Category - Game Reviews

Elder Speak, Reviews, and Contra

Whoa, been a long ass time since I updated the blog.

As you probably know I’ve still been doing Game Club with Steve and Randy over at Elder-Geek.com. In addition to that, I’ve also started helping out Randy with his daily game news show on YT called Elder-Speak. I’ll be doing every other Thursday on that one, so the weeks where I’m not recording Game Club, I’ll be recording Elder Speak. Here’s the first episode I appeared on.

After the video was posted I was called out for not knowing anything about video games and once again the way I pronounce words was also commented on. I guess it’s a South Jersey thing I’m completely unaware of? I don’t know.

Sticking with Elder-Geek for a minute, I’ve also done a bunch of written reviews over there recently. So if you’re curious, go see what I thought about the following:

    Dillon’s Rolling Western – A decent eShop offering that’s longer than it should be.
    Resident Evil: Revelations – Freaking awesome, console worthy RE game.
    3D Classics: Kid Icarus – A remake for die hard fans only.

It’s obvious I’ve been playing lots of 3DS recently, right? I should also be getting a review of Kid Icarus: Uprising together at some point. Whenever I can actually finish it off anyways. I also need to play Wizorb for this coming episode of Game Club, so that’ll probably throw off my KI time.

As far as Shamoozal work goes. The last few weeks were kinda shot, but I put some solid time into it last week and actually managed to get a handful of shots finished. I also tweaked the ending few shots AGAIN so that I can actually finish this thing. Looking back at my original story boards, I don’t know what I was thinking. Just way too much for what it is. I’ve pretty much distilled it down to a quick action scene with a joke or two thrown in. I showed my wife the “main” shot and she seemed to think it was pretty cool. I guess that’s something. Hopefully I’ll continue to make good progress on it and actually, you know, release a cartoon for the first time in ages.

I made a Skyward Sword Video Review

I have been wanting to do video reviews for Shamoozal for ages, so it was fun to finally get the chance to make a video review of my own, even though it’s for Elder-Geek.com and not for here. That doesn’t mean I can’t share it with you folks though, so here it is.

What do you think? This was actually much harder to put together than I anticipated, and it unfortunately cut into the time I had planned to work on the new ROM episode. Remember that free weekend from the kids that I wrote about in the last post? Yeah, that was this past weekend and my time was dedicated to putting together this review. It was good for me though, it’s been a long time since I’ve edited a video together, and it was a great exercise in doing voice over work for this sort of thing.

Reading a review is much harder than it appears! I’m much more accustomed to recording a few lines of dialogue as a character. I put together two versions of this review, the first of which I read my written review almost word for word. It just didn’t sound very natural, so I went back last night and re-recorded my audio, instead trying to do the review as if I were having a conversation with someone about it. It’s not perfect, but maybe I’ll start to get good at these sorts of things if I keep up with them.

Anyway I’m interested to see how it gets received. I tried to put more emphasis on the mechanics of the game, and go less into what the game is about. I feel like so many reviews these days read like previews of a game with the occasional opinion thrown in for good measure. I’m more interested in talking about why I think a game works the way it does. I may not have gotten that point across in this review, but again, all part of the learning process. I almost didn’t even bring the story up, but I wanted to talk about the Skyloft characters so I felt like I needed to. Also kept all talk about graphics and audio to a minimum. I think the game looks and sounds fantastic, but the review was already running long and I wanted to focus on what I felt were the important aspects of the game.

So yeah, it was lots of work, almost my entire Sunday plus a bunch of hours Saturday and Monday night. I really under estimated the scale of something like this.

Shamoozal’s Game Club #5 – Cybernator

Cybernator

On this episode of Shamoozal’s Game Club we’re talking about Cybernator, a side-scroller from Konami for the Super Nintendo. We break it down in the way that we are now known to do. We also play three songs from the Cybernator original soundtrack: “We’ve gotta do it”, “Asteroid Run” and “Till the Crack of Doom”. There are going to be some changes to the show in the near future, but I will let Phil elaborate for you.

Next time we’re going to be playing Shatterhand or Shadow of the Ninja. Vote for your choice at the bottom of this post!

If you’re already subscribed to our Podcast feed then all you need to do is wait for the episode to show up in your Podcast aggregator. Or, you can go a head and listen to it right here (there might be a delay before the Podtrac player refreshes):

[polldaddy poll=”5453220″]

Shamoozal’s Game Club #2 – Streets of Rage 2

Shamoozal's Game Club - Streets of Rage 2

We present for your approval, the Shamoozal Game Club Episode 2. This time around we spent some time playing the Genesis classic “Streets of Rage 2″  and now we’re gonna talk about it… without apologies. You also get 3 classic tracks from the Streets of Rage 2 OST, there’s even some opinions from our outstanding community thrown in there for good measure.

Next time we’re going to be playing one of two Xbox Live Indie games:  A Game About My Cat or PLATFORMANCE: Temple Death. The poll runs until July 16th at 8:25 EST, so be sure to head into our forums and vote!

If you’re already subscribed to our Podcast feed then all you need to do is wait for the episode to show up in your Podcast aggregator. Or, you can go a head and listen to it right here:

Shamoozal’s Game Club #1 – Rayman

Rayman

The first episode of Shamoozal’s Game Club is here and ready for Transfarring to your device of choice. We set a goal of having the podcast out by the end of June and I’m pretty happy that we hit the mark. In this episode we took a critical look at the original Rayman, going over what we liked and didn’t like about the game. We also tried to showcase some music from Rayman as well as feature an awesome bit of chiptune by RushJet1. The song is Wasteland and can be found on their new album “Forgotten Music” over at Ubiktune.

Don’t forget to head to our forums and vote on the games for the next episode. The poll is between Streets of Rage 2 and Comix Zone, two Genesis classics. Regardless of which one wins, they’re both available on Steam this week for only 2 dollars, and if you own any sort of Sega Genesis Collection you probably already own one of these games. Be sure to vote!

If you’re already subscribed to our Podcast feed then all you need to do is wait for the episode to show up in your Podcast aggregator. Or, you can go a head and listen to it right here:

Pilotwings Resort Review – Two greats form one kind of great

Pilotwings Resort

Pilotwings Resort

A glance at my save file on Pilotwings Resort, the strange 3DS launch title that acts as a sequel to Pilotwings 64 and quasi-sequel to Wii Sports Resort, reveals that I’ve spent a majority of my game time playing Free Flight Mode. Free Flight Mode is actually ripped directly out of Wii Sports Resort in which the goal is to slowly explore all of Wuhu Island in an attempt to gather information on the island and find hidden items. At first I had zero interest heading into Free Flight mode as I felt I had my fill of Wuhu by the hours I’ve spent playing Air Sports in Wii Sports Resort, but upon playing I once again became addicted to what is essentially a cheap filler mode in order to pad the game.

Here I am, spending a solid chunk of time on my brand spanking new (and over priced) 250 dollar 3DS unit playing something I played before roughly two years ago. I don’t regret this at all, because I was having fun doing this. To me, it’s a testament to the mechanics of Pilotwings Resort, a series that has always struck a good balance between simulation and arcade control. Sure, I’ve played this all before, but not with Pilotwings pitch perfect hang glider, rocket belt and plane control. The 3DS’ slide pad feels great, and the range of subtle motion may even put the traditional analog stick to shame. I almost kind of found myself wanting something like this for console games. Maybe I’m just having some kind of honeymoon with the slide pad and my feelings on it will level out with time, but as of now I’m kind of loving it.

The core game itself is made up of a bunch of bit sized missions (roughly 3 minutes long each) where the player earns stars to progress. All of these missions could probably be seen in less than 2 hours depending on the skill of the player. The real challenge lies in getting three stars on all of the missions in order to unlock the final set of hidden missions. Dedicated players that come to adore the game can then attempt to get a perfect score on every mission (something I personally don’t have in me) which I imagine will lead to other rewards. I spent a healthy amount of time, roughly 10 hours total, going through all of Mission Mode and Free Flight. Not too bad for a game being billed as a three hour experience (though admittedly, Free Flight did get tiresome when I was down to the final few objects to find). If Pilotwings clicks with the player, they’ll be in it for the long haul, but if the player is only interested in blowing through mission mode, they’ll obviously feel somewhat cheated by what the game offers.

Being that this is my first and only 3DS game, my initial reaction to the 3D effect was that while I found it kind of neat I would never play with it turned on. I had a headache after a few minutes the first night I had the 3DS and thought that would be the extent of my time with 3D turned on. After all, when I saw Avatar in 3D I had a pounding headache by the end and found myself having a hard time even seeing the 3D in most cases. Regardless, I decided to toggle the 3D on from time to time and I’ve now come around to it. I like playing Pilotwings in 3D, and while some of the claims that 3D changes the game in that players can better judge their distance is kind of bull crap, it sure does look fancy. The actual 3D effect has some issues as far as finding the sweet spot, but that’s an issue inherent in the 3DS itself.

As a launch game Pilotwings makes a fine product, though unlike the N64 days this isn’t the only choice other than Super Mario 64. I guess depending on your perspective of the 3DS launch it is either the only choice, or eclipsed by other offerings like Super Street Fighter IV. It lacks the length, variation of modes and air craft of Pilotwings 64 (at least, from what I remember) but it makes up for that with the most sound control and flight mechanics in the series. Also, it’s just such a nice relaxing game to tune out too.

Would I buy a 3DS just play Pilotwings? No (though I guess you could say that I did personally do that… oops), but if you already own a 3DS or plan on getting one anyway, you could do much worse.

SCROLL: A zine created with classically trained game fans in mind.

scroll_magazine

Ray Barnholt has been doing the game writing thing for a long time, cutting his teeth over at the now defunct but highly regarded GIA and later landing a gig at 1up.com. He was unfortunately let go by 1up.com fairly recently and has since created a magazine of his own called SCROLL. After flipping through the preview of SCROLL at the MagCloud website, I decided to buy a copy of it for myself. I was pretty much sold on the beautiful Star Tropics spread, and I don’t even like Star Tropics that much! Still, I hadn’t been this excited about a fan made paperback project since Jeremy Parish first started releasing GameSpite quarterly.

Anyway, my copy of it arrived in my mail box yesterday and after giving it a quick flip through, it seems to be exactly what I expected. What we have here is a true labor of love, and while the slim 40 pages appears to be light on content at its 10 dollar asking price, we need to remember that this is mainly the work of one man. When you look at it that way, it’s pretty impressive. Oh, and it’s completely ad free of course. The first issue’s focus is mainly on the SNES including game highlights and insight into topics like the hardware itself to more obscure things like a look at the SNES Player’s Guide (something Nintendo released not long after the SNES launch). For someone like me that has extremely fond memories of the SNES, this makes for a good read.

The mag has a really nice feel to it with a clean layout and plenty of large images (though some are a little low rez, but it’s no biggie). Barnholt seems to take lessons from a topic he actually wrote about in the zine regarding the use of real pictures throughout the issue in order to ground the content in reality. There are plenty of great shots he took of his Super Famicom (though I would have liked to have seen the SNES, since that’s what the book is about after all!) in different out door settings. His final thought is backed by a great shot of a telephone pole during a sunset. The images lend a certain warmth to them and are not the sort of thing you’d see in gaming print magazines these days.

While SCROLL’s focus appears to be on retro hardware and software, Ray also includes some current gaming news and info but only just enough. There’s a clear focus on the types of games that Barnholt himself is into throughout the zine, like Japanese developed titles for example. This steers the appeal of the zine more towards someone like me, a guy that grew up during the 8 and 16-bit generations. I imagine if you’re the type of person that frequents sites like Hardcore Gaming 101, Gamespite, and likes to grab the occasional Retro Gamer Magazine that SCROLL would be up your alley.

From what I’ve read I think it’s a really solid effort. I doubt this is something I could keep up with monthly, but based on this I would buy future issues here and there for sure. Check out a preview of the book and/or grab your copy. I wish Ray lots of luck and success with his latest endeavor.

999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

999 Cover Art (US)

I’ve had an itch that hasn’t been scratched since the day I finished Hotel Dusk on the Nintendo DS. That game introduced me to a genre that I never knew existed and got me playing awesome series like Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton, but they didn’t quite fill the void. Compounded by the sad news that the sequel to Hotel Dusk “Last Window” will probably never come to the US, I had pretty much given up hope on getting an experience like that again. Then I came across “999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors” developed by Chunsoft and published by Aksys Games. After spending more than a few hours in the game I can safely say that this is exactly what I was looking for.

999 (as I will refer to it henceforth) is a Visual Novel that relies heavily on exploration, puzzle solving and conversational dialog to tell it’s story. The basic premise is this: You wake up locked in a strange room with no memory of how you got there. You are presented with the challenge of finding your way out by following a series of clues hidden throughout the room. Once you escape you find that you are part of something larger than you initially realized.

Many of the game’s puzzles are numeric in nature (given the title of the game that should come as no surprise) but there is still a good variety. You’ll often find yourself combining items you find to alter them and use them in unconventional ways.

The game’s art style is your standard anime fare with a wide range colorful characters that you’ll meet along the way. The music, composed by Shinji Hosoe, adds an additional layer of suspense and creepy ambiance. I just got my mitts on a copy of the OST and I’m jamming out to it while I write.

So, if you’re a fan of Hotel Dusk and you’ve been waiting for a game with a similar narrative and experience, look no further. Pick up a copy 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors today and dust off your thinking cap. You’re gonna need it.

Update 1/24: I’ve now completed 3 of the 6 endings for the game. I won’t reveal anything about them other than to say it’s amazing how your choices change the outcome each time. My first play-through took me roughly 6-8 hours. Each one since then has gone faster because you can skip through any cutscenes you’ve already watched. I’m working on getting the ‘real’ ending tonight.