Sunday, 30 April 2017

April's Retro game purchases 2017

I started the months retro purchasing of nice and early on April the 2nd I finished work and on the way to my bus walked past a Game shop, there on a little podium they had a copy of Pokemon Stadium 2 but sat in front of it was a sign saying Pokemon Stadium £15, I looked again and yes it was the second one, so I ran inside and asked to buy it and thats how I got Pokemon stadium 2 for N64 cart only for £15, I dont know how theyd missed that it was the second one but its a great price for it and in honesty it was a cart I didnt particularly think I would ever get.

I got two other games that day but credit has to go to my daughter for them, she phoned me up and told me she had seen them in a charity shop and offerd to grab them for me , so thanks to her I got Dead N Furious for DS complete for £1 and Pokemon Battle Revolution for Wii complete for £3.

On the 6th of April I had a intresting day, firstly in a charity shop I grabbed Scrabble for the ZX Spectrum complete for 50pence and Bugaboo the flea for the zx spectrum complete for 50pence. I find it intresting when I come across really old stuff like this because it seems to fly under the radar of a lot of collectors, lots of people seem to believe that gaming didnt start until the NES came out which is crazy when you remember that the NES wasnt that big in the UK really, we were a very micro computer driven culture and this seems to be something a lot of people have glossed over.

After this I headed to an indy store where I grabbed a whole host of diffrent bits and pieces, I grabbed Dungeon Explorer for the psp complete for £2, Cyber Speedway for Saturn disc only £2, The Jungle Book for Master System complete for £2, Tom and Jerry The Movie for Master System complete for £2, World Grand Prix for Master System cart only 80pence andTroddlers for the SNES complete for £10. I think the strongest purchase of the day was proberbly Troddlers I mean its not often you get a complete SNES game for such a low price and it was an intresting one at that, not something mainstream which you would see on a regular basis, I would talk about it more but I recently reviewed it so I guess I have coverd it enough already.

On the 7th of April I went to a few charity shops and managed to grab, Tomb Raider (platinum version) complete for PS1 for £1, Final Fantasy X for ps2 complete for ps2 for £1, Burnout revenge for ps2 complete for ps2 for £1, Ben 10 Protector of earth complete for psp for £1 and Motor Storm arctic edge complete for psp for £1.

On the 9th of April on the way home from work I managed to grab 3 wii games for £28 Inzuma eleven strikers, kirby epic yarn and marbles balance challenge. This was partially down to Games buy 3 games get the cheapest game free stickers. What is intresting to note is that CEX charges around £35 for Inzuma Eleven strikers so yes although I already brought this recently it seemed to be one worth grabbing a second copy of to hold on to, and yes this is the second copy of Marbles Balance Challange I have grabbed but this version is a purly english copy, my original has a german manaual and a german case, sure if It had been paying loads Id have been happy to keep the german one but when its a semi rare game for what I paid its kinda cool to have another copy.

I also hit a charity shop where I grabbed Casper for ps1 complete for £1 and Baldurs gate Dark Alliance complete for ps2 for £1, they had lots of other games but these were the only ones in good condition, I really dont understand charity shops trying to sell some of the CD's DVD's and games they do sometimes when you can look at them and see in 3 seconds flat that there is no way they will play but I guess thats a subject for another post in the future.

On the 13th I got Gurumin for psp through the post it was £5 for it complete postage included (its an NTSC American version) I had heard a lot of good things about this game but usually when I have seen it its been £40 and in awful condition. I am not sure why but I have ended up with quiet a bit of a PSP collection with a lot of the machines best and brightest titles. I never really set out to collect Sony stuff at all my PS1 collection started purly by accident, I was looking for N64 stuff and practically triping over PS1 stuff and not being able to ignore it when the prices were good.

On the 14th I went in a few charity shops and managed to grab Guitar Hero 1 and 2 complete for PS2 for £2, outlaw golf 2 complete for xbox for £1 and project gotham racing (classics edition) complete for 49pence.

On the 16th of April I did something I have not done for a long time and thats go to a carboot. I havent been to a carboot for a long time for a lot of reasons one of them being my working hours make it very difficult but it was one of the main ways I used to get a lot of my retro stuff, but as more people learned the value of things the carboots kind of dried up. I made it three quarters of the way round the boot without picking anything up at all and then on one of the last stores I grabbed the following Halo complete for xbox for £1, Hitman blood money complete for xbox for £1, Star Wars episode 3 revenge of the sith complete for xbox for £1, Black complete for xbox for £1 Tenchu return from darkness complete for £1, Half life complete for ps2 for £1, GTA san andreas complere for ps2 for£1 and Cool Boarders complete for ps1 for£1. None of them are exactly standout titles but it wasnt a bad little haul really and it was nice to have a decent walk and go around a carboot again doing a little bargain hunting.

On the 25th I got Puggsy for the MegaDrive complete for £5, I have had a cart of this for ages but figured that for a full version in good condition £5 was a great price and so I jumped on it.

The very last thing I brought during April was got on the 27th and it was a cart only copy of the Japanese GameBoy Advance game Genius Boys Academy (Tennis) for £2. I have heard nothing but good about this game and figured that as it was never released here that I should grab it when I saw a copy for so little.

I figure this out to me having spent £91.99 which is actually one of my bigger monthly spends. I would normally be concerned about having spent this much but there are a lot of what I consider very important purchases for example Pokemon Stadium 2 for £15 was a complete and utter steal, and the same can be said about Gurumin for £5, spending £28 on Inzuma eleven strikers, kirby epic yarn and marbles balance challenge was also a heck of a deal, were those 3 worth buying though when I already owned them, well I guess time will tell.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Megadrive Box art, my love of the Japanese art: Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles Tournament Fighters

So I figured I would keep on pumping out posts about Box art mostly because I love it, its a cool mix of art and advertising which I think often does not get the credit it deserves. Now the thing you need to remember is that back when these MegaDrive games were coming out there wasnt the internet like there is today, sure there were a few magazines which you could get information from and the odd TV programme now and then but the front Cover of a game was arguably much more important when it came to selling games.

Recently I have been watching a lot of a programme called Cake Wars with my girlfriend, now you might be wondering how thats relevent but hear me out. In cake wars four teams will be given a topic and they have to make a cake which fits this topic, now as you watch these cakes being made and decorated then even before the judges go near them you will have decided which one you like, which one you hate, which should win, why it should win. You get used to seeing certain things though and hearing certain terms. One of the things you always hear is that the cake must tell a story and there must be a sense of movement (They also say it must be obvious what the cake is made for). This is one of the things that made me think about Video game box art again, I wonderd if the stuff I liekd the most told a story and/or contained a sense of movment.

Well the cover is very obviously for Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Tournament Fighter, what with the words being on the cover, in fact to my knowledge no game has been released without its title being on the box so thats kind of a given. There is a large Turtle face in this case Raphiel and there is also an image of him clearly fighting with an enemy and the fight does have a good sense of movement. Yet despite all of this 9I find it rather dissapointing, there are after all 4 Turtles and a number of other characters, if something is Turtles related then you kind of expect to see the 4 of them. One more thing I have to add bonus points for though is the Turtle on show being shown with the pure white more serious and dangerous looking eyes I think this being a fighting game thats the kind of right way to go  with the characters as apposed to the more comical cartoon varients.

The American case has the same basic art work but with a red border piece and a white back, it has a few more screenshots but thats because it doesnt have to have the same information on it again and again like the European one does with there being mutliple languages. I basically see these two cases as more or less equal though, there basically slight varients on the same theme. I dont have much to say that I havent said above so lets leave this one here.

Ok so I will off the bat just straight up admit that this cover the Japense one is my favourate cover, it has all 4 Turtles on it and 4 other fighters, you can see the action of Leanardo slashing with his sword and other characters brandisdhing there weapons, its almost like they are going to rush out of the cover and towards you and I think that makes it feel epic. It is not without fault though, the main thing being that the turtles have actual human style cartoon eyes so look a little less menacing than they could, also when you look at the Turtles skin theyve been given these spots of diffrent coloured skin which almost makes them look a bit like little old bald green men.

So I figured that I wanted to do my own Custom cover, basically it is what I would have liked to see be the European cover if it had been up to me. I kept the originals back and spine as I didnt have any issues with either of them, to me they were both classic MegaDrive. I then took the Japanese front cover and made a few alterations, for one I removed the Japense writing but then I made two stylistic changes, for one I gave the Turtles the plain white Styles eyes, but I also smoothed out there skin to remove the ''liver'' spots. So what does everyone think, which is the best cover for this game, which one would have had you pulling it down off the store shelves and taking it to the counter?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Megadrive Box art, A piece of Japanese art I dont like so much: Art of Fighting

So I wanted to continue with my previous topic and talk about Various bits of MegaDrive box art, but I thought for a change I would look for Japanese case that I dont like as much as the American or European case, surly there must be at least some games where the Japanese art is the worst art? Well here is what I believe to be just such a case, and its for Art of Fighting.

Well what can I say, its one of the latter blue boarderd MegaDrive Covers, which some people seem to like more than the old black ones because of them being brighter but in other ways I think they loose some of the class of the old black ones.  Overall I quiet like this case the art is good and large and very well placed, I cant complain much at all. I dont think its the perfect case I dont like the fact that the picture in the background on the back is just an enlarged part of the front art but its a fine case overall.

Well here we have the American case, if you take a look the main image is the same piece of art as the European but flipped with the contrast turned up and pulled back slightly so you can see more of the fighters, I also think the way the Logo is handle makes it pop out more and I like that. Also with the image being very blue tonned I think the red boarder works a lot better.

Now to start with I like the back of the case, I also dont hate the front of the case but I do think its just too darn plane, the central piece of art is a very nice logo and would look great on the back of a T shirt But I dont think it is right for the front cover of a fighting game especially not when this leaves the majority of the front filled up with plane black space.

I did think about building my ideal cover and what it would entail but I kind of figured it would be beyond my skills. So what did I want to see in my idea of a perfect case? Well the American front picture and the words Art of Fighting from off that cover but with a classic black Megadrive border and on the back I would like the main Japanese piece of art of the main two characters, and I would also like to throw the logo in but in a much smaller capacity. Such a dark bland front for a Japanese game when so many of there cases have such awesome bright pieces of art on the front was just so dissapointing for me to see

Monday, 24 April 2017

Megadrive Box art, my love of the Japanese art 2: Jewel Master

So I made a post back on Thursday the 28th of July 2016 about my love of Japanese Mega Drive box art. As I previously said when I was younger I had a lot of  Japanese MegaDrive Games, the main reason for this was that older Japanese titles which had since been released in the UK tended to be ridiculously cheap in comparison to there UK equivalents. So it was a cheap way of getting lots of games for little cash. Now days though things are a little bit diffrent it is often far cheaper to get an English copy of a game than it is a Japanese game So I proberbly only have 4 boxed Japanese games in my collection but I still love to look at the Japanese case art. (I have Japanese copies of Eswat, Gain Ground, Monaco GP2 and Arrow Flash

This is what led me to do a post showing an example of the diffrence between box art which can be seen here.

In that post I only showed the art for one game and that was Eswat, the reason for this was that It was an extreme case where I feel the Japanese art was a million times better than the European and American but it wasnt the only case, this was a topic I always intended to return to but  somehow I kept forgetting, other topics came up, other ideas came into my head

There is a lot of box art I could talk about but as a friend the blogger DS90 has written several simmilar posts that include comparisons between streets of rage and Golden Axe covers I will leave those alone and just post a link to his box art posts here, I recomend you have a look at them.

In bringing this back as a returning subject I have decided that I will start with a game I have a great love for, I own this game and play it quite a bit, but I am dissapointed to say I own the English version and I am sure once you have seen the covers you will know why.

This is the English Cover, I am not saying that its a bad cover, but I think it could be a lot better, and the funny thing is in the game you can have up to 4 magical rings on at a time but only 2 on each hand so its technically inacurate as well, still its passable.

This is the American version it is basically the same piece of central artwork but they have shrunk the picture down and given the case more well for want of a better term blank space. (They also appear to have turned the contrast up).

This is the Japanese cover and I simply love it, the main piece of art might not show any form of battle or action but it is I think in its own right a beautiful piece of art. I do admit there are issues in that you see a man holding a sword where as in the game the weapons are your rings but its something I would be more than happy to have up on my wall in a frame.

Once again I couldnt help myself but try to make an English case which would use the central picture and themes from the Japanese case but incorporate our logo's and feel. I know my work is not perfect but this is basically someone spending 10 minutes using nothing more than a graphics programme to cut and paste elements togther. Yes when I did the custom Eswat cover I made a few actual alterations to the cover but I dont think the main piece of art on this cover could be alterd in anyway which would improve it at least not with my talents. I did look at the image at diffrent levels of contrast and brightnes but as far as I was concerned the image looked its best as is.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Making sure you have a good life/gaming balance

Recently I was reading a news article about a man in Japan who believes that his divorce was cause dby Dragon Quest . I want to talk about a few things in connection to this so lets start with the basic story. There is a Japanese TV show called Ie, Tsuite Itte Ii Desuka? (“Is It Okay If We Follow You Home?”). In this show random people are stopped on the street and asked if it would be ok to take a peak into there home.

Well on one episode they stopped a 43 year-old systems engineer called Kaccho who talked about his love of Dragon Quest and went on to discuss the effect it had on him and his family. He agreed to let the show film inside his apartment. Kaccho’s apartment was filled with Dragon Quest merchandise, pretty much everything Dragon Quest wise that you could think of toys, key holders, figures etcetera but it didnt stop there he had photos of himself with the Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii and other various developers.

Kaccho talked about how he got divorced four years earlier. Kaccho believes that his constant Dragon Quest X playing is what caused his marriage to fall apart. He tried to get custody of his daughter, but lost.In some ways I feel sorry for him but then he did admit himself that “I used to look after my kid until I started gaming too much,. I love video games dont get me wrong they are a truly awesome invention and I think a great way to spend your free time but it shouldnt be to the detrement of the people in your life who really matter. I have a daughter myself and I got divorced, I won full custordy of my daughter though and every second of every day she makes my life all the better just by being there. It can admitidly be hard to be a good parent and also not loose site of yourself, its hard to balance giving them all the time they need but still finding a moment for youself to allow yourself to relax but I feel that particularly when your children are young you need to make sure that the majority of if not all of the sacrarfices are yours and not theres, you should game less and spend time with the. Heck share your love of gaming with them it can be something you bond over, me and my daughter have enjoyed every new Pokemon RPG togther, we have played many diffrent types of co-op game but I have also made sure we have spent time playing chess and monopoly and going outside on walks and trips, playing sports and even just talking.

Now was Kaccho addicted to Dragons Quest X, I am not sure, I dont think you can really call him an addict if he is managing to hold down a full time job, did it destroy his relationship, well youd have to ask his X wife to know the true answer to that, it could have been how much time he was spending on the game, the fact she felt it was more important to him than she was or there daughter was or it could have just been a reason she felt was good enough to give to mask her true reasons.

So what can we learn from this? To have a look at ourselves and at how we prioritise things in our life, my games are important to me and they may be important to you but they are ultimatly replacable loved ones are not.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Snes Review 116: Top Gear 2

Top Gear was one of the first racing games to be released on the Super Nintendo, that's probably one of the reasons I made it one of the early reviews I did for the SNES (it was my 27th review). I wanted to leave it a good while before touching on the sequel but I guess I went and forgot and left it alone for a bit to long, so here I am a long time latter looking at its Sequel Top Gear 2 or as the Japanese would name it Top Racer 2. Again this game was nothing to do with the show of the same name.

Top Gear 2 was released in August 1993 for the SNES about a year after the first one. The original game was only released on the SNES and although Top Gear 2 came out on the SNES first it made its way to both the Mega Drive/Genesis and the Amiga in 1994.

Just like with the first game Top Gear 2 was developed by Gremlin Interactive and published by Kemco (On the SNES at least Vic Tokai published it for the MegaDrive/Genesis but that's not really relevant here).

When reviewing the first game I noted that before making Top Gear as the same developers had created the famous Lotus games which had been released earlier on the Amiga and the Sega Mega Drive and that therefore they had a fair degree of experience in this field, so by this point you'd hope that with having both that experience and having previously worked with the SNES and having produced a very well received racer they would have an excellent base to work from, then again there is the chance they'd just slap a 2 on it and add a token sprinkle of extra content, so if you are so inclined you can play a little game here and try to guess which way this will go.

If you have played the original Top Gear then when you start playing Top Gear 2 you are likely to notice very quickly that this time you do not get to choose a starting car. In the original game you had a choice of four cars to choose from. When you first start racing if you have played the original you will probably find that it feels pretty much the same. Yet it doesn't take long at all for you to realise that there is a lot more challenge here, in the original game it was quiet easy to quickly find yourself in first place again and again its not quiet like that this time around, in this one you have to fight to come in a decent place, I am not saying this is a bad thing however it depends on what your personal opinion is when it comes to a challenge.

The main reason you don't pick a car is because this game is more about upgrading, the higher place you manage to finish in the higher amount of cash you win, and with the cash you win you buy upgrades for your car, ones to make it more durable, to make it steer better, or to make it accelerate faster for example. This does add an extra layer to the game but does it make things better well yes and no. It does add to the game, it gives you more of a reason to race and something to do with the cash you earn, it also makes you feel like you have a career to pursue but there is a fly in the ointment so to speak. The problem is that with how much you earn being connected to where you place it can mean that if you are qualifying but not placing high enough to make enough cash then you can find that you back yourself into a corner where the competitors appear to be more upgraded than you are and you have set yourself up for failure.

If you want to do well overall then you will need to learn to upgrade wisely and consistently so as not to find yourself in a place where you are outclassed by the competition. Yeah if your opponents didn't get harder then this would ruin the whole upgrading idea basically making you unbeatable once you'd slapped on a few upgrades, when you think of it like this its a very hard to implement a system like this and have it work, one way they could have worked around this would be to have you be allowed to enter extra races, for example prize only races which while not progressing the game allow you to earn the extra money you might not have made if you hadn't placed high enough.

The game also features something else the original didnt and thats damage, your car can become damaged and then drive worse and slower, this makes you need to be a little more careful, if this is a good thing or not depends on if you like being careful.

Ok so I realise that I have spent the vast majority of this review comparing it to the first one but thats because its these diffrences which make it a came of its own. Yes the grasphics  and sound are roughly the same as the first entry but they have changed enough things to make this more than a cookie cutter sequel, is it better or is it worse? Well that strongly depends on what you want in a racer, do you want upgrades and damage or not? If you want those things try this game if you dont then the first is best for you. I would give this the exact same score 7 out of 10 and just say go for the one which sounds the most like your kind of thing.

When I talked about the original I said that it was cheaper to get the second one with the first one being about £8 for an import or £15 for a UK version (cart only) and I said the sequel would be cheaper, its funny how times change, when I did a little searching for this review I found you can now get Top Gear for the SNES for around £8 for a Uk version and there actually seems to be a lot less copies of the sequel around with the cheapest copy I could find being £15 for a loose cart. I guess it just goes to show how the retro game market can change and flow one way and another.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

SNES Review 115: The Troddlers

So when I first started the whole retro collecting thing it was a case of trying to get what I used to own when I was younger, then I seemed to start trying to get games I had played at various friends houses and wished I had owned, then this went on to trying games which I had heard good things about. In the end it came down to the fact that I would buy pretty much anything which was being sold for what I consider to be a good price. Sometimes knowing if a price is good or not simply comes down to pulling my phone out and checking the kind of review scores it got and then looking at the kind of price it tends to go for. I will happily buy a supposedly bad game to give it a bash as long as I can get it for a low price, if its supposed to be good then I am happy to dip my hand a little deeper in to my pocket, and obviously my hand will go lower if its a complete version with the box and manual as well as a cart. I came across the game I am talking about today a few weeks ago and although I like to think I know a lot about games and that I have played a large amount of them I had no idea what it was, but it was sat there in a shop window complete for £9.99 , it wasn't the only boxed game in fact there was a copy of the Page Master on one side of it for £19.99 and Bubsy the BobCat on the other side for £24.99, this game wasn't just less though it was in much better condition and I knew I had never played it before. The game was called Troddlers and the first thing I thought when I saw it was ''oh I think this game looks a little bit Lemmings like'' the second was ''oh it uses the SNES mouse, I have a SNES mouse''.

So this is how I ended up with Troddlers and how I came to learn that it existed, now you would think that if it was any good then someone would know about it, someone I knew back when the SNES was popular would have owned it, or I would have seen it in a magazine. There are so very many games on the SNES which are good old classics then on top of this there is a whole heap of games which are considered to be underrated cult classics, yet the beauty of the machine is that the library of games for it seems to be so large and wide that just when you think you have seen all of it something else will come along and surprise you, so with this in mind I am not surprised to find something new, the main thing that surprises me is that I had until this point never heard of it despite the fact that it received a Pal release and was also formerly on the Amiga another machine I owned and enjoyed back in its day.

The Super Nintendo is a very well loved machine with a very big fan base, with collectors and fans in general going out of there way to hunt track down and purchase titles that they haven't tried before, importing games, trying to play titles which are only available in Japanese. The thing is though that usually people find there way to new games by looking at stuff which was made by companies they are familiar with so they look for Capcom games, or Konami games for example where as Troddlers was programmed by Atod a video game developer located in Helsingborg, Sweden and as far as I know this was the only game they made for the SNES, and it was published by a company called Storm which was a subsidiary of The Sales Curve / Seika Corp. Now these are hardly the names that dreams are made of, lets face it this was released in 1993 the year both Star Fox/Wing and Mario All Stars came out, so maybe I did see it in passing but when it was sat on the shelves beside giants and I was a kid with limited income it wasn't going to stand out with unknown company names on the box and a very childish name and box art, lets face it back then there was no internet to check to see if a game was good, instead you had to take a chance with your cash and it was always easier to bet on a known name.

So first things first what kind of game is Troddlers? Well in simple terms it's basically a puzzle game with platformer elements. Now when you have something which is obviously a cookie cutter rip off its easy to go well its a clone of this however there are not that many games which can be compared to Troddlers in fact I think the closest game I could name as a point of comparison which most people will have played would be Lemmings.

It would be totally unfair and incorrect to call Troddlers a Lemings clone though as there are many differences between the two games which I shall get into latter on in this review. Just to make this point plain. The SNES version is actually a remake with the original having appeared on the Amiga. It often suprises me how many games have found a home on both the SNES and the Amiga as you would think that they were very different systems which would attract a different audience, yet I suppose if you have a finished game which only needs a little converting to end up on a different platform and make more money then why not go for it? Still I will add I have never played the Amiga version so I wont be discussing differences or if its better or worse instead I shall merly be discussing the game on its own merits. 

I know I don't always break games up into there various components, in fact I am very aware of the fact that my review style seems to change from game to game but there are often reasons for this, sometimes a game personally means something to me, when I play a game it takes me back to the time and place when I either first came across the game or to the point where I fell in love with it, in this case though this game is totally new to me so I find myself being a little more clinical when looking at it. With this in mind I will start with the story.

In the past I have frequently talked about how bad the death of the instruction manual is, but I can see why companies have chosen to give them the big shove, mostly its to save money but in honesty they are arguably not as needed as they used to be. Games now days are often very story driven they have all these cut scenes and voice overs which help to add layer after layer of story to the proceedings back in the 16bit era typically the stories were far simpler some of them hardly made any appearance in the game at all, sometimes unless you read the instruction manual you wouldn't really know that there was a story, Troddlers is one of these cases. If you read the manual then you will discover Troddlers back story, and I will lay it out here in brief

Hokus and Pokus (the games main characters), are trainee wizards, there boss is a sorcerer called Divinius, who is both bossy and lazy. Hokus and Pokus are troublemakers who constantly play pranks, these pranks annoy Divinius and so he orders them to clean out his massive storeroom which he has not cleaned for countless centuries. Hokus and Pokus however basically slacked off and didnt do the work instead spending there time mucking around this is when they realised that if they didnt do some work pronto they were going to get in big trouble. So they decided that they would move various boxes around in order to give the impression that they had actually done something, while moving boxes they found one with writing on it, writing which said "WARNING! Instant magical troddlers - Just add water. May turn into zombified variety if allowed to teleport. DO NOT TOUCH!" These "troddlers".

The troddlers are basically little men with limited intelligence, who exist to do chores. So in Sorcerers apprentice mop bucket fashion Hokus and Pokus decide that life will be much easier if they can get the Troddlers to do there work for them. So they quickly ripped there way into the box accidentally spilling the contents into their cleaning bucket, and this caused hundreds of troddlers to appear, troddlers who quickly start marching towards the nearest teleporter. It was at this point that Divinius stormed in to the room just in time to see this happening and he responded by yelling "Go after them right this instant and get back as many as you can!! And don't bring back any bleedin' zombies!!"

OK I freely admit that its not exactly a work of Shakespeare but as far as 90's video games go its not to bad and hey at least the characters are not full of 90's-tude.
The music and the graphics in this game are both rather basic so I will talk about them quickly and together.The music is simple but it is actually kind of catchy. There are several different backgrounds that you will see throughout the game, and you get different tunes which corresponds to these nicely. For example, one of the backgrounds shows pyramids and such, and it is coupled with music with an Egyptian style to it. Graphically, the best way to describe the game is with two words adequate and functional. On the bad side a lot of things are rather plain and rather small but on the plus side every single one of the objects on screen is clear, its easy to work out what they are and all of the movement appears smooth.

OK so now on to the most important part of a game which is obviously the gameplay. In Troddlers, you play as Hokus if your playing in single player or Hokus and Pokus if your playing in multiplayer (player one automatically being Hokus and player 2 Pokus). The game is broken up into missions. About 175 so a heck of a lot to be fair, and before each mission your shown what your objective is and given a few key facts, for example the amount of troddlers in the level. In each level you must complete whatever task you have been given within a set time limit. The main objectives the game are leading troddlers to the levels exit (this is the part which will most remind people of lemmings), then there are levels where the goal is to destroy zombie troddlers and then there are levels in which you collect gems. Its not as basic as each level having just one of these objectives, nope in fact many of the levels will combine some of these tasks asking you to collect a certain number of gems while also destroying a set amount of zombies for example.

OK so unlike Lemmings, Troddlers places you in control of an on screen character either through using the control pad or the snes mouse. You can place blocks and erase blocks, which you use to form a path to direct the troddlers towards the exit or for other things such as blocking enemies from reaching the troddlers. You don't have an unlimited amount of blocks though, so you have to use them wisely, with the blocks you have available viewable on the right side of the screen. There is a limit to how many blocks you can have but you can place one block and then pick up another (the max holdable is 15). There are many different types of blocks in the game, each of which has its own special effect. The block on the bottom of the right hand of the screen is always the one that is placed down next, and when a block is erased, it is automatically added to the top of the pile.

OK so in order to make the game interesting you have various different types of block with which to play Normal blocks are the most common and have no special skills, but then there are ice blocks, mine blocks, flipper blocks, bouncer blocks, and pauser blocks, they all basically do exactly what they sound like they do and with a few minutes of playing around with them you will begin to realise just what you can achieve by either using one or a combination of them. You will find yourself working out how to use these blocks both to help the Troddlers but also how to use them to stop or slow down the Zombie troddlers

So I find myself at that point again when the game needs a final verdict, I guess it depends very much on if you like this type of game or not if you do then its a good solid example of a well thought out puzzle game, which plays well and is overall pretty darn pleasing and if you dont then your not going to buy it regardless of whatever rating I give it. If I had to give it a number out of 10 I think I would go for 7, I like it and there is not much else on the market like it for the SNES well apart from the Lemmings games (and king Arthur's world). Last time I looked up the price of it well it seemed to be sitting at around £15 for a cart and I think its a fair price, obviously I would recommend you look around and try for the best price you can but that's advice I would give when your making any video game investment.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Bonanza Bros: why I think it should have been the start of a series of games.

I have previously talked about Alien Storm and Gain Ground as being games which Sega made which I feel should have been the start of franchises, well here is another game I feel falls in that category the game is Bonanza Bros.

Bonanza Bros is a game which I find a little hard to explain I guess, I have seen it described as a shooting platform game but I dont think that really does it justice. It has something in common with Gain Ground and thats the fact that it was originally on the Sega System 24 arcade system board.

So in Bonanza Bros you take on either the role of Robo, or Mobo (they are referd to as Mike and Spike in some PAL versions), who were apparently modeled after Jake and Elwood The Blues Brothers. Robo and Mobo are basically expert burglers and the objective of the game is for the player(s) to make there way through the various levels which include a bank, a casino and an art gallery amongst others and steel the loot and make your get away with it by making your way up to a blimp which is on the roof. Sure you can shoot, but you can also try to be stealthy. I am not going to say that this game was the first of its kind both the plot and the gameplay is very simmilar to an older title on the Atari 2600 called Keystone Kapers but I feel that Bonanza Bros just hit all of the right notes in the right ways, it was a particularly good game mostly due to the atmosphere it creates with its look and feel. I find this game particularly enjoyable in Two playe mode where you play cooperatively at the same time.

There is a slight regional diffrence when it comes to plot which I feel I should mention this is that in the Japense version the players characters are simply thieves attempting to steal valuable treasures for there own personal profit whilst avoiding the law; in other regions they are instead merly experts who are recruited by the Police Chief to test security facilities, its kind of funny really how back then there seemed to be such regard for wether the player could really play what essentially is a villian or not when now days you can easily pick up games in any region where your a criminal.

So as Robo or Mobo basically you walk around the various levels using the limited skills you have but mostly with your wits to try and get the goods and get away with it. You can jump, you can shoot and you can move in to the background, hiding behind columns or furniture, in the shaodows, you cant actually kill guards you can only stun them for a few seconds to get away from them, either by shooting them or by slamming a door open onto them. The game is very simplistic but that works for it, its quick to pick up and play and always good for a quick burst of fun especially in two player mode.

The arcade version was the original but clearly it was popular enough to get around enough back in the day it was ported to the Sega Mega Drive which is the version I am most fammiliar with but it also found itse way on to the Sega Master System, many home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad in Europe at least as well as the Amiga and Atari ST and proberbly a whole host of conversions I am unaware of. The game despite this popularity never got a proper sequel but there was a few spin off games, they are spin offs because they dont follow the gameplay style of the original they are instead puzzle games so in my oppinion at least they dont count, they along with the characters inclusion as playable characters in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, a cameo in the "Race of AGES" track in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. alongside them getting there own "Bonanza Bros." slot machine shows that the characters havent been completly forgotten. To be honest its not just the characters that have remained in peoples minds it the game too. Its popularity doesnt seem to have gone away as in recent years it has cropped up here and there, it was included in the Japanese version of Sonic Gems Collection, It also got a Sega Ages release on the PlayStation 2, and that version was included in the English compilation Sega Classics Collection. It was in the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 2 and PSP. The game next appeared in Sonic's/Sega's Ultimate Genesis/Mega Drive Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As well as making its way on to various online stores such as the Wii's virtual console and Steam and some models of mobile phone.

So one of the reason I think we need more Bonanza Bros is because there is nothing quiet like it, I also think that we need far more offline multiplayer co-operative games, now days mutliplayer tends to mean online, it also tends to mean competitive a lot of the time, I think that a download title for modern consoles which takes what was in the original Bonanza Bros and builds on it would be something to behold.

Now I want to go off on a slight tangent and mention a game I played recently which I feel has an element of Bonanza Bros in it and that game would be Not a Hero. It shares a degree of its graphical style with Bonanza Bros, it also has a lot of humour and very simple but tight gameplay, it differs from Bonanza Bros in the fact that it throws in a darker type of humour, bad language and mega violence at the screen, its like Bonanza Bros meets Hotline Miami and while I very very highly recomend it its not one to show your kids, thats why I would like a new Bonanza Bros and why I think it should have been the start of a series, as long as there are new machines and new kids getting in to gaming then we could do with more of this kind of thing.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Should you sell the past to fund the future: A gaming debate.

I am not sure how many of you will have done this and how many havent but have you ever sold your old games to buy ones for the next big thing? Now I dont mean have you swapped Xbox 360 game A for Xbox 360 game B at your local indy store while throwing in a few quid, what I am talking about is have you sold the games from an older machine to buy games for your latest machine for example did you sell your SNES games to buy either an N64 or N64 games, or did you sell your gamecube games (and maybe machine) to buy a Wii or Wii games.

I would like to say I have never done it but unfortunatly I have. In fact I can think of a few occasions where I did this. I know for a start I sold my first N64 and the about 8 games I had, this wasnt to get games for a newer machine though it was from pure economic needs. What made me decide to write this blog post though was when I looked at my original Xbox Games, the thought hit me, how many do I actually have. Well  just after I had finshed counting how many Xbox Games I have (101) I realised that this number was kind of an important number to me, it was important because it was a new high for how many original Xbox games I have owned at any one time. You see I got up to 100 Xbox games before I began to trade them in towards games for newer systems. At the time I didnt regret this as well I wanted the new stuff, I wasnt using the old and it seemed like a good idea but latter I came to regret my decisions, I then started to purchase original Xbox games again partly just to collect and partly to correct my ''lapse in judgment''. In one of my previous posts I talked about premeptive retro purchasing which I described as buying something which was considerd to old to be considerd hip and new but not old enough to yet be considerd retro. It is kind of the norm that a lot of people will sell there old games (and/or machine) either during the lead up to a new console release to help fund the purchase of this new purchase or just after its release to buy more games for it and when someone is young or just doesnt have much cash its a very understandable tactic, its understandable but its one I have decided I will never do again. I think that most of the time if you hold on to your games sure they will see a big drop in value but for some of them at least this will just be a downwards curve which is at some stage reversed.

So If I started collecting Xbox games again, I think an important question is have I ended up with the exact same games I originally had? No, in all honesty I cant remember exactly what I had in the first place, do I like what I have though Yes. I have a mix of stuff including some games I really adore and thats good enough for me. I did track down particular titles such as Grabbed By the Ghoulies, Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, Max Payne, which I know I owned before and regretted selling but I have also gotten ahold of games I never had but wanted originally such as Marvel Vs Capcom 2.

So should you sell your old games from the past generation to help you get games for the next? I can fully see why people do it and I have done so in the past, I cant really knock people for it but in all honesty I really dont think its a good idea at all. I would argue that if you are going to sell your past games that you make sure you do it in a rational way, dont just run to a games shop with everything you own under your arms, stop and think about it. Have a look through what you have. Is anything in that pile likly to end up being worth a fortune in the none to distant future, well if so then dont sell it, is there anything in that pile that your going to either wish you could play again or even wish you just had for sentimental value (did someone get it you or does it in some way mean something to you) then if so dont sell it. If you are comfortable that its value is only going to drop and drop or that your getting such a good deal on it that you can live with it then as long as you know you wont miss it then yeah feel free to get rid of it but even then I would suggest you look at the best way to sell it, look how much several shops will offer you for it and look how much they sell it for, get an idea of its value then either go for the best price quoted or sell it yourself to a friend or through a facebook sales group or something on that sort of line. I suppose it helps if you remember how much you have spent on your games in the first place. I tend to get a lot of games second hand when I can for as little as I can manage and if you do this yourself it helps to ensure that whatever you sell your games for your loosing less because you invested less to start with, heck if your lucky sometimes you might even turn a small profit.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A review of Fire Emblem Fates Conquest as well as an oppinion on what makes a good Fire Emblem title

I had thought about posting about Fire Emblem Fates a lot, and in a way this is my post about Fates but it is more than that, it is a post about Fire Emblem in general and about what I want from Fire Emblem titles. I am going to start exploring this by talking about Fates. I kind of always knew I was going to get the game even when I found out it was split into basically 3 games I knew I would get them, then life got in the way and I forgot all about it and it got very close to the games release. It was at this point that the big all 3 games in one edition was tottally sold out so I orderd Birthright and Conquest for the best price I could find £29.99 each and figured I would download the third one when I needed to as well I know Nintendo they never produce enough of anything so the above all in one set would become scalpers fodder being sold for ridiculous prices online that I simply wouldnt pay. I couldnt get as mad as I would like as I have to admit I did drop the ball and not pay proper attention to when it was coming out but that still doesnt stop me feeling annoyed about the way Nintendo handles things once again. (I have also missed the boat on the new Fire Emblem's limited edition but as I am not really into having too many art books etc this doesnt bother me too much).

Conquest Arrived 2 days before the game was due to be released so I opend it and began to play the game, by the time Birthright arrived on the day of release I was already about 6 stages into Conquest and so far I havent even undone Birthright.

Part of what has spurned me into commenting on Fates now is having read the brilliant blog post by DS90Gamer which I will give you the link for before I continue This wasnt the only article I had read about the game(s) though I had read an article about Fates being a Waifu simulator a term I will explain latter as well as various reviews, criticisms and all kinds of bits and pieces on why this is the best or worst entry of Fire Emblem to date as well as articles on why the next entry in the series Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia would be better or worse than Fates.

Something I need to talk about now is the fact that in a way the Fire Emblem fan base seems to have pretty much split in two to some degree, there are those who want to play Fire Emblem for the tactical gameplay, who see it as a chance to stretch there grey matter, they kind of see it as a mix between risk and chess, where they can pit there wits against those of a computer controlled enemy and those who are in it for the characters to see there development, to see there growing relationships and to well I guess to have a hand in deciding which warriors will team togther and be best friends, and who will marry who. I am not saying that you cant fit in to both of these camps, heck I do, I love both the tactical side of things and all of the relationships, I think the two go hand in handto other an experiance which is multilayerd and more than the sum of its parts when put togther. Fire Emblem Awakening deliverd in both of these areas and was seriously one of my favourate games of all time so its possible to offer both.

 Ok so I guess its time to take a break and say what a Waifu is... Now there are a lot of slightly diffrent explanations but here goes, oh actually wait first I am going to start by saying what a Weeaboo is. In basic a Weeaboo is someone who is obsessed with Japan/Japanese Culture (Usually used in terms of Anime obsessives) someone who attempts to act as if they are actually Japanese, through doing things such as learning Japanese words by listening to Anime's and trying to use the subtitles to know what they mean usually resultiung in them either pronouncing them wrong or using them out of context and generally just coming across as stupid, if I make this sound bad its because the term is essentially used as an insult. Now I feel I need to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with enjoying other cultures or trying to adapt some of there ideas however I think some of the stigma around this comes from how some people do it and to what degree. I adore a lot of Japense games, cartoons, food and elements of there culture but I know I am really just an outsider looking in.  Ok so now thats out of the way a Waifu is a term as far as I know that was coined by obsessives to basically refer to a fictional Anime or Video game character that they have a crush on, who if real they would happily pursue and try to make there wife. There is a certain element in the Fire Emblem fandom who see it as a Waifu simulator they basically like to make there avatar and then ship themselves with the female who they are most attracted to either due to there looks, personality or elements of both. A lot of people will make jokes about Weeaboo's being obbsessed with there Waifu's and being either unable to or simply not wanting to go out and get a real relationship instead investing all of there time and effort in to fantasy. Now why do I bring this up, well its because of the fact that sometimes if people claim that they really like one of the modern Fire Emblems for the relationships/drama side of it then they get accused of being Weaboo's who want there Waifu's and I want to say that as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with people enjoying the relationship component of this game or any other, just because you like the characters and like seeing how diffrent couplings come togther it doesnt make you a sicko or a weirdo (sure some people might take this too far but there are always those crazy few).

Its also important to note that I also have no issue with people who want a game of tactics which is free from friendship and dating marlkey, I can understand why some people would want to keep things pure and focused. I guess all that is left to do now is to talk about what I want from a game like this I am one of those people who actually likes both sides of the coin, I like the tactics and the relationships and find that they work hand in hand to offer a deeper more involved product overall. I am a little sad to hear that Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is going to be relationship free, I like to see who is going to end up beings whoise buddy, to read the support conversations which are sometimes funny and other times quiet touching but I enjoy the raw stratergy of these games enough that this wont put me off, hopefully it will stand on its own two feet but I would sooner have something more like Awakening which offers the best of both worlds.

So back to Conquest well I played and completed Conquest, I found that there were characters I liked a lot and some who I could easily have not botherd with and at first I was quiet in to the story but without any way to grind my characters I started to really struggle with latter levels more than I have in prevuious Fire Emblem games, and this was to the point that it actually started to make playing it a drag, I would go so far as to say I limped through the last 6 stages having to play them again and again really not enjoying them very much in order to just finish the game. Part of me says that I would have enjoyed the product and given it a more favourable review if I had simple stopped playing once it began to piss me off. I finished the game and have no desire to ever play it again I would proberbly give it a 7 out of 10 and in all honesty for the time being it has put me off playing Birthright and therfore my copy is still sealed and on the shelf (Although I am thinking about buying Revelations on my daughters advice). Since finishing Conquest I returned to Awakening and replayed it enjoying every single second, the missions were better , I found the difficulty better and I found the characters and relationships in general better. Conquest was a let down but it was only a let down because Awakening had set a very high bar for its successor to try and reach

Monday, 10 April 2017

Gain Ground why I think it should have been the start of a series of games.

Ok so I wanted to continue with another post in a series I just began on what games Sega should have tried to turn into franchises. The following game is one that I have never really written or even talked that much about and yet it is one of my favourate games and in particular it is one of my favourate stand alone games made by sega, it is called Gain Ground.

Gain Ground originally came into my life back in my childhood megadrive owning days, I used to visit an indy games store which not only had an awesome selection it also did a pretty roaring trade in import software. Now one of the best things about this shop is that once a game had been released in the UK any Japanese copies it had laying around would generally get marked down to £5 which just so happend to be just exactly the amount of pocket money I got per week, so as you can imagine at one time my collection was very heavily filled with Japanese games, and on one fateful week the game I happend to buy was none other than Gain Ground. I have to say that from the second I got home I adored the game and over the years the more I have played it the more I have appreciated what it has to offer. I find it important to admit here that although I consider Gain Ground a MegaDrive title it was an arcade machine first and even hit the Master System before finding itself on the MegaDrive/Genesis.

Ok so I am going to start with giving you an idea of what Gain Ground's story is. Basically there was a society which had endured peace so long that they basically lost both the brains and the guts for war. This concerned the government and so they decided to develop a computer simulation however suddenly and without warning, there Supercomputer went haywire, to combat this 3 warriors were dispacthed in to the Gain Ground system to rescue those who are trapped in it and to try to shut the system down.

I think its an intrest fact to slip in at this point that the makers of Gain Ground said that they were inspired by the classic Gauntlet, but does that mean that it plays like Gauntlet? Well you play as small little characters and you move in a simmilar way but then thats about the point any real similarity ends. Unlike Gauntlet you dont play in big screened mazes full of scrolling you play in little compact stages, yes you have to depend on both your instincts and reflexes but arguably a lot more as its one hit and your dead territory here so every decision and movement really counts. The thing that makes Gain Ground great is that its one of those games which is incredably easy to pick up but hard to master, add on top of that the fact that it always makes you feel like you have the abilities needed to complete a level and that if you dont its your own fault not any bad programming or glitches.

So what do you do in Gain Ground well quiet simply you start with 3 characters and you either have to kill every enemy in a level or get at least one of the characters through the levels exit to progress. If a character dies well at first they remain on the round as a little icon guy who you can save if you have a character left to pick them up on there way to the exit, in much the same way you will come across new characters, they will start off as little guys in the level who if you collect will then join you. Each of the characters comes from a diffrent time period and has diffrent skills, you will find knights who shoot fireballs, guys who use rifles, women with grenades, people with spears and even people with ray guns and all of them will have there own advantages, disadvantages and uses and its up to you to work out who to use when and how.

You can play Gain Ground for a long time or you can pick it up now and then and have a quick little blast on it, it also has a two player mode in which you try to get through the levels togther which is brilliant for when you want a good buddy game, lets face it so many games over the years have only offerd versus modes when it comes to multiplayer.

So in looking at why I think Gain Ground should have or should be turned in to a series I need to look at the history of the title, to look at what platforms it has been released on and when. Gain Ground started off as an arcade game running on the Sega System 24 arcade architecture which was released in Japan and the United States in 1988, it was then ported to the Sega Master System in 1990 and the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991. In 1992, a PC Engine Super CD-ROM version (Gain Ground SX) was released, the game was then remade for the PlayStation 2 as part of Sega's Japan-only Sega Ages 2500 series its made its way on to the Wii Virtual Console found itself included in Sega Genesis Collection on the PlayStation 2 and the PSP in 2006 and then in the Sega/Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2009, it also made its way on to the PC through steam (along with a lot of other megadrive titles).

Love for the game hasnt ended here though with Chapters 15 and 17 of the crossover game Project X Zone being stages directly pulled from Gain Ground and yet the game has never in all of these years seen a sequel which is suprising as it must still be generating both income and good will for sega for it to keep being re-released in this fashion.I argue that this builds a very strong case that there is a demand for more Gain Ground and that it should have become a series, and hey you know what as far as I am concerned its not too late.

So what would I want from a Gain Ground Sequel? Well unlike with Alien Storm I am not thinking about a MegaDrive sequel, I would like a sequel now, I would like it on a portable system, now as far as I am concerned that portable system can not be a phone based platform as I dont think this kind of game can be reproduced with touch based controls they just dont feel adequate for this kind of reflex based games so for this reason I would argue that the game needs to be on either the 3DS or the PS Vita or both. Now I see two main ways to go with this either you dont update the graphics much at all, you make a game thats got a simmilar amount of content to the original and you market it in the £8 to £15 range or you upgrade the graphics and make the game longer possibly with a branching storyline and/or reasons to make the game highly replayable such as different endings or bonuses for how quickly or competently you can finish it. The main thing I would want to see though is lots more characters not only with a wide range of abilities but also awesome designs full of personality.

Again  I am not going to say that a sequel would be fail proof, and as I said before there is always the danger that a poor sequel can ruin a games legacy, but I really think that it would be great to see a new handheld Gain Ground, I could see myself playing a handful of levels on the bus on the way to work in much the same way I will pull something like Fire Emblem Awakening out and do a stage while on the bus, I think it would be an awesome game to play in short doses like this, heck or failing that stick it on the Xbox One and PS4 as a download and give me a darn good dash of co-op buddy fun either way I would kill to see more Gain Ground.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Alien Storm, why I think it should have been the start of a series of games.

I was recently talking to a few people about Nintendo and how they dont always seem to really use all of the great Intelectual Properties that they have made and yeah its true they havent made an F-zero in far too long, and there are a lot of other examples I could give but then when I stopped to think about it I thought ''hey you know what Nintendo is far from the worst when it comes to this, in fact Sega made some excellent games that really could have been the start of wonderful franchieses and then did sod all with them''. So it is with that in mind that I find myself here with an idea, and the idea in this case is that I am going to do a few blog posts on a a bunch of Sega Games which I think should have been the start of a series but instead were just one off's.

I am going to start with  Alien Storm, yes apparently Alien Storm is apparently a sequel to Alien Syndrome but I am ignoring that for a whole bunch of reasons, mostly because I never ever realised that back at the time Alien Storm came out and because they are a million miles from each other at best I think you could call Alien Storm a spin off, I really dont see it as a sequel in any way shape or form.

My first ever blog post in general was made on the 16th of June 2009 and it was a review of Alien Storm, that post no longer exists as the host was shut down, I did however reproduce it and add to it for this blog for my 100th Post and so before I go on I will post the link to that just below.

So if I think Alien Storm should have been the start of a series there is obviously a whole bunch of reasons right? Well the first and main one is a purly selfish one and thats the simple fact that its a game I love and I just cant get enough of, I find myself returning to it again and again.  For anyone who hasnt had the good fortune to play it its basically a side scrolling beat em up, if you have played Golden Axe then its that but with Aliens and ray guns. There is more to it than that it had light gun style shooting at the screen levels thrown in to keep things fresh and intresting and I just think they could have got a lot more milliage out of this idea, we had 3 Golden Axes after all. I can not find any proper sales figures for the game but I dont think it can have done bad seeing as it has ended up on various MegaDrive best of style collections. I also think that one of the reasons this game should have gotten at least a few sequels is that it would have been quiet easy to further develop the ideas shown in the original without going to a crazy level of effort. For a start it wouldnt have been hard to use the engine for future Golden Axe games to at least gain a starting point for sequels to Alien Storm, take the engine from Golden Axe 2 and start by dropping the character assets from Alien Storm over the top of the golden Axe stuff and take it from there.

I think at that sort of time the market was ripe for more walk along beat em ups, I just wanted more and more of them and Alien Storm was diffrent not just because of the Alien subjedct mater but the fact they threw in the shooting stages and the running stages, we could have done with a series like that, a series which had a bit of a diffrent story type to all of the others, one which also wasnt affraid to throw in a little bit of other types of gameplay to keep things fresh and intresting.

Personally what would I have liked to see from a sequel? Well my favourate character was the robot for two reasons one his electric whip and 2 well he was a robot and robots are just super cool, I would have liked to have seen more characters for a start for one I would have liked a second robot, I would have also liked to have seen more enemies. I dont think the first game was bad on the enemy front yeah some of them were just recolours but I admit a bit more variety would help, I liked the original ones so much I would want to see them all again, just with a few new faces thrown in. Id like to see more Aliens badly disgused as humans, the humour in the original game really appealed to me, I wouldnt want things to get too daft but if they could just keep throwing little bits like that in then id be very happy. A lot of the first game happens on earth, with you only getting on board a spaceship near the end, I think this is something I would really change Id have 2 levels on earth then 1 on a ship and then see some Alien plant(s) from that point onwards.

I am not going to say that a sequel would be fail proof, there is always the danger that a poor sequel can ruin a games legacy, but I really think that it would have been great to see more Alien Storm games and an Alien Storm 2 which follows the rough idea of what I have laid out above could have been a great game.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Why you need to download A KING'S TALE: FINAL FANTASY XV

I have always loved side scrolling beat em ups. Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Double Dragon, Golden Axe, I guess it is one of the reasons that I see the 16bit era as a sort of Golden Age of games (amongst other reasons), I am not going to say that you dont get these kinds of games anymore but I dont think they get anywhere near as much attention. Now and again an absolute belter of game comes along and at a good price, I for example am a massive fan of Castle Crashers, it is a fantastic game that not only stands amazingly on its own legs but also tips its hat to so many other games with little refrences here and there.

Now Castle Crashers was amazing value for money, the sort of low cost big bang for your bucks title that doesnt come along often at all, before it came out I watched trailers for the new Power Rangers game with baited breath, I was kind of hoping that it would be my next big fix for walk along beat em up action, but then the reviews poured in and they were not good at all, and so I left it alone with very little idea of when something else would come along to scrath this itch, this need to walk from left to right and punch enemies in the face.

One day I found myself clicking around in the Xbox store, I had already spent time looking on the nintendo Eshop and figured id hit the Xbox one before going on to the Playstation store, this is when I came across a title called A KING'S TALE: FINAL FANTASY XV, my instant thought was ''I bet this is some new multiplayer online MMO type thing that will have in game purchases and the like, yet I was incredably suprised to find out that it was in fact a walk along beat em up, a free walk along beat em up and whats more it had a very Super Nintendo style set of graphics when I looked at the screen shots, so I did what anyone would do in my position and claimed and downloaded it as quickly as I could.

I read up on the game, did a quick bit of research mostly because I just couldnt believe my look and when I did this I found out that this game was revealed during the Square Enix Active Time Report at E3 2016, and that originally it was a pre-order bonus exclusive to various stores in diffrent parts of the world (GAME in the United Kingdom. The game was later released as a free download for all on March 1, 2017. I dont know if I didnt see this get announced or if I had forgotten but I have to admit I really like the idea of getting a indy style game as a freebie for preordering, if I had known about this it might have even pushed me to take a look at Final Fantasy XV.

So a King's Tale takes place before the events of XV  (just incase you plan on playing both of these) You play a character called Regis who is apparently the dad of the main character from XV as far as I can tell. The game starts with Regis in the present time telling bedtime stories to his son about when he was a younger man, it is rather intresting that it is stated that these tales are embelleshed, this is kind of cool because if you were going to tell tales to a young kid to grab there attention then you proberbly would add a pinch of flair to them but it also means that the games creators are not backing themselves into a corner and making the events of this side game pure cannon. It is story wise a very enjoyable game but what about the other parts of the game?

Well I have to admit that I really love the music, there are not a lot of tracks really but they sound like they have been dragged right out of the past one of them has this sort of NES feel to it, it reminds you of the great tunes from those days, and as for the art well it feels like its a brand new SNES game when you look at it, the cutscenes kind of make me think that the creators of this game went and looked back at the classics from this genre such as those made by Capcom back in the 80's. If I have any issues with this game its just that I wish there was more to it, I wish it had multiplayer, I wish it had more characters, basically I wish that this had been a full on project in and of its own right, basically because every beat of what is on offer hits its mark straight and true.

It has a surprisingly good combat system, one which given the nature of this game as a mere preorder bonus is shockingly deep. You have the obvious quick and strong attacks, then a shield bash, a cool rolling dodge move and then well it wouldnt be a final fantasy if you didnt have some magic. It plays brilliantly you cant just bash buttons and win, you have to think about what you are doing with diffrent enemies needing to be tackled in diffrent ways.

All of the things I can say which would be negatives about this game I find hard to complain about what with the game being free and everything, my basic complaints would be that the game is kind of short and that it would be so much better if there was multiplayer. I want everyone possible to give this game a look though, to play it, experiance it and talk about it, because well I wouldnt only like to see more nice little bonuses like this, I would also like to see this game get a sequel, one I would happily pay for if they throw in multiplayer and lengthen it, come on Square-Enix you know you want to.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Birth of Hammer Horror

When I was 12 I didnt know hardly anything about film studios, sure I watched a heck of a lot of films but I tended to be drawn by the subject matter or by the actors, however in the world of Video Games I was a little bit more knowledgable If I saw particular logo's on video game boxes such as the Capcom Logo then I was almost certain I was going to get a certain quality of product, a product which would provide a certain kind of experiance. So when I read what none other than Martin Scorsese had to say about Hammer Films in the following quote well I knew exactly what he meant “When I was 11 or 12, and went with groups of friends to see certain films, if we saw the logo of Hammer Films we knew it was a certain kind of film. A surprising experience, usually… and shocking.”

Hammer Films are by and large quality films, the company has a reputation, on of excellence, its a historical studio, one with a legacy, one which has and should never be forgotten but where did it all begin? Well it all began back in November 1934 with a man who went by the name of William Hinds, he was a comedian and businessman, he registered his film company, a company which was called Hammer Productions Ltd. The company was housed in a three-room office suite at Imperial House, on Regent Street in London. The company name came from William Hinds' stage name, which was Will Hammer, he had takken the name Hammer from the fact he lived in an area of London called Hammersmith. This was not the birth of Hammer as we really know it though, during this time though William Hinds met a man called Enrique Carreras a former cinema owner and they formed a film distribution company called Exclusive Films. Hammer was forced in to bankruptcy due to a slump in the British film industry and therefore  went into liquidation in 1937. Hammer was gone for the time at least but Exclusive survived.

It was from Exclusive that Hammer would once again rise and it all began when James Carreras joined Exclusive in 1938, he was closely followed by William Hinds' son, Anthony.  In 1946, James Carreras  resurrected Hammer as the film production arm of Exclusive Films. Hammer was resurrected to supply'quota-quickies' (cheaply made domestic films designed to fill the gaps in cinema schedules). James and Anthony really put Hammer on the board properly with its production of Nigel Kneale's BBC series, The Quatermass Xperiment in 1955. The success of this project encouraged these young producers to find another fantasy based story to turn into a new production, and they found this with the out of copyright book Frankenstein, which they turned into the film The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), It has been argued that this was the most important horror film since Universal released Dracula way back in 1931. Wether you agree with this statment or not I am sure you will agree that it was a very important fim for both Hammer and the world of Horror films in general. Dracula had kick started the age of Universal films and Frankenstien did the samme for Hammers age of Horror, it seemed only fitting that Hammer would then turn to Dracula for there next film

As for The Curse Of Frankenstein though well it was a genre defining picture, it allowed us brits to usher in the return of gothic horror, gothic horror in colour and with lashings of gore at that. This wasnt the only thing that made it a heck of a landmark film though, no you can thank the director Terence Fisher and the fabulous acting team of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing for a lot of what makes this film a legendary piece. Lee manages to bring a certain sense of sympathy to the monster without ever saying a word and yet Cushing manages to remind us that Frankenstein is the man and not the monsster, in fact he breaths so much life into the Doctor that you almost expect him to break out of the screen and become a fully fleshed out person. There is a reason why both of these men both togther and seperatly appear in so many horror films and it is because they are quiet simply masters of the macabra, and they are so linked to Hammer in my mind that to see them makes me think of the very company itself.

This was the birth of the real Hammer the one we all remember and look back on fondly

Monday, 3 April 2017

Xbox One Backwards compatability revisited.... Grab a bargain try something you missed.

So with lots of people running about grabbing Switch's playing Zelda, grabbing PS4 Pro's and playing Horizon Zero Dawn or messing around with the whole Virtual Reality thing ecetera I thought I would do a little thing about playing a few games you might have missed on the cheap again.  Way back  on Monday, the 20th of  June 2016 I made a post about making the most of Xbox One backwards compatability which was a reasonably new function for the Xbox One at the time so without further ado this is an area I would like to revist but first here is a link to my original post incase youd like to have a look at it first.

When I talked about this last time I talked about DarkVoid, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Gears of War 1, 2 and 3 as well as Mass Effect, border lands and Alan Wake all of which are still games I feel are more than worthwhile. Since then however the list of compatable games has been widened. 

A full list of current compatable games can be found here this includes both games that were originally released on disc and games that are and have always been purly digital, as for the digital only ones I wont be touching those at all for the main reason they have a set price you have to pay to download them and there is no real wiggle room to get a better deal (well apart from when there are sales). I will again be talking about Xbox 360 games which can be purchased on disc for very little and can be either played on an Xbox One or Xbox 360.

Seeing as Zelda Breathe of the Wild is one of the hotest games right now lets start by looking at a set of titles which have a lot in common with the Zelda series, I am of course talking about the highly underated DarkSiders games. Both of the DarkSiders titles can be got from various online sights like Music Magpie and Amazon just to mention 2 for £2 to £3 including postage, heck if your an Xbox Gold subscriber then you can currently claim the first one for free as part of Games with Gold. (Yes there are Xbox one versions of these games but there more money and I would argue they dont actually add that much). Imagine a Zelda game where instead of playing the part of a young guy with pointy ears you play one of the horsemen of the apocolypse and you have the DarkSiders games, the style of gameplay is very simmilar with both puzzles to solve and enemies to fight and it has that same style of progression where the further you get in the game the more tools you get ahold of which then allow you to reach places you couldnt before. If you have enjoyed Zelda games and want something with a good story, good length and that kind of style then you cant fault these games and should jump on them.

I have currently been spending some of my time playing Mass Effect Andromeda on the Xbox One and on the one hand I am enjoying it but on the other I cant help but think that it is not really any better than any of the previous Mass Effect games on the previous generation of consoles. Now when you bear in mind that I spent £38 on this game and I am not enjoying it anymore than the original 3 games so if you havent played those then why not give them a crack first, after all the new one will eventually drop in price. I have to admit the Mass Effect trilogy was a lot more well known than DarkSiders so the chance that there will be people who havent played it is much lower than with DarkSiders and Mass Effect the original will cost you £4.50 from CEX, the second will cost you £3.50 and the 3rd will cost you £7 so given this I would go for DarkSiders first if your looking for something to play as there cheaper. I know some people who gave the first Mass Effect a go and didnt really get on with it so ignored the series for these people I would say why not throw £3.50 down on the second now hear me out. The first tried to be a RPG with shooting, the second game is not quiet the same, in fact it kind of swayed things back the other way in some ways with it being more of a shooter with RPG elements. You might say that if you play the second game then you will be missing out on the story, that you might find youself stuck in the middle of things with no idea of what is going on but to be honest the second game is structured really well, it lays itself out in a way where it recaps you on what has happend and then starts a new story, so if you play it without having played the first game then you will still know who you are, what your doing and why.

I could carry on and on like this laying out cases for why you should buy and play various games on the backwards compatability list, instead I will end things here by making a plea that you dont get so caught up in the present, in all of the hot new games that are coming out that you ignore some of the options open to you, especially when some of them offer you both some of the greatest entertainment you can get your hands on but also some of the best value for money you will ever see when it comes to the world of Video games. Did you know that Oblivion is on the backwards compatability list, that you can go to CEX and get this game for as little as £3.50 or failing that you can have it posted to you from websites such as Amazon for the sum of £4.50. So why am I brining this particular game up in my clossing argument for the brilliance of backwars compatability simple my original play through of this game took me 120 hours, and that wasnt enough I have since returned to the game and restarted it several times even if you ignore these replays then 120 hours of fun for £4.50 is insanly good. Yes some people will be shocked that I call one of those invisable dice rolling RPG style games fun but believe me it is, its the kind of game which gives you tales to share with fellow players, I could tell you the story of how a orc much stronger than me was chasing me and I ran for my life only to find that as I came rushing down a hill he rolled past me and crashed down dead at the bottom of it, having I can only reason fell and broken his neck (Trust me it was much funnier and exciting than it might sound).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

PlayStation Vita my updated oppinion on it.

So back in 2014 I posted a blog entry called Week one as a Vita owner. I figured that as its now 2017 and I dont think I have really talked about the machine much I should do a Vita update post, the Vita is kind of half dead now days so I sort of see this as an ode to the life of the system or to be more precise and ode to my time with the system

So ironically the thing that sort of pushed me most of the way to getting a Vita was what I considerd to be poor customer service and poor decisions made by Nintendo, now dont get me wrong I still own a 3DS and use it so it wasnt a screw you Nintendo I am going to side with Sony thing and more of a well I will throw some cash at Sony and see how I feel about them and the services they provide. I would like to be able to comment on this and compare Sony's treatment to Nintendo's but in honest truth despite a whole lot of use nothing has at any point gone wrong with my Vita, I have never had to call or contact Sony in relation  to either my Vita, PSP or PS4 or PS3 but I guess maybe that says something in and off itself.

I got my Vita with a 16gig memory card and a voucher to download ten games for £150 which seemed like a bargain and in all honesty I think it was. The ten games included Little big planet vita, Little Deviants, Wipeout 2048, which are all full sized vita games that on their original release were all full price titles. Sure some of the others were a lot more budget in nature but it was a good way to start of with a system, after all how often do you end up having to get a machine and like one game at first and then have to sit playing just that one game until your sick of the sight of it?

I will just insert my very quick review of Wipeout from my original post here as I feel its very important as it sets the tone of what I thought of the very first Vita game I played. ''The first thing I decided to play was Wipeout 2048 and I have to say I was very impressed by it, the opening trailer was amazing, it was like a quick history lesson of how racing cars developed in the wipeout universe starting with 50s style racing cars, making its way to the kind of cars we have now in this world and then carrying on showing these cars slowly get closer and closer to the ones you race as in wipeout. It left me breathless; I really didnt expect to be that pleasantly surprised. When I started playing the game I soon found out that the game was equally impressive.'' As my introduction to the Vita iself I feel that this was a great place to start it really got me grounded in a sense of what the machine was capable of and it got me excited to try more.

I cant say I enjoyed every game I played on the Vita as much as I would hope in fact some people might be surprised to hear that I didnt really enjoy Little Big Planet at all. It wasnt that Little Big Planet was a bad game I am sure lots of people thought it was great but it was exactly the same as the 2 PS3 and the PSP Little Bit Planet games and I guess I had just had my fill of them.  I played the PS Vita Uncharted game and I really enjoyed it, yes it was also a lot more of the same but it just seemed to be a lot more exciting and stand on its own.

As I previously stated in my 1 week review of the PS Vita I played the games I had got before moving on to the games I could get through the ps+ service, through the PS + service I downloaded and played a great many games on the Vita,some of them being what would have been full price retail games like Mod Nation racers, Soul Sacrifice, Gravity rush and then all kinds of amazing indy games one of my favourates at the one week mark is still one of my favourates now  Guacamelee, but then there was other stuff like Hotline Maimi and its sequel. Indy games and awesome Japanese games are one of the areas where the Vita has really been kicking ass, Yes it has never and never will be as well regarded overall as the 3DS but for less mainstream gamers people who want to play more stuff and diffrent stuff it is a heck of a little machine.

I finished Gravity Rush and enjoyed every second of it, it was a really unique fun game with an awesome story, its a shame I havent gotten its sequel on the PS4 yet but as they say so many games so little time. I played a lot of Soul Sacrifice it is a great game a lot of content but also very tough, I hate to admit this as someone who thinks that they are a pretty good gamer but the difficulty kind of wore me down. Then there is Little King Story, I loved the game, I had played the Wii version before but for some reason never got that in to it, I guess something about the game made it work well as a handheld title. I have not yet finished it but I poured a good deal of time in to it and fully enjoyed it. Two titles I did finish were Guacamelee and Hotline Maim. Guacamelee was the most Metroid like none Metroid game I have ever played, it wasnt just a darn good game though it also had an amazing sense of humour, it got tough at points but it was just so fun that I couldnt help but keep playing it, in fact once I finished it on the Vita I actually started playing it again on other systems, this is not something I often do and it really speaks to the quality of the title.

I had mentioned that unlike with Nintendo's machines your user accounts is not directly tied to the machine, you have an account on the web which you then can pair with your Sony devices, your PS3, vita, PS4 and a record of everything you have brought is online and if a game exists on both the PS3 and Vita (or PS4 and Vita) well then a lot of the time if you have paid for it on one system you own it and can play it on both systems for no additional cost. I thought this was amazing back when I first looked at the machine but in truth this only gets better and better the longer you have the machine for,.

 I originally mentioned that there was a tonne of PS1 games on the playstation store that you could pay for and download and that most of them are around the £3.99 price point. I compared this£3.99 for a PS1 game (that I could then play on both my Vita and PS3),  to what was available on the Nintendo 3DS saying that Nintendo wanted you to pay £3.50 for a NES game to play on your Wii U and that hen if you wanted to play it on the 3DS they wanted you to pay £3.50 again. I said that this made Sony look very generous and Nintendo look very greedy.This is something I stand by and over the last few years Sony have put thePS1 games up for sale at reduced prices so often that I have managed to claim enough RPG PS1 games at around £2 each or less that I could happily play them for years, I have even claimed games which were never before released in Europe for PS1 as a downloadables including various RPG games and a Japanese shoot em up.

I could talk about all of the PS1 games I have played on my Vita but then I would just be going on and on, therefore all I will say is that there is a good libery of titles on there which would suit a lot of tastes but it is particually good if you like your RPG's, you can download for a few pounds games which if you were to try and get ahold of physical copies would cost you a small fortune, this alone given the fact you can then play them on the go makes the Vita a sound investment. The one thing I will say is that the Memory cards for Vita still cost too much, they are a pain in the butt however it is one of the only faults I can really come up with when talking about the PlayStation Vita.

I sit now with countless downloaded Vita games and around 30 physically owned games including many RPG games which I am very happy to have sat in my collection, I have to admit that in the past 6 months the Vita has taken a bit of a back step in my life, it got put on a shelf and I have viewed it as more of a piece of my games collection than I have looked at it as an actual usable games console but this is something I plan to change. I misplaced the charger and didnt do anything about it because of pride, and yet when I would see a good game going cheap I would grab it and put it on the pile, I have decided that I am going to give myself 1 week to find its charger and failing that I will buy a replacment. In a way this post was meant as a look at the whole lifespan of my Vita my thoughts on it as I put it to bed, but looking back and going through what I have and what I have done with the system has pursuaded me that there is some life in the old dog yet and rather than call it a day its time to scream Game On and give it another round or two. Hopefully latter in the month I will be able to talk about how this has gone and some of the games I have played.