Martian Gothic: Unification

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Martian Gothic: Unification

Survival horror titles tend to be less scary the older they get – they still retain some impact, but the ageing graphics can sometimes have a direct impact on how immersed you become in the game’s world.

Martian Gothic: Unification doesn’t suffer as much as you’d expect in this regard though, mainly due to the game’s slower paced nature.

It starts off with a fairly long opening cutscene, which sees a three person rescue team being sent into a Mars space base to investigate why nothing has been heard by its crew for ten months.

Martian Gothic - Unification - PlayStation

It’s a predicable set-up, but that doesn’t make the amount of effort that’s gone into the game’s presentation any less impressive.

The music is dripping with dread, and the opening voiceover sets the dark and foreboding tone rather well.

You’re then thrown into the game proper, and you have a choice of three characters to swap between – Kenzo, Matlock and Karne.

Martian Gothic - Unification - PlayStation

Each character has entered the base at different doors, mainly due to their instructions to ‘stay alone – stay alive.’ Yes, that’s possibly the worst reason ever to have characters split up, but it does mark the game out as being a little bit different.

This is mainly as you can only progress to certain areas by co-operating with your colleagues by, for example, sending each other relevant items using delivery tubes (or ‘vac-tubes’) and opening doors for the others by using computers in your section.

Martian Gothic - Unification - PlayStation
You won’t get anywhere by screaming like that…

 

The game is also aided a great deal by the decent voiceover work and a solid script that helps maintain your interest – although there are exceptions to this.

Kenzo talks like he’s on dope for example (just listen to entries 42 and 13 on this Youtube list for a sample), and he does ruin the atmosphere a little as a result – the way he calmly reports seeing a floating reanimated corpse is ridiculous.

Martian Gothic - Unification - PlayStation

But by and large, the script is well crafted, and you’ll be surprised at how much work that’s gone into it. There are several audio logs from members of the now departed crew, and each character has realms of voiced dialogue.

The game doesn’t even look too bad nowadays, mainly due to its Resident Evil style rendered backdrops with fixed perspectives.

There’s very little movement in each screen – but that actually works in the game’s favour, as it’s even scarier when the infected humans drag themselves into view.

Martian Gothic - Unification - PlayStation

Despite the game’s admirable qualities – of which it has several – it’s a little too frustrating to be enjoyable though (perhaps being enjoyable isn’t the aim of a survival horror title, but you get the point).

One minor problem are the awkward rotate and move controls which can make avoiding the re-possessed humans and various beasts a struggle (the constantly changing perspectives when you’re going from place to place doesn’t help), but more problematic is the occasionally confusing design.

With three characters the possibility to miss something vital is tripled, and the unhelpful map doesn’t help matters.

Martian Gothic - Unification - PlayStation

Some of the puzzles also have overly vague solutions, and you can often be wandering aimlessly looking for the right item or clue – this isn’t ideal when enemies re-spawn constantly. The fact there are very few complete guides to the game tells its own story.

As a result, there are probably very few people who will enjoy Martian Gothic: Unification nowadays – but if you have the patience of a saint you may be able to savour the game’s finer qualities, namely its plot and script.

 

The Simpsons Wrestling

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The Simpsons Wrestling

 While the early 90’s had plenty of games based on The Simpsons, I really think The Simpsons Wrestling in 2001 was the start of the modern era of their video games. While the older games featured mainly Bart, The Simpsons Wrestling featured most of the well-known characters.
The Simpsons Wrestling-PSOne
The late 90’s and early 2000s were also an era of countless wrestling games, so I guess a wrestling game based on a beloved cartoon was inevitable. The game features a cast of the whole Simpsons family, friends like Apu and Barney, and less-known characters like Bumblebee Man and Professor Frink.
The Simpsons Wrestling-PSOne
 The game features a similar set-up to other 3D wrestlers, but with the addition of power-ups such as donuts to make you faster. It also featured original dialogue from the cast of the show, and many of the characters that don’t show up to wrestle can be seen in the audience.
The Simpsons Wrestling-PSOne
Overall The Simpsons Wrestling received a very harsh reaction from critics. It came out after the end of the PS1’s prime, and neither the graphics nor the game-play impressed many. I was a huge fan of the show, but I didn’t get a PS2 (which could also play PS1 games) until a few years later and by that time I had forgotten all about it.

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile

“Smooth sprite animation, screen-filling spell effects, 2D backgrounds as good as the PlayStation can muster, and superb character art.”

Yup even the reviews sounded different back when……

Valkyrie Profile ヴァルキリープロファイル is a role-playing video game, released for original Playstation on December 22, 1999 in Japan. An enhanced port of the game was later released for the PlayStation Portable under the name Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.

Valkyrie Profile

Loosely based on Norse mythology, players assume the role of a valkyrie who recruits and prepares the souls of fallen warriors, before sending them to Valhalla for a final apocalyptic battle between the Æsir and Vanir: Ragnarok.

Several improvements were made to the English release of Valkyrie Profile, including more cinematics and the ability to adjust all characters’ armor.  Some editing occurred during translation, but visible blood, drinking, and sexual comments remain.

Valkyrie Profile

Badrach’s smoking was cut out but the animation of him smoking after a successful battle remains, minus the cigarette.

Original Playstation discs range from $59 to a staggering $499 for a mint edition.

Game Review on IGN where it scored an immaculate 91%
Game Faq and Walkthrough

Weird Games: Thrill Kill

thrill-kill-gameplay screenshot-

Perhaps in the age of movies like Saw and Hostel a game like Thrill Kill would not seem weird to anyone, but back in 1998 the game was just a little too controversial for the publishers and so it was pulled from the U.S. market.

Thrill Kill was originally created for the Sony PlayStation and was to be a Mortal Kombat like game where you could perform trill kills in place of fatalities that featured blood, guts and disembowelment. In addition, there were moves with names such as “Bitch Slip” and “Swallow this” nothing stranger than what you might hear on a cable stations reality television show.

thrill-kill-gameplay screenshot-

Besides the brutal nature of the gameplay there was also the matter of fetish costumes, BDSM and sexual references that in then end proved too much for the company set to release the game. The game was developed by Paradox Development and published by Virgin Interactive which is owned by Electronic Arts.

thrill-kill-gameplay screenshot-

The story followes ten souls who died and went to hell and were then pitted against each other in a tournament by Marukka, the Goddess of Secrets. Whoever survived the tournament would be reincarnated effectively being rereleased back onto the citizens of earth (oh joy!). One of the innovated designed of the game was that up to four players could fight at the same time which at the time was not done before.

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Now hype gave this game more press than anything else. First it was cancelled for being too controversial which in itself will make people want it. Then former employees that worked on the game released a version onto the internet. Because of the crazy thrill kills and mature content the game had sort of a cult following, but having played it, it was not really that good even for 1998.

Latest sales figures show all three modern consoles now top lifetime NES sales

xbox 360, playstation 3, nintendo wii

Latest sales figures show all three modern consoles now top lifetime NES sales

The Nintendo Entertainment System defied the odds as the 1980s came to a close.  Released in a video game market that American retailers had written off as a fad, the NES not only revived the gaming entertainment industry but set sales figures that blew away the earlier console generation and the previous king, the Atari 2600.

The NES lifetime sales figure of  61.91 million consoles became the biggest prize for anything released after it.  Going into the current crop of gaming consoles, only two consoles ever topped the lofty mark set by the NES:  the original PlayStation and the PlayStation 2.

Now, according to sales-tracking website VGChartz.com the PlayStation 3 has now also topped the lofty NES numbers.  Not only does this put all three PlayStation consoles into the top five best-selling consoles of all-time, but it also means the PS3 joins the Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 in that short list.  All three modern consoles have now topped the NES lifetime sales figures, a first for any console generation in history. (Author’s note: All three consoles have also topped the NES software sales figures, according to the same website.)

“It was just a matter of time before gaming became so popular that the modern big three topped the original console that revitalized the gaming industry,” said Eric Cummings, founder of the group Gaming World Wide.  “I’m happy about it.  It means that the industry has really arrived.”

Another gamer who remains an NES player to this day provided similar thoughts.

“I feel this is proof that gaming is more than just people who play games,” said Eric Perez, host of The 8-Bit Eric Show.  “It is part of a worldwide culture.  The fact that three separate consoles have outsold what I feel was the pioneer of revitalizing gaming shows that the industry is in great shape.  The Nintendo Entertainment System will forever hold it’s place in history, but this is also history in the making.  The next generation of consoles will be something to watch.”

The Top Ten Selling Game Consoles of All-Time (source: combined data from VGChartz.com and Wikipedia listings.  Excludes handheld gaming devices.  All stats are as of date of this article’s publishing.)

1.  PlayStation 2 (Sony, 2000) – 153.68 million units

2.  PlayStation (Sony, 1994) – 104.25 million units

3.  Wii (Nintendo, 2006) – 95.25 million units

4.  XBox 360 (Microsoft, 2005) – 65.80 million units

5.  PlayStation 3 (Sony, 2006) – 62.11 million units

6.  Nintendo Entertainment System (Nintendo, 1983, 1985) – 61.91 million units

7.  Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Nintendo, 1990) – 49.10 million units

8.  Mega Drive / Genesis (Sega, 1988, 1989) – 39 million units

9.  Nintendo 64 (Nintendo, 1996) – 32.93 million units

10. Atari 2600 / VCS (Atari, 1977, 1985) – 30 million units

 

What are the best-selling video game consoles of all time?

gaming-consoles

With the holiday season upon us, it appears each modern-day video game console is primed to do more big numbers.  While this is nothing new to video gaming throughout most of the past three decades, the sheer numbers are telling of just how much the industry has grown and how much more it may grow before it levels off.

The original “must have” game console was the Atari Video Computer System, later called the Atari 2600.  While it didn’t catch on right away, the 2600 was the clear sales leader of the early generations, selling around 30 million units in it’s lifetime, six times more than competing consolesIntellivision and ColecoVision sold combined.

Even with such numbers, however, the lifetime figures of Atari’s classic console have been beaten many times over.  While 1996’s Nintendo 64 failed to catch on like retailers had hoped, it still managed to outsell the 2600 in the end my almost 3 million units.  Nonetheless, it was tagged a failure by Nintendo compared to previous consoles.

classic_video_game-consoles

The biggest Nintendo console for some time was theNintendo Entertainment System, which moved almost 62 million consoles in it’s lifetime, saving the video game industry in North America.  Only recently did Nintendo manage to defeat it’s own sales record with the Nintendo Wii, which has now hit the 90 million unit mark.

The NES may come down the lifetime charts by the end of some other console runs, however.  The XBox 360 is nearing the 58 million unit mark with Sony’s PlayStation 3 not far behind it with over 55 million units sold as of this writing.

Even though it is in last place in the current console generation, the PlayStation 3 may still reach the top five selling consoles of all time by the end of it’s run, giving Sony three of the best selling consoles ever.  The PlayStation 2rules the roost with a whopping 153.5 million units sold, a mark that beat Sony’s own record with the originalPlayStation, which shipped over 102 million consoles.

While this article isn’t including handhelds it is interesting to note that the Nintendo DS has sold 149 million units (not including the 3DS model), a number that means it’s already trumped the unreal sales numbers of the original GameBoyhandhelds that had ruled the market for over a decade.

classic-consoles

Here is a list of the top selling consoles of all time, according to Wikipedia.  Where do your favorite systems rank?

1.  Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) – 153.5 million

2.  Sony PlayStation (1994) – 102.49 million

3.  Nintendo Wii (2006) – 89.36 million *

4.  Nintendo Entertainment System (1985) – 61.91 million

5.  Microsoft XBox 360 (2005) – 57.6 million *

6.  Sony PlayStation 3 (2006) – 55.5 million *

7.  Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990) – 49.10 million

8.  Sega Genesis (1988) – 39 million

9.  Nintendo 64 (1996) – 32.93 million

10. Atari VCS/2600 (1977) – 30 million

11. Microsoft XBox (2001) – 24 million

12. Nintendo GameCube (2001) – 21.74 million

13. Sega Dreamcast (1998) – 10.6 million

14. NEC TurboGrafx-16 (1987) – 10 million

15. Sega Saturn (1994) – 9.5 million

* = Console still in production as of press time.

Games to Buy: Dec 7th 2010

game store
game store

So you survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and somehow you still have a few bucks in your wallet, well good thing this week there are only about three games that make our worthy buy list.

First a little change in the Games to buy format. We will now intertwine both PC and Console games into one which means that when we have a week that has a ton of games for both it will be a harsher cut for the ones we think are worth buying. Remember this is an opinion piece and for the most part we leave sports games out of it because we know you sports fans are going to pick up the latest edition.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

There is tons of information on this game and honestly if you are a World of Warcraft player you are getting this game case closed. The overall story is an ancient evil dragon called Deathwing laid a path of destruction that reshaped the world. What this means for gamers is the old world has changes so the land that you leveled up playing has changed forever. There are a ton of changes to how the character classes work, two new playable races and a ton of new dungeons and loot. Blizzard also have made changes to make gameplay quicker for those of us with little time.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$$

Tron: Evolution

Disney has pulled out all the stops in the sequel to the cult classic Tron and the same has been done with the game. Although some critics have given it a less than likeable score the game does look well put together. You have a mix of the classic Tron including the light cycle races and the action adventure levels where you chase down viruses in the virtual world running and jumping through the visually stunning city. There is also a multiplayer aspect that allows you to compete against up to ten other players. You can play Tron Evolution online or offline.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

Bejeweled 3

Perhaps there isn’t much one can say about a new puzzle game, but the fact is Popcap had and still has a winner with this game. Bejeweled can be found on pretty much anything from the PC to your phone and everywhere in-between. Now you have a brand new game that keeps to the classic gameplay but added cool additions including a 40 mission quest mode that has 11 mini games. There have also been updates to the four game modes found in Bejeweled 2. Finally you get new backgrounds a tweak in the music department an even clearer visuals. All in all if you love puzzle games this is worth a buy at only $20.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

NewU Fitness First Mind Body

So you stumbled upon a Karma Sutra book and convinced your girlfriend to give some of the new positions a try. Unfortunately, both you and she are out of shape and could not even do the beginner positions. I guess it’s back to missionary for you, well maybe not.

Thanks to the Wii, brining you wastes of time since 2006, you can now Yoga your way to the backwards sun pretzel position in just a few short weeks. This hot new program will teach you how to get your mind and body in sync preparing you for long nights of passion. Keggle’s add-on pack not included.

Buy Worthiness:  X

Gabe Gonzales: MoneyPlum Media

monkey plum media logo

Name: Gabe Gonzalez

Profession: CMO of MonkeyPlum Media, and self-appointed leader of the agency revolution

Favorite classic game: Metal Gear Solid (Sony Playstation)

Quote: I never played another game that had the attention to detail, amazing environments, quirky sense of humor, and was able to suck me into another reality like MGS. “Huh!? Who’s footprints are these?” that was awesome.

A game that truly has replay value, even to this day. Even if to just remember and relive my first time with MGS

It’s such a beautifully built game that I want to see its environments everywhere, so I created Shadow Moses Island for L4D and L4D2. Surprisingly the map made it into the pages of PGGamer’s top 10 L4d Mods. I have to finish them, but I seem to have builder’s block. I can assure you the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th maps are progressively (to-the-tenth-power) better than the 1st map…now if I can only focus on finishing them, it will be epic. Thank you Kojima. I heart you…


Interview – Tomas Danko (VO Producer at DICE)

Tomas Danko at studio
Tomas Danko Studio

Interview – Tomas Danko (VO Producer at DICE)

What do you do for your job, where do you work, and what do you like the most about it?

My official title is VO Producer and I work in-house at Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (DICE) in Stockholm where we do the Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge franchises. I am part of the audio team (which makes us all Sound Designers according to the EA matrix), and my primary focus is everything that has to do with dialogue (VO means Voice Over).

Among other things I work with writers and game designers to develop a script/story, cast actors, record and direct dialogue, post edit and design/sound effect all dialogue not to mention all the work needed to implement it in the game (i.e. scripting, logic triggers, mixing and more).

I like almost all of it, although working for a week trying to beat a 500,000 cell Excel sheet into submission is not the most fun I can think of, even though it has to be done at times. I figure I love my job because it makes me do totally different things every month or so. Some examples: One week I record and direct actors in a studio in London, or outdoors in Stockholm. The next week I edit wave files. Third week I design radio filter effects, and then I create Boolean logic tree structures to do automatic triggering of sounds in the game. It never gets boring.

What was your first computer and how did you get it?

My first computer was a Casio PB-100. I used it to program a lot of small games and demos with it, and my math teacher in school had her son (he studied computers at the University) provide me with code problems to solve. My second computer was the Commodore Vic 20, and I guess the rest is history since it steered me onto the glorious path of Commodore computing.

What was the first video game you played?

My memory eludes me, but probably Pong if you exclude all the games I programmed myself on the PB-100 and Vic 20.

What is your favorite video game platform of all time?

It has to be the Commodore 64, of course!

What’s your favorite video game?

There were too many games taking too much time out of my youth to pick just one. However, I spent an awful lot of time playing Paradroid, Pirates, Kickstart, Bruce Lee, Exploding Fist and Rally Speedway among other games.

What’s your favorite story of the computer or video game industry? (could be yours or somebody else’s)

It has to be the little bug in Kickstart on the Commodore 64 where the head of the motor cycle driver sometimes flickered one line or two into the upper border if you managed to jump high enough. Someone (1001 Crew, IIRC) took a deeper look into it and the rest is demo scene history (fully opening the borders).

What do you prefer, the present or past, considering the state of the computer scene?

The past, obviously, as far as the scene. It will never be the same again. The present and future when it comes to making computer games. It is a lot more fun nowadays as opposed to when I did games on the Sega Megadrive and Sony Playstation.

What’s the most influential video game you have ever played, that changed your life?

Tomas Danko playing tabletop games.
Tomas Danko Dice

Kung-Fu Master.

When you were younger, who were the people you considered to be legends in the computer and video game field?

There are too many to mention them all. I’ll just say Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway and call it a day.

What is your favorite old school gaming studio/developer?

It probably needs to be Andrew Braybrook (Hewson Consultants Ltd, Renegade Software).

What music inspired you to follow your career?

Jean-Michel Jarre besides all the ancient heroes making music on the Commodore 64. On the whole, I figure computer music had a more profound impression on my aural aesthetics than anything else.

What do you think the future for gaming will be?

It seems to take a couple of parrallel paths at the moment.
More platforms are moving towards as well as further developing movement based gaming such as the precursor Wii console.
A lot of gamers want to be entertained in a dumbed down way, halfway point and click and get through the experiences of a game without having to work too hard or think too much about it. Hence a lot of “shooting gallery” single player campaigns where everything runs in a linear and tubular fashion.

Finally, and this is the nice part as far as I’m concerned, some people are working hard to push the narrative aspects of gaming further in order to get on par with the Hollywood movie industry in regards to telling a story and giving the player an emotional experience as well. Merging the knowledge and methodologies created and perfected by Hollywood with the non-linear and interactive core mechanics found in games, to give the player a brand new experience in the future. This is where the frontier lies in gaming, as far as I’m concerned.

Do you prefer games that are personalized single player experience or games with a lot of interaction with other people?

I like both, to be honest. From a developer’s point of view, I find the single player campaign to be the most fun and challenging to work on. But some of the most rewarding gaming moments in recent time for me tend to be the in-house multi play tests when working on various Battlefield titles.

What projects are you involved with that you are willing to share with us? (not top secret ones!)

We just released Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and I did some VO and sound design on it. At the moment I’m working as VO Producer on the multi player component of Medal of Honor, other than that I’m working on another Battlefield franchise title and that’s all I can share at the moment.

What advice do you have for somebody that wants to be involved in the video game industry?

Start working with some friends on a small game and release it for free or work with making mods for Unreal engine games. Look into the iPhone platform and business model, and make your own career. Try and get an intern position at a studio.

***

I thank Tomas for taking the time to answer us and help us get to know better his gaming and computing past, as well as his contribution to the computer and gaming industry.