Wednesday, 31 May 2017

May's Retro Games Purchases 2017

So its the end of another month and that means it is once again time to do a post on my retro purchases for the month.

I started on the 1st of May when I walked into a local branch of Game and saw some PSP titles.I picked up the following PSP titles KillZone Liberation complete for £1.50, The Lord of the rings Tactics complete for psp for £1, God Of War chains of Olympus complete for PSP for £2.50 and Star Ocean First Departure complete for psp for £4. The highlight of this would have to be Star Ocean, yes I already own it but £4 was a heck of a price for this game and my hunter instinct just couldnt resist it.

It was also on this day that I made the decision to buy a small lot from FaceBook. I agreed to pay £20 for Super Mario 64 and New Mario Bros for DS both complete, they also threw in 13 GBA carts all of which were fake but in these situations you just nod and say thank you, heck at least no one will be sold them now loosing actual cash on them, and to be honest I am not to proud to play them, I wont brag I own them although I have to admit you get the odd knock of gem sometimes (I for example have a pokemon cart full of swearing that refers to the pokemon as Elves).

On the 4th of May I went to a semi local Indy store and picked up Jedi power battles cart only GBA for £2, Final Fight one cart only GBA for £2 and Xmen Reign of Apocalypse cart only for GBA £2.I have to say I like grabbing GBA stuff as there small and ease to store and well there just darn playable games Final Fight One for example is an awesome little gem, its so much better than the SNES version and its a lot cheaper to find with lots of little bells and whistles thrown on top of it. I also grabbed Fighters Destiny cart only for N64 for £3 and Corporation complete for the MegaDrive for £4.50 from the same place.

On the 8th of May I purchased a small pile of DS games from a friend who was asking for £10 for allof the following boxed and complete, Lego Star Wars 2, Star Wars Clone wars republic heroes, Arkanoid DS, Rhythem Paradise and Final Fantasy Chocobo tales. On this day I also grabbed a complete copy of Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII for psp for £5.

On the 9th I got a copy of Silpheed the lost planet complete for PS2 for £1.50. I know a lot of the time all you find in charity shops is rubbish football games or over priced damaged tat but its kind of fun to walk around a few, it also helps that I collect other things like comic books that I can keep my eyes peeled for. A few you tubers and such have argued that its not worth buying from places like this as you could spend the time you spend searching working and earning the cash to pay top dollar for everything but that goes against the thrill of the chase eliment of retro gaming I enjoy, if a game is worth £15 and I spend £15 I dont tend to get any thrill from the purchase, I might from the playing but not collecting wise.

On the 11th I recieved a whole bunch of games I had purchased online all of the prices I haver put after the games include the post, all of the SNES games I got mostly because I wanted some new diffrent games to review for my 150 SNES game review challange. I got The Incredible Hulk snes cart only for £6, I got Zoop for Snes complete for £7 and I also got Spectre for snes complete for £6.
I also recieved Mech Platoon GBA cart only for £3.50, this is not to review or anything its just simply because I read something about it and it sounded like my kind of thing.

On may the 12th I grabbed Patapon for psp complete for £2 and Patapon 2 for psp complete for £2. I have always wanted all 3 Patapon games so its good to have gotten both of these but I dont think I will get the third one any time soon. I also grabbed a hold of We Love Golf, Batallion Wars 2 and Samurai Warriors Katana complete for Wii for £4 for the bunch, now this was at Game and this price because of there buy 2 get the third free deal, I basically wanted to try We Love Golf and figured I should grab the other 2 because of how cheap this would make them.

On the 15th I grabbed Coded Arms Contagion for the PSP complete for £2 from an indy store, the funny thing is I know its not worth much really but I hadnt seen it before and yet I have seen the first Coded Arms a lot of times, its PSP games like this that make me think the companies involved, Konami in this case really should throw a few of these on to either a compilation or just put them online alterd to run on a PS4 (or emulated) and sell them digitally for a good price so people dont miss out on them and so the companies involved can grab a little extra cash off them.

On the 19th I picked up Final Fantasy VIII platinum edition, boxed but missing manual for £10, I think the value of the game seems to have dropped since people have found other places to play it but I think there is no substitute to putting the real discs in a real playstation, holding a proper original pad.

On the 21st I went into an indy store and got Harry Potter and the philosophers stone cart only for GBC for £1, its hardly a game thats going to set the world on fire but generally any cart that you can get particularly if its not sports based is worth £1 at the very least.

On the 23rd I recieved two games I had orderd from online the prices include the post and packaging. I got George Formans KO BOxing NTSC cart only for £4 and Gadget Twins Mega Drive american cart only for £4. George Formans KO Boxing I got basically as I want to review it for my 150 SNES review series, where as Gadget Twins I got because its a MegaDrive game you hardly ever see proberbly because it never came out in Europe, usually it goes for quiet a bit more than this so I thought I would grab it while I can.

On the 25th of May I went in to an indy store, its a store I had visited a few trimes in fact I had seen my first purchase several times the first time I saw it they wanted £12 for it which in fairness was a decent price but I wasnt desperate enough, the next time I looked it was £10 which was tempting but when I saw it for £5 I had to get it the game I am talking about was a cartridge only copy of Rtype 3 for the GameBoy Advance.

I also picked up Def Jam Fight for NY for xbox complete for £1 and then noticed that they had some spectrum games in two boxes, one box was full of games they wanted £1 for the other games they wanted £2 for, I grabbed the following Monty on the Run complete for £2, Bruce Lee complete for £2, Eric and the Floaters complete for £2 and Alchemist gold edition complete for the spectrum £1. I wanted Bruce Lee as I used to play it a lot as a kid, Eric and the Floaters for those who dont know is basically an old version of Bomberman and Bomberman is a game series I have followed for a long time, heck I brought the Switch Version on release the very same day the console came out. The Monty Games are a staple of the spectrum, games that often get talked about with the machine and I knew I didnt own it so thought I should grab it while I had the chance. Alchamist as a game I know nothing about it other than the fact that you can get it with a regular color case and cassette and with a gold case and cassette, this is something I find very intresting as look at all of the fuss people make about Zelda having gold carts well this did the whole gold thing and it did it a few years earlier.

On the 28th my daughter told me she had seen some Xbox games for sale and did I want her to grab any, she told me what they had and I asked her to pick up Shadow the HedgeHog and Crash Bandicoot The wrath of Cortex which were both boxed complete and this cost me £4, she also got them to throw in some empty cases with covers one of which belonged to the game star wars republic Commando which was incredably useful as I had a copy of this which was just a disc in a blank case.

On the 30th I went into an indy store and got the following Brian Lara cricket, Brian Lara cricket 96, FIFA 97, Pete Sampras Tennis, and Monoco GP 2 all boxed and complete for the megadrive £5 and Reversi, Gauntlet, Dandy and The Curse of Sherwood all boxed complete for the Spectrum £4.

So I guess I went and spent £132.50 this month which for me is a heck of a lot of money for a monthly spend, I have to admit to feeling a little bad about it in all honesty. What am I most proud of getting though? Well I guess that would have to be picking up a copy of Star Ocean First Departure complete for psp for £4, as for what I feel worse about, well thats kind of the SNES games I have picked up, by the time you read this you will most likly have read my SNES reviews and learned that I havent found these games to be that good, but really they were purchsed for the purpose of this blog, I guess some people would have set up Patreons or done some other kind of crowd funding to do this but I just dont think I am big enough or have enough fans to do that, although I would never say no to being sent a game by someone who wanted me to talk about it, well unless it was being sent by a company and they were demanding I give them a favourable review believe it or not that happens.

Monday, 29 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Skool Daze & Gauntlet

Ok so its time to give the last two names on my list of Top Ten Spectrum games so without further ado here we go.

Skool Daze

So Skool Daze was a game which believe it or not saw you play the role of a kid attending school. Ok so a game about school might not sound that great of the bat but the game was commercially and critically successful, as well as being praised for the originality of its concept. It is often also thought to be one of the pioneers of the whole sandbox video game genre, so I guess its starting to sound a little more impressive right? Skool daze was simply brilliant if I was to try and describe it to a modern gamer then I would basically say that it was the great Grand-Daddy of the game Bully.

So in Skool Daze you play as a schoolboy named Eric, with the basic story of the game being your quest to steal your own report card from out of the staff room safe. The game features a lot of none player characters including the headmaster Mr Wacker, various other teachers and other pupils including Angelface the bully and Einstein the swot (as well as other unamed sort of blank/undiscript pupils) You have the option of renaming the characters before the game starts which is great as well you can rename characters giving them names personal to you and your own days at school. So to win you need to get your report, and to loose well you need to get expelled, you will get expelled if you get 10,000 or more lines, you get given lines for being caught out of class or well just missbeahving in general. Other kids will get you in trouble though by pushing you out of your chair or by firing projectiles at teachers when your close to a teacher and therfore get blamed despite it not being your fault. The whole thing is just so fun and diffrent that you cant help but love it. It was one of the games that I stupidly sold when younger but thanks to my wonderful girlfriend buying it me for Christmas I once again have it in my possession and shall not be letting it go anytime soon.


So home computers back in the day had loads and loads of arcade conversions, with the vast majority of them being either very poor or at the least incredibly simplified but the conversion of Gauntlet was both incredably good and was also a game that I spent a great deal of time on both alone and with a good friend (I also used to play the C64 version at his house and that was excellent as well).

Gauntlet could best be described as a fantasy-themed hack and slash multiplayer dungeon crawler which came out in the arcades in 1985 apparently its creator Atari sold a heck of a lot of arcade cabinets of it and made a lot of money out of it so its no suprise that Gauntlet was ported to lots of home systems including but not limited to. the Apple II, the MSX, the NES, the Sega Master System, ,the Atari ST, the Commodore 64, the Amstrad CPC and of course the ZX Spectrum. It doesnt end there though still to this very dare Gauntlet is showing up on various retro compilations on all manner of systems and there is a reason for this and if you ask me a large part of this is that its a great game. Part of what makes it a great game is that you can play it co-operativly with a buddy.

You start the game by selecting from four playable characters they are the Warrior, theWizard, the Valkyrie, and the Elf. Each of the characters has his or her own unique strength and weaknesses. The Warrior is strongest in direct combat, where as the Wizard has the most powerful magic, the Valkyrie is the best armored and the Elf is the quickest, this is great as it lets you pick the character who best matches your own personal play style.

The game is very easy to pick up and play, as soon as you pick your character you are dropped into the first in a series of top-down third person perspective mazes where you need to find the exit in order to finish the level and move on to the next. Its not a case of just walking around looking for a way out though no you collect loot, and you collect keys and you collect food  and magic potions all of which serves a purpose but you also fight against hordes of various different enemies.

The enemies are an assortment of fantasy monsters, including ghosts, demons, sorcerers and all manner of other creatures, each of which comes out of a specific monster generator, generators which can be destroyed to prevent them from spewing more monsters into the maze. The ultimate villain you will meet is death who quickly drains your life force and who is absolutely solid to kill, so most often you will run from him most likely screaming at your friend to haul butt and get the monkey fudge out of there.  At first the game is easy but as it progresses it soon gets tougher, the further you get the more skill is needed and trust me if your playing with a buddy you better learn to talk, to share and to generally co-operate if you want to keep going through the levels.

Gauntlet is on this list because as far as I am concerned its the ultimate game to play with a buddy if you want some frantic co-operative fun. I think that this is where so many games today started take something like the Diablo series and you can see that at its core there is a little bit of Gauntlet and the reason for this is that Gauntlet was quiet simply a wonderful game and it still is.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Treasure Island Dizzy & Ghostbusters

So I am back once again to talk about my Top Ten Spectrum games, so far I have coverd 6 games already so that will make the games I am going to cover today game 7 and game 8, they are not in order though as well I just find it too hard to do that, so without further ado lets get going.

Treasure Island Dizzy
Now for those not in the Know Treasure Island Dizzy is the second game in a series of games featuring a hero called Dizzy and often his friends and family who are referd to as the Yolkfolk. The main series consists of Dizzy, Treasure Island Dizzy, Fantasy World Dizzy, Magicland Dizzy, Spellbound Dizzy, Dizzy, Prince of the YolkFolk, Crystal Kingdom Dizzy with several spin off games as well including Fast Food, Kwik Snax and Dizzy Down the Rapids. As a Spectrum owner you got so used to seeing Dizzy and playing Dizzy games that he kind of felt like a mascot, he might have started out on the spectrum though but he was also ported to the Amstrad, Commodore 64, NES, Amiga, Atari ST and other platforms.

The story for the game is pretty brief Dizzy is on an island and has to find a way to get back home, its as simple as that, but the Island is a large and fantastic place for a spectrum game, and Dizzy himself just feels like a brilliant character to be playing with. Yes he is simple but he is kind of simple and iconic in the same way a character like Mario is, there might not be much to him but what there is is instantly appealing and recognisable. The game is pretty much a puzzle platformer sort of adventure game, basically you go around from screen to screen as Dizzy you have no energy bar and only one life so you need to avoid anything that might kill you but you also have to pick up items you see laying around and then take them to other places to use them to solve a puzzle that will let you progress. Yes it is harsh when you die as everything you have done is lost and you have to start again but you just know that with each time you play it the knowledge you have gained will see you get just that little bit further.

I think that if you want to take on the best the Spectrum has to offer then you need to look at the Dizzy series, now some may find my choice of series entry an issue as its an early and a hard one in relation to the others but I also find it incredably rewarding, stick with it and just jump right in to the world of Dizzy and get your grey cells working figuring out what to use where and trust me when you start to get things right you will feel like your on top of the world

Ghost Busters

Who You Gonna Call? Ok I know its a movie license but its a movie license I enjoyed so very much, you see to me the perfect movie licensed game should make you feel like your in the universe thats presented in the film, this doesnt mean every single thing that happens in the film needs to be turned into a level in the game no it just needs to understand the universe of the film and represent this. Ghost Busters on the spectrum starts in a wonderful way it tells you what the ghostbusters are and then tells you that if youd like to start a franchise you have to input your name, from there you get a bank loan which you use to buy a car and relevent ghost busting gear. You drive to diffrent locations, and use your proton beams to push ghosts where you need them to be  and then you activate the trap and try to catch them.  Yes the graphics are basic with people pretty much being stick men and ghosts being little floating blobs but the music although being a simple loop and the general presentation really pull you in. I spent absolutly hours and hours playing this as a kid it hooked me in and in honesty it worked as the perfect game license, id watch the film and want to play the game and then play the game and want to watch the film the two fed my need for the franchise in general. I also think that this game goes to show what the spectrum had going for it overall and thats the fact that with a little bit of effort despite all of the machines limitations and lack of power you could still get a cracking good experiance out of it.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Classic Horror films of Bela Lugosi: White Zombie

So Today I want to talk about Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó or to give him the name he is more commonly known by Bela Lugosi. Lugosi was a Hungarian-American actor,most famous for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 Universal Dracula film, some people seem to think that this is pretty much all that he did, but that is far from the truth. He started off playing small parts on the stage in his native Hungary and then he made his first film in 1917. He left and at first traveld to Germany where he made several films before finally arriving in the USA. It was there in the United States that Lugosi first took on the role of Count Dracula in 1927 in a Broadway adaption of the Bram Stoker novel, and then in 1931 he appeared in the Universal Pictures Film Dracula playing the same role. During the rest of the 1930's Lugosi continued to appear in horror films, mostly ones with an East European setting but due to his accent and his association with the character of Dracula he found himself unfortunatly typecast. He was often paired with Boris Karloff another horror legend of the time, but Lugosi struggled far more Karloff often got more money and more respect, they appeared togther in films such as The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939).

If you read through the History of Horror it wasnt always as kind as it should have been to Lugosi, for example his pay was dramatically cut in half once just because the studio heard he was in financial difficulty and knew he litterally couldnt afford to walk away, I guess its only now looking back that people really click on what a Star he was. so with this in mind I wanted to touch on some of his none Dracula roles and I wanted to start this with White Zombie, after all I have tackled Zombies quite a lot of times with this blog but this film is very diffrent.

Ok so I dont want to write everything that happens in the film from start to finish as I actually want you my reader to be able to leave this post and watch it, if it sounds like something you would enjoy that is. The film is set in Haiti, you have a couple who are engaged and have plans to marry soon, they are called Madeleine Short and Neil Parker. When they are on the way to their lodging in a coach they pass by an evil voodoo master called Murder Legendre (played by Lugosi) Neil and Madeleine arrive at the home of  a very wealthy plantation owner by the name of Charles Beaumont.

Charles loves Madeleine too and wants her for his own so he secretly goes to visit the voodoo master  Murder. Murder explains that he has used voodoo to turn anyone who apposed him or got in his way into a zombie.  Now its important to stop here and make it clear that this is not Zombie as in night of the living dead undead flesh eating zombie, no this is as in someone who is essentially medically drugged to be vacant and obediant.

Murder gives Charles a potion which he gives to Madeleine, and the potion takes effect shortly after Madeleine and Neil's wedding ceremony and she appears to die.  After her funeral, Murder and Charles enter Madeleine's tomb and retreave her. Neil doesnt cope very well with his wife's death  and so he goes to her tomb but obviously he finds it now empty. Neil goes to the local missionary who is caleld Dr. Bruner and tells him what he has seen and asks for help. Dr Bruner tells Neil about how Murder  made his rivals into zombies, who he now uses to guard him. With this explained the two men set out to Murder's  castle to attempt to rescue Madeleine and if you want to know how this all plays out, well then youll have to watch the film now wont you.

The film got a whole mixed bag when it came to reviews back in the day, some claimed it was awful and the activing was bad, others claimed that Lugosi was fantastic and made the movie but the general truth is that the reviews were simply all over the place.

White Zombie was filmed in eleven days in March 1932 and was shot at the Universal Studios lot and Bronson Canyon with apparently a Budget of $50,000 and a lot of back ground props and stuff were borrowed from other productions. Béla Lugosi and Joseph Cawthorn were the only people to be regarded as properly famous that featured the rest of the cast were actors who had seen there careers take a turn for the worst since the end of silent film era. When you put all of this togther I think the film is simply astounding, and with its voodoo style zombies its quiet diffrent from most of the zombie films out there, I do think it is very much a Lugosi picture though without him there is wouldnt be anywere near as good, which is proberbly reflected in the fact that its sequel which did not feature Lugosi is pretty much overall considerd to be a bad film, I would give this film 7 bats out of 10, if it sounds like your kind of thing give it a watch after all its go to beat being a reality TV zombie.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

DPP72: Flesh For Frankenstein

So lattly I have been talking a lot about horror films, I went through the First 3 Hammer Horror Dracula films and then I was going to move on to some more Hammer, one of the first things that came to my mind were the Hammer Frankenstein films, mostly because Peter Cushing who played Van Helsing in those Dracula films played Doctor Frankenstein in them but then I rememberd it had been quiet awile since I had touched on the DPP72/Video Nasties list. So this led me to the 1973 film Flesh For Frankenstein which is one of the films on the DPP72 which also happens to sometimes go by the title Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and was advertised as being the goriest take on Frankenstien there had ever been.

The film had some very big shoes to fill being a Frankenstein film after all fans of Frankenstein had been spoiled with the 1930's Universal picture featuring Boris Karloff as the monster and then the Bride of Frankenstein and the awesome Hammer Frankenstein films, so does it fill them, well I could drag this out but no it doesnt, but that is not to say that it is bad or without merit, infact compared to some of the films it sits on the DPP72 with well its a work of art. 

Ok so in this film Dr. Von Frankenstein (played by B-movie actor Udo Kier) is obsessed with trying to make  a master race of Serbians who he will control. His plan to do this is basically to , manufacture his own pair of  Monsters a male and a female who he then believes will give birth to the first of his new super race. He actually refers to them at one point as Zombies, its clearly a bit weird as the average person is going to go ''zombies cant have babies'' or ''but how does the body parts put togther have anything to do with babies thats down to DNA not the random arms and legs stitched on to a monster'' Still thats the plot and if you want to get on with this film then just say to yourself when this was set no body knew what DNA was and the guys a mad scientist trying to test a crazy theory.

Now I am not going to do a play by play of everything that happens in this film as I like to try and keep things relativly spoiler free so that if someone was so inclined they could then go and enjoy the film after reading this, so instead I just want to talk about a few aspects of it and then give it a general sort of rating. For a start the film pretty much sticks to the promise of it being gory, it is a very gory film but there is a also a lot of sexual refrences and shots of flesh but its not just a gory smutty film its also quiet impressive artistically. Frankiensteisns laboratory is of partoiciular note, it is quiet simply a magnificent set, I also have to appluad the films music, taken away from the film some of it is actually quiet beautiful and kind of classical in nature, certain scenes are framed in a magnificent way and it certainly does tell a story even if it is kind of weird compared to your average Frankenstein piece.

I think there is an attempt at putting some sort of deeper meaning in to this film, if it has a message I would argue the message is that our wants and desires can lead us to very dark places and that if we repress them or channel them wrongly or let them consume us then we are likly to put ourselves and/or others in danger. I would give the film a 6 out of 10 and recomend that providing you havent been put of by the things I have told you about it that you give it a shot, its not something I could see anyone watching again or again like the hammer and Universal Frankenstein films but it is an intresting little chunk of cinematic history.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Elite & Atic Atac

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


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

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

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

Atic Atac

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

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

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

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

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

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 19 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Steam World Heist Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

SNES Review 119: The Incredable Hulk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 15 May 2017

SNES Review 118: Spectre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 14 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Yie Ar Kung Fu and Kickstart 2

 So its back to my list of Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games again, so here is another two games from my top 10. So without further ado here we go.

3: Yie Ar Kung Fu

Yie Ar Kung Fu was a pretty well known arcade gamebut I think it was possibly even more popular as a computer game the original arcade game was by a Japanese gaming company I am sure you will have heard of Konami, and it needs to be said that Imagine did a great job adapting the game to the humble spectrum. I need to admit that there is one thing that really made me keep coming back to this game and its something that people really wouldnt think of nowdays and thats loading time. Some spectrum games could take what seemed like hours to load and could feel like they just were not worth it, Yie Ar Kung Fu not only was great to play it also loaded fast as anything which back in those days was important.

The scenario of the game is a simple one. You take control of a young kung fu fighter called Oolong who wants to follow in the his fathers footsteps honouring his family name by becoming a Kung Fu Grand Master. To do this Oolong must fight and defeat a large mix of diffrent fighters with diffrent styles and in some cases weapons. The story might be simple but it just feels so well so much like a proper Kung Fu film turned into a game, the characters you face all seem to fit in the moulds of characters you would see in one of those old dubbed kung fu movies and well it just makes it feel great, youd think that with just one attack button and one stick your moves would be rather limited but when playing the game it doesnt feel this way at all. You have a roundhouse kick, a leg sweep, a body punch and leaping punches all of which you use to strike your opponent and deplete there energy bar before they can get you. You had 5 lives to try and defeat all of your opponents with and beating each one of them seemed to very much be a case of learning the way they moved and learning stratergies to cope with them. Its a very enjoyable game as you always seem to get a little bit better, the more you play the more you learn and the further you get.

Modern players might find this game a little basic in a post Street Fighter 2 world with combo's and special moves and a large choice of player characters but dont let these things put you off trying the game, it has a great character to it and it a great feel, I would love to see a modern sequel that takes the same sort of characters and feeling as Yie Ar Kung Fu but throws in all of the modern trimmings of the one on one fighter that we have gotten so used to, the combos and special moves

4: KickStart 2

Kickstart 2 is a motorcycle  racing game, it is obviously the sequel to Kikstart but this is where I have to admit that I have never actually seen or played the original Kickstart so I cant say if its a big improvment over the original or not, what I can say is that I really like this game but then I guess thats obvious with this being on this list. The game is very basic you control your bikes braking and acceleration, you also hop and pull wheelies and you do all of this in order  to navigate across a course of various obstacles including ramps, tyres, gates and telephone boxes. You have to learn how to make the best time on courses by knowing how your supposed to deal with diffrent types of obsticals, for example you need to travel slowly across wooden beams, but if you go too slowly over the tyes then you will be thrown off your bike so you need to go over those quickly. I guess this game has two things in common with the above Yie Ar Kung Fu one of them is the fact that you have to learn how to handle things be they opponents or situations and that the more you learn the better you get at the game and the other is that KickStart 2 is a very quick loading game, I used to be putting this game on all of the time because it was good and it took a fraction of the time to load that most of my games did.

If I was to try and explain to a more modern gamer what KickStart 2 is like I would say imagine an older more primative version of Trials HD, you can actually see how simmilar they are Trials is just sort of the same idea taken to its natural point of progression.What can I say though I love Trials now and I loved KickStart back then, and heck for all of the time that has passed I still think the gamkes not too shabby.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

SNES Review 117: Zoop

So usually when I am looking to do a SNES review I am thinking about the story behind the review, sometimes its a story about how the game first came in to my life, did I own it as a kid or did I play it at a friends, but I have nothing here, I have to admit that I didnt as far as my memory goes ever see any footage of this game back in the old games magazines of the time nor do I remember seeing it in shops.

In fact the first I ever saw of Zoop was when I brought it for the megadrive basically just because it was cheap, in all honesty I didnt at the time even realise that it was multiplatform, it was in fact very multi-platform as it was on the Game Boy, the Game Gear, the MegaDrive/Genesis, the Atari Jaguar, the PlayStation, the PC (MS-DOS), the Macintosh, the Sega Saturn (only in Japan) and of course because I am talking about it here as a part of my 150 Super Nintendo Reviews project I think you have figured out that it was on the SNES.

So Zoop is a puzzle game and it was developed by Hookstone Productions, a video game company I can actually find very little information about they were a UK-based video game development group which was apparently active from 1994 until around 1998. As far as I can find out they were only ever responsible for this game Zoop, a game called Sentinel Returns and then a game called Ferox which was cancelled before being released. So its not like there is a whole pile of past or future games that were made by the same people for me to compare it to, I guess ultimatly as a puzzle game it will be compared to the likes of Tetris, Dr Mario and the various other puzzlers which have stood the test of time and leap straight into the average game players mind.

Ok so lets try and explain what you do in this game, I will try to keep it basic but I think its actually a rather hard game to explain. You control a triangle in the center of the screen you move it around the center area making it point in diffrent directions. To start with a piece comes in from one of the sides of the screen and if there is a piece in its way it pushes it, your not just watching one part of the screen though, two consecutive pieces will never come in from the same angle,it might come from the left or right or top or bottom of the screen and if a piece falls into the center square, the game is over.

You will notice that your triangle starts as one colour well if you shoot a piece of the same color as your triangle,well then it will be "zooped" (disapear)  and you will gain points for this. If the piece you shot is green and your triangle is green then youll destroy it, if the piece behind this piece is green youll destroy that too and so on and so on until you meet a diffrent colour. If you shoot a piece which is a diffrent colour to you, well then you wont make it disapear youll simple turn your triangle into whatever the colour you have just shot is. So if your triangle is green and you hit a green and theres another green behind it and then a red behind that you will eliminate the greens and then your triangle will turn red hopefully that makes sense, once you have played for a handful of moments it soon becomes second nature.

This all sounds pretty basic but the more pieces you can zoop in one go the more points you score, whenever you zoop the required quota for a level the game will speed up, and then there are special pieces which come into play including a proximity bomb and a line bomb and colour bomb also as the game progresses distracting backgrounds are purposly added in to try and up the challange factor this was used as a unique selling point for the game and was referd to as opti-challenge graphics, I could see some people liking this and it clearly pissing other people off, I found myself kind of falling in to the middle of this sometimes I find it annoying and sometimes my brain just seems to filter it all out for me

The sound effects in the game are kind of cartoon inspired and the music well I think at first it is catchy but soon it will make you want to pull your own ears off, yes it does that good old puzzle thing of seeming to try to be tense when the gameplay is tense but it just doesnt really cut it for me, add on to this that the graphics are just about as basic as they could possibly be, sure everything  moves smothly and its quiet a bright game but there is nothing here that tests the system in even the slighest way. I am not going to say that the game cant be fun in small bursts but its just that there are much better puzzle games out there than this, it is fun ismall dozes but its ultimatly a forgetable experiance, there is a reason you hear people go on and on about Tetris and Dr Mario and Bust A Move insted of Zoop. I would give this game a very average 5 and would say not to buy a cart of it unless you can get it for about £5 and then only if you like puzzle games as this is very unlikly to be the game to convert someone who is not a fan of them.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Fibromyalgia awarness day: A little something for people to look at.

So today is fibromyalgia awarness day, so I figured that I would do my bit to help raise awarness by doing a blog post on it. Ok so I will start by briefly trying to explain what fibromyalgia is, I hasten to add I do not suffer from it nor am I a Doctor or other medical professional, everything I know comes from the fact my girlfriend has it and the reading I have done around the disorder in order to try and be an understanding boyfriend because I love her.

So to start at the basics what does the term fibromyalgia actually mean well the term "fibromyalgia" is from New Latin,with  fibro refering "fibrous tissues",  myo to "muscle", and algia basically meaning "pain"; thus the term pretty much means "muscle and fibrous connective tissue pain". The thing is this in and of itself sounds bad enough but it does not really explain what having firbo is like or the challangers someone with it faces I think some of the following videos do this far better than I could. The first I will put in this post the other 2 well I will add links just below for them. I know this is not my usual sort of post some people might have expected me to be talking about horror or video games or even ranting about polotics but how can all of those things not seem unimportant compared to trying to actually post something that could help people to better understand the issues that a whole group of people live with.


Fibromyalgia video 2

Fibromyalgia Video 3

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

My Top Ten Sinclair Spectrum games: Fernandez Must Die and Rockstar Ate my Hamster

So I said I would do a Top Ten list for my top 10 favourate microcomputer games and then I stopped and thought about it, the truth is very few people will have played enough games across all of the various Microcomputers to really do a list that takes every machine and all of the games for it into consideration particularly not if you are the age I was when those machines were popular. You see back then you picked a machine and you were pretty much loyal to the core it was like joining a tribe, you picked your machine and at the same time you picked where your loyaltys would lay, sure you might play one of the others if you visited a friends house and he owned a diffrent machine but youd never admit that anything on it was better than what you had at home, the majority at least would make out that they were just making the best of a bad situation playing on this rival machine. My older brother had a BBC micro, and I had friends with both Amstrad and Commodore C64's but I dont feel I have really used them enough to fold them in to this, plus there are so many other lesser known micro's so I thought what the heck I should just stick to what I know and make it a Sinclair Spectrum Top Ten, then I realised that if I just did a list which went Game 1, 2 ,3 etc well I might be talking abouyt games people have never heard of. So what I have decided to do is slowly work my way through my Top Ten list 2 games at a time, every time I make a post on this subject I will talk about 2 games trying to give both a rough idea of what the game is about but also how/why it has made its way on to my list, so here goes. I am not going to put them in order because well thats too hard, oh and this is my list its not set in stone, other people would argue with it and heck in a year maybe even a months time then I very well might argue with it after all most top tens are very much based on what you think and feel at a set time. Lets kick things off with the first two games I want to talk about

1: Fernandez Must Die (1988)

 Ok so what we have here is a Commando style action game, if it moves then you kill it, you shoot with your machine gun, you throw grenades, your mission is to destroy 8 enemy bases and ultimatly to find General Fernandez and kill him. On the way to getting him your going to have to kill buckets full of  soldiers and destroy tanks and battleships. To help you there are some planes that fly over head and drop first aid kits and there are jeeps you can jump in which make you faster have a more powerful gun mounted on them. The game is best played in two player mode, it has great graphics for a game of its kind on the spectrum platform, it might be a bit of a brainless blaster but its a darn good one especially when you grab a buddy and jump right into it. I spent a great deal of time playing this with my friend Andrew when I was a kid both on my Spectrum and on his Commodore 64. If I remember correctly he got the game first, he brought a genuine copy from somewhere and then shortly after this I actually got the full game on one of those magazine cassettes you used to get for the Spectrum, the ones that usually had like 4 to 8 games on them, getting it so cheap with both a magazine and other games well it kinda felt like winning money on a scratch card. It has ended up on this list partly because its just a darn fine game and partly because I have awesome memories of it which have stood the test of time.

2: Rock Star Ate my Hamster

Ok so how to describe Rockstar Ate My Hamster its a very unique game, unlike most brilliant games it has never really been copied and this only makes it an even more special little gem. I guess youd call it a parody management strategy game, as in the game you are basically managing a Rock Band trying to get them to the top of the charts but its full of jokes and parody names and doesnt take itself very seriously at all and this makes it a brilliant bit of fun. Its all menu driven and basically all you do is make decisions, who do you want in your band, what kind of venue will you play at, how much will you charge for tickets, what are you going to call the songs on your album. Yes it might sound incredibly simple and on one level it is as all you really do is make choices and then sit back and see what the results are but it sucks you in, it makes you feel like your band is real and your decisions really matter and because of its tone and jokes it keeps you laughing all the way which is an amazing thing, so many games claim to be funny or to have comedy elements but in all honesty very few games are really gut bustingly funny and at this time this game really is. I played this game with everyone, I played it with my friends, with my brother, with my mum and I even played it for hours and hours on my own. This makes it on to the list not just because it made me laugh or because of the countless hours I invested in to it but also because I think its a very special game in that there is nothing else quiet like it out there even all these years latter it is still one of a kind.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Hammer: Dracula Prince Of Darkness

So with Hammers first Dracula film we had Chrisopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, then we got a second Dracula film the Brides of Dracula which featured Cushings Van Helsing but didnt actually featuring Christopher Lee or anyone for that matter as Dracula and so after that we got the third Hammer Dracula film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness which saw the return of Lee, this time without Cushing (with the exception of scenes from Horror Of Dracula featuring him in the prologue). I saw this film originally years ago when I was quiet young, I however recently watched it and felt that I would like to review it as a part of my series of Hammer reviews.

Ok so I try to keep things spoiler free but if you havent yet watched Horror of Dracula and dont want that film spoiling then skip this paragrape as the start of this film is the end of that one. The film starts with a prologue which replays the final scene from Horror of  Dracula, in which Dr. Van Helsing destroys Dracula by first pulling down the curtains and then using two large candle sticks to act as a cross, a cross which he uses to push Dracula back in to the sunlight that is coming through the window which kills him. These replay is accompanied by voice-over narration which tells of how Van Helsing was able to end Dracula's  reign of terror making him nothing more than a dreaded memory. I really like the way this is done, it really conects this film to the first one, it also reminds you of just how brilliantly that film ended, what once was a great ending now serves as a really awesome high impact start to this film with the naration adding a certain freshness to it, personally I think this was an awesome way to open the film.

The main story doesnt feature Van Helsing at all, it instead tells about how Dracula is reserected and then gives us a new set of characters to go against him, the closist to a Van Helsing style character being Father Sandor who goes from visiting an inn and warning four English tourists to stay away from Dracula's castle to eventually offering those who have escaped Dracula sanctuary and help to defeat him. I dont think he is as good as Peter Cushing however Andrew Keir plays Sandor well and makes him both a believeable and intresting character, you feel that he is just as knowledgable and willing to fight evil as Helsing was but he in my mind at least just doesnt feel as formidable a foe, he doesnt feel like Dracula's natural equal.

I guess your expecting me to go on and on about how wonderful Christopher Lee is now or how much I miss Peter Cushing?  Well I do and dont miss Cushing there was a nice little bit of seeing how cool he was at the start even if it was purly a recap and reused footage, yes its great to see Helsing against Dracula but its intresting to see how Dracula deals with and relates to other diffrent people. Now I find it important to note that the Dracula seen in this film is kind of diffrent to the one seen in the first movie for a start Dracula does not speak in the film, he gestures and looks and hisses apart from the hisses its almost like a silent movie portrayel of Dracula but just like with a silent film Chrisopher Lee manages to speak a thousand words with every look with every movement, he might not talk but he speaks volumes with his acting.

 According to Christopher Lee: "I didn’t speak in that picture. The reason was very simple. I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much mistaken.", this account was contradicted by the Screenwriter Jimmy Sangsterwho claimed that "Vampires don't chat. So I didn't write him any dialogue. ''Personally I can think of a whole bunch of reasons Dracula might not talk in this film from a story point of view, maybe it was because of how he came back, maybe meeting his end and then being reserected effected him, or maybe he just didnt find anyone worth talking to that he met during this film. If it is true that Lee read the script and the dialogue was poor then I say that it was a good call on his behalf to decide that less was more and say nothing instead pouring everything in to his almost silent performance.

I didnt enjoy this game as much as Horror of Dracula but I actually have tio say that I think it was better than Brides of Dracula and certainly well worth a watch.

Monday, 8 May 2017

what it was like to be a gamer in the 80's

So when you talk about retro gaming lots of people will get an idea in there heads a picture of what you mean and usually they are going to think about old cartridge based console systems like the NES, the SNES, the MegaDrive/Genesis or maybe even slightly newer CD based systems such as the playstation the GameCube etcetera but there is so much more out there. The importance and the popularity of the NES back in its day in the United Kingdom is often overstated, people try to make out that the machine was highly supported over here, the truth was that not many people had them, if you walked in the average british house you were far more likly to be met with the sight of a micro computer a Sinclair Spectrum, a Commadore 64, an Amstrad or some other such type of machine. The truth is that if you were to see a console it would more than likly be a Master System in fact proberbly a Master System 2. The NES as a system is far more popular now in the UK as a retro console than it ever was as a current machine. Most video game fans my age will have grown up with a draw full of microcomputer tapes not NES cartridges and yet hardly anyone seems to celebrate or collect these in anyway close to the same way.

This is not the first time I have talked about this, if you have been a long time reader of this blog then you might remember me writing an article saying that the first school yard arguments were not about if you were pro MegaDrive or pro SNES they were in fact over which microcomputer you had chosen to support. When you talk to most people now though they tend to make out that they were really into Nintendo, that they owned a NES that all of there friends owned Nintendo Entertainment Systems and that they were massive in the UK, in fact you could argue that the whole history of the video game market back then steams to have been painted over it seems to have been washed away and replaced with this false spin doctored image of what things used to be like, an image that makes us appear well more American. Why is this are we as a group ashamed of our own Video Game heritage, do we feel silly and think that we backed the wrong horse? If you look at the figures for how many households in the UK actually had a NES the highest estimates put the machine in 12% of UK houses.

I think it needs to be rememberd that the humble Micro actually had some advantages over the NES, no I am not going to push how it had a keyboard and you could do programming or any of its uses as a computer why? Well thats simple its because other than a little bit of messing around with programming here and there thats just not how I or any of my friends or aquantances used there Microcomputers. Nes carts were very very expensive, when I saw them new I remember them being about £50 which now as an adult does not sound that much as we all pay sums around that level for brand new games on modern consoles but remember £50 in 1986 money (The year of the NES's UK release) is technically speaking a lot more money than £50 in current cash, they also were not anywhere near as wildly available as Micro games. I owned a Spectrum as a kid, at first it was a old hand me down 48k spectrum but then one Christmas this was changed to a brand new 128k +2 model, and where did I get my games from? I got my games from darn near everywhere. You could get games in Boots the Chemist, you could get them in Game stores, deparment stores, and newsagents, you could get them pretty much everywhere. It wasnt just the availability though it was also the price sure some real big deluxe Spectrum games in big boxes with stuff thrown in could go for as much as £14.99 but they were absolutly piles and piles of games for as little as £1.99.

People might argue that the NES games were bigger or more technical than home computer games and I guess some of them were but were they always better? The honest answer is not really, there were plenty of great games on microcomputers, I would list some here but just trust me, I am holding that back for a future top 10 Micro Computer Games post. I am not here to slag of the NES or anything but I just think its about time people stop and admit that the NES wasnt the champion here that it was in the United States, it was a minor note in the sidelines of our video game history, but I dont think we really lost out, most people were busy playing other things and thanks to things such as Mario All Stars and then things like the Zelda gamecube Collectors disc and various virtual console releases and the NES mini most people who didnt experiance these nintendo games back then have now gotten to see the classics that our American friends grew up with.