Tuesday, 23 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Elite & Atic Atac

So once again lets go back to my Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games list and look at another two from the list, so without further ado here we go.


So the first ever time I saw Elite it was on the BBC Micro which my older brother owned, I adored it from the first moment and forgive the pun but I thought the game was light years ahead of its time. Now the spectrum had so many games on it that its even harder to pick a top ten for it than it would be for most systems but the reason this one makes the list is that when you consider the hardware its running on and when it was made you simply didnt get games like this back then, the game was  and still is a joy to play and the main reason for this is that its a game which you play however you want to play it.

The graphics the wire-framed ships were just unthinkably brilliant back then they might have aged now but what hasnt aged is the sense of freedom you see in Elite you jump in your space ship the  Cobra Mk III and you explore a large and wonderful universe, you can trade cargo, fight pirates or maybe you want to be a pirate yourself and attack other ships so that when youve destroyed them you can take there cargo for yourself using your tractor beam to steal it.Yes we have all kinds of open world games now days but back then this was pretty much one of a kind. I could talk about this game till the cows come home but I think it is much better to simply say you need to play this game

An intresting and kind of annoying point to note is that Elite was the first game to ever utilise an anti piracy method called the LensLock. The LensLock is basically a special Lens that came with the game, now you look at coloured squares on the screen through this in order to read a code which you need to play the game.

Atic Atac

When I used to play this game back in the day I never knew that it was something I would keep coming back to for my entire life, the very last time I set up my spectrum it was to play this very game and a select few others and now thanks to the Compilation Disc Rare Replay, I can very easily find myself playing this any time I want in seconds. So yeah Basically the name on the box here Ultimate Play The Game is the name Rare went by before they became Rare.

Atic Atac is what would proberbly be described as an Isometric arcade adventure game it was released for the ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro. The thing is a lot of people think that Rare and there long stretch of impresive games all started with the NES, well the truth is far from that in fact Ultimate had already been making games on the 16k model of Spectrum but Atic Atac was there second game which required 48K of memory and its an absolute belter of a game, for those that dont know how big a deal Ulitmate was as a developer this game was Ultimate's third consecutive number one in the UK Spectrum sales chart.

Atic Atac plays in a  top-down perspective and is set inside a castle, a castle in which you the player are trapped. You need to find 3 pieces of a golden key in order to escape, something that makes this game all the more intresting is that you have a choice of three diffrent characters a Knight a Wizared or a Serf. There are a number of items which are all around the castle for you to find, some of them are always in the same place others are randomly generated, you can carry 3 of them at a time.
You have diffrent coloured keys which will open doors which are the same colour, then theres items which will kill or repel enemies. All of the enemies essentially attack the player on sight, contact with them drains your life bar. So what makes this a top ten game? It is a great game to just jump in to, the randomness really helps with repeat replays but its mostly just because its so darn playable, wether you play this game on an original spectrum, a modern spectrum recreation or on rare replay I just advice you to give it a crack and see what you think.

Monday, 22 May 2017

My Oppinion on the price of Spare Switch Docks and Splatoon 2's no cart version

Ok so the first thing I want to talk about is the fact that Nintendo Europe has revealed that Switch owners can buy a second dock for their console in the UK as of June the 23rd. This is potentially great for people who would like to have a dock sat waiting either at your partners house or on another TV so that you can pick up the Switch and dock it in another place without having to move stuff about. This is Nintendo though so you knew that there had to be a catch, the catch is that a second dock is going to cost you £79.99, which apparently is a good price as you also get a HDMI lead and a power supply. Ok well a HDMI lead can be got for as little as £1 from pound land and you could get a power lead and a USB plug from pound land for £2 so how about you just cut those out of the box and charge a realistic price for it one thats not like £77. I know that there will be die hard Nintendo fans defending this but personally I am waiting for a third party to get there hands on one of these reverse enginer it and come up with a much cheaper alternative.

So in Japan Nintendo is releasing several diffrent retail versions of Splatoon 2 one of which is a boxed version which doesnt actually have a cartridge. So what you will get for your money is a case which doesnt contain a cart, it just contains a download code. Now I just cant see the point in this, if you collect games then really you want the physical copy of it, if you prefer download copies then usually this is because you want to buy the game but dont want to fill your house with crap. The even crazier thing from my point of view is that the code version costs exactly the same as the version with a cart, they only had to print a code on a piece of paper which cost them far less than making a cartridge would have cost but hey its the same price. This raises the whole question of why the heck are downloads the same price as a physical copy anyways? I guess thats best touched on another time though.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Why the Nintendo Switches e-shop is a little boring and what they could do to change this.

So I was looking at the Switch's eshop and I noticed there were some Neo Geo games I would like I was going to grab Garou Mark of the Wolf and King Of the Fighters 98 which would have been £12.58 for the 2 games, might not sound too bad but hey, figured Id check on the Xbox One first afetr all I always like to try and get the best bang for my buck. So I checked and there was a BackWards Compatability sale on and guess what there was a whole bunch of Neo Geo games on it including the two I had been looking at on the Switch's eshop.

So while looking at the backwards compatability sale I decided that I would spend the £12.58 on there on games to play on my Xbox One and So I got Garou Mark of The Wolf, King Of the Fighters 98, King Of the Fighters 2002, Samurai Showdown 2, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, Double Dragon Neo, Bomberman Battlefest and Alien Hominid HD for £14, yes this was a tiny bit more than I intended to spend but well who minds paying about £1.50 more to get 6 more games? This made me stop and think is Nintendo really handling the whole Virtual Console thing correctly this time?

Dont get me wrong I love the Neo Geo and its games and £6.29 is a darn site less than the games went for on cartridge back in the day, the thing is though that the games have come out so many times in so many diffrent places by now that they are just very old hat. I have Metal Slug 3 on the PS2 and Xbox on disc, then I have the SNK collection Volume 1 on both the Wii and PSP as well as having the Metal Slug Anthology on the Wii, all of these were gotten for very little and I have played them to death. This is before you realise that lots of people have been emulating the Neo Geo back before the whole Virtual Console/ PSN store and various other stores became a thing. Heck I even donated to charity to get a Neo Geo humble bundle from the popular charity donating video game bundle site Humble Bundle.

One of the issues is that if you look on any service that lets you download retro games you are likly to see the same titles again and again, Steam, the PSN Store, Xbox Live all of them will have for example the same 40 Megadrive games, the ones that usually fill up compilation discs. Nintendo's switch can not hope to compete with these services as the games have been available on them for a long time so people will have either already purchased them or will be able to grab them for much less during sales like I have.

What Nintendo should have done for the release of the Switch is looked for titles they could put up which have not been so easily available already. They should have reached out to companies who have less touched back catalogs and they should have dug into there own archives. I for one would love to see them finally release Star Fox 2 onto a Virtual Console, its never had a proper release despite being finished so surly there is money and equally importantly headlines to be made there. They should also take a good long look at what has been done elsewere. People have hacked SNES roms for example and added better more high quality music, emulators have been able to let you play snes games in multiplayer over the internet, textures have been smothed, fans have translated import titles. Why not use this, grab these translations, check them and if there good then release previously unreleased games on the virtual console giving some credit to those who have done the work for you, just stop and think outside of the box for a moment instead of offering something that every single company going has already done, surly Nintendo with your Wii-motes and touch screens and just general inovation you could apply some of this to the virtual console scene and not only make it something to get excited about but also use it to plug some of the holes in your release scedule.

Friday, 19 May 2017

How I became a game collector and why I continue to be one

So I thought I would write a piece on how I became a retro game collector, I have proberbly touched on it in the past possibly during my run of SNES reviews but I figured a more expanded piece would be intresting. I recently wrote a piece on what it was like to be a gamer in the 80's in the uk which you can access by following the link, its not necesery but it might throw a little more light on some of what I am saying. For the puropse of this I am going to consider retro basically anything that is no longer current, sure that might not be accurate but it makes sense to take this view because my first retro purchase would have been made when I was at school and back in my day at that kind of an age things were very much set in absolutes something was either new or it was old. Consoles were looked at as either being the current machine, the future as in it wasnt out yet or the past as in it was old (in the sense it was not the currently newest system from a company, it could be there last machine or second to last if it wasnt the current it was old) and at that time the SNES was the current console, the N64 was announced and on its way and the NES was old.

A lot of people in England like to claim that they owned and played on the NES at release as I have mentioned before in previous posts but it wasnt really like that, we were all busy with our micro computers with most of us only jumping on the console bandwagon when the SNES and Megadrive came out, we did however hear and read a lot about NES games in video game magazines of the time. We would pick up an issue of the official Nintendo magazine to look at games that were coming out for the SNES and they would compare them to old NES games, they would highlight when sequels to NES games were released on the SNES and they even had a few pages at the back of the magazine which had scores for all of the NES, SNES and Gameboy games they had ever reviewed. I used to take these pages and use them as a guide for what to buy and what to avoid for my SNES but I also looked at some of the high ratings particular NES games got and it began to wet my appetite to make me consider what it would be like to play them. I had both a MegaDrive and a SNES by this point as well as an Amiga 500 but I just couldnt get enough of video games, it was then that I saw a NES with something like 7 or 8 games in the paper for next to nothing, litterally something silly like £15 to £20 this was my first retro purchase and I really enjoyed it.

I dont know if youd consider that the proper start of me being a retro game collector but it is deffinetly the point at which a seed was planted which would grow into my new hobby. I was actually a Star Wars collector first, it was easy to go to markets and boot sales and other places and find Star Wars merchandise for very reasonable prices, sure you could pick up price guides and find out that something was worth £10 or £30 but if you looked hard and invested a little time into it you could find this sort of stuff for very little. It was a nice fun hobby that I enjoyed but soon everyone started doing it and all the bargins dried up and well thats when I fell out of love with the hobby. For me the thrill was in finding a figure or such that was worth a whole bunch but not paying very much for it at all and then comparing what I had to my friends, when it turned into people selling and buying an ewok for £40 because well thats what he is worth I simply lost my love for it, there was no thrill of the chase and I released that this was the part of the hobby I had enjoyed it was more about the quest than what I owned.

I was one of the few kids who had owned both a SNES and a Megadrive, I was also one of the only kids who went backwards and got a NES and then a Master system 2 and well I found myself becoming a sort of authority figure a games guru people would come up to me and ask me what to get and my oppinion on companies and hardware and I guess this kind of fed into me becoming more intrested in broading my experiances. I made a few what I know consider mistakes I sold a handful of spectrum games id owned, and then I sold some SNES games to get my N64, then sold my N64 when I needed to buy replacment parts to repair my computer as I needed it for my college work and it had broken, and I started to regret these decisions and swear that I would rectify them. On top of this I had always been a very trusting person who wanted to help people, a friend of my mum and dads had a child who was slightly older than me and I lent him a tin with 40 megadrive carts in it, to cut a long story short he turned to drugs and sold these, it knocked my megadrive collection basically in half and I vowed to get all of them back, there are actually a handful I still dont own but I do now have a collection boardering more around the 250 mark.

I remember setting out to go to carboots and independent game shops with the idea of getting lots of SNES and Megadrive games but id bump into NES, Master System, PS1 and N64 stuff and if it was cheap I would just think what the heck I will grab it, if its a decent game and its in good condition and its going for peanuts then why not? I took to it in the same way I originally took to StarWars collecting, I had wanted to get all the SNES and Megadrive games I had ever owned and then my favourates I had played at friends houses but it just grew and grew from this point, I would realistically buy any game but it had to be at the right price, I didnt mind spending £10 on a game if it was good and usually went for more but if it was a crappy game then I would only grab it if it was like a quid or two.

 At first my buying was rather casual but then I found myself in a bit of a bad place. I was attacked during a robbery at a place where I worked and I got held hostage and had my head beaten in with iron bars, I managed to sort of overcome this and return to work but my stress level had massivly increased, I was also trying to get promoted to make more money to give my daughter a better life, soon I was working 70 hours a week trying to make somethinf of myself and I was also dealing with panic attacks, flashbacks, audio hallucinations, bad dreams and all manner of other issues. It came to a head when I started having physical problems, my eyes mouth and throat all started regularly swelling, I found it hard to breathe and eventually this ended up after several visits with me sat in a Doctors office with him explaining that I was under massive stress I had gotten Anagodema and Ultacaria and in his oppinion if I didnt lower my stress level somehow then I would be dead in 6 months, he wasnt right but he wasnt far off. 6 months latter I had what you would describe as a nervous breakdown, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had to leave work and begin attending theraphy.

During my theraphy for PTSD I was told that I had to come up with a happy place, now coming up with a happy place basically means coming up with a place real or fake that you can think of in your head that you will feel secure and happy in, basically so that if you start to feel  distressed during your theraphy you can go there mentally and escape. I chose being in my childhood room playing Super Mario World as my safe place and it helped hold me togther. Every time I was in therapy I would have to relive the robbery, talk about it, close my eyes and see it, I learned that I had repressed certain parts of it and my therapist had to help me regain my memory of the whole ordeal, it was a terrible thing to go through but I not only had my happy place to go to I had my retro collection to go to. I didnt have a lot of friends to talk to during this time its funny how sometimes everyone just seems to up and disapear when your at your lowest and need the most help, my partner at the time wasnt very much help emotionally in fact it was while I was at my lowest that she began to get abusive. When my daughter was at home I put on a brave face and made out that I was OK but when I was on my own I would sink in to my world of retro games, I found that when I invested time in them I felt better they calmed me down playing them, sorting them, buying them, I had very little money at all but that only meant that I had to spend it all the more carefully.

My breakdown was approximatly 8 years ago and ever since then I have found that every time I buy a retro game for a good price I feel a rush of excitment and a feeling of release from my stress. So I guess I am a collector because it makes me happy but also because it helps me maintain my stress levels and my mental health. I enjoy playing the games but both playing and collecting them serves as a sort of giant stress tap. So does my collection have limits or boundries well yes it does, I am never going to go for a full set of anything basically because I am not going to pay huge money for bad games, heck I dont even want to pay like more than £40 for a brilliant game, there are no bounds as in the consoles I will collect for , I have atari 2600 games, spectrum games, NES games, Megadrive games. Will I ever stop collecting? Most likly not after all it helps calm me down and control my stress but most of all because it makes me happy

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Steam World Heist Review

I got Steam World Dig on the cheap during a sale, I thought that it was going to be some kind of 2D MineCraft clone and well while that wouldnt have been the worst thing in the world it turned out to be something somewhat different and something I really enjoyed. Yes Steam World Dig had mining in it, but instead of building it had a story a very enjoyable story, once I started playing it I couldnt stop. It not only had a great story but it had what people often refer to as MetroidVania style gameplay, the sort of platforming action where you keep noticing places you cant reach for one reason or another and then you gain a tool which I noticed not long after finishing it that there was a game called Steam World Heist and I thought oh well that sounds cool but what I really thought it would be was just more of the same but with a slightly diffrent setting. Well I finally decided to get and play it and despite it not exactly being new I felt that I really should review it.

SteamWorld Heist may share a few small things in common with dig for a start it features the same kind of robotic characters, a very simmilar graphical style, a similar senseof humourand a great story but its a tottally different genre of game. If Dig was a metroidvania game with steam robots then I can best describe Heist as a 2d tactics game with steam powerd robots, think of it as 2D Xcom steam robot edition but with base building replaced with humour and character interaction and you'll be on the right lines.

So SteamWorld Heist starts you off as Piper the female robot steam captain of a pirate ship, yes she might be a robot but she is referd to as Ma'am and her and whats more she is a great character. I think its great that Piper is clearly a she and yet is in charge captain of the ship and is shown to be intelgenet resorceful but no doubt this will be ignored while people continue to complain all feminine characters in games are either damsals in distress or just walking breasts. To start with Pipers crew consists of her, a pilot called wonky and a tough old sea fairing robot called Seabrass but slowly you will start to recruit new and intresting robots to build your own merry band of bots. I need to stand and salute the game right here, they have pumped so much character into every recruitable robot that you cant help but grow attached to them and that really makes this game what it is. So many times I caught myself shouting out little snippets like "yes SeaBrass your da man" that I should be embarrassed about it but im not.

The game is the ideal handheld game or short burst game because it only takes minutes to complete levels, so you can do one on the bus on your way to work or just when you have 5 minutes to kill, yet honestly you can find youself blowing an hour on it without realisihng the time has gone by. Every one of the robots has its own skill set but then there is also a lot of choice when it comes to weapons, do you want a pistol with a long sight which will make it easy to hit your enemies but wont cause much damage or you could use a weapon which doesnt have a sight requires you to get closer but packs a heck of a wollop. One of the important things to note is that you can try levels again and again either to see if you can beat your score or simply if your stuck on a level and think you need to gain a little more experiance and level your chracters up or want to gain some more currency to buy a more powerful gun.

Now I dont think you should ever be over positive about anny game so I will try to look at faults this game has. SteamWorld Heist doesn’t have permadeath, if one of your robots dies then you take him back to your ship in pieces and he will be restored once you have completed the mission, the issue with this though is that downed robots dont gain any experiance at all, this can have a knock on effect as when you take them on the next mission they will still be weaker than your other bots, its not too bad though I guess as you can redo an earlier easier mission with some of your robots who could use a bit of levelling up so as far as faults go its not to big of a deal.

So in conclusion Steamworld Heist really won me over. The characters are all awesome, you really feel close to them after a bit of time, the sci fi robot plot line is great in my oppion and the gameplay has a real just one more go quality to it. It is a brilliant game and its worth every penny it costs. I should point out that at the moment as its part of the humble Indy 18 bundle so you can get it on steam for practically nothing and help charity as well, it can be found at the following link  https://www.humblebundle.com/humble-indie-bundle-18

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

SNES Review 119: The Incredable Hulk

I have previously talked about how the names on a box could be the diffrence between you grabbing or not grabbing a game back in the SNES days and there are three names which come in to play with this particular game and I actually want to handle all 3 of them one at a time, I am going to start with Probe because well after all they are the ones who actually programmed this game. 

Probe Software was founded in 1984 by Fergus McGovern and Vakis Paraskeva, later being renamed Probe Entertainment, I suppose really there biggest claim to fame in the console world would be the fact that they were responsible for the MegaDrive ports of Mortal Kombat 1 and 2. Its not like thats all Probe did though they infact made over 50 titles on over 10 diffrent platforms one of the nine SNES games they made was the game I am reviewing right now. So do Probe still exist today? Nope not at all, they were acquired by Acclaim back in october 1995 were rebranded with the name Acclaim Studios London which was latter rebranded to Acclaim Studios Cheltenham and which then died along with Acclaim when it went bankrupt in 2004.

The game was published by US GOLD a company pretty much worthy of a whole post themselves, but here I just want to touch on them briefly. Now recently I have been talking and posting quiet a lot about the Sinclair Spectrum and US GOLD is a name most spectrum owners would have known well. U.S. Gold was founded in Birmingham in 1984 as the publishing division for a software-distribution company called Centresoft. Its primary purpose was to republish popular American computer games in the UK and Europe. The problem with them is that although they published a lot of things there success rate was kind of fifty fifty half good half bad, this name on the box actually did the game a lot more harm in my oppinion than having Probes name would have.

The real name that sold this game at least for me was the Marvel name, now who doesnt know of Marvel Comics creators of Spiderman, the X-Men, DeadPool, DareDevil and of course the Hulk. I am sure I have mentioned this before but I love comics and not just Marvel but also DC and even the lesser well known stuff and most of them are just filled to the brim with stuff that would seem to anyone with any kind of re3asoning factor to be things ripe to put in a game but as most will proberbly know pretty much for every good game featuring a comic book character there has been one featuring a stinker but back when this came out well I was a little eaiser to excite. Ok originally when I purchased this game it was only partially because of the Marvel Comics it was also because this along with other games I have reviewed in the past (Metal Marines and Smash Tennis) were SNES games which some shop or other decided to sell for a low price despite them being new, in this case the price was an outstanding £14.99, as with the other games this meant that not only I got it but pretty much everyone I knew with a SNES got it.

I remember the day I originally purchsed this game, I was in town with a group of friends and we were looking for something to spend our cash on, most of us proberbly had about £15 max and maybe a second hand game or two in our backpacks, pretty much expecting that maybe if we traded both old games and some cash in we could find a deal and get something not to bad. We had been to a couple of diffrent places and then we came to one store all of us ended up going upstairs in the shop (it was either a game or games boutique store my minds a little blank on which it was) and there we were met with a pile of copies of The Incredable Hulk on the shelves brand new in perfect condition with the aformentioned £14.99 label on them. Nowdays this doesnt seem that impressive as decent games end up being cheap a few weeks after release all the time, its £40 one week £30 the next and £20 the week after but I think a lot of that is due to online shops and competition, the market for games was very diffrent back then and when you saw something cheap you didnt really have much time to think about it, so I grabbed it and rushed to the counter as did several of my friends, we had all spent up so we all headed back home and went our seperate ways.

Now they always say that people look at old games through rose specticles, you remember a game as being wonderful as most of its good points stick in the head and you forget the bad bits, well I wrote the following just before playing this game for review. I have very fond memories of quiet a few games but when I stop and try and remember the Indredible Hulk the main thing I remember is crushing dissapointment, I remember the graphics being quiet bright and I remember it being a bit maze like and also that sometimes you became Banner Hulks human form, lots of identical grunt type enemies, I also remember selling it feeling like I had been tricked and that the shop that sold it me knew it was a pile of poo and had thrown the cheap price on to it because they knew that it was the only way they would shift there copies. I remember feeling very bitter about it when in truth looking back now I have no idea why, part and parcel of gaming back then even more so than now was taking a wild stab at whatever games you could get your hands on and after all when Id lucked out getting Smash Tennis and Metal Marines in simmilar deals well you could argue I was due a bad one.

You might be wondering why I decided to buy Hulk again now if my feelings on it were so strongly negative well I was looking for reasonably priced games I didnt own. I had seen the Incredable Hulk in a few indy retro shops for £15 for a loose cart and tottally dismissed it, but when I saw it for £6 online for a loose cart including shipping I began to think about it, I looked up a few reviews and was suprised that it wasnt considerd a stinker, infact when you look at some of the reviews for it well Nintendo Power gave it 3.3 out of 5 and GameSpot gave it 7.7 out of 10, this kind of made me begin to doubt myself. I have always thought that I was a gamer who was willing to give games a fair chance in fact I used to get annoyed with my older brother for dismissing a game if it made him jump too much or there was a maze section or if you had to go a full 5 minutes without killing something, yet here I sat wondering if I had been a little hasty with this game all those years ago, and so with that thought in my mind I decided to buy the game.

 Ok so Now I have played the game a whole bunch I am going to cut to the chase and talk about it, first lets start with the story.  So basically your the Incredible Hulk and your well making your way through five levels each of which ends with you battling a Marvel Comics villain if you for any reason dont want to know who theses are then drop down a few lines now... Ok you face The Abomination (who appears as a sub-boss in every level), the Rhino, Absorbing Man, Tyrannus, and finally the Leader. Ok I admit this is less a story and more a description of what you do, but I dont have the manual or the box and I am assuming that the whole story thing was left down to a small blurb in these. If you leave the game on the title screen you dont get an intro just every so often it goes to a high score table, and when you actually start the game all you are met with is a very brief comic style cut scene of Banner turning in to the hulk, you do get little bits of explanation between stages but they pretty much amount to ''Hulk beat Villian X so he wanderd off some place else but oh no he fell into Villian Y's fiendish trap''. So for all extents and purposes theres no real story, there are some villians to beat but no massive reason behind it that you get told about at least, there are also no major supporting characters, and certainly no plot twists or anything to make you keep playing. Now I know some might think I am being harsh and that games were simply like that and that I am spoiled by the New Marvel Cinematic Universe and the way it throws all manner of heroes togther but not all super hero games were like this back then at all. I am now just quickly going to compare it to a SNES game I dont own and therefore wont be reviewing any time soon just for some perspective and this game I am speaking of is Spiderman Maximum Carnage. You see in Maximum Carnage not only do you get a whole bag full of Villians but you also get a well told story and you even get absolute piles of Marvel cameos with all kinds of heroes showing up some of them being the typical sort everyone will have heard of like Captain America and others being less well known sorts like FireStar and Cloak & Dagger. Hulk was one of the original Avengers and the dude cant even get a quick walk on from a single Avenger?

Ok so on to the graphics well the Hulk looks pretty darn good, he is big and green and of course he is wearing his trademark shorts. He makes the standerd enemies look small and well when he smashes  crates and telephone boxes it all looks pretty convinving. Enemy designs are well the word I would use would be decent, mostly the grunts of this game are well either robots or men in highly armoured sci fi style suits, they look clean and shiny but the probelm is a lack in variety which can make things awfully repetivie feeling, something thats not helped by rather plain and bland backgrounds. As you walk around youll pass piece after piece that basically looks the same so you will end up asking yourself if you have been here before. The bosses all look like they should though

The sound is basically a mixed bag, the music sucks, it basically feels like a short number of very short looping tunes that just feel well like they could be taken from any low budget video game. Now I am darn sure someone will say well what the heck did you expect music wise from something connected to a comic book character Mozart? Well go look up the end credits music from the 1978 Incredible Hulk TV show, I think its called something like "The Lonely Man" it is a very moving  sad solo piece of piano music and it would make an awesome midi tune. As it stands though we are stuck with music of the most turd like. (I am happy though as I got to throw an Incredible Hulk TV show refrence into this review). The sound effects are good though Hulk actually sounds convincing with his noises and then you have the sounds of things smashing and crashing and decent gun related noises its just a shame its partnerd up with rubbish music.

Well lets get on to what really sells a game and makes it worth remembering and that of course is the gameplay. Well its an action platforming game with a decent move set, hulk can jump, punch, grab his enemies, toss them, tombstone them, crush them, he can do that super sonic hulk clap you see in the films and comics, he can stomp and after collecting the right pill he can run smashing through things. Oh yeah thats a little gem isent it Hulk picks up pills to power up and regain health, yes I know even otherwise indestructable characters kind of need life bars and the threat of death in games but seriously this game has health pills what wer ethey thinking? The gameplay at first seems quiet fun after all who hasnt wanted to be a super powerd hero and punch people and have the power of the hulk but the issue is that really you have so little to do with this power. The enemies, AI is virtually non-existent, they all run straight at you and straight to there doom, yeah for a little bit its fun to practice all of the moves on them, but soon well when you have punched, crushed, stamped and super sonic clapped one enemy well youve done it to them all it soon simply becomes dull and repetitive. The platform jumping type stuff is also as easy as pie, oh as for the becoming Banner thing thats something you do when your about to die, I guess I had forgotten that over the years. There is no save feature but its not the longest game in the world but your still not likly to see the end as I am affraid boredom will most likly have set in long before then.

So has my oppinion of this game actually changed? Yes it has, before I thought that it was a bad game however on replaying it and reflecting on it I instead have to say that no it is simply a very average and forgetable game, If I had to give it a score I would once again give it a 5 out of 10, this being the third 5 I have given makes me feel like I am stuck in a nightmare of the average, what I wouldnt give now to play either a gem or to sink my teeth in to something that truly sucks. If you must buy this game then look to pay about the same that I did for a loose cart but I would instead strongly advise you to use this money instead to pick up the first season of the old Incredible Hulk Tv Series which is about £5 on Amazon.  For now I think I am just going to go and listen to that sad walking away music again while I toss this cartridge deep into my games cupboard and walk on by.

Monday, 15 May 2017

SNES Review 118: Spectre

Originally Spectre was a Video game for the Apple Macintosh, developed in 1990 by Peninsula Gameworks and published in 1991 by Velocity Development. It was a 3D tank battle game basically something on the lines of the old arcade classic Battlezone by Atari (which came out 10 years earlier in the 1980's), the game did very well for itself which is proberbly why around 4 years latter a SNES version was made. I guess this is a bit of a pleasent change in a way seeing a game make its way from the Apple Macintosh on to the PC after I have coverd so many Amiga games which made there way to the SNES. Well the Macintosh game scored rave reviews.

The SNES version of the game was made by a company called Synergistic a video game developer founded in 1978 who fitting started out by publishing some of the earliest available games and applications for the Apple II family of computers. They continued developing games for various platforms into the late 1990s making 4 SNES games in total this being the second game they made for the platform (the only one I own and therefore proberbly the only one I will be reviewing).

Ok so there is basically no story to this game to explain so I guess I will just have to explain what it is that you do. Well you play the part of the pilot of a tank called a Spectre tank. This is not just any old tank the Spectre can do more than youd expect sure it can fire normal rounds but it can also shoot  powerful grenades, it can also do things you really wouldnt expect a tank to be able to do such as jump, and warp into hyperspace to quickly get far away from enemies. Using the Spectre you go from level to level progressing by collecting a certain number of flags while enemy robot tanks attack you, the higher a level you get the more intellegent, quick and strong the enemy tanks get.

The Games graphics although done in a 3D style are incredably basic, the floor is basically a never ending chess board and the only diffrence between levels is the colour of half of the squares (half are always black). You have large geometric shapes cubes, spheres, and pyramids which are all colorful, enemy tanks basically look nothing like thanks though, essentially they look triangular a bit like one of those flipper robots you see so often on Robot Wars.

Other than the enemy tanks, the flag you need to collect, and the various shapes the stages are barren. There is literally nothing else too see, so its quiet a bland game really once youve seen one level you have pretty much seen them all, things might get tougher with enemy tanks being faster or smarter but they never look any diffrent.

The Sound in this game is hardly worth a mention there is some very basic background music that is ominous and fitting I guess but it also is not the best as far as quality goes, its kind of painful. The sound effects are basic in the extreme there are pretty much only like 4 sound effects the sound of your tanks gun firing, the sound of something getting hit and the sound of you getting hit and thats about your lot apart from well there is a robot voice which says game over and level complete and such but it sounds super muffled. All in all though the sound is not much of a selling point for this game at all.

There is one single player mode and four multiplayer modes to choose from. The single player mode I have basically all ready talked about in discussing how the game works, as for the multiplayer well there is one where it's you and a drone vs. a friend and a drone which is basically 2 on 2 capture the flag, a free for all where the winner is the one who destroys the most tanks, a mode where the one who captures the most flags wins and then finally ''Allied Assault'' which is just basically a 2 player co-operative version of the single player mode.

One of the biggest issues with this game is that it came out a whole year after StarWing/StarFox came out, and it compares very very poorly to that game, sure the graphics in starfox might mostly just be diffrent shapes but they are put togther in a wide variety of ways, each level looks diffrent, the enemies look diffrent, the thing is playing this game has just made me think even more about StarFox about how much it did right about how it pieced togther every little element in a way which produced well video game magic, everything just slots togther perfectly to make somthing thats much bigger and brighter than its elements this just doesnt happen with Spectre.

I yet again have to give another game a solid average 5 out of 10, look the game is fun in short doses and doesnt really do anything that badly, but things could just be so much better and there are much better titles for snes collectors and players to buy, sure if you see this for about £5 and want to give it a shot then go for it, but its really not worth going out of your way to track a copy down or paying through the teeth for it.