Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Two notable racers on the Nintendo 64 are always compared: Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing. While more than 6 months separated the games in the US (and even more in Japan), they basically came out together in Europe and have always been compared. Jam and Fred discuss the development and gameplay of each before jumping into the dangerous waters of comparing the two.
Click here to read Drew’s original post comparing the two.
If Nintendo and Rare had an agenda through subliminal messaging then I present to you the game that is the king of repetition: Donkey Kong 64.
As always I like to delve into my personal history with this game. I got the N64 for my birthday as a surprise present from my two older brothers and I was a happy camper. It came with Banjo Kazooie and I was quite smitten with this game. The 3D levels and exploration where just fascinating and I had a fondness for the weird repetitive noises the characters made when their dialogue boxes appeared. Banjo Kazooie turned out to be a very evil game maybe even worse than smoking because it was probably my first venture into a collecting style game. Where in order to progress in the game you have to collect multiple items to get further and further until you finish the game and then you are left to go cold turkey, cold and shivering in the corner. Where do I go from here with my life? Why am I here? Sorry, I got distracted. So these collecting games were huge especially on N64. Mario 64 did this (even though I didn’t play this till a lot later). Over on the Playstation the Spyro series did this (very well in my opinion go listen to that podcast and read the review, please). Rare worked on Banjo Kazooie and I think they must have thought, “how can we take collecting to the next level?” and “what can we do with that Donkey Kong fellow?” Well along came Donkey Kong 64 which is a game that took the collecting concept and turned it up to the max and beyond. I brought this game (with the required expansion pack) and was expecting a nice casual collecting experience. Instead I ended up getting a monkey rap song in my head, which still leaves an imprint on my consciousness to this day and venturing on a collecting journey which took me well over a year to finish in its entirety. I left the cave that was my room with my first fully grown beard ready to return to reality and life again having never looked back since, until this game club. Now jokes aside I actually really liked this game a lot back in the day and it wasn’t the only one I played throughout the year. This was actually a common pattern for me oddly with N64 titles. Even Orcarina of Time took me over a year of on and off playing, I was just that type of gamer then. Donkey Kong 64 felt like a title I really got my moneys worth, not only because it was long but because I got the expansion pack which enhanced some of my other games like Turok 2 (any excuse to mention this game). Sadly I lost my N64 collection to one of my brothers who probably went on to sell the collection so I lost my original copy and my 101% save file. So to prepare for this Game Club I decided to go for the WiiU virtual console version and bravely start from scratch and try to finish this game in a month instead of a year. But that’s enough excessive babbling about my history its time to review this game today.
Despite being a retro enthusiast, I’m also a massive tech fan as my side project has suggested. As such I recently picked up a Playstation 4 Pro and ran it thoroughly through its paces. I tested most things I could think of: different games, different hard drives, different TVs (yes, 1080p and 4K HDR), and I kept my launch PS4 to compare with everything. With that in mind, I think we should open with getting the simple decision out of the way for those that apply, because a majority of this post is about changes and upgrades for existing owners – which Sony is hesitant to admit is the true target for the Pro. If you do not own a Playstation 4 and want to purchase one this holiday season, the decision is really up to you. A slim is a rock solid purchase for anyone who doesn’t own a 4K TV (and possibly even for those that do) and it’s completely serviceable. I was pleased with my vanilla PS4. If you want to upgrade to Pro you simply need to consider how much that $100 is of value to you for potential future proofing (although Sony has vehemently sworn to not allow Pro exclusive games), the prospect of better performance with VR, support for 4K and HDR, and games can run/look better if support is added. Games press likes to pretend this is a no-brainer, but frankly $100 is almost two games (possibly 3 around the holiday season) and if you don’t plan on upgrading to 4K or VR, there’s little reason to pick the Pro if saving money or getting more games is your priority. I’d also like to interject that articles comparing the Xbox One S and Playstation 4 Pro are completely without value. I have both and they should not be compared. The Xbox One S upscales to 4K (but at no visual difference to games), adds HDR (and I have yet to see anything too impressive), and supports 4K Blu Ray, so in truth it’s an Xbox One that adds 4K Blu Ray support and HDR. The Pro is a hardware boost that makes games either run faster or look better (or both), improves resolution beyond 1080p before upscaling to 4K (more on that later), and adds a much more substantial HDR in games that have supported it. Astoundingly, however, the PS4 Pro does not support 4K Blu Ray movie playback. For that reason it’s not apples to apples, that comes next year with Scorpio. It’s also a weird time for PC gaming because not only is HDR almost devoid of this conversation on PC (4K PC monitors don’t currently support HDR), but I feel important factors for myself like surround sound and even quality of the port are a consistent issue on PC whereas this is much less the case on current consoles. With all that in mind, here’s my analysis of the Playstation 4 Pro.
There’s just not much like the game E.V.O. Search for Eden. On top of its ultra rarity that forces most players to use nefarious means, it is a unique title by any definition for the SNES. Fred and Jam delve into a game that is much more action RPG than the creature creator it’s often associated with.
Who doesn’t like Disney films? You pretty much know what your going to get: a family friendly film with a few laughs and occasionally some tears. Whether you love them or hate them there’s probably a Disney film you like. For me, I love the Lion King. It still remains one of my firm favourites, closely followed by Robin Hood, an older film in the company’s catalogue that I have a lot of nostalgia for. Kingdom Hearts seemed like a fascinating IP that essentially merges the Disney Universe with a video game.
I originally saw footage of Kingdom Hearts on a demo disc for an unofficial Playstation 2 magazine. The demo wasn’t playable it was an extended trailer with just music. The music from the get go was mesmerizing and still one of the series strongest draws. The footage simply showed a collage of the cutscenes from the game showcasing the main character Sora along with Donald Duck and Goofy. With them visiting various Disney worlds such as Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, Hercules and many more. The footage looked incredibly ambitious from a story standpoint. No gameplay footage was shown and I don’t believe Squaresoft (today now Square Enix) ever released a playable demo of the game. I vividly remember multiple magazine articles being excited at the prospect alone of this game. It almost seemed destined to be a critical hit.
When it come to the obscure and horror games I really like to search out the titles you may have never heard of and today’s game is no different.
Avenging Spirit – I have seen this title floating around on the 3DS virtual console for quite some time and decided to recently pull the trigger on it. This is a Game Boy game released in 1991. You play a nameless character who has been gunned down by the mob and who’s girlfriend has been kidnapped. You wake to find this whole mess was your girlfriends fathers fault as the mob wanted to obtain his research on ghost energy. The father now has the balls to ask you to rescue your girlfriend before you fade away into the afterlife. Oh did I mention you’re now an adorable cuddly looking ghost? Yeah the story of Avenging Spirit sounds a lot darker than its appearance would lead you to believe.
This week Jam and Fred do the game club thing with Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse for the NES. This title was popularized due to its technological leap, overall quality, and the fact that it’s really hard to get to work properly on third party hardware. In this episode they dissect the development, concept, and branching campaign.
I remember the first time I read Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft. I had come to it thanks to the Metallica song of the same name off the Ride the Lightning album, which intrigued me because the song had no lyrics despite being based off of a work of writing. Some had touted it as a quintessential bit of horror fiction to rival even the strongest authors of today while others made the predictable claim that it was too disjointed from contemporary times to be relevant, let alone scary. I came away feeling a bit of both. Much of the concepts of the work are for your head to create, but that’s also what made it so horrifying, it was indescribable. Dark Corners of the Earth tries to bring an author and storyline that has dodged popular culture, widespread film, and of course video games for so long. It’s one of the first instances where an interactive medium has attempted to bring Lovecraft’s world to life, no easy feat. It’s not even based off of the main story Call of Cthulhu – although Lovecraft fans are used to the co-branding for various alternative works – but rather the novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth that details a town in New England that has isolated itself from the US. Ultimately the town is inhabited by sea creatures and ancient beings, which is now brought to life with a twist in an unreliable narrator that wavers in sanity. While Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth bites off a bit more than it can chew in overall design, not to mention the odd breaking point in the middle where it literally shifts genres, your ability to keep pace with it results in what could be one of the strongest horror video games of all time.
Rise Of Nightmares
The Xbox Kinect 1.0. Yes I’m talking about Microsoft’s first attempt at motion controls on the fantastic Xbox 360 console. The device actually sold pretty well to begin with people seemed to buy into Microsoft’s marketing for the device for about 5 minutes and then people left it on the side lines only to pull it out from the dusty corner of the living room when a new entry in the Dance Central series released. Then Kinect 2.0 happened and no one cared, so the real horror here is Kinect’s failure to capture an audience. Of course you’d have seen the title and you know that’s not what we’re here to talk about. No horror fans, today we are going to talk about the reason I kinda wanted to buy a Kinect for the Xbox 360 in the first place a little Sega title called Rise of Nightmares.
Rise of Nightmares to me is House of the Dead for the Kinect. Now I know that’s an incredibly bold statement to make since the House of the Dead series is just light gun zombie shooting bliss and Rise of Nightmares, well its a Kinect game and that just makes people just groan generally. We’re gamers right? we don’t like standing up and flailing our arms around we like to sit on sofa and be lazy. Unless of course your like Fred and you stand up to play games anyway in which case buy this game and enjoy.