lördag 11 december 2010

A (rough) personal account - Castlevania series

Hm, is this the 'bat problem' they told me about..?

At this rate it is getting understandable they sent for me, but still...

AH! This feels SO right!
(though, I was kind of expecting a Crobat)

For a long time, I have shunned this franchise as overly hyped and undeserving of its praise, considering the earlier games' quite stale gameplay and controls, with mainly the original Castlevania for NES, Castlevania: Dracula X and Super Castlevania IV, both for Super NES, composing the foundation of my experience. I simply did not understand how anyone could like a game such as this (and in a way, I still don't..).

It was much later, after playing through the two GBA-games Aria Of Sorrow and Harmony Of Dissonance, concept-wise drastically different and heavily inspired by fan-favorite Symphony Of The Night (as I have yet to play), that I gave the series a second thought, and a few more years until I, through my Wii's Virtual Console functionality, finally got around playing the exquisite Rondo Of Blood in all it's PC-Engine Super CD-ROM glory. Through this event, my non-existent joy of being a Vampire Killer in classic context, was struck by rainbows. I actually want to place it among my top ten favorite 2D-platformers now, which says a lot since I have a subtle 2D>3D preference.

In this sense, I probably think quite alike the average Castlevania-fan, with Rondo Of Blood and already mentioned SotN (or in my case, it's brainchildren) seen as the masterpieces of the series. The strange thing is I still cannot stand the earlier games, with the possible exception of Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge for Game Boy. I don't even feel a need to mention the next-generation 3D-games, as they simply suck from my point of view. So, maybe this is just a very obvious case of "everyone likes a good game", with the earlier titles getting all their splendor from high-pitched, deluded fans? Or maybe not. The original Castlevania is, and probably always will be, regarded as a classic. So WHY IN DRACULA'S NAME do people fancy them? I attempt to find out. Someday...

"Rabbit that uses a clock to stop time. Strict in regards to tardiness"
- Excerpt from "Chronomage" Enemy Data (Castlevania: Aria Of Sorrow)

onsdag 24 november 2010

Review - Tamagotchi (Digital pet)

The big craze 1997-1998 in the west, but something that most people forgot about really quick, like so much other fads such as “Pogs” “GoGo's Crazy Bones” and “Furbies” to mention a few. So let’s refresh your memories with a very 90s song.

Wasn’t that informative?
Maybe not but at least it gives you idea how big the fad was and that song wasn’t alone. It exist another song (with the same name) from the same time period from the band “Daze”.
Tamagotchi is a handheld virtual pet that could function as a keychain, created by a lady called Aki Maita. She loved pet and wanted to have one that could be with her all the time and started to fiddle with the idea. And the idea was then produced by Bandai in Japan, 1996 and shipped to the west 1997.

The goal of the game is basically to raise and take care of an alien pet, which can grow up differently depending on how you treat it.
And for some inexplicable reason the toy was a big hit when it reached the west and everyone wanted one but Bandai didn’t expect the popularity of the toy, so they demand was higher than the quantity available.
But when Bandai lived up to the demand the fad was already gone, which hurt Bandai financially.

But Bandai soon revived the franchise during the early 2000s and the franchise seems to have a steady sales record nowadays, even if it doesn’t come near the sales during the heydays.
So nowadays there exist many variations on the toy, an anime series, a few movies and various merchandises, but for now I’m going to write about the original, I’m going to talk about some of the modern ones later on.

The game starts with an egg, which hatches five minutes after you have set the time.
And the creature that comes out of the eggshell is very demanding, always in need of your attention. But when it grows older the more independent it becomes and need you overlook less and less (but it refuses to become housebroken).

To interact with the creature you need to choose different options in the menu bar, something that can be kind of bothersome with the limited set of buttons for example one of the most important option, “Status” were you check up how your tama is feeling, is located on the lower screen so it requires several button presses to reach it.

The Tama’s have a good apatite, so you need to feed them regularly. The available goods consist of a healthy meal that fills its stomach and a yummy treat that makes the little Tama happy (but not without side effects, it’s not exactly good for ones weight to chew down upon cakes all day long)

Food accumulates waste, waste that usually ends up on the floor since your little darling can’t be housebroken. And it’s up to you to take care of the waste, since you probably don’t want you’re Tama to live in a pigsty (hopefully).
If you have good timing you can catch the Tamagotchi looking constipated and see it reliving itself on the floor. But that is a very rare sight, so try to cherish that awkward moment as much as you can if you are so lucky to see it.

You can play with it to raise it happiness and burn fat, in Gen.1 you guess in which direction the tama is going to look in. In Gen.2 you get a number and you have to guess of the Tama is thinking on a number lower or higher than the number given
Sometimes the Tama acts up and don’t want to eat your yummy cooking or play some games with you even though it’s clearly is hungry and playful. Then you need to give it a stern look and give it a scolding (you better eat your vegetables young man, or no television for you, go to your room and stay there).

Like most “living” being it can get sick and the Tama don’t like to take its medicine so it can be a little hard to give the tama its treatment.

That is everything, you can try to treat the Tama differently to see the various evolutions but it’s not worth it since the game isn’t very entertaining.

And when we are on the subject on characters, let us smoothly switch the subject to the differences between the releases, since the biggest difference is the characters.

Differences between Gen.1 – Gen.2
The original Tamagotchi exist in multiply variation, in West we got Gen.1 and Gen.2 but the Japanese’s are at little different. Gen.1 is basically the same in Japan, the only difference are the secret characters.

But gen.2 is a lot more confusing in Japan since the released two different series but Im not going to bother to try to explain it, hopefully my chart can give you an idea.

The original Tamagotchi isn’t very fun, since it’s so demanding I could live with the simplistic game play if I only needed to pock at it occasionally but that not the case. I can only recommend it to parents that want to try out the children’s caretaking skills before buying a real life pet.
But I still like the concept, which is why I decided to try one of the later versions, and they are a lot more going for them. And as cheery on the top have a comic

måndag 15 november 2010

Give up your last dime for a just cause. If you want.

Follow the link to back up what seems to be a potential treat for both knowledge-base and ear. If you got some spare change left, you could even donate. Oh, and by all means, spread the word!

Ps. I am personally really excited about Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka being included! Ds.

lördag 13 november 2010

Review - Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble (GBC)

Yo-ho! David here. My initiative for reviewing this particular game has several reasons for it;
  1. The unique control scheme, centered around a built-in sensor which enables tilting the cartridge (and naturally the unit holding it) to roll Kirby around, including the ability of giving it a quick shake to make our Hero of the Stars jump. As far as I know, very few games has this functionality, and therefore it could be interesting to unveil it properly.
  2. The fact that when I have searched for related articles around web communities, no one, or at most a select few, seems to complain about the aforementioned control-scheme lacking in several aspects, mostly just reminiscing about it as pleasant near-present nostalgia. Ah, the blinding speed of technological development. I mean to change that, based on my own experience of playing through the first half of the game (I could actually not bear to finish it, which is unusual for a first-party Nintendo title).
  3. This title is quite obscure for the people of the PAL region, as it was never officially released in that part of the world (in other words I had to import it myself). Therefore, knowledge about this game's existence should be promoted.
  4. It is a Game Boy Color title, in addition to belonging within a franchise I have some personal affection towards, both being attributes forming a driving force for me to make some noise. For you who have read my self-introduction a few posts earlier, this last point makes a lot more sense. Maybe.
Gameplay Overview
My thought is that, as this is a game which is a little tricky creating your own screen shots out of (again, because of the control-scheme) I will shamelessly use a few videos I find representative enough to generate a clear image of what it is like, courtesy of AJNitr0 on YouTube, saving time and energy through only explaining things that may come off as unclear, and finish up with my own opinion about it all. Here we go then;

Things start off slow in this quite uninteresting first stage of the game, with some signs along the way teaching you the basics to prepare for what is yet to come (which this already seasoned player unfortunately doesn't take time to stop and read in this video).

Four stages and a boss battle later, you arrive at this cave. In this video you can also see the second effect of using the jump-technique; enemies and panel-items flip over and turn into something else!

This stage made me furious. Apart from the slightly annoying octopi that fires barely visible bullets, pushing you into the water where you will drown within 3 seconds, at 00:29 the real troubles begin. Down below I will develop my argument further...

And there you have it. Showing off the first course in the first three worlds was a conscious choice in an attempt to, in a rough way, give away the learning curve, and variation in world/level themes. If you crave more to get a satisfying picture of the game, just check our the origin of these videos where you can find all levels of the game covered.

First and foremost, I need to stress that this game is much more difficult to play, and thus harder to enjoy, in practice than it looks. The smoothness of the gameplay videos probably stem from a combination of adequate skill, yes, but also the fact that it is played on an emulator, substituting real-world, physical tilting with the press of buttons (which results in increased accuracy). This is where my main critique comes into factoring.

The Issue of the 'Inhuman' Sensor
Through the title screen, which you suitably already got a good look at considering you watched the first video, you have access to a sub-menu called 'Options'. Well yes, not very radical is it? Anyway, delving a bit deeper, we are going to look at the uppermost alternative in this menu, 'Position'. Here you can choose between two modes that will determine the neutral angle of the tilting sensor, and thus your play-style; "Flat" or "GB". The first one will make Kirby stand still while the Game Boy is held in a vertical position, and mo- ..err, ROLL in the direction you tilt, accordingly. As great as the idea might have been in theory (replicating the way you would hold a marble-game) the problem is, as you know if you have ever owned a Nintendo hand-held prior to the ones with back-lit screen, the natural position if you want clear vision on your side is holding the portable in a slightly angled sort of way. So, how to get around this very physical obstacle?

Well, the 'GB' alternative is supposed to solve that (Ah, what could it possibly mean..?), giving the neutral angle a twist as to make it adjust to the fact that the individual playing is a person enjoying their leisure, probably sitting like we humans tend to do; upright (or even leaned back, if he/she is feeling comfortable enough). Thus, it seems like a good thing it's there. Or rather, it would have been, if the controls now were not way off in accuracy.

Taking the example of mentioned and personally despised course 3-1, there is a few points where you have to make Kirby roll in a perfectly straight line, and this is where the true faults of the 'GB'-setting really shine through; I actually found it impossible to cross without resetting the game (yes. that is what you have to do to reach the Options-menu anew and change the 'Position'-setting...). Putting my human preferences aside and going 'Flat', I managed to cross after trying my hand at the course once again. Truly a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, or as we say in Swedish: "Pest eller kolera". Add the flimsy jump-functionality triggered by a quick physical motion of the Game Boy, with the many pitfalls of the level-design in mind, and you get something.. not likable.

"Fun concept, mediocre implementation" make Whispy a sad tree.

With the fuss of this game centered around it's unique (and now unveiled as awful) control, the visual backing of the video-material in mind, I don't feel any need to describe any aspects of this game further, seeing as it is laid out as your average platforming-game.

It may seem like a strange thing to say, but I sincerely hope that my feeling of disappointment rang out in a clear tone. Bad controls make a bad game. Of course, it's completely up to you if you want to try this out for yourself, but there is definitely better games in the franchise. I have not been able to try it myself yet (at the time of typing this), but Epic Yarn seems to have pulled off a better job at originality, even though it does not strain as far away from the series basics. That is how it should be.

söndag 31 oktober 2010

Review - Fetus (PC)

FETUS, an indie game by Ted Lauterbach

Since I saw the trailer to the sequel recently, I decided to talk about its the predecessor “Fetus”, a puzzle platform game to the PC:e and web browsers.

It was an entry in one of GameJolts competition, the theme at that occasion was “Minimal” something that T.Lauterbach interpreted as “Minimal amount of sense and colors”

Let’s summarize the story real quick.
The game is about the blue creature named Aramas, which is trapped in “nether-regions of the abyss” by a fetus, and Aramas can’t wait to give the fetus some payback. The only trouble is that the Fetus can only be harmed by the hand of the undead.
So Aramas builds a time traveling device to transport himself back when he is dead. You play as Aramas before he dies and along the way you will meet your own ghost that has traveled back in time to kill Fetus.
Pretty brain boggling stuff, but it certainly remains true to the creator’s intention

The story is never told in game, so you have to either use your imagination and build something by vague clues or read the story separately online, in that old school kind of way.
But the story aren’t necessary to enjoy the game, all you need to know is that you are trapped and need to solve some puzzles.

Game play
Your goal is to get to the big screen television that show statics to get to the next level, but the hitch is that it can be kind of hard to reach since your character can’t jump, but do not worry the “Abyss” don’t play by the rules of physics.
If you walk off-screen you appear on the opposite side, so if you jump down a pit you can fall down on the platform above you, you can also get stuck in a never ending fall if you aren’t careful.

In some of the later levels is the big television inactive, but small television scattered over the room are showings statics instead. If you turn all of them of, it will activate the large one so that you can continue.

The only real obstacles are some laser that instantly kills you, witch you need to bypass with the help of various tools. To your disposal you have Boxes, Gravitation switches, buttons.

The box is just a box, but the laser can’t penetrate them and they are kind of heavy, which comes in handy if you need to press a button that won’t stay put.

The button summons a box in a designated advantageous position as long as it’s pressed.

The Gravitation switch, does exactly what its name implies but it only affect the object or individual that touches it, which can lead to some odd sights, such as boxes in the ceiling.

It’s not very challenging, you can breeze through most of the puzzle even if you only have a half a brain (not literary since corpses are bad players).

Graphics and sound
“It’s just one of those rare occasions when a game is actually better off without music”

Personally I don’t like the bleak atmosphere, but I like the visuals, very sparse and to the point but the sound ruins that somewhat for me, statics and silence aren’t the greatest ear candy.
I like to have something to listen to when I think, it may not improve my thinking abilities but its makes it more relaxing.
But that’s just me, quit a few people like this kind of atmosphere as the quotation above shows.

It’s a very short game but since it was made for a compo it’s understandable.

Gameplay switching gravity is always interesting mechanic but combined with a wrap around screen? Good fun.
Graphics as I mentioned early I like the graphics but they lack polish.
Sound yeah, it’s pretty silent, something that you either hate or love.
Replay value, none, the bane of most puzzle games.

Go and grab the game at Gamejolt

I have high hopes for the sequel "suteF" now that it have had a longer production time, I really want my brain to sizzle completing a hard puzzle. Take a look at the trailer, its looks grand, the graphics are overhauled and it will actually feature music to some extent.

söndag 24 oktober 2010



Coming soon!

fredag 15 oktober 2010

Self-Introduction - Niklas

My area of expertise is graphics, not in technical detail but aesthetics, so I often focus on that for better or worse when I pick a game. If I find the aesthetic repulsive I usually avoid it even if it’s popular. Because of that I have missed lots of good games.

But when I play, the most important aspect is game play. Since it’s a game not an art exhibition, you want more than visual satisfaction.

Some personal statistics;
Favorite genre(s): Platform, Puzzle, Third-person adventure/action,

Favorite system(s): GBA Micro (it’s not backward compatible such as the other GBA systems, but I still love the size and format of it), PS2,

Favorite Game(s): Well, every time I get that question I always say “Super Mario Bros 3, Adventures of Lolo 3 & Megaman 2 for the NES” without thinking, but when I try to use my brain for once I mention, Metal Gear Solid: Twin snakes, Earthbound (Mother 2), Shadow of the Colossus, Hitman: Blood Money, Portal, Pokémon ?, Tenchue 2, Blade Runner, Neverhood, Gitaroo man lives, Pretty Solider Sailor Moon: Another Story , We Love Katamari, Fire´n ice, Chrono Cross, Paper Mario, GTA: Vice City, Fatal Frame/Project Zero.
But ask me again in a week and I have changed my mind…

Since this post makes me look like rabid gamer that thinks that games it the ultimate medium, I must emphasis that I love literature, film, music and painting/illustration. Every medium has their own advantages and limitation, but since I’m probably going to write about this later on, let´s save the details for later and enjoy a cup of “Orange Jaipur” tea while we wait.

//Niklas Åhs

Self-Introduction - David

First things second, a short introduction. I am David, one of two fun-loving contributors of this here corner of cyberspace. I will act as the main textual editor of posts, their direction sprung from mutual consent with my friend, co-command and graphical designer of this blog, Niklas.

Some personal statistics;
Favorite genre(s): Platforming, Adventure (including Point&Click), RPG, Puzzle, Fighting (to some extent)

Least favorite genre: FPS/First Person Shooter (especially those with voice-chat)

Favorite system: Game Boy Light/Color/Advance SP, DS Lite, Playstation 2, Windows XP Professional

Favorite game(s): Super Mario (Bros.3, Land, RPG, 64, Paper (1), NeWii), Metroid (2, 3, 4, Prime), Mega Man (2-6, 9, X & X4), Yoshi's Island, Tetris Attack, Kirby (Dreamland series & Super Star Ultra), Mother/Earthbound series, Chrono Trigger, Tales Of Phantasia, TMNT4 - Turtles in Time, Donkey Kong ('94 & Country-games), Wario Land (2 & 3), The Legend of Zelda (A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening DX, Windwaker), Pokémon (main franchise), Banjo Kazooie, Mystical Ninja (N64 titles), Boktai, WarioWare Inc. - Mega Microgame$, Mario & Luigi - Superstar Saga, Rhythm Tengoku, Drill Dozer, Astro Boy - Omega Factor, Golden Sun+The Lost Age, Fire Emblem (7 & 9), Castlevania (Rondo of Blood, Aria Of Sorrow), Ys I&II (TurboGrafx), Sonic Jam, Panzer Dragoon, Vib Ribbon, Tekken Tag Tournament, Devil May Cry (1 & 3), Devil Summoner - Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abaddon, Ōkami, The Curse of Monkey Island, Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II, Katamari (the concept in general?)
(more to come...)

Other: To get a teensy bit more personal, when I'm not playing games(!) I am a student of religion, with the intention of understanding humanity in a better way. Another way into this as I see it is through mastering language. Currently I study japanese to prepare for field-studies (and for a possible future as scanlator/fansubber in my free time) but also plan to learn latin someday. Anyway, prepare for some possibly interesting input, with this academic luggage in mind (although, don't get your hopes up)!

Hello there, potential follower!

As the title very subtly conveys, the main theme of this co-op blogging project is digital games, reflections surrounding a gaming lifestyle and several facets of the medium in general, not necessarily always closing in on what you would classify as games right off the bat (but who does not like surprises, hmm~?). You may even find it to be a little peculiar, or rather quite so. Our motto could be summed up as this; Dinosaurs may be old and boney, but they still pack a punch!. Contemplate that statement for a while, then have a good read.

So, what makes us special? Well, one thing is that instead of acting out a fetish for retrospective, pre21st century digital entertainment or going with the motto as technology makes development, so do fun respectively, our focus is intended to be of a more wide nature, encompassing all that is worth of the attention, new and old. That aside, of course we have certain preferences that should become clear to you over time (*hint* It's in the title!). Emphasis on we, as this blog is after all moderated by two persons. Special indeed.

Here is to hoping you will drop by at least twice!
// David & Niklas