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By Jonathan Balofsky On 22 Aug, 2016 At 07:20 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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The King of Fighters XIV has arrived at last. After I wrote my impressions of the demo, I was excited to see how the full retail game would hold up and I was not disappointed. Fighting games are a genre I love and this game might just be one of the best I have played in a very long time.

First let me just say that the music in this game is nothing short of incredible. The themes are varied, but almost all are amazing and songs that you can just listen to repeatedly. My personal favorites are Antonov’s theme and Team Art of Fighting but again, almost all ( with one or two exceptions) are great. SNK did such a great job with the audio in this game and I must commend them on making some of the best music I have ever heard in a fighting game.

Now onto a low point. The visuals really are not the best for a PlayStation 4 game. They do not look up to snuff, this is undeniable. That said, when seen in motion live on a TV screen as you play, they look much better than when seen on YouTube videos or Twitch streams. They are not perfect but are very serviceable and the cinematics are actually very well done I must say.

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Now let us discuss the gameplay. The 50 characters you can play as ( 48 at first, but you can unlock the sub boss and final boss) are extremely diverse characters. While you can play as the given teams, you will likely pick characters to make the team that fits you best. The characters almost all have distinct abilities and attack patterns and experimenting with the different characters is a fun experience. Personally my favorite team is Team Art of Fighting, as I just enjoyed their fighting style and playing as them.  Other standouts to me were Alice, Kukri, Nelson and Meitenkun from the new characters, and Geese and Billy Kane and Ralf Jones from returning characters. These were the characters that were the most fun to play as and the ones I found the most interesting. There are definitely some balance issues, with certain characters being much better than others  (I am not talking in terms of tiers here) but there is a day one patch that will change some things when the game launches so maybe the characters will end up more balanced after launch.

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The game brings in mechanics like Just Defend and a new version of Max Mode. This new version of Max Mode also brings a new combo system that can only be done while in Max Mode, Climax Super Special Moves. The game also introduces the Rush system, where hitting light punch repeatedly can trigger automatic combos. If you have meter, you will perform more powerful combos and if you are in max mode, you will unleash an extremely powerful attack. This is a great way to open the game to newcomers and casual fans, and in fact the game seems to actively try to be welcoming to more players. It has an excellent tutorial, good single player content with missions and an arcade mode, with online training offering more ways for a new player to learn how to do well at this game.

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Speaking of online, the netcode in this game is improved from previous King of Fighters games. It isn’t as perfect as some other fighting games out there, but is a vast improvement over what existed in the series beforehand. The day one patch for the game might cause some changes to the online, but as of now I think it is okay. It could stand to be improved and maybe that day one patch will fix some of the issues people have been having and SNK has shown they are listening, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the online.

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Story mode is essentially the arcade mode, since the story is told via interactions between characters before fights. The fights are arranged in an arcade ladder and not all characters have interactions. You will need to play a few times to get all the interactions, and some characters you might think would interact with each other, do not interact at all and vice versa. There are some cinematics that take place at certain intervals between fights. Normally they all play the same way but a few will play differently depending on the team you are using. The game’s endings really help to establish what is going on in this new saga of The King of Fighters and some will truly surprise you in many ways. The interactions can affect the way you play and also encourages replayability so I commend SNK again on this,

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The game is not absolutely perfect, given that there are a few hiccups with the online (which I believe are being worked on) and the visuals are somewhat lacking, but the game has a true charm that others do not. This is a game I can see myself coming back to play over and over, especially if I just want to play a fighting game for a little while, or if I want to play a fighting game competitively. Would I recommend this? Oh I most certainly would. This is a fighting game that stands proud and is worthy of your time. I give this a high recommendations to play!

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No GravatarI had been dreading playing Mass Effect 3 for years because I knew how bad the ending was.  In fact, I procrastinated for a couple of years by continuously playing Mass Effect 2 over and over again.  Well, after I finished ME2 four times through, I decided it was finally time to move onto Mass Effect 3.  I began the game with a bit of trepidation, but it didn’t take me too long to figure out that ninety-nine percent of ME3 is actually an amazing game.  It’s that pesky one percent that wrecks the whole thing.  But I’ll get to that later.  First, let’s concentrate on the good:

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Mass Effect 3 is a third person, action RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA in March of 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and eventually Wii U.  The game uses the Unreal 3 Enginge and improved upon the graphics and game play of its predecessors.

For a moment, let’s pretend that the last five to ten minutes of the game does not exist and only concentrate on the good parts of the story.  And there are many.  Mass Effect 3 leaves off where ME2 left us: after years of warning, the Reapers finally come and invade Earth.  Commander Shepard is recruited to rally a force that will be able to stop them.  After finding a an ancient Prothean artifact on Mars that may be the key to the Reapers’ undoing, Shepard and his team must gather materials and help in order to build the device that will hopefully save Earth and the rest of the galaxy.

It’s a really fun story line, though it’s a bit desperate at times.  There is still a bit of humor thrown  in every once in awhile to keep it from being too dark (i.e. Joker’s The Hunt for Red October joke, which was quite a cute little Easter Egg).  Since the player accumulates resources throughout the game, every missions feels like it matters, even the side missions.

Again, just like the first two Mass Effect games, the space setting is done right.  ME3 has more of the amazingly rich settings that I have loved about the franchise, complete with a detailed set of back-story or “Codex.”  Although the game is Science fiction, the pseudo-science jargon feels like it could actually be real.  From the relays to the use of biotics to the Crucible, everything seems to be plausible and like it could actually happen.

For those players who had played through the first two games, there is an overlying tone of sadness as many of your previous team’s homes get wiped away by the Reapers.  There are also some set characters that will die on you, and depending on how you played the previous two games, others team members may go as well.  I actually cried several times during the game because I had gotten so attached to a few of the ones that died.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Mass Effect 3 moved me so much that I cried.  I cried more in ME3 than ME2, which I enjoyed much more.  The game would have been amazing without those last ten minutes, but I will leave aspect last.

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The game play was actually much improved from Mass Effect 2…once a player gets used to the controls.  I had some issues with the roll from cover to cover for a bit because I was so used to the mechanics of ME2.  After awhile, I got much better at it.  Though it still has standard duck and cover, third person shooting elements, I found that the game enemy AI was much sneakier than in the first two Mass Effect games.  Multiple bad guys would actually try to outflank me on many occasions, something that happened very rarely in the ME2.  The RPG elements felt pretty similar to Mass Effect 2.  In ME3, the missions take on a sense of desperation.  Even better, the planet mining that was the worst part of ME2 has been replaced with a scanning for resources in ME3.  I can be a pain because the more the player scans, the more the Reapers are attracted.  This could be an annoying feature.  However,  at this point, anyone can Google any sector and get the precise places of the resources.  Problem solved.

Just like Mass Effect 2, ME3 is not a typical open-world RPG because of the whole space thing.  However, just like with the previous games, the player does get free roam of the galaxy, as long as there are no Reapers actively looking for you.

Mass Effect 3 continues with the great choice-driven tradition of the series.  Unfortunately, that goes down the drain in the final few minutes, but the rest of the game gives you some amazing choices.  The ability to make decision that will affect how the game goes is one of the best parts of the game.  Also, players still have the option to player Shepard however they’d like.  Dialogue options are more paragon/renegade focused without as many neutral options.  One thing that I did not like about the dialogue options was that a player has to hit all of the right paragon options earlier on in the game to get the “good” Illusive Man response at the end.  I totally missed it, but I really didn’t want to mess with a walk-through on a game that really shouldn’t need one.

Mass Effect 3 is one of the few last-gen games that I can still play and not cringe a bit.  It still looks great.  The upgrades from ME2 were amazing.  The characters looks great and the environment looks even better.  The regular game play is great, but the cut-scenes are what really look amazing.  It is still a game that I would recommend to play graphics-wise even after a year and a half of the current gen of consoles.

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I cannot say enough of the amazing voice actors that have contributed to Mass Effect 3.  BioWare pulled an amazing team together, as always.  Honestly, nothing really disappoints in this game.  Well, except…

Everything goes downhill in the last ten minutes of the game.
I honestly felt like I wanted to hit my head through a wall when I finished the game, and I am not exaggerating.  How can you go from such a great story to such a disappointment?  The last ten minutes of the game are just absolutely awful.  I don’t even really care that Shepard dies no matter what.  He did go up against the Reapers, but the explanation about why the Reapers were destroying everything made no sense.  There was also no real ending choices.  The player basically gets to choose what filter color he or she wants over the end sequence.  I am not exactly sure what BioWare was trying to do there, but I’m assuming that it was a rush to get the game out for whatever reason.  Unfortunately, that rush led to one of the worst game endings in the history of video games.  It’s unfortunate too because the rest of the game is so good.

I still love Mass Effect 3, despite the ending.  To get around the ending, I recommend stopping after saying goodbye to all of your teammates and friends.  Then you can just make up a better ending in your head because what BioWare gave us is just awful.

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No GravatarEvery once in a while, there is an awesome game that comes out, and it revolutionizes the way that a person views gaming.  For me, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games.  It has everything that I demand in a game: a cool story, fun game play, an expansive world, and the ability to customize my game experience as I see fit.  I love the game so much that it’s one of the top games that I’ve put the most hours into, and that’s saying something because I’ve spent a lot of time on many different games.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.  Here’s why:

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing game that was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.  It is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, following 2006’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  Skyrim was released November 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  A remastered version is coming out for the game for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in October of this year.  The game uses the Creation Engine, which was specifically rebuilt for the game after some of the issues with Fallout 3.  Skyrim got critical acclaim and is consistently rates as one of the best video games of all time.

Set 200 years after its predecessor, Skyrim focuses on Tamriel’s Nordic area (Skyrim, hence the game’s name).  There are two warring factions at odds against each other.  The Stormcloaks consist of Skyrim’s native Nordic folk who wish to rule their own land (and are extremely racist).  The Imperial Legion represents the Empire and wishes to keep the region safe and at peace (but then the native people don’t have control of their own area).  After being almost killed by the Imperials and surviving a dragon attack, the player realizes that Skyrim is in deep trouble if dragons have come back.  Eventually, the player finds out that he or she is Dragonborn, a person born with the soul and power of a dragon.  In the main quest line, the player must find out what is going on with the reemerging dragons; however, there are tons of other side quests that jump into the rich history and politics of the region.  It’s absolutely amazing.

The main story is pretty involved, but it’s the expansive world that really shines with Skyrim.  It’s definitely got one of the best maps that I have seen (I still prefer it over The Witcher 3’s map, which is also quite expansive).  The scenery is gorgeous, especially since I play on PC with the graphics on the highest levels with a few texture mods as well.  Most of the items in the world are extremely interactive.  The people in Skyrim are interesting.  The places are fun to explore.  I’ve gone walking around the map just for fun.  I’ve even read about people who create characters and don’t even play the game; they just make up their own story and go hunting animals, collect things, and just have fun.  It’s so in-depth with lore and back-story that it’s hard not to fall in love with Skyrim.

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However, even though the open world is amazing, my favorite part of the game is actually the game play itself.  I have never quite come across anything quite like it.  For me, even another Bethesda heavy-hitter like Fallout 3 or even Fallout 4 doesn’t compare.  Sure, Skyrim is a first-person, action RPG.  A lot of games are.  The thing that really makes Skyrim stand out is the leveling and experience system.  It’s very simple: you level up what you use.  Whatever angle you want to play with Skyrim, you just have to use it to level it.  In this way, players are not pigeon-holed into a certain class.  Do you want to be a mage who has thief tendencies?  Go for it.  Do you want you want to be a warrior who also can use magic when needed?  Yep!  You can do that.  Do you like being a thief who enjoys two-handed combat?  Why not?

I love the ability to be able to do what I want, when I want.  I love that I can mix and match with the different combat styles and character niches because…why not?  I hate having to decide what class to play because two hours later, I want to change it.  Skyrim lets me do whatever I want.  When I initially played it on Xbox 360, I was a bit limited with the amount of perks that I could get, so some specialization was required.  However, on PC I can do a bit of cheaty, cheat, cheating and add perks when I run out of levels.  It’s perfect for the OCD gamer.  In Skyrim, it’s totally okay to be a warrior/mage/thief all at the same time.

The graphics hold up very well, especially if you are playing on PC and can put on some texture mods.  On the consoles, it is starting to look dated.  Hopefully, it will look great again with the remaster.  However, when the game originally came out, the graphics were hand’s down awesome.  I love the textures of the scenery.  Even though some of the color palate can be very heavy on grays and browns, the game is still beautiful.

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There is something special about Skyrim, and it may have to do with the fact that gamers can easily make fun of it without damaging the integrity of the game.  How many “arrow to the knee” memes have you seen?  How many times have people made fun of the fact that one can eat 99 raw potatoes in the middle of the battle to gain health?  What about trying to kill a chicken?  Or, my personal favorite happens to be: why are all of the lights on in a dungeon that hasn’t been visited by anyone in hundreds if not thousands of years?  It’s fun to make fun of Skyrim because it’s a game that no one has to defend as being good.  Some people might not like it, and that’s fine.  But it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad game.  Therefore, when there are some “silly” elements of the game, it’s enjoyable to point out the shortcomings because even though there definitely are some, no other game even comes close.

There are a lot of games that I have enjoyed over the years, but there are few that I truly love.  The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim is one that I absolutely will love forever, even when newer and better games come out.  I have about an estimated 415 hours on the game right now between console and PC, and I have thoroughly loved every minute of it.  I actually cannot think of another game that I have spent so much time on.  That’s the power of Skyrim.

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Run-and-Gun games are a classic staple of gaming. From Contra to Metal Slug, the games have been a crucial part of gaming and one of the most influential genres. So when Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition was announced for Wii U, I became excited at the chance to play a new game like that for Wii U. But was it any good? Well, that is a matter of debate….but I would argue that it very much is a good game.

The game plays very similarly to other Run-And-Gun games but it also goes back to a classic pixelated art style. This art style helps the game stand out with a unique look which can draw in more players. The music is okay and while not the best, it does do its part to help capture that retro feel for the game. The music and art combined work great to create that classic feel and the audio effects and visual effects beyond are a step above other Retraux games in this style.

The gameplay in this is fantastic and insane in many ways. The bosses are over the top, the levels are well made to create a sense of intensity and a feeling that everything will continue to be topped as you progress. Some of these bosses have to be seen to be believed. The game is no cakewalk but once you beat it, you can unlock a hard mode which takes things to the next level of intensity. The game takes the right influences from retro games and the right ideas from modern games. It is a fun Run-and-Gun game that is very much worth your time to check out and play. It is not very expensive and can give you quite a bit of enjoyment. So all in all, I must recommend this game and suggest you do try it out.

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By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Aug, 2016 At 05:56 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments
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One of the most beloved FPS games of the 90’s was Heretic and its sequels Hexen and Hexen II. These games were fantasy themed FPS games where instead of guns, you used magical weapons. While it was heavily influenced by Doom, it was able to establish its own identity and is a series I truly wish would return one day. While that has not happened yet, it seems a spiritual sequel has emerged in the form of Ziggurat.

Ziggurat is a rougelike with procedurally generated scenarios and encounters through the Ziggurat. You play as different characters, each with their own stats, who are unlocked as you progress through the game. By accomplishing various tasks or goals, you gain access to the new characters and their abilities, in addition to the starting characters. The game, much like the aforementioned Heretic and Hexen games, is a first person game with magical weapons and mystical enemies and it is excellent. The game just feels great as you play it and you can really feel the attention to detail put into the game with the various weapons, characters and enemies.

That said, this is not perfect. On the Wii U version, there is a large amount of loading and even pausing the game caused loading and waiting for me. As I understand it, this can be remedied with putting the game on the internal memory and not on an external hard drive. This helps with some of the issues but not all of them.

That said, aside from the loading issues, the game is good. I had a lot of fun playing it and the FPS mechanics and rougelike mechanics worked well. Visually it was stunning and the weapons effects all worked great. The music was great and really worked in well to give the game a classic feel. It really feels like a fun combination of old and new, with the rougelike elements blended with old school FPS game mechanics. It really si unlike anything else. It might be strange to call it a successor to the Heretic and Hexen Games but I truly get the same feeling from this game that I did from those ones. I must recommend this, although I hope there is a patch soon to fix the loading issues.

By N64Memories On 15 Aug, 2016 At 08:59 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, Old School Otaku, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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The Nintendo 64’s library of games was always bemoaned for being tiny. However, many gamers in the late 1990s and early 2000s still would not have had the money or time to really experience all the excellent games the console did have despite its relatively small number. Classic games such as Super Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario Kart 64 were in most people’s collection, of course, but casual N64 gamers might not know of all the excellent alternatives to commonly owned classic games that are out there. Below, Steven Smith (aka @N64Memories on Twitter) suggests 20 alternative N64 games you might want to try instead of your usual go-to games…

Mario Kart 64/Diddy Kong Racing South Park Rally

Mario Kart 64 and, some might say, Diddy Kong Racing are the kings of the kart genre. However, South Park Rally is certainly worth playing if you need to refresh your racing fix because it not only taps into what makes the aforementioned games great, but adds in a classic dose of South Park humour as well as unique challenges not found elsewhere. Trying to collect and hold onto an antidote that will cure you of Mad Cow’s Disease is a unique way of using the karting skills honed in Mario Kart 64. It is a well-crafted game, bundles of fun and different enough not to just be a clone.

GoldenEye 007 The World is not Enough

file-2A lot of what made Rare’s GoldenEye 007 the seminal console first-person shooter is shamelessly plagiarised here in TWINE, but ultimately that’s not a problem. This is because the developers, Eurocom, have reused these features exceptionally well to create another immersive Bond adventure that is just as exciting as GoldenEye 007. In fact, there are a few aspects of TWINE that are better than GoldenEye, which I outlined here in an article on my blog. With this article, I wasn’t saying it is the better game but that it has taken the successful GoldenEye 007 formula and added good gameplay elements to it. Definitely worth playing if you haven’t already.

International Superstar Soccer/FIFA Michael Owen’s World League Soccer 2000

Released in the USA as Mia Hamm Soccer 64, this soccer sim is definitely on a par with the N64 FIFA games and just shy of the brilliance of Konami’s ISS series. The British-based developers used varied camera angles, tight responsive controls and a range of player moves to try to offer an alternative to the dominance of EA and Konami. It sold fairly well but was unfairly overlooked because of the likes of FIFA and now is the time to tell people to give it another chance!

Wave Race 64 Hydro Thunder

Surprisingly, the success of Wave Race 64 early on in the N64’s life didn’t cause of flood (pun intended) of replica games onto the system. Maybe developers knew they couldn’t match its success, who knows. However, Midway’s release is a viable alternative as it is a great conversion of the arcade game. The graphics are gorgeous, the tracks are numerous and varied enough to repeatedly enjoy, and it handles responsively too. Although it isn’t a Wave Race 64 beater, it is similar and it is very accomplished. There’s no harm in putting down Wave Race for a little while if you haven’t tried this yet.

Yoshi’s Story Mischief Makers

2D gaming was going out of fashion in the late 1990s and it took something extra special on a 3D console to get gamers to take notice. Although not as deep as Yoshi’s Island on the Super NES, Yoshi’s Story was a popular 2D platformer on the N64 and clearly had a sprinkle of that Nintendo magic that got people fawning over it. A few other alternative 2D platformers exist to Yoshi’s Story but none as exciting as Mischief Makers. You are Marina, a robot out to save her creator who has been kidnapped. Levels are unique because you SHAKE SHAKE your way up, down and through the semi-2D levels. The story line is bonkers but the levels and worlds that occupy the game are lovely and it gets pretty darn challenging towards the end. To extend longevity, each level can be completed in a time frame to earn awards and there are plenty of secrets to uncover. With 2D back in fashion, there’s no better time to rediscover this one.

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M

From the same development company came an alternative first-person shooter in a similar vein to the Turok sequel. However, Turok 2 was a hugely popular game and Armorines also had GoldenEye 007 to contend with. This means it was overlooked by many casual N64 gamers and shooter enthusiasts. This is a shame because Armorines is a nifty little shooter: swapping dinosaurs for bugs as well as prehistoric settings for futuristic ones. It plays and handles exactly the same as the Turok series and anyone who is a fan of Turok would adore this as well.

Resident Evil 2 Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness

Resident Evil 2 was the ultimate survival horror game for the N64 and PlayStation. However, a decent alternative is the second N64 Castlevania game (the game the first release was meant to be). It is survival horror of the more action variety as you battle giant skeletons, werewolves and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. The levels are vast, the puzzles are solveable but not too easy and there’s plenty to unlock. It’s not as tight a game as Resident Evil 2 but seeing as RE2 was quite a short experience, it’s probably time to think about alternatives and Legacy of Darkness is worth a go.

F-Zero X San Francisco Rush 2049

file-1Lots of futuristic racers exist on the N64 but this is the most worthy alternative that many have probably missed out on. The third N64 instalment of the Rush series is great because it gives you lush futuristic cityscapes with maximum speed and adrenaline-filled racing. The challengers in a race are hard to beat and there are secret passages packed into every track to take advantage of in order to win. F-Zero X is king but here is your prince.

 

 

Banjo Kazooie Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Although not a Banjo Kazooie beater, Rayman 2 is a solid platformer that owes a lot to Rare’s great game.  It shares similar types of non-playable characters who speak oddly, focus on collectables, great variety in locations, puzzle solving and cut-scenes. It never reaches the heights of Banjo Kazooie’s quality because of its linear nature and lack of save points. However, for those who like the Banjo type of platformer, then this is definitely an option.

WWF No Mercy Virtual Pro-Wrestling 2

The N64 is home to many a great wrestling game: mostly thanks to THQ/AKI Ace and, to a lesser extent, Acclaim. These mostly come with a WCW or a WWE licence but there was this Japanese-only release that rivals them all. VPW2 was also AKI Ace produced and featured the great grappling with no sluggishness or over-complicated bout types that come with American Sports Entertainment. This was fast-paced wrestling at its best and has the added bonus of some whacky Japanese commentary. If you have a NTSC-J N64 and love wrestling games then definitely play this as an alternative to WWF No Mercy.

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask Hybrid Heaven

Comparisons between these two games are numerous: action/adventure mixed with RPG, a more sinister storyline with darker environments to explore as well as a host of idiosyncratic characters to meet along the way. Konami’s Hybrid Heaven was a great attempt at producing something the N64 didn’t have at the time and while they are not all successful, it does well at gripping you from the outset with its curious main character and storyline. If you have exhausted Majora’s Mask on the N64 and 3DS then Hybrid Heaven is your next point of call.

Rogue Squadron Battle for Naboo

Battle for Naboo was the spiritual successor to the fantastic Rogue Squadron before Rogue Leader came along on the Nintendo GameCube. It has a lukewarm reputation because of the lacklustre film it is based on. However, if you can see past its Episode 1 links (like you can with Episode 1: Racer) then you will have an enjoyable Star Wars shooter on your hands. It not only sends you to the skies but has you grounded too in various machines doing battle. In addition, you are treated to a lush graphical upgrade as well as maintaining the medal challenges of Rogue Squadron. A worthwhile alternative.

Snowboard Kids Snowboard Kids 2

A little bit of a rarity this sequel but if you are a huge fan of the first and haven’t played the second then you must look this up. In terms of gameplay it is identical, but you have a whole new set of tracks, some new racers, improved graphics and even a little hub world to explore. Only for serious fans.

Perfect Dark Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion

The threequel starts off in a world not too dissimilar to that of Perfect Dark’s; the similarities in location, non-playable characters and futuristic weapons are too hard to ignore. Clearly, Iguana Entertainment saw how stupendous Perfect Dark was looking and went for it! Therefore, Turok 3 is a nice little alternative initially to sink your teeth into before you start to see its roots in the two prequels coming through. For me, it was the best of both and is certainly a game to find and play if you haven’t before.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Similarities between the two extend further than using a colon in their respective titles. In fact, I suspect the Hercules development team played Ocarina of Time throughout the game’s creation. By no means is Hercules a like-for-like game – both in terms of content and quality, because it is not. However, casual fans of both the TV series it is based upon and Ocarina of Time will enjoy sinking their gaming teeth into this one if you haven’t already. There are many locations to explore, fighting on your journey to be had, bosses to battle and items to collect. The RPG elements are by no means as in-depth as Ocarina of Time but they do exist and it has a Zelda-like feel to its graphics and music.  Worth a sniff.

Super Mario 64 Rocket: Robot on Wheels

This was the best third-party platform game on the N64. fileThe storyline is fun, engaging and unique – having to scupp
er the evil JoJo’s plans to ruin opening day for the theme park; the graphics are sublime, with a lovely frame rate and easy-to-use camera (essential for a 3D platformer); and it is mightily innovative because a lot of puzzle solving needs Rocket to apply the laws of physics. What makes it familiar to fans of Super Mario 64 is the fact that the worlds and puzzles do seem to take inspiration from the portly plumber’s adventure. But this is not a negative because it is highly enjoyable. Fans of Super Mario 64 that haven’t played this, must!

Jet Force Gemini Body Harvest

Both are third-person shooters involving bugs to blast. Jet Force Gemini has the unique Rare charm and sublime polish but Body Harvest, for me, is the more immerse game and certainly more challenging. Ignore the poorly-aged graphics because the game is full-to-the-brim with content – so many vehicles to drive, puzzles to solve, places to explore and bugs to squish. If you haven’t experienced it, please do so, but be prepared to sink many hours into Body Harvest. Great value for money right now.

Excitebike 64 Top Gear Hyperbike

If you’ve exhausted Excitebike 64 and love this type of racing game then Top Gear Hyperbike is the next best thing. More accessible then Excitebike was, Top Gear Hyperbike is an easy game to pick up and throw yourself into. The gameplay is solid, the graphics and frame rate are fine, and the races are as fast and furious as they would be in real life. This hasn’t got Excitebike’s depth but if you need some new tracks to race around then you should purchase this.

Super Smash Bros. Rakuga Kids

file (1)Despite the many beat ‘em ups on the N64, there’s no other alternative to Nintendo’s masterpiece than Rakuga Kids by Konami. It’s the only other dedicated game where cutsey characters can wage war on each other. The characters look like they’re right out of a Bust-a-Move game yet the amount of variety on offer, both game options and beat ‘em up moves, means this is nothing like one of those games! Where Super Smash Bros. has Star Fox’s pistol, this has water guns! Rakuga Kids did a great job back in the day of refreshing the genre and probably didn’t enjoy the success it deserved. If you’re a beat ‘em up fan, you have to find this!

Banjo Tooie Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Despite both games being developed by Rare and releasing very late in the N64’s lifespan, Banjo Tooie well out-sold Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Therefore, many gamers haven’t had the chance to really enjoy Conker’s eventual adventure for the Nintendo 64. This is made even more difficult because even a cartridge on its own is around $100/£80. Both are platformers and both are graphically gorgeous, otherwise they are quite dissimilar in tone and action. I consider Conker an alternative to Banjo Tooie because they both require an investment from the gamer to really maximise the satisfaction you will get from playing them. They are large, explorable worlds to immerse yourself in. Try finding a ROM if you cannot afford to invest in a Conker’s Bad Fur Day cart.

 

Steven Smith runs the #N64Memories Twitter feed, Facebook page and blog – www.n64memories.blogspot.com

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No GravatarWhen I was handed a copy of Dead Island: Definitive Edition for the PlayStation 4, I had no idea what to expect.  To be quite frank, I had no clue what the game was about, it’s history, and what I would get on this remastered version.  I guess that it was just one of those games that slipped by me at the time it came out.  However, I am glad that I got a chance to play it because I had a great deal of fun.  It wasn’t what I expected.  I was thinking it would be the typical zombie-slasher game.  Instead, I got a surprisingly fun, open-world Far Cry-like game.  There were some gameplay issues, but overall, I would recommend Dead Island: Definitive Edition as a great edition to anyone’s the FPS/open-world/zombie collection.

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Dead Island is an open-world survival horror RPG that was originally released in 2011.  It was developed by Techland (Polish developer who also did Dying Light), published by Deep Silver, and distributed by Square Enix for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  It got fairly positive reviews when it came out, though there were some negative marks against it, including game glitches.  The game was remastered for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One May of this year.  There is a sequel “Dead Island 2” that is coming out soon, but there is no release date as of yet.  I did not ever get a chance to play the original release of the game, so keep that in mind as I discuss the Definitive Edition.

The premise of the game is that you are one of four protagonist characters (each with their own special abilities and personalities) on the resort island of Banoi (modeled after an island near Papua New Guinea).  I happened to play as Xian Mei.  After a night of partying, your character wakes up to find that much of the resort has been turned into zombie-like creatures.  Your character, though, is immune.  You are guided by a mysterious voice over intercoms and whatnot (think BioShock).  After meeting up with groups of survivors, you realize that you can’t stay on the island forever and a plan is hatched to leave.

It’s a pretty straight-forward story plot.  It’s nothing super special, but I did like the fact that you didn’t have to worry about zombie bites turning you like you would in say, The Last of Us (more on this later).  The crown jewel of the game is the setting and the contrast between the gorgeous island scenery and the undead and gore all over the place.  I wasn’t expecting such a large map to play around in when I initially started the game.  I also enjoyed the pacing and progression of the story as well as some of the side missions, which some of them are actually pretty darned funny.

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The gameplay itself is a little disappointing for a standard first-person shooter.  You are definitely playing it for the open-world and not a seamless gameplay experience.  Jumping, exploring, and combat are all a little stiff with the controllers.  I got used to it after a while, but it definitely is not one of my favorite gameplay experiences.  Overall, it felt like a Far Cry game with lots of missions, weapons, and vehicles.  It’s an action RPG with three skill trees to add points to: Fury, Combat, and Survival.  XP is earned through completing missions and killing zombies, and you get points toward the skill try for each level earned.  It’s very standard fair for an action RPG.

Dead Island really shines with its reliance on heavy melee combat and its weapon systems.  The melee-focused fighting is actually pretty fun.  I liked that fact that I didn’t have to worry about being bitten (unlike other zombie games) because my character is immune.  I was able to just focus on kicking-butt and killing zombies.  The particular style of zombies that Dead Island have are more of the running kind than the slow creepers, so one of my favorite things to do in the game was throw knives at zombies running toward me and watch them splatter.

Weapons degrade after use, so it is vitally important to keep an eye on them and repair or replace as needed, although the higher level of the weapon, the slower it is to degrade.  If a weapon degrades too much, it becomes ineffective and will eventually completely fall apart if you try to keep using it.  The crafting system was pretty cool, as you can collect items and schematics and use them to build weapons.  Weapons can also be modded as well.  Though melee weapons are highlighted, there are guns as well.

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The graphics are improved from the original release, and they look fairly decent on this current generation of consoles.  The tropical scenery is beautiful and a delight to romp around in for a while.  Obviously, it is a remastered game from 2011, so there is only so much that can be done.  However, I found that it was quite enjoyable on the PlayStation 4.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing Dead Island: Definitive Edition.  There are, of course, some things that I have dinged it on, but the pros really outweigh the cons with this one.  I would have never picked up this game (mostly due to the title; it sounds a bit silly), but I’m glad that I did.  It’s a solid game that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, open world FPS.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 11 Aug, 2016 At 03:36 AM | Categorized As Featured, NINTENDO, PC Games, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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Rhythm Games are a popular genre of gaming as are Runners, so what happens when you combine the two? You get Tadpole Treble, an auto-runner where you play as a Tadpole that must find its way home through levels based around music from the creator of Brawl in the family and his brother.

In most rhythm games, you must make specific movements in order to proceed but in this game things are different. As with many other Auto-runners, there are obstacles to avoid and that includes the musical notes that make up the soundtrack of the level. This may sound easy but from the very first level, the game makes no effort to hide just how tricky that will be. In addition, you must also smack things in your way to put them in the right place or get them out of your way. You can also collect bubbles which serve as your in game currency and can later be spent on various extras. Collecting points builds up your meter which can be used to burst forward and smash through obstacles.

As the game goes on, there are more challenges such as more obstacles showing up such as enemies you have to avoid or smack and boss stages. The game also keeps the level design fresh by shaking things up every so often. You will find yourself going in the other direction at one point, or fighting a boss in another. Fighting the boss consists of mostly playing normally except with an enemy chasing after you that you must constantly avoid. This, given the frantic nature of some levels can create a challenge for many players although auto-runner fans might feel more at home.

The game is amazingly addictive with the amount of content and replayability it has. You will constantly be trying to do better and playing over and over just to prove yourself. But it is the music that stands out so much, which is understandable as this is half rhythm game. The music notes that layout the level create different soundtracks for each level, with some being orchestral and some being jazz oriented. Some have lyrics and you will even be serenaded at points by others, created some of the best video game music ever. This is one of the most creative uses of music I have ever seen in a video game and I must applaud the developers. The music is sign beautifully and I would not mind a soundtrack release for the game. But the fact that the music is combined with  a beautiful storybook art style helps make it perfect for all ages. Kids and adults can both enjoy this as well as casual gamers and hardcore gamers, all for different reasons. This is a game for everyone and I must recommend it in full. You will not regret it.

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No GravatarEvery once in awhile, I get to play a game that is just plain fun.  Not that most video games aren’t fun, but some of them focus too much on grinding or the competitive aspect of gaming.  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is one of those games that is just plain fun.  The length is about right, and it’s a lot of non-stop action and adventure.  Plus, it’s got a humorous side to it as well.  Uncharted 2 is just a blast to play with the right formula to be downright awesome.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is an action-adventure third-person shooter that was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony.  It was released for PlayStation 3 on October 13, 2009 with critical acclaim.  It was later released for PlayStation 4 as a part of the Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection October 2015.  For the purposes of this review, I will only be concentrating on the PlayStation 3 version.

Uncharted 2 picks up with the fun and adventure that the original game started.  Nathan Drake is a world-traveled treasure hunter who is approached by some old associates, Harry Flynn and Chloe Frazer, to steal an oil lamp that belonged to Marco Polo from a Turkish museum.  This oil lamp holds the key to Marco Polo’s hidden treasure.  There’s a lot of fun and adventure, including some familiar faces like Victor Sullivan (“Sully”) and Elena Fisher.

I don’t want to spoil any of the awesomeness that is this game, but I will say that it is thoroughly enjoyable.  You get to go to cool places and do some downright cool things.  I love the fact that even though there are some dark tones to the game, the story overall has humorous overtones due to Drake’s snarky comments.  He’s just one of those cool characters in gaming that you just have to love.  It took me a long time to try this series because I thought that Uncharted was just a Tomb Raider rip-off.  That is far from the truth.  Uncharted stands on its own as one of my favorite genres: cheesy, action/adventure in the lines of Indiana Jones or The Librarian.  It’s just something that you just plan enjoy.

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The gameplay of Uncharted 2 has been much improved over the original game.  I had issues with Drake’s Fortune because of the odd save times, weird camera angles, and funky controls at some spots.  All of these issues were corrected in the second installment, making for an extremely fun game that I can just sit and enjoy.  The game is a third-person adventure game with jumps, climbing, and shooting.  Unlike the older Tomb Raider games, the jumping is significantly easier and the puzzles are more thinking puzzles than gaming skill puzzles (anyone who has played any of the retro TR games knows what I’m talking about).  The player must use Drake’s journal in order to solve these puzzles.  

There is also a significant amount of shooting, using a lot of duck and cover third-person shooting.  Drake switches between a two-handed weapon and a one-handed weapon in combat, and he also had limited access to grenades.  Drake is able to pick up different weapons depending on the situation and personal preference of the player.  There are also a few stealth enemy take-downs as well.  There are also secret treasures that are hidden along the way that allows the player to unlock certain rewards.

Besides the main portion of the game, there is also a multiplayer angle that involves both competitive and cooperative gameplay.  The cooperative is fairly straight-forward, team-based, objective-driven missions.  Teams can be up to three people (Nathan Drake and two other characters).  The competitive allows for ten people on a map (two teams of five) and has fairly standard Deathmatch, as well Plunder, Elimination, Turf War, King of the Hill, and Chain Reaction modes.  Players gain points, level up, and can purchase character skins and whatnot.  There are some hardcore players in the midst, though I’m not sure how active the servers are for PS3.

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he graphics looked pretty slick for the time frame that the game came out.  When it came out, it pushed the boundaries for realistic environment.  The amount of cut-scenes in the game were multiplied by seven as compared with the original game.  I am curious to see how it looked on PlayStation 4 whenever I finally get a chance to crack open the Nathan Drake Collection that I got for last Christmas (life got busy).  Naughty Dog also utilized motion capture with the voice actors for more realistic scenes and dialogue.  Obviously, we saw how this progressed with Naughty Dog in the masterpiece that is The Last of Us.

Overall, Uncharted 2 is just plain fun.  It’s one of those games that you can just jump into and not have to worry about.  There’s no grinding nor is there any stale points.  It’s jam-packed action and adventure with Nathan Drake’s wry, humor interjected throughout.  For me, that is one heck of a good time.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 3 Aug, 2016 At 05:11 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, NINTENDO, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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Indie shoot em ups come in all forms. They all want a hook to bring in the players and to be unique. This is a lot easier said than done however and many shoot em ups try things that just do not work in the end.

Chroma Blast is both an arcade style shooter and a reflex game. You must blast oncoming objects but they need to be of the correct colour.  You can only fire certain colours out of certain directions and wrong hits can bounce back. Getting hit by an object causes you to lose a colour for a while, until you can find a powerup to restore yourself back to normal. That is a quick overview of the game.

I can appreciate what WizByte Games was trying to do in order to stand out but I do not believe it worked out for the best. It isn’t that the game is hard, but rather that it combines different genres in a way that does not quite mix well. Its not a puzzle game but it is also not a proper shoot em up and as such it feels almost like an incomplete version of both just thrown together and called a game.

The game is not terrible but it was also not fun for me. The identity crisis the game has really works against it and I do not think it will be something a lot of gamers would be willing to try. WizByte Games also made another shoot em up that is available on the Wii U called Vector Assault and I think that one is more worth your time to look at. It is a genuinely fun game as I plan to review it in the near future.  It is a more traditional fast paced shoot em up and is fun to play. Chroma Blast on the other hand, is just too bizarre for me.

REAL OTAKU GAMER is using WP-Gravatar