Monday, October 31, 2011

Terrifying Terrible Terrors - Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (xbox 360, PS3)

You are in a cramped, dingy room. Swinging miserably like a thief at the gallows hangs a solitary lightbulb - crusted black and lassoed by a chain turned green with rust. The cold tile floor is oppressive against your shins as you sit chained against a metal cot, also caked with years of grime with enough rust to give a T-rex lockjaw. Just above your eyesight is a miserable looking 4x4 window - covered with tinfoil, barred up, and locked down tight. The only means of escape is an iron door - that is not only locked from the outside but the rust on the hinges makes for an airtight seal.

"How long have I been here?" You mutter aloud.

The lightbulb is dimming fast and the only other light in this cell is radiating from a single 20" flatscreen and a flashing green circle eminating from a blood caked Xbox 360. At your feet lies a pink Xbox 360 controller. Will this finally unlock the secret to your capture? Will you find comfort and rescue in the arms of a pretty rockin' game of Gears of War 3?


All that sits before you is a single disc. A jester-like figure staring back at you with a crooked smile in his grin and bright pink packaging suggest a light-hearted romp through the backlots and bedrooms of hollywood. You feel a ping of nostalgia and your heart starts to flutter with the memory of by-gone days. You remember fondly trying to stuff that 30 pound big-gulp in your pants in Leisure Suit Larry 2, the wacky mishaps at La Costa Lotta spa in Leisure Suit Larry 6, the wacky confusion of the convenience store clerk trying to sell you a lamb-skin "lubber" in Leisure Suit Larry: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards. Your PC was full to the brim with Sierra goodness and Al Lowe's smiling, bald head gave you comfort where you thought none could be had. The saxaphone music, the sexy women, the cheesy puns, the angry Russians - you recall it all with a fond heart and true love. Like an old army buddy or a first kiss; this feels like home.

Just as quickly as those thoughts come they are thrust out of your consciousness like a newborn smacking against the grimey tile floor in this cruel and pitiful jailcell. You are forced to take control of Larry Lovage - the nephew of prized nerd lothario Larry Laffer. You've graduated from college in "Magna Cum Laude" and now take a job doing errands at a Hollywood movie studio. As you start to move your pitiful looking geeky man-boy the horror starts to set in pretty quickly. This game is not a Leisure Suit Larry game.

Every second ticks by like a fateful swipe of the sword of Damacles hanging above your head.

"Oh lord, please tell me that these controls are a cruel joke...please tell me it will get better."


Your pleas go unanswered. Larry Lovage walks around like a marionette with half of his strings busted. He skulks around the studio lot looking desperate and helpless. Will he finally find a vehicle to ride around so his hapless gait wont be confused for zombie shuffling? Yes, but the horrors only continue when he gets behind the wheel.

"Ohhhh!" The horrifying shriek passes your lips as you crash into sidewalls in your less-than-GTA3 quality driving mechanics. It would be like someone playing Mario Kart with half of your d-pad buttons missing. It's almost as if the programmers are saying "try playing this game, we dare you!"

The truest and most cruel horror comes during the cutscenes and they come fast and frequent like a Louisville slugger to the cranium. The jokes are beyond stale. The humor is nonexistant. All that is left are horrible fart jokes and salty language that is so potty-mouthed that it doesn't even make sense. Why is EVERYONE cussing in every line of dialogue? You're far from a prude, but even in your hazy - possibly drugged state, you can recognize that these F-bombs are being placed here instead of actual humor.

Not funny. I'm sorry - try again.

Every time one of these celebrity voice-over actors spills another line of puke onto the screen you only feel more sorry for them than you do yourself. They are being rendered into ugly, horrifying creatures.

Graphics so terrifying that they make an Atari Jaguar look cutting-edge.

"Why does everyone look like their face is made from shattered pixels and octagons crammed into a blender? Why do the women all look like aliens? Why is the dialogue so bad?!"

Sooo not sexy. I'd rather play "spin-the-bottle" w/ Snookie

And then finally, you reach the boiling point of frustration. Youre about to be escorted out of an office by security gaurds and are forced to fight them and duke it out. You have never experienced anything as truly awful as this.

"His attacks don't connect! He's useless! The game is fixed! The game is RIGGED!!!! The game is broken!!!!"

"BRING BACK AL LOWE! BRING BACK SIERRA! HELL, BRING BACK MAGNA CUM LAUDE! I'M SORRY!!!!! We all hated that game but that's only because we didn't know about Box Office Bust! We didn't know!!!! WE DIDN'T KNOW!!!!"

And just like that, with the last bit of energy left in your body - you slump over. Controller thumping against the grimy black tiles, all life and spirit expired.

Press Enter to Restart.
Remember - save early and save often!

Happy Halloween!


I’ve been dying to use this picture (b-dum disssh)

Now I have a special treat for you, it’s a ghost story about a haunted game that has been passed around from place to place to place until it finally reached my ears and I deemed it up to your (the readers) standard for Halloween scary stories. Now I cannot safely vouchsafe for the validity of this story as I myself have not stumbled upon such a “unique” game, however I leave it up to you, the readers, to determine its ultimate credibility.

Well Lets get this party started then, here is the story of a man and his obsession with collecting obscure Pokemon game’s.


“I’m what you could call a collector of bootleg Pokémon games. Pokémon Diamond & Jade, Chaos Black, etc. It’s amazing the frequency with which you can find them at pawnshops, Goodwill, flea markets, and such.

They’re generally fun; even if they are unplayable (which they often are), the mistranslations and poor quality make them unintentionally humorous.

I’ve been able to find most of the ones that I’ve played online, but there’s one that I haven’t seen any mention of. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.”

Here’s a picture of the cartridge, in case anyone recognizes it. Unfortunately, when I moved two years ago, I lost the game, so I can’t provide you with screencaps. Sorry.


“The game started with the familiar Nidorino and Gengar intro of Red and Blue version. However, the “press start” screen had been altered. Red was there, but the Pokémon did not cycle through. It also said “Black Version” under the Pokémon logo.

Upon selecting “New Game”, the game started the Professor Oak speech, and it quickly became evident that the game was essentially Pokémon Red Version.

After selecting your starter, if you looked at your Pokémon, you had in addition to Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle another Pokémon — “GHOST”.

The Pokémon was level 1. It had the sprite of the Ghosts that are encountered in Lavender Tower before obtaining the Sliph Scope. It had one attack — “Curse”. I know that there is a real move named curse, but the attack did not exist in Generation 1, so it appears it was hacked in.

Defending Pokémon were unable to attack Ghost — it would only say they were too scared to move. When the move “Curse” was used in battle, the screen would cut to black. The cry of the defending Pokémon would be heard, but it was distorted, played at a much lower pitch than normal. The battle screen would then reappear, and the defending Pokémon would be gone. If used in a battle against a trainer, when the Pokéballs representing their Pokemon would appear in the corner, they would have one fewer Pokéball.

The implication was that the Pokémon died.
What’s even stranger is that after defeating a trainer and seeing “Red received $200 for winning!”, the battle commands would appear again. If you selected “Run”, the battle would end as it normally does. You could also select Curse. If you did, upon returning to the overworld, the trainer’s sprite would be gone. After leaving and reentering the area, the spot [where] the trainer had been would be replaced with a tombstone like the ones at Lavender Tower.
The move “Curse” was not usable in all instances. It would fail against Ghost Pokémon. It would also fail if it was used against trainers that you would have to face again, such as your Rival or Giovanni. It was usable in your final battle against them, however.

I figured this was the gimmick of the game, allowing you to use the previously uncapturable Ghosts. And because Curse made the game so easy, I essentially used it throughout the whole adventure.

The game changed quite a bit after defeating the Elite Four. After viewing the Hall of Fame, which consisted of Ghost and a couple of very under leveled Pokémon, the screen cut to black. A box appeared with the words “Many years later…” It then cut to Lavender Tower. An old man was standing, looking at tombstones. You then realized this man was your character.

The man moved at only half of your normal walking speed. You no longer had any Pokémon with you, not even Ghost, who up to this point had been impossible to remove from your party through depositing in the PC. The overworld was entirely empty — there were no people at all. There were still the tombstones of the trainers that you used Curse on, however.”

“You could go pretty much anywhere in the overworld at this point, though your movement was limited by the fact that you had no Pokémon to use HMs. And regardless of where you went, the music of Lavender Town continued on an infinite loop. After wandering for a while, I found that if you go through Diglett’s Cave, one of the cuttable bushes that normally blocks the path on the other side is no longer there, allowing you to advance and return to Pallet Town.

Upon entering your house and going to the exact tile where you start the game, the screen would cut to black.

Then a sprite of a Caterpie appeared. It was the replaced by a Weedle, and then a Pidgey. I soon realized, as the Pokémon progressed from Rattata to Blastoise, that these were all of the Pokémon that I had used Curse on.

After the end of my Rival’s team, a Youngster appeared, and then a Bug Catcher. These were the trainers I had Cursed.

Throughout the sequence, the Lavender Town music was playing, but it was slowly decreasing in pitch. By the time your Rival appeared on screen, it was little more than a demonic rumble.

Another cut to black. A few moments later, the battle screen suddenly appeared — your trainer sprite was now that of an old man, the same one as the one who teaches you how to catch Pokémon in Viridian City.

Ghost appeared on the other side, along with the words “GHOST wants to fight!”.

You couldn’t use items, and you had no Pokémon. If you tried to run, you couldn’t escape. The only option was “FIGHT”.

Using fight would immediately cause you to use Struggle, which didn’t affect Ghost but did chip off a bit of your own HP. When it was Ghost’s turn to attack, it would simply say “…” Eventually, when your HP reached a critical point, Ghost would finally use Curse.

The screen cut to black a final time.

Regardless of the buttons you pressed, you were permanently stuck in this black screen. At this point, the only thing you could do was turn the Game Boy off. When you played again, “NEW GAME” was the only option — the game had erased the file.

I played through this hacked game many, many times, and every time the game ended with this sequence. Several times I didn’t use Ghost at all, though he was impossible to remove from the party. In these cases, it did not show any Pokémon or trainers and simply cut to the climactic “battle with Ghost.

I’m not sure what the motives were behind the creator of this hack. It wasn’t widely distributed, so it was presumably not for monetary gain. It was very well done for a bootleg.

It seems he was trying to convey a message; though it seems I am the sole receiver of this message. I’m not entirely sure what it was — the inevitability of death? The pointlessness of it? Perhaps he was simply trying to morbidly inject death and darkness into a children’s game. Regardless, this children’s game has made me think, and it has made me cry.”



Is it real, could it possibly be untrue? Some would believe that it lacked validity. However no one person can deny the existence of hacked Pokemon games. They can be easily found, so who is there to say that one cannot be hacked into being a nightmare? Hacks are prevalent all over the internet(and the Mexican border), it is obviously not to far-fetched to believe that someone who is either clearly demented, a brilliant man, or even a vengeful spirit may have created this horror of a game. I believe in it, do you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tiger-Heli (Nes)


I bet PETA was enraged at this title.

Tiger-Heli is the first game developed by the now defunct Toaplan (and published by Taito), and originally was an arcade game with a great deal of popularity in Japan. Acclaim later published a port of the game onto the NES. Surprisingly the NES port is incredibly faithful to the arcade game, though this is because the arcade version lacked any sort of story so all they had to do was redo the levels for playability on the NES. I personally have a fondness for this game as it was one of the games I played in my younger years that I thoroughly mastered, and yet I can’t seem to get the knack for it now. (╮°-°)╮┳━┳ ( ╯°□°)╯ ┻━┻


At first glance they look pretty similar, non?

Anyhow The game is fairly simple an straight forward, you play as a helicopter pilot who is tasked with destroying the opposing enemy forces who for some reason lack any air support. Tiger-Heli consists of only 4 stages and upon completion…


The game repeats only harder. That’s right this game theoretically never ends until you run out of lives. This game is a pick up and drop shooter, you can come to it at any time and you can even play other games instead of it; Tiger-Heli will never get jealous.

The controls are simple, you can move in eight directions to any point on the screen, you also have at your disposal an unlimited supply of missiles and a limited supply of bombs. The missiles are your standard weapon thoroughfare that can be upgraded by grabbing floating you receives periodically so that’s pretty normal; it’s the bombs where things get fun, the bombs will destroy everything on screen (including enemy shots!) so if you use them right you can get through stages pretty easily. Another weapon you can find are these tiny helicopters which come in two flavors Grey, which shoot forward with the same attack power of your current missile attack, and Red which fire sideways with the same attack power of your current missile attack. Both mini-helicopters can take a hit for you serving as both an additional weapon and insanely enough, body armor.


They will totally die for you, that’s FRIENDSHIP!

The enemies in the game are tanks, artillery and battleships peculiarly enough the enemy forces have no planes or jets or anything. Don’t let this lack of aerial attackers fool you, the enemy tanks will give you more trouble then anything else, as they don’t play games. Enemy tanks will fire on you the moment you are in their sights and will not rest until they are off screen or destroyed, the same goes for the Artillery and Battleships though unlike tanks they cannot move.


They will not hesitate to murder you.

The game is incredibly simplistic and as such doesn’t require to much investment, it’s a play and put away game, which is for the most part one of its most endearing traits. Tiger-Heli is in my humble opinion one of the best top-down shooters for the NES I’d say its only possible rivals are that of 1942 and Skyshark. For those who like shooters, and people who especially like games that can be picked up and played without an assault of story this game is definitely for you. The best part has to be that the game is relatively inexpensive, so grab a copy!


I love the smell of 8-bit explosions in the morning.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smash TV (NES Port)

Smash TV title

No TV’s were harmed in the making of this Review.

Money! Women! Cars! Toasters! These are what you’re working for in the game show game SMASH TV! This particular version of the game is a port from the Arcade version which was highly popular in the 90’s. The game also received ports to the two major systems at the time the SNES and Sega Genesis along with the Sega Game Gear and several home computers like the Amstrad CPC, and Atari ST. This particular port was of better quality than that of the Game Gear and the home computers but only paled in comparison to its 16-bit cousins the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis (Twice removed). The game is played from a top down perspective and it’s a shooter in its purest form. You blast enemies while trying to avoid their attacks all while grabbing fabulous prizes.

Going to win some prizes

Off to kill hundreds to thousands of goons, tanks, and robots for fabulous prizes!

The game has no real story, but that’s easily forgiven based on its addictive gameplay, and surprisingly catchy soundtrack. The premise of the game is that you are a man who has been accepted to participate on the game show Smash TV, you must plow your way through hundreds of faceless goons, tanks, and strange machines to obtain the prizes and women you so desperately seek. The game comes in two flavors, Single Player and Multiplayer, exclusive to this port is the ability to use multiple controllers to control the direction you fire in instead of alternating between button A and B. You essentially use the control pad of a second controller to decide where you want to shoot, this makes it a lot easier to change firing direction but unfortunately demands the need for a multitap of sorts if you want to play with someone else.


“I’d buy that for a dollar!”

You are generally given free choice of what room you wish to go to as at the beginning of each level you are provided with a map with the layout of the rooms which tells you where the boss and treasure rooms are. The game only has three levels but don’t let the small number of levels fool you, they are each quite difficult and dying is incredibly commonplace.This isn’t a negative aspect as the difficulty of the game easily adds to its replay value. As only through replaying can you find the secret room and encounter the surprising final boss.

Abandon All hope ye who enter

He prefers to be called a Mutoid American.

Graphics-wise the game is decent for a NES game. With some power-ups it’s hard to distinguish what they are on the ground, but after a few levels of blasting you’ll know what each one does. If you’ve been looking at the screenshots (See above and below) they are what to expect when playing this game. For the graphical purest this is not a game for you and is more for those who like games for they’re playability rather then their graphical capacity. However those who are fans of graphics need only look towards the SNES which has a version of it which is graphically superior.


I just finished slaughtering people and destroying robots and now I’m going to Disney land!

All in all I’d highly recommend this game as it’s a tough, fun and all-around rewarding game to have. If you don’t like its graphics then pick up the SNES port of it which is the exact same game (I am being so totally serious right now) only with better graphics. I personally find this to be the greatest shooter in the entire history of shooters, its simple, fun, and addicting (as a shooter should be), my friends and I like to play this and take turns to see who can get the farthest without dying. This is one of those games which is fairly inexpensive but contains hours of enjoyment which easily outweigh its relatively low price.

Onimusha: Warlords


Onimusha Warlords is one of those games for the PlayStation 2 that flies off the shelves quickly at launch and then finds itself at the bottom of the bargain bin later. Onimusha Warlords was an early PS2 title released way back in (insert spooky voice) 2001. The game originally received fairly favorable reviews in the 8/10 margin and sold over (insert spooky voice here as well) two million copies worldwide. Onimusha despite its original favorable ratings over time began to feel dated to most people. A lot of people compare it to Resident Evil and some go as far as to say the game is Resident Evil only with Samurai instead of S.T.A.R.S.


D̴̬̞̲͈̰̿̇ͩ͋̾̆͞i͙͔̣̙͉̺͖̾ͪ͒̽̅d̼̖̘͚͕̣͎̻̑͗̈́͑̏́ͩ̇́ ̲̫̼̖͔̖̐͑̀̀̎ͫ̚s̜͍͍͔̑̃̐ͨͬͅo͌͂ͩ̎̀҉̵̲͈m̷͈̪̳͔͖̝̼̒ͅe̵̟͖̯̬͔ͬͥ̏̋͑̿̄͂ọ̶̮̼̖̫͒ͤ̏͠ň̤͉̻̿̓̈͋ͅͅe̊̒̾̒͐͌͠͝҉͔̥ ̷̷͉̤̭̻͆̄͋̚ş̛̰̮̙̺̺͐ͨ͞ͅa̢͓̤̘͖̘͓̥ͩy̵͇̤̳̜̘̱̳̟̞͛͒̄̍̔͗ ̦̘̟ͥ̉ͪͭ̕S͈͕͋̿̉̎ͥ̊̿̀̕.ͯ̎̈͂̐̏͏̰͙̦̜T̨̪͉̲̱ͬ͐͗̈́͋̀ͭ̉.̢̺͙͙̙̥̍ͣ͌A̲̗̞̭̦͈̰̳̝̾̈́̇̾̇̏̊̀.̸̬̟̊̉̓͢͝Ṙ͎̞̗̐͛̉ͬ͑͑̇ͨ̀.̳͓͓͉̠̩̜̺̑ͦ̊͟S̴̐̎ͬ́҉͈̫̥̥͇̘̺̤?̛̰̣͕̮͈̭̻̈̅͡

Onimusha and Resident Evil do share similar qualities though, that is undeniable, they both are survival horror games and they both use the same static camera angle which makes killing your enemies occasionally awkward. That’s about where the similarities end.

Onimusha takes place in the late 1500’s where you play as Samanosuke Akechi of the Akechi Clan, who is currently at war with the Oda. For those who are not familiar with history, Nobunaga Oda had a general who he trusted greatly, his name was Mitsuhide Akechi, one day he up and decided to betray Nobunaga and he ambushed him in Okehazama. This game takes place after this event, however Mitsuhide is captured and killed in the battle and Nobunaga is shot in the throat instead of being forced to commit to suicide. However that isn’t the end for Nobunaga as he mysteriously comes back to life to wreak his revenge on the Akechi clan. However it isn’t just soldiers Nobunaga employs, demons have sprung up all around the Akechi territory and are slaughtering everyone.


Samanosuke receives a letter that is several weeks old as he returns to Japan after a journey of discovery, the letter is a plea from his cousin to come and save her from what she believes to be some creature which has been stealing away all the servants and soldiers from around the castle. Samanosuke transforms and rolls out o go and save her with his ninja friend who is possibly the worst ninja ever. Seriously she wears orange, orange!


You know what, no she’s way better then that.

The game focuses around the main character who is attempting to save his cousin and prevent Nobunaga and his demon army from taking over the world. You adventure around the castle searching for Yuki and battle your way through hordes of demons while utilizing the power of the Ogre’s (Oni in the original Japanese version and in subsequent sequels). Aforementioned Ogre’s give you the power to destroy the demons, along with some nifty elemental swords you can unlock along the way.

Now this game has tankish controls similar to that of resident evil where you have to turn before you can go forward, once you get used to it the controls things will start to get easier (assuming you haven’t already mastered them after years of playing Resident Evil games). Samanosuke has three types of weapons he can use throughout the game, his trusty Katana (and its variants), a bow and arrows, and finally a rifle each of these has their own uses but for the most part you will spend the game using your sword.

The sword controls are fairly easy to learn and once you get the hang of them you can eventually one-hit kill any minor enemy. At your disposal you have a regular slashing combo, a downward stab for enemies that have fallen to instantly kills them, and finally a quick time move called Isshu which allows you to instantly kill any minor enemy attacking you by pressing the attack button right before the enemy hits you; at your disposal is also a guard which blocks attacks coming at you from any side, guard often, trust me, this game doesn’t play around. Oh, you also have a kick, this kick can be used to attempt to break guards and knock enemies over.


You can upgrade them as well.

Naturally being that this is a survival horror game, health pick ups and ammo for your non-sword weapons are incredibly scarce, so not getting hit is very important as its one of the few ways you can avoid dying. Enemies in this game do not play around, they can guard, and they will attempt to swarm you and murder you.


They seem to have an odd sense of fashion.

Iconic of any Capcom survival horror game this game has both puzzles and fetch quest. The puzzles come in the flavor of timed puzzles like trying to avoid being burned alive by columns of fire while exiting a room, and treasure puzzles which involve rotating numbers so they are in order, and ones that involve knowing symbols and inputting the right ones. Fetch quests though make up the largest amount of the game though as you will wind up running from one side of the castle to the other looking for the key to the next door, or the silver plate you need to open the door to get the golden plate.



One thing to note about this game, is that the game was originally slated for being released on the original PlayStation but due to the PS2’s release being so close and the game being only 50% done at the time the original game was scrapped and it was instead redone for the PS2. The graphics for the game are not the greatest but for the time in which it was released and compared to other games released at the beginning of the PS2’s lifetime Onimusha has great graphics. Though compared to later games they are fairly shoddy. The game utilizes static backgrounds like that of the early resident evil games, which are fairly attractive compared to the sprites.

Onimusha is one of my favorite games for my PS2 and one of those reasons is that the soundtrack for the game was composed by a deaf composer, soak that in for a second.


I bet his hair was pretty rockin’

Onimusha is a fairly inexpensive game no matter where you look, and well worth the price. The game is fairly short, it can probably be beaten in anywhere from 4-16 hours; amount of time to play the game isn’t a negative factor as the game has a lot of unlockables which can typically only be attained through repeated playing of the game. So go to your nearest lukigames and pick up a copy of the game, if you are a fan of survival horror of games reminiscent of Resident Evil this is the game for you. Oh and just so you know it has two sequels! Which means once you’re done with this you should grab those as well! Winking smile


Monday, October 24, 2011

Mike Tyson's Punch Out

The alternative to getting punched in the face.
At its core Mike Tyson’s Punch-out!! is a port of the arcade game Super Punch-out!! The main difference between the two is the addition of Mike Tyson as the final boss of the game. Believe it or not the reason Mike Tyson’s likeness was added to the game was merely because Minor Arakawa (Nintendo’s President at the time) thought he was really cool and idolized him. This game will always have a found place in my heart as it was the first video game I ever remember playing, even to this day I periodically take it out and attempt to take on Tyson (not that I’ve ever beaten him mind you >_> ). Mike Tyson’s Punch-out is fondly remembered by many as one of the best games on the NES next to Super Mario Bros'. and Legend of Zelda, and this is with good cause as the game itself is solid and very enjoyable to play.
Another version of the game was released some years after titled “Punch-out” Ol’ Mike had been experiencing a hard time and jail sentences and Nintendo wanted to avoid putting a person who was in trouble with the law on their games. Punch-out is nothing more then a direct port of the arcade game where you fight all the boxers from the arcade game and instead of Mike Tyson you have Mr.Dream at the end. For those who are price conscious Punch-out tends to be the cheaper alternative to Mike Tyson’s Punch-out though for the sake of this review you can safely infer that everything I’m about to say applies to both games with the exception of Mike Tyson being exclusive to his own game.
Mike Tyson
I just don’t trust that face.
The plot of the game is that you are playing as Little Mac, a young upstart from the Bronx who aspires to become the best boxer in the world. However this isn’t going to be easy as you have to face off against some of the greatest boxers in all the circuits like Super Macho Man, Soda Popinski, and the fearsome Glass Joe. Once you’ve punched your way to the top you get to face off against the heavy weight champion Mike Tyson.
This is a screenshot I took write before being instantly one hit KO’ed
The controls for the game are perfect, I have never in my years of playing this game every lost due to poor controls (I have however lost due to just plain sucking at it though). The controls are simple with the D-pad controlling your dodging, ducking, and whether you want to punch your opponent in the face and A and B controlling the left and right punches respectively. A neat thing about the gameplay is that each boxed has special moment during the split second before an attack that if you were to punch him would either instantly KO him or get yourself a Star for a super-punch.
They make funny faces.
The soundtrack for the game is both superb as it is subtle, I find myself periodically humming the title screen theme every so often and sometimes even the song that plays when Little Mac and Doc are training. Each character even has their own theme song which plays a the start of the first round, which is really nice and gives a feeling that each match itself is unique.
The graphics for the game are very good for a mid-life NES title, each character has a decent amount of detail to them and displays a range of facial expressions during any particular match. Another interesting thing of note is that prior to the first round starting the opposing boxer will perform an silly animation to accompany their song.
Though some aren’t even worth it.
One thing that is very important for any person to realize before playing this game is that it is going to be hard. This game requires deft reflexes and good timing, if not then you won’t even make it to Mike as Super Macho Man will destroy you with his over the top punches. Reflexes though are one of the things which can be honed, so don’t get to upset while playing if you wind up losing against Piston Honda the first couple of times. This isn’t a game which you can pick up and clear your first time through it requires practice, unless of course you have amazing reflexes and can instantaneously analyze every boxers weak point.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-out is a very solid and fun game that I personally would recommend to any fan of NES games, it’s a game which you can pick and put down and once you’ve played it and mastered it you will never forget how to play. The game is a metaphorical bicycle, my father was the one who had me play this game during my younger years, and he himself after not having played the game for over a decade sat down with me to play it and did something that I still haven’t been able to do, he beat Mike Tyson. Long story short you should get this game, it is easily worth the money and if you aren’t a fan of gaming by yourself this is the perfect game for passing the controller around with your friends to see who can get the farthest without being knocked out.
That face Mike Tyson is punching? It’s yours.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Warriors (PS2, Xbox)


A legendary line from a truly legendary film. "The Warriors" is Walter Hill's 1979 adaptation of a novel by the same name written by Sol Yurick. The film follows a New York gang on the run from police and other gangs after being framed for killing Cyrus - the head honcho of all of the crime in New York. It's an action - exploitation masterpiece that is campy, fun, dark, silly, and entertaining as heck. I mean - you've got a gang of guys dressed like pantomime baseball players. Come on! That's so ridiculous that it's awesome.

Ridiculously awesome is exactly what you can expect from the 2005 Rockstar games release of "The Warriors." For those who are unaware - Rockstar games is the company that brought you such classic games as the Grand Theft Auto series, Bully, Red Dead Revolver & Red Dead Redemption, and more. Sure, every once in a while they would put out a game like State of Emergency or Manhunt- but for the most part their record is relatively untarnished. They make action-packed games that usually serve up a bloody-good, politically incorrect time; full of car-chases, exploding heads, locker-room pranks, and wild-west horse-riding action.

Forget weapons! Wanna be bad - better do your situps!

While sharing some similarities to some of the later Grand Theft Auto games and Bully - the game has unique gameplay and some of the absolute best fighting mechanics in any Rockstar game before or since. The Warriors is an action beat-em-up in the classic sense. The game opens up on a cutscene showing the pivotal Cyrus scene from the film and then cuts back 3 months before and sets up the game as a prequel to the film. As with many games in recent years you start out on a training mission in order to get accustomed to the controls - in this case (in classic Rockstar Games form) you are tasked with beating up hobos. This is your first introduction to the fighting/control mechanics and for my money, these are some of the smoothest beat-em-up controls in many years. Similar controls were utilized in Bully about a year later - so if you're used to running around and putting the smack down on kids in that game you shouldn't have much trouble donning the denim red W and getting into it with a slew of bad guys. To me, the controls for Bully were perhaps a step or two backward, as they feel the smoothest here among all of the fighting mechanics from GTA 3 on. There are some rare occasions where your camera might get stuck in a funky spot or your joystick doesn't always respond the way you mean it to when jacking a car stereo or trying not to trip a burglar alarm - but for the most part the controls are balanced and responsive.

Let's dance!

The graphic and music presentation is top-notch and really makes you feel like you're playing the film. Check out those myriad of cutscenes and just how crisp and cinematic they look! For starters, there are seemingly hours of cutscenes that play out like an interactive Criterion collection extended cut of the movie. For a game that's 6 years old and a gaming hardware generation ago - the characters are amazingly lifelike. Remember early PSX or N64 games where the characters you were playing were modeled after athletes or movie characters and they only looked like blocky, near indistinguishable blobs with pasted-on faces? This ain't that. The characters genuinely look like the actors from the film and the settings are skillfully recreated. Sure, old dirty buildings and alleyways are pretty easy to fudge, but once you get to Coney Island it's impressive just how much it looks like the Coney Island represented in the film. The cutscenes rival a game series I already reviewed on this site - Shenmue in their size, scope, and attention to detail. Just watch the opening credits and compare it to the opening of the film. It's practically a shot-for-shot remake of the film.

Yep. Sesame Street taught me to count. Ah-Ah-Ah!

With my past reviews, let's face it; I've been reviewing a lot of 8-bit games. Describing the music has always been a bit challenging (which is pretty sad - seeing as I'm a musician.) Seriously - how many ways can I describe that bleepy-bloppy midi-style Nintendo music? However, with the advent of CD storage in games we got CD-quality music - and The Warriors takes full advantage of that. Rockstar games has had a wonderful track record putting eclectic and altogether awesome soundtracks in their games. Ever get nostalgic for cruising down the strip, getting chased by police, and rockin' some Judas Priest in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? You more or less get the same feeling here - though I must warn you ahead of time, the soundtrack is a lot less extensive than in the GTA games. What you do get is nearly 20 songs: half of which are taken directly from the soundtrack of the film. By the luck of the randomized fortune - I always wound up with a few songs playing more than others, though it's hard to get tired of the punk-rock face-melting of Fear's "I Love Living in the City" or the catchy, swinging hook (excuse the pun) of Dr. Hook's "When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman." The soundtrack is just one more way in which Rockstar Games got it right. They captured the spirit of the movie by including darn near all of the original soundtrack and matched it with songs that fit the time period and mood of the film seamlessly. The voice work? Top notch. They seem to have gotten most of the cast back to record some lines for the game and in cases where they didn't they matched up well with recorded clips and voice acting to really capture the essence of the film. The attention to detail is amazing.

Like many of Rockstar's games, it's a relatively easy game but has a lengthy enough runtime to make you feel like you've gotten your money's worth. The game supports two-player action in a split-screen format and also offers several unique rumble minigames. You can crack some skulls in a King of the Hill style brawl where you toss other gang members off of the top and maintain your turf - you can rumble with a whole mess of gang members in Army-ing, you can have a tag-off in the Burner Battle or try your hand at a handful of other unique rumble modes. One of my favorite parts of the game is the bonus game you unlock after the main game is over. There's a classic Streets of Rage style brawler tacked into the game in the form of an arcade in your hangout called Armies of the Night. I mean, what's not to love about a beat-em up bonus game, crammed into your much bigger game? Even after your main-game experience is finished there's still plenty to do if you want to grab a friend and rumble down or crack into the arcade game and essentially get your Double Dragon on.

Where's Haggar, Cody and Guy when you need 'em?

The Warriors is a game that has a lot going for it. Sure, it isn't as glossy or well known as its Rockstar brothers Grand Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption, but this game took a movie license and not only gave us a well-rounded action game - they improved on the license by providing backstory and additional plot points as well as a genuinely fun, well crafted interactive experience. It's my favorite movie-license game, my favorite Rockstar game, and quite possibly my favorite game for the PS2. Thumpin' skulls never gets old - so add yourself to the waiting list for this game on either the Xbox or PS2 and get ready to rumble. The streets are cold, the night is dark, and everyone wants the Warriors dead. Make 'em wish they never stepped on your turf.

Smackin' 'round hobos since 2005!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)

As I mentioned in a previous review, Capcom can more or less do no wrong. They created the Mega Man series, they made movie/tv license games that were actually fun, they crushed the arcade with the juggernaut that is the Street Fighter series - but it's another arcade title that took the world by storm with its bizarre bad guys, mammoth difficulty, and near flawless platforming action. That game series is Ghosts 'n Goblins.

Old-school gamers typically remember the Ghosts 'n Goblins series with a fond layer of nostalgia - and for good reason. These games are fun-as-the-day-is-long, challenging as all get-out, colorful and quirky and full of arcade style action. The plot was always really simple and well-worn territory: you control a hero (in this case King Arthur) and you fight hordes of monsters in order to save your captured princess. Sounds sorta familiar, huh? Just like with Mario and Link - his lady just keeps on getting captured! But that's another review for another day. The real question is: "Have you ever wanted to play as one of the monsters?"

If this red guy came down the chimney - the kids would need therapy.

If your answer is "Yes," then Capcom's 1992 entry in the series, "Gargoyle's Quest II" is the game for you! Aside from being a spin-off game about the red gargoyle Firebrand and sharing some familiar enemies - most of the similarities pretty much end right there. The plot revolves around Firebrand, a gargoyle who is living in "a town of the Ghoul Realm, Etruria." If we're going to go along with the history of Ghosts 'n Goblins canon - this game could be seen as a "sequel to a prequel." After all, Firebrand is fighting in a world before human beings exist - so clearly Arthur hasn't come around to start tossing lances at ghosts yet. The plot is relatively similar to the Gameboy title before it - Firebrand must train himself to become a great warrior to fight an evil force that is sweeping through his Ghoul Realm. In this particular game the evil comes in the form of a black light...

No... Not that type of Black Light!

...which makes most of your fellow townsmonsters and your beloved King Morock bite the dust. So Firebrand must travel to different towns, speak to fellow monsters and perform various tasks in order to receive help along the way.

If you owned an NES and wondered, "when the heck did they release Gargoyle's Quest 1?" then you're not alone. I didn't know before recently that the original was a Gameboy exclusive. I always wonder if it confused NES owners back in the day when games like this or Kings Quest V came out and the person never owned a PC or knew anything about the first four games. Also, I wonder if people knew back in the day that this game is an off-shoot of Ghosts 'n Goblins (also something I didn't know until recently.) Makes you wonder.

Just a little grammatically challenged.

The gameplay is an interesting mixed bag. The game can best be described as an "RPG platformer." You will spend quite a bit of your time walking through towns and talking to others or trekking across a map screen ala Final Fantasy, Dragon's Quest, Zelda, and of course - the first game. To be honest - it feels as if these RPG elements are a little undercooked. In the original game you would wind up fighting enemies in random encounters (ala Final Fantasy, Dragon's Quest...etc.) but in Gargoyle's Quest II, the map screens are mostly barren (save for the occasional monster that stands still and only actually spawns a battle if you walk up and talk to them.) Unlike games such as Ultima or Dragon's Quest - it's only barely required of you to talk to townsfolk and there really isn't much more than some hand-holding "You need to go see person A, but bring them item B first" kind of instructions. Anyone looking for really deep, in depth RPG action should probably look elsewhere as it really felt kind of rushed and underdeveloped. Don't get me wrong - it's a really innovative feature for a platformer to feature RPG elements: it just seems like it was pulled off a bit better in the Gameboy version before it. The upswing is that Firebrand moves lightning fast across the maps and through towns - which is a huge bonus to anyone who's slugged their way across a map screen ala Ultima.

Call the Meat Puppets - I finally found the "Lake of Fire!"

The other element to the gameplay is the more traditional Ghosts 'n Goblins style platformer sections; with a few key differences. For starters - Firebrand can glide through the sky (briefly at first) and shoots sparkly fireballs. A lot of your time will be spent clinging to walls ala Ninja Gaiden or Werewolf: The Last Warrior - and the same control frustrations that are in those are present here. IE: I'm too high to jump under this lantern, I'm too low to jump across this pit of spike-balls, I'm gonna have to hit this enemy and hope I don't die in the process, etc. The RPG element rears its head again here in the platformer elements by way of leveling up your stats. When you start the game, Firebrand moves really slowly, jumps a pretty mediocre distance, and can stay flying in the air for about 3 seconds or less. These things can be improved by leveling them up through your questing.

So how does the presentation stack up for this 1992 entry in a truly classic Capcom series? I'm quite impressed by the graphics. The platforming sections are solidly presented with detailed sprites, arcade quality/style graphics and great looking/well constructed levels. This is definitely proof that some of the later NES games really utilized the full capacity of the NES's graphics capabilities. The map/town graphics are impressive because it's one thing to make big sprites and characters to have a lot of shading and detail but to squeeze that into tiny little sprites is truly something! The music is great in the game as well (though not quite as awesomesauce as the older Ghost 'n Goblins games or the original.) The original Gameboy release had an awesome version of the old memorable G & G theme song and this game has music more akin to the Castlevania series. The sound effects are not nearly as impressive - most of the sound effects sound like garbled glitch sounds. I guess it's appropriate for a group of monsters to talk in "Gwwwwaaaaaarrrr" sounds, but it can seriously get grating when text boxes come up. what now?!

The game has a medium level of difficulty. Clearing the first couple of platform sections and the first boss is a piece of cake - once you start exploring the forest level, to me, the game begins. Those darn floating, spitting rock heads are the height of annoyance. Firebrand's floating-jump will not only help but become absolutely necessary. Accuracy is crucial and that can be tough starting out as the wall-climbing, short-floating action leaves very little room for error. But most enemies don't put up much of a fight and after the first few stages you'll be more worried about getting knocked off of platforms, falling platforms, or accidentally jumping into pits than worrying about the difficulty of enemies.

Moving, shooting platforms: fun as electroshock therapy!

Gargoyle's Quest II is a really fun and underrated RPG/Platformer hybrid. While I do think there are areas where the developers could have expanded the game's capabilities (IE: the underdeveloped RPG elements) it is a fun, fast entry in the Ghosts 'N Goblins series. Besides, how often do you get to fly around as a big red demon shooting glittery fireballs and climbing walls? This game is available right now through Lukie Games. Give this game a shot! You know you need it for your collection!