Street Fighter Alpha

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Street Fighter Alpha

When I was a kid Street Fighter II was one of the coolest games we had on SNES. The series had seen many editions, spin-offs, and sequels, but this is the first time I really played the Alpha series. Since PSN has classics for the original Playstation, I thought I’d start with first Street Fighter Alpha.
street fighter alpha
Alpha was called Street Fighter Zero in Japan, as it is a prequel. Though it’s really the first real successor to Street Fighter II. It’s also more similar to II than III or IV. You have a fair amount of characters with a couple of stages. Old favorites like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li are here but new ones like Charlie and Rose join the cast.
street fighter alpha
Overall it plays like a sightly superior Street Fighter II though some of the characters I didn’t care much for. There also isn’t a whole lot to the game either. Just an arcade mode and a versus mode. Typical for a fighting game in the 1990s, but now we expect a tad more.
street fighter alpha
I think Street Fighter Alpha is a great game, though as a fan of the series it does feel a bit like deja-vu. Why I was a bit curious to see what the original Alpha was like, I’m now regretting going to it instead of the the third game. I hear it’s got a lot more characters and improvements than the original.

Gex: Enter The Gecko (PSOne)

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

Gex: Enter The Gecko

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

Gex - PSOne

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

Gex - PSOne

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

Gex - PSOne

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

 [Check out Simon’s Homepage]

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis

Price: $5.99

Original release date: September 22nd 1999

Release date on PSN: December 3rd, 2009

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Story

This episode of the Resident Evil chronicles follows Jill Valentine who was in the original game in the series and you are in control of her for most of the game. Once again you’re stuck in Raccoon City, and of course it’s full of zombies and yes you have to escape.

Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis

The problem with this story is that it doesn’t compare to that of RE2, in the previous game you get two characters to play as, and even though you play through a lot of similar areas the storyline is so much more interesting. As well the characters actually have motivations I can understand, the story in RE3 on the other hand, feels thrown together, and I don’t find myself caring for anyone in this game, nearly as much as I did in the former.

Gameplay

The gameplay is mostly the same as the other two, except you get a nice 90 degree turn move by pushing down and then the run button which really makes the game a lot easier. It’s still clunky by today’s standards though, and having played through the first three games back to back to back it’s really starting to grate on me. If you’re familiar with the other two in the series though, you’ll be at home with this.

Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis

As I said before, you’re only in control of one character in this game, and the campaign is quite a bit shorter than RE2 (like half as short). Now to be fair most of the last game was back-tracking, but because of the story that drove me through it I didn’t mind. This iteration though, re-uses a lot of locations from RE2, and I was really looking forward to some new environments, but it all looked the same, nothing new to see here, sadly.

Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis

If you notice the Nemesis in the title you’ll wonder what that is, Nemesis is another bio-weapon from Umbrella corp. that chases you around trying to wipe out the last members of S.T.A.R.S. of which your character is the final one remaining. We already had something like this in RE2 again, and if feels just like a recycling of the last game. The difference is in RE3 you get two options each time he appears, usually between fight or flee. Depending on which one you choose you’ll see a few different areas of the game, but make no mistake this is linear progression, and Nemesis is there to get you to hurry up. But because most encounters with him let you press a button and escape, he doesn’t feel like much of a threat.

Graphics

Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis

They are once again very much the same from RE2, some of the environments were recycled as well, and it does sort of seem like it was thrown together with spare parts. One thing that stands out in this one is the pre-rendered cut scenes. Characters during these scenes display believable emotions, and that’s a huge step up from the last game. Other than that, it’s a cookie cutter cut and paste of RE2’s graphics.

How it holds up today

I must say after RE2 I was really interested on where this series was going, but I found myself disappointed with how this game turned out. There’s a lot of action to be sure, but after the other two games I don’t feel there’s much of a threat to the same slowly moving zombies, and blowing there heads off, while still enjoyable, started to lose its charm…

Resident Evil 3 - Nemesis

I’m happy that I finally finished the trilogy, and plan to play the rest of the series because it’s so influential in gaming, but this one dragged on for me, it didn’t have me glued to my console like the last one did (and took me a few weeks to complete compared to the week or so the last one took). Also I completed the campaign in a measly 6 hours, while the other two games in the series were much longer.

If you have the choice between all three RE games, go for the second, it has the best story, epic bosses, and is a real heart pumping experience. This latest one was still enjoyable, but not up to expectations. Perhaps RE: Code Veronica on my Dreamcast will treat me better.

7/10

Capcom Vs. SNK: Pro

Capcom Vs SNK Pro PS1

Capcom Vs. SNK: Pro

I had played Capcom Vs. SNK 2 EO on Gamecube many years back. I’ve never played the original game though. I was kinda surprised my girlfriend had an old copy of the game. Not terribly excited to play the original, but I’ll give it a shot.
Capcom Vs SNK Pro PS1
The game is basically the same version as the one in the arcade except with a few new features and whatnot. It was a pretty big deal back in the day since it was the first time Ryu could fight Terry Bogard or Chun-Li could fight Mai Shiranui. It offers a suprisngly large cast of characters. I remember being far more disappointed in the original Marvel Vs. Capcom for such a small cast in comparison to the 2nd game.
Capcom Vs SNK Pro PS1
It’s basically what you would expect from Capcom in the past 15 years. Since I already played the 2nd game to death, I was a tad unthrilled at the offerings on the table. I was also mad that they didn’t include analog control even though the PS1 version was released in 2002. I loathe the PS1’s D-pad, and during fighting games my hands feel cramped and the stiff buttons prevent me from reaching my true potential. If you’re not bothered by the PS1/PS2 controller’s D-pad then this a decent fighter, but there’s plenty of better ones to choose from.

Score: 7 out of 10 

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-
Release date on PSN: July 17th 2007

              Original release date: October 2nd 1997

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Story

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

Castlevania is about the castle Dracula, and you play his son Alucard (Dracula backwards) as you try to defeat your father and banish him once again. There have been many Castlevania games, and this one is a direct sequel to Castlevania Bloodlines, but having not played that, I didn’t feel too lost in the story. It’s the gameplay we’re going for in this one.

Gameplay

SOTN as it’s called is a basic 2d beat em up type dungeon crawler. If you’ve played one 2d Castlevania, you’ve played them all, but this gameplay really works well and it’s extremely satisfying. The difficulty in this game is pretty high though, and dying is a huge pain due to the lack of a continue screen, and that it took me a while to figure out how to save (read the manual on this one!). Once while playing around with the controls I found a spell that kills everyone on screen and then heals you for the damage you caused. It was a life saver! But it didn’t make it too easy.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

The game is non-linear in a fashion, in that you have to go through the castle, searching for new abilities that allow you to access new areas. The amount of abilities is staggering as well, from turning into a bat, to spells, tones of special equipment, swords and armor, and collecting all of these really got me addicted (not to mention leveling up your character as well).  Not just OCD to collect everything, but because they added new elements to the gameplay, and gave you more options to defeat the bosses.

The boss fights in the game aren’t revolutionary gameplay wise, you’ll be hitting them with your sword just as you do with all the enemies in the game, your jump and strike skills will be tested, but once you memorize the patterns you’ll plow through them.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

What is interesting is the scope of the Castle, every part feels different which makes it easy to remember where you are, and where you’re supposed to go (the map helps too). Half-way through the game however (if you use a special item during what seems to be the final battle) the castle will flip over and you’ll play through the castle again (upside-down) while collecting more cool items and defeating more bosses. There are many endings; I didn’t go through them all, but those I witnessed were interesting and worth the playtime.

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

At the time 3D gaming was coming into its own, but was usually poorly executed. The makers of SOTN made a smart decision in keeping the game 2D and making those graphics detailed and colorful. Some use was made of 3D though on some enemies. This really makes them pop out from the screen and they make for a good contrast.

The style of the game is slick as well. The design of the spaces shows a lot of time was put into it. With every area of the castle looking very unique, along with the monsters you’ll be killing in each area, it just adds that extra something that keeps it from being a grind, and more of an exploration.

How it holds up today

Castlevania- Symphony of the Night-

When I first started playing Symphony of the Night, I couldn’t get into it. I would die constantly, and it wasn’t much fun. But once I got over the learning curve I found a compelling experience that really had me hooked. The story was somewhat interesting, but it was the castle that drew me in, and the abilities I was unlocking that kept me going. And as well as colorful graphics and varied locations the music was spectacular, spooky, but catchy; a great companion while playing.

I was skeptical to begin, but the game soon won me over with its timeless style and classic gameplay. For ten bucks, this is a great time eater.

9/10

Played through on a PSP-3001 approx 12 hours playtime.

If you love the music of SOTN as much as I do check out the OST here.

Also for some humor based on SOTN check out this article.

Dragon Ball GT Final Bout

Dragon Ball GT Final Bout

So another week and another game of the week! This time around we have a very obscure classic that had a too little, too late release during the Playstation’s ending life time. Behold, Dragon Ball GT Final Bout! Why is it worth a mention? Just read on and find out!

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

The music is quite popular and unique for Dragon Ball games but this one is more of a hit n miss. There are some tunes that are quite catchy but other ones are just totally bland. It would’ve been real wise to bring the songs from the series into the game. I mean, it was a no-brainer. Overall though, you have a decent soundtrack and worth a remix or two if you are into that type of stuff. On the other hand, the voice acting is truly amazing as they had the real voice actors represent their respective characters. Makes you think, why not make the music from the series as well!

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

The game has very good graphics. The 3D is very detailed but of course it would’ve been a lot better with some more work. There are times where objects disappear but it rarely happens. The different battle fields are OK at the most. They do resemble parts of the anime series but somehow always fall flat. A little more animation would’ve helped a lot. Overall, just OK graphics and character animation is good at most. The voice acting does help but not as much.

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

The gameplay suffers a lot in this game. If you don’t have any patience then you’ll be looking to turn this game off as soon as possible. The game has a very odd control scheme but you can get used to it in time. The best part is when you go against the computer or a friend and battle it out with a button mashing power shooting extravaganza!

Dragonball GT - Final Bout

This game is always great when you have your friends over. It’s so crappy at times that you’ll want to get drunk in order to enjoy it even more. Believe me, you’ll enjoy it. It has a lot of other options such as a level up system where you can train your own Z fighter and then save the information on your memory card, take it to your friend’s home and use your memory card saved fighter data to go up against your friend’s created fighter. A little confusing? Nah, I don’t think so!

Overall, this game is a very good gimmick. You’ll end up enjoy it from time to time. There is a lot to love about this title especially in nights where you just wanna step back into the prime of the Dragon Ball series. The game has three different versions as well. There is the original that came out in Japan back in 1997, the release here in 1997, and the re-release which I believe came out in 2003. Get either one and you’ll be alright. Until next week!

Gamer Profile: Ryan Culver

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For the arcade, don’t ask me why, but for some reason I was always drawn to Gyruss.  Every time I would hit an arcade, I’d play a bunch of games but always look for Gyruss.  Maybe it was something to do with wanting to fly but I also liked how the ship moved in that cool arc around the outside of the screen and everything came flying out of the middle.  I don’t know anyone else who actually liked that game, but I was bummed when I stopped being able to find it at the arcades. ~Ray Culver

Ryan_Culver

Favorite Classic Arcade Game: Gyruss

Favorite Classic Console Game: Super Mario Bros.

As far as my favorite classics, I have two, an arcade game and a console game.

Now one of my most memorable video game experiences was playing the original NES at my friend’s house as a kid and working every night to beat Super Mario Bros.  It was by far the most popular and talked about game at that time and the big challenge then was to beat that dragon.  We had gotten there a couple times before but got killed, so every time you made it to the last part, you’d get nervous, like something real was actually on the line.  You would get all set and sit up straight, ready to go, and then you would just go and go and go and then all of a sudden it’s over and we got to see what the end was like and how it all wrapped up.  I still remember exactly the night we beat that game for the first time.  We talked about it a lot at school that next week.

I got into Zelda and Metroid and Punch Out and others after that, but even after finishing those games, nothing stuck with me like that night I first beat SMB.  The funny thing is, back then it felt like it took forever to get through one of those games.  But a few months ago I sat down with a girlfriend to play some old school NES and we pulled out Contra.  I think it was less than an hour and we had gotten all the way to the end of that game.  I hadn’t played the old stuff in a long time and it made me appreciate how far gaming has come over the years.

I see some of the stuff now and I don’t think we ever thought it could look like it does now back then.  Getting to be a part of that process was blast and I look forward to doing more in the future.

More on Ryan:

Ryan on The Obsolete Gamer Show

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Ryan Culver is an actor who among many other projects played Nathan Drake for the PlayStation commercial for PlayStation’s All-Star Battle Royale. The guys not only nails the look for Nathan Drake, but is actually a man of action and adventure himself flying people all over the world.

Check out his commercial:

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Check out our podcast with Ryan here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Alien Trilogy

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Format- Playstation

Genre- FPS

Alien Trilogy

In my local car boot copies of Alien Trilogy pop up all the time, and I always ask myself – is it just because the game was popular in terms of sales, or are people really keen to toss it away like an errant facehugger?

In all honesty I think it’s both. I recall my dad playing the game a fair bit back in the day, and getting annoyed at its difficulty and resorting to cheat codes to progress. Perhaps it was hated by most people, i’m not sure.

But playing it now, it’s not bad. No masterpiece, but it has its charm. It can be difficult sure, but that’s because of two main flaws.

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

First, the controls are tough to use with any grace. The game was made when precise aiming wasn’t really part and parcel of FPS games, and therefore you’re pretty much lumbered with a control scheme that makes you feel like a ham-fisted fool.

Think Doom and it’s ‘all shooting on one plain’ philosophy. You eventually adapt to Alien Trilogy’s control related foibles, but don’t expect to ever truly embrace them.

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Second, the game is dark. Really dark. See the screenshot above? See how it’s hard to pick out much in terms of concrete objects? Expect to employ that level of squinty eyed-ness for the whole game.

That screenshot is one of the brighter I could find as well. The main advantage of this overpowering bleakness is that it helps to build atmosphere – but damn it’s dark.

Get over these two problems and you have a rather endearing shooter. Perhaps endearing isn’t the right term for a game which sees you working through gloomy corridors, ever aware of a lurking alien threat, but for me it sums up the game quite well.

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Some elements of the game are surprisingly well implemented for example. The enemy tracker nestled at the bottom right of the screen tells you roughly where aliens are, with small bloops alerting you to their increasing proximity. This can result in some brilliantly tense encounters.

In fact, the game thrives on offering up small memorable moments rather than offering a completely captivating experience.

Your first attack by a face-hugger. The first time you see an alien zig-zagging it’s way to you emerging from the darkness. Small bonus levels which have you gathering as many collectibles as you can within a time limit. All great

Alien_Trilogy-Psone

Of course, you have a fair bit of drudgery, muddy design, dodgy weapons, and repetition to go alongside these spikes of excitement, but for an old PS FPS Alien Trilogy offers a lot more bang for your buck than you’d expect.

It probably sold a lot off the Alien license, but putting that to one side the game isn’t bad by its own merits. Set your standards accordingly and this is a game that deserves to be fondly remembered by more gamers.

So if you see a copy in your local car boot (and going by mine you probably should) and it’s a low enough price, pick it up.

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

lunar silver star storyLunar: Silver Star Story Complete

The game Lunar didn’t rang a bell to many as only real savvy Sega fans would know of its existence. The game was original released for the Sega CD and many thought it was a lost gem. Working Designs decided to port it to the original Playstation and this is the result. An amazing cinematic RPG of mass proportions! Lets take a look at it….
lunar silver star story
The music really reflects the beauty and atmosphere of this game. If there is anything this game stands out on is the music. You might see it today as a dated game but the music will always shine on this one. We all still listen to Beethoven right? Enough said!

lunar silver star storyThe graphics could have been better but they were good enough. You’ll feel like if you are playing a SNES RPG at times due to the graphics module the developers decided to use and lets face it, with games such as Final Fantasy 7, the standard of how RPGs played and are supposed to look like was raised. It won’t affect much of the gameplay anyways as it’s what the game’s strong point is.
lunar silver star storyWith every RPG comes every type of gameplay. You will find yourself battling through tough bosses and dungeons in this one. This game is not as easy as you might think so you better be ready to use all your skills for it. The challenge factor is what makes you keep coming for more so in a way it’s not too tough that you would want to rip your head off but it’s also not too easy to make it a cakewalk. Just try it for yourself.

lunar silver star story

RPGs are very tough when it comes to replay value as they tend to take a long time to finish so this will depend on how a hardcore a RPG gamer you are. You can’t say not to a second run at this beauty. If you overpass the difficulty, then you’ll be fine and enjoy multiple hours of this masterpiece.

The game delivers an experience like no other. You will fall in love with the characters and storyline. This game will suck you in from start to finish! Be sure to pick it up even though it could be pricey!

Next Gen Xbox to play all PlayStation Games

xbox 720

Next Gen Xbox to play all PlayStation Games

In an announcement that will shake the console world Microsoft announced today that the next generation Xbox will play all current and future PlayStation games. “Let’s face it, we are an overpriced Blu-Ray player.” A Sony spokesman said. “Sure, we might feel like Xerox after seeing Windows, but when you are losing to a console named after a bodily function you have to make drastic changes.”

We asked an Xbox rep what game most fans are looking to play from the PlayStation library. “Well I was going to say Uncharted.” The spokesman said. “But then part three came out.” We asked how much will this added feature cost but we could not make out the answer from all the launching.

More not to come.

Happy April Fools.

Ehrgeiz

ehrgeiz

One of the more obscure games with Final Fantasy characters came out on the Playstation. With Squaresoft growing power with such great titles as Final Fantasy VII and Saga Frontier it was time to take it to the ring with their own style. Enter Ehrgeiz! With such a unique way that rivals those of Tobal who of course was also made by Squaresoft. The game itself is a joy to play especially as there are different ways to play it.

ehrgeiz

 

You have the basic story mode which you’ll pick a character (including Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth) To battle against others to the end. I played through it and it’s quite an enjoyable experience especially if you find the bugs to make the fights even easier. The does show the Squaresoft brand with the quest mode as you can pick from two characters that will go to the dungeon, level up, and explore. This is where this game hits the high point. If you want an incredible explorer experience with RPG elements, then this is all you need to look for.

ehrgeiz

The game’s music is lacking as there isn’t any. the game is as quiet a game will get. I’m not sure if this is the same deal with the Japanese release but we’ll just leave it at that. The sound effects though are enduring and sound like how they are supposed to. Even the Final Fantasy characters have voices believe it or not which are brief but understandable.

ehrgeiz

The graphics are very good and sharp. The game does deliver some of the best graphics for its day. Squaresoft did a good job making the characters look how they are supposed to. Just think about this, remember how the Final Fantasy VII characters looked in the game? Well, look at them in this game and tell me they don’t look better. Tifa’s boobs are yummier than ever!

ehrgeiz

The gameplay as I mentioned before is quite enjoyable. You can play through the story mode in less than half an hour but the quest mode will take a lot longer. You have to use your best skills in order to get through the quest. But, the controller will take you to wherever you need to go, that’s for sure!

ehrgeiz

As for replay value, you have a lot to replay here. If you want to beat the story mode with all the different characters, you can do that although you’ll battle through all of them in the same order which makes it repetitive. This brings me to the fact that you are better off playing the quest mode as there are different places to explore and it will keep you interested over and over. But once it’s over, you are welcomed to try again.

Overall it’s a great game that you shouldn’t miss and even though it could be a little pricey on the bay, I wouldn’t mind spending the extra bucks for it. I hope you enjoyed this week’s retro game of the week. Until next week!

Memories of Multiplayer

Ryan Culver

This week on the Obsolete Gamer Show we had a chance to interview Ryan Culver who played Nathan Drake for the PlayStation commercial for PlayStation’s All-Star Battle Royale. The guys not only nails the look for Nathan Drake, but is actually a man of action and adventure himself flying people all over the world.

Check out his commercial here:

In our panel discussion we talk about our memories of playing multiplayer games be it with a bunch of friend in our homes or thousands of players online and all the good and bad the comes with playing with others. Remember you can download our podcasts on ITunes and now we are available on Stitcher Radio.

Or listen here.

Doom

So here we have a game that needs no introduction. Every other FPS developer today should have a portrait of this game in their studio. Doom changed the way we looked at FPS and turned out to be a classic for the ages. Is it still fun to this day? Lets find out!
Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot
Doom as very popular for many things and the music was one of them. With such a great soundtrack, the PC version turned out to be the most played shareware ever. This was even before internet became a household name! Turning to the Playstation version, I was shocked that they took out the soundtrack but instead added a very interesting soundtrack. You mostly hear monsters and what not in the background with a mix of environmental music. It’s quite freaky at times especially when you are in very dark rooms. I must say it doesn’t make me miss the PC version’s soundtrack and gives a twist to an already twisted game.
Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot

Graphics in this game are everything you could hope for. The blood is there, levels are detailed, and everything looks to be in place. Overall, you have a very fun and viewable version of Doom that will keep you in pace to the finish line. I’m sure you won’t get lost. Also, I’m glad you can still shoot near the acid barrels to blow up your enemies to pieces. That’s always so enjoyable.

Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot

The developers of this game were savvy enough to make good use of the Playstation controller. Not only are not going to miss your keyboard but you’ll also have an easy time getting used to the controller. You’ll be using R1 and L1 buttons quite often as they are the ones that make you move left or right in order to dodge your enemies attacks especially those fireballs. You will be able to battle any enemies with easy movement! In the end, this is Doom! You can’t any better than this.

Doom - Sony Playstation - gameplay screenshot

This is probably one of the most replayable FPS games ever. You can go through it, get your password, and continue later. You then finish the game and start the game again. The thing is that this game has such enjoyable gameplay especially with blowing up your enemies that it becomes addictive. You can always go back to this game and replay each level, discover its secrets, and have a great time. You must find all the secrets period!

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To conclude this entry, the game is a perfect port of the PC version and would be a great addition to any FPS fan especially from the golden age of FPS. You will have lots of endless hours of fun with this one. If you really want to be mega old school, you can always get another Playstation with another TV set and another copy of Doom to play against each other. This is how things were done back then! Hope you enjoyed this week’s pick!

Final Fantasy III Coming to PSN

Final Fantasy 3

Final Fantasy III Coming to PSN

Fans of the classic Final Fantasy series will soon be able to play FF3 on their PSP. Final Fantasy 3 was originally released in 1990 by Square and was the first of the series to offer the job system. You start out as freelancers and over time will be able to learn one of 23 different jobs.

Final Fantasy 3 - gameplay screenshot

Now there will be some enchantments for the PSP version including optimized graphics for the 16:9 screen, an image gallery, and an option to switch to the original background music. Also included will be an auto-battle system that doubles the speed of in game combat.

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Final Fantasy III will be available Tuesday September 25th on the PlayStation Network.

Yu-Gi-Oh Forbidden Memories

Yu-Gi-Oh!_-_Forbidden_Memories-PS1-Gameplay screenshot

In commemoration to my return to playing the good old never ending confusing Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, I decided to dig this game up and talk a bit about it. This game is one of the first to be released here in the states when the crazy Yu-Gi-Oh! trend took off. Believe it or not, I though that the rules of this game were also the same rules for the trading card game and I was real wrong. It was funny to play this game for a while and then pick up a deck and play with those rules. It did made things interesting but I guess there was some satisfaction in summoning a Blue Eyes White Dragon with no sacrifices needed. Also, the rule of having five cards at all times in your hand made the game very interesting to play but uneven in many ways.

Yu-Gi-Oh!_-_Forbidden_Memories-PS1-Gameplay screenshot

But enough about old embarrassing memories, the game itself does play in very confusing fashion and it’s nowhere similar to the card game so for those of you who know how to play the card game, forget those rules and listen to this. Each monster contains elements which you can combine to give you advantage over other monsters. It’s like when a type of monster is stronger than the other one like in Pokemon. You have to fuse your cards together to obtain stronger monsters. You can also use magic cards and trap cards. The rules on this game though only lets you use one card from your hand per turn. That means you can either fuse a bunch of monsters together or use a magic card, or set a trap card. This gives you a lot of headaches especially when you don’t know what the effects of some cards are. Believe me, you’ll be as clueless as I am.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65iiHICGmQo[/youtube]

 

To conclude, the game is not that long and it’ll only take you a short time to master these rules and gather the cards you need to create a real strong deck to defeat the pharaoh. You can also add cards from your deck(From the real early sets) To the game and use them in your duels for a great advantage. I suggest getting a Blue Eyes White Dragon in there. Make sure you duel with style because your duels will be measured according to how good you dueled. Overall, this is a very interesting game to pick up for the trading card aficionado, and one for those who don’t care about the card game at all because believe it or not, you don’t need to know the rules to play this game. Until next week!

Fans, Get Ready for Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is set to be released by 2K Games on the 26th of June, for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Fans of the series and those who enjoy games of a similar genre, like Gears of War and Uncharted, should enjoy the action scenes in Spec Ops: The Line.

Specops the line- gameplay screenshot

The makers of Spec Ops: The Line drew inspiration from the film Apocalypse Now and the classic novel Heart of Darkness for the creation of underlying moral dilemmas faced by the characters in dark, hellish settings.

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic Dubai, after a sandstorm has left most of the city dead and buried. Captain Martin Walker and his elite Delta Force Bravo team attempt to locate and recover the remaining survivors, including US Army Colonel John Konrad. The name of Konrad is a reference to the author of Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad.

Colonel Konrad remained behind along with his men and some of the citizens who couldn’t evacuate in time. A weak distress signal is picked up that indicates that he’s still alive and so Walker and his team must deal with outlaws, navigate through treacherous sandstorms to find their men.

Specops the line- gameplay screenshot

Both the website and trailer hint that Konrad may have stayed in Dubai against orders for his own motivations. More of the mystery will be uncovered when the game is released.

Spec Ops is a military game franchise that was originally created in the late 90s, primarily for PC, PlayStation and Dreamcast. Each version of the game had completely different narrative and characters, and took the hyper-realistic third person shooter game to the next level of coolness.

The first two games released in the 90s, Spec Ops: Rangers Lead the Way and Spec Ops: Ranger Team Bravo, were well-received and won plenty of fans.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abLv46Juyu8&hd=1[/youtube]

The latest version has voice work by Nolan North who has featured as many different characters over the years including Dead Pool in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Nathan Drake in Uncharted and Desmond in the Assassin’s Creed series. He is a charismatic voice actor who lends a lot of believability to the character of Captain Martin Walker.

Finally fans can rejoice! The long wait for the release of Spec Ops: The Line is almost over.

PSone Classics coming to the Vita

PS Vita

We have kept quiet on the Vita mainly because there is enough coverage elsewhere, but with the announcement of PSone classics coming to the Vita, we felt it was news worthy. Originally, the Vita could not play any of the PSone classics, which made many gamers upset. However, an upcoming firmware update will allow owners of the Vita to place all the PSone classics.

For those of you who already have PSone classics on your PS3 all you will need to do is connect your Vita to your PS3 or you can connect directly to the PlayStation Network and transfer your classic games. As said, if you don’t own a PSone classic and want to play it on your Vita you will have unrestricted access to it. Every game in the current PSone catalog will be available.

Now that’s progress.

Panzer General

By the 1990′s, turn-based strategy war games had become highly specialized with a very thin customer base.  Most required a grognard’s ability to juggle multiple battle statistics at once, and had a limited visual appeal.  Then, in 1994, Strategic Simulations Incorporated (SSI) released Panzer General and the wargame genre transformed into a mass market product.

Panzer General game box

Panzer General game box.

Unlike real-time strategy (RTS) games, turn-based strategy games permit the user time to ponder their next move without having to press the pause button.  The drawback is that once you’ve committed your resources you must watch your turn – and your then your opponent’s – play out.  To state the obvious, chess is an example of turn-based strategy.

Typical combat screen in Panzer General

Typical combat screen in Panzer General.

Panzer General offered players both single scenario play, in which they could assume the role of an Allied or an Axis general, as well as a Campaign Mode, in which the player attempts to win World War II for Germany.  The campaign runs from 1939 to 1945, and as units gain battle experience, they become stronger, and the player (as general) gains access to upgrades and reinforcements – assuming they are victorious, that is.  If the player achieves their scenario objectives with five or more game turns to spare, it is considered a “Major Victory,” which unlocks further game elements.  Major Victories enable the player to alter history, such as invading Britain on the heels of victory in France, or even landing an invasion force in North America to capture Washington, D.C.

The invasion of Malta in Panzer General

The invasion of Malta in Panzer General

The game was published across several platform, including versions for the Panasonic 3D0 system, MS-DOS and Windows based computers, Sony PlayStation, and for the Macintosh.  It also spawned a plethora of sequels, including: the 5-Star Series (Allied General, Fantasy General, Pacific General, People’s General, and Star General), Panzer General II, Panzer General 3D Assault, Panzer General III: Scorched Earth, and Panzer General: Allied Assault.  Clearly gamers enjoyed wargames once again!

Furious combat in Panzer General.

Furious combat in Panzer General.

Panzer General was both well-reviewed and well-received by the gaming public.  Besides receiving high review scores from the critics, gamers just kept playing the game.  To this day, there are sites on the Internet devoted to this game, with hundreds of scenarios, new units, and even new features.  Mods are the fountain of youth for classic games, and Panzer General was no exception, as they managed to keep the game fresh and interesting years after its release.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2H6pnOZCUg[/youtube]

Ultimately, the game’s fabulous gameplay coupled with its genre-changing aspect make it a classic retro game that every retrogamer needs to play!

SAR: SEARCH AND RESCUE on PlayStation Network

It is always good when classic titles get a re-release and SNK has been releasing a ton of hits and here is another.

Sar - Search and Rescue

From their press release:

SNK PLAYMORE USA CORPORATION  is proud to announce the North & South American release of new nostalgic SNK Arcade Classics “SAR – SEARCH AND RESCUE” as a PlayStation® minis title on PSP, via the “New Releases” category and the “SNK NEOGEO” Featured Publishers page available on the PlayStation®Store, from Tuesday, March 20th, 2012.

The SNK minis titles are a commemorative “retro-arcade emulation” project that allows players to enjoy a grand collection of action, shooting, platform, and action/puzzle titles. Many of these nostalgic, highly innovative arcade classics released during SNK’s Golden Age of action-shooting, etc. during the 80’s, are now exclusively available on PSP and compatible on the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system as well for even greater enjoyment!

The previous sets of titles included some of SNK’s arcade masterpieces such as “ATHENA”, “GUERRILLA WAR”, “IKARI WARRIORS”, “P.O.W. – PRISONERS OF WAR”, “T.N.K. III”, and “VICTORY ROAD” along with a number of lesser known, yet revolutionary titles to be enjoyed by both retro gamers and younger generations of players alike.

SAR = Search And Rescue

 

The government sends down an investigation team to a crashed spaceship that had vanished off its course, in order to determine what actually happened… Infiltrate the spaceship, and battle hordes of alien monsters and robots, in this action-shooting masterpiece of SNK originally released in 1989.

SNK PLAYMORE USA Official Web Site: http://www.snkplaymoreusa.com

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers.~Jessi Roman

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

Single moments in history are what make up our lives.  Some moments pass by unnoticed, seemingly meaningless, lost in a neurological card catalog, while others are etched into our memories, never to be forgotten.

chronocross_kid

What was it about that day in 2nd grade (no, I’m not going to tell you what year it was!) that stood out in my memory? Santa Claus came to our class. We went up and down the rows, each naming one thing we wanted for Christmas. I was the only one that did not ask for a Nintendo! I asked for a drum set, and I got it… never did become much of a musician. At any rate, this was not the catalyst that began my transformation from the geeky kid that every one made fun of into… well, the geeky gamer girl that everyone made fun of. (Thank God for the sudden acclamation of geek culture!) No, it was not this single moment, framed in time, that changed my life, but for some reason it stuck.

I didn’t get a NES of my very own until several years later. That’s not to say that I didn’t spend hours upon hours of my formative years playing Super Mario Bros. with the boy across the street. But no, I wasn’t a “gamer” back then. I mean, I definitely remember that feeling I got the first time I found out that my Princess was in another castle… -_- and I remember how I swelled with pride when I finally beat 8-4 and found her! I mean, I have some seriously precious gaming memories that even go as far back as Sierra’s “Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter”.

space-quest-1--roger-wilco-and-the-sarien-encounter-(vga)-screenshot

There was a life-changing gaming experience for me, though. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school. I started dating this guy who had a Playstation. He changed my life forever. Not only did I end up marrying the guy, but he introduced me to Chrono Cross – most epic RPG ever! I had never played a serious RPG before… I mean, does Zelda count? No, I didn’t think so. So being all girly and stuff, I got really sucked in by the art, and the plethora of characters you could pick up. Matter of fact, to this day, a key element in how I rate an RPG is the number of playable characters.

Let’s face it, people, there’s no greater game to have launched me into the world of serious hard-core gaming. I worked a split shift at the JCC, so I had a block of four hours free time in the middle of the day. He gave me the key to his house (and unknowingly, the key to his heart <3… yeah, I’m a sap), and I’d spend those four hours immersed in the tropical archipelago, El Nido.

Chrono Cross

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers… so I went for every character… played out every possible subplot… even used the strategy guide to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And boy did I get everything! It changed my life. Really. I wonder if I had not spent those hours upon hours hanging out at his house, playing Chrono Cross… I wonder if I still would have won his heart? I’m not going to go so far as to say that gaming got me married… but maybe it did. Maybe it changed my life more than I’ll ever know.

It’s been over ten years now, and we’re still married… and still gaming! I may have gotten better at sharing, and co-op games are more fun now! But to this day, nothing has ever come close to the grand epicness that is Chrono Cross. No other game has made such an impact on my life. Even as I write this now, I’m listening to the OST, and realizing how important it is that I go back for a re-play.

Did a game ever change your life? If so, how? What game was it?

Jessi Roman is a geek, gamer, mom, proudly raising the next generation of nerds! You can read her blog here.

My Favourite Games: VI

Gran Turismo – PlayStation (1998)

Gran Turismo - PlayStation

There’s been a few landmark driving games over the years but I can’t remember any that had the impact that Gran Turismo had. Much of the adulation it received initially was earned by the near photo-realistic quality of its action replays, although this always confused me – sure they look good, but it’s the game that counts, isn’t it? Luckily, this aspect of the game was also ground-breaking in many ways. Featuring masses of real cars, numerous testing circuit-based courses, extensive car customisation options, and lots and lots of competitions, this was a driving game fan’s dream come true, and is still the series others aspire to. Many prefer one of the various sequels but this original is the one I always return to, mainly because I’ve never been too good at ‘simulation’ driving games but this game lets you keep boosting the power of your car until you’re more powerful than your rivals (the sequels brought in BHP limits for races)! My trusty Honda Prelude destroys all!

Super Metroid – SNES (1994)

Super Metroid - SNES

I can still remember buying this game second-hand in my local game/music store. I had little knowledge of it and, thanks to my prior Sega allegiance, I had never played the earlier Metroid games, but I had heard that it was supposedly something special. I really didn’t know what to expect so, upon playing it for the first time, proceeded with caution. What followed was one of greatest awakenings of my gaming life! I was initially wondering what was going on (no one reads instruction books unless they get stuck!) but was quickly immersed in the atmospheric, haunting world of Brinstar and all the other amazingly designed areas of Super Metroid’s world. Not many games have hooked me like this one did – I spent hours, days, weeks trying to uncover all the secrets and explore every square inch of its fascinating game world. In fact, given my love of this game, it’s nothing short of insane that I have yet to get around to playing the subsequent Metroid games!

Exhumed – Saturn (1997)

Exhumed - Saturn

Due to my lack of interest in modern gaming and PC gaming generally, there’s very few first-person shooters I’ve actually played – something which perhaps needs to be rectified – but this is one of the few exceptions, and a damn fine one it is too. Its set in and around Egypt which gives it the potential for a great story and lots of secret passages and traps, not to mention a fantastic atmosphere! It strikes the perfect balance between puzzles, exploration, and shooting and features a huge game world to play through, with new parts of older levels being continually opened up after the acquisition of new items and abilities. A superbly programmed game by the now sadly defunct Lobotomy Software which did things on the Saturn that supposedly weren’t possible.

Psycho Fox – Master System (1989)

Psycho Fox - Master System

My affection for the Master System has been well documented in these pages and this is one of my very favourite games for it. Sure, in mere screenshots it probably just looks like every other 8/16-bit platformer going – grass, desert, ice stages, formulaic characters, cute graphics, etc, but take the time to play it and you’ll find that it’s a lot more than that. Featuring four playable characters with unique abilities that you can switch between using ‘transformation sticks’, large stages with multiple routes, a perfectly-graded difficulty level, and lots of secrets, there’s plenty here to keep any fan of platformers happy for a good while. It is also home to several features that I hadn’t seen before, but which would later become commonplace in the genre, so for it’s time it was pretty original too. On top of all that, it has springy poles that can fling you halfway across the stage! Great fun and addictive as hell!

Ocarina of Time – Nintendo 64 (1998)

Ocarina of Time - Nintendo 64

To my shame this remains the only Zelda I’ve played properly (yes, I know!) – as much as I have enjoyed the few RPG’s I’ve played, I guess my attention span isn’t up to it! However, this game was one of the few I’ve actually bought full price on the day of release and it was worth every penny. Like Super Metroid, Link’s first 3D adventure draws you into its world completely and hours pass by without you noticing. Featuring lots of large areas and dungeons, many of which reveal new secrets every time you return to them, countless side-quests, dozens of characters to interact with, and a whole host of items and equipment to collect, some new, some old, this is about as immersive as videogames get for me. Now, I must get around to playing A Link To The Past!

 

Evolution: Indie development in Russia and one company’s transition to the U.S.

The year 2011 – the year of hopes – is coming to its end and it is time to sum up the results. It is about six years of own game projects’ development and 11 years in the gaming industry. Next year means new goals!  For sure, they will be more ambitious than those in 2007, when the idea of Deep Black project was only emerging.

deep black

What was it like?

In the far 1997, when I was 18, I first saw PlayStation console.  I worked for a company that was doing semi-legal localisation of gaming software at those “wild” times in Russia. Working for the company was something beyond description – there were not more than 3 similar companies in whole Russia at that time.  I was very interested in software development and it took me three months to do first “game” that would successfully run on a modded PS1 console. That game earned me 1000 USD, which was very decent pay at that time in Russia – taking into account that I did both programming and drawing.

Starting with 1999, I worked as a producer of western products in the Russian market. It was easier, than developing games myself. My core tasks were to find indie games developed on GNU and buy them to publish in Russia. Indie developers were surprised, that they could earn some money in Russia.  Later there were Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and much more game systems.  Semi-legal companies would become legal or disappear, owners of companies would change, but the localisation issue was still important. A DVD-format came to Russia.

biart_logo

It was in 2002 when I decided to set up my own company – Biart.  A first version of the company’s logo was introduced and then changed in 5 years’ time.  We were a young team and didn’t think about business-strategies – things were going well anyway. So we started experiments with design, internet services, opened three sound-recording studios and two authoring studios.  And  I hoped  that one day we would  have enough potential to develop own gaming project. So why didn’t we start developing our own game at that time? It was because we understood that we didn’t know the market well.  Besides, we felt that everything had its time. You cannot force yourself.

In 2005, I met an indie developer with an interesting concept and as I also had similar ideas, I decided to make it a commercial project.  So I made up my mind to go into the project and started searching for a script writer, team, and product placement partners etc. We had a small office and some money to finance the development. The development took us a year. We worked hard and devoted our souls and hearts to our work.

So in 2007 Diver: Deep Water Adventures appeared on PC platform. Deals were good at that time and we decided not to play with royalties and prefer a flat fee scheme. Publishers were more adequate then compared to the period after the economic crisis. Publishers were hungry for games.

But our German publisher cheated us and we did not get the last payment from them. It was a guy from Gost Publishing who sold rights to Frogster without paying to the U.S. No need to say that Frogster assured us that they had paid it all. Stephane Gonod – the guy from Gost Publishing – disappeared and half a year later announced himself bankrupt. It is funny that a year ago he set up a new company in cooperation with an ex-Frogster employee and when we accidentally met at a conference, his only words were “Shit happens”. God will judge him.

So the project was released and there was a question – what’s next? I always strive to set new, more complicated goals, so development for PC was not so challenging for me anymore. Everybody was talking about game consoles and I realized that we should slow down with Diver 2 for a few years and devote ourselves to own multiple platform technology’s development.  And accordingly, our new goal was now to create own engine for next-gen titles. I sent an inquiry to Microsoft and a miracle happened – we got a status of an official developer! Thank you guys, if not for you, we would most definitely remain one of those numerous PC-only developers from Russia. So I was one of the first who brought Xbox 360 devkit to Moscow. It was not easy at all to deal with the Russian customs, but once again, thank you to our account manager – Alistair, you are the best!

There was another challenging task – where do we get people and how do we get a team if nobody in Russia can program for consoles, optimise the code and – most crucial – artists do content of very low quality level.  But as they say, believe and love what you do and you will find people who will believe in you and in your project.  Another hint – feel and understand who you are going to employ, for someone without experience is able to learn and the other is only going to “eat” your budget.  Speaking of numbers – it took us a year to experiment with staff and content. The real development itself started in late 2008 – 2009, when the team got skilled enough.

PS3-Deep-Black

The project’s original title was U-Wars. Later we renamed it to Deep Black. Platforms – PC and Xbox 360. It is a third-person shooter with key moments being fought onshore and underwater. Special underwater mechanics, jet pack etc.  The idea of the game appeared after I read various articles about special underwater operation forces. We started doing a game about these Special Forces but then I changed my mind and we did it in the sci-fi genre, abandoning the previous script.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FPSF8-d28Q[/youtube]

The period of active development of the game was 2010. At the same time, we went into agreements with publishers and started working on PlayStation 3 version of the game. It was not easy, but for sure it was a challenge for the team!

2011 is a year of the technology’s optimisation and content polishing. And now I am going to tell you about all drawbacks we had. I think this may be interesting.

  1. Content

We replaced our game designer three times. There are no experienced game designers in Russia, who know how to do shooters. In 2011, I took over and we spent the entire summer polishing and balancing the game.

We should have done feature cuts earlier. It hurt to cut when we had to do it later. Still even after the cut there were 10 hours of gameplay there. We also cut some game mechanics. Gradually you come to understand that it is better to do less but in decent quality.

The pipeline settled by the development’s final stage. I relied upon level designers’ common sense and some of them were wrong when incorrectly putting emphasis in level design.  For instance, level designers used to pay too much attention to places; a regular player would run by within three seconds and would not notice.

Our major problem was that we lacked experience. As a result, too many iterations.  If I started the project now, I could economize not less than 1.5M USD (total to-date budget 4.2M). The pipeline and exact task setting – this is what counts. When you feel that your ship is going in the wrong direction, do not be afraid to change your staff. I said good-bye to those who didn’t match our dream team in 2011. If you are an indie, fire those who only work for their salaries and who do not go with the level of your team.

  1. Technology

First, there was weak understanding of the architecture and some mistakes of the lead programmer.  Let me put it like this: we were unlucky with our technical architect and had to re-do the technology three times before we dismissed him.  Integration of new features to the render was changing the pipeline in terms of art. As said above, it took us one year to experiment with the technology and develop first toolset. To me, it was like a joker in the pack – the arts and programming departments would set some terms, but in reality it appeared that nobody had control of the situation. Difficult? It was. Especially when you invest your own money. And your employees do like to experiment 🙂 As a result – we finally got a working technology for Xbox 360 and PC in 2010… But our publisher then wanted PlayStation 3. I have to admit that we were afraid of it. And not in vain.

At that moment we had strong guys in our team and decided that we could do it. We got the hardware in August. And we realized that we had to do the impossible – once again re-write the whole architecture of the render and do refactoring of the engine, as our engine was not ready for PS3 architecture. And in October we had to show the Playable to the publisher.

Gritting their teeth, guys got down to work and analysed the entire code in every detail.  The publisher waited patiently for something playable for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I, as a producer, had to look into it too – it was a serious step to do considerable refactoring of the code. But I trusted the guys and they did it.

biengine

At the same time, we provided for the possibility of the engine to easily add new platforms, as well as mobile platforms. The previous code was designed for Xbox 360 and DirectX. The new one became a real engine. Within three months a playable for PS3 was available. …. But how slow it was! 🙂

In 2011, while doing a team test and fixing multiplayer for Xbox Live and PSN, programmers were focused on optimisation of the engine code and PS3 render. Numbers? Ok! We raised these two-three times for Xbox and four times for PSP! We had 25-35 fps on PS3 without Cell optimisation.   At the final stage of development. We even used to joke about Stereo, but had already dealt with feature cut and knew the importance of total concentration on our tasks.

We reduced our staff by middle of 2011 and left only key people. It was clear now that it was not enough to do a game and fix critical bugs. One has to pass certification! And, let me tell you, this depends on the quality of testing. It is tough, as you start finding weak points in the code, when something hasn’t been considered well.  And at the same time, you keep on spending your money… And you do postpone your other projects. We had a three month delay and moved release date. Very hard times…

On the whole, the project lasted a year longer than planned. On the one hand, it was due to PlayStations 3 porting, on the other though, because of overestimation  of own abilities.

What now?

We started developing concepts of two new projects in mid-2011 and are planning to release Depth Hunter game about underwater hunting and treasure hunting  by December, 2011.  It will be released for mobile platforms later. Yes! We are indeed developing a version of our technology for mobile platforms – IOS, Android.

And Deep Black is going to become MMOTPS. We are going to launch it as a Free-to-Play by the end of next year. Depth Hunter for mobile is going to be Free-to-Play too. We are eager to work on free-to-play for consoles. I do believe that this is going to be of top interest in 2012-2013.

We have registered an office in the USA (Delaware) this year. So far it is our legal HQ, but we are looking forward to getting money for Deep Black to move to the USA. Unfortunately our business is in Russia and it is getting more difficult to search for investments here, in Russia. Unreasonable loan terms and local investors who are eager to get a controlling interest at once make it challenging to do business in Russia.

The political situation in Russia is not predictable too. People talk a lot about it and do not trust the government. Guys, we do want to work and develop games, rather than wait for another revolution!

A Russian Association of Game Developers and Publishers of Game Industry and Interactive Technologies (http://www.radit.ru/) was set up in 2010 by a number of Russian companies. We were trying to promote development of simulator games and gain support to develop an equivalent of, for example, “Canada” in Russia.  But in our country you can only do business if you pay bribes. I spent two years and a lot of money trying to change things. I have held two conferences ACGI (2009, 2010, http://www.acgirussia.com/), but soon realised that they do not need us. I have no intention to have anything in common with the current authorities any more.

So at the moment I am busy transferring our contracts and licenses to the US, dealing with registration issues and searching for investors/ partners for a long-term cooperation.

We have always tried to develop not only original and quality games, but also high-tech games. I think that we have coped with our task in 2011. I am sure that we will cope with our new challenge – move to the US – in 2012.

Six years after the company set-up, we are facing a new stage of the company development. I am sure that the upcoming 2012 will bring success to all our games!

Konstantin Popov

Founder & CEO of Biart Company

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider - Playstation - Box

I can’t imagine there’s a human being out there reading this that hasn’t played this game, or at least knows everything about it. Before all the sequels (good and bad), all the comics (good and bad), and all the movies (good and bad), there was the original game that set everything up.

Soon after I purchased my PSOne, my cousin stopped by my apartment. I didn’t realize he was a big video game guy until I talked to him that day. He didn’t live too far from me and we talked about getting together. My brother was already over and I told him we were playing the Playstation. He told me he had one as well, and was going to bring over some games. I don’t remember any of the others he brought, because I don’t think we ever got past Tomb Raider.
“It’s an Indiana Jones chick who jumps around and shoots stuff.”

Tomb Raider is a 3rd-person action-adventure game which really plays like a classic platformer in 3D. Your hero, Lara Croft, is a rich girl who grew up in archeology, but her parents died when she was younger, leaving her with money and boredom. You’ll learn a lot more of her backstory in future games.

Tomb Raider - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot

In this particular game, she’s hired to search the world for objects which have ties to the Lost City of Atlantis. She will battle animals, creatures, and humans, as well as the occasional mythical figure. Always armed with two guns and unlimited ammo, this will be her signature.

Tomb Raider is more about puzzle-solving than shooting, although there is enough of that. Throughout the levels, which will take her around the world, she will collect items and treasures, pull levers, push blocks, climb walls, jump to ledges, all while avoiding breaking her neck or falling into a death-pit. All in a normal day for an adventurer. Not only can she walk, but run, flip, and swim in water.

A true magical adventure, this game had me hooked. Looking back at it now, the graphics are pretty blocky, but the game play was/is something special.

Tomb Raider - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot

I can’t finish this review without mentioning one of my favorite moments in video game history……the first time Lara’s walking around and the gigantic T-Rex comes seemingly out of nowhere, and I had nothing but the dual-pistols. Literally a crap-your-pants moment.

Obviously, this marked a special moment in gaming. I can’t stress enough how this was literally a game-changer. Combining great graphics and level design, wonderful music, engaging gameplay…..it almost seemed like you were in a movie, and a must-own for any gamer.

Only two negatives about the game, and they’re not minor; First, you can’t save where/whenever you’d like (they would change that in the sequels), but you have to find the save points. Secondly, the camera angles can be brutal, and sometimes get stuck. Can be very difficult to make a crazy jump when the camera is not cooperating. This will be a problem throughout the series.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL1cwhNDWkw[/youtube]

The great Tommy Shaw once said, “Don’t go messing with a girl with guns.” The man was right-on, she’s totally badass.

Chronicles of an Indie Game Developer

cologames

From our, in their own words series John Newton from Cologames talks about his life as an indie game devekoper.

I’m a Flash developer releasing my games on my website ColoGames alongside a selection of other games. I make the best games ever and the worst, the hardest and the easiest. I’m a great developer and a bad one. My games are loved and hated. Life as an indie game developer can be brutal. Whenever I release a new game I watch with excitement as people rate and comment on my creation and I realise it’s impossible to please everyone. The comments can be nice and horrible, no one ever agrees. But the fact that I made the whole game myself, all art, design, and code makes the comments personal.

I’m not making a game as part of a big team. I can make whatever I want; it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. It’s the freedom to do what I want that makes being an indie developer special. Of course I don’t do this fulltime, otherwise I would have to rely on the income from the games, be forced to develop certain genres and be sure they were perfect before release.

I’ve always wanted to make video games but never thought I could. I didn’t know how to make them and I didn’t know anyone who could help me. This was long before the internet began. After high school I studied physics at university and learned to program in C/C++ at the same time the internet became accessible. I suddenly realised I had the math skills and programming knowledge to make games!

cologameslogo

I spent months learning more about game development and improving my programming knowledge before applying for a couple of jobs at local game developers. For my first interview I was told to download a GameBoy emulator, learn Z80 assembly language and produce a simple demo for the GameBoy in a weekend! I was so enthusiastic that I spent all weekend making the best demo I could. I got offered the job but amazingly I also had a job offer from the other company to work on a top selling PlayStation game, which I accepted immediately.

And so my career as a game developer began. I spent over 11 years working for several top game companies and have worked inCanada,Swedenand theUK. I estimate I’ve been credited on games selling about 30-40 million copies. So why do I now spend time making Flash games?

I still work for a major game company as a game programmer and often work 50-70 hours a week but I have little say over game design and I could never make any game art. I decided to make Flash games whenever I have spare time because they can be quick to make and release. I’ve also made two iPhone games but I had to spend much longer making them of a higher quality and it’s not fun submitting a game through Apple and then trying to promote the game so people see it. It’s much easier for people to see a Flash game and because my spare time is so limited it’s really my only option. It’s fun designing games and making the artwork without having the pressure to make it perfect. Most of the games I’ve released have been made in a short time. I have a few unreleased games that require weeks or months of work to finish so I haven’t released them.

bow battle

My latest game ‘Bow Battle’ is probably my best attempt at game art and it’s given me the confidence to try a bigger game with more art. Programming the games is never a problem, as long as I have the time to do it, but I like to spend time improving my art skills and hope to do some 3D modelling and animation at some point.

I’m about to start a new project which will probably take a while to make. But it’ll be nice to actually make a high quality Flash game that has some depth and is popular. No matter how good or popular my game is there will be negative comments but it’ll be my creation, a whole game created by me and hopefully loved by many.

ColoGames

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Crash Bandicoot

Crash-Bandicoot-PS1-Box

Crash Bandicoot was sought out to be the mascot of Sony just like Mario was the mascot of Nintendo. It worked for a while, until the games went down hill. The best part is that you don’t have to hear about the crappy Crash games, I’ll talk about the good ones here yay! Crash Bandicoot is what a platformer can be if done correctly. This game involves Crash who is trying to defeat this scientist yada yada yada doesn’t matter, it’s the gameplay that counts most of the time, then again some games need to give you a reason to keep playing them, err RPGs anyone?

crash_bandicoot_ps1-gameplay-screenshot

Crash Bandicoot gameplay is very simple. There is the jump button and the spinning attack button and well I think that’s pretty much it. Of course you move with your D-pad! From my experience, this game is a lot of fun and also full of secrets. This was a big hit for Sony back in the day and good thing it was, the game and franchise helped them get an image to compete against Sega and Nintendo. Too bad it was fucked up years later on the PS2…..but lets not change the subject again, Crash 1 for the PS1 is full of nostalgia. The game is what you will expect from a platformer, it has interesting levels, secrets, and crazy bosses. There are things here and there that you might not find appealing but good thing there is a sequel.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3Bn4L-FCr4[/youtube]

 

So that should be it for now, the game contains high marks on music, control, graphics, and gameplay. You can’t lose with this one! Pick it up as it’s mad cheap on eBay. Look for it at your local flea markets and thrift stores as well. Until next time!

Star Wars: Dark Forces

With the release of DOOM in 1993, the gaming industry went into overdrive in coming up with similar games using the first-person perspective.  Some games, such a as Heretic and Hexen, simply licensed id Software’s game engine.  Others choose to build their own 3-D first-person shooters from the ground up.  LucasArts Entertainment was one of the latter companies, and Star Wars: Dark Forces was their first stab at the genre.

Star Wars - Dark Forces - Box

Box cover for the 1995 game Star Wars: Dark Forces

Released in 1995, Dark Forces was the first Jedi Knight game, though the original release did not use the “Jedi Knight: Dark Forces” tagline.  Later re-releases would, however. The story revolves around a mercenary called Kyle Katarn, an ex-soldier of the Empire who now works freelance for the Rebel Alliance.  After a minor interlude wherein Kyle steals the plans for some obscure new Imperial weapon called the “Death Star”, our hero is tasked with investigating General Rom Mohc and his plans for creating a new weapon for the Empire: the Dark Troopers.

 

Star Wars - Dark Forces - Gameplay Screenshot

The game plays out over 14 levels in which Kyle takes on a variety of low-level enemies, such as stormtroopers, Imperial Officers, Gamorrean guards.  Kyle visits famous locales from the Star Wars universe, such as the Imperial capital, Corsucant, the “Smuggler’s Moon”, Nar Shaddaa, and the Imperial Super Star DestroyerExecutor, and interacts with classic characters such as Jabba the Hutt and Mon Mothma.  There are the obligatory cameos by Darth Vader and Boba Fett, but there’s no interaction between Kyle and them.  (Which is probably a good idea, as any of the heavy-hitters of the Star Wars universe would be able to use him as a mop at this point in his fictional career).

 

Star Wars - Dark Forces - Gameplay Screenshot

The action is in the first-person perspective, and unlike DOOM, you can look up and down for your enemies, all the better to locate and eliminate them.  Although later in the game series Kyle hears the call of the Jedi, there’s no lightsaber action in this game.  However, there are plenty of other weapons to keep you interested, including the Bryar pistol, the standard stormtrooper E-11 blaster rifle, thermal detonators, the absolutely awesome Stouker concussion rifle, and the Dark Trooper assault cannon (the best way to take those bad boys out).

 

Star Wars - Dark Forces - Gameplay Screenshot

Dark Forces was released on three platforms, all CD-based.  Its initial release came in MS-DOS format (PC), followed quickly by a Macintosh version, and finally a Sony PlayStation (PS1) version a year later.  Both the MS-DOS and Macintosh versions are similar to each other, and play well, but the PS1 version suffers from the translation, and is an inferior game.

 

Star Wars - Dark Forces - Gameplay Screenshot - Playstation

The game was a tremendous hit for LucasArts, generating close to a million units sold, and ranking one of the top-selling games of the 1990s.  The critical reviews were also very favourable, with many comparing Dark Forces to id Software’s masterpiece, DOOM.  Of course, with both critical and financial success came the sequel parade, and LucasArts knew a good property when they saw one.  Dark Forces spawned Jedi Knight, which was an even better game than its predecessor (and which begat its own sequel and an expansion pack!).

Star Wars - Dark Forces - Gameplay Screenshot - Mac

Box front for the Macintosh version of Dark Forces

All in all, Dark Forces is a very good game and should be on any retro gamer’s resume. If you haven’t played it before, consider giving it a little time in your retrogaming play list and help Kyle Katarn stop the threat of the Dark Trooper program once and for all!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR1qrAi3gL0[/youtube]

Darkstalkers coming to the PS3 & PSP

DarkStalkersScreen

The classic PSOne game will soon be coming to the Playstation 3 and PSP. The game will have ten playable characters including favorites, Morrigan and Felicia. Currently there is no release date, but word is the game will cost you about six bucks.

Here is a video of the classic game.

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

Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot

About 2 weeks after the launch of the PS1 in the USA, a buddy of mine who bought about every console in those days, said “We need to get the new Sony console. I read great stuff about how good it looks. Plus, we can link them up!” I was still pretty heavy into my Genesis, and didn’t know if I wanted another console, but after playing Ridge Racer at the store, I was sold.

Ridge Racer - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot
A launch title (Namco 94-95), with 7 other games (I bought 2, and will talk about the other tomorrow), Ridge Racer truly felt like an arcade game. The graphics were a huge step up from my Sega product, and with the nifty music blaring on my 26 inch RCA (still have it), I finally had a good-size monitor to enjoy the 3D-goodness.

Ridge Racer - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot

In Ridge Racer, there were the usual game modes, Time Trials and easy/medium/hard. You raced with 12 cars, trying to beat them (to unlock) and your previous low times. The music pumped throughout, and in a new twist, you could take out the game CD and put in music of your own while still playing. The different cars didn’t vary much, and they seemed to control about the same…except for the elusive Black Car.

Ridge Racer - Playstation - Gameplay Screenshot
The Black Car was the Holy Grail of the game. After you defeated the other modes and cars, you were able to take on the evil one. If you could defeat it, you would own it. Namco’s version of The Crossroads. One of the most difficult ‘bosses’ I ever faced, the only way to win was to run a perfect race…meaning if you scraped a wall, or skidded too much on a turn, the sumbitch would pass you and you’d never catch up. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that challenge, and still fondly remember the day of victory. With the powerful engine and control of The Black Car, you could improve your times even more.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPw8-A-k8M0[/youtube]
Other goodies included turning around and driving the tracks in mirrored-look, as well as changing your driving view.

Overall, it was a special game that was needed at that time. The console that (in my opinion) was the biggest jump in technology from the previous ones started off with an almost-perfect arcade port. It was beautiful and it was fun. It may not stand the test of time with a ton a sequels that were pumped-out, but will always hold a special memory for me.

Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish

Call of Duty-Modern Warfare 3-Find Makarov-Operation Kingfish

“Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish” is the seven-minute sequel to the fan-made, original film, Find Makarov. The real life movie reveals a key moment in Modern Warfare history as Soap recalls one of his most memorable Task Force 141 missions. For more information visit findmakarov.com.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afs8lcfBY7Q[/youtube]

Created by We Can Pretend, Meteoric, The Junction VFX, and Stealing Time
Director: Jeff Chan
Executive Producer: David Fradkin
Producer: Evan Stasyshyn
Stars John Morgan as John “Soap” McTavish

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 ).

Neo Geo Station: Latest Release

NeogeoStation_logo

SNK Playmore has released two more games from its classic gaming library for the NEO Geo station on Playstation 3. Gamers will be able to play “THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95” and “BASEBALL STARS 2” as downloadable content.

NEOGEO Station” is a commemorative project that allows players to enjoy the many classic fighting, action, sports and other NEOGEO titles released after 1990, exclusively on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) systems. The first set of 10 titles, which included “METAL SLUG,” “SAMURAI SHODOWN,” and “THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’94,” were released on December 22, 2010. This time, two new titles have been released for a total of 12 titles.

THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NRO1bi7ScA[/youtube]

The legendary “SNK Dream Versus Battle” is back with this 2nd installment full of improvements! KOF’95 is the start of the “Orochi Saga,” a new story in which Kyo Kusanagi is the main protagonist. His sworn enemy, Iori Yagami, appears for the first time, so charismatic and stylish that he could overshadow Kyo Kusanagi!

BASEBALL STARS 2

This sports game recreates a powerful arcade-style baseball with over-the-top animations like bench-clearing brawls. With its “Auto Operation Mode” for beginners, magic “Power Bat Mode”, and the “Special Players” introduced by the team’s owner, BASEBALL STARS 2 is full of exciting moments.

Both of these titles are available today for $8.99 on the PS3 and $6.99 on the PSP.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night gave me a boner

Alright, not really, but after playing through the game again I did realize how much semi-nudity is in the game so let’s just go with that.

Diplocephalus

Castlevania - Symphony of the Night - Diplocephalus
She believes in protection and by protection I mean Holy Water.

I believe this creature was created after someone went on a blind OKCupid date and was fooled by a MySpace angle. This creature is easy to beat and has an attractive upper body and a horrible monster for a lower body. When you hit her and kill her, she turns and moons you and you realize baby’s got back.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fkbD1pl0cY[/youtube]

Venus Weed

Castlevania - Symphony of the Night - Venus Weed
She is wondering why everyone is staring.

My vagina is a flower, an eccentric tulip, the center acute and deep, the scent delicate, the petals gentle but sturdy.

Ya, now you know where they got that from. This is how Poison Ivy sleeps, in the nude and apparently, this creature drinks human blood so it must be someone’s wife. Am I right folks?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVB1VsfKimk[/youtube]

Salome

Castlevania - Symphony of the Night - Salome
She does not sweep with that broom

All your goth and bewitched fantasies all rolled into one. This young female witch turns into a cat when you weaken it and you know I love pussy…cats.

Hunting Girl

Castlevania - Symphony of the Night - Hunting Girl
Look at that pose, yeah, she wants it.

This is for the voyeur in all of us. This is for the guys who use to try and watched porn on a scrambled cable feed. Sure, you can’t really see what Hunting Girl looks like, but she looks like she has a hot frame and those poses she does when you hit her…uh… I just realized this sounds like something that can end me up in prison.

Castlevania Symphony of the Night is one of those games you will play over and over forever and the more you play the more weird things you will take notice of. So did I miss any strangely hot monsters from the game, besides succubus that is which is a given.

 

Parappa the Rapper

 

Parappa the Rapper

This time around Parappa the Rapper made the list and why shouldn’t it? It’s an amazing game and very revolutionary for its time. Before the Guitar Hero trend came to place there were very few music genre games out there. There were Parappa the Rapper, Umjammer Lammy, and MTV Music Generator although those two games last mentioned games came out later in the Playstation’s lifetime. Nevertheless, there were very few games using music as the main part of the game. Anyways, Parappa the Rapper made its debut in 1997 which was a really great year for the Playstation with such releases as Breath of Fire 3, Final Fantasy 7, Crash Bandicoot 2, and even Tomb Raider 2. It was pretty much the year of sequels for many franchises so the gaming library was filled with great titles. We also cannot forget about Castlevania Symphony of the Night being released and I’m sure there are others I must have forgotten to mention so I apologize.

Parappa the Rapper

 

Parappa involves into six stages which may sound short but will keep you busy for quite some time. They are fun and great to play through over and over. Even if you don’t like rap you’ll fall in love with this game. The main point of this game is to match the cursor on the top by timing it when it passes through the screen. Make sure you press the right button or you’ll loose your score and become awfully uncool. The game does deliver you difficulty in small dosage as the first level is extremely easy, it’ll become harder and harder as you progress which is very fair and should be implemented in every game. This is what keeps the player coming back for more.

Parappa the Rapper

 

Once you finish the game though, there are many other things you can do like go for the highest score and reach the cool factor. If you do then you’ll be sent to a different style of gameplay opening the possibilities even further. I won’t spoil it for you though, you just gotta believe!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_DYEZGsxX8[/youtube]

E3 2011: Classic Gaming Museum

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

My eyes lit up like a LED screen when I came across this section at E3 2011. Normally, there would be a small section with a few games, but this place was huge. On the back wall were a ton of classic video games from Dig Dug to Killer Instinct and a few even broke down so you know they were authentic.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

They had what I called a 80’s living room complete with a couch, a radiation level 6 television and an Atari 2600 and best of all you could sit down and play. Now, while I was still just a baby when the 2600 launched I remember setups that looked exactly like this.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

There were a ton of classic game systems, add-ons and games spread out for display. I recognized many of the systems, but there were a number I did not recognize. I was totally shocked by how huge the cartridge was for Metal Slug. We met a couple of guys from SNK there and they were totally cool so watch for some articles about them coming soon.

Classic Gaming Museum - E3 2011

Not only did they have the boxes and items to view there were many classic game systems setup that you could play for yourself including an Atari 2600, N64, Sega Master System and Intelivision and more.

What classic gaming museum exhibit would complete without music. There were two different bands there that played classic music. We were able to record a bit from 8-bit weapon, a duo that plays classic music from Commodore 64, Gameboy and more.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM1bmLk5zLI[/youtube]

All in all it was great to see classic gaming displayed in such a way at E3 2011 and we hope we will see more in the future.

Check out all our E3 pictures on our Facebook page.

 

Saga Frontier

Saga Frontier - PS1 Disc Front

This week we have a game that is said to take 140 hours to complete! At least that’s what it says so on the box and they are quite close to it. Not only do you have to have a memory card just for that game but there are seven quests to complete in order to see the ending! Each quest has their own ending. Be sure to keep an eye on each ending as each is just bizarre. From all of them, I think Blue’s ending is the most bizarre but I won’t spoil that for you. Just play the god damn game!

Saga Frontier - Title Screen

Square released a whole line up of RPGs including Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy Tactics, and others during the 1997-1998 era. It was an era where the RPGs flourished and were finally respected and known by everyone especially due to Final Fantasy 7, you couldn’t ask for anything better. This is where Saga Frontier came in with their traditional gameplay and big battle system. You can have up to 15 characters in your party although you can only use 5 at a time. Before every battle, you can pick which party you are going to bring out so it’s quite interesting build your party for each kind of scenario. As for myself, I would only use one party filled with humans as they are the best race of all in the game at least. The game also has a very different level up system which only levels up attributes you have used up. For example, if you have taken a hit then your HP will level up and if you have used magic then your MP will level up. It’s very weird but it works especially for humans.

Saga Frontier - Gameplay Screenshot 1

The world is huge and the music is very catchy. You will be leveling up a lot and barely getting through dungeons as the difficulty is very moderate and sometimes frustrating but I’m sure if I was able to get through them, you are too. My favorite feature of the game is the combos with other members of your party. You can have up to five combined combos which means all the members will combine their attacks into one for massive damage. This is by far the best feature of the game and it’s what keeps the battles interesting. There are also villages you can travel to where you can get some new power ups and magic which is crucial for being able to advance in the game. The number one rule of this game is pick up Gen at the bar in the Junk city! You must add this bastard! He may be a drunk but he comes in handy in any quest. You also gotta love his victory action! He rocks!

Saga Frontier - Gen_Headshot
To conclude, the game is quite entertaining but not for everyone. The stories aren’t that strong but they are strong enough to make you wanna see what comes up next. Be sure you pick this one up when you have a chance as there is a lot to love about this game. You can’t beat 140 hours of gameplay!

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQTWMPLY4Ug[/youtube]

The Unsurprising Incompetence of Sony


We all know what’s going on with Sony. For those of you who don’t know, you either don’t game or you live under a rock. The greatest hacking escapade of 2011 has left the company’s loyal consumers hanging on the sideline while they hope to the heavens that their credit card info hasn’t been sold to the highest bidder. If you haven’t cancelled your credit card, asked for a new number, or put out a fraud alert by now it’s best advised you do so now.

What I really wanted to get into with this article isn’t Sony’s time and time again ability to completely fuck up everything they touch. I want to know why anyone would even remain loyal to this colossal abortion of a company?

Because Microsoft is the devil, Umar!

Microsoft can be whatever you want to call it but Xbox Live has provided some of the best online multiplayer entertainment compared to their other console rivals. True, the Xbox live community is immature at best. Again, it is true, most of the games that come out for Xbox are also available on the PC but this isn’t just about comparing PSN to Xbox Live.

I don’t care about the other consoles. Disregard the Wii, Xbox, or the PC in this decision. Why should someone remain devoted to Sony games or devices? If you can’t get past that, you’re missing the point entirely.

What is the point then, you fat asshole?

The point is, as a customer, why should you remain with a company that can’t protect your CC information? Why remain with a company who has been so crippled by the attack they have yet to restart their service? Why remain with a company that markets with an asshat like Kevin Butler? Why remain with a company that barely has anything to show at E3 time and time again and when they do manage to reveal something it becomes an internet meme?

And this is just with their Playstation portion of the company. They recently announced and moved forward with the shutting down of all Sony Online Entertainment games due to this “intrusion”. That means games like Everquest 2, Everquest… and what other games would be affected by this? Didn’t they seize operations on a huge plethora of their games? I know they have DCUO but how many customers can you upset by bringing that game down? Their ten remaining customers? Big deal. If this assault doesn’t put the nail in the coffin for DCUO then its loyal subscribers are used to be being screwed over and over again.

For a company that is already struggling to breathe in the MMO market, this setback is going to draw more players to WoW, LOTRO, and/or Rift. How can they recoup their losses? Offer a free month for the month they’re already going to lose? Give away 700 Station Points?
Thanks for the piece of mind, Sony. I’ll enjoy these small tokens of your appreciation for my loyalty while some criminal abuses the shit out of my credit.

Face it, loyal Sony fanboys. You’re on the Titantic and you can get off the ship and survive or freeze to death in the piercing icy waters of Hell. You aren’t Rose. No one wants to draw you naked. You won’t live through this.

I know a couple of people who are still riding on Sony’s cock. To them I say you’re a complete moron. Enjoy lubing up your ass with olive oil while this company and its attackers continue to fuck you from behind.

Now I want to hear from you, the reader. I want to know why on God’s green and polluted Earth would you want to stay with Sony?

Mass Destruction

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Mass Destruction (1997)
By: NMS Software Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega Saturn First Day Score: 205,425
Also Available For: PlayStation, PC

The poor old Saturn had a bit of a torrid time in the UK and US but it met a little more success in Japan and it’s the titles released only there that have made the system something of a collector’s favourite. Among the most prestigious and desirable of the sexy system’s Japanese exclusives are the large number of amazing 2D shmups it was blessed with, most of which could not be fittingly represented on any other machine of their time (and yes, that includes the PlayStation – hee hee!). So, for the first game of this new Red Parsley feature focusing on the shmups released for Sega’s 2D powerhouse, I’ll very sensibly start with… one that has 3D graphics and was released in all major territories around the world!

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Worldwide release or not though, Mass Destruction has never been a game that has garnered much attention and it’s my mission to change that! Taking its cue from the multi-player, flag-capturing frolics of Return Fire, NMS’s game ditches the multi-player mode and adds a loose mission-structure instead, plus a story has been tacked-on too (although little mention is made of it in the game’s instruction book) which revolves around your attempts to bring down a ‘fanatical tyrant’ and his army known as ‘The Republican Army’. This involves a series of free-roaming missions, viewed from an angled overhead perspective where your objective, as you may have guessed from the title, is to destroy everything!

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Actually, that’s not strictly true. You do get mission targets which must be razed, but what I probably should’ve said was you can destroy anything, and let’s face it… most of us will! Yes, enemy tanks and missile launchers, all manner of buildings from houses up to skyscrapers, even trees – absolutely anything can be shot and blown up here! Regardless of whether you stick to your mission targets or go on a free-for-all, however, you’re going to need some serious hardware. Your permanent means of offence, and indeed defence, throughout the game is your tank and you get a choice of three, each with obligatory ‘scary’ names – the ‘Viper’ (average speed and armour), the ‘Cobra’ (slow but strong armour), and the ‘Cheetah’ (fast but weak armour). Near the start of the game, any of these can be used effectively, but in later missions you’ll need to choose more carefully – some missions will suit one tank much more then either of others.

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

One area that the tanks are the same, though, is in their weaponry. Each has a rotating turret and comes with a cannon and chain gun as standard, both of which have unlimited ammunition, but the other weapons only become available when you pick them up. Sometimes they’ll appear in the ruins of destroyed buildings or installations and other times they can simply be found lying around, but once you’ve obtained them you’ll have access to some much meaner and more destructive firepower. There are six others available including hi-explosive shells, mines, mortars, a flame-thrower, guided missiles and the Vortex Bomb (a smart bomb), but all have limited ammunition. Only the chain gun, mortars, or guided missiles can be used for destroying aerial targets, but the others are more than adequate to handle everything else the RA can throw at you.

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Once you’ve chosen a tank it’s time to get destroying! Your next choice is which mission you want to tackle first. There are five rows of ‘folders’ on the mission select screen (which presumably contain your orders) and you can initially select the first from any of these rows. Once you’ve chosen, a mission briefing will follow outlining your primary and secondary targets. If you forget them, there’s a radar in the bottom-left of the screen during play that will show you what’s nearby or you can access a map that will show the entire level including the location of all targets. Once you’ve finished a mission you must find the ‘extraction zone’ which is marked on the map, although to finish a mission ‘properly’ you must also find and destroy the bonus mission targets which aren’t mentioned anywhere (except probably some internet cheat sites).

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Each mission is set over one of four different landscapes – Arctic, Desert, Suburban, and Rural. Each of these is obviously different in appearance, but more importantly each is home to some unique features. Arctic missions, for example, are the only places you’ll find nuclear reactors or airports, and Suburban missions are where tower blocks, communication sites, and military bases/camps are exclusively found. It’s not as simple as trundling in and shooting up everything, though. Each area is populated by numerous enemy vehicles (mostly other tanks) and soldiers who fire rockets and throw mortars, and their key installations are even more heavily defended as you might expect, with such armour-piercing monstrosities as rapid-fire anti-tank rocket launcher batteries. All of this pummelling does take its toll on your tank too. Each of them starts the game with a thousand armour points but luckily there are Red Cross crates dotted about here and there, one of which replenishes a hundred armour points and the other less common one replenishes five hundred.

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot 1

And that’s pretty much it! It’s not a complicated game and despite its free-roaming nature Mass Destruction is very much a shoot ’em up, albeit one with a bit more depth than most. Most of the stages here are pretty sizable and there’s also a good few secrets to uncover in them but the biggest lure of playing this game is the immense satisfaction it gives! This is of course helped by the splendid graphics and sound. There’s some nice variety between the landscapes and each is home to its own features. There’s some nice water effects too, and the sprites are pretty decent, but it’s those amazing pyrotechnics that’ll impress the most. As mentioned before, practically everything in the game can be shot and blown up, and when you do, things explode in spectacular showers of sparks and flame, and they can even be blown up twice!

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is also top-notch with a selection of electronic dance-style tracks that can be selected, or if left alone the game will cycle through them, and the sound effects are even better, particularly the agonizing screams of the soldiers if you shoot them, set them on fire, or run them over, and all the shooting and explosions are nice and bassy too. There are a few things that could’ve made this game even better such as a two-player mode, different vehicles (like Return Fire), a more in-depth mission structure, etc, but as it stands it’s still a superbly enjoyable game. The enemy AI is good (soldiers hide from you or run away if you go after them, for example) and control over the tank is flawless. All in all this game may not be very well known but in my opinion you could do a lot worse than give it a bash. It looks and sounds nice, is amazingly good fun, but above all that – who doesn’t enjoy blowing shit up?!

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRUyr26wKcE[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

Remake and Reboot

Video Game Remakes

Hollywood is going through a phase at the moment. The “reboot” of films such as Batman Begins, or the remake of titles including “The Taking of Pelham 123”, demonstrates a lack of original ideas and voices. And the games industry seems to be following suit, relying on summer blockbusters and sequels as much as the cinema.

Prince of Persia is a good example. Jordan Mechner’s classic had already undergone an ill-advised leap into 3D before Ubi Soft’s Sands of Time rebooted the story and added the amazing time rewinding feature. The two sequels added little, even with a Wii remake of the Two Thrones giving motion control. And so it was rebooted again, adding a controversial new game mechanic and dividing opinion.

Tomb Raider has also had its share of remaking and rebooting, with Legend and the 10th Anniversary editions. By handing the series over to Crystal Dynamics, Legend got closer to a true 3D world and Anniversary revisited the old locations with new polish.

The Wii is also seeing several of these new “interpretations”, as evidenced by Klonoa. The original game of the series appeared nearly ten years ago on the original Playstation, and was a 2.5D platformer with the player’s movement controlled along set paths. Fast forward and the graphical makeover is very good (the dreadful Americanised character voices less so), but the movement restrictions remain. The old-school game mechanics may feel uncomfortable to the new audience drawn to Wii, but there is a real challenge in there.

Other titles such as Resident Evil Files have had little done to improve them for the new hardware. The Play Control range has featured some gems brought up to date with Wii controls – Pikmin, for example – but Nintendo would be advised to cherry-pick the best titles to update.

Perhaps the most successful reboot has to be Call of Duty. Arriving first on PC, the console-specific versions (Big Red One) were followed by the unusual idea of two developers alternating work on the franchise. But the biggest surprise was waiting for Call of Duty 4. The subtitle Modern Warfare gave it all away – the franchise moved from its World War II setting (and its competitors Medal of Honour and Brothers In Arms) to the present day. However, despite plans to call the 2009 sequel Modern Warfare 2, Activision has gone back and put the Call of Duty tag in front to avoid losing sales.

So rebooting is not all bad news. In the end it would be nice to be swamped with new and original ideas every time we looked at the shelves in our local game store, but the companies cannot be blamed for the fact that the familiar titles (and gameplay styles) will sell more.

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 1

Bubble Bobble (1986)
By: Taito Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 180,180
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, Saturn, PlayStation, X68000, NES, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, FM Towns Marty, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II, MSX, PC

What more can be said about this all-time great? Whilst perhaps not as well known as Mario or Sonic, the cute dinosaurs of Bubble Bobble are just as iconic to many gamers, myself included, and have now appeared in a lot of games on nearly every system ever created, in one guise or another. My first encounter with the bubble-blowing twins was in ‘Kwiki Meals’, the cafe near my college. It was here that I ventured every lunchtime to play Bubble Bobble (and eat a burger), and I was often late back to class! It was the game that first brought the great Taito to my attention and they’ve been one of my favourite companies since. Sadly, both Kwiki Meals and the arcade masterpiece it once housed are now long gone but I’ve had a regular fix of Bubble Bobble ever since.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 2

Most of you will know the drill by now – Bub and Bob have been turned into dragons by the evil Super Drunk who has also kidnapped their girlfriends! In order to get them back and be restored to Human form, they must battle their way through a hundred rounds of multi-platformed, monster-infested caves until they can face, and hopefully defeat, Super Drunk. Bub and Bob, who start each round in the bottom left and bottom right corners of the screen respectively, must clear each single-screen round of baddies in order to proceed to the next. To do this you must trap them in bubbles which both Bub and Bob can blow at will. The bubbles fly forward quickly, before floating up the screen being carried by the air currents in the caverns. Freshly-blown bubbles are surrounded by a shiny orange aura until they are a certain distance away and it is only during this brief period that enemies can be trapped in them.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 3

Once an enemy is trapped in a bubble, it must be popped quickly to kill it, either by touching it with the spines on Bub and Bob’s head and back, by jumping on it, or by pushing it into a wall. If you fail to pop it quickly enough, it will pop by itself, and the re-released enemy will be angry and much faster. It’s also possible to bounce off bubbles instead of popping them when you jump on one or fall on one from above. This is an essential skill to learn as sometimes it’s the only way to escape from part of a level or reach some high platforms. Bubbles also stick together if they touch each other, whether they contain enemies or not, so if you time it right you can cause a mega-pon chain reaction meaning mega-points! There are eight different types of standard enemy altogether and each has his own movement patern. Learning these are obviously the key to success here, but don’t take too long – if you stay on one stage too long, the undefeatable Baron Von Blubba will appear and stalk you until there’s nowhere left to hide!

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 4

One of this game’s many memorable points is that it jointly holds the record with its own sequel as one of the most fruit laden game ever (this is a good thing)! Items are spilled on a platform somewhere in the level every time an enemy is vanquished and other items appear seemingly out of nowhere now and then. There is an enormous amount of them to be found, some of which are very useful, particularly the umbrella which skips several levels, and there are power-ups and various kinds of screen-clearing smart bombs too. Some other items are even available in different colours, varying their effect. Also appearing liberally are lots of different fruits, gems and foods which can be seized for bonus points. Additional bubbles sometimes get ‘blown’ onto the screen by the air currents running through the caverns, and included amongst these are ‘special’ bubbles which, when popped, unleash special powers. These include fire bubbles, which spill fire which scorches enemy’s, lightning bubbles which sends a enemy-killing lightning bolt across the screen, and water bubbles, which send a torrent of water cascading down the platforms killing all enemies in its path. The last kind of bubbles to be found contain letters. Collecting them will gradually spell out E-X-T-E-N-D down the side of the screen. Complete the word to clear the round and get an extra life!

There are many more little intricacies and nuances to this game and to be honest, I could go on all day about them, but discovering them for yourself is one of the things that makes Bubble Bobble as great as it is. Despite initially seeming random, almost everything you do has some sort of affect on the game, from how quickly you finish a round right down to a particular digit of your score when you reach a certain point. Many games have been called classics over the years. Whether they truly are or not depends on your definition of the term I suppose, but few are as genuinely timeless as Bubble Bobble.

The cute, colourful graphics which are full of character, that music by Zuntata which could just be the catchiest tune of all-time, the flawlessly structured gameplay, the fiendish stage design, the fantastic fun of jumping around the platforms trying to time an attack to perfection, playing the game with a friend, it goes on and on. It’s regularly sited as one of the greatest games of all-time, and it’s hard to argue. Bubble Bobble isn’t just a single screen platform game, for many it’s the single screen platform game! It’s certainly true that it’s among the most enduring platform games of all-time and that kind of lasting adulation can only be for one reason…

RKS Score: 10/10

Tomba 2

Tomba 2 - Playstation Box

Tomba 2 for the PSX redefined a golden era of platformers that were though to be dead but weren’t! This game has some of the most innovative gameplay around for the PSX. Anyways, the game starts you out as caveman of some sort that goes on adventures like saving a crab for once…lol….it does contain some great graphics and interesting concepts. The game is just so damn fun and hard to find. I for once have only found one copy of it and has been loose which is still worth a pretty penny(around 35 US dollars loose according to my friend that owns a gaming store).
Tomba 2 - Gameplay Screenshot

This dude’s hair looks crazy being all pink and all but it sort of reminds me of the good old Joe & Mac games. Those were some classic fun games for sure. The gameplay pretty much goes from 2D to 3D at times. You can call it 2.5D if you please since it switches views at times. In the end, you are always following one road which keeps to its platforming genre.

Alright, I don’t want to say too much about this game to give stuff away but I do suggest picking a copy up if you ever see it in the while. I don’t recommend you buy it off ebay since it goes for a lot of money and we want to keep our costs down hehehhe…. You can also pick up part 1 of the Tomba series which is as good as this one.

Portable problems

PSP - Playstation Portable

Sony had the chance to shake up the portable console market and to maintain its grip on gaming. Somewhere along the line things went wrong after such initial promise. The latest iteration, the PSP Go, has boosted sales but does it have a long-term future?

When Sony announced a portable Playstation the specs were interesting, promising PS2-quality games in the palm of your hand, wireless multiplayer and much more on a clear, wide screen. Many experts did see a potential flaw in the plan, Sony’s new UMD format. The much-maligned optical disk brought technical problems and slow access, and the film companies did not fall in line to support it.

Sony also fought a running battle with the hackers and the homebrew specialists. The processing power gave the chance for great emulation, and the use of memory sticks opened the door to illegal downloads. Firmware updates were met with fast responses from the hackers, the process aided by replacement batteries and other hardware hacks.

Giving the console a make-over quickly proved both a good idea and a drawback for Sony. The PSP Slim models (the 2000 and 3000) both gave a brief increase in sales but made very little real change to the hardware. Sales of games slowed whatever the model, with many stores discounting them and UMD movies soon after release.

More problems hit Sony as its marketing plans backfired. Graffiti ads in America caused controversy, ads for the white PSP were considered racist and the “All I Want for Christmas is a PSP” campaign was embarrassing. The ad company started blogs and put up supposedly amateur videos of kids who wanted the machine for Christmas – only for the gaming community to pour scorn on the whole thing.

One of the biggest problems for Sony was tailoring games to the handheld console. Too often developers tried to shoe-horn a large game more suited to playing at home into a UMD. Gems such as Loco Roco and Patapon were hard to find among the predictable movie licenses and multi-format failures. The Monster Hunter series did wonders in Japan but was slow to propagate worldwide. Gamers bemoaned the lack of a second analogue stick, but did appreciate the ability to download old PS1 games.

The PSP Go was a badly guarded secret that was finally given substance at E3 in 2009. Gone was the UMD drive and in came a new wave of games. The likes of Rock Band Unplugged and LittleBigPlanet showed some ambition. There was still no second stick, the screen was smaller and the sliding mechanism (to hide the controls) seemed like a gimmick too far. Another nail in the coffin came from retailers who refused to stock it due to the lack of additional game sales – since all the games have to be downloaded from the PSN. Room (the PSP equivalent of Home) may just be another bad move. Will existing owners upgrade? Sony threw another spanner in the works by announcing plans for users to trade in UMDs, only to cancel the idea and generate a lot more bad press.

So does the PSP have a future? It will be up to gamers to provide it, but Sony needs to look carefully at its strategy.

 

My Favourite Games – Part 2

Well, much of today has been spent in the fruitless pursuit of an obscure Japanese game and an emulator to run it on. I’m starting to think it’s impossible to find the combination of desired game rom and the relevant emulator, despite the help of couple of good chaps from Retro Gamer forum. Anyone know how to emulate the Sharp X-1, or the NEC PC-98, or goodness know which other previously unknown 25-year old Japanese computers?! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure something out!

And so, to continue with the fairly unremarkable list of my favourite games, numbers 6 -10… Behold!

Super Mario World – SNES (1992)

Super Mario World

Proclaimed by many to be the greatest platform game of all-time, who am I to argue? After spending all of the preceding generation as a Sega fan-boy, I really didn’t want to like this game, but I finally relented and got myself a SNES along with this game, and I was soon converted! Despite looking far less flashy than a certain blue hedgehog’s debut on the rival Mega Drive, this game soon proved to me that looks aren’t everything! I can still remember the first time I completed it, I was so proud of myself but my parents didn’t even care about my achievement! Consisting of a sprawling 96 levels (many of which are secret), I felt justified in being proud of myself too! Despite its size, it never failed to consistently introduce new and creative features either, not least of which was Yoshi, now almost as famous as Mario himself, but the game was just so enjoyable to play through, and has so many nice touches. Has it ever been bettered? Not in my opinion…

Star Fighter – 3DO (1996)

Star Fighter 3DO

Now here’s one that most people haven’t even heard of, nevermind played! I bought this from the 3DO clearance bin in my local second-hand games store towards the end of the 3DO’s brief life for a mere £5, or something like that. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded it, but then came one of just a few genuine ‘wow’ moments in my gaming life! It was the first free-roaming 3D flying game I had ever played, and it was amazing! Sure, visually it’s looking pretty ropey nowadays, as all early polygon games are, but back then it was a revelation! Originally an Acorn Achimedes game, this spruced up version is, at its core, a mission-based 3D combat game, but it’s not just an out-and-out blaster, no siree! Strategy plays a big part too, especially during later missions, and there’s so much to do. Star Fighter was way ahead of its time; I’ve still not played anything else quite like this, and I’d dearly love to! If you want to try it out though, just steer clear of the horrifying Sega Saturn and Playstation versions!

F-Zero X – Nintendo 64 (1998)

F-Zero X N64

Along with Burnout 2, this is easily my favourite racing game of all-time. Nintendo took the controversial decision of reducing the graphical detail in the game (especially backgrounds) in order to keep it running smoothly at 60fps. Was it worth it? You’re damn straight it was! This could be the most exciting, edge-of-the-seat, sweaty palms, racing game ever made! Racing at speeds of up to 1500kph over courses that often look more like rollercoasters, I’m sure you can imagine why too! There are over 20 varied courses, each race is contested by 30 distinctive racers, and there’s even a four-player battle mode, so there’s no danger of getting bored anytime soon either. Simply the fastest, most exciting racing action to be found anywhere!

Space Station Silicon Valley – Nintendo 64 (1998)

Space Station Silicon Valley N64

This is another under-appreciated classic which I discovered thanks to the short-lived magazine, Total Control. I can’t even find any reference to that magazine with a quick Google search, but I’m glad it did exist or I may never have played this game! It’s a 3D platform/puzzle game in which you control the microchip of a malfunctioning robot called Evo, damaged when the ship he was on crashed into the titular space station it was meant to be landing on! Populating this space station are many robotic animals, which you can take over by leaping into them. Each animal has unique (and often very strange) abilities and, using them, you must perform set mission objectives (also often very strange) before you can move onto the next. It’s a highly original, creative, and funny game in which you never know what’s around the next corner!

The Revenge of Shinobi – Mega Drive (1989)

The Revenge of Shinobi Mega Drive

Or Super Shinobi, as it’s known in Japan, and this was the version I first played. When visiting my good friend, Stu’s, house one day after school I was excited to see that his brother had a gleaming new imported Japanese Mega Drive sitting in his room. It wasn’t long before Stu and his brother, Darren, were demonstrating the power of this new console, and this was the game they used to do it. And it worked! The awesome intro sequence, the breathtaking graphics, the now legendary music… I was still used to my Sega Master System and trusty Speccy at this time, so the effect this game had on me was profound, and it still holds a lot of good memories for me. And after all these years, it’s clearer than ever that this wasn’t all window dressing either, it still plays like a dream. Still the best game in the Shinobi series if you ask me!

Next five to follow tomorrow…

Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer - Title Screen

Ridge Racer (1994)
By: Namco Genre: Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PlayStation
Also Available For: Arcade, PlayStation 2 (as part of compilation)

Every now and then, you’ll get an arcade game that takes the world by storm. Everyone, everywhere is talking about it, playing it, or talking about playing it. Ridge Racer was one of these titles. When it was announced as a launch title for the PlayStation, its fans went into hysterics. “We can now play the best racing game of all-time in the comfort of our own homes!” they all exclaimed with glee. It arrived – they all bought a Playstation and a copy of it, played it for a couple of hours, and realised that Ridge Racer was far from the best racing game of all-time, after all. A valuable lesson to us all then, that good arcade games do not always make good home console games.

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exageration, but it’s true to some extent – at least as far as some of the games that don’t receive any or many substantial improvements / additions are concerned. That unfortunately, is where this port of Ridge Racer falls down. Of chief concern is the number of courses on offer here: one. Okay, it’s a good course, and a pretty big one, but even for an arcade game, one course just doesn’t cut it. Some fans of this game defend its appalling number of courses by claiming that Namco had a very short amount of time to develop it, having to rush it out in time for the PlayStation’s launch. This may be true, but I don’t think it’s the real reason – Ridge Racer Revolution – the sequel to this game, is not a significant improvement, after all, and Namco had plenty of time to get things right with that one.

Ridge Racer - Car select screen

As mentioned though, the course is more than half decent in itself. It is quite a large one and takes you from the city over bridges and through tunnels past such views as a construction site, mountainsides and a beach. Before racing on it, you must choose a car, and there are four available. Actually, one nice feature of this conversion is that while it is loading, you can play a single-screen version of Galaxians. If you manage to shoot all the aliens before the game loads, the quota of cars is trebled. Regardless of how many cars are initially available (all of which are fictional), each has differing attributes – acceleration, traction, handling and top speed all vary from vehicle to vehicle, and the usual manual or automatic transmission can be selected. With the car selected, it’s onto the race.

Ridge Racer - Gameplay Screenshot 1

Races are contested against eleven computer controlled opponents (you always start at the back of the grid, of course), with the difficulty level you select determining the number of laps of each race and the top speed of the computer-controlled cars. The highest difficulty setting also sees night races introduced and adds a small, more challenging section to the main course, and later on, some races are also contested over mirrored or reversed versions of the course. In the last race, you’ll have the opportunity to race the mysterious black ‘Devil Car’ which is the fastest in the game. Beat it and you’ll have completed the game, as well as having gained access to the black car yourself. The only other play mode is the time trial where you must try and beat the best lap times for the course in its various configurations.

Ridge Racer - Gameplay Screenshot 2

Graphically, Ridge Racer is impressive for an early title. Aside from a slight reduction in background detail and polygon count, it’s damn near arcade perfect. A helicopter follows your car around the course as you race, and after the race, you can watch a replay of your performance as seen from the helicopter. Races start at different times of the day like sunrise, midday or dusk, so some nice lighting effects and colours can be seen throughout, and the cars look nice, though they can’t be damaged. The in-game view can be switched between a front bumper mounted camera and a behind car camera. The ‘techno’ music selected for the game will probably be awesome or terrible, depending on your taste. It consists of six ‘bangin choons’ which you can choose from before racing. I suspect though, that even if you like this kind of music, they will begin to grate after a while. The composer obviously thinks highly of them though, as there’s a ‘music player’ feature on the option screen which shows cars racing around while the music of your choice plays. Luckily, the music featured here is not mandatory. In a fairly innovative feature, you can put your own music CD’s in your PlayStation and listen to them for a while instead. Sounds effects are completely forgettable and the engine sound is awful (lawnmower?), and unfortunately, an annoying commentator rambles on throughout each race too, saying the same stuff all the time (such as “Wow, what a start” regardless of whether you made a good start or not!).

Ridge Racer - Gameplay Screenshot 3

As for the gameplay… it’s a bit of a mixed bag really. The cars handling style has obviously been retained from the arcade version, i.e. ultra loose and power slidy. In fact, this game may well be the inventor of the now famous and much copied power slide, but it sure as hell didn’t perfect it first go! It’s hard to explain, but when grip is lost the car will most often start pivoting left and right around a central point of the car until your speed decreases substantially and you can start accelerating away again. It’s ridiculous, annoying, and completely unrealistic. Yes I know this is an arcade racer and realism is not the order of the day here, but some sort of basis in reality wouldn’t go amiss. Another annoying aspect of gameplay is that contact with other cars or the side of the course, even if it’s slight, results in a severe reduction in speed, and once you’ve hit one once, particularly as far as the roadside barriers are concerned, it’s very easy to keep bumping them, thereby ruining any chance of a decent finish. This obviously gets very annoying after a short time. Having said that, the challenge on offer here isn’t really befitting a game with one course – you’ll win the first race within your first three attempts to very little fanfare. But those (fairly major) points aside, Ridge Racer, as limited as it is, is very enjoyable for a day or two before it becomes boring. Of course, a two-player split screen mode would help matters, but there’s none of that here either!

Overall, Ridge Racer was an enjoyable arcade game, but is unsuitable as a home game without a radical overhaul, which this conversion has not received. There really is very little to return to here, after the first few days – the desire to improve lap times is something that prolongs the lifespan of most driving games, but when that game only has one course, it’s not nearly as attractive a proposition. When this first came out, I’m sure it had a big ‘Wow’ factor – after MegaDrive and SNES racing games, it was a genuinely impressive sight, but it didn’t take long before there were some decent alternatives – Gran Turismo, Colin McRae, Total Drivin’, Test Drive 4 & 5, Toca Touring Cars, Porsche Challenge, Need For Speed and many others are much more enjoyable driving games, and much more worthy of your time. It’s a shame too, there was real potential here. If Namco added just a few more courses, this could’ve been a half-decent game. If they tinkered with the car-handling, it could’ve been even better. Later games in the Ridge Racer series showed what was possible on the PlayStation – the stupidly-named Ridge Racer Type 4 has 8 courses and a two-player mode, for example, and is a great racing game. This original is not.

RKS Rating: 4/10

 

DCUO: Qualms With The Game And A Plea For Fixes

Bat Family DCUO screenshot
Bat Family DCUO screenshot

DCUO: Qualms With The Game And A Plea For Fixes

This is a copy/pasta of a post I made on the DCUO official forums.

I am writing this in hopes that SOE sees this and takes the time to actually start some sort of plan to save their latest MMO DC Universe Online. I am not calling in the apocalypse of this game but I am simply stating that right now it has been poisoned by bugs. I have played many MMORPGs and since World of Warcraft’s release there haven’t been many AAA MMO launches. Many games falter in their idea to cash in on the WoW craze and create clones and other games try mechanics that just seem to fall flat because they failed to fix game breaking bugs before release. I don’t have much faith in many of the MMO’s coming out in 2011 but I did feel and still do feel that DCUO was going to be the one to stand with the greatest potential.

Lawl? Did u not hear of Star Wars TOR, newb?

Okay, fellow forum readers. Yes I’ve heard of Star Wars but I do not have high hopes for that game as I generally don’t see things with rose tinted glasses. But this is besides the point. I don’t want to banter SOE with “IM GUNNA QUIT AND GO TO ” bull. I don’t want to put out an angry, unproductive statement out that does nothing but sound like another QQ fest. I want to state what I think they need to fix in order to prevent this game to going into a crippling decline.

People in my guild r already leaving, newb! Dis gaem is a failure.

I understand that people are leaving but people always leave MMO’s in their first month. It’s a common thing to see a mass exodus of people leave one game, talk highly of the new toy, and then pinch a loaf all over that toy, and go back to another game that presents the same grind or what not. That isn’t a great argument at this point as it is a common thing amongst MMO gamers.

Now that I have the generic forum responses out of the way, let me get into my issues with the game and why they are stunting to its growth.

League Chat Breaking

Never have I played a game where a chat is broken. Shout is never broken, yet somehow, some way, League chat breaks. How are groups of people supposed to connect to enjoy the game together? No one plays an MMO to play it in solidarity for everlasting months. The thing that keeps people playing is 1) Yes, content, but we’ll get into that later and 2) the ability to form bonds with fellow server mates for an enjoyable experience.

Those of you who have spent time with guildies or leaguers and just goofed off racing around cities, griefing someone as a group, or just doing something pointless can attest to the good times that can be had with friends and clansmen. Even without additional content, good friends can make a game last awhile, probably not as long as a game with constant content, but they’ll last longer than the average solo king player.

League Chat breaking over and over seems like an easy bug to fix as most MMO’s don’t seem to screw up their chat systems. This is the first time I’ve ever witnessed this kind of issue in anything ever. Without League chat, what’s the point of a League? How can people communicate or introduce themselves to one another? No bonds are made thus no establishment is set into the game’s community causing a rift of players to either leave to where they came from or hold out until the next MMO that will save them.

Queues Breaking

I can see how this is an issue that can take awhile to resolve but it should have been resolved early on towards the end of beta. Some sort of contingency plan should have been brought up to fix the issue if queuing loads being too dramatically hectic is causing them to shatter. If it isn’t the load of players using the queuing system that is breaking it, then what is it? What is so difficult to fix that it has taken two weeks for someone to still not figure out?

A lot of games have a ton of levels for you to grind through so it takes awhile for major sums of their player base to hit the endgame cap. DCUO makes you super right away by making hitting 30  a quick and easy thing to do. This is mostly because most of the content is for level 30 characters. That is great but when most of this content is governed by the queue system, well that is where the main focal point of the game’s design seems to get blinded.

How is a game that promotes fast leveling and quick end game experience supposed to last when their main method of entering these adventures is blocked by a queue system that breaks too often. PvP queues, Duo queues, Alert queues, all broken. The only queue that seems to work is The Vault and that is completely aside from anything else as it just teleports you to a single player map.

But OP! You can run to Arkham, Containment Facilities, and many more!

That’s true, poster. You could run to those instances. I, for one, have been. I refuse to allow a broken queue to stop me but when I can’t do my duos or get into certain instances, I feel like I’m being cheated. I’m not saying that SOE owes me Marks of Triumph (though, that’d be pretty nice.) but I do feel like I’m paying $15 a month to be blocked out of content I was able to play earlier in the week.

Watchtower Crashes

This bug personally hasn’t affected me but I can see where the issue can bother some people. In WoW, when Eastern Kingdoms or Kalimdor crashed, you couldn’t get on your character in that continent. However, there was another continent always available for both factions.

When Watchtower is down, you’re locking out a good chunk of one faction while the other isn’t hindered at all. This is an increasingly difficult issue because if queues aren’t working, and Watchtower is down, so goes your cross city travel system.

Bugs I Can Deal WIth For Now

There are certain bugs I can handle right now because there are work arounds for them, but that doesn’t mean to ignore them.

I can deal with the platform in Star Labs arena being exploited by flying enemies contesting the node from underneath since I’m a pro and took grounding abilities.

I can deal with the loot bug at the end of an alert where if I hit L before seeing the “overall data” chart  I won’t get to roll on the item. I already know to wait but I can see where a ton of people would be having an issue over this. (Protip: Leave the instance and you can still hit need out of the alert and the item will go to you and show up in your bag.)

You Sound Mad, Bro! Do You Like Anything About This Game?

Yes, I like this game and unlike many people I have faith in SOE. I know EQ2 was a pile of garbage but they really turned that game around. If it released maybe 2-3 years ago instead of 6 it could have been a contender, it could have been a somebody! They dish out content in that game constantly and it’s great to see a company throwing resources into a dying game like that (though they probably wouldn’t admit EQ2 is suffering.).

Of the MMO’s I’ve played at release, this game is pretty solid and enjoyable. I know they’ll keep pushing out content because they understand how big DC is right now with Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, the upcoming Green Lantern,  the role DC heroes play in children’s media, the announcement of the new Superman flick, and the success of Smallville.

The combat system isn’t something you find in any MMORPG to date and it works out for the action packed fluidity of the comic book genre. I never thought the class system in this game would work because class systems tend to fail in most Super Hero MMO attempts but I think this is probably one of the best implementations out there and I have no issues with the balance of paper, rock, scissors. I enjoy the three class trinity synergy and the ability for anyone to DPS.

The excitement of being able to fight side by side with notable characters, heroes and villains alike, adds to the feel of the game. The voice work is grand and I hope they can keep it up, unlike in EQ2 where they stopped their voice acting in newer installments of content. With Time Warner having some role over the development of this game, though, and their ability to profit from it as well, I can see the voice acting remaining relevant  if the game remains a standing contender in the current 2011 MMO battle.

So as you can see, I am satisfied with the game. I am still hyped up and enjoying everything I possibly can right now with DCUO. It’s fresh, different, and exciting especially with friends. I would like to keep it that way.

I know that SOE is planning a huge update of content in February but please do try to fix the bugs as well first or simultaneously. Additional content is useless with a dwindling player base.

 

SNK Launches 8 new classic NEOGEO titles for the PSP on PSN

NeoGeo Station logo
NeoGeo Station logo

Today via the Playstation Network, you will be able to download eight new classic games for your Playstation Portable. Here is the list of released games.

ALPHA MISSION II
A classic shooter from the early days of the NEOGEO, blasts off once again from NEOGEO Station! Equip up to three pieces of armor, which also serve as weapons, for a variety of attacks such as the laser and flamethrower. Use them to defeat the evil “Fulvar” and save mankind!

ART OF FIGHTING
The fighting game that redefined the genre, also the first 100 Mega Shock title, is back on NEOGEO Station! Its innovative spirit gauge and super attack moves, combined with exhilarating effects and dramatic event scenes, make it a must-play for all fighting fans.

BASEBALL STARS PROFESSIONAL
A title that launched with the NEOGEO in 1990, suits up for NEOGEO Station! Inspired by big league ball, it features a VS Mode and a Tournament Mode, dynamic animation, voiced commentary, and an array of up-close action shots for the complete baseball experience!

LEAGUE BOWLING
A simple yet exhilarating bowling game, rolls onto NEOGEO Station! Players select their own ball and which arm to use. Then it’s just choosing a direction and how much power to apply! Features three game modes and hilarious, over-the-top animations when you get that strike!

MAGICIAN LORD
A platformer from ADK and a NEOGEO launch title is resurrected on NEOGEO Station!  Set in a mystical realm, players go on a quest to defeat the evil wizard Gal Agiese and his horde of monsters. Use magic attacks and combine elemental orbs to change between six different forms!

SAMURAI SHODOWN
The original weapon-based fighting game, is back for battle on NEOGEO Station! Samurai, ninja, and other exotic fighters star in this classic that focuses on powerful strikes. Features a rage gauge that turns incurred damage into attack power, and intense, button-mashing weapon clashes!

SUPER SIDEKICKS
SNK’s first soccer game, takes to the field on NEOGEO Station! Dribble, pass, and shoot your way to victory as you go head to head with powerhouses from around the world in the SNK Cup. Come out on top and enjoy a toast worthy of a champion!

THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’94
The first game hailed as a dream match of SNK characters, makes its way to the NEOGEO Station! Still beloved by countless fans, its revolutionary three-on-three team battle system sets it apart from all other fighting games.

The titles are available for $6.99 each.

PSN gets Vagrant Story & Xenogears

Xenogears logo
Xenogears logo

Rejoice classic RPG fans soon you will be able your hands on two Square Enix titles. Although many of these titles have already been made available via PSN in Japan and even Europe poor USA has been left out in the cold until now. While we do not have a US release date as of yet it is forthcoming so keep it locked on the feed for more information.

Obsolete Intros: Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics logo
Final Fantasy Tactics logo

A true fan favorite, FFT incorporates a battle system that is not found within the RPG. While the turn base battle system is still in place the world is a series of tiles where the player moves toward the enemy.  Your actions are based on your class and you can choose various roles from the Final Fantasy world including black and white mages, summoner’s and thieves.

Your story takes place in Ivalice after a long standing war with its two neighboring nations. Not only are you dealing with rebuilding, but economic and political issues as well. After the death of the king a regent is put into place splitting the kingdoms allegiance in two which leads to the Lion War. Your main character is Ramza Beoulve a highborn cadet who finds himself in the middle of the war.

Olivier Vermeille: Zallag

Zallag logo
Zallag logo

Name: Olivier Vermeille

 

Company: Zallag

 

Profession: Marketing & PR Manager

 

Favorite Classic Game: Final Fantasy Tactics (PlayStation)

 

Quote: The first game I remember playing was a game called “Sorcery+” on Amstrad CPC. I can’t quite grasp what it was like but I remember it as something amazing with beautiful graphics. It would be quite painful to look at it today so I’m not going to dwell on this and will rather talk about the two games that took me away for hours and hours: “Ultima VII” and “Might & Magic 4&5”. These amazing game made me love RPG but I only played on PC at that time so I only knew about “Western” RPG ; up until the PlayStation and the famous Final Fantasy VII. This was another revelation yet it’s not my “Favorite Classic Game”. I’ve kept this spot for “Final Fantasy Tactics”.

 

It came out around the same time as Final Fantasy VII yet it was completely different. As the name suggest it was a Tactical RPG and the graphics were mixing 3D elements (for the battleground) with 2D (characters’ sprites).

 

What I liked about this game was how mature it was (despite its “cute” character design with noseless characters and funny Chocobos). It was about politics, religion, betrayal, love, murder, friendship…all mixed perfectly with a near-perfect gameplay experience. I won’t go into detail about the mechanics but let’s just say that it was extremely motivating to level up your characters. All thanks to the “jobs” system which lets you change jobs and still keep some of the abilities you previously learned.

 

All in all “Final Fantasy Tactics” is one of the greatest game I’ve played from beginning to end with accessible yet challenging difficulty as you progress. The team members that will join you as the story develops are also particularly memorable (they even included “Cloud” from Final Fantasy VII and explained his presence in the game in a very clever way as well!).

 

I can’t wait for the iPhone version to come out (which will be the adaptation of the PSP version as far as we know).


 

Optional) Bio/Current Event:

1° We release in December 2010 the Minis version (Playstation Network) of the amazing iPhone game “SHIFT”. Called “SHIFT extended” and compatible with both PS3 and PSP, this version will offer twice the content from the original game.

 

2° We have just released Gods vs Humans for WiiWare and PC. A nice mix of a Tower Defense game and a God Game with adorable characters 😉

Street Fighter X Tekken: Teaser Trailer

Street Fighter X Tekken
Street Fighter X Tekken

If you love crossover fighting games then next year is going to be grand. Not only do we have Capcom versus Marvel 3 to look forward to, but a Street Fighter crossover with Tekken. This game was first announced at Comic-Con and will involve both the Capcom and Namco staff.

Now for those of you use to the 3D environments of Tekken you will have to adjust to the 2D mechanics that will be used in this game. Fighting will be more Street Fighter like than Tekken with moves like Ryu’s hadouken being available. In addition you will be able to team up with fighter from both series in tag play and you will have the ability to pull of super combos that combine power attacks of your team members.

As for this video you only get a bit of animation and nothing else, but we can tell you that a few playable characters have been named including Ryu, Chun Li and Akuma from Street Fighter and Kazuya, Nina and Devil from Tekken.

Currently there is no direct release date, but the game will be available for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

Martyn Brown: Team 17 Software

Team 17 logo
Team 17 logo

Name: Martyn Brown

Company: Team17 Software Ltd.

Profession: Everything over the years, currently heading up business development at Team17.

Favorite Classic Game: Football Manager (ZX Spectrum, circa 1983)

Quote: “I openly admit hiding behind the sofa, not able to look, when I guided the mighty Lincoln City to Wembley.”

Bio: I co-founded Team17 in 1990 and have been here for 20yrs. Recent releases in 2010 for Team17 have been Worms Reloaded on Steam for PC,  Alien Breed: Impact on Steam and PlayStation Network for PS3, Alien Breed 2: Assault on XBLA and Steam, Worms 2: Armageddon on PlayStation Network for PS3 and also on iPhone and iPad. Forthcoming releases include Alien Breed 2: Assault on PSN, Alien Breed 3: Descent for XBLA, Steam and PSN and also Worms: Battle Islands for PSP from PlayStation Network as well.