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Unreleased Game: Saint’s Row Undercover

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Last week developer Volition, best known for the Saint’s Row franchise, discussed its canceled game on PSP Saint’s Row Undercover.  It started out as a PSP port of the second game in the series, but expanded into something more.  In addition, the company sat down with magazine Game Informer and turned a standard interview into a 4-part nearly hour long documentary on the company.  In addition, Volition released a 122 page PDF that is basically a design doc and walkthrough of the title.  With all of this amazing transparency, and the release of the prototype itself online, we just had to take a look.

I would love to give you a crazy video that details all of the wacky things you can do, but honestly the game lacks any true definition.  Now to be fair, it shouldn’t have any definition, it was a game the developer was prototyping for potential release and then was canned.  I take this moment and brief write-up to mention it only because people have asked me in the past why I haven’t covered Resident Evil 1.5 (ie: Resident Evil 2′s original version) and other unreleased demos/alphas/prototypes that have been set free on the Internet and it’s basically because not much is there.  The story, design docs, interviews, and concepts of what Resident Evil 4 or Saint’s Row Undercover could have been are fantastic and interesting, but what remains that can be played are shells of a game.  Anyway the links are there, have fun with it, personally I find it to be derivative of the Grand Theft Auto “Stories” games that came out on PSP, but then early on that’s all Saint’s Row was until it defined itself.  It also gives me an opportunity to cover Volition and Saint’s Row all week, so stay tuned for some wacky articles.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Tomb Raider Anniversary Review

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The original Tomb Raider was more than just a 32 bit title that launched a strong Playstation franchise, it was a cultural phenomenon.  For those that have ever played it, especially if you’ve recently gone back, it’s rather difficult to appreciate that game without the amazing strength of nostalgia.  Fortunately when Crystal Dynamics took over for the franchise with Legend the company’s second project was to remake the original.  As the following reviews will attest, it was a good faith effort to not only switch up the mechanics and polish the weaker points of the first game, but ultimately the need to keep many of the levels and designs intact tarnish the experience.  Crystal Dynamics played it safe with how little it tweaked of the original formula and what resulted was a game that feels so updated and tight at some points and so sluggish and archaic at others.

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Written by jamalais

December 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Tomb Raider Review

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The original Tomb Raider exploded in popularity on its release in 1996. People were blown away by the 3D graphics and the title helped promote the Sony Playstation despite being released in mind for the Sega Saturn. The game was praised to high heaven by gaming critics and it launched Lara Croft into icon status by being the first digital character to feature on the cover of Face magazine in the UK. Lara would then quickly go on to be more of a sell out than Krusty the Clown. Her image was used to sell various products like the Lucozade energy drink and Land Rover vehicles. After all why not, she was huge in the UK. This game was the talk of many playground conversations when I was younger not just because of the mythical “Nude Raider” code but gamers would discuss how to get through difficult sections of the game. Guides were not common place back then and the small ones printed in magazines lacked the impressive detail we see in fan made guides online today. It was considered a badge of honour if you were able to finish this game without using cheat codes. Its almost twenty years now since this game came out so I made this months Game Club my personal mission to finish this game without a guide. After lots of blood sweat and gamer tears here are my thoughts.

Time has not been kind to Tomb Raider along with the rest of the back catalogue of early 3D 32 bit games. Before I get started on the game itself I really wanted to hit home that I am very nostalgic for games of this era. Resident Evil on Playstation one still remains one of my favourite games of all time, my enjoyment of titles from this generation seems to have actually grown as I got older. This is the beauty of nostalgia, unfortunately for the someone who doesn’t share this connection you’ll probably go into a lot of these old 3D games and have issues with the controls and be generally turned off by the graphics. I acknowledge all these negative points yet I still enjoy these games. I feel these points are worth bringing up before you hear what I have to say about Tomb Raider now.

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Written by jamalais

December 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

Ongoing Series: Tomb Raider Anniversary

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bii52_7zTE&list=PLlLaoX7aLm9_SQKgn6U4d0WzCuoZi7OQO&index=1]

For the November game club we are playing through Tomb Raider, both the original and anniversary. Fred is tackling Anniversary. By popular request two versions of each video is being uploaded: one with and one without commentary. This has commentary, so if you wish to see the one without simply go here.

Written by Fred Rojas

November 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

Metal Gear Solid Review

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There were so many excellent games that came out on the original Playstation that certain paramount titles could pass you by.  The reasoning is actually two-fold because you may not have missed them – I was acutely aware of the presence of Metal Gear Solid when it released and even played a little of it – but it was back in a time where if a game didn’t click with you, typically you would shrug it off and move on to the myriad of other titles out there.  That was my experience when I first played Metal Gear Solid.  I remember having a heck of a time sneaking to the elevator in the beginning, even harder time getting into the vents outside Shadow Moses, and by the time I find the D.A.R.P.A. Chief only to discover most people got there in 20 minutes I was so frustrated I just quit.  It would appear I not only passed on one of the best games on one of the best consoles of all time, but that I was abandoning a series that stands quite high in my top game franchises of all time.  That’s the thing, though, when you look back on Metal Gear Solid.  It broke so much ground and basically invented the stealth mechanic (after two earlier attempts I might add) that it’s easy to appreciate it but there are a heck of a lot of caveats if you’re going to revisit it today or play it for the first time.  It has much more historical value than replay value, although I did have a smile on my face most of the time.

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Written by Fred Rojas

August 18, 2015 at 11:00 am

Parasite Eve Review

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Parasite Eve was born from the JRPG rush that flooded onto the original Playstation in the West after the success of Final Fantasy VII.  During this time we see many new franchises that never left Japan coming over to the West as well as several franchises from the days of the 16-bit era coming over as enhanced ports on the PS1.  Square Enix, one of the top developers and publishers of JRPGs, decided to create a Western-focused action RPG that was developed by Americans working closely with some of Japan’s top talent.  The result is the survival horror and RPG hybrid Parasite Eve, that doesn’t quite capture the hearts of either fan, but is an undeniably unique title.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 1, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Extra Credit: PSP Community Top 10

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Not the most popular console among the GH101 community, but thanks to a handful of people we have a short, but delightful list of games beloved on Sony’s first portable.  Be sure to give it a listen and find out what’s coming up for our July Top 10.  We didn’t write out the top 10 because the podcast is so short (10 minutes) and it would spoil the fun.  Go listen!


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in podcast, PSP, Top 10

Tagged with ,

Top 10 Playstation Portable (PSP) Games Debate and Reveal

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For this month, Jam and Fred are discussing the top 10 games for the Playstation Portable (PSP). Despite being an emulation and piracy machine from the moment it released, the PSP is not only an impressive piece of hardware but it also provided a library of great software. Clearly some games stand out on both our lists but what was most impressive were the rock solid titles that one of us never even knew existed.  If you look at the full article you can see our top 10 without listening to the podcast.


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in podcast, PSP, Top 10

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Suikoden Review

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Suikoden has always been regarded as one of those many staple JRPGs that graced the North American Playstation with its presence after Final Fantasy VII paved the way for the genre to become mainstream in the United States.  In contrast to Square’s innovative title, Suikoden is a transplant from the late SNES days and  to a certain extent its 16-bit roots show (and not just graphically).  Couple that with developer Konami being relatively new to RPGs itself and you see why the overall game feels like a dated throwback to the days before even Final Fantasy IV or VI (II or III in the US), but despite these shortcomings there is the foundation of a much stronger title.  Oh yeah, and did I mention that the game has up to 108 playable characters?

suikoden_plotSuikoden is based off of the Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan (which basically translates to the same name) that tells a tale of politics, religion, revolution, and social unrest, which is somewhat common of Eastern storytelling in classic literature.  You play as a hero – named whatever you choose – that enters into the posh world of being the son of the empire’s top military officer.  It’s early in your life and no one respects you yet.  When your father travels off to the north to protect the borders, an adventure unfolds that has you not only questioning everything you know, but lands you as the rebel leader for the army opposing the empire.  There is, of course, a lot more to it than that, but for the sake of the review and your enjoyment with the game, we’ll leave it there.  From the very start you can tell that Suikoden is going to throw more characters at you than you may be used to.  Some of the earliest missions you partake on have you hot-swapping up to six characters, many of which will join your party along the way and you’ll be using in battle within moments. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

May 29, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Playstation, PS3, PSP, Reviews, Vita

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Now & Then: Mortal Kombat 3

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Mk3

Switching It Up

mk3_1A lot happened both in the talent pool of Mortal Kombat players and in the game design overall between the release of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3).  For starters there was a mass exodus of on screen talent due to royalty disputes, so almost no one from the original two games returned for the third release.  In addition, Boon and his team were trying to turn Mortal Kombat into a viable fighting game with things no one had ever seen before and mechanics that could compete with the massive rush of fighters in arcades.  The game was completely Americanized, with all hints of Eastern influence including symbols, locales, and the soundtrack completely absent without a trace and instead replaced by urban stages, 90s hip-hop soundtracks, and cyborgs replaced the signature ninjas.  These locations were now composed of pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and the character sprites were almost totally digitized as opposed to the digitized/hand drawn hybrid of the previous games.  Along with it came an overhaul of the controls, including combos and a “run” button to address rightful claims that defensive players ruled the previous title.  It’s all one giant 90s metaphor but that doesn’t change the fact that MK3 (and it’s update Ultimate MK3 or UMK3) stands as the moment I felt the series went into the mainstream fighter territory.  Couple this with the fact that it was on just about every console that existed at the time, still dominated arcades, and had more content than rival Street Fighter II could ever dream to do with its iterations and I see why it’s creator Ed Boon’s favorite.  Mortal Kombat 3 definitely upped the ante.

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