Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bundle in a Box - Adventure Bundle

The latest indie bundle has been unveiled courtesy of Kyttaro Games, this one focusing entirely on adventure games. If you've read any of the book (or really, just the site's review of Runaway), a lot of modern "professional" adventure games are kinda bad, and it's really the indie scene that keeps the spirit of the genre alive. The games featured in this bundle contains some of the best titles released in the past few years, so skipping it would be the height of foolishness. For the price you get DRM-free copies, as well as Steam keys (and the ability to download it on Desura, an indie game distribution platform that's a bit more open than Steam.) Read more for the contents, as well as the site's reviews, where applicable:

Gemini Rue

Astonishingly good sci-fi/cyberpunk tale with a fantastic visual style and an excellent story. If enough people buy the bundle, everyone will get the soundtrack too, which I bought separately when it came out and was worth the $10 alone.

A duo of comedic titles starring Ben and Dan, two British adventure game enthusiasts caught up in ridiculous scenarios, at least one of which involves Nazi dinosaurs and mecha-riding Hitlers, per above. Sketchy graphics but some of the best written, funniest dialogue to come out of any game in the past few years. 

1893: A World’s Fair Mystery

Not super familiar with this one, actually! It's actually a pure interactive fiction game, which means full text entry with some supplementary graphics. It's also older than most of these, having been published in 2003. 

The Sea Will Claim Everything 

A brand new game from Jonas Kyratzes. Haven't gotten a chance to try it yet, but the art style is nice, and a brand new title in this bundle is a pretty decent deal. If you pay higher than average, you also get: 

A short game about a crime solving rabbi. That makes it sound sillier than it is, but even though there are bits of humor, it's actually quite a dramatic murder mystery, with some excellent writing and voice acting. 

Metal Dead 

Yes, yes, zombies are the "in thing" right about now, but Metal Dead is a much more cartoonish, far sillier take on the topic than even something like Shaun of the Dead. It's quite dark and violent though, of course, with a healthy sprinkling of heavy metal stereotypes.

At any rate, every title in this package (the ones I've played anyway) all come very much recommended, making this an almost absurdly good deal. The only really major indie adventure game that I can think of that's missing are the entries in the Blackwell series, but one of them just came out a few months back, making it a bit too new. (Some of the entries were featured in another bundle not too long ago as well. They're also definitely worth grabbing regardless.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Update 5/17 - Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Nightshade, Cave Noire, Magician Lord, Generation Xbox, Driller Tanks, Quest for Glory interview

Do you like Final Fantasy? We've already covered the main series, and SaGa, so our big feature this week looks at the Crystal Chronicles series offshoot. It goes in-depth with 8 different entries, the main cast of characters, plus a look at some of the merchandising. Still following the RPG theme, we've also got a feature on Cave Noire, a neat little roguelike for the monochrome GameBoy. It's fast-paced and great for those new to the roguelike genre, plus it's been fan-translated. Since it's a monochrome GB title, we should also introduce you to this page we made on the subject of GB filters - since the system had its own screen and distinctive visual appearance, there's been some debate among staff and readers for a while, about how best to showcase GB games. Have your say in our forum topic too.

There's been a lot of NeoGeo re-releases over the years, on digital download services, so it's about time we had a look at Magician Lord. It's an awesome but tough as nails action-platformer, and a refreshing change from the abundance of shmups and one-on-one fighters available for the system. For something with a slower pace, there's Nightshade on the NES, one of the few adventure games to find Western release on the system. It's full of charm and deserved to be better known.

For our regular pieces we have one of the last few Metal Gear interviews, with Ryan Payton from MGS4. A couple more and the collection will be finished. Ryan just last week succeeded with a Kickstarter for his new indie game project, so check that out too. There's also the next part of iOS Shooters, looking at Shmup, ISUD: Bullet Hell Action!, Techno Trancer, and Mortal Skies. Your Weekly Kusoge is Driller Tanks by Hudson, back when they still existed. It's not the worst maze game you'll find from around 1983, but significantly it shows how Hudson were able to learn from their mistakes, refine their designs, and go on to produce countless excellent maze games - until changing market forces killed them. We've also added a review of the new book Generation Xbox: How Videogames Invaded Hollywood, which tells the intertwining saga of books and videos games, starting with E.T. for the 2600 and ending up with motion capture's influence on James Cameron's Avatar. Please do check out the rest of our book section, since we still receive random Tweets from readers only just discovering that we also cover books. Recent additions are: Game Over, The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual, plus Video Kids.

Our featured article is on the Quest for Glory series, since the games were recently released bundled together for about $10 on Good Old Games. It also featured the interview with one of the developers, Corey Cole, which was previously on published in the adventure game book, which was published roughly a year ago from today!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Magazine Reviews - Nintendo Fun Club #3

Well, way back in January of this year, I did a recap of Nintendo Fun Club Issue #2 - and then my course-load got kind of crazy (among other things), preventing me from doing further recaps. Well, now I am back, with my thoughts on issue #3.

Issue #3 - Fall 1987

This issue features our first proper front cover - with color art and everything. Fittingly, Nintendo's current big hit, The Legend of Zelda, graces the cover. We also have our first ad in the magazine - for some of Taito's upcoming titles, including Renegade, Arkanoid, Elevator Action, and Legend of Kage. These ads would continue over the rest of the Fun Club News run, but would not survive the switch to Nintendo Power.

We start off with an article on Metroid and, well, while the cover gets color, the interior of the magazine is an odd mix of black-and-white, red (or another color) and white, and full color. I kind of get the impression that part-way through putting this issue together they got the green light for color. This article also features the first appearance in the magazine of screen shots. While this issue isn't nearly as screen shot heavy as Nintendo Power would eventually become, it's a start. I'm getting the impression that the staff is slowly figuring out how they can get screen shots to work in the magazine. We also get a look at Kid Icarus, including a discussion of the sacred treasures and weapons.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

199X Dispatch - Statmeister Meisterstat

199X Dispatch brings you the latest news on my progress through the Game Club 199X game(s) of the month. This month's games are Wonder Boy in Monster Land (SMS) and Dragon's Curse (TG16).

See that red tadpole in a loincloth? I'm gonna kill it.

I spent my last lunch break and the better part of Sunday afternoon beating up sunflowers in a desert. Why? I want stones. What are stones? I'm not sure, but for some reason they raise my "CP," which for some reason makes shopkeepers more interested in taking my money. Money, itself, comes very cheap. That's how things work in Monster World.

Whereas Wonder Boy in Monster Land was all about the making money appear out of thin air, Wonder Boy III is about charm. In this game, I have more than enough money to buy just about anything, as every other enemy drops a giant sack of Monster-Nickels.

Pretty tough looking. Except for that neckerchief.
The tedium of grinding is exacerbated by the game's transformation feature, which is as frustrating as it is clever. The wacky power ranger dragon-bot from the end of Monster Land, with its dying breath, cast the titular "curse" cast upon our hero, transforming him into a dragon. The hero must fight his way through a series of bosses, clawing his way back up to reclaim his human form, species by species. Although there is a way to change back into previous forms, in the early part of the game you are stuck as whatever you are.

My problem is that, in rushing through the last transmogrification (the tiny, round-eared lawsuit bait "Mouse-Man") I neglected to buy any stat-boosting gear. Now, as the hulking Piranha-Man, I can no longer reach those shops. It's like locking myself out of my apartment. Which I totally never do.

Want to know how much more charismatic you'd be draped in mithril? 12 more,
compared to being draped in what I presume is chain-woven goblin flesh.
This is bad. Armor and shields can boost various stats, as with many RPG-ish games. One of those stats  in Dragon's Trap/Curse is "charm," which has no effect other than making shopkeepers more willing to part with useful swag. Since I did not buy the "Dancing Shield" or some other nonsense, I now need to grind for charm-enhancing stones until I'm friendly enough to buy a vital set of armor. Without which, I cannot cross this vast lava field between me and the next objective.

The game is quite generous with healing items. If you're low on health, dead enemies are far more likely to relinquish hearts, big and little, as well as potions, which breath life back into our hero when he runs out of HP, just like the reserve tanks in Super Metroid. But there seems to be no reliable way of grinding for those little red stones. And thus, I am left to wander this desert, whacking snakes over the head, collecting rocks.

If you'll excuse me, I just raised my CP stat by another two points. Time to check if the one-eyed pig-man wants my money yet.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sega Graffiti Competition Results

You may recall I blogged about the competition before. The results are in. Sadly I did not win. In fact my entries aren’t even displayed on the entries page. Here is a video of those who did win. And for your viewing pleasure, here are my creations: Beardtrain, Moustache Udders (heading pic), and Mr Cassette. I’m not sure why the entry wasn’t even listed on the entries page – perhaps the sight of an anthropomorphic beard with cow udders was just too intense for Sega. Well done all who won!

EDIT: It's been revealed that actually my entry IS shown online. Excellent!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

8 May - 194X, Alantia, iOS Shooters, Gunman's Proof, Wing of Madoola, DogDay, Chuck Ernst Metal Gear interview, Game Club 199X

Our big feature this week is an epic look through the entire 194X series from Capcom, so that’s 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and 19XX, plus all the variants and offshoots for all the machines. If you like vertical shooters, then you’ve no doubt played at least one of them. In addition to this we also have part 8 of our iOS Shooter Coverage, examining Buster Red, Shoot the Magic, Lightning Fighter and Ultrablast. Our triple-whammy of blasting action finished off with Alantia, an unusual and very difficult anime-inspired Space Harrier clone for the PC-88.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lost doujin games (NSFW)

Doujin = Japanese indie game (loose translation)

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for months now, ever since Megaupload went down, and have kept meaning to put it up. A look at how archives of doujin magazines were lost in the FBI raid, and some interesting homebrew titles which no one seems to have an archive of. Also, anyone who has seen these Doujin Soft magazines will know that a lot of them contain nudity – well there’s none in this blog entry... OK, so maybe there’s a little, but I censored it, and I only include it because there’s a non-existent Atlus connection.