Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alien Hominid Hit Consoles A Decade Ago, And Changed Everything.

The early 2000s were a very cool time for the Internet. Sites that showcased flash based videos and games were really popular, and the most popular of those was Newgrounds. None of those has been as popular as a little homage to Contra and Metal Slug from a small team known as The Behemoth. When this game hit the site, it became wildly successful, so much so, that it was tapped as the team's first console release. That game was one of the most popular titles on Xbox Live Arcade for a time and is still one of the great gems released on the PS2 and GameCube. This game, Alien Hominid is still available in it's original form as a flash game, and after a decade, the console versions of the title hold up incredibly well to this day.

For those unfamiliar with this title, players take control of a little yellow alien who is simply trying to find his shtp and leave home after being shot down by the FBI. The little guy is armed with a simple blaster that also has a charge shot much like Mega Man's eponymous Mega Buster. There are also a number of weapons powerups and vehicular weapons that pop up during the game. All of the weapons are par for the course with side scrolling action games, but that's the charm of Alien Hominid. It doesn't need to do anything new or innovative, but it does everything well. Boss fights are a throwback to the days of Contra: big bosses that fight in patterns and die in huge explosions.

Graphically, it's a vibrant, colorful game in general. Not having voices doesn't distract from the characters in Alien Hominid bursting with personality. Even the little rats in a sewer stage are smarter than many main characters in big budget titles with a huge fanbase. Animation wise, it isn't particularly fluid, but it's definitely serviceable, and while parts of the soundtrack seem way too serious for the backdrop, it's pretty solid nonetheless.

Apart from the core game, there are a few interesting minigames that proved pretty awesome. There is a pretty solid challenge mode with different parameters, and play options. Also, a host of "PDA Games" which was a series of single screen platform jumping levels with puzzle elements and a level editor. Finally, there was Super Soviet Missile Mastar, an Atari 2600 flavored scrolling "avoid the obstacles and hit the target" with a Soviet invasion of America theme. None of them are incredibly deep, but they are definitely fun distractions from the core game.

Alien Hominid was born in 2002, hit consoles in 2004, and cemented The Behemoth as a pretty big deal among indy developers. They have grown to make some pretty amazing things happen and it all started with this game. Here's to celebrating the console release of one of gaming's most unlikely success story.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Twitch Plays Pokemon Or Finding Chaos In Order

I discovered something today that has apparently been going on for nearly 11 days on streaming site Twitch.tv. This amazing event involves the ever fluctuating number of players watching the stream and an emulation of Pokemon Red. This particular emulation is amazing in that everyone signed into the community chat can have a hand in controlling the action onscreen. With so many players essentially fighting for the same controller at the same time, there is definitely more potential for chaos than order. There are groups of people both attempting to honestly play the game together with a hive mentality, while there are those looking to bring down the entire thing by trying to "break the system". It's a remarkable social experiment, and it proves how polarized factions of our population really are. If you want to be a part of the chaotic fun, you can join in at Twitch Plays Pokemon.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Strider: First Impressions

Today's video gives my first impressions of the latest game in Capcom's Strider series.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paperboy Is 30. Do You Feel Old Yet?

Today's video takes a look at Paperboy, a beloved title from Atari as it celebrates it's 30th anniversary.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Goodbye Flappy Bird

Today's video discusses the early demise of Flappy Bird, which may have been killed off because of gamer complaints.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Modern Games' Roots In 8- And 16-Bit Consoles

 In the modern world of gaming, just about everything that hits shelves is hailed as a new achievement of gargantuan proportions. And to be sure, the recently released "next-gen" gaming consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (and Wii U)‚ are absolutely incredible in terms of their capabilities and power. The games that are already out, and those on the way, are surely some of the most impressive video games we've ever seen.

Furthermore, other corners of the gaming industry are also celebrated for innovation and groundbreaking ideas. Consider the mobile app market, where "console-quality" games are now available for download in a matter of seconds. Then there's Internet gaming, where players from across the world can link up in multiplayer experiences.

The truth, however, is that despite the undeniable advances in gaming tech and ability, most of the genres and individual games are far from breaking new ground. Many of the most popular options out there actually have their roots in the now ancient 8- and 16-bit consoles of the late '80s and '90s! Here are a few prominent examples.

Batman & Comic Gaming

For those who love the modern "Arkham" series, it's worth noting that Batman games extend all the way back to the NES! Games like Batman: Return Of the Joker by Sunsoft set the tone
early. And it wasn't just for Batman and comic games in general, but for stand-alone and comic-based games not based entirely on recent films. Perhaps even more surprisingly, modern gamers should know that there was a Captain America And The Avengers NES game in 1991!

Casino Gaming

This is a great example of a gaming genre that is viewed in a very modern sense. The reason being that it's true that certain modern casino gaming platforms offer exceptional online and real money gaming capabilities. In examining the online casino at Betfair, you can see that it features everything from arcade slot machines to live interactive tournaments with real players. But modern gaming options like these are far from the first personal casino simulations. Games like Caesars Palace on NES, 777 Casino on SEGA Genesis, and others tapped into the public's desire for home casino activity long ago.

Fighting Games

This is perhaps the easiest genre to trace back through older consoles because the actual franchises still endure. Series like Street Fighter, Tekken, etc. have been around for longer than many modern fans realize. Street Fighter debuted on NES with a side-scrolling adventure (oddly titled 2010 Street Fighter) in 1990, for example.
And with Capcom rumored to be developing more games with classic Street Fighter and Tekken characters for next-gen consoles, these could become a few of the most long-lasting themes in history.

Ultimately, these are only three examples out of dozens and dozens. Sports games, Super Mario Bros. games, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Star Wars, among many others, are all gaming franchises and themes that exist on modern platforms. Those include app gaming markets and next-gen consoles, but when you look back, you'll see that they too have origins all the way back in 8- and 16-bit console gaming.