Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Update 07/14/2016 at 12:45 pm: A reader (TeenNick) has mentioned that Nintendo Life has reported the device will not support additional games, either in cart form or other alternative forms. This better explains the list being so strong and varied. Not sure if this is still going to be of value to me, but for most fans of the NES as a child this is a quick and dirty solution for your favorite classics.
First of all, Nintendo, 5 am? Really? Clearly Reggie and the gang are up much earlier than I am – and for the record I work in healthcare so I have a bit earlier of a schedule than the typical games media writer. Either way, the great news came down with this announcement from Nintendo of America (NOA) that this November we will be getting the NES mini. I have an NES and I have a lot of games for it, not to mention the 100+ titles I also have on the Virtual Console, and lets not forget that a dozen or so clone consoles are just a used game store away, so why care? Well, on the surface of this announcement, you don’t. It’s not until you get the details, which I do have below, that suddenly this is an intriguing endeavor.
Thanks to Gamespot’s Eddie Makuch, who appeared to be equally inquisitive with Nintendo as opposed to most other sites who merely said “mini NES with games, isn’t that cool?” we have some important details. It will cost $60 in the US, releases November 11, and includes 30 games (the list is below). From what it sounds like the cart slot will support any NES game you put in there, but I have yet to see that actually stated, however you would hope. That will also be significant in the next paragraph. Nintendo confirmed that the console has HDMI out and uses a USB power adapter for AC, which is free and included in the US but not in Europe (and probably not in Japan as we traditionally see). The controller is a classic NES style and one is included in the box, but more can be purchased for $10 apiece. These use the classic controller port like we see on the Wiimote. Also Nintendo confirmed that “suspend points” will be available. This means a lot of things, so lets break down what this information seems to indicate and why you may want to purchase this, even if you own an NES.
The Technomancer reminds me of one of those relationships before I got married. It’s dynamic and I enjoyed it, but ultimately I got to this point where I knew our time would have to end. Much like those relationships, it probably lasted a bit longer than it should have, but that doesn’t mean that it was a waste of time. Far from it. Regardless of your opinion of nitpicks like whether or not the faces compete with modern powerhouse franchises or exactly what genre it should be labeled as, The Technomancer is offering a throwback to the complete package of RPG we saw often last generation. That wouldn’t have made it stand out were it not for the fact that a title like this is somewhat rare these days. Sure, everything is going open world, but releases of RPGs that heavily integrate decision and story are somewhat scarce and especially if you’re looking for sci-fi or cyberpunk. So despite its flaws and not necessarily being able to keep up with its more established peers, The Technomancer is a worthwhile experience.
I’m guessing not many played developer Spiders’ first title Mars: War Logs, which you may be surprised to know is now available on PC and even Xbox One thanks to 360 backward compatibility (also on PS3). It really is the early version of what would eventually become this title and established the lore of human colonization on Mars and the core of what the technomancers are. That title was short, the combat was harshly integrated (especially for gamepads), and while I liked what it was doing I couldn’t get too invested. Having played Mars: War Logs did allow me to appreciate how far Spiders has come in its sophomore effort on the concept, but it’s in no way necessary as a buffer for this title. Newcomers and veterans alike will be introduced to Zachariah, a graduating technomancer that is coming to terms with his newfound powers and prepared to utilize them in an effort to keep the peace and eventually find a way back to Earth. He’s not unique, many technomancers work for Abundance, a mega-corp that provides security on Mars and all technomancers are to guard the order’s secrets in an attempt to discover a way back home to Earth. Beyond that you are free to hit the ground running in an open-world chock full of icons that represent main and side quests. Along the way you will inevitably face combat, both in and out of hub locations, where your action fighting skills will be tested from start to finish. I’ll return to the combat in a minute, but it’s important to note that the separation between non-combat zones and combat zones is blurred here, which I don’t often see in the modern world of RPGs that includes MMOs. It may not be much of a change, but it struck me as somewhat unique.
Trying something new here. Dishonored is a game I (Fred) have not been able to play properly and the first video in this series shows why. As a result, I’m trying to be more laid back and complete the title without worrying about perfect stealth and perfect pacifism. Instead of a “Let’s Play” I’ve decided to do a new type of series called a “Play Diary” and here’s what these will be. This video series currently only has one video, but will update as it grows. No new posting will be created for each video. If you want updates, I recommend subscribing to Fred’s channel.
Let’s Play videos are tough because the person playing them has to constantly be speaking to an audience, it stifles gameplay, and it’s a bunch of work to get live. A longplay is easy because you just capture and upload, but only a handful of people watch it. We’ve noticed that the commentary gets more views, but that people watch them for short periods, whereas a longplay is only seen by a smaller group but they watch often to entirety. The Play Diary starts with a full length “quick look” of an hour or two with commentary followed by update videos that are about 5-15 minutes that cover several hours of gameplay and commentary. In addition, the entire longplay is uploaded as a playlist for those that want to see the full playthrough. Hopefully this is a more user friendly way for everyone to see what they want. This will not completely replace my “Let’s Play” videos because certain rare games will want to be viewed from start to finish. The video below is the playlist for the diary and the longplay playlist can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlLaoX7aLm9_32Aqpog3OgW2ZenWg_mV8
Some titles just never seem to fair well in the West. Klonoa is a cute cuddly anthropomorphic animal, he kinda looks like he’s a cross between a dog, a cat and maybe a rabbit. In Japan this cute fella was incredibly popular and his Playstation game rocketed to the top of the charts for sales. Then Klonoa made his happy debut in the West and things just didn’t seem to fair well for the poor guy. The problem you see is we are horrible people over here in the West. Gamers here are hungry for blood like vicious hyenas, and that’s why games like Tomb Raider did well. If we have a platformer it better have attitude like Crash Bandicoot or be in 3D like Spyro the Dragon. Klonona failed to perform well and in turn the game become very rare and sought after to Playstation collectors in the West. I was lucky enough to rent this game back in 1998. Fortunately with the power of PSN, I was able to download the game to my PSP and see what this cuddly adventure has to offer and what we folk in the West failed to see.
The high quality version can be downloaded at: https://archive.org/details/chroncd_ep2
ChronCD is the comprehensive coverage of all CD-based console games in chronological order. Episode 2, while shorter, covers more games that make up the holiday season of 1989. More historical context is provided and a plan for regular future episodes is outlined.
00:00-00:42: Opening Credits
00:43-01:59: Episode 2 Intro
02:00-07:15: RomRom Karaoke (Vols. 1-5)
07:16-09:31: Gambler Jikochushinha
09:32-14:10: HyperDyne Side Arms Special
14:11-23:52: Ys Book I & II
23:53-26:08: RomRom Stadium
26:09-30:15: Last Alert
30:16-31:52: Closing Remarks and Future Episodes
It all began in 1989 with developer Reflections Interactive showing a tech demo to British publisher Psygnosis. With Psygnosis impressed by what they saw Shadow of the Beast was originally released on the Commodore Amiga and was graphically mind blowing for the time. With several colours on screen at once as well as up to twelve levels of parallax scrolling backdrops, the game looked like it was from an arcade machine. Martin Edmonson, one of the founders of the company, was fond of very difficult video games. He wanted to be challenged and have to play a game multiple times to be able to master it. The score for the game was composed by David Whittaker, which was very atmospheric and left a lasting impression on fans. The cover art for the game was from the talented hands of Roger Dean who was well know for working on album covers for Yes, Asia, Budgie, as well as several others. Roger Dean merged a stone age look with technology to create a very unique look to the cover of Shadow of the Beast. He would also later go on to redesign the logo for Tetris.
Shadow of the Beast is a reboot of a 1989 Amiga title that I’m not quite sure ever released outside of Europe until the Genesis port hit North America in 1991. Even then, the port wasn’t given the proper shift from the base 50hz of Europe to the 60hz of North America, so this already difficult game ran 20 percent faster and was nearly impossible. I bring all of these factors up because it’s a weird title to reboot and an even weirder title to have the backing of a worldwide release from Sony, but that’s exactly what happened. I think I can see why. Shadow of the Beast is a timing-intense action title that manages to balance the nostalgia for the original while also retaining the changes in game design over the last 27 years to make a standalone experience everyone can appreciate. This is what it means to reboot a franchise and make it better than the original.
At its surface the game does retain its origins – and my American may be showing a little, but these are origins I was completely unaware of and I was still able to appreciate. You play as Aarbron, a warrior with an unknown past (you can unlock) that seems linked to the worlds you are exploring, however you have been changed. Now you are unable to understand the language of the beings that speak to you (also an unlock) and the only common tongue seems to be violence. You are a tall, fit warrior with twin spikes protruding from your hands that appear to be made of bone. Despite having modern 3D rendered graphics, Shadow of the Beast is a 2D side scroller that will frequently put your navigation and combat skills to the test in a balance of the left and right sides of the screen. I was impressed with how basic the combat system was until your realize that this game, like its protagonist, isn’t bogged down with complexity but rather tactics. You will have to think in the moment to react with the wave of enemies approaching you or you will suffer being volleyed back and forth from a series of foes. It’s daunting at first and by the end of the first level I thought I didn’t stand a chance against the reboot of a title already known for having a punishing difficulty and unfair traps. That’s not the case here, but you will need to practice and learn the full spectrum of your move set through advancement of the campaign and unlockables you purchase between levels. I wasn’t pleased with this decision at first – one my biggest gripes with the MetroidVania formula is that it gates you for not having what you don’t know exists – but these levels are brief and exciting enough that I managed to excuse this decision. By the end of the second level you won’t have the full body of options, but you’ll be robust enough to tackle a majority of the game’s challenges.