Showing posts from November, 2010

Sonic the Hedgehog - Returning To My First Video Game & Looking For Closure

Earlier this year I returned to and finally completed my first video game, Sonic the Hedgehog, whilst keeping a running blog:
My first video game was Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Master System. I played it to death as a child, yet I could never complete it. Fast forward the best part of twenty years, and I've decided to finally get that hedgehog off my back. It turns out that my MSII, which for years I thought to be broken, was only in need of a replacement AV cable, which I now have. So my intention is, writing on this sunny Saturday morning, to complete Sonic in one sitting and record my thoughts along the way.
Having not played this incarnation of Sonic for well over a decade (the 8-bit version was an entirely different game to the 16-bit model), I'm not too sure how I'll fare. Nor am I sure of what I hope to achieve, but I really like the idea of coming full circle and revisiting the game that first got me hooked all those years ago.

The Set-up

This isn'…

A Closer Look: NBA Elite and the Dangers of the Pre-release Demo

Its now official: there will be no new NBA Elite, what was NBA Live, this year. In an almost unprecedented move, EA have turned a self imposed delay into a full-blown cancellation, removing an annual staple from their release schedule and a guaranteed earner. Their failure to churn out a competent reboot for their flagging basketball sim has already proved a disaster, causing significant damage to the once proud Live series, conceding further ground to the rival NBA2K franchise, damaging EA's reputation, and contributing to some of the recent "seasonal" lay-offs which hit the Elite development team at EA Canada the hardest. All of this heartache may be traced back to one lousy 10 minute demo. It was the penultimate stage of a series rethink that, with the benefit of hindsight, was thoroughly ill-conceived and poorly executed.

I have been a fan of the NBA Live series since 1997, hopelessly addicted for 18 solid months to its impressive re-creation of the game…

God of War 3 - Review

Now on its third home console appearance, most gamers have a well established opinion of the God of War series. Fans will point to impressive set pieces, bloody combat and a surprisingly immersive narrative, whereas detractors are turned off by the non-stop QTEs and will cry style over substance. Whatever your opinion of the series, God of War 3 is unlikely to convince you otherwise. It's more of the same, albeit with a current-gen lick of paint, and serves as an unapologetic and fitting finale to the trilogy.
Right from the get-go, GOW3 is extremely impressive and graphically it's everything you would expect from Kratos on the PS3. Just as the first two games pushed the PS2 to its limits, part 3 sets the bar high for any pretenders to the throne. Its boasts an impressive sense of scale, with foes that tower over our ever unfazed, wan protagonist. The playing field remains linear, though there is more emphasis on vertical exploration, and the camera remains out of…

A Day in the Life of John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)

Here is a little something about one of my favourite games this year, Red Dead Redemption: a day in the life of RDR protagonist, John Marston.

5.01am – I woke up to see the most beautiful sun rise over the Mexican hills, with bird-people sweeping majestically through the morning sky.

6.30am – Not sure if I’m still feeling the effects of those Tequilas from last night, but I swear I just saw a mule-faced woman. I was more surprised than a slut dog with her first porcupine.

9.45 am– Just sold the shopkeeper four wolf hearts, 10lbs of dog meat and a baker’s dozen of pigeon arses. I swear he’d buy anything.

12.40pm – Suddenly found myself in the mood for mischief so I abducted a lady of the night from a local watering hole, and left her on the train tracks, hogtied. When the train finally arrived, she made a wonderful mess. It’s really not like me, but every time I put on this bandana I just get so carried away. Then I take it off, and it’s like nothing ever happened.

1.45pm – Strange occ…

Review - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

On paper, Enslaved: Odyssey To The West is undoubtedly a game of high pedigree. Coming from UK developers Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword and the forthcoming Devil May Cry reboot), it’s a reworking of the classic Chinese novel, Journey to the West. Featuring the voice talents of Any Serkis (Lord of the Rings Trilogy), expertly scored by Nitin Sawhney and penned by novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland, it boasts an impressive collection of talent. But does it live up to expectations?

We are first introduced to Monkey, our muscle-bound protagonist, imprisoned on a slave airship which is rapidly losing its battle with gravity. Taking advantage of the ensuing chaos, he breaks free and crashes back down to earth and into a bleak vision of our future: a world plagued by machines (mechs), where man is an endangered species. Monkey’s return to slavery is immediate, ensnared by an unlikely captor; a young woman by the name of Trip. A co-escapee, she reluctantly enslaves him by mea…

TGS 2010 - Gun Loco Hands-on Impressions

In September, I attended Tokyo Game Show 2010 as press. These previews were originally posted at criticalgamer and my blog over at 1UP.

Gun Loco is an Xbox 360 exclusive, third person shooter from Square-Enix. It’s set on a prison planet inhabited by a number of extremely disturbed individuals, where inmates entertain themselves by dressing up and massacring each other. The tone and appearance of the characters, along with the mix of humour and violence, initially reminded me of the Timsplitters series. However, a 15 minute hands on with the singleplayer campaign quickly tempered such comparisons.

During the hands-on, Gun Loco was plagued by random enemy spawning, terrible ally AI and “who can shoot the other person in the face more than five times wins” stand-offs. Other frustrations included being one shot killed by an unannounced mini boss, and constantly finding one of your rabbit headed allies wandering in front of you for a slug to the back of the head. It remains to…

TGS 2010 - The 3rd Birthday Hands-On Impressions

In September, I attended Tokyo Game Show 2010 as press. These previews were originally posted at criticalgamer and my blog over at 1UP.

Square-Enix are returning to the Parasite Eve canon in the form of The 3rd Birthday on the PSP. A spin-off of sorts, it's a third person over the shoulder shooter set in the near future, featuring our familiar heroine, Aya Brea. The 3rd Birthday was one of the most impressive portable demos on show at TGS, looking and controlling great on Sony's portable.

The demo is situated in a desolate city overrun with the Twisted, strange organic creatures, all spikes and tentacles. Doing away with the Twisted isn't particularly challenging as the R button provides a convenient lock-on feature, and an automatic cover system allows for simple duck, pop and shoot progression. The difficulty was amped up slightly for the larger bosses but they aren't really a match for Aya. And just for the record, I didn't notice the lead's jeans wearing away…

TGS 2010 - Warriors: Legends of Troy - Hands-on Impressions

In September, I attended Tokyo Game Show 2010 as press. These previews were originally posted at criticalgamer and my blog over at 1UP.

During a recent tour of their large TGS booth, Tecmo Koei were eager to point out that their forthcoming releases don't only cater to their existing, predominantly Japanese audience. Best known for the Musou series (Dynasty Warriors), but also home to the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, Tecmo Koei hoped to exhibit their versatility, whilst still playing to their well established strengths.

The tour didn't exactly start off with a bang, opening with a muted Quantum Theory stage show featuring the senior members of the development team struggling through a deathmatch. But word is already out on Quantum Theory, so Ill refrain from adding to the woe here. After some polite smiles and a handful of stifled yawns we finally moved on and I was shown two forthcoming titles of note; Warriors: Legends of Troy and Trinity: Souls of…

TGS 2010 - Okamiden Hands-on Impressions

In September, I attended Tokyo Game Show 2010 as press. These previews were originally posted at criticalgamer and my blog over at 1UP.

The spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Okami, Okamiden looks to capture the charm and appeal of its predecessor and transfer it to the DS. Going by the TGS English demo, Capcom appear to be well on their way to doing just that.

Taking place after the events of the first game, the demo opens in a flooded forest with the player taking control of a young boy named Kuni and Chibiterasu, a celestial wolf cub born of the sun goddess Amaterasu. If merchandise is anything to go by, this adorable pup has already hit it off with the Japanese public with his likeness plastered on everything from mugs to keychains, and even his own pair of slippers. Exploration, puzzles and combat ensue as the pair take-in their distinctive surroundings, moving from the roof of a partially submerged temple to a darkened cave, whilst fighting off demons, interacting …

SEGA Master System - The Other 25th Birthday

Joint birthday parties are invariably a bad idea. More often than not, one of the birthday boys/girls is more popular than the other and garners far more attention than their co-celebrator. They invite more friends, receive more presents and in the ultimate diss, their name is sung far louder during the happy birthday song. They are the belle of the ball, and when the attendees reminisce on a night well spent, many will forget that it was a joint celebration in the first place.

As you are most probably aware, October saw the 25th birthday of the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom, with all and sundry shouting its praises. The NES was a watershed moment for home consoles and was indeed an anniversary worthy of the highest celebrations. The NES is the 8-bit platform with all the friends, but there is another console celebrating its 25th year, relegated to the shadows and starved of attention, though more than deserving of some praise of its own. It's the Sega Maste…

Don't Fufu Your NES Carts & Other Pearls of Gaming Wisdom

After years spent blowing our dusty game cartridges in an effort to get them to work on our ageing consoles, Nintendo have officially announced that said practice actually harms your fragile games of yore. In a recent tongue-in-cheek Japanese TV ad celebrating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario, the Kyoto based gaming giant has said no more to the old cartridge fufu (Japanese for the sound of blowing).

After two decades of costly scientific research, the word is finally out; saliva and a sudden rush of warm, moist air don't do Super Mario any favours. Inspired by Nintendo's sage advice, here are some of my own pearls of gaming wisdom.

1. Don't play the Virtual Boy for extended periods

Under no circumstances should you play Nintendo's first experiment with 3D portable gaming, the Virtual Boy, for more than 3 minutes, as it is likely to kill you.

The following are actual quotes from the precautions section included in all Virtual Boy game instruction manuals:

a. "Thi…