The Legends will never die

It’s that time again for another retro roundup

Ghostbusters – C64

I’m sure many of you long time gamers have had the pleasure of carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back, taking out bank loans and ducking under the legs of Gozer the Traveler. This isn’t a usual pick for my list of obscure old games but with all the talk about the new Ghostbusters game due out in June I’ve had the old game on my mind. One of the most memorable things about Ghostbusters for the C64 was how the terrible speech scared the hell out of me, but not enough that I didn’t have a great time singing along with the bouncing karaoke ball.

Did you know that the NES version had such terrible spelling and grammar?
”Conglaturation !!! You have completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes !”

You’re Winner!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZYSVgE5Kwg

Park patrol – C64

More Activision greatness. Park Patrol is one of the top C64 games I’ve played, I have to wonder if Activision hoped that this would end up in arcades as it truly did all the right things to make it a great eater of quarters. The basic idea was to run around and pick up trash before you run out of energy, you also have to deal with killer swimmers and turtles while ants take food from your storage hut. Fantastic and simple, makes me wonder where the developer has gotten to now. Unlike the Ghostbusters developer who’s making iPhone games, Tony Ngo seems to of disappeared entirely

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-Up77H268E

Moonstone – Amiga

The most frustrating game on this list by far is Moonstone for the Amiga. Three lives and the constant threat of instant kills may not sound fun with real time combat, but the tactical combat and crazy gore would always pull me back for some more punishment. If you don’t watch any of the other youtubes that I’ve linked to at least watch this one, it still doesn’t look to bad graphically and still isn’t half bad; perhaps that’s why it has a fansitehttp://www.moonstonetavern.co.uk/ and sells for $45 used!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLMFybclOJM

Startrader – C64

Startrader brings us back to the obscurity as the game was only available on a crazy cassette that had ten games on one side and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It's Christmas?” on the other. Under $10 for ten games and money donated Famine Relief in Ethiopia is a crazy deal by today's standards, I only wish they picked different art for the box, it freaked me out pretty badly.

 

I see a lot of people calling Startrader a poor man’s Elite and they might be right, even still, I had the darn music stuck in my head a couple of nights ago and I couldn’t remember it at all come morning. Sadly this game is so obscure that I can’t even find a YouTube video for it, so instead I have a link to lemon64.com where you can subject yourself to a tune I’ve heard over and over.

 

http://www.lemon64.com/?mainurl=http://www.lemon64.com/games/details.php%3FID%3D2453

Gumshoe – C64

Untill I just stared researching I had forgotten that Gumshoe actually came in the same pack as Startrader and it’s perhaps the best game in that little package. Now I’m sure a lot of NESheads are thinking of their light gun game, it seems as is Nintendo must of bought some of the rights from A&F Software with the change in their pockets. The premise is very simple shoot guys, and reach the top, perhaps that’s why it was so playable.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FORDZUIjo_0

And so ends another walk down memory lane for me, I hope I’ve reminded some of you with games forgotten and given the rest of you an interesting quick look into my gaming childhood.

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Feeling retro + Sonic Unleashed

Feeling retro + Sonic Unleashed

A few things recently have got me thinking about old game, I don’t mean PS2 games or PS1 games, I mean really old games. From those who read this I’d be interested to hear what’s your first game, but here’s a list of a few games that have been on my mind and why these random games hold any kind of significance.

The Chaos Engine (Amiga 1993)

This will be the only game on this list that I expect anyone to remember (Likely Danny O’ Dwyer). The closest comparison I can think of is Gauntlet, but if you watch a small part of the video you’ll quickly get the idea. Sadly the Bitmap brothers never released their GBA version as they announced but since we saw Speedball on the XBLA I hold hope that this series isn’t forgotten

Kennedy Approach (c64 1985)

A strange game for a 7 year old to be playing, but without the internet and IMs I barely knew my way around a keyboard. Kennedy Approach is a keyboard driven game where each plane needs to be called by typing its ID and giving it a direction and altitude, it’s all rather rudimentary but it sure did teach me a lot about ol’ QWERTY at a young age.

Kettle (c64 1987)

I’ve been playing a lot of OCremix tunes recently, some good tunes without lyrics do wonders for my concentration when I’m trying to work/write and there’s a lot of noisy distractions around. Kettle is one of the first games that I ever just stopped and listened to the music.

Atic Attack (Spectrum 1983)

Very popular back in its day, Atic Attack was made by the the same guys that founded Rare, back then they were known as Ultimate. One strange thing about this game is that every time I see that turkey I can hear Hugo Myatt saying “Careful team, your life force is draining

Liberation: Captive II (Amiga 1994)

I wrote rather extensively about this back in March (http://www.gamespot.com/users/Elk/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25355260). Captive II was my young Oblivion, the game was huge and there was a whole lot to do for a tiny Amiga game. It’s sad that I can find nothing about the developers and the publisher is now doing games that have Noel Edmonds on the cover.

So congrats to you if you’ve played any of those games, you’re officially old.

Also I wanted to take a few moments to talk about my distain for Sonic Unleashed. Sonic Heroes was the last Sonic game that I played, I think actually own a copy that I’ve only played for 10 minutes, which is a little strange as I didn’t have a ‘bad’ experience. There’s a demo of Unleashed out there right now which is a glowing example of everything that’s good about the game, plain and pure Sonic running along. Now even this best part of Sonic has some pretty fundamental issues which I’ll get to later, but sometimes I wonder if they added some of this extra stuff just to kill the scores of the game. I didn’t play through the whole game so I’m not going to get into a lengthy review, instead I’m going to break it down into bullet points so it’s suitable for a future PowerPoint presentation.

5, Human’s don’t look right in a Sonic game: There’s plenty of creatures that have been discarded (Nack the Weasel anyone?) why can’t cities be full of other creatures rather than these cartoonish out of place humans in these middle areas?

4, The middle areas: Memory’s never been a strong point for me, but the central hub in Sonic Adventure worked pretty well, kind of like Mario Sunshine, however in Unleashed you have hubs set in may different areas that are rather a pain to navigate and it’s never very apparent where you need to be going.

3, The Werehog: Now although these sections are by far the weakest point of the game I do have to applaud Sonic team on trying something new, obviously their existing formula isn’t working out but Sonic games aren’t really about combat. For those who haven't tried Unleashed, the combat works God of War style but far slower and a whole lot less enjoyable…. Actually now I think back to Sonic team trying something new, I didn’t much care for the Knuckles levels in Adventure and the Tails levels were just horrible.

2, High Speed: Sonic is all about speed right? But speed shouldn’t mean constant trial and error to achieve anything because you only have a split second to react to any obstacles around you. If you want to give us this high level of speed then do us a favor and zoom out so we can see what’s coming. Yes I know Sonic looks very pretty in HD and you want to show him off but when we are “Rolling Around at the Speed of Sound” it’d be nice to see more than a few meters in front of us.

1, Artificial lengthening of the game play: One of my biggest pet peeves and perhaps the main reason I never finished the game. Unleashed requires you to collect so many Sun and Moon medals, to collect these you have to replay older missions and rely replaying some levels time and time again to find an item because you have to jump right at a certain point. Before playing Sonic Unleashed I’d just finished dealing with this same damn mechanic on Prince of Persia and that almost crossed the line and that game is FUN for the most part, the areas in Unleashed were bad the first time around, I don’t want to keep going back and playing them to find a damn item!

Back in the later 90’s there were a lot of platform games that simply copied Mario, I wish Sonic had taken this route 10 years ago and worked on a few 3D platforming fundamentals before things have gotten this far. Honestly I don’t think the feel of the Sonic controls have ever really felt right in 3D, there’s just too much emphasis on speed and not enough of tight and precise movement, like they are trying to run before they can walk.

Bottom line, Sega need to swallow their pride and ask Nintendo for some help, sure it won’t come cheap but there aren’t that many who know how to make a solid platformer these days, even Rayman seems to have given up.

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Phew that was long, but I haven’t focused on gaming in my blog for as long as I can remember. Hopefully most of this makes sense, I usually allow myself time to read back through my blog posts and tighten them up but I’m feeling a mixture of laziness and tiredness, so you’ll have to make do with my disjointed rambling.

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Back to the grind

I’m back from the sunny west coast and wow somehow that city manages to be the exact opposite of Sonic unleashed. Alright, let me explain. Just before I left for California I set myself a goal of getting through Prince of Persia and Sonic unleashed, I had enough time so it seemed pretty reasonable, Prince of Persia was exactly what I expected, no more, no less and rather quick to get through, so then it was time to put the old ‘chog through his paces. Since Sonic Unleashed isn’t a new game I had plenty of time to get my expectations adjusted by the experiences of others which have been entirely negative, but being the sucker that I am I set the game of on the GameFlu and was astounded to find that the game wasn’t able to meet my amazingly low expectations, in fact I couldn’t complete the game (fortunately I wasn’t scheduled to review it). To steer my ramblings back to my original analogy, I had an idea in my head of what I’d expect from San Francisco and somehow the city exceeded my expectations in every way. There you go Sonic Unleashed <> San Francisco or perhaps Sonic Francisco != San Francisco depending what takes your fancy (I prefer the latter)

My new wallpaper (helps to have 4 screens)

There’s a few peeves I have about most American cities that I’ve visited, mostly the problems are with the planning and the store selection. Where I live (Kansas) has a very ‘city in a box’ feel, as if I’ve been let loose on SimCity and made some generic heartless area, where building placement is decided by metrics and numbers “These people are so many miles from a Walmart, place another”, “the people need more Applebees” etc. One of the greatest things about SF is perhaps how it reminds me more of a city like Torquay with its feel but just far more geeky and of course, geeky is win. I love the small business, grocery shop feel, I love the fact that I saw more iPhones and smart phones in 4 days than I have in my life and I generally love how it’s not Kansas.


Perhaps my favorite shot

We got to do a lot of neat things while my wife and I were there for 3 nights, as you saw before I rudely busted in on the Giant Bomb crew, but I brought British gifts, so hopefully tonight's Bombcast won’t be scolding me for my actions. We also saw just major historic sites, such as the worlds largest LOLcat


The CNet / GameSpot building (didn’t get a chance to enter)


Loud fish mammal creatures


And plenty more on my Picassa Album (http://picasaweb.google.com/madelk/SanFran09?authkey=ciB0RUwjay8)

Obviously I had a great time and I look forward to getting back into the city, I just wish more places were hiring and not firing.

EDIT: For clicky images check out my wordpress blog http://madelk.co.uk/blog/?p=365 unless I find the time to edit this blog again later

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WOO San Fran baby!

Image by davidciani via Flickr

I’m working on getting all my stuff packed up and DS’ charged for my trip to San Francisco bay early, early tomorrow morning. I’m pretty stoked about the trip and hopefully I’ll meet some interesting folk there, which seems pretty inevitable.

If you’re around the bay and want to meet up for a pint of poison then hit me up, you know where I am.


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Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Happy New Year Everyone!
At last a holiday we can all agree on.

I was wondering if you've been setting New Year's resolutions, if so then please share. Resolutions don't sound like something that I'd usually go along with, if it's important enough to set a goal for then you shouldn't need some arbitrary date to set yourself goals. However, setting reasonable resolutions works and helps you better yourself and your life, with that said, here's my dumb goals for 09.

Gaming

Complete 2 Zelda games - so this doesn't really better me or my life, but I've only completed 4 Zeldas, 3, 4, OOT & TP. This is especially sad since I own every Zelda except for the first two. Not sure which I'll play through, perhaps Wind Waker and Phantom hourglass, but I'm also tempted by Majora's mask.

Fitness

Hundred push ups - I'm not in terrible shape, but I could always stand to be fitter. I managed day one on the harder routine which meant 45 pushups with 4 one minute breaks, I still hurt. If anyone wants to join me on this path of pain then checkout
http://hundredpushups.com/

Career

Complete at least one piece of paid commissioned work - I've been writing reviews on and off for quite some time now and have gotten rather serious about it over the last 2-3 years so it's about time I set myself up with the next level. Honestly I'm a little skeptical about this but I've thought of ideas for a column in a paper, so with enough stubborn behavior I may get this harder achievement to unlock.

 

I hope you all do well with your lists and may all of your achievements unlock.

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Chest nuts nibbling at your toes

Hi all, I trust you all had a great Christmas!

I thought I'd give a quick list of some notable gifts that I received, as is the custom around these here parts

  • 3 months of XBL
  • 1600 Microsoft Points
  • Mario Kart (W/Wheel)
  • A stand for my tx2510us laptop
  • A great chair for my desk

I think I gave pretty well.
  • A D610 Laptop
  • GForce 7800 Video card
  • 19” Widescreen monitor
  • 4-5 Bugs Bunny trinkets
  • Gears of War book

Some other gifts given to others by others in our house

  • Xbox 360
  • Mortal Kombat Vs DC
  • Some kind of basketball game
  • A Proposal of marriage

Sure there were a lot of other gifts which were all pretty awesome, but most aren’t so interesting to write about here. Nothing I gave can quite top a marriage proposal and all six of us had a great time.

I did get one other gift though, which is so outstanding that it doesn’t even belong in the same list as the rest. A three day trip to San Francisco starting on my 29th birthday (Having a wife is awesome. FACT!)  We’ll be in the Fairmont about 20 minutes from the CNET office so I’ll be sure to take a look at where it is since the building does look rather cool. I’m honestly not sure exactly what we’re going to be doing in and around SF besides snapping a lot of photos, but Dana says she has plans that she doesn’t want to spoil so I’ll just have to wait a couple of week before I find out.

What was the best gift you gave and received this Christmas?


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Should reviewers play through?

Image via Wikipedia

So now I have Fallout 3 done and reviewed at Citizen Game (please go take a look), I'm now looking ahead to Midnight Club: LA and I believe this will be my first review without playing through the entire game first. It's always been my thought that no game should be reviewed without completing the main story first, but really, where does that end? To see all that Fallout 3 has to offer would require more time than reasonable and these side quests are really no less relevant than the main one except that they are purely optional. It makes me wonder if freelance writers get paid more to review Tales of Symphonia than, say, Gears of War. Either way, it should be up to the writer to decide how much of the game needs to be played and if you trust them enough that you're taking their review seriously then you should trust their judgement on when to cut the game short and put pen to paper (data to screen?).

What are your thoughts guys? Have you written any reviews without getting through the whole story? Where you satisfied with the outcome?

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War has only been this much fun twice before

No I'm not talking about another sequel to Cannon Fodder (click links for +1 awesome) instead I'm talking about the never changing war of Fallout, which I finally completed yesterday. I just thought I'd take a break from my review and write a quick blog post, which is gradually becoming a weekly thing. I also managed to get through Fable 2 on Saturday, so it was a pretty game-completing weekend for me. I am kinda bummed out about both games though, the endings both seemed rather anti-climactic and the Fallout 3 ending doesn't allow you to travel around after the ending sequence, unlike Oblivion, but true to Fallout, I can't say much more without giving spoilers. One thing I do like about reviewing PC games is that I can at least take my own screenshots without the task of pointing a camera at a TV and hoping the result doesn't look like garbage.

So here's the screenshots I have so far for Fallout 3, I've already cut some and now I need to decide on which to axe so my review doesn't turn into a picture book.

Thanks for reading guys and just to let you know my review of Saints Row 2 is live on CitizenGame.co.uk and I surely wouldn't be opposed to you going there and commenting on it. :)

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