Tomb Raider (2013) Xbox360 Review
By special request, we here at AllGoodThings have been asked to talk about the new Tomb Raider, developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix in March 2013 to critical acclaim. Most simply, Tomb Raider is what you would get if Uncharted and FarCry 3 had a lovechild, which, heck yeah, sounds awesome. In it you'll get a huge world to explore as the titular video game heroine Lara Croft on her first college-aged adventure.
Of course you will find your mandatory platforming in this installment and the controls are very responsive. Those of you who have been following my reviews, however, already know that I love castletroids and in a sense this game is a castletroid. You will gain new abilities and gather new equipment throughout your adventure, which encourages you to go back to previously explored areas where you will find new options have opened.
This brutality comes back to you as well. Every death scene is extremely graphic, especially for Lara. I've seen her break her neck, be impaled, and, well, I don't want to ruin all the surprises for you. Suffice it to say, this is not a game suitable for children and not for the same reason the original wasn't suitable for children. (Don't pretend you don't know what I mean.)
This reality is then enhanced further by the wonderfully rendered graphics. I played on the Xbox360, which made me stop at times just to look around at the forest (I’ve watched videos of the PC version that looks even better). For years I wondered what it would be like when games would allow me to run through believable jungles and forests and it's wonderful that we're finally here for this 15-20 hour adventure.
Finally, there is a full multiplayer suite to keep you coming back to Yamatai for years to come. Square Enix has really been on a roll this generation with this and other games, such as Deus Ex: Human Revloution and Just Cause 2 before it, two of my favorites from the past 5 years. So if you have an Xbox360, Playstation3, or a Windows compatible PC then you have to ask yourself is all this content worth sixty dollars? For me, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.”
Aliens: Infestation for Nintendo DS Review
Or is it? You see, there's another Aliens game which those two released way back in 2011 for the good ol' Nintendo DS and they did so with the help of one of my favorite studios, Wayforward Technologies. It's called Aliens: Infestation and it is by far the best thing be released with the name "Aliens" on it since 1986.
Aliens: Infestation however, also builds upon that by throwing in a little bit of survival horror taken from another game heavily inspired by the Aliens films, Dead Space. Like Metroid your character will explore the labyrinthine corridors, finding new equipment that opens new paths & areas but like Dead Space, there are limited amounts of ammunition for your Pulse Rifle so you had better not wander too far off without finding supplies otherwise you could end up dead - or worse.
It's wonderful little details in the presentation like this for which Wayforward is known. Enemies are very well animated too, sometimes filling almost the entire screen and the locations are beautifully drawn, often with layers parallax scrolling. Likewise, this game does an excellent job with the sound from the pulse rifles, to the motion tracker to the eerie soundtrack that plays or stops depending on where you are or what is happening on screen.
If you love Aliens, Metroid, Survival Horror, 2D art, have a DS or 3DS then I would easily recommend Aliens: Infestation. It is ridiculously inexpensive now, I got mine new for 5 dollars because it came out so late in the life cycle of the system that I think it went under a lot of people's radar. As such it can still be found easily even at department stores, probably in their bargain bin, which is a shame because this is an excellent title that you should pick up before it becomes another rare cult classic.
Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble for PSP Review
Atlus, you've done it again bro. Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble is a 2009 game for the Sony PSP that can easiest be described as a manliness simulator. Badasses like me don't usually make time to talk but if you shabazo need a better explanation then I guess I have a few minutes to spare before my next rumble.
Kenka Bancho is kind of a cross between Grand Theft Auto III and River City Ransom. You play as Takashi, a Japanese high school student on a class trip to the fictional city of Kyouto. You're not interested in learning though. (If you are then you'd be better off just reading the translations in the load screens and hey, the writing in this is pretty funny.) But nah, this is the perfect chance to prove you're number one by wandering the streets and finding other students from rival schools to beat the crap out of. And if you can top their biggest badass then they'll answer to you from now on.
The more you fight, the more of a badass you get. You'll keep getting stronger, tougher, faster and learn new moves. But be sure to also check out the local city stores for grub and new gear. Don't waste too much time shopping though, you've only got until the end of the field trip to take down those 47 wannabe banchos from the other schools and the clock's ticking kid. You can take the ladies out as well, show them the sights and see where it leads
Before going into the details and features of RetroCopy, I would just like to inform and remind everyone that emulators and ROMs are to be used for backup purposes with games already purchased lawfully. It is illegal to download and use emulators and ROMs for any other play. All Good Things TV, Otaku no Baka, and RetroCopy do not endorse or promote any illegal activities. Information given in this review is given for the purposes of lawful entertainment.
Using RetroCopy allows you to bypass many problems in trying to find an old system to play your favourite games. You don't have to re-spend time and money finding discontinued hardware, or adapters to play them on new-fangled televisions and monitors. RetroCopy allows you to play your old games in clarity unseen before, on a high definition computer monitor or LED/plasma television. While this is true about all other emulators, RetroCopy shines as superior because it does not just play one format of game, or even just one family of games like the best of emulators. It plays multiple formats and families!
RetroCopy plays ROMs for the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive, Master System, Game Gear, and SG-1000 systems. RetroCopy plays ROMs for the NES, and will emulate Super NES/Famicon games in the future. RetroCopy also plays arcade systems under the Sega 1, 2, and E architectures, and 1942.
While the formats of ROMs and media it plays are impressive, RetroCopy also has some bells and whistles unavailable anywhere. RetroCopy fully supports 3D gaming. It has 3D engines to support both 3D graphics and sound. RetroCopy plays video and audio in all of the popular formats, including DVD,VCD, and Mpeg Families. RetroCopy has a logue in feature that updates your online RetroCopy account (should you choose to make one) on the games you play and time played. Also, once you do make an account, you are able to write reviews on ROMs and even offer hints for other members in its game database. RetroCopy also has a "rewind" feature that allows you back the game up if you make a mistake, and try again! Perhaps the most impressive feature is the ability to create your own fully interactive and customizable virtual arcade and living room!
How interactive and customizable is the arcade/living room? RetroCopy allows you to have upright arcade machines as well as old 50's television sets to walk up and play your games on. It allows you to make floors of rooms, adjust furniture, and even has gaming posters that you can decorate with. Lighting and physics of the rooms are realistic. Retrocopy also allows you to select the quality of lighting and textures in your virtual rooms based on your computer's performance.
I had to the privilege to talk to Tommy Kvarsvik, beta tester, game database editor, and star supporter, about the future of RetroCopy. This is the information he shared. The enigmatic creator, known only as "Ralph," is currently working on a very big and secretive project that is taking his lion's share of time. All remaining effort is being put into beta testing RetroCopy 1.0 (The current version is .960.) which can only emulate SMS, and reintroducing all previous emulation compatibility, upon perfection. Only then will new system compatibility be added. So far SNES and Neo Geo would probably be the first and easiest, followed by Gameboy. However, because of the secret project and 1.0 beta testing, any new system additions will not be made in the near future. What is the most impressive plain for the future: How about online competitive play!!?
Other emulators that I thought deserved a mention include Kega Fusion, bsnes, and the prodigious Mednafen (It emulates 15 console systems!) .
Well, what do you think? Have any of you used emulators? Are you going to try any? Tell us how you liked the review and what you think of RetroCopy when you try it, and remember to cheque up with us here at All Good Things TV for the best in entertainment news!
By: HERETICPRIME of Otaku no Baka
The Last Story for Nintendo Wii Review
A big congratulations to weeaboos everywhere, Operation Rainfall has been a complete success! After its large public petition to have three critically acclaimed Japanese Role Playing Games published stateside for the Nintendo Wii, Xenoblade Chronicles was released a little under a year ago, Pandora's Tower will be released this spring and smack dab in the middle was the third game, called The Last Story. And I'll just get this out of the way now, this is the first time I can say I've liked a true JRPG in five years. (The last one being Opoona, oh and don't worry I'll get to that one too eventually).
Some of the ways in which they did this was by automating the stats, automating the random number generation etc as well as making the stories and progression much more linear for players to follow more easily. Enix's Dragon Quest (known as Dragon Warrior in the west) was the original title released to adopt this formula. It proved to be so wildly popular that other companies began creating their own games modeled after its style. One of these companies was a struggling little studio known as Squaresoft who tasked their employee Hironobu Sakaguchi with making one more game before the company went bankrupt. They decided that it would be a role playing game and that game was to be called Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy proved to be the savior of the company, a company which exists still to this day, merged with the one that inspired them, and today Final Fantasy is one Square-Enix and gaming as a whole's biggest franchises. Sakaguchi is no longer with that company however, he went out on his own to develop his own game with a similar title. Have you guessed what it is yet? That's right, it was The Last Story.
It makes for a much more intimate experience where I was able to grow more attached to the characters and setting. None of them are emo douches like most other JRPGs, they're actually all very likable. This is helped by the excellent localization originally made for its European release, meaning that the characters all have varied accents from around the British Isles. They're all voiced well which is still something to be appreciated in 2013 and the dialogue is translated very naturally. For a genre which is so rooted in its narrative, you would be surprised how often JRPGs fail to deliver a fresh scenarios with relatable casts.
Also the gameplay distinguishes itself from other JRPGs in that it is neither turn-based nor active in the style of MMORPGs. By default, it is set to the latter but I prefer directly controlling my character which makes the game play more like a hack & slash brawler with RPG elements. It has unique mechanics involving strategy, cover mechanics, party management etc along with the usual RPG mainstays of customizing your characters with armor, weapons & other equipment. In between dungeon areas, you explore the city accepting side-quests, finding/trading/buying/selling items, talking to NPCs and other little surprises I don't want to spoil here.
So should you play The Last Story? Yes. If you're someone like myself who used to like JRPGs but moved away from them because they all began to feel the same then yes. If you're someone who likes fantasy adventures regardless of where they're from then yes. If you're someone who just has a couple dozen hours to kill before winter ends then yes. Play The Last Story. Luckily, it recently received a reprint and price cut from its publisher XSEED so it should be easy to find wherever games are sold, more affordably than ever.
Ninja Gaiden SMS Review
That's right, Ninja Gaiden for the SEGA Master System. Many of you may not have known this version existed or even what a Master System is and that's because it was a much more popular system in Europe so as such that's where this game was originally released. The good news however is that the Master System has no region lockout so games that were produced in Europe, Asia and even South America up until the late 1990s are all playable on any unit.
Then how does it stack up against its more popular installments? Well firstly, the Master System's audio chipset is very basic so can't easily create the square wave forms which gives NES music its slight amount of reverberation. Basically this means NES music is generally less shrill so more pleasant to the ears. That being said however, Ninja Gaiden for the Master System has a kicking soundtrack anyway. It's catchy, varied and energetic and because of that, you're always ready to have another try after losing a life.
As for what the Master System is, it was SEGA's competing platform against Nintendo's NES and like many others at the time, it didn't do well here because of Nintendo of America's illegal practices in the late 1980s. These practices prevented other hardware manufacturers from getting third party support like that from Tecmo who gave Nintendo its well known Ninja Gaiden trilogy. Tecmo instead gave SEGA the rights to produce their own Ninja Gaiden game in-house that later released in 1992. That version is not a port of the NES games either, it is its own stand alone title. And this is what I am talking about today.
And while the audio hardware may be subjectively weaker than that of the NES, the Master System's graphical capabilities are far superior. Ninja Gaiden shows that fairly well with rich colors and a frenetic pace that is night and day when compared to its Nintendo based counterparts. This is important because a game like Ninja Gaiden involves crack reflexes and timing when jumping from platform to platform so it's very good that I experienced no flickering or slowdown during my play through either.
Neither is it hampered by crippling controls. Like other 8-bit Ninja Gaiden games you may have played, this one involves running, jumping from platforms or walls and slashing your way through to a boss fight and next level until completion. It all feels great. You can also pick up a variety of special items along the way to make your journey easier such as shields, bombs, projectiles etc. which also helps because like all Ninja Gaiden games, this one can be very difficult.
It was a wise choice on the part of the developers to include unlimited continues or I may not have even seen the end for my review. That makes a tough game still a fair game and definitely a fun game when you throw good music, good art and tight controls into the mix as well. If you're interested in playing this game for yourself then it can be purchased on eBay. Amazon or through your local vintage gaming boutique. Unfortunately it is not yet available through any official digital download service but if it ever is, we here at AllGoodThings.tv will be on top of it.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Review
That doesn't mean I hate Star Wars however, far from it. It's just been so long since I've experienced something new related to the series which wasn't frigging awful that I'm a bit jaded by this point. It's the end of 2012 which makes it almost 10 years since the last time I could say I've enjoyed Star Wars. No, I'm not talking about the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars cartoon but that's a good guess and shows that some people do still know how to make use of the property. Another group which did in 2003, were the people at BioWare who lovingly made the RPG video game epic, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
For those of you who are familiar with the Star Wars universe, this game takes place 4,000 years before 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. And it's amazing how little has changed in that time. Ships, architecture and social constructs are largely the same as they would be in the films. Instead of an empire vs rebellion however, at this time a different empire, waging a war of conquest is threatening the established Galactic Republic. You take the role of a republic soldier during an attack on your ship and from there embark on your own adventure a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Shortly afterward you and another soldier crash on the planet wide city of Taris where you must find other companions and escape a blockade to save the galaxy from a mysterious new tool of the empire called the Star Forge. Once the universe is opened up to you, you can then travel at your leisure to a number of other locations like Tatooine, the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, Dantooine and others. It adds a wonderful amount of diversity which is only furthered by the huge cast of characters that you'll interact with throughout.
Many familiar alien races and even some new yet important ones are found wandering the cities and wilderness but all of them are fully voice acted. Like many of BioWare's other games are known for, Knights of the Old Republic is all about player choices. What others say and how they respond to you depends on what you say and how you respond to them. You can be a force for good or for evil or anywhere in between. It must have taken an enormous amount of writing to ensure such natural dialogue in any context and it is all written very well. It's far better than the prequel films and it even has a plot twist worthy of The Empire Strikes Back.
The characters in your party are colorful and diverse. From Jedi to mercenaries to droids and more, it's always interesting to see what they'll do next when you take them out on a particular mission, which can be played in a variety of ways depending on who you bring and what abilities or weapons they have equipped. The gameplay itself uses a D20 system for role playing battles or using skills and it all gives this game an incredible amount of replayability through branching pathways.
That is if you can stand decade old graphics. They are still very nice but definitely show their age. Backgrounds look rich and vibrant but a little sparse and character models can look a little angular when up close. It's not terrible however and it shows how good art direction can support a game's aesthetic long after its technical merits no longer amaze. One thing which can never age however is the sound. You will find the expected Star Wars theme originally composed by John Williams but also hours of original music that fits in with his style perfectly. The sounds of laser blasters and light sabers are all present and in spite of the amount of dialogue, none of it sounds forced. They even had actors perform in alien languages much of the time and it still sounds great.
Overall, it took me more than 60 hours to finish the game but if you wanted, it could probably be done in half the time. I just enjoyed myself so much that I did every mission & side quest possible, explored the locations thoroughly, spoke to everyone and savored every moment. If you think you would enjoy this too and want something to tide yourself over until Disney's Star Wars releases in 2015, then this can be purchased for either Microsoft Windows compatible home computers or purchased for original Xbox which is playable on modern Xbox 360's. At no more than twenty dollars for this investment, the long winter nights will just fly by. Happy Wookiee Life Day, All Good Fans!
Indigo Prophecy Review
It's December now and in only three weeks it will be winter or the end of the world. Either way, I should probably mentally prepare myself for it. If only there was a game that dealt with both. Wait, there is! The game Indigo Prophecy published by Atari for the Microsoft Windows, Xbox and Sony Playstation 2 is the perfect primer for a wintery end of days.
So let me tell you a little bit about it. Indigo Prophecy takes place in the distant and far flung future of 2009 which yes does automatically date this. But if you can otherwise get over that then it's still very relevant and here's why. It takes place during a bitterly cold, early winter where your character begins his story by coming out of a bathroom stall to brutally murder a man simply washing his hands. From there you snap out of your trance-like state and realize what you've done. You have no recent memory and have tribal patterns carved into your arms, also a murder victim to deal with.
After that, it's up to you. Do you hide the body? Wash the blood away? Try to make a run for it? Talk with people in the building to figure out what happened before being discovered yourself? It's all up to you and there are several correct ways to make it through to the next scenario. Now here's the hook, you also play as the police trying to investigate the murder. Throughout Indigo Prophecy you take control of several plot threads that interweave and come together by the end, all discovering an Aztec legend about end times where a winter would come but never leave again.
If you don't mind a deliberately paced & thoughtful gaming experience then I would recommend Indigo Prophecy. There are several endings of various satisfaction that also gives this game an amount of replayability along with the multiple paths to those endings. It can still be played on Microsoft Windows or the Xbox 360 through its backwards compatibility. Playstation owners however, will either have to have the model backwards compatible with Playstation 2 or take their old console out of retirement to re-live its glory days. Just don't wait too long, you never know what will happen.
Retro Review - Deadly Creatures - Wii
The story is actually quite well written and of course well acted due to its cast, ending with a whole "who is the REAL deadly creature, the animals or man? dun dun dun!" moral but that's something for those of you who play Deadly Creatures to find out for yourselves. I can tell you about the gameplay however, this is another example of the castletroid sub-genre. You take the role of one of the two playable avatars (I can't really call them characters as you already read) and explore a sprawling world beneath thorny bushes, inside cacti, between floorboards & other places we usually never see. The spider even has the ability to crawl along walls & ceilings as well.
It creates a strange sense of perspective so just don't play Deadly Creatures when you're hung over. Trust me, I've already made that mistake but at least you'll never get lost. There's always a handy arrow to point you where you need to go which is available at the press of a button. While exploring you will expand your skill-set by finding upgrades and defeating other creatures that opens up new areas to explore.
Lastly, I have to mention the excellent sound direction this game has. The levels have a hazy, ambient soundtrack and while obviously neither insects nor arachnids really vocalize, the foley engineers did some very interesting work which fits in perfectly along with the other clicking, buzzing and scratching sounds heard throughout the levels. All together, this makes Deadly Creatures one really fun game on a system most people wrote off from the start. So if you're one of them then it's never too late to take a second look and now is the perfect time to start your collection with Deadly Creatures for only a few dollars wherever games are sold.
Retro Review - Gate of Thunder
Now even without this, the TubroGrafx-16 was capable of some amazing visuals due to its rich color palette and clever architecture, but with the expanded storage (and sometimes expanded RAM), it was able to produce games that Nintendo Entertainment System owners could never have dreamed possible on an 8-bit machine. Recorded audio, full motion video and more sprites with greater amounts of animation were all now available in people's own homes.
As the first to adopt this new technology however, the price-tag was high when put on top of the cost already invested for the base console. So the system was later redesigned to combine the CD expansion into the stock unit and it came with several pack-in games to showcase just what it could do. One of these games was Gate of Thunder.
The first thing you'll see when starting Gate of Thunder is an anime cutscene accompanied by the rocking soundtrack that sets the story. I'm sure this was all mindblowing back in the early 1990s but nobody cares about the story because this game is a shoot-em-up! Simply put, shoot-em-ups or " shmups" are games where you shoot everything. If that sounds too simple however, then there's a catch. You also have to avoid everything. In shmups if there is one golden rule it's "never get hit"
In many shmups, if you get hit, even once, then you die. Gate of Thunder is a little more forgiving in that it only takes your power ups away - and then you die. Even with all the upgrades, you need to have crack reflexes to dodge the storms of bullets and large enemy spacecraft that fill the screen. So without them, you're screwed. There is always a lot going on which you have to be aware of and it's difficult not to focus too much on one thing or another because this game is just so pretty.
As I mentioned, TurboGrafx games are very bright and colorful but there's also animated background with parallax scrolling, and the sci-fi setting really opens it up for creative levels from alien worlds, to asteroid fields, then space stations and more. "That's great" you say, "but who the hell owns a TurboGrafx-CD?" I don't know anyone else who has one either but that's okay. It's available through Nintendo's Virtual Console service and because it was a pack-in game then you can find the actual disc for relatively cheap to emulate on your home computer or even on the original hardware if you are crazy enough to track down everything you need.
If you think you're "teh hardcorez" playing first person shooters then you need to test your skills against a good shmup and this is a great one. Maybe it's not the most difficult one ever made but it still requires a lot of patience, memorization, some psychic powers would be helpful as well as hand-eye coordination and when finished you'll know you're hardcore. Even if you never make it to the end then playing this is still a blast but whether you do or don't or how or where, you should play this game, Gate of Thunder.
"Ghostbusters: The Video Game" Review
I really wanted to talk about something Thanksgiving related for AllGoodThings but there aren't any Thanksgiving songs that I know of, nor any movies about Thanksgiving either. Yet I do know a game that at least takes place on Thanksgiving. So get your cornucopia ready to have something to snack on while I talk about the greatest and only-est Thanksgiving game of all uh, Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game takes place during Thanksgiving 1991 where you assume your role as "the Rookie" who has been recruited by the original four to be their new experimental equipment tester. Not long after arriving at the firehouse however, an energy pulse spreads throughout Manhattan, causing a surge in paranormal activity that only someone armed with an unlicensed nuclear accelerator and a high voltage laser containment system can take care of. You've got the tools but have you got the talent?
If you think you do then from there you'll travel to different locations around early 90s New York City, zapping & trapping all manner of spooks, specters and demons while unraveling a century old plot intended to bring about the end of the world. It's extremely satisfying to wrangle a spirit in your proton stream then guide it into your trap. Doing so also earns money that can be used to buy upgrades for your various tech like the PKE Meter or Slime Blower. How this is done however depends on which version of the game you play
There is the version made by Terminal Reality for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 & Sony Playstation 3 which uses a realistic looking aesthetic, the version made by Red Fly Studio for the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 2 & Playstation Portable which uses a stylized looking aesthetic not unlike something from a Pixar movie, and the version developed by Zen Studios for the Nintendo DS which despite sharing the aesthetic of Redfly's version, is pretty different in terms of gameplay from the other two. The other two however only differ slightly with details like Terminal Reality's penalizing the destruction of property while Redfly's version rewards it.
All three do have one thing in common and that is the excellent story penned by none other than Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis. From both of them having written the original films Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II, it gives a real air of authenticity that a lot of movie licensed games don't have. The dialogue is sharp & funny as ever and the plot is deep & full of references to the other two. Of Course they also played the parts of Dr. Ray Stantz & Dr. Egon Spengler in the films respectively so have reprised those roles by providing their voices for all but the DS version.
Remarkably they also convinced Bill Murray to reprise his role as Dr. Peter Venkman, Ernie Hudson as the now Dr. Winston Zeddemore, Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz and even William Altherton as Walter Peck all do the same. So in a sense, this really is the Ghostbusters III that fans had been waiting for through the past 20 years. And I prefer it this way. I would rather see these characters as I remember them instead of seeing geriatric Ghostbusters in 2012 or Hollywood try to make hip new Ghostbusters starring Jack Black, Shia LeBeouf, Justin Long & Chris Brown. You know that's what they would do and it would it be horrible so this is the best possible outcome.
It's everything that a Ghostbusters fan could want. It has the original writers, actors, music (including hours of unused music that was composed by Elmer Bernstein for the 1984 film) and the feeling of finally living that childhood fantasy of being a Ghostbuster yourself. The Wii version even has an added benefit of using the Wii Remote to aim like you were really carrying a Proton Pack. It's an extra level of immersion that you should consider trying despite it having that stylized aesthetic I mentioned.
However you play Ghostbusters: The Video Game though, play it (except maybe the DS version). There is an incredible amount of love and detail put in by all the people who worked on it. It came out a few years ago in 2009 from Atari so now it can be found for only a few dollars and this year when you don't see any ghosts on Thanksgiving, you know who to thank. But if by any chance you do see one, who you gonna call?
NiGHTS into Dreams HD Review
I've lost you haven't I? Don't worry about it, the stories in older games aren't as important as the experience and like I said, NiGHTS into Dreams isn't like anything you've experienced elsewhere. It is a 3D game which, for the most part, locks you onto a 2D side scrolling path. That sounds ordinary enough but remember, I also said Nights can fly. After walking your character to a shrine, you take control of the titular character who moves fluidly through the air, spiraling and circling past enemies while you collect as many points as possible.
This is all brought together through a very colorful and cheerful presentation with the graphics and sound. Of course the visuals aren't as impressive as something brand new, even with the upgrades for its re-release but they're very refreshing compared to the brown and greys that make up the majority of today's gritty "realistic" releases. The music itself is extremely upbeat and catchy, stuff you might find yourself humming later if you aren't careful.
If Prozac were a game, this would be it. I should add however, that this game has some really strange and appropriately nightmarish end bosses to its stages. It's nothing that would really scare any of your younger family members but it can be a startling juxtaposition and sudden stress inducer to figure out. This isn't a complaint, mind you, just something to watch for. In any case, I want you to watch for NiGHTS into Dreams whether it be on the original SEGA Saturn, the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade or soon where it will also be available on on Microsoft Windows compatible platforms.
Costume Quest Review
Is a hurricane keeping you from going trick-or-treating this year? I have the perfect substitute for you. Costume Quest is a delightful little downloadable title that was developed by Double Fine Productions of Tim Schafer fame and released in 2010 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade & Playstation Network by THQ. In the almost two decades since I last stepped out to collect candy on a fall evening, nothing has again made me feel the way that this game does.
Candy, you see, takes the place of gold or other forms of currency found in most games. You'll use the candy to barter with other kids for information or perhaps new costumes which are the keys behind gameplay. Your characters' abilities will depend on what costumes you equip them with and the battles are portrayed through the characters' child-like imaginations.
So if your character is dressed in cardboard and tin foil, during battle they will be a giant robot with missiles and lasers. And if your character is dressed as the Statue of Liberty then during battle they will make you god damned love America. It works on me every time.
Resident Evil Remake Review
It was the game that really kicked off the survival horror genre and is still remembered as a classic. That's why in 2002 it was remade for the Nintendo GameCube then ported over the Nintendo Wii in 2009. This remake is the real classic in my mind however and one my favorite horror games to this day.
How the Remake Differs from the Original
Most obviously, the graphics have been updated along with new areas & enemies for this version and they still hold up remarkably well for a ten year old game. The backgrounds are beautifully pre-rendered animations and that frees up a lot of processing power to allow character models & other effects to be incredibly detailed. “The mansion's confined hallways and dusty rooms offer a claustrophobic and helpless atmosphere that's been missing from previous episodes. And like the best horror films, RE Zero's environments are portrayed from camera viewpoints that leave you filled with dread at the prospect of what awaits you around the next corner.” (Wales on Sunday, Cardiff Wales, Sept. 22, 2002.)
The music and dialogue have thankfully also been updated. The original was pretty notorious for having terrible voice acting, "Jill, here's a lock pick. It might come in handy if you, the master of unlocking take it with you." Some may argue this was part of the campy, B movie charm that Resident Evil was going for, but I personally find these changes in the audio to be a lot less grating.
And before you ask, yes it still uses what are known as "tank controls.” Tank controls mean rather than pressing left to go left or right to go right, you pivot on the spot in the direction you press then use up or down to move forwards and backwards. It's definitely something to get used to but many people think it's just too hard. “Resident Evil Zero forces players to turn the character left and right with the analog stick and then push forward to move forward. This means no strafing or free movement of any kind. Some gamers will swear by this control scheme.” (IGG, Clementes, Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Zero Review.)
RE’s Contribution to the Zombie Revival
Around the turn of the century, there was a zombie renaissance in the US. It started with films like “28 Days Later” and Zack Snyder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” but Shinji Mikami's phenomenally popular Resident Evil video game - the most prominent of more than 70 zombie game titles - definitely played its part in the zombie revival. The game alone has spawned at least four movies starring B-queen Milla Jovovich, all of which could be considered “zombie flicks.”
For me, however, it's not only the zombies that create tension; it's the consequences of potentially crossing one. It's something few current gen horror games have given me. They just make it too easy to avoid or defeat enemies, and even if I die, so what? I saved only a few minutes ago.
Not in Resident Evil. Ammunition is scarce so you have to choose between wasting what little you have, finding another route if you can or whether it's worth risking damage by trying to run past an enemy despite the controls. That's all part of the game and if you die, you could be set back hours because even when you cross a save point, you have a limited number of items that let you use it. It gives this game the scariest thing of all - pacing.
It's the moments between encounters that are scariest of all. I play by creeping around, letting the fear grow and grow about what could be around the next corner and whether or not I'll be able to even survive long enough to get that next item I need to heal or save or progress. It's stressful but it makes the pay off all the sweeter and in a sick way, it's kind of fun.
It's fun to be scared. It's fun even when I get killed or have to play a part over and believe me those things will happen. It's encouraged to go through multiple times however because there's even two different playable characters, each with their own scenarios. This “replayability” and level of immersion definitely makes the Resident Evil Remake a game worth owning for those darkened evenings alone.
Doom 3: BFG Edition Review
This is the latest and greatest version available on the market to approximate a typical day on Mars. You arrive, get your gear, you talk to the locals, a portal to hell opens releasing demons and flying skulls while turning your friends into gun wielding zombies, those sorts of things.
Now technically this is a remake of Id Software's 2004 game simply called Doom 3. Rather than being a simple port with maybe a resolution bump like many other games gave gotten however, Doom 3: BFG Edition has updated textures, improved lighting, 3D compatibility, the duct tape mod allowing you to use both the flashlight and your gun simultaneously is now standard, the expansion, new exclusive levels and the original Doom & Doom II with online capabilities are all included for an MSRP of just $39.99 USD.
That's quite the bargain, one to make even those who had already played this consider buying it again. If you haven't played this game though, should you pick it up? Definitely, why are you still reading this? No wait! I mean, keep reading more and click a couple of ads while you're at it. That's better. Doom is the definitive series of the FPS genre but you should be aware that even this one is not perfect.
The lighting and textures while stylish and showing a great amount of attention to detail, still look a bit dated despite the retouches made for this version. Also for whatever reason, you cannot exit from one of these three games in order to start playing another without shutting down the game entirely. These are minor complaints however and shouldn't stop anyone from playing a truly terrifying game this Halloween. It's like Bioshock & Dead Space rolled into one and brought to us by the good people at Bethesda for the Xbox 360, PS3 & PC. It's Doom 3: BFG Edition.
Retro City Rampage Review
I've heard that there's been complaints about how we here at allgoodthings.tv only talk about old games. I want to respond right now by saying that is completely untrue! Some of them just look like old games. Retro City Rampage is going to be one of those but does that mean you shouldn't play this game in the age of high definition, near photo-realistic graphics? Absolutely not. Retro City Rampage is the most fun I have had with a game this year because it is so much more than a technological cop out.
So where do I begin? As you've already read, Retro City Rampage looks like an old game, like something that could be on the Nintendo Entertainment System to be specific. It recreates the look of NES games that were known for being platformers, brawlers, sooters, platformers, puzzles and platformers but this isn't any of those - it's a sandbox.
Everything about this game is loaded with references to everything people loved about the NES era, the 1980s by extension and lots of other pop culture that came after as well. I don't want to give too many spoilers for those of you who want to play it for yourselves because you'll see or experience something that will appeal your nostalgia around every corner. For those of you who just have to know however, within just the first mission alone you will see references to Mega Man, Duck Hunt, Mortal Kombat, The Dark Knight, Frogger, Super Mario Brothers & Ninja Turtles and it doesn't stop there.
Aside from the main story though, there are also lots of side mission, mini games, collectables, customization options, unlockable characters, free-play modes and more with which to keep you entertained well past what the cost of what $14.99 is worth. Retro City Rampage is available for download now on PC, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and is coming soon for the Xbox 360 & Nintendo Wii. Try the demo, you have to see this for yourselves.
AGT Mini Review - The Orange Box
Since the introduction of the Half-Life series in November of 1998, Valve took skeletal animation and enemy A.I. to a completely new level and drew gamers into the engrossing underground Black Mesa facility. Players took control of Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist and MIT graduate, armed with a Hev suit and an array of incredibly cool weapons. What’s probably most endearing are the companion characters Gordon is always happy to either battle along side or convene with after a series of intense firefights. From the mysterious Vortigants to the enchanting and tough Alyx Vance, Valve has gone above and beyond to create one of the most memorable experiences in video game history.
Then there’s Portal. I had no idea what to expect when I started playing Portal because I’d been deep in production and hadn’t done my research to even know what it was. Hadn’t even seen a preview video. I was immediately addicted to the first person puzzle gameplay based on the use of the portal gun. By the way, Portal 2 (not part of The Orange Box) takes it to an entirely new level if you like this type of gameplay. One warning though – it’s not a shooter. It’s about using your brain - in the same way some of the original Tomb Raider games were about entering a room and figuring out what was needed to escape and avoid certain death. And if nothing else, Jonathan Coulton catchy song, Still Alive, will be nearly impossible to get out of your head. By the way, he’s not a one hit wonder. Coulton’s got lots of other great songs written in his signature sardonic tenor that are not related to Portal but equally is witty.
And last but not least – Team Fortress 2. For those of you who can’t get enough multiplayer action, this cartoon-styled shooter dishes out a healthy dose of capture the flag and base defense modes to appease even the most jaded gamers. As sequel to the original Quake mod, they just amp it up another level.
Unlike movies, games have the daunting task of trying to predict various potential interactions of their audience, which often leads to scripts splinter out into 500 plus pages. With Half-Life 2 especially, Valve manages to guide the player through a world that feels open while simultaneously building a narrative that’s more engaging than most feature films. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, horror, dimensional riffs and rebel skirmishes against fantastic alien and cybernetic organisms, the Half-Life series is for you. And Portal and Team Fortress stand well on their own as more than the icing on the cake.
La Mulana Review
After years in development hell where it waited for approval from the same crack team of quality assurance professionals who green lit Imagine Party Babyz and Major League Eating, I'm glad to say that it is finally here and it is an excellent throwback to the 8 and 16 bit eras.
La Mulana is a 2D action platformer released by Nigoro for Nintendo's WiiWare in September of 2012 as part of a sub-genre known as castletroids or metrodivanias. They're called this because like Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the gameplay involves exploring a sprawling world to collect upgrades and new abilities which opens up even further areas as well as secrets in areas you've already visited.
Did I mention that this game is challenging? Because it is. For example, you know how in most games when you solve a puzzle, it plays a jingle to let you know? Not in La Mulana, you have to find an item just to have that convenience. That may be too much for some people but thankfully, the difficulty has been toned down from its original version.
Yes this is a remake of a 2005 Windows game by designer Takumi Naramura as an homage to a Japanese gaming computer known as the MSX. This version, being an official release, unfortunately scrubs a lot of the references to that system but in exchange it has beautifully updated hand-drawn artwork and synthesized music. If you want to play the original, then it can be downloaded for free but I would really recommend paying the ten dollars to try this version on your Wii or PC after all the work and trouble gone through to make it possible.
Tiny Wings – IOS Game
I was working on a Kinect title when I first heard about this game from a friend of mine on the God of War III team. They raved about playing this everyday so I had to check it out if for nothing else but a break from bug triage sessions in prep for our pre cert submissions to Microsoft. (Game devs – you know what I mean.) Anyway, there’s an immediate analogue-ness to its colorful presentation that’s a breath of fresh air compared to all of the flat shaded, 2D games that have the appearance of being created entirely with Photoshop. For all I know, maybe Tiny Wings was created in Photoshop as well but the art has a great hand-drawn, organic feel to it. You play as a cute little bird whose wings are too small to allow you to take full flight so instead you have to glide down hillsides building up enough momentum to launch yourself up into the air until gravity brings you back down again. An intuitive tutorial shows you that all you have to do is tap the screen at the precise moment in order to land at the right angle to give you the greatest lift on the upswing. As you get into the groove you can really pick up speed racing against the setting sun to gain distance before the moon rises and you return to the world of slumber. Then you start the whole process again just to see how many islands you can get past before sundown.
This game is the brainchild of German born Andres Illiger, who coded, designed and created the art for the game in the truest spirit of indie game development. He’s admittedly an introvert but professes that in the midst of such negative and destructive games, he wanted to create something that makes gamers feel truly happy. I must say that I’ve spent more time playing Tiny Wings than any other game on my iPhone despite it’s simplicity and he definitely achieved that goal. It’s the perfect way to kill time before hopping on a plane, riding on a bus or train or waiting for an appointment. And I’ve always got a reason to come back because the achievements award you bird nests of varying designs that each act as score multipliers. Finally, there’s the music that blends seamlessly from the main character’s idle state at rest and then dynamically changes as soon as the player touches the screen to start the level. This music is super catchy and Illiger offers it for free download on his website which is pretty cool. The All Good Things Bottom Line: Tiny Wings is an incredible value that more than achieves its goal of bringing you a combination of fun, tranquility and challenge..
Heart of Darkness PSX
Heart of Darkness is about an African river boat captain named Charles Marlow at the turn of the twentieth century who, wait that's not right. Different Heart of Darkness, sorry let me start again. Ahem, Heart of Darkness is a 1998 video game released by Infogrames for the original Sony Playstation/Windows based PCs and created by French designer Eric Chahi of Out of this World as well as 2011's indie darling god simulator, From Dust.
I know what you're thinking, dog questing, pretty epic stuff huh? BUT it's also filled with fantastic creatures and the struggle for control of an alien planet. This all unfolds by guiding Andy through, what we in the biz like to call, a "cinematic platformer". In a style similar to the original Prince of Persia, Heart of Darkness plays from a 2D perspective and involves careful thought, precise control and a lot of trial & error to pass enemies or solve environmental puzzles.
Even with those however, you'll see poor Andy meet his end again and again and once you've bought a new controller to replace the one you smashed, a couple dozen times after that. They can be pretty gruesome too so is it wrong that I get as much of a cheap thrill from watching those as I do from actually progressing into a new area? Yes, absolutely, I need help but the the visuals and sounds are so stunning that I just can't help myself.
It worked on me but because of this, along with its niche style, Heart of Darkness isn't going to be for everyone and even for those of you for whom it is, there is no digital release for it as of yet. However, if you can track down a copy of the Playstation version, it can be played through the backwards compatibility of PS3s. So if you find one, pick it up. You won't regret it most of the time.
Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in the Pursuit of the Protruding Pectorals
Did I say one of? I meant six of, yes there are six of these games. No, no, please don't tell me about Magna Cum Laude or Box Office Bust, they don't exist. In fact, I just made up those words and am now putting my fingers in my ears. With a pencil in my teeth, I'm writing about the games created by Sierra On-Line legend, Al Lowe,
Al Lowe, whom you of course recognize as the musical composer for the Space Quest series also created & wrote Leisure Suit Larry 1-7. Four really doesn't exist for reasons it's better not to get into but they all follow (except when they don't) the lovable loser Larry Laffer. I could talk about each of these and I hope to eventually but for now I'm going to start with my favorite, Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in the Pursuit of the Protruding Pectorals. Try saying that five times fast.
Okay, there's more than that. As you read, it's really funny. Crude but funny and that's the first thing to look out for. If you're easily offended then maybe you should stick to Maniac Mansion. No wait, that's also offensive. Anyway, it can be crude but also satirical which is important because the writing is really what carries these games. The other thing you should look out for is how dated these can be. I said "point and click" but this one specifically predates that innovation so it is a lot of writing along with the reading.
And then there's the graphics. I hope you like fluorescent colors because it has some of the brightest 1989 had to offer and knowing the 80s, that's saying something. Personally, I think they have a nostalgic charm but that's just opinion. The last issue you might have is how do I play it? It can be bought alone or as part of a collection, downloaded digitally or are being released in updated formats through Replay Games starting October 2012.
Overall, I would highly recommend this game and this series to anyone who likes good humor, likes good puzzles or likes seeing the underdog get what he or she deserves in the end. I wouldn't know anything about that last part though, I'm already late for a drink.