Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Now you may be saying: "Mr. Animal, how do you propose we fix the problems with the VGAs?" Well, Kahlief Adams said it best in his post http://thespawnpoint.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/un-occupythevgas/#wpl-likebox when he stated that Spike should pay attention to the steep decline in viewership that G4 suffered as a result of them abandoning legitimate video game conversation for low brow, bottom denominator garbage television. G4 has irreparably damaged it's relationship with a lot of gamers, and Gametrailers' involvement with the VGAs will result in the same if changes aren't made. One of those may be to further trim the show if you aren't gonna give the awards out on air. The brief section where they rattled off award winners fired off about 10 to 15 awards so fast that I don't remember who won what. either spend the 2 hours talking about more than trailers and give out some awards or just do a show building hype for upcoming games, because your "awards show" isn't really doing either well.
I don't want to dislike the VGAs, but they make things so easy. The good thing is, they are in a great position, because the show can be tweaked to make it worth watching by more than a few "dude bros" who are killing time before they hop onto Xbox Live or PSN and yell ignorant things at each other over Call Of Duty.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The first thing one will notice about Clash At Demonhead is the incredible tight control. Jumps and attacks are precise and the hit detection is spot on. There is nothing that feels off about this game as far as the control mechanics. I'd venture as far as to say this game has some of the most responsive controls I've encountered in a video game, and I've played a bunch of them over the years.
Oh, I almost forgot an important thing about Clash At Demonhead. THERE IS A SUIT IN THIS GAME THAT LETS YOU SWIM THROUGH LAVA!!!
Story wise, it's nothing out of the ordinary with other games of that era, as it starts out as a simple rescue mission, but evolves into something much more. There's a demon that tries to control the main character, Billy Blitz, through mind control, and something about a doomsday bomb. The story is pretty random, but it just gives us a means to an awesome game.
Clash At Demonhead had some pretty good level design, as it required players to have to take multiple paths and do a bit of backtracking (much like in Metroid) to find the right items needed to advance. There's also an in game shop system that can be accessed whenever a player has a "shop call" from this shop, a player can purchase a wealth of items (much like the classic Sega shooter Fantasy Zone), which can also assist in gaining access to some seemingly unreachable areas. this shop system and the occasional grinding for money to buy items gives Clash At Demonhead a feel similar to Zelda II, and adds a mild RPG feeling to the run and gun gameplay.
So, tight controls, deceptively deep gameplay, and a story that seems pretty deep for an NES game all make Clash At Demonhead sound like one of the great games on the NES. Why wasn't it? That's a hard question to answer, as many folks only know the name because of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Regardless of how one knows of the game's existence, I highly recommend Clash At Demonhead as it is one of the absolute best things I've played on the NES.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
When THQ released Saints Row in 2006, many gamers regarded it to be nothing more than a poor man’s Grand Theft Auto despite it receiving a great deal of commercial and critical acclaim. Its sequel garnered a similar level of success, and it was inevitable that a third game would be released. What nobody expected was how ridiculous this game would be style wise. The third installment of the Saints Row franchise takes everything you knew about sandbox games with a crime-laden storyline and gives it a swift kick in the grapes, but it unfortunately does little or nothing to correct some of the problems with this genre.
Saints Row: The Third begins with a brief synopsis of the events between the end of Saints Row 2 and this current chapter. Essentially, The 3rd Street Saints have risen to worldwide popularity, and as such have become far too occupied with their media empire to keep control of the streets they conquered. The game opens with gang members robbing a bank with an actor in tow. Unbeknownst to the Saints, the bank is owned by a rival organization called “The Syndicate”, and through a series of ridiculous events, that partly involve falling from an airplane, engaging in a gunfight, reentering the airplane, shooting folks, leaving the plane again, and shooting more enemies before grabbing a fellow gang member and parachuting safely to the ground, the Saints land in a new city which is controlled by The Syndicate. This leaves you having to rebuild your gang in a new city and topple anyone in your way.
Saints Row: The Third doesn’t do anything new, but what it does is incredibly fun. You’ll have a ridiculous level of customization of your character and any vehicles you acquire. You can add any and all manner of upgrades to cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even golf carBack to character customization for a brief second, at any point in the game, you can guide your character to the plastic surgeon office and change your facial features, build, skin tone, and gender. Clothing customization is almost bottomless, and you can pretty much wear (or not wear) whatever you want to during gameplay. From regular outfits, to animal costumes, to other, more creative, states of dress. For instance: you can go into your safe house, remove your pants, go outside pantless and start a gun fight with police, a rival gang, or both. Tell me that can’t make for amazing moments.
Speaking of amazing, the variety of weapons available is utterly unheard of in this genre of game. There are guns that fire regular bullets, but then there are guns that fire little octopi that will cause victims to flail around like jackasses, a gun that shoots chum at an enemy triggering a shark attack, a wrist mounted laser much like the Mega Buster, and a bunch of other craziness. Once you unlock a weapon, you just have to keep it stocked with ammo and store it at a safe house for future use. Oh and I almost forgot that early in the game, you get your hands on the controls to a military drone. The bombing runs are magic.
I’ve gone on at length about what I like about Saints Row The Third, but I have yet to play a “perfect game” and as good as this one is, it has it’s flaws. There is a rather large amount of popup throughout the game, most notably when driving. There are random glitches that take place throughout the game as well. There are instances where your character would fall through the game. It can be infuriating, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for sandbox games. I expect this to be something that Volition and THQ will release a patch for, but it shouldn’t have to come to this. A game should be finished when it is released, but this has become the norm and it won’t keep gamers from playing and loving this game.
If it weren’t for a few flaws, Saints Row: The Third would be a shoe in for game of the year. As it stands, it’s a pretty good game with flaws that would deem a lesser game unplayable, but Volition developed a hell of a game that at it’s core is all about the fun of playing video games. Saints Row: The Third is built for gamers that want the gritty adult theme of Grand Theft Auto, but with the limitless potential of imagination that something like Little Big Planet. Saints Row: The Third has effectively set the bar for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V to match, and it’s a hell of a bar to reach.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Is the Kinect and it's "controller free" a viable option for gamers trying to blend their hobby with a healthy lifestyle change? Guest Blogger Chris Louis chimes in with his initial thoughts on EA Active 2 for Kinect.
Most people are tired of monthly expenditures (cell phone, internet/cable, apartment/house bills, etc.) and would prefer to have a gym membership without adding to that list. With EA Active 2, the gamer can enjoy the benefits of a trainer- implemented workout without the monthly monetary membership or social pitfalls of a public gym. EA Active 2 is packaged with a large green elastic band & 2 straps that when combined, give the gamer dozens of different exercise abilities. Also included is the heart monitor unit, which is a velcro-strapped sensor that rests on your lower forearm (batteries are included). Lastly is the actual game disc. The title launches and the game is walked step-by-step through setup (including gamer’s name, age, sex, weight, & workout intensity), introduction (allowing the gamer to choose a male or female trainer), and program details (which exercises you want to perform, lifestyle surveys, & EA Active 2 communities of fellow exercising gamers).
Upon initial equipment setup & information input into the game (which took about 10 minutes), the gamer is given the choice to create their own workout blueprint or follow a pre-programmed 9 week curriculum. I recommend to fellow first-timers to follow the 9 week program. Be sure to have a towel & water/sports drink alongside as you work out. Multiplayer mode is available with two gamers working out at the same time. After the first time you have performed an exercise/drill during any previous session, the program skips the tutorial. This allows the gamer to maintain their heartrate & workout pace promoting a more aerobic workout, adding to the massive on-screen calorie burn tabulation.
There are occasional issues with the Kinect not picking up exact motions made during exercises. You will either see your avatar motionless or a “Player not recognized” prompt appears and pauses the workout abruptly. This is remedied by repositioning yourself or in-game Kinect Tuner calibration. Voice commands to the Kinect to “Pause Workout” or “Skip Exercise” are not always recognized & the user needs Kinect–manipulated hand menu navigation or the use of a controller to perform these functions. In regards to the heart monitor unit, the only annoyance lies in sweat accumulating on the forearm with the unit sometimes causes the unit to move & the on-screen BPM of the heartrate is temporarily ceased. A retightening of the strap usually fixes this issue. Additionally, I’ve already encountered exercises that, due to the lack of precision of the Kinect’s motion reading, I always skip to due to frustration.
With my first week completed, I have burned over 1000 calories and gained 100 GamerScore to my profile. Win! It coincides with this review because this is only a game, not a long-term fitness device. Supplementing the EA Active 2 workout plan with a sensible free weightlifting, jogging, and/or other sporting activity is highly recommended. $60 retail is the cost of the package, but a savvy shopper can find this cheaper & find themselves with a very good fitness title. After my 9 week session, I’ll tell you whether you need to pony-up or cancel your gym membership for EA Active 2.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Metal Slug takes the tried and true "one or two men against an army" storyline that has been a part of video games since the 80s and adds in rescuing POWs. In later games in the series, the enemy soldiers are replaced with aliens towards the end of the game and all hell breaks loose. Back to those POWs for a second: they may be some of the most entertaining NPCs seen in a video game in the 90s, as well as some of the most useful. They give you weapons, point bonuses, and on rare occasions, they will fight alongside you. I remember the first time I rescued a POW and he not only gave me a homing missile power up then followed me for a little while throwing fireballs at enemies like he was Ryu from Street Fighter.
I have gone this entire post and haven't even touched on the vehicle that the series is named for. The Metal Slug Tank is a throwback to S.O.P.H.I.A. from the Blaster Master game, a monster that will maul anything in it's path. Maybe I should say it will as long as it doesn't take too much damage. So maybe it's less like S.O.P.H.I.A. and more like that thing at the beginning of Contra III. While Metal Gears and Rush have changed, the Metal Slug has remained the same over the course of the series, much like a classic Pickup Truck. If it ain't broke, no need to fix it though, is there?
The Metal Slug series is 15 years old this year, but it's heritage runs deeper. It's gameplay is steeped in 8 Bit and Arcade tradition, and development team at Nazca, and publishers at SNK poured every bit of their history into what became the last great 2D action game series. If you still own a console that will play it, I advise you to track down a game in the Metal Slug series. With the exception of the first game on the Neo Geo AES(the MVS version is much cheaper), you can find may games in the series for decent prices. I am always willing to recommend something good to fellow gamers and I fully recommend the Metal Slug series to anyone looking for hardcore side scrolling action.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Ninja Baseball Bat Man - Arcade - Irem: I discovered this one recently, as it wasn't in any arcade I ever entered during my younger years. I must say that Ninja Baseball Bat Man is the most ridiculous thing I ever played and it is still all kinds of fun.
Knights of the Round - Arcade/SNES - Capcom: Capcom had a way with this genre in the early 90s, and Knights of the Round was one of their high water marks. Everything about this one screamed quality, and it never got old.
Target Renegade - NES - Taito: The direct sequel to the game that spawned Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and and other classic games, Target Renegade is everything you should want in a Beat Em Up. It's tough, fun, and last just long enough for you to feel good about popping it into your NES.
Final Fight(series) - Arcade/SNES/Sega CD/NES/Saturn/PS2 - Capcom: The game that started life as Street Fighter '89 had enough legs to stand on it's own. Final Fight gave birth to a big chunk of the cast of the Street Fighter Alpha series, an excellent 8 Bit retelling of the original game in Mighty Final Fight, and sadly spawned two minor turds in Final Fight Revenge and Final Fight Streetwise. All in all, the Final Fight franchise is the stuff gaming dreams are made of.
Streets of Rage(series) - Genesis/Mega Drive - Sega: Sega was at one point known for bring their cutting edge arcade titles home, but this series was rooted in the rise of Sega's 16 Bit consoles, the Genesis and it's European/Asian counterpart, the Mega Drive. The series was known for it's crisp gameplay and thumping soundtrack. The high water mark for the series had to be second game, which was so widely praised that it shipped with the system for a while. Fans have been clamoring for a new game in the series for a while, so maybe Sega can partner with Platinum games and deliver.
TMNT: Turtles In Time - Arcade/SNES - Konami: The first arcade game featuring the Ninja Turtles was good, but Turtles in Time may possibly be the measuring stick by which all Beat Em Ups are compared. Everything about Turtles In Time was magic attached to a controller, and not even that horrible remake from Ubisoft could change that fact.
Battletoads(series) - Same As Double Dragon - Tradewest: The original game in the series is in all honesty one level (Turbo Tunnel) away from being quite honestly the best game in the genre, period. The only reason the game hasn't seen a sequel is that bloggers keep complaining about the difficulty so much that Rare(who developed the original game) thinks it would be a disaster to put it out. I honestly don't blame them either. Gamers are crybabies now.
Guardian Heroes - Sega Saturn/XBLA/Game Boy Advance - Treasure: For a developer like Treasure, a lot of your catalog can be considered high water marks in a genre, but Guardian Heroes was a GENRE DEFINING release at a time when good Beat Em Ups were becoming hard to find. Guardian Legends not only featured great gameplay, but also inserted branching paths, multiple endings and a karma meter for high replayability.
Castle Crashers - XBLA/PSN - The Behemoth: Part Gauntlet, part Crime Fighters, and part Alien Hominid is the best way I can describe Castle Crashers. It may have been the first thing that really made me want to pay money for Xbox Live. It's that great.
Metamorphic Force - Arcade - Konami: The best Konami Beat Em Up not attached to a license, and there are little gnomes in it like the ones in the Golden Axe series that can be beaten up for powerups.
Golden Axe(series) -Pretty Much Everywhere - Sega: Before Sega Developed the Streets of Rage games, their big entry into the Beat Em Up category was a homage to the days of swords and sorcery called Golden Axe. Sega's ubiquitous barbarian tale has spawned several sequels, including a Master system RPG, a Saturn fighting game, and a horrid 3D action game on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
River City Ransom - NES - Technos Japan: A Beat Em Up with RPG elements? Those two things shouldn't mesh well, but in River City Ransom they did in masterful fashion. It still holds up as one of the best games on the NES and one of the best games in the genre, period.
I didn't mention a few games in the list (The Simpsons, The Punisher, X-Men) Mainly because those are always mentioned. I love those, but I wanted to mention lesser known games like Ninja Baseball Bat Man and Target Renegade because they deserve it, and let's be honest, it's my list, so I can name what I want. These were a few of my favorites of the Beat Em Up genre, but if you want to add to the conversation, feel free to do so.
Monday, October 31, 2011
make sure you check all of this stuff out:
Nerdgasm Noire Network Blog:
Nerdgasm Noire Network Podcast:
Character Select (latest episode):
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Clover started life simply as an in house developer who wanted more creative control, and as such they were given this control thanks mainly to the "Capcom Five". When Capcom decided to port their hit Gamecube title Viewtiful Joe to the Playstation 2, the port was handled by Clover Studio. From there, Clover was the primary developer of every successive title in the series. They also developed Okami, which earned Game of the Year honors in 2006. They were also responsible for God Hand, which proved to be their final game. None of Clover's games proved to be big sellers, however they received a great deal of critical acclaim. Many gamers assumed that this would be another promising development house that would die in this fickle video game market. This would prove to be a falsehood, as they would rise again a year later.
Capcom decided that modest sales figures and critical acclaim were not enough to keep Clover around as an autonomous developer, so they decided to reabsorb the company, but the employees decided it would be best to simply walk away. This led to Clover being shut down. A few months later, the former heads of Clover resurfaced as Platinum Games and announced a four game development deal with Sega. This deal has produced four well received titles with MadWorld, Bayonetta, Infinite Space, and Vanquish all receiving a great deal of praise as well as a strong fanbase. The success of Platinum Games' titles has caused their deal with Sega to be extended to include a fifth title, Anarchy Reigns, that will be released in early 2012.
It seems that through their short history, Clover Studio did two things: had a tumultuous history and created some exceptional video games. I contend that their track record has proven to be as good as some of the great developers of the late 80s. It proves that perseverance can lead to great success, and it creates some exceptionally fun experiences.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I first discovered Grasshopper Manufacture when I stumbled upon their Wii masterpiece No More Heroes. I knew of Killer 7, but hadn't touched that amazingly quirky title yet, and NMH called out to me as I searched for a quality Beat Em Up on the Wii. As I started this game I understood why Grasshopper Manufacture and their head, Suda51, were so influential among other developers. Then I started doing research and I learned that Suda51 has had his hands in a number of projects for multiple consoles over the last decade. He started out working as a writer for Human Entertainment, which had him put his hands on the Fire Pro Wrestling series, and continued to make waves in the Japanese gaming market until well after he left Human in 1998 and started Grasshopper Manufacture.
Other than No More Heroes and Killer 7, Grasshopper Manufacture has developed Fatal Frame IV, Shadows of the Damned, Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked, and Michigan: Report From Hell among other titles released either worldwide or only in Japan. They are slated to release two games for XBLA and PSN in the coming months through a partnership with Hungarian publisher Digital Reality. Those titles, Sine Mora and Black Knight Sword, are a side scrolling SHMUP and a side scrolling action platformer, respectively. GHM also has a very bloody zombie killing beat em up on the horizon with Lollipop Chainsaw, which is slated for a 2012 release.
Between working on the Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, work with Hideo Kojima, and collaborating with Shinji Mikami(best known as the mind behind Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Onimusha), Suda51 has proven to be a busy man in the gaming business as well as one of it's greatest creative minds.
Grasshopper Manufacture has existed since the late 90s, and only entered the American gaming lexicon in 2005, but rest assured that Suda51's declaration of independence will continue to carve it's own niche while scoffing at the big budget snooze fests that flood the gaming market now.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Little Samson - Taito - 1992: Little Samson is a gem of a game, it controls well, has a decent challenge, and it looks and sounds as good as anything on the NES. It would have been one of the biggest sellers on the NES if not for one important thing: it was release in 1992 and many gamers had already jumped ship to the SNES by that time. it's been spotted on eBay for around $160.
Bubble Bath Babes - Panesian - 1991: Nintendo watched over the content on their 8-bit console like a hawk, and anything that was the least bit questionable didn't get the coveted Seal of Quality on the box. Panesian knew their adult themed games would never get over the hump, so they made pirate carts. Very few copies of their games ever made it into the wild and so they are highly sought after. copies of this one can run up to $1,000 but a reproduction cartridge is currently in circulation through http://retrousb.com .
Caltron 6 in 1 - Caltron - 1992: Today we see multi game collections all the time, and most of the games in those collections prove to be horrible. It was the same during the time of the NES. This may explain why pretty much all of the multicarts released on the NES were unlicensed. Caltron released this pile in 1992, a full year after the debacle that was Action 52. While this one fares only slightly better that it's 52 game counterpart, neither seems worth the money. These will set you back up around $300, so tread lightly.
Snow Brothers - Capcom - 1991: A great arcade port typically sold quite well on the NES, which makes the rarity of Snow Brothers even more peculiar. For whatever reason, though, the NES port of Snow Brothers did not sell, and now commands prices easily above $100.
and now a few more affordable NES rarities:
Contra Force -Konami - 1992: It wasn't really a contra game, and it was a bit mediocre, but Contra Force commands anywhere from $30 - $60 online.
Adventure Island 3 - Hudson - 1992: It isn't extremely expensive, but it can be hard to track down. Copies of this one run between $25 - $50.
Bomberman 2 - Hudson - 1992: The original game typically costs no more than $10, but the sequel came along much later in the NES life cycle, didn't sell as well, and runs between $30 - $60 online.
I know I neglected to mention a lot of very rare games, but I didn't want to bore you with a list of games that most folks know about like Action 52, Stadium Events, or The Miracle Piano. If you would like a more detailed list of really rare games, drop me a line and I'll be happy to pass you one.
If you didn't notice, most of the really rare games I mentioned were released at the end of the NES life cycle.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Most of gaming's most iconic taste makers started out in other places, yet they all gravitated towards the video game industry, and they all succeeded at some level. Taito, which was started by a Russian guy in 1953, was making jukeboxes and vending machines until they got into the gaming business in 1973. They made game after game until 1978 when they created what many consider the most important game in Arcade history with Space Invaders. Space Invaders had such an impact on the fledgling industry that entire arcades were dedicated to that one game for years after it's release. While they are currently owned by Square Enix, the Taito brand still commands a great deal of weight and respect among gamers.
Service Games or Sega as it's more commonly known, started life as a maker of shooting gallery games, jukeboxes, and anything else that could occupy a soldiers mind on a military base. Over time they developed more products until they got into the video game industry and scored their first major hits with games like Pengo, Zaxxon, and Tac/Scan. While they have suffered a number of ups and downs over the years, a lot of what Sega brought to the table is still regarded as revolutionary.
The Nintendo Playing card company seems like a good fit to enter the video game market, but their entrance was not the most graceful. Prior to entering the video game market, Nintendo dabbled in everything from instant rice, to taxicabs, to a "love hotel". None of these ventures proved successful though, and in 1974, they obtained the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan. Then Nintendo began to manufacture their own brand of Pong clones with the "Color TV Game" series, and things slowly rolled from there until a young game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto introduced the world to Jumpman, Lady, and Donkey Kong.
The three companies I mentioned in this post are just a microcosm of the rich histories of many publishers within the video game industry. Much like many of the people who have enjoyed their creations over the years, these companies all started out somewhere else, and through many different paths, they ended up being a part of the video game industry. While some have ceased to exist, many still do, and it is up to us as gamers to keep these companies honest, because without us, they cease to exist, and we are then left with less room for innovation and variety, and that benefits no one who grew up with a controller in their hand.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Smash T.V. - Acclaim - NES: Acclaim made a lot of bad games during their history, but they were always pretty good with the way they handled Midway's arcade games. The NES version was amazing in that two players had to use four controllers to play.
Final Fight - Capcom/Sega - Sega CD: For whatever reason, The SNES version of the game formerly known as Street Fighter '89 was lacking in something. The Sega CD version was incredible, and the soundtrack even sounds better than the arcade version.
Double Dragon - Accolade - Genesis: This version of Double Dragon, which released almost a decade after the original release of the arcade game, was the definitive version of one of the most important games to be released in the 80s. and it was completely unlicensed by Sega, which makes it even more memorable.
Mortal Kombat -Acclaim - Sega CD: This version of Midway's greatest gimmick was as close as you could get to the arcade version in 1994. It wasn't as pretty as the SNES version, but it was far more accurate.
TMNT IV: Turtles In Time - Konami - SNES: Minus a few things missing in the audio, this game would have pretty much been a direct port, which was amazing considering this was the early 90s.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The practice of blowing into a video game cartridge was so commonplace that it was widely accepted as the go to method for cleaning games by many gamers. it was so well received that I would buy the canned air computer cleaner spray sold at Radio Shack to clean my cartridges. I learned, however from multiple sources that the moisture and particles contained in a person's mouth could typically settle on a cartridges, which would eventually lead to those contacts tarnishing the same way old silverware and copper does. that tarnish could actually rub off the cartridge and severely damage the connections in a console, which is why so many folks have NES consoles that won't play any cartridges.
Another widely held myth (and one that I followed myself in my childhood) was that rubbing alcohol could work as a cleaner. The most obvious response to this is that it doesn't work, and it could do serious damage to your cartridges to your cartridges. I mean, the waring label on the back of the cartridges says do not clean with alcohol.
You may be wondering what your options are, and they are actually quite plentiful. one option is to use a non bleach or ammonia based all purpose cleaner to swab out cartridges. It is generally non abrasive and the contacts are cleaned without doing irreparable damage to them. Another I recently learned of is the eraser method. You'd need to open the cartridge, take a clean pencil eraser, and gently brush the cartridge contacts. This method makes me a bit nervous, since there something basically scraping the contacts of a game cartridge that in some cases cannot be easily replaced. One other unlicensed method of cleaning cartridges involves using a clean cloth or paper towel and polishing them with a small amount of Brasso. the trouble with this one is that there is no information on whether the metal polish would harm the non metallic portions of the cart if it got on them.
Several companies released cleaning kits for cartridge based consoles in the 80s and 90s, but that resource isn't as plentiful as it once was. Unopened cleaning kits, especially officially licensed ones, fetch some pretty steep numbers among the collecting community, but since the cleaning solution included in these kits was pretty much a tiny bottle of 409, all you need is a few cotton swabs to complete the kit.
Also, in the event that you have properly cleaned your cartridges and your NES still doesn't play them, there may be an issue with the 72 pin connector that allows the NES to play the games. Thankfully, this is an easy fix and can be replaced with another connector. They're typically sold on Ebay and Amazon for somewhere between $3 and $5. once replaced, pretty much every game from that console should work on an NES with a new 72 pin connector.
Remember kids: Don't blow in your cartridges...it does harm than good.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Little Nemo: The Dream Master focused on a young boy who's dreams took him to an alternate world called Slumberland. Nemo was asleep in his home when he was invited to Slumberland by Princess Camille. She wanted someone to play with and for some reason chose Nemo. The story takes a turn when it is revealed that Nemo, upon arriving in Slumberland has to rescue it from a great evil. It's all pretty surreal and a little dark, but so was the source material.
Now, with Nemo being a little kid, you wouldn't expect him to be a powerful hero, and alone he isn't, but he does have something that allows him to beat the difficult odds ahead of him, and that's an infinite supply of candy. When Nemo feeds certain animals candy, they offer to give help him through tough areas. Most of these animals have special abilities like the frog's jumping skill, mole's digging, and the lizard's climbing. This definitely even the odds for Nemo, because with the animals this game is tough, but without them, the game may be impossible.
The level designs for Little Nemo were also quite different for this point in gaming history, and many levels had a goal at the far right, but to get there a player had to collect six keys, this makes the assistance of the animals in the game mandatory when keys were out of the reach of Nemo.
As far as the difficulty goes, this is classic "Tough Bastard" gaming at its finest. Little Nemo was never an unfair game, but it made gamers pull all of their skills together in an effort to beat that level that was giving you grief. This game is a far cry from games that hold a gamers hand, give them regenerating health, and other practices that have essentially watered down the single player experience in most modern games.
There's nothing like a game that makes a gamer feel good about the act of playing a game. Many games don't honestly provide that feeling now. In that sense, playing a game as fulfilling as Little Nemo: The Dream Master can be a welcome, whimsical departure from today's gaming climate.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
By: Shareef Jackson
Deus Ex Human Revolution is a follow up to the well regarded title Deus Ex that was released in 2000. That first person action RPG title was noted for its huge environments, dialogue trees, and the ability to approach any situation from a combat or stealth perspective. For the most part, Deus Ex Human Revolution keeps these aspects intact while infusing many modern game enhancements to the classic formula. This game will appeal most to players that enjoy long, complex games that require thinking before shooting.
The plot is a standard humanity vs technology story, but it is executed very well within a steampunk environment.. Character motives are ambiguous at best, and you can freely switch between trusting and disobeying the suggestions that you receive from them. The developers, Edios Montreal, spent a lot of time on the different scenarios that can occur depending on how you interact with an NPC. I'm currently on my second play through and I'm shocked with how much of the game I didn't see the first time around.
A major focus of the technology are augmentations, which are various upgrades that you pick up throughout the game. These augmentations allow you to gain superhuman abilities such as landing from any height without damage, detonating explosive charges, and an invisibility cloak. Each augmentation takes up a separate power bar, which slowly recharges to avoid abuse. You only have a limited number of augmentation slots, so you're forced to choose to fit your playing style.
The graphics and sound are slightly above average, but its really the art direction that leaves an impression. Cities feel lived in, from the citizens wandering about to the detail within each apartment room that you enter. Most importantly, it feels like the city is alive and that things are going on outside of your main quests.
The game is challenging, particularly if you opt for a combative strategy. Enemies can finish you off in no time with their weaponry. The cover mechanic is similar to Gears of War, giving you the ability to quickly switch between cover areas, aim out of cover, and blind fire if an enemy gets close. It's best to pick your shots and play strategically as opposed to run in guns blazing. The game does integrate a regenerating health mechanic, but it takes over 10 seconds to recharge.
I'd definitely recommend this game to players that don't mind spending 20-30 hours on an engaging experience and a fascinating story. Pick this one up!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Bill Rizer and Lance Bean are basically Delta Squad and Red Falcon's army are the Locusts.
The basis of the comparison is tied to a few factors, including the imprisonment of both Rizer and Gears' main character Marcus Fenix at a point in their story arcs. Now you may be saying: "How are they the same when the gameplay is so different?", and my answer is that at it's core Gears and Contra are very similar gameplay wise. For example: if you make Gears a 2-d action game, and exchange the roadie run/cover mechanic into a jump button, it becomes pretty close to what Contra is gameplay wise. Conversely, if you give Contra a 3-d perspective and replace the jumps with a cover mechanic, it's close to the core gameplay of Gears.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love both franchises, and I made the comparison because of this, but I just wanted to illustrate how I see the past in some of modern gaming's true gems.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Crisis Force - Konami - Famicom: This may have been one of Konami's best 8 Bit releases, and that's saying a lot. Sadly it was never ported to the NES, and most gamers never got to play it. My problem is that I currently don't own a Famicom or a Famicom Twin, but if I did...
Samurai Zombie Nation - Meldac - NES: Quite possibly one of the strangest shoot em ups I've ever seen, but ridiculously rare. I'd love to add this one to my "Shelf of Awesome" but finding a copy that won't destroy my retro budget for 6 months is hard.
Doshin The Giant - Nintendo - N64DD: This one was only available on the N64 Disk Drive, which was only released in Japan, and was a bit of a commercial flop there. As it Stands, there aren't that many of the systems in circulation in the US, and therefore there aren't many games out there either.
Ibara - Cave/Taito - Playstation 2: I love a good shoot em up. I really love a good shoot em up that's harder than a pubescent boy at a strip club, and when you combine the two it typically won't be released in America. This is why I may be buying a second PS2 for import modding, but this one goes about $80 on Ebay regularly. Such a dilemma.
Dolphin Blue - Sammy - Atomiswave: I love playing this one, but now that there aren't any decent arcade options in New Orleans, I can't find it. Finding an Atomiswave cabinet might be a tough row to hoe, but it's my only means of tracking down a way to play the game. Since the system is similar to a Neo Geo in that the games are interchangeable, I'll be able to play other games on the platform
That's a small list of some stuff I want but can't play right now because of the lack of that system. I'll be on the lookout for them, but if anybody wants to donate to the cause, hit me up on Twitter @8bitanimal.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Mega Man (or Rockman as it's known in Japan), was first given life on the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. The first game in the series was revolutionary in that it allowed players to select the order in which they attacked the games levels. It was also pretty interesting in that if a player was able to beat a "Robot Master", Mega Man would adopt that character's powers. For example: if you take out Bombman and beat him, then you can throw really big bombs. There was also a particular order that would make beating each "Robot Master" a lot easier than normal. The first game was known for it's difficult, yet well crafted gameplay, and it spawned a sequel.
Mega Man 2 was released the following year, and for all intents and purposes, it may be the best video game to be released in the 1980s. I know that says a lot, but it took everything from its predecessor, made the difficulty more balanced, and added an incredible soundtrack on top of that. to put it bluntly, Mega Man 2 was f&#@ing amazing. it still ranks very high on favorite games lists. After the greatness of the second game, Capcom threw more goodness into Mega Man 3. Capcom added a midboss angle to the game in the form of Protoman and expanded the final level in the game with a series of boss fights representing some of Mega Man 2's most memorable boss.
The series continued with Mega Man 4, 5, and 6. While these weren't bad games, and still better than most of the platformers hitting the NES in the early 90s, they didn't live up to the first trilogy. With a spinoff series called Mega Man X hitting the SNES, many though the original series was done, but Capcom released Mega Man 7 for the Super NES in 1995. While the seventh game in the series felt like no more than a rehash of Mega Man X, it introduced two new characters that became vital parts of the Mega Man mythos, Bass and his dog Treble(Forte and Gospel in Japan). A year later, Mega Man celebrated it's 10th Anniversary with the release of Mega Man 8. While this one felt a bit better than 7, it paled in comparison to the 8 bit efforts. Many figured the original series was done with the release of Mega Man and Bass, but assumptions are never a great thing to have when talking video games.
Ten years passed between that last game's original release and the next new game, which hit gamers with the greatest rush old brutal nostalgia some of us have ever felt. Mega Man hit major console download services in all of it's 8 bit glory in 2008 and was a huge hit. It also spawned a followup in Mega Man 10. Both games featured extra playable characters, a variety of difficulty modes and several challenge levels. The series has witnessed a strong revival among old school gamers as a result, and who knows how many more games will probably hit the series as a result.
The Mega Man series faced a few hiccups over it's long history, but no one should doubt that it may well be the best game for game series of action games ever created.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Think about it: as video games became prettier and consoles became capable of everything from washing your car to providing oral pleasure, the overall quality of the gameplay in their core products has gone down. Most people seem more likely to turn on their game consoles to watch an episode of Mad Men or South Park than to play a quick round of Pac Man DX or Ms. Splosion Man. This sadly all adds to my point that for the most part, the video game industry is in a bad place creatively.
So to be honest, I won't be renewing my subscription to Xbox Live Gold after it expires next month, and I'm not sure when I will purchase another subscription, because apparently nobody is playing video games right now. Call me a cynic, but I'm still really big on my gaming consoles having games on them, oh and this isn't merely a shot at Microsoft, because it seems to be the same thing with all of the consoles hitting the market.
At the gaming conventions that have been going on, publishers have trying to make people care about the software they're putting out, while the console makers are talking about all these non gaming related applications being heaved onto their systems. The video game industry and those that make money from it have essentially duped gamers into spending more money for more fragile equipment that while producing gorgeous visuals, are becoming nothing more than a new version of the Sega Channel.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
A Boy And His Blob starts with a young boy hearing a loud crash outside his window. When he goes to investigate the origin of the sound, he finds a little alien with no discernible shape, or a blob if you will. Upon bringing the blob back to his home, the boy is told of the blob's mission, to save his find a hero to save his home planet of Blobolonia from an evil emperor. He also discovers that the blob likes jelly beans, and reacts to different flavors by turning into different objects. Feed him a tangerine jelly bean, he turns into a trampoline, punch makes a hole, and so on.
This game oozes with old school puzzle/platformer gameplay, a lot like the original NES release of the same name. in addition to the core story, there is also a series of challenge levels that reward players with concept art, trophies, and other goodies. These are all simply thinly veiled bits of bonus content, however, and they neither add nor take away from the game.
Graphically, A Boy And His Blob is beautiful, even when compared to games on more powerful consoles, with beautiful, colorful backdrops and fluid animation. While this game is played using the Wiimote/Nunchuk combo, it doesn't require the gimmicky, forced in motion controls that have plagued the Wii for much of it's history. there's a button for pretty much any task you will have, like calling the blob if you get seperated, or giving the blob a hug to calm it down when enemies fighten it. Yes, this game has a "hug" button, but given how cutesy the graphics are, that shouldn't come as a surprise.
It has been out for a while, and or some reason, there aren't a very large number of copies in circulation, but if you come across a copy, it won't be very expensive. A Boy And His Blob is not only a great Wii game; it's a great game, period. If any retro remake is worth your time, it's this one.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Time Lord is quite a peculiar game, as it attempts to combine a few different genres yet it never gets any of them quite right. Rare had this problem from time to time back in the 80s as they were getting into the mold of pumping out great games consistently. Back to my point though, Time Lords gameplay revolved around a character who had one year in game time to eliminate enemies in four time periods, return to his own time and defeat the Drakkon King. The four time periods are: Medieval England, The Old West USA, The Caribbean during the age of Pirates, and France during World War II. The levels look really good, as does the games soundtrack, but the character animations seem extra loose at times. There is also and issue with some of the boss fights taking forever. this wouldn't be a bad thing, but considering the one year of game time translates to about 24 minutes of actual time, you can get a bit frustrated trying to defeat a boss that takes 5 minutes to dispatch.
All in all, Time Lord is a pretty straight forward game that honestly could have been one of the better games of the 8Bit system generation, but a few nagging problems keeps it from being truly great. This would be a great game for Rare to resurrect on Xbox Live Arcade, but it would need a lot of polish.
Monday, August 1, 2011
In Catherine, the player assumes the role of Vincent, a man at a crossroads in his life. You see, Vincent has been dating a woman named Katherine for 5 years and she's pressuring him to take that next step, he's having cold feet though. One night at his local bar, Stray Sheep, he is approached by a younger woman named Catherine (yeah, things get weird really quick), and he wakes up next to her in his bed. Somehow, Vincent doesn't remember anything, and he is plagued with thoughts of how he should get this new woman out of his life. While this is going on in Vincent's daily life, he is having nightmares that will kill him in real life if he dies during them.
These Nightmares are what make up the meat of Catherine's gameplay. Each Nightmare is separated into a series of tower puzzles that require the player to maneuver blocks to climb to higher points. there are several hazards besides gravity to contend with, like sheep that are climbing the tower seeking the same freedom you are, trap blocks and ice blocks that will send a player crashing to the ground below. at the end of every Nightmare, or series of levels, players have to evade a boss that is in pursuit of Vincent. these can range from a giant baby, to the mutated "lady parts" of some woman.
There are a total of 8 stages or "Nightmares" in the game, and combining this with the story elements between them, the game can be pretty long. The gameplay between levels takes place at The Stray Sheep, the neighborhood bar where Vincent meets Catherine for the first time. Players can talk to bar patrons, play and arcade game called "Rapunzel" that serves as a practice mode for the Nightmare stages, and gain interesting information the can give clues to the identities of the other sheep in the Nightmares. I can't go into a lot of detail on the story, but it takes an incredible turn towards the end.
Over the years, we've gotten a lot of games that tried to act as interactive movies, and sometimes these games take very peculiar turns , but Catherine is very consistent. It starts strange, and ends strange, and it all feels well written and executed. Catherine has proven how great storytelling can advance a puzzle game of all things. I was highly impressed, and highly recommend Catherine to anybody wanting something a little off the beaten path of current gen gaming.