before. I expected it to be the same kind of formula as when we usually played multiplayer games. We’d do a couple of rounds and then she’d get upset that I’m winning and then I’ll do a couple of rounds where I slow down a bit and pretend to fuck up so she’d do better but then she’d bitch at me accusing me of allowing her to win. Shortly after that, she’d give up and never play again. We’ve all been through this scenario, if not with our wife, then with our brother, or sister, or guido friend.

Not this time, though.

After the first trek through Mario Raceway, my wife was first and by a long shot. I couldn’t even catch up. Beginner’s luck, I thought to myself. That’s what it had to be. There is no way she is devastating me this much.

Another race, again same results.

Another race, she is not a speck in my rear view mirror but a speck in my horizon.

Another race, I finally got ahead but wait what is this? Wham, Bam, thank you ma’am. She demolishes me with every weapon known to the Mushroom Kingdom and overtakes me with an enormous lead.

How could this happen? How could she be this good? She doesn’t know about pressing UP when going off a ramp for a boost. She doesn’t know about using a shell or banana as a barricade to destroy red shells. She doesn’t know about popping a wheelie on a straight road to gain a significant speed boost.
So how?! How does she know how to win with such grace?

Pushing my ego aside, I dared to ask. “Honey,” I politely inquired, “How did you do that? What is your secret?” She looked at me puzzled. “I just raced, you motherfucker.” is her reply. This wasn’t sufficient. I had to know. What did she do?

“Do you dodge bananas well?”
“I just drive.”

“Do you conserve your mushroom boosts?”
“I just drive.”

“Do you race directly behind someone to increase your acceleration?”
“I just drive.”

There is no secret. She just drives. But this isn’t good enough of an answer! How did she defeat me, a golden god in my own right?! No matter how long we haven’t played Mario Kart, she still dominates everyone. None are left in her wake.

When I look into her eyes as she plays, I see no determination. I see no enjoyment. I see no past, I see no present, and I see no future.

What I do see is a soulless machination whose sole purpose in life is to sow confusion and hysteria in the minds of those she crushes.

I love my wife. I really do. However, when we play Mario Kart I feel like I should be sporting a purse because she makes me look a bitch. She took one of the most memorable games of my childhood and turned into one of the most terrifying and unexplainable experiences in my life. I am left with a feeling of pride as it is my wife who is destroying my friends in Mario Kart but at the same time an incredible wave filled with unworthy emotions sweep over me. I enjoy playing with her but I also fear those remorseless eyes.

Never again will Mario Kart hold a feeling of pure bliss in my heart. It will forever and onward be filled with a mixture of shriveling self esteem and panic.

Buy 2 Games get 1 Free

video game store
video game store

It must be a hive mind thing because three different stores are offering Buy 2 get 1 free deals!

First up is Target which has a good number of games to choose from. This promo ends November 6th.

Next is good ol’ Best Buy. Here there are a select number of titles to choose from, but they include good ones like Fable 3, Star Wars Force Unleashed 2 and 2K11.

Last up is Amazon which gives you the largest list to choose from. Many of the titles qualify for free shipping. This offer also ends Nov 6th.

Games Coming out for Consoles: Oct 17th 2010

people buying nintendo wii
people buying nintendo wii

As you get ready for all the Halloween parties and Saw 13 you might want to set aside some money for console games. Sure, you could buy winter clothes or get that root canal you’ve needed for some time, but that won’t add to your collection of games now will it. It doesn’t matter if you have a Playstation 3, X-Box 360 or that awful Wii there is something for everyone this week.

Fallout: New Vegas


What goes better with nuclear waste than a $2.99 steak buffet. Fallout New Vegas features the Fallout 3 engine and was developed with members of the Fallout 1 and 2 team. It’s time to shine up your Pip-boy and load your weapons for some post-apocalyptic mutant hunting.

We got to see this in action at E3 and it looks really good. The art direction and style of Old Vegas mixed in with the lore of Fallout. You know the story and side quests are going to be fun and when you blast a mutant from miles away with the hunters riffle you will feel right at home.

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2


Now if you haven’t heard of Naruto it started as a Manga character from the Shonen Jump magazine. From there it ventured out into Anime and video games and more. Naruto follows the story of a boy ninja who was ostracized as a kid and because of that acted out and got into lots of trouble, but in time he became a great ninja, or and he has a demon sealed inside of him.

Many of the previous games followed the story from the Anime with extra missions and side quests thrown in. In Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 the story picks up at the beginning of the Shippuden run with Naruto returning to the village about three years older after training with his master. From there he takes on new missions with his team and reconnects with friends from the village,

We played this game at E3 and it was really fun and looked just like the Anime. The fighting styles are great and you can pull off a ton of special moves that look awesome. In addition to the mission levels you can fight against each other in versus matches and there are over 42 characters to choose from. Honestly even if you aren’t into Naruto specifically, if you like a good story adventure game with great fighting mixed in then this is worth a look.

 

 

EA Sports MMA


Forget the WWE it’s all about MMA now and that means real fights, real blood and that EA will make a game for it. Mixed Marital arts is big and this game showcases some of the best fighters in MMA.

The game looks real good and it has a cool career feature where you can customize you fighter from his looks to his gear. From there you have starting skill points but must train in them all to be the best. Over time by winning fights you earn money to improve your training as well as gear and then move up to be fights from all around the world.

It has a ton of names from the world of MMA and a well-designed and fun to play versus system. Hey, if you bought Fight Night might as well give this a try too.

Next Time

There are a few more games coming out next week, but if I had the time and the cash I would pick these up. Next week the wallet onslaught continues with a new list of upcoming games worth buying. Until then claim your weeks and start taking under the table jobs.

Hello, It’s me Famicom Freak

Super Mario Bros 3 Box Cover
Super Mario Bros 3 Box Cover

I just want to do an opening post to many more posts to come! Let me introduce myself, I’m Famicom Freak! As you can tell I love Famicom as well as its other half, the NES. I run a blog which mostly consists of my findings and trips to places with retro games among other things. I hope to contribute a lot in here and be helpful to the ever growing retro gaming population. Cya later… oh yeah if you get a chance visit my blog as well! Visit www.famicomfreak.blogspot.com

Blizzard’s New World of Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base?

WoW Kobold
WoW Kobold

Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base

Rumors have been coming down the grapevine that Blizzard is moving away from the traditional attitude of making each expansion easier than the last. The audience that they garnered in during Wrath of the Lich King seem to be involuntarily entering a new “old” era of World of Warcraft. Not only is the expansion revamping the old vanilla zones but it seems that old combat rule sets are about to follow in. Are they attempting to isolate their WOTLK Ez-Mode audience that has been showered in epic loots for sneezing in the right direction? It sure seems so.

Some Beta contestants have been mentioning that level 81 greens in Cataclysm are stronger than epics that drop off of Arthas in WOTLK. Sound a bit familiar? The same formula was used in Burning Crusade where you could replace your entire Tier 3 set and weapons by level 64 with vastly more powerful “uncommon” gear. On top of this change, they are putting the “epic” back into purple by making blues a much more common drop. Testimonials from people in Beta have been mentioning they have yet to have seen a purple item. They are mentioning that the abundance of blues are the equivalent of seeing a warrior in Valor Armor with a purple from Stratholme or UBRS before Molten Core came out. In Vanilla WoW, when you saw someone with an epic, even just one, it really meant that item was purely epic because of the miniscule chance something like that would drop. Is there a reason Blizzard is reverting to this style of loot dropping? Some players are so upset about this they have even vented their rage on the forums how there will be more blues in Cataclysm than in WOTLK. One possible troll stated even if the blues have stats that are equivalent to a purple they refuse to have to raid to get purple colors now. A bit immature? Well, that’s WoW’s community for you.

Another homage to the old school playing style of World of Warcraft will be the return of Crowd Control! That’s right, Mages! You can start Polymorphing again! It had seemed that during WOTLK, CC had become a thing of the past and players would do the simple thing and just body pull and use Area-Of-Effect spells to burn everything down quickly. Healers would just spam their fastest heal and keep the tank up constantly. In Cataclysm, Blizzard (and something beta tester can attest to) mentions that combat difficulty has increased significantly and just nuking everything that is still moving isn’t going to work anymore. Players are going to actually have to use their crowd controlling abilities to keep pulls safe.

Tanks are also going to have a bit more of a problem now because healers are being forced to use more than one heal to keep them alive. Yes, they are making healers have actual heal rotations because they are making their spells more mana hungry. Tanks hit points won’t be able to keep up with massive bombardment from 9 mobs at once any longer. It looks like Blizzard is trying to make all players fill a more important and diverse role in a group even in lowly dungeons.

Is Blizzard looking to bring back players that have left and also bring in new players that haven’t been spoiled by WOTLK easy handouts with the new Team Jacob race? If this is the case, how is their majority audience in WOTLK going to fair when Cataclysm releases? The expansion still has awhile to go before their release date and there are always more features and additions to throw in but if this is the course that they are going how negatively could this impact their current population?

Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

Chrono Trigger cry
Chrono Trigger cry

Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

Dear Japan,
My dear and sweet Japan, it breaks my heart to write this message. I hope this tear stained letter lets you know that the way I felt about you… about us was something I will always cherish. While the flickering flame on the candle that represented my love for you has been snuffed, the moments we shared will always be emblazoned into my mind and heart.

Do you remember when we first met, my childhood friend? I was seven years old walking through the SNES rental section of Blockbuster looking for a new game to rent. My little childish sticky hands were all over the Aladdin rental box, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I imagined taking the fight to Jaffar. I skipped down the aisle looking for my mommy so that I could go home with Aladdin and enjoy the adventures of an Arabian night. The other games looked on as I gleefully took flight down towards the register. I was blind to their laminated glare.

Like a rifle’s laser scope, I could feel the pressure of a presence weighing down upon me. This entity’s gaze was fixated on me, reaching out for a friend. Slowly turning to my left, my heart went a flutter. Behind the plastic wrappings of the case was an unknown creature holding a wicked sword. Its white fur and pink nose were innocent yet it held a darkened tormenting blade that screamed out to me like a van with free candy. My grip on Aladdin loosened as he fell to the ground face down and like a handicapped older woman was unable to get up without my help. That is where Aladdin would remain though, living away his last breaths as I stepped closer to examine the enigma in front of me. My fingers raced against the title as I dared to utter the name, your name…
Final Fantasy III.

At the time I was ignorant to your true identity. How could I have known? I was only a child and you offered me the ambrosia of adventure. I brought you into my home and for the first time in my life, I learned from a game. I read, I established connections with a game’s characters, I felt remorse for a fictional struggle, and I…

Well, you know…

I fell in love.

Yes, I said it. I fell in love with you, Japan and your RPGs. I still wanted to take that magic carpet ride but not with Aladdin. You engrossed me into your adventures and made me actually care about story and my characters. I chose characters who statistically sucked but because I felt for their background, I strived to turn them into weapons of perfection so we could see their adventure through to the end. I never thought I would experience anything like this ever again. I thought our love was a once in a life time voyage, a one night stand that left me laying in my motel room bed dripping like a used whore.

I was wrong. You kindled my heart through and through for the years. You invaded my life like a powerful militant country raping and pillaging my childhood for resources. You attempted to take them by force but you didn’t expect one thing, Japan. I welcomed you with open arms.

Like Teth-Adam meeting his Isis, your power and my love for you flourished for years to come. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and the others. Month after month, year after year, it seemed like an eternity that our love would last.

Then things changed…

You became predictable. Another story about a hero who has amnesia? Another villain who dresses like David Bowie? What was that? Someone wants to destroy the world for no fucking reason? Wait, what? The hero can’t speak and can only express themselves by exclamation points and question marks? This is what you bring me?

Like a disgruntled woman on her anniversary, discontent with the predictable present of flowers and a dinner at Bennigan’s, my loins yearned for more than what you had to offer. I had seen too many movies on Lifetime. You were the villain in all of this. You were the man who didn’t lust for me and you know what, Japan? I stopped lusting for you. I went back home. I went West. I went to America.
The West showed me something that you couldn’t show me. They showed me how my actions can change the story. They showed me how my hero was capable of the greater good or the most unspeakable horror. America wasn’t one dimensional. They let me choose.

You forced me into this linear adventure with the same old characters. You took away the tragedy that I loved in you. There wasn’t any drama. You filled your games with twelve year old heroes who from the very beginning accepted their role as a savior. You are nothing like America and I’m sorry for that.

I love my complicated and deep storylines. I love my free reign in the events to unfold. I love not playing as a clean shaven emotionally complicated hero. I love The West’s Clint Eastwood attitude. It makes me feel like I’m in control. Not you! Me!

Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age have yanked me from your grasp. I didn’t secretly leave you. The evidence was there the whole time. They took what your wrought and pushed it to another level… a level that I’m afraid you won’t reach.

Japan, you are the clean shaven boy with flowers who took me to the prom, the one who promised to bring me home before 11pm. America is the boy I want to leave with after 11pm. He has tattoos, he smokes, and his motorcycle is fueled by the blood of kittens. At the end of that night, you hope I give you a kiss but America hopes they can pop all my cherries in one session.

I’m sorry Japan, but for now this is good bye. Your lack of creativity, your undying urge to force me into a position I don’t think I want to be in, your inability to manifest a story that hasn’t already been done, and making me play as a he-she has forced this.

Is this the life that you want to lead? Will you take the road that has been laid out before you or will we meet again somewhere else in our lives?

Good bye Japan…
Your Umi-kins.

Games Coming Out August 2010 For Consoles

PS3 vs Xbox 360 vs Wii
PS3 vs Xbox 360 vs Wii

It use to be August was the last change to get out and do what you really wanted to do for the summer before school started up again. Today, many of us stay inside because the sun burns. (It really really burns) Good thing the console market knows this and releases a ton of great games for the last summer push.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair – Aug 1

It’s like multi-player dungeon crawling. True in this version of the famous Castlevania series you do see the entire map, you know where the traps and enemies are and you know where the boss is, but the fun it making your way to it. HOD received mixed reviews original and now in its XBL form it’s still receive mixed reviews, but even with the gameplay changes it still has the heart of Castlevania and is still a fun play.

Earthworm Jim HD – Aug 1

If you don’t know who Earthworm Jim is turn in your classic gaming card. This remake of the 1994 side-scrolling classic as been updated graphically and in its gameplay including a four player co-op mode. It still has all the cow loving, earthworm eating fun of the original with a fresh coat that will bring a smile to any XBL arcade fans face.

 

 

Madden NFL 2011 – Aug 8

Full disclosure I never liked the idea that EA had a monopoly on the NFL gaming franchise, but with that said it looks as if the simpler, quicker, deeper plan behind Madden 11 might bring in the few fans that aren’t playing it. Some may think it a step back, but let’s face it people don’t want to need a degree to play a game and in our instant gratification world the fast we get to the good parts the better. The improved online play and animation is also a nice touch and really shows that EA wanted to make important changes and improvements to their game. As I said I prefer competition as well, but Madden NFL 2011 looks pretty good and even I might give it a go.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days – Aug 15

Guns, bullets, a girl and a dog it seems. Dog Days is the sequel to the original and features improved gameplay over the original as the boys are on a mission to save a loved one. I agree with what Kane said; “She better be worth it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Mafia II – Aug 24th

As one person put it; “It’s GTA4 with class.” Mafia II immerses you in the world of the 1950’s criminal underworld with an open world map meaning you can go pretty much anywhere you want at any time. However, by sticking to the storyline you move your way up the ladder as you complete missions from drop offs to raids on rival gangs.

Metroid: Other M – Aug 29th

One of the best games of all time is back and fans of the Wii couldn’t be happier. Samus is back and she brought some cool additions with her like the morph ball and her visor which can scan the new lush environments found in this latest game. Everything fans of the series love is still there from careful puzzle solving to menacing boss battles. Simply put, if you have a Wii you have to get this game.

Games Coming Out May 2010 For Consoles

Coming Soon sign
Coming Soon sign

May can bring many things, flowers, a step closer to summer break and your girlfriend getting the marriage itch. Let’s focus on games being released for consoles, after all, if you don’t get your girl flowers and marry her you will be spending your summer break alone.

Iron Man 2 (May 2nd)

The two is for double the action as you can select Iron Man or War Machine. Some of the major changes in the game are centered around Iron Man’s suit. In part 2 your suit A.I. (Jarvis) will automatically switch between power modes. For example, when you are flying more power will be given to boosters and when walking your weapons and shields will have more power. In addition the game has a lot more detail, Iron Man can destroy multiple parts of buildings and the environment before it comes crashing down. Finally the bosses are bigger than ever giving you a true comic book fighting experience. Overall, IM2 looks to be a great improvement over the first one.

Lost Planet 2 (May 9th)

It’s summertime on the Lost Planet, in part two of this shooter you move away from the ice and snow of part one and find yourself in a lush tropical paradise, well, maybe not a paradise unless you call being surrounded by huge hulking monsters and killer lizards paradise.

One of the coolest things about LP2 is the new four player co-op, now you and four of your buddies can venture out together to take down your enemies. Team work is key because you can kill each other with your weapons and general splash damage, but together you can also lay some real hurt on the local inhabitants.

In the co-op mode you have your own life bar and a team life bar. When you die you can spawn at specific points and rejoin your team, but as your time members die the team life bar drops as well. When the team life bar is empty its game over.

Lost Planet 2 has kept everything that the fans liked in the game including the various weapons, mech suits and vehicles. The grapple is still in the game and even more useful than ever as you can use it to climb on to the large bosses and ride them to death.

Alan Wake (May 16th)

Alan Wake is an adventure/horror/thriller/action game. The game looks and plays very much like a television series complete with recaps and cliffhangers between levels or “episodes”. In Alan Wake you play a struggling writer who takes a trip to the country with his wife (can you already see where this is heading?) His wife disappears and Alan begins his search for her believing she is being held for ransom.

Soon Alan discovers this sleepy little town is engulfed in an evil “darkness” that can not only posses anything it comes in contact with, but it can manifest itself into various shapes and creatures. For the most part the name of the game is to stay in the light. Light is not only used for protection, but offense as well as that is the only thing that hurts the darkness. However, you are not just running from shadows, as the body count rises the police will show up to investigate and guess who they will want to question first?

This game looks pretty cool and if you liked games like Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and Alone in the Dark then this is definitely a title to pick up.

[added by Honorabili] Red Dead Redemption, May 18th

This game looks like a much more modern and epic version of Gun, one of my favorite western games, ever. Hopefully it will also have the same kind of level of action and in-depth storyline, and incredible soundtrack.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (May 23rd)

If you suffer from vertigo this game will kill you, in Super Mario Galaxy 2 Mario continues his planetary tour with his pal Yoshi and this time you can control his tongue and inhale pretty much anything in sight. A brand new move available to our favorite plumber is his drill that allows him to dig into and through planets to collect coins and traverse from one side to the other.

Now of course all the puzzles, jumps and characters are still there and the visuals are still as colorful and vibrant as ever. Simply put if you are a Mario fan you need to pick up this title.

So there you have it, there are more games being released in May but these are the ones we are most interested in. Feel a game should be on the list, let us know.

Gamestop Coupon Code – Buy 1 Game get 2nd 20% off

GameStop Logo
GameStop Logo

Who doesn’t have a Gamespot in their town? Now believe me I have heard a lot of the hate for Gamespot and I’ve agreed with much of it, but sometimes they do good. For those of you who have a Gamestop in your area check out this deal.

Gamestop is offering this promotion: buy 1 Game get 2nd 20% off, get any additional titles for 36% off with Coupon Code: FEB20 (Exp 2/28). Free Shipping on orders $25+ with Coupon Code: SAVER (Ongoing).

Thanks to Techbargins for the info.

Reviewing the game reviewers

Review Games
Review Games

Reviewing the game reviewers by J.A. Laraque

With games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Borderlands and Left 4 Dead it is understandable to see a lot of 9.0 and above scores on review sites. In my opinion many of the mainstream game reviewers are mailing it in when it comes to digging into the heart of a game to provide a in-depth review that can not only help the consumer find the right game, but hold software companies accountable for what they release.

Some may argue that it is not a reviewer’s job to call out software developers. However, it has been a long standing practice in the past that if a company cut corners or releases an unfinished product that it would be called out in the review. Game makers use to wait with bated breath for a review to be released. They knew a bad review could sink them and a good review could make their game a hit. Today, it is not quite the case.

Much like movie reviews you can easily find someone to give your game a good enough review so it can be quoted on a website and listed on packaging. Unfortunately, these are not obscure little places where positive reviews are found, but industry giants handing out A plus ratings and 5.0 scores like they were cable ace awards.

For those up and coming review sites many have faced unreasonable restrictions and strong arm tactics when reviewing upcoming titles. Like a partisan town meeting there have been reports of questions being submitted by the developers themselves to be asked. One incident I was part of was where an up and coming site was reviewing a new wrestling game. A Q&A session was offered where only very select questions were answered. Later we discovered most of the questions were submitted by the company and they only selected questions from the internet that had been already answered in other articles and reviews.

This may not seem so unusual today, but at the time it was quite a shock. Many were angry their questions were not answered especially considering that they were not questions that were against their own policy. There were guidelines on what type of questions we could ask and even though most followed the rules their questions went unanswered. When people complained the website got tough and in the next installment pressed the development team on the lack of changes and improvements to the game and boldly asked why anyone should spend their hard earned money on a game with almost no changes or improvements. Their response, they discontinued talks with the website pulling all Q&A sessions and review materials.

Tactics such as these are not done anymore basically because most companies only give review materials to outlets that will give them a pass. Now while it is true that many of these games that receive high scores do deserve them it is a troubling trend that these reviewers seem to go out of their way to not bring up flaws within a game. Too often the questions are softball-like and if there is a critique it is a very minor one that in the same sentence they will dismiss as such.

My question is why are the best reviews done by those who are doing it more for entertainment than anything else? Some of the best reviews today come from Yatzhee, just as some of the best news comes from John Stewart. I love them both, but they started more for entertainment and yet you get the most honest takes and real world commentary from these two.

There are a ton of up and coming websites and blogs that offer reviews, but one must always be careful. Just like in politics there are definite divides between people. Everyone has an opinion as far as taste in genre, console versus PC and even brand loyalty or distain.

While it is great to have so many places to go for information we still should hold the large media outlets accountable. Many will look at a positive review by an industry leader as reason enough to purchase a game. We also know many people will purchase a game solely on the fact that it was released by a developer they know. In this case a reviewer should point out that even if a game is good that more could have been done or if parts were rushed due to time or money and if features and options were left out only to offer them as paid downloadable content later.

With many software companies becoming superpowers in the gaming world now is the time that the people of the media should speak out and take them to task. It is what we expect and what we deserve as consumers. Nobody should get a free ride even if they have developed great games in the past. It is not what you did, but what you are doing now. If there are faults they should be brought to light for all to see and leave it up to the customer to make the final choice. The result is we all become better informed buyers and in the end that is better for all of us.

About us in general

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A group of us decided to get together to create a website that would have honest, down-to-earth no-nonsense reviews on new and old games for PC and all other systems.Read More