The Obsolete Gamer Show: Nima Fakhara (1979 Revolution: Black Friday)


Remember Kix cereal? Kids love it and moms will too? The idea was the cereal was really good but it was good for you. We often applaud a game when it’s well made, fun to play, but allso teaches you something you most likely would not have learned on your own.

In the story driven game, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday you play as a photographer during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A period I certainly didn’t know much about before this interview, but our guest who composed the music for this game did.

Nima Fakhara was born in Tehran, Iran and has composed for film, television and videos games. For this game he used traditional Persian instruments to insure an authentic feeling within the game.

In our interview we talk about how players have received the game so far which is currently out on Steam and how he feels the game represented the events that unfolded during that time. We also cover his love of music and his journey from Tehran to Los Angeles.

You can purchase 1979 Revolution now on Steam

You can check on more from Nima Fakhrara on his Official Website

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Richard Wood – Brut@l (Stormcloud Games)


We’re talking Brut@l, a re-imaging of the classic ASCII dungeon crawler with its roots in classic gaming but with a 3D style today’s gamers can enjoy. We let you know can expect from the game with producer, Richard wood.

More about Brut@l:

Choose your hero: Ranger, Mage, Warrior or Amazon then descend into a procedurally generated world constructed entirely from ASCII.

Your goal? Reach the 26th floor, vanquish the fearsome Guardian of the Dungeon and claim his crown.

Sound easy? It won’t be. It will be Brut@l.

Craft and enchant weapons, brew and drink strange potions, risk their effects and level up your hero based on the play style that suits you. Most of all, survive for as long as you can as you battle Trolls, Orcs, Rockmonsters, Lycanthorpes and many more in this Brut@l roguelike.

Share the adventure by exploring Brut@l’s dungeon with a friend in local co-op, lay waste to the hordes of enemies that stand between you and floor 26, and evoke the nostalgia of all night gaming sessions from years past.

Get creative with Brut@l’s Dungeon Creator, an intuitive editing tool that lets you build, play, share and even die in your very own dungeon.

Brut@l launches on PlayStation®4 in Q2 2016. PC, Mac and Linux launch date TBA.

Elven Legacy

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Elven Legacy

Recently I reviewed the game Fantasy Wars. Despite the somewhat generic title, I found it to be a pretty effective turn-based strategy game. A couple of years later, they released a follow-up game called Elven Legacy, which in turn has spawned a trio of expansions: Magic, Ranger and Siege. I picked them all up as a combo pack from Steam and finally had a chance to play them. Since they use the same basic engine, I figure I will review them as a whole here.

Graphics – 7:

Elven Legacy - PC

They’re okay – the environments are bland, and the characters themselves do little to stand out at a distance, though they tend to fare a bit better on their close up. The maps themselves are easy enough to navigate visually. The cut scenes are pretty basic-looking, and in places, ugly if I’m to be perfectly honest. The engine looks very, very familiar to Fantasy Wars, which is a bit disappointing given a couple of years development time between titles. Thankfully, there does seem to be more color and the flying units look better, and the environmental textures are a bit more detailed.

Sounds & Music – 6:

Elven Legacy - PC

The music’s what you expect, but it can be a bit repetitious too. There are not a ton of sound effects, but what is there gets the job done. The voice acting is in fact, terrible at times. What’s worse is the tutorial, which is broken in terms of audio. Overlapping sentences, phrases that get cut off early, these things make the tutorial almost completely useless. The expansions don’t seem to have any voice acting at all.

Gameplay – 8:

The menus and overall interface were very similar to Fantasy Wars, which is to say they are easy to get around once you’re familiar with them, but there is a bit of a learning curve. There’s quite a few units though, and the turn-based tactics are solid. The way units progress is entertaining, and gives you a reason to feel invested in them – but be prepared. Like Fantasy Wars, this game is tough. The Fog of War feature keeps you from seeing what you’re getting into at times, and the enemy is very adept at ganging up on and beating a single unit to a pulp.

Elven Legacy - PC

One returning feature I am not particularly a fan of is the time-based gold/silver/bronze system, where you have a certain number of turns to meet your objective, and it seems like gold in several of these is virtually impossible. When you try to rush to complete objectives, you tend to lose more units and overlook things you might have found if you took the time to scour the map a bit, which is a shame. Still, the rewards for gold completion are usually quite nice – solid gold earning, usually a free troop and it unlocks a parallel mission that does not really affect the outcome, but is interesting all the same.

Intangibles – 8:

Elven Legacy - PC

The games are a bit short – I got through my first run of Elven Legacy in about fifteen hours or so, but there’s plenty of replay value with things like the side missions you can unlock and also a separate mission feature on top of the campaign mode. I also found the story more interesting than what was presented in Fantasy Wars, though I felt it was better in Elven Legacy than the additional packs.

Overall – 7:

Elven Legacy - PC

Technically the games are not great. The graphics and sound/music are average, but the gameplay is challenging and there is a fair amount to do within the game. Like Fantasy Wars, this series of games can be found relatively cheaply (though not quite as cheaply). It’s a bit disappointing that the series did not come a bit further over the two year span, but for strategy enthusiasts there is enough here to keep you busy. The AI presents a good challenge and there’s a fair amount to do.

Outlaws

 

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For single-player gameplay, there were three options: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (Come on, who doesn’t like Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns?) ~Dan Epp

 Outlaws

The background story in Outlaws revolved around retired U.S. Marshal James Anderson, who lives an idyllic life with his beautiful wife and only child.  Idyllic, that is, until his opposition to selling his land to a nasty railroad baron (weren’t they all nasty?) brings about the death of his beloved wife Anna and the abduction of his daughter, Sarah.  The adventure began with Anderson burying his wife, digging up his shotgun, and heading off to find his daughter and take his revenge.  “Dyin’s too good for ‘em,” the game’s tagline said, and after watching the introduction, you’re rooting for ex-Marshall Anderson to show them all what that means.

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Outlaws was a first-person shooter style game using a modified version of the Dark Forces game engine, and although the game’s storyline was focused on single-player gameplay, the game also featured a robust multiplayer mode.  Players could choose to play up to six of the main characters within the game: ex-Marshall Anderson, Matt “Dr. Death” Jackson (who killed the Marshall’s wife), “Bloody” Mary Nash, “Gentleman” Bob Graham (the railroad baron), “Spittin” Jack Sanchez, and Chief Two-Feathers, with advantages and disadvantages for each.

Outlaws - LucasArts Entertainment - PC Gameplay Screenshot-3

For single-player gameplay, there were three options: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (Come on, who doesn’t like Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns?)  The differences between the options were in how much damage Anderson could take from gunshot wounds; in Good mode, the player could walk Anderson into a spray of bullets with only minor consequences, in Ugly mode the ex-Marshall might be able to withstand one or two shots, but certainly no more than that – so no wading into a gunfight firing at will.

Outlaws - LucasArts Entertainment - PC Gameplay Screenshot-4

The graphics for Outlaws were the standard 800×600 mode, which by today’s standard would be bulky, but were more than adequate in 1997.  LucasArts also added Glide and Direct3D support on a later patch, which helped extend the game’s shelf life as better technology was released.  The animated cutscenes were quite unique, as they were run through a special filter to make them appear to be hand-drawn, which really helped add to the game’s atmosphere.

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In addition to the main game, LucasArts included a set of five single-player missions that led the player through the early career of the ex-Marshall.   Each mission’s goal was the capture (preferred) or execution of a wanted outlaw on the run.  With each successful completion, Anderson is promoted, eventually earning his Deputy, Sheriff, and Marshall badges.  LucasArts also released a set of four missions on their website which they called, a “Handful of Missions,” in keeping with the spaghetti western motif.  These missions are stand alone gameplay, unconnected to the original storyline.  (Game companies that give you free extras are always tops in my books).

Unfortunately, despite the great gameplay, Outlaws did not perform well commercially.  It is forever a niche product (similar to Grim Fandango), which holds a special place in the hearts of those who played it.   Outlaws is another forgotten classic that deserves to be dusted off and enjoyed by retrogamers everywhere!

Bodycount

Developer/Publisher Codemaster has released their next first person shooter. Does it equal their last generation title Black, or should it be taken out back and tossed in the dirt? Read our review to find out.

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First person shooters are a dime a dozen at this point, and all do basically the same thing. Here’s a selection of firearms, the world is in trouble, pick your weapon loadout and go save it. It’s a recipe that has worked for Call of Duty, Battlefield, and countless others. Most games give those with patience an edge over their AI opponents. Sneaking around corners, lying low, or crawling all have their benefits. Bodycount tries the same recipe but with no bonus for patience.

Bodycount-

Bodycount is a FPS for those that want to run-n-gun Rambo style, through as many bad guys as your console or PC can handle. You are given a silenced pistol at one point, but once you find your weapons cache you will want to say to hell with that pea shooter. Give me my G36 assault rifle and/or Super 90 shotgun. This game wants you to be a killing machine, and does a good job of creating that experience.

Bodycount-

The story for the game is fairly generic. You play as Jackson. A former US soldier who is now an agent for an organization called The Network. It is your job to find solutions to problems that governments can’t handle. Genocide in Africa? No problem. Grab a few weapons and grenades and wipe out the genocidal horde. Want to end a civil war? Take out the leaders and their forces. While on these missions, you’ll run across some enemies that don’t belong, and it’s up to you to find out who is really behind the civil unrest in both Africa and Asia. The story isn’t exactly gripping, but it’s not thrown in as an afterthought either. There was some thought put into it, but the bottom line for Bodycount is the gameplay.

Bodycount-

Gameplay for Bodycount is simple. Here’s your objective. Here are your weapons. Complete the objective. Sounds simple. Now add a huge number of bad guys, with a largely destructible environment, and you get the big picture. This is an arcade style, in your face shooter, where killing is always your main objective. The name of the game is Bodycount, and that’s what you want to rack up. Leave a trail of lifeless, limp bodies in your wake, along with shredded walls, doors, and windows. If it’s not made out of tin, you can blast through it. There are few places to hide in this game, and most of those places will disintegrate when high amounts of lead are applied. Concrete barriers, plywood walls, even wood doors are no match for the bullets. You can shred through a wall in a matter of seconds, and anyone hiding behind that wall is dead meat.

Bodycount-

Each mission level gives you multiple paths to choose from. You aren’t locked into a linear path and this is a double edged sword. Not only are you not locked into one set path, the AI isn’t either. While they aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box, their thought process can still be tricky enough to outflank you, and drop a grenade in your lap. If you are on a mission that requires you to defend your position, be sure to take note of all paths around you.

Bodycount-

At the end of each story mission you are given a grade based upon how well you did on that mission. During your firefights, you can achieve Skill Kills with headshots, backstabs, and shred kills (killing through walls is soooo fun). String these together and you’ll keep a combo going that will affect your overall grade at the end of each mission. Rack up as many kills as you can, but remember that well placed shots will net you a better overall grade than just running and gunning through each level. We found this to be a little counter productive for an arcade style shoot-em-up, but it does add replayability to each mission. More than one run through for each mission isn’t a bad thing.

Bodycount-

The firearms at your disposal are basic at first, with a pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, and knife to start out with. This expands to include ten overall weapons to choose from, plus your knife. The weapons are highly detailed, and vary in power and rate of fire just like they should in real life. You can’t access your weapons cache until you are in a mission, but most missions have them near the beginning. Use your mini-map in the lower right corner to locate it. Grenades have three ways to be thrown. You can do the standard one button press that has a short timed explosion, you can cook your grenades by holding the button for a few seconds, or (our favorite) you can double tap the grenade button and it will explode on contact. Why cook when you can have instant gratification? See a large group of bad guys congregating in one spot? Double tap that frag for a fun little skill kill that will grow to whatever number was in that group. You also have mines at your disposal, and occasionally a defense position is needed and mines become a priceless, albeit limited, commodity.

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As you take out bad guys, they’ll drop ammo and intel energy. This energy is gathered and fills up your intel meter. As you progress through the story, you unlock four different enhancers that show up on the bottom left of your screen. The Adrenaline boost makes you invincible (as long as your meter is full) and is very effective against a large group of enemies that you want to run through. They can’t hurt you, but you can definitely blast them all to hell. There is also an Exploding bullet enhancer that is very effective against the heavies with mini-guns. The Artillery enhancer can be used to take out emplacements or groups of bad guys. The Target Pulse Wave starts out as a way to better see the AI, but once upgraded becomes a way to disable some of the bad guys.

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Online Multiplayer is also available. You can have a free-for-all deathmatch, team deathmatch, or you can buddy up with another player and play some co-op. Co-op will have you facing wave after wave of bad guys and it’s a fun way to rack up your online kills.

If you are looking for a game where you can sneak around, leave this alone and pick up Deus Ex. If you are looking for a game that allows you to blast through bad guys, walls, and doors with no worries about noise or alerts, this is a title you might enjoy.

Bodycount provides the guns, glory and bad guys. You provide the balls.

Bodycount: Rambo Welcome.

7

Wonderland

Wonderland

Wonderland

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this installment: Wonderland, an adventure game developed by the British game developer Magnetic Scrolls and published by Virgin Games in 1990.

Wonderland

Wonderland was a game set in the Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland mythos. You played Alice as she made her way through the bizarre Wonderland landscape, solving puzzles and enduring plenty of puns. However, the plot of the game did not follow that of the book, although familiar characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, and the Red Queen all appeared to delight the player (or confound them).  However, only the characters from Alice in Wonderland appeared; there were no characters or scenes from the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (which meant no Tweedledum and Tweedledee!).  Even so, there were still around 110 locations to explore in all their surreal glory.

Wonderland

Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. Particularly enjoyable for those who tired of the constant switch between game map – inventory – action screen that most games used.

Wonderland

Wonderland received generally good reviews: “…very simply, it’s fun stuff to play” (Computer Game Review, June 1991); “Wonderland has shown me that the adventure-game genre is alive and growing” (Compute!, August 1991);  ”an atmospheric and cerebellum-crushing adventure game…“  (Amiga Power, June 1991).  It was (and is!) an enjoyable romp through a classic landscape. It doesn’t have much repeat play value, but being of the adventure game genre, it’s not really fair to expect it to. For those who have never parsed a text, give Wonderland a chance to show you what gaming was like twenty years ago!

Street Fighter X Mega Man Crossover

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Since DC faced Marvel comics I have been a fan of epic crossovers and to celebrate 25 years of Street Fighter and Mega Man, (has it been that long?), Capcom is releasing an awesome 8-bit crossover for free on December 17. Just in time for the Holidays you will be able to challenge some of the top Street Fighter characters including Blanka, Ryu, Chun Li, and, Dhalsim with the blue bomber himself.

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Now this isn’t a Marvel vs. Capcom game, this is totally retro. Mega Man will be in his classic form and you will have eight new powerful weapons to use against the ultimate fight club. Check out the video below and on December 17th make sure to head over to Capcom Unity to download this game, for free, to your PC.

Deathkeep

Deathkeep

As I prepared for the excruciating experience of preparing my entry into the Review a Bad Game Day worldwide self-flagellation exercise, I realized two key historical gaming themes: first, the rise of the 3D adventure was not without its failures along the way, and second, the history of putrid games released on the PC is an unfortunately long and varied one. My choice, the promisingly-titled first-person AD&D game, Deathkeep, is an evidential exhibit in both.

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To understand Deathkeep we need to journey back in time to 1987, when Strategic Simulations, Incorporated (SSI), was granted the AD&D license from TSR, Inc. The next seven years were wondrous for the PC Dungeons & Dragons player, as the company released many quality RPGs, beginning with the Gold Box series (of whichSecret of the Silver Blades remains my all-time favorite), the Eye of the Beholderseries, and the later SVGA games such as Menzoberranzan and the Ravenloftgames. I can recall many hours of gaming in the AD&D universe thanks to the talented development teams at SSI. Unfortunately, this review is not about one of those games.

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The AD&D license expired in 1994, which meant that no new development of games using the AD&D ruleset could be initiated, but games already under production could finish their development cycle. This is how Deathkeep could stay alive and be released on April 30, 1996, a full two years after the license had expired. So between the extra time given to the game and the need to make it the crowning achievement – the legacy, as it were – of the SSI experience with the AD&D universe, you would expect this game to well-nigh pulse with energy while still in the box. You would certainly not expect what appeared to be a very late April Fool’s Day prank from the lads and lasses at SSI.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

The game begins with a brief semi-animated (mostly a slideshow that occasionally animates, similar to the early days of graphic adventures) which sets up the quest: Stop a generic AD&D villain from reacquiring his long-lost power by recovering three special Orbs from his ancient lair – his “Deathkeep” – which he raised amidst a Dwarven fortress, and deliver them to an ancient three-armed skeleton creature’s temple hidden within that same fortress. Well, not every game can have an interesting and creative storyline, and the hope of those starting the game was that perhaps the game itself would rise above the “every DM in the world has run this story” plot. Unfortunately, the opening sequence may have been the highlight of the game.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

 

The first real worry that this game might be broken comes immediately after the opening sequence, when you choose your character. Typically in a RPG, a player selects their gender, race, class, abilities, equipment, and so forth, customizing their character and giving it their own unique stamp. In Deathkeep, the game presents a total of THREE characters to choose from: a male Dwarven Fighter, a female Elven Mage, and a male Half-Elf Fighter/Mage. Astonishingly, that’s it. Not even a choice in gender for each character, so if you’re not into cross-dressing but you do like playing Mages, you’re out of luck. At least you could name your character.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

As for the gameplay itself, the control mechanism was efficient enough: you could opt to use your keyboard or your mouse for a full range of motions. Combat was handled by facing the creature you wanted to disappear and clicking on your mouse until it was gone. No real problem, aside from the incredibly chunky graphics, that is. Maps and inventory screens displayed in 640×480, but the game ran in 320×200, resulting in walls with very poor textures, and creatures that looked like they would be right at home in today’s Minecraft but with lower resolution. The whole game was just hard on the eyes, and considering the some of the amazing games that were released that same year, SSI really had no excuse.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

So why was Deathkeep such an embarrassment? The answer lies in the timing of the loss of the AD&D license and what system the game was originally designed to play on: the Panasonic 3DO. Deathkeep was first released for the 3DO in 1995, a full year before the Windows release. The 3DO was a 32-bit video game system whose core processor ran at 12.5 MHz, and whose video output was either 640×480 or 320×240 (on 60 MHz North America systems…50 MHz PAL versions ran much better graphics at 768×576 or 384×288). The game was simply ported over to Windows, with less than stellar results.  Of course, the game wasn’t all that good on the 3DO, either.

Deathkeep - pc game - gameplay screenshot

Here’s a little humorous tidbit of knowledge found in the game’s documentation for anyone wondering why I don’t have any screenshots of gameplay: Deathkeep does not permit Windows multi-tasking. Attempts at doing so exits the game. Not a single screenshot utility works, not the standard PrtScn/Paint combo, not Gadwin, not MWSnap, not Screen Rip32, nothing. Perhaps the developers wanted no visual evidence that might implicate them in this sorry mess of a PC-RPG, perhaps not. Truly this is a bad, bad game.

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Deathkeep was promoted as a 1st person 3D game set in the AD&D universe, with “…dungeon delving the way you like it – fast, furious and fun!”  I was one of the unfortunates who purchased the game upon its release (and still have it in my collection of AD&D PC games), and after revisiting it for this review, I am reminded of what I thought back in 1996: This game is neither fast, nor furious, nor fun. It’s games like this one that helped spawn the world-wide “Review a Bad Game Day” phenomena which hopefully will help gamers tell other gamers of some of the pitfalls that await them, while simultaneously presenting an opportunity for us to share our pain with sympathetic readers. So my fellow retrogaming enthusiasts, consider this a solemn warning: should you encounter the excrement that is Deathkeep in your travels, run, don’t walk, away from this game before you suffer as I have suffered!

Loom

Some classic games are more obscure than others, but are no less gaming gems than those games that inspired a multitude of sequels and imitators.  LOOM, a LucasFilm Games (the original name of LucasArts Entertainment) product, is one such game.

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The front cover of the PC game, LOOM.

Released in 1990, LOOM contained a complex plot involving the fate of the universe resting upon the shoulders of one gifted man-child who is the last practitioner of an ancient guild of magicians called the Weavers.  The plot was so complex, in fact, that the preamble goes on for 30 minutes.  You read that right.  Originally a cassette tape was included so you could listen to the audio drama before starting the game. In the later CD-ROM version, the audio file was included on the CD.

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The classic retro game LOOM begins!

Bobbin Threadbare, the aforementioned only surviving member of the Guild of Weavers, must learn the ways of his craft.  This is not a simple adventure game; players don’t simply point and click their way to the grand finale.  In LOOM, magic is music and music is magic.  Bobbin can cast spells, but only as musical sequences on the C Major scale, and only if he possesses his “distaff,” a combination walking stick and wizard’s staff. Much of the game revolves around Bobbin seeking new “drafts” – the magical musical sequences – for him to use in his quest to save the universe from a “grey strand” that has unbalanced creation.

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The Practice Mode of LOOM.

This game is pure delight from beginning to finish.  I loved the musical element and complete departure from the standard LucasArts adventure fare that this game provided.  The puzzles weren’t all that challenging, but different enough to be memorable.  The graphics were good for the time, also.  But most importantly, you couldn’t die or be returned to the beginning of the game for a simple mistake, making LOOM the first game to follow the LucasArts game design philosophy.

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Standard Mode for LOOM

The game featured three challenge levels: Standard, Practice, and Expert, all relating to how the player learns the new scripts (spells) as they play.  With Practice mode, players could see the letters for the notes that were played. Standard mode takes away the letters on the notes, but instead the distaff glows when the notes are played.  Toughest of all – the Expert mode – removes both the glowing distaff and the musical letters, forcing the player to “play by ear” repeating the spells without the aid of any graphical representation.

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Expert Mode for LOOM

Although this is a definitely a one-of-a-kind game, its creator, Brian Moriarty, claims that it was originally intended to be the first of a trilogy.  The sequel, Forge, would have followed Rusty Nailbender of the Guild of Blacksmiths in his fight to free his home from the evil of Chaos.  Following that would have been The Fold, wherein Fleece Firmflanks (I’m not making this up!) must restore the all the guilds to their former glory.  Alas, the sequels were not meant to be, and LOOM remains the unique game that it is today.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnEMcquu2lc[/youtube]

This is a fabulous piece of retro gaming history, and one of the most sought-after PC games for most collectors.  If you have a chance to play it, do so.  You won’t regret your time spent saving the world!

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

For those of us who remember well the 1980s, the phenomenally endowed Elvira – the campy TV persona of Cassandra Peterson – was and is much loved.  Dressed in gothic attire that tended to display her front-facing assets, Miss Peterson was a staple of the late night television viewing, and a highly recognizable advertising brand.  Many and diverse were her following, including myself…as I admit to being an Elvira acolyte.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Box art for Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

Accolade tapped into this cult following with the 1990 release of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, a horror-themed PC adventure game with RPG elements.  The developer was the aptly named HorrorSoft, which focused primarily on making games in the horror genre.  HorrorSoft was actually Adventure Soft, and was sub-branded to give the company the ability to explore both a new genre and a new gaming engine.  Elvirawas HorrorSoft’s second game, their first being the somewhat enjoyable “Personal Nightmare”(featuring an appearance by Elvira), and they didn’t disappoint.  From the back of the box’s flavor text – “Can somebody help me find my chest?” – to the ending credits, Elvira was a fun game.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

You play a helpful adventurer in Elvira, brought in to rescue the lovely Mistress of the Dark from the dangers of her own castle.  It seems Elvira’s quite-dead grandmother wants to return to the Realm of the Living, and plans to unleash a horrific assault on her surroundings – and upon her errant granddaughter, too.  Poor Elvira wants nothing to do with her grandmother’s schemes, but she’s lacking her usual magical arsenal as all her potion ingredients and equipment is scattered throughout her castle, and she needs you to collect it all and return it to her, while dispatching the nasty creatures that her dear grandmother has prowling the corridors and rooms along the way.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Like many RPGs and adventure games, inventory management was a straightforward exercise.  As you explored your environment (all 800 locations of it), approximately 300 objects could be picked up and placed into your pack, which was represented by a grid at the bottom of the screen.  Some objects could interact with others to create more powerful items (such as potions ingredients combining into potions).  The combat mechanism was equally as simple, involving clicking on either the “thrust” or “parry” icons at the correct moments (not button-mashing them into a fine powder, a laDiablo).  Some of the magical potions and items improved your combat or defensive prowess, which was absolutely essential when facing some of the more terrifying castle denizens.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Elvira was released on several gaming platforms, including MS-DOS, Amiga, Commodore 64, and Atari ST, and received favourable reviews.  Sales were sufficient to warrant a sequel, Elvira II: Jaws of Cerberus.  HorrorSoft would go on to make one more horror-themed PC game, Waxworks, before the company was abandoned to focus on the rebirth of its parent, Adventure Soft Publishing, and the release of theirSimon the Sorcerer series.

Elvira - Mistress of the Dark - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

If you are a retrogaming horror junkie, or a classic adventure game aficionado, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a game well worth playing.  It has the right mix of humor and horror, action and exploration to warrant a place as my Retro Game of the Week, and is a worthy addition to any retro gaming collection!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwlaVJ35CdI[/youtube]

Wolf

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this instalment: Wolf, a unique 1994 simulation game by Sanctuary Woods that placed gamers in the role of canis lupus seeking to survive in a sometimes hostile environment.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Perhaps a game about learning how to be a wolf, the dangers they face, and what challenges they overcome does not sound like it would be fun, but it was. Wolf was a unique simulation, and a completely different subject matter than what gamers had ever seen before. The 40-some scenarios were fascinating, and included diverse goals: hunting down caribou to avoid starvation, challenging the alpha male pack leader for control of the pack, and even just surviving a single day in their stark environment. For the comprehensive wolf experience a player could choose to play the campaign mode, which ran them through the full gambit of the wolf life cycle.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Settings screen for the PC game, Wolf

The game mechanics really sold the “be-a-wolf” concept. Sound effects of birds and other noises of nature provided ambience, while the graphics were crisp and the scenic vistas marvellous to look at. As your wolf travelled it became either hungry or thirsty, and needed to be satiated. The game simulated a wolf’s incredible sense of smell by showing various scents that your wolf discovered, some close, some far, and all trackable. Humans were a severe danger and were to be avoided at all costs, and could be detected by both sound and scent. You could even howl!

shakira

Whoops, wrong howling; wrong wolf.

Fortunately, the game designers didn’t just read a Jack London book and whip up a game based on it. Wolf Haven, a wolf reserve near Olympia, Washington, was tapped to provide the expert knowledge on what challenges wolves face and what behaviors they exhibit. Wolf Haven is a nonprofit organization devoted to the study and conservation of wolves, and has around 80 acres of land used for the purpose. They have been in existence since 1982, and continue to provide sanctuary for wolves today…and they even offer group tours! (The game designers even based five of the wolves portrayed in the game on actual wolves that lived within Wolf Haven.) With this level of expertise behind them, it’s not surprising that Sanctuary Woods was able to offer a world-class simulation that both educated and entertained.

Wolf - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Winter hunting in the PC game, Wolf

Critics agreed on the quality gameplay of Wolf, winning the “Best Game of the Show” Award from Electronic Games at its debut at the Winter, 1994 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as well as earning praise from such heavy-hitters as PC Gamer Magazine, receiving a score of 88% and a PC Gamer Editor’s Choice award.  It performed well enough to merit a sequel, Lion, which followed the life of the King of Beasts on the Savannah. All in all, Wolf was a great game, and well worth locating a copy and playing, even today!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbXEvWfWoF0[/youtube]

Magisterrex has been gaming since the days of Pong and still owns a working Atari 2600. He tends to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games.  If you’re into classic old school gaming check out his blog here

Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy

Buccaneer - The Pursuit of Infamy - Indie Game - PC - Gameplay Screenshot
Sid Meier’s Pirates!was a game that deeply impressed my little underage self, as it was one of those preciously few digital offerings that actually made me daydream and fantasize about being a pirate drinking milk and eating hamburgers somewhere in the Caribbean of yore. As for them serving wenches, well, I couldn’t care less really. I was only 9. Besides, I even thought that fiddling with the map was far more exciting than courting a governor’s daughter. Pah, kids.

Anyway, what I particularly and truly liked about Pirates! -even more so about its excellent 2004 remake- were them glorious ship to ship battles, and happily that’s what indie developers Stickman Studios have evolved into a full, action-packed game. Joy!

Buccaneer - The Pursuit of Infamy - Indie Game - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

Said game is none other than Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy (official website, Steam page), a game impressively developed by a team of only two, apparently extremely talented and hardworking, individuals. Now, besides being a feat of sheer will and dedication itself, Buccaneer also happens to be the game that even momentarily allowed me to once again live the digital thrills of bloody sea battle and, well, imagine things of a heroic nature. What’s more it is easily the best pirate game I’ve come across since 2004. Despite, as already mentioned, being a pure action game. A pure combat focused action game to be precise, that besides battling, only spices things up by letting the player select missions, buy new ships, upgrade older ones and rudimentary manage his/her crew’s morale.

Buccaneer - The Pursuit of Infamy - Indie Game - PC - Gameplay Screenshot

What truly matters though is the simple fact that the basic combat mechanic is absolutely brilliant, simple, fun and makes for a fluid and addictive gameplay experience. Oh, and if you have to know, the player gets to commandeer his/her ship using the WASD keys while moving the camera with the mouse and using the left and right mouse buttons to shoot the cannons on the respective side of the ship.

On the other hand, not everything is perfect. Land bombardment for example is quite frustrating, as aiming at particular buildings is nigh on impossible, while sometimes the battle area is a bit too small for proper maneuvering. Then again, when you got those fantastic graphics, the tons of available -and surprisingly varied- missions, some excellent and highly amusing multiplayer options, a fine selection of Steam achievements, an amazing sounding ocean (!) and a convincing atmosphere, you just can’t complain. Buccaneer is quite fantastic.

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

Verdict: Three parrots, five cannonballs, one monkey and half a bottle of rum, meaning you should definitely give this excellent indie pirate game a try. I’d suggest you bought one or two copies of the thing too.

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

Wing Commander

Classic games are recognizable by both how much fun they are to play and how much they change the genre – or create their own.  Wing Commander by Origin Systems is a game that fits this criteria for greatness.

Wing Commander - PC Gamwplay Screenshot

The original Wing Commander game circa 1990.

Back in 1990, this game pushed the technology envelope.  It needed a 80386 class machine to really run well, and a VGA card to get all the eye candy it had to offer.  A good argument can be made that Wing Commander helped sell a lot of 386 computers to gamers who needed better hardware to get their sci-fi space combat fix!

The creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts, characterized his game as “World War II in space.”  The player took the role of a fighter pilot for the Confederation, battling the war machine of the Kilrathi, a race of feline aliens.  Attack runs and defensive missions were launched from a space-going aircraft carrier, the TCS Tiger Claw.  If the player was successful in meeting mission objectives, the storyline continued with Confederation forces pushing back the Kilrathi armada.  If the player failed their objectives, they could continue to the next mission, but too many failures resulted in the Confederation retreating and ceding the sector to the Kilrathi.  This “campaign tree” game system was innovative and fresh in 1990, and a large part of the reason why Wing Commander is a classic.

Wing Commander - PC Gamwplay Screenshot

The First Wing Commander Add-On Pack

Critics agreed: Wing Commander won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Game, as well as Computer Gaming World’s Overall Game of the Year award.

The game also spawned an entire series of sequels, add-on packs and stand-alone games: Wing Commander: The Secret Missions, Wing Commander: The Secret Missions 2 – Crusade, Wing Commander II: The Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Wing Commander II: Special Operations 1, Wing Commander II: Special Operations 2, Wing Commander II Speech Accessory Pack, Wing Commander: Privateer, Wing Commander: Academy, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, Wing Commander: Armada, Wing Commander Privateer: Righteous Fire, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, Wing Commander: Prophecy, Wing Commander: Prophecy – Secret Ops, and Wing Commander: Privateer 2 – The Darkening.  Numerous “gold” editions for the games which combined the add-on packs with the original games or multi-game packs that featured one or more of Origin’s other titles were also published.  Wing Commander was even ported to other game systems, including the Commodore Amiga system, the Sega CD system, and the Super Nintendo (SNES).  The series even crossed over into Hollywood with a feature film release in 1999.

Wing Commander - PC Gamwplay Screenshot

The 2nd Wing Commander Add-On Pack

If you haven’t played the flagship of the Wing Commander universe, pick up a copy and imagine it’s 1990 all over again.  Become a Confederation cadet and fight the Kilrathi menace – you’ll be glad you did.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlokYOPAa0o[/youtube]

The Last Express

The Last Express
I do know that the precious reader of Gnome’s Lair has been quite aware of my interest (or is that fascination?) with The Last Express. I have after all been constantly mentioning the thing both via Twitter and Facebook, and have also grabbed a digital copy via gog.com, which I promptly installed. But should I review it? I really don’t think so. More than a few excellent reviews and retrospectives for this truly unique, groundbreaking, gorgeous and amazing adventure game are readily available and are way better written than anything I could hope to come up with. That’s why I have chosen to do something I’ve never really done on this blog; namely write a series of posts more or less detailing my experiences through the game.
Here I go now…
Being a traditionalist, I didn’t immediately start playing after downloading and installing the game. Oh no. I read through the manual, watched the mostly spoiler free making-of video and even had a glance at the digital version of the Quick Reference Guide. The manual was unsurprisingly the best part, what with it trying to explain the intricacies of the game’s non-standard interface and features, while wisely providing minimal only information on the plot and some interesting insights to the Orient Express -the setting of The Last Express– itself.
The Last Express
The game itself starts off with an impressive if short intro movie that managed to immediately set the tone and introduce me to the amazing visuals on offer, though intriguingly failed to also introduce me to my apparently Irish avatar and his motives. This lack of knowledge has so far proved an excellent idea, as I slowly get to uncover who I’m guiding (most probably to his doom), discovering his shady -hopefully revolutionary, what with Mr. Robert Cath being Irish a few years before Ireland’s war for independence- past and finding out what it is I’m supposed to be doing. As for the newspaper clipping discovered in my pocket, the same clipping that let me know I was a wanted man, was too vague to enlighten me, but intriguing enough to get me hooked.
The Last Express
The game’s interface, on the other hand, is rather intuitive and more or less straight forward, despite the rather odd way the inventory works. Also, the fact that The Last Express is played in real time and comes complete with an incredibly handy rewind time feature, allows for complete freedom of exploration, true in-game choice and a relaxed pace. There simply is no anxiety for dead ends, which I thought -and still think- is necessary to enjoy such an investigation heavy adventure.
The first few hours are, after all, far from action-packed. As Robert Cath I fought a guy, sneaked around, eavesdropped and enjoyed the excellent French, Serbian, English, African and Russian accents, disposed of a body, got a feel for the train, helped an ageing aristocrat make it through the night, met some surprising characters and even hid in a toilet while waiting for a policeman to leave the train. I particularly enjoyed reading through a 1914 newspaper, that ominously foreshadowed the Great War.
The Last Express
Importantly I also found out that I’d better get the passenger list, some papers and a certain suitcase from the off-limits luggage compartment. Following characters and trying to either chat them up or spy on them proved quite a bit revealing too, whereas climbing in and out of my cabin’s window has not been particularly enlightening though incredibly fun, but, I’ll admit, hardly as elating as breathing the atmosphere of the turbulent and politically tense times before the First World War.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G3Cbw1Y9UQ[/youtube]
A Russian anarchist arguing with a young lady of a Czarist affiliation, a German capitalist that wants to purchase gold, Serbian patriots that had something to do with my deceased (and inelegantly disposed) comrade and some sort of colonial royalty make for an incredible assortment of characters, that turn the confined space of the train into a vibrant setting as lively as you’d imagine it. Oh yes, I might have not progressed as much as I’d hoped, but I’m definitely enjoying myself.


Game Gallery: Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Title Screen

One of my reasons for doing this is because, when I first started writing game reviews I found it really difficult to find decent quality screenshots, and half the ones I did find were tagged, which infuriates me. So, I started grabbing my own screenshots and, unlike so many other selfish tossers on the net, anyone is welcome to take my screenshots and use them for whatever they like. It would be nice if I could get a namecheck or something in return, but if not, no problem!

Telltale Texas Hold’ Em

Teltale Texas Hold em - Gameplay Screenshot
Poker Ladies. The sinuous ladies, that haunted my early youth. A sexy coin-op money-sink, that forced me to (illegally, according to my age at the time) enter seedy arcades in order to see badly-drawn manga-styled nude ladies doing naughty stuff. I did learn to play the American 52-card version of poker though, and I was only 13. Now, that’s something I call a good start in my life. And I owe it all to Poker Ladies. I could have of course waited for something more than a decade and enjoy their dancing for free in MAME, but that would have been too late. No one can pull through high school and university without decent poker skills, just like nowadays nobody can avoid stupidly watching Texas Hold’em tournaments on TV.
Teltale Texas Hold em - Gameplay Screenshot

 

Telltale Texas Hold’Em is not on TV, it’s on the PC instead. It was actually the first game released by the (hopefully) adventure maestros of Telltale, and has been around for quite some time. It is apparently a poker game. Of the Texas Hold’Em variety. This of course is neither a serious gambler’s tutoring software instructor, nor a hardcore/ultra-powerful simulation. Even though Telltale Texas Hold’em does play a decent and varied poker game, its great appeal is the atmosphere and the characters. Characters and atmosphere in a poker game I hear you say? Well, yes. You’ll be playing against four lovingly animated and fully 3d characters, each sporting a unique personality and thus a unique playing style. Their mid-game banter is excellent, amusing and at times downright funny, their facial expressions are great, and the whole thing is well directed. The camera pans, cuts and zooms correctly, the players look suspiciously around, move their chips, Grandma talks about her dead husbands and Boris tries to be a quite desperate bully. Voice acting is superb, and really helps flesh out those four quirky characters you’ll be gambling against. Characters that are a testimony to Telltale’s origins: none other than the 90s Lucasarts adventures.

The most impressive part of this game is the variety and quantity of the dialog included. You’ll need to play for quite some time before some expressions start feeling overused and even after 25 hours of poker action you’ll still hear the odd unexpected line and/or joke. Great writing and smart programming make all this possible in a download that’s less than 20 megas. Unfortunately not much else is included in those less-than-20- megas. There is only one mode of play, only 4 characters to play against, one room to gamble in, one possible screen resolution and a too simple tutorial/introduction text.

 

On the other hand, Telltale Texas Hold ‘Em only costs $12.99,and will definitely provide you with hours and hours of mindless entertainment. After all, you will quickly learn when to fold, when to raise your bet, when to bluff or when to call the other characters’ bluff.

Visit the official website and have a look. Download the demo; it’s the least you can offer yourselves.

That’s a (seven) out of (ten)

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).

Kevin Saffel: Heatwave Interactive

Heatwave Interactive logo

Name: Kevin Saffel

Company: Heatwave Interactive, Inc.

Profession: CTO (read: uber nerd)

Favorite Classic Game: Ultima 7 and Ultima 7 part 2

Quote: Fantastic RPG with a great party system.  In fact I love the entire Ultima series, including Ultima Online


Free Game – Hydorah

Free Game – Hydorah

In the spirit of 8 and 16 bit side scrolling shooters comes Hydorah, a free game from Locomalito.

Hydorah
Hydorah

The game is a lot of fun and plays a lot like NES/c64/Amiga games of this style like Gradius, Life Force, Disposable Hero, and Project X.

Upgrades, bosses, the usual!

You can download the full game here.

Just download the ISO and mount the game with your favorite virtual image program such as DaemonTools, Alcohol 110%, or PowerISO.

Thanks goes out to Joern Ashes for the recommendation!

Portal is Free!

Portal Logo
Portal Logo

Portal is Free!

Until May 24th, Portal is now free. The game is short and most people can beat it in a few hours, so it’s worth checking out this short classic before the free period runs out, if you don’t have it already.

Portal is available for PC and for Mac.

Click here to get the game free and play it now.

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move)

Bust-A-Move SNES screen
Bust-A-Move SNES screen

Puzzle Bobble review (Bust-A-Move) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“One of the CUTEST and ADDICTING puzzle games ever!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview, Gameplay, My History With This Game, Fun Factor, & Replayability:

Damn you, Taito… Puzzle Bobble is just so freaking cute and such a great time eater! I first saw this game when I would go to arcades and it would be the game that girls would hog all the time, especially asian girls.

Puzzle Bobble screenshot
Puzzle Bobble screenshot

The cute little dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, Bub and Bob, are back in their own little puzzle game. The game consists of the dinos manning a cannon that shoots different bubbles filled with specific enemies, basically colors, from Bubble Bobble. When you make 3 bubbles of one kind of color they pop. If there are any bubbles connected to them that were only being held there by that string then they pop too.

The game not only requires foresight as to what bubbles to blow up on time but skill as well. Only when you die do you get targeting bubbles that help you guide where the shot will land. The rest of the time you have to learn how to accurately fire bubbles and have them be effective. If you screw up by being slightly off you could have potentially ruined the easy way to pop bubbles quickly which is a problem considering every X number of seconds the stage moves down one bubble in length. If the stage reaches the bottom of the stage, you are so very, very dead.

This game not only makes you think quickly but requires you to react quickly as well, especially the further up the levels you get. I think that’s a good blend for some serious fun! This game is sometimes peaceful enough that it can be relaxing but once you get to the later stages it will make you cry as it owns you.

I’ve been playing this game since the mid 90s and I pick it up and put it down at least once a year. I give it a Fun Factor of 8 out of 10 and Replayability a score of 8 out of 10, considering almost 15 years worth of playing it!

I’ve played it a lot on the arcade, DOS, and the SNES version as well. Look below for a full list of all versions.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

The game starts out rather simple but it gets difficult on some stages quickly. There is no way to alter the difficulty but the game is challenging as it is. If you find it easy just fly through the levels and eventually you will get to a point where your skill is maxed out and then it will get really tested.

Difficulty gets a score of 8 out of 10 since it starts out a bit slow for me but later gets heavy, giving Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move) was released on the 3DO, arcade, Game Boy & Game Boy Advanced & Color, Game Gear, iPhone, mobile phones, N-Gage, Neo Geo & Neo Geo CD & Pocket, Nintendo DS & Gamecube & Wii, PC, Playstation 1 & 2 & PSP, Sega DreamCast, SNES, VG Pocket Caplet, WonderSwan, Xbox & Xbox 360 (XBLA).

Depending on what version you get will determine how much you’ll pay. I’d say this game would easily be worth $20 tops considering it’s age and considering how available it is for emulation on just about everything. Even at $20, it’s totally worth having in your game library. At that price I’d say Value gets a score of 8 out of 10. Anything less or free is worth a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

Just like everything, even the sound is cute in this game. When the level is about to start hearing them say “Ready……. Go!” or the popping sound goes really well with the theme of the game. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music sounds a lot like bubblegum, like j-pop but with a special arcady feel to it. It blends really well with the feel of the game and its repetitiveness makes you keep playing, at times. Even the little jingles when you beat levels are very uplifting happy songs. The music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

No version I’ve ever seen of this game on any platform has ever crashed, not even the DOS version I used to play. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

You don’t need many controls to play this game. Mastering the controls is another different matter though. Left moves left, right moves right, and the fire button simply launches the bubble. Again, mastering the exact spot where it will land takes skill, especially in the later stages and that aspect of the game requires aiming like a game of pool would. Controls get a score of 9 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

They made Bub and Bob even cuter than they were in Bubble Bobble and they have very much a very big Kawaii factor. The game is so cute it might make you ill. Graphics are really well drawn and they deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

The game never lags, no matter what version. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you love puzzle games and you’ve never played this, you must check it out. If you like Bubble Bobble and want to see the dinos killing stuff with their bubble cannon, you need this. If you like Kawaii stuff and cute games, you need this game badly.

***

You can play this game in the Obsolete Gamer arcade area.

Need for Speed World Trailer

NFS was classic racing and now Electronic Arts are working on releasing Need for Speed World which will be an MMO racer based on the NFS series. NFSW will feature single and co-op racing teams and something they are calling “epic online pursuits” which nobody seems to know exactly what that is yet, but we assume it has to do with chasing people across the game world. Nevertheless it sounds pretty cool.

Need For Speed World logo
Need For Speed World logo

 

The official website has a ton of new screenshots and information, but the real news is the beta. You can head on over to their beta sign up page by clicking here. Now for the trailer which comes to us from the official Obsolete Gamer YouTube page.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Trailer

Battlefield Bad Company 2 logo
Battlefield Bad Company 2 logo

So did you like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2? Well if you did or did not Bad Company 2 from the makers of Battlefield have launched a pretty awesome game. The style is a little more arcade than realistic, but it is fun as hell with pretty much everything you see able to be destroyed, its an action freaks wet dream. But hey, don’t take my word for it, check out this trailer from Our YouTube page.

Get ready for the most spectacular FPS multiplayer experience ever! Battlefield Bad Company 2™ brings the spectacular Battlefield gameplay to the forefront of next-gen consoles and PC – featuring best-in-class vehicular combat set across 8 huge sandbox maps each with a different tactical focus. New vehicles like the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and the UH-60 transport helicopter allow for all-new multiplayer tactics in the warzone, extensive tuning ensures that this will be the most satisfying vehicle combat experience to date.

Trine

Trine
Trine

Trine review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Symphony of the Night + The Lost Vikings + Out of This World = fun!”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Trine is a fantasy action puzzle platformer game that consists of three soul-bound characters that got trapped that way at the beginning of the game through magic making their way through each map in stages. You switch characters depending on which one you want to use, in the style of The Lost Vikings, only that all three characters take up the same place, rather than like in The Lost Vikings each being an independent character that you control once at a time.

The three characters are a mage, a rogue archer, and a warrior.

The mage can move objects around through magic and summon magic cubes/planks, which you can use to use to jump higher or drop on enemies.

The rogue archer is basically the most powerful character in the game. She can fire a ton of arrows that although they don’t do as much damage as the warrior, you can eventually fire multiple numbers of them and you can dispatch enemies safely at a distance. The best ability she has is firing a grappling arrow, sort of like the grappling hook gun that Batman has, which you can use to climb up, slide down, rock back and forth, swing, and all sorts of crazy acrobatics. She can light torches by firing flame arrows at them. For me, she’s basically the main character to use.

The warrior is supposed to be the main fighter, although the rogue archer is superior in my eyes. He mainly mashes things, whether parts of the terrain or boxes or enemies. He can also pick stuff up and move it around and he has a shield which absorbs most damage, so long as you angle it properly. He can also light torches, simply by chopping them with his sword.

There are 3 stats in this game, health, mana/energy, and XP.

Health is pretty self explanatory, with some enemies dropping hearts which can heal you. You can also heal by going to a checkpoint, if your health is lower than the minimum that difficulty setting designates as the minimum.

Mana/energy gets used up any time the mage does anything, or to do special attacks for the other two characters. The rogue archer mainly uses the energy to fire lit arrows when you pick up that power. The warrior uses energy to perform special attacks. You replentish mana/energy by going to the next checkpoint or by picking up blue vials which some enemies drop, which this is the most common drop in the game.

The last stat is XP. You pick this up in green vials that are scattered throughout the map (mainly in hard to reach places) and by killing enemies. When you get enough XP all three characters level up and you get a certain amount of character points which you use to purchase new powers or improve old ones.

The final thing to mention regarding general gameplay is that there are different treasures/loot hidden throughout the maps. Each one can boost your powers by a set amount or add a completely different kind of power to the character. For example, I picked up an item which lets my mage swim under water for unlimited amounts of time.

The game gets told as a fairy tale story, and it’s really well done in that sense.

As of the time of this writing, this game is only available on PC. You can play the demo here from Steam.

This is an indie title by Frozenbyte. It has gained a lot of acclaim/awards from other gaming sites. Overall, it’s a great, although short game.

Fun Factor:

This game is a lot of fun, especially the first time through. There are many different approaches and solutions towards getting through an area or fighting enemies and to me that makes for an intelligent game, which most games are not these days, especially a platformer game. The atmosphere and way the game got made keeps you playing. The first time I played the game I was dead tired and started playing it at 11 PM. I went to bed that day at 5 AM.

For the first playthrough I give the game a Fun Factor score of 9 out of 10. For the repeat plays, I give it a score of 6 out of 10, maybe even 7 if it’s been a while.

Difficulty Versatility:

There are different difficulties but they are mostly the same. The only difference I found in game play is that the amount of health that you get when a character dies and resurrects at the checkpoints is lowered the harder you set it. I got really good at this game real fast so I would recommend playing it right from the start at the max difficulty. Most of the game is pretty easy to me, but some parts are tricky. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 6 out of 10.

Value:

When I got this game it was $5 (when I announced the sale last time). At that cost, the game is an amazing value.

When it’s not on sale, this game usually goes for about $20. At the time of this writing, you can get it for that much through ebgames.com in DVD and also as the downloaded version. You can get it for the same price through Steam.

You can also get it from Impulse here, which is one of our sponsors.

Trine
$19.99

For $20, considering it took me 5-6 hours to beat the game the first time, it’s not so much a great value. At that cost, I’d give Value a score of 4 out of 10. At a cost of $10, I’d give it a 6 out of 10. At $5, I’d give Value a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

This is a pretty short game. I’ve played it twice so far and the game was predictable the entire 2nd playthrough. I have a good memory and since I just played it back to back, I will probably revisit this game in a year or two. I’d give replayability a 4 out of 10, mainly because it’s such a well made game and the action is well done.

Sound:

The voice acting for the game is great. I enjoy when they argue with each other, regarding the path they are taking for solving the main plot. It’s comical. The mage is a shy dork, the rogue archer is a hot sexy lady, and the warrior is a dumb jock.

The sound effects are well done too. The arrows sound real. The smashing of the warrior’s sword or the impact on his shield sound amazing. Sound gets a score of 8 out of 10. I would have given it a higher score, if it had more voice acting.

Music:

The music for the game is beautiful. It goes well with the atmostphere and the fairy tale setting. The music sometimes reminds me of a Tim Burton kind of fairy tale movie. Danny Elfman would be proud! It is written by Ari Pulkkinen. I wish it were available for download. The music from Trine gets a score of 10 out of 10. It’s simply beautiful.

Graphics:

The game looks beautiful. It reminds me sort of the style that the first Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen had, only from the point of view of a side-scrolling platformer instead of the top down and not pixelated at all. They look well drawn and the game is simply beautiful. For what this game is, the Graphics deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game runs rock solid even while alt-tabbing the living hell out of it. Nothing to complain here. It loads up quickly as well each time. Stability/Reliability gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple and fluid. Standard WASD + mouse combo work like a charm for Trine. Once you’ve played the game for a while, you will be able to use each character almost as if it’s second nature to you. It doesn’t take long to get used to the controls. Eventually you will find yourself just drilling everything with the rogue archer and the enemies won’t stand a chance. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs perfectly on most gaming machines, even some obsolete ones. I never saw lag, not even once during any part of this game. The levels load up quickly as well. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This was one of over 300 games I bought during the Steam holiday sale. Although the game is short I enjoyed playing it as much nearly as when I played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the first time. I would recommend it to people who like that game a lot, who are PC gamers.

Titan Quest: Gold Edition sale on Steam only $4.99

Titan's Quest Expansion
Titan's Quest Expansion

The great Steam sale of 2010 continues with Titan Quest and Titan Quest – The Immortal Throne both for only $4.99.

Check out the review here.

From developer THQ and Age of Empires co-creator Brian Sullivan and Braveheart writer Randall Wallace comes an innovative, action role playing game set in ancient Greece, Egypt and Asia.

The Titans have escaped their eternal prison, wreaking havoc upon the earth. The gods seek a hero who can turn the tide in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of both men and gods

The link for to get the game through Steam for $5 is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/402/

Steam Sale – all of X-COM for $2

X-COM 1 Manual
X-COM 1 Manual

Steam Sale – all of X-COM for $2

The X-COM games are the best tactical combat games where you take on aliens with great AIs. You can get all 5 games for $2 total through Steam.

The two first games are the best ones and they’re totally worth getting, at any price.

The link to the Steam sale is the following:

http://store.steampowered.com/sub/964/

Steam Sale – both Freedom Force games for $2 total!

Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich
Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich

Steam Sale – both Freedom Force games for $2 total!

The Freedom Force games are the BEST action-rpg-RTS games ever made for super hero comic book characters. Get them both for $2 total!

You get the original Freedom Force and the sequel Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich.

You can get them through Steam at the following link:

http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1662/

Steam Sale – Tropico 3 for $14

Tropico 3 cover
Tropico 3 cover

Steam Sale – Tropico 3 for $14

Oppressing the masses never felt so good as for $14! If you don’t know Tropico, you take the role of your “favorite” dictator and run your own Cuba, in the style of a Sim City game only with people trying to kill you.

Tropico 3 is currently on sale through Steam for $13.60 at the following link:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/23490/

Psychonauts for sale on Steam for only $2

Psychonauts cover
Psychonauts cover

Psychonauts for sale on Steam for only $2

Psychonauts, Tim Schafer’s best game, only for $2 through Steam! This is one of the best platformer/puzzle games ever made. It’s one of my favorites! Must have!!!!!!

The link to get it is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3830/

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved

Geometry Wars in game screenshot
Geometry Wars in game screenshot

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return and revenge of classic arcade games.”

 

 

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

 

Overview:

Back in the 80s, people would usually flock to arcades to see what new hard arcade games would come out and they would try to see who could get the highest score in their neighborhood. Arcade games were really hard back then since they were designed for you to keep dropping in quarters in order to keep playing in order to try to beat your friends’ scores. Continues? Never heard of that! Those days are gone but now thanks to games like this one, the challenge from those games has returned.

This game needs no storyline.You’re a spaceship/triangle and you’re trying to survive for as long as you can. You move around and shoot with endless enemies coming for you at all times. If anything touches you, you die. It’s that simple. After 10000 points, your fire modes alternate from rapid fire to a more concentrated but slower attack. You have no control over this. The only special thing that can save you when you’re really screwed is the nukes you get, in limited numbers. The game awards you with extra lives, nukes when you reach a specific score point (and multiples of that score amount).

The longer you live and the more/faster you kill, the higher your score multiplier will be. When you die, you lose a life and ALL your score multiplier. Basically, try to never die because as you have a high multiplier if you are really good you will reach a point where if you manage to stay alive you will get a 1-up/nuke much faster, but most people will not get to see that point in the game.

There are different kinds of enemies each with their own attack style pattern. The most basic enemy, a star just comes at you in a linear path, so they’re usually easy to dispatch. There is a diamond shape one that does about the same only that they spawn in groups. There is a green square cowardly one that will stay away from whatever direction you’re shooting in, will try to go around you to tag (kill) you. There is a pink one that when you kill will spawn two smaller enemies that will go kamikaze for you in a circular pattern. You have a snake one (I call them sperm) that you can only kill by shooting the head off. There is a black hole enemy that eats other enemies and also draws you in via gravity, but the best attack is also has is spitting out really fast seeker enemies when it ate until it burst. There is also a red version of you enemy that tries to ram you and has a forward facing shield (forcing you to trick it and shoot it in the back). The deadliest enemy is the smallest, taking form in a pack of “snow” that you have to shoot endlessly to try to hold back.

Geometry Wars is available for PC, Xbox 360, and also for Nintendo Wii and DS.

Fun Factor:

This game is really unforgiving. Enemies constantly keep spawning, sometimes on top of you, so that you need to keep moving at all times and alert every single second. Usually, the faster you kill enemies the faster you will have to deal with the next wave of enemies. Later on, the game will spawn more than one batch at a time, usually of different kinds of enemies that complement each other.

Here is an example of how insane this game is and how ridiculous the gameplay and your nerves will get:

The game is a pure adrenaline injection into your heart. Fun Factor is a 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is really hard for 99.9% of all people. The longer you play Geometry Wars, the harder it gets, no matter what. You are doomed from the start as the game has no end until you run out of lives. The difficulty is simple for about the first 2-3 minutes and then you will start to see it grow at a geometric rate.

This is not a game for a casual gamer, but then again hard arcade games aren’t either. If you’re like me and like hard game, this game is going to be a favorite. You can’t change the difficulty… the game does it for you! Difficulty Versatility gets a 10 out of 10.

Value:

For the Xbox 360, you can just get it from the Xbox Marketplace for a few dollars. For the PC, the game costs $4 via Steam. The link to get Geometry Wars via Steam is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/app/8400/

Considering how challenging and fun this game is, the game is of great Value. If you are a fan of classic arcade games and MAME, you need it. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Literally, this is a game I play every day, myself.

This game is part of my daily routine of games, when I feel like training myself to build up more/better reflexes. I would usually turn on my computer and play this game until I would reach a minimum high score that I set for myself based on how recent I’ve been playing the game. As soon as I reach that score I let myself go play some other games. It’s part of my gaming “exercise.”

If you get mad at it or sick of it, you can always put it down and come back to it weeks or months later and the charm of the game always returns. Replayability gets a 10 out of 10 from me.

Sound:

All the sound effects are reminiscent of classic 80s arcade games such as Warlords or Sinistar. There are many zapping and electronic kind of sounds that will put a smile on an old gamer’s face. The rapid fire upgrade and the black hole enemy blowing up, as well as the nuke going off are particularly gratifying. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a menu song which is pretty relaxing and an in game song that sounds like a mix of early Sega, Nintendo NES, and Amiga game music. Although you will hear this song over and over, it does not get boring or annoying. It fits the theme of the game really well and it will keep your adrenaline in synch with the action, especially if you set the volume of your speakers/headphones up really loud. The action sometimes drowns the music. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10, simply because of the limited selection of music.

Graphics:

Graphically, this game is like a remix of all those retro 80s arcade games you grew up playing. The game is such amazing eye candy that it makes one glad that small games like this are being released, bringing back the spirit of the original arcade, despite the fact that many original arcade games only had rudimentary graphics. “Retro Evolved” … the subtitle was chosen correctly as this is a rebirth/return of the classics.

You shoot enemies and they shatter into a thousand micro pixel vectors. There are so many things on the screen and they all look familiar in a good way (although they all kill y0u in one hit). The game gives one the feeling of holding down the fire buttons just to watch a stream of volleys shatter a cluster of enemies. Graphics get a 1o out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

I used to have an issue with this game and my old graphics card (an ATI 1950 Pro) where it would run out of video memory and freeze up the computer forcing me to reset the whole thing. On my newer gaming PC I’ve pretty much never had this problem, although I remember it might have done it once or twice. Other than that, the game is pretty solid. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 6 out of 10, mainly of how bad the crashes were on some older video cards/systems. The Xbox 360 version has no problems.

Controls:

The controls are really simple. Half your keyboard/game pad moves you around in the obvious direction, the other half makes you shoot in that direction. The only other button you need is the nuke, which is the spacebar for the PC version. ESC key pauses whenever you want.

Combos or special moves aren’t going to keep you alive in this game. Only tactics and pure skill really do make a difference. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs fine on most computers. I’ve seen it lag on some machines that are not necessarily the fastest gaming machines but you’d imagine it would still run fine since it’s a 2D game. The game though does have a lot of action going on at all times. The Xbox version runs perfectly. Overall, Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I kept hearing about this game from Xbox 360 players, saying how good it is. I decided to pick up the PC version for a few bucks and it was a really good decision.

When I first got Geometry Wars I basically spent 3 days doing nothing but playing it non-stop until my hands hurt. As I said before, I usually play this game daily. It usually can wake me up even more than drinking 2-3 cups of cafe con leche.

There is a sequel for this game and it looks amazing but I don’t yet have an xbox 360. If I get to play it or get my hands on one of those consoles, I can assure you I will get it and review it for you.