Friday, 17 June 2011

Oh God...andorf!

Oh, errrr, oh no. I just puked in my mouth. The original N64 advertising may have been sexist but this is offensive on so many more levels. Still at least Americans don't have to put up with Ant & Dec & family, or the 'Dragon Quest loving for cash' J.L.S.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Enlarge Your Johnson

The more information that is drip fed about Mikami and Suda's Shadows of the Damned the more excited I get. As if it wasn't enough to know that original punk band The Damned are pairing up with Final Fantasy composer Akira Yamaoka for the soundtrack, this latest trailer comes along and smacks you in the face with bags of humour on how to enlarge your johnson and increase performance. Everyone maybe getting excited for Ocarina of Time's return tomorrow. But come the 21st of June its this brilliant game from some of gaming's greatest minds that is a) Gonna have those in the know talking and b) Probably end up as bargain bin fodder cause those that did talk, didn't talk loud enough. So on that note: any one not talking about it can just fuck off. Well punk.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Willst Thou Get The Girl...Or Sweep All The Controversy Under The Carpet?

Its interesting to see Nintendo return to their original 'Willst Thou...' campaign for Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D on the 3DS, as its use in the original marketing caused quite the little storm of controversy back in 1998, something that Nintendo have been quick to sweep under the carpet over the intervening years. Afterall no one wants to associate the most critically acclaimed video game of all time with a scandal do they? The original campaign was spear headed by the slogan: 'Willst Thou Get The Girl...Or Play Like One?' something which was met by opposition from female gamers of the time for being openly sexist and down right rude, and rightly so. Perhaps this new campaign tips its hat to that minor hiccup all those years ago by way of a little apology. I'd like to think so. For the curious: step into the Temple Of Time and experience the original campaign from all those moons ago.

Shin'en Multimedia Goes All Molecular On 3DS With Nano Assault

German based developers Shin'en Multimedia continually push the boundaries of what is thought technologically possible on the various platforms they develop for. On the Gameboy Advance they wowed us with the psuedo 3D shoot 'em ups Iridion 1 & 2,  and on Nintendo DS they impressed us with the actual 3D shmups Nanostray 1 & 2. While technologically impressive some concern however has been levied at their lack of spark in the gameplay department, however latest Wii Ware offerings Art Of Balance and FAST: Racing League have proven to gamers that Shin'en can deliver on all fronts. This all bodes extremely well for their jump back into the cockpit in Nano Assault on 3DS. A spiritual sequel to the Nanostray franchise that sees your ship reduced down to molecular level, as a tooled up piece of nanotechnology on a mission to rid a body full of viruses in a homage to 60s sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage, or if you're too young to remember that, 80s sci-fi classic Inner Space. Check out this promising looking video of the game in action from E3 2011. I Also like the way this is running on a 'portrait' HD Monitor, if anyone out there knows how I can pimp my 3DS up to do that...Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Spin Off From A 32 Bit Title Whos Main USP Was The Music? On Game Gear? Pass The AA Batteries, And A Couple More, Aaaand A Couple More: Game 011

Originating on the 'already doomed at release' Sega Mega Drive add on (no not that one, the other one) the infamous 32X, Tempo is a platformer from developers Red Company the people behind the PC Genjin/Bonk's Adventure series, and several other notable gems along the way. While the 32X version burst from your speakers with its own fully vocalised rap track and incredible sampled music, the Game Gear version, rather unsurprisingly does not. But is that all that is missing from this cutesy portable port?

The first thing that strikes you about Tempo Jr. is the large and beautifully animated sprites, Red have gone all out to at least retain the hand drawn art style and presentation of Tempo 32X and what is on offer here is impressive for the ageing 8-Bit handheld. Tempo himself, walks, jumps, runs, hovers and most notably dances with amazing fluidity, even giving Kirby, the pint sized Michael Jackson of end of level dance routines a run for his money. Sadly the game doesn't live up to the presentation however. This is the most basic of exploration platforming. Never tasking the player with a serious test of their mettle, or often with much exploration for that matter. Tempo Jr.'s major flaw is that perhaps he has too many abilities and while impressive that they have arrived on the handheld intact from their 32 Bit big brother, they mean that you can often and quite easily save yourself from death. The float ability is the worst culprit, but unlike Yoshi's limited climb and fall technique, Tempo can continue to do it indefinitely. Add to this the fact that most defeated enemies leave you an energy power up and that falling off the bottom of the screen doesn't result in instant death (the most basic of platforming law) and you'll be pretty hard pushed to lose a life. Boss battles break up the aimless wandering, but often present no more of a challenge than the regular level cannon fodder. Minigames break up the boss battles, but are again rather underthought pattern repetition tasks masquerading as primitive rhythm action games. The only prizes for completing these games: More lives that you'll never get to use.

Ultimately Tempo Jr. fails to impress as a game in its own right, but is interesting as a spin off from a rather obscure Sega series that by all accounts has a couple of gems in the canon. Its one for the completists, but if your new to the series I'd highly recommend starting with its 32 Bit counterparts Tempo 32X or Super Tempo on Sega Saturn. Though either game may cost you a pretty penny to track down these days.

Favourite Moment: Defeating one of the many boss battles sees Tempo the funky cricket joined by Katy the dancing butterfly in a fully choreographed dance off together. The impressive animations showing off the capabilities of the breeze block of 8-Bit handhelds

Monday, 13 June 2011

Wait A Minute Who Pressed Start? Am I On The Left Or The Right? What? Well Which Colour Am I?...Oh I'm Dead Now

Last night finally saw the long awaited meeting of six men who for certain unfathomable reasons (and some reasons slightly more fathomable like geographical location, family commitments and the need to keep mortgage companies and debt collectors off their backs) don't get the chance to actually play the precious games they hold close to their hearts. And surely that's the point of a game isn't it? Play.

The night also marked a reunion of sorts for the talented folk who brought you Screenplay, Nottingham's, the UK's and the World's (clarification needed here) first ever weekend long video game festival with the sole purpose of celebrating video game culture. The evening was also a dry run for a potential public event tentatively titled Retro Arcade, to bring classic multiplayer tournaments to as yet unconfirmed venues in Nottingham. But more on that in the future. The line up: Myself, Paul Drury (journalist for Edge and Retro Gamer and friend to the stars, well Billy Mitchell), Jamie Salmon (game reviewer for The Evening Post and several online publications), Noel Murphy (artist, musician, cinema projectionist and all round AV wizard), Leigh Heathcote (Game fanatic with an incredible talent for breaking consoles) and Rich (errm...all round nice guy).

The evening kicked off with a couple of rounds of Treasure's superlative shooter Gradius V projected on to a huge wall of Nottingham's Switch Studios, as the beer flowed (and spilled) we took a look at God Hand, Vib Ribbon and Amplitude all the while our competitive spirits reaching new highs and our command of the Queen's English reaching new lows. Capcom Vs. SNK took us over the edge, the well worn disdain for Ken reared its ugly head. But before actual flaming shoryukens could start flying trusty Leigh sat on a PS2 pad cable, flipping the machine on its head and rendering the console useless. We'd had our first casualty, but thanks to Leigh it wasn't a human one. We salute you.

The tension was so thick you could cut it with an LCD handheld, so that's exactly what Paul did, 12 of them to be exact. Wasting no time he offered up his 'Handheld LCD Score Attack Challenge' (TM) that pitted all six challengers to select a handheld, shoot for their best score, pass on to the next player and repeat. It was a joy to hear the blips and beeps of Christmas morning circa 1986, buzzing around the studio, but it also gave me a new found sympathy for my poor parents who had to endure that sound all day long. I grabbed Tomy's Caveman (ooer), a favourite from my childhood and was immediately drawn in by its colourful display and surprisingly still engaging mechanics. As I struck the dinosaur and stole his eggs my score climbed: 500, 600. I attacked the pterodactyls, struck the dinosaur again, squirrelled the eggs away in my cave: 1200, 1300. I dodged the lava from the erupting volcano, attacked the pterodactyls now swooping for my eggs, struck the dinosaur again, my cave now bursting with dino eggs: 1900, 0...0?...Fucking 0? I appealed to my fellow challengers my score had reset, but there was a more pressing issue, Leigh sat with a suspiciously unnoisy version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in his hands. The guilty, uneasy expression said it all. We'd had our second casualty. But God bless him. It was probably rubbish anyway. His uncanny anti-Midas touch was a thoughtfully time saving move as now there were only five handhelds to get through each. Leigh, we salute you.

In the mean time the others were getting to grips with the games of yore, the challenge more akin to Wario Ware, than the actual challenge of the games themselves, the first few lives often spent figuring out what the hell anyone was doing. Also in the mix were Nintendo's Turtle Bridge, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. Cement Factory and Rain Shower. But it seemed clear Jamie and Noel were taking the leaderboards by storm, While we sat and twiddled our thumbs they furiously attacked D-pads and jabbed buttons with theirs. When the scores were finally calculated our suspicions were correct. For the finale Paul pulled out all the stops producing from his bag of dreams one of the highly sought after 2 player Game & Watches...Wait for it...Punch Out.

As Jamie and Noel duked it out on one of the slickest looking vintage Game & Watch's in existence, Myself and Leigh were tasked with rigging up a six player Saturn for the night's main event. I know what you're thinking. Leigh and electronics. But in a bizarre twist of fate everything went smoothly. Leigh, we salute you.

Noel emerged victorious from the mini slug fest, and was crowned king of the 'Handheld LCD Score Attack Challenge' (TM), first prize a copy of Horace and the Spiders for the Speccy, the runner up prize for Jamie a gold Midway pin badge. All courtesy of Paul's overstuffed vintage game cupboards, or maybe just from stuff he'd found under the bed. Either way, what a generous chap.

So the Saturn was set up, the multi tap and six pads turning the usually rather boring looking slab into an ominous looking giant black squid. Grabbing onto the tentacles: six guys with a score to settle. The final game of the night was Jamie's choice and perhaps the most bizarre and probably the most elusive Easter egg ever conceived. Death Tank Zwei is the dream child of Lobotomy Software, creators of Exhumed and is only available via a couple of strange routes. Destroying every toilet in Duke Nukem 3D on Saturn will unlock the game, or failing that creating a save file in Quake on the Saturn system, then launching the Duke Nukem 3D disc will make the game selectable from the menu. I advise Saturn owners with a multitap to go to the lengths to track down copies of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D as what we witnessed after this rather elaborate setup left quite an impression on the six of us.

Death Tank Zwei is a simplified version of the Worms style 2D combat game, however unlike Worms, battles are played out in real time on randomly generated terrains and can only be fought in multiplayer. The game is incredible fun, tasking you with judging the distance needed to launch and land your missiles (or whatever weapon you have selected) on target, and little else. The mini skirmishes are set to an ever eroding landscape, meaning as the fight goes on, that stronghold you started out with behind the mountain, is reduced to rubble leaving you and your standing opponents often in a furious machine gun shoot out to the death. The battles themselves are over in minutes, if not seconds so its lucky (?) the game defaults to a 'best of' 50 matches. Between these battles, points earned for performance can be spent on weapons and upgrades. Foolishly the others squandered their hard earned points on poultry nukes and air strikes. But I knew that I would be the envy of the battlefield when I had saved up enough points for the 'Death's Head'. Little was known of what this, the most expensive gem in the Death Tank Zwei arsenal could do. But based on the name alone, I waited, as the rounds came and went, I saved cautiously while the others spent frivolously. Finally I had the 250 points needed, and made no hesitation. The next round I cued up my Death's Head, and pushed the A button. Oh sweet pixelated death rain, it was glorious, flattening not only my opponents but the entire hillside in seconds, and well worth the wait. Make no mistake: Death Tank Zwei is a great party game, and was conceived long before party games were the sole endeavour of JLS and Ant & Dec. The game offering those essential two factors true of all the best party games: easy for newcomers to pick up, impossible for the initiated to put down.

Noel once again emerged victorious and we all declared that in a concerted effort to ensure Noel didn't win again we would call it a night. In terms of the future of Retro Arcade: things are looking promising and rolling out this kind of fun to the general public would be a blast. Plus I didn't even get the chance to pull out my designated game for the night: A Gamecube and GBA with Pac Man Vs. Until next time...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Starfox 64 Finds A New Voice On 3DS...Literally

Fanboys and girls appear to be up in arms again at the release of Nintendo's latest trailer for Starfox 64 3D. What's the matter this time? Well their precious voice actors have been rerecorded and sound slightly different from the original game. OK, I have to confess I do have a soft spot for the original voice cast and admit a certain element of nostalgia will be lost without them. But its not as bad as the teenage contingency of Youtube are making out. Afterall, no one seems to mind the graphical overhaul of these remakes, but try to upgrade the sound quality and the Youtube furore quickly spirals from being slightly dismayed at Nintendo to race hate and bigotry towards anyone not from White Middle America. Other new improvements to the original include full motion controls via the 3DS system, meaning you can pilot your Arwing by moving the console alone. Another neat little touch is a live feed from the internal 3DS camera showing as an icon above your competitors in multiplayer battle mode. Nothing like seeing the actual frustration on your friend's face as you tear his Arwing to pieces with laser blasts. Do a barrel roll!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Oh No, He's Ranting Again

I'm sorry, but I have to share my frustrations with you. Some game collectors actually make me swear at my computer. I don't know who's worse, them and their ridiculous little worlds or me for discovering their ridiculous little worlds. The last time I felt like this I had found a forum thread with pictures of a guy's horrid little pokey bedroom, probably in his mum's house, that showed you his ramshackle collection of consoles sat on an old chip board hi fi unit, challenging the reader to comment on his set up. Like I give a shit. But somebody actually did. He'd actually got into a debate with someone about whether the XBox 360 would look better stood up or on its side, and neither party was taking the piss. Oh and then there was that time that a guy on Youtube reviewed the shape of the Sega Genesis cartridge (???). Here's my review of the Sega Genesis cartridge: Does it fit in the Genesis cartridge slot? Yes. Brilliant, 10/10. And that's already too many words wasted on the topic. So what's got your goat this time Matt? Well it just happens to be a forum topic over at Racketboy's site (don't get me wrong Racketboy's site is an incredibly well researched and invalauble resource) entitled: How to properly wind up controller wires?

Just think about that for a second...


Here's how: Round your neck really tight. Idiot. Don't believe me? Knock yourself out:

Actually Depressing Update: Really sorry but there's more and an inexplicable urge to share it with you. These forum threads are strangely addictive. The worst thing about this one? This guy's really depressing lack of just general tidiness or a pride in his living quarters. Who actually lives like this? I have a lot of video games but I would never let it get to this? Its like someone asking you what you thought of their kitchen, then showing you a picture of said kitchen that had just been left for months, no washing, nothing clean, dried egg on the surfaces, bits of mould on top of old glasses of orange squash. I couldn't care less about other people's games collections at the best of times. But when they are presented like this:

Anyone else imagining his place smells faintly of ketchup? But still they comment, virtually patting this fool on the back and offering pleasantries about how to clean up after himself with storage solutions. These folk are weird. But you don't need to take my word for it...

You've Really Got To Take Your Hat Off To Nintendo

OK, OK. So we've all seen the keynote speech, marvelled at the new controller, wondered what Nintendo has in store for us in the glossy hardcore HD future and looked slightly bemused at the lacklustre redesign of the original white box. So I'm not gonna talk about any of that here when hundreds of others have said it better and in more depth elsewhere on the internet. But nobody has yet reported on the absolute genius of the Wii U's marketing strategy. Many scoffed at Nintendo for roping in granny, mum, dad and the kids for a family afternoon of Mario Kart followed by a slightly sanitised, and decidedly unsweaty work out regime. But boy do they have the big boys by the balls now. Nintendo's strategy is simple:

She likes Zumba Fitness, He Likes Call Of Duty

Nuff said. Here's looking at the indispensable video game system of the future. What? You didn't see that coming Sony and Microsoft? No none of us did. So here's to Nintendo and its recapturing of the hardcore, and the retention of your new found audience. Afterall when they told you last year that Mario has been 'part of the family since 1985' you believed them didn't you? That's not how it went down in my house in the 80s, we didn't even have a Nintendo, I say we, my family had no bloody interest in my Commodore 64.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Cosplay's Not What It Used To Be...

In honour of my recent review of the 'live action' Street Fighter: Real Battle On Film, I thought I'd bring you this veritable smorgasbord of other real life Street Fighters. Remember, don't try this at home, or by a lake, or in a back garden or at school, and especially not when there is a flip camera around...