Archive for June, 2007


Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Short and sweet impressions of a game I wrote about in 2003

Okay, I’ll admit it, I suck at text adventure games. I must have invested eight or nine thousand hours in Skullduggery: Adventures in Horror and I never made anything resembling progress in that game. I don’t know what it is, maybe I just don’t understand how things are supposed to work in games like that. I want an unlimited inventory. If I have to kill a Vampire Cocker Spaniel with a banana shaped bowl filled with lime Jell-O, then there should be a book or something telling me that. Things like that aren’t normally come to mind when I’m playing games.

That being said, there’s a place online where you can play a versoion of the ‘classic’ game that ‘hardcore’ ”gamers” still giggle about, Zork.

The Typing of the Dead

Friday, June 29th, 2007

A little on the busy side today, please enjoy these impressions of a game that I wrote back in 2002.

If you’ve already played The House of the Dead 2, then you know how the basic story of this game goes. Two agents run around a city, killing millions of zombies who are trying to eat the world. In the original, you were armed with a gun, in this one, you are equipped with a portable Dreamcast and keyboard strapped to your chest.So how do you beat up zombies? Every time a zombie appears on the screen, a little bubble will pop up with what phrase it takes to kill it off. The phrases range from one letter to phrases that are a little odd. Part of the reason that the game is so fun is that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, it knows that deep down it’s just a typing tutor. So it has to do something to keep all you grownups coming back for more (this game is rated mature, after all). One of the most striking changes is in the weapons that the zombies use. Instead of axes, they use spatulas and toy hammers. It makes me giggle just thinking about it.

Along with ‘Arcade Mode’ the game also features an ‘Original Mode’ which features ‘powerups’ you can get (they slow the zombies down or finish typing the word for you), as well as some drills to help increase your speed and accuracy (‘Defeat 30 zombies as quickly as possible!’, for example.) There are plenty of modes to keep you entertained for a while.

So, if your typing skills are sub-par (like mine) and you want to try to make them better, then you should go find this game. Also, as a side note, the game was developed for the computer, but never released in the United States. If you go here you can download a demo nontheless.

Get it. It’s good.

Mega Man’s Soccer

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the characters from the Mega Man universe decided to settle their differences with games of soccer instead of blowing each other apart? No? Well, I hadn’t either until I played this game.

Mega Man’s Soccer is exactly what the name implies: it’s a soccer game where the players are some combination of Mega Man and the various Robot Masters from some of the NES Mega Man games. Each Robot Master has different attributes: size, speed, and the like. Where they stand apart is that, like traditional Mega Man games, each one has a special ability for you to use. Bubble Man, for example, can encase someone in a bubble, incapacitating them for a couple of seconds.

The only really interesting part about this game is mixing the various Robot Masters into your team, balancing strengths and weaknesses, until you have your super-awesome unbeatable team. Other than that, it’s pretty standard soccer with Mega Man and his pals roaming around.

Back to the Future II and III

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The Back to the Future movies were pretty straightforward, and were more silly than anything. The game based on parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy was not only not straightforward in the slightest, it was quite tough.

The only thing that these games had in common with the movies were that the characters were named the same things that they were in the movies, though they didn’t look very much like their namesakes, there was a time-traveling car that flew around, and you had to stop Biff and restore the timeline.

What you had to do was travel around the different times to find different object rooms in the city. These object rooms would have some kind of object to find and a challenge that you had to complete. The challenges were mind-bendingly difficult, and didn’t make any sense whatsoever. They were mostly the variety of collecting a set number of objects in a certain amount of time.

You travel through time to access different areas in the city. If a ledge is too high, you can plant an acorn in 1955 and climb a tree in 1985. If a gap is too large to jump in 1985, go back to 1955 where the street hasn’t eroded yet.

There are something like 50 of the ridiculous item rooms for you to find and complete, and doing so will reveal the answer to a puzzle that lets you access the second half of the game, which is apparently just like the first part except that you’re stuck in 1855 and you’re wearing a cowboy hat. I don’t really know that much about the second half of the game, I was only able to play through about half of the first half.

Planet Puzzle League

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

This entry is crossposted from my main site.

I’ve been playing a lot of Planet Puzzle League lately. Tetris Attack is one of my all time favorite games, which means that nobody wants to play it with me anymore. So being able to play the game online was a huge selling point for me.

There are 3 ways you can play online: Novice, Free Play, and Birthday Mode. In Novice mode you play against low-skilled players. Do too well, and you’re barred from playing it any more. I got barred after one round.

Free Play pits you against anyone and everyone, and you compete for bragging rights. I was able to find the most opponents here, likely because the battles are not ranked, though that means that you also won’t show up on any leaderboards.


There are leaderboards, but they only show up in online play in the last mode, Birthday mode. This is where you compete with other people that have the same birthday entered into their DS that you do. If my birthday is any indication, it’s currently very easy to be ranked on the leaderboards for your day. I was ranked third in the world after only winning 5 games.

Single player is standard Tetris Attack/Puzzle League fare. If you’ve played this game for other systems, you’ve played this one. The differences are pretty minor. There are no longer any dark blue tiles, for example. All of the standard modes are there: play for 2 minutes, play until you hit the top of the screen, and puzzle mode where you try to clear the screen with a limited set of moves.

The game, by default, makes use of the ‘book’ orientation of the DS, i.e. rotate the thing 90 degrees so it looks like a book with the touch screen over on the right. You can use the stylus or the control pad to control the game. The problem I had with it is that when using the stylus is that it got in the way and I missed some clears. Using the control pad wasn’t really an option, since you had to put your hands at 12:00 and 6:00, which is a little uncomfortable. Turning the display to ‘normal mode’ and eschewing the stylus controls seemed to be the best solution.

Online mode disappointments aside, this is a solid Puzzle League game that takes the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.


Monday, June 25th, 2007

Excitebike is iconic. Just about anyone that’s a fan of the NES knows about it, and will tell you how great it is. I’ll have to buck the trend say that it’s good, but not that good.

Excitebike is a very simple dirtbike racing game. you have a track that’s a straight line, but inexplicably loops back on itself. Along the way you have a series of ramps, hills, and puddles. The goal being to utilize the hit the jumps and your ‘turbo’ in such a way that you cruise over them without losing an appreciable amount of speed while simultaneously not overheating your engine or landing on your head.

You don’t win the race by beating everyone else, rather you win by having the best time. It’s splitting hairs, sure, but it means that they could have dispensed with the other riders on the track, since they don’t do anything but get in your way.

The real hook for this game is the track editor, where you get to play level designer and make your own custom tracks. This would have been a lot cooler if you could have actually saved the tracks to anything, but since we Americans did not get the Famicom’s disk drive your creations only lasted as long as you left your Nintendo turned on. More aggravating was the tantalizingly non-working button marked ’save’ that would actually bring up a screen that said ‘Saving’, but wasn’t doing anything.

I believe that has been removed in the rereleases.

Nexagon Deathmatch

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

This is the first review I ever wrote for this site. It’s also just about the worst game I’ve ever played, strategy or otherwise. Playing this game was pretty much the genesis of the Review portion of this site.

Picture this: It’s the 44th century and things are going great. There’s no violence, and no crime. There’s only one problem with this Utopian existence. You’re bored. So bored that the only think that you find entertaining is watching people kill each other. That’s where the Nexagon: Deathmatch comes in. The Deathmatches feature convicts battling it out for the ultimate prize: freedom.

This game raises a lot of questions, like, “If there’s no crime, where do the convicts come from?” But those are questions that you don’t need to ask.

I had high hopes for Nexagon: Deathmatch, but I’m not sure why. The official website actually exists, and has some stuff to download, which is good. Even the opening movie (which you can download for free from your friend the Internet) is kind of neat.

The game itself, on the other hand, is another story.

Nexagon tries to be a combination of some Real Time Strategy game and Smash TV. So you not only have to stomp your opponents into the ground, but you have please the advertisers while you are doing so. Pleasing the advertisers is as simple as controlling a billboard (placed throughout the arenas) or buying little decorations for your Sanctum (your base). Of course, you also have to work out a budget to also buy more units. They may be convicts, but they don’t work for free.

Believe it or not, the actual gameplay is pretty pathetic. It consists of you giving your units the general idea of what you want them to do, and then they go over and only kind of do it. The gameplay is kept moving through the use of the automatic pause feature, that stops the game whenever something important happens (like your unit sees another unit). Once each side gets more than one unit on the field, you can imagine the fast-paced action when they start looking at each other.

Combat in this game is a little funky as well. When the units are walking to where I told them to go, and they get attacked, they dutifully keep going and won’t fire back until they get to wherever it is I told them to go. Bless them.

I only managed to play through the tutorial mode and part of the first map of campaign mode before the game mercifully killed itself off, so I’ll concede that I may not have gotten to the part of the game where I unlocked the Fun.

Everything is in 3D, and the Thralls look different enough that you can tell them apart from one another. Mostly. One of the features that the box boasts about over and over again is the ‘completely destructible 3D environment’ which is good, because I wanted to destroy everything about this game. The music is passable, but the announcers get old very quickly. They’re using their ‘DJ’ voice throughout the matches, I guess to simulate a television broadcast. The only thing it simulates is ‘Lame.’

OK, well, the game has a multiplayer feature, but I couldn’t use it. There were no servers up when I was playing the game, and I wasn’t going to make one of my friends blow the $2.99 plus tax on this game to try out the crappy multiplayer.

So what went wrong? The official site looked decent. The trailer looked OK. The testimonies from CDMag and on the box were glowing (sort-of). Even the cover of the manual was printed in color.

I can certainly see why this game went from it’s original price of $39.99 to $2.99 since it’s original release in September 2003. I understand that there are a few people that actually ended up liking this game, and I feel sorry for them. If you have the opportunity to pass up this game, take it. Take it and run.

Game Name: Nexagon Deathmatch
Platform: PC
Purchased from: EB Games
Amount of money I wasted on it: $2.99
One word summary: “Pitiful”

Sega Smash Pack Twin Pack

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

This review originally appeared on this site in April of 2005.

Back in the days when Crystal Pepsi grew wild on store shelves there was a battle being fought for the video gaming dollar of Young America. I chose to devote my time and resources to the Nintendo front, and somehow managed to almost completely shield myself from the “other” console, only managing to occasionally squeeze in a game or two at a friend”s house while trying to figure out how to hold a controller with no Select button.

Now… several… years later I discovered that in exchange for one portrait of Alexander Hamilton I can get an opportunity to play 15 of the games I never really got a chance to experience, and one game SEGA throws in with everything.

Sega Smash Pack Twin Pack features the following games faithfully emulated on your PC:

  • Super Shinobi
  • Vectorman
  • Altered Beast
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Columns
  • Outrun
  • Phantasy Star 2
  • Golden Axe
  • Comix Zone
  • Flicky
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Shining Force
  • Vectorman 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Super Hang On

The selection of games is interesting to say the least. There seems to be mostly “classic” games in this collection with relatively few games thrown in as “filler.” I do find it slightly odd that they included Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Phantasy Star 2, but not the progenitors of their respective series. The only real dog in this collection (besides Sega Swirl) is Flicky. All the other games in this collection are action/adventure games and Flicky plays more like a bizarre version of Mappy, which I never found to be terribly enjoyable.

I think I walked by a demo of Sonic 2 in a store once, and my memory of how that sounded is corroborated by how this version sounds, so I can assume that the sound for the rest of the games is emulated as flawlessly as can be expected. I didn’t really notice too much of a sound enhancement while playing these games with surround sound speakers.

Graphically the games look exactly as they should… if you stand about 15 feet away from your monitor. Playing low-resolution games on a high-resolution computer monitor makes it look like someone at Activision Value Publishing found a way to animate it using the tiles on my kitchen floor. Heavily detailed games like Comix Zone that would probably look fine if there were some way to zoom out end up looking like a Genesis threw up all over my screen.

If you”re going to be playing any of these games for any length of time (with the possible exception of Shining Force) you should do yourself a favor and get a game pad. In my experience, trying to play games designed for a pad with a keyboard just never translated well enough to be particularly enjoyable.

Game Name: Sega Smash Pack Twin Pack
Platform: PC
Purchased from: Target
Amount of money I wasted on it: $9.99
One word summary: “Acceptable”

Harley’s Humongous Adventure

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Harley’s Humongous Adventure was a very peculiar game, not merely because the characters are animated with digitized stop-motion animation, but from the subject matter. Harley, a scientist, managed to shrink himself down to bite-size and in the process break his shrinking machine into pieces that inexplicably wind up in various rooms in his house.

I did not know this before I started this game, but when you’re small, things become exponentially more dangerous. The tops of tin cans fly off and hit you, thumbtacks are always sitting on the ground point-up, Bunsen burners are always shooting impressively tall flames, etc.

Your goal is to search in and around Harley’s house for the missing parts of the shrinking machine, reassemble them, and get back to adult-scientist-in-a-green-jumpsuit-size. Inexplicably, each and every piece of the machine is guarded by a large mouse that you have to fight. In each battle you blow off one of its extremities and it scurries off to guard the the next piece, replacing what you blew off with whatever household item it finds along the way.

I only rented the game twice, and was never actually able to restore Harley to his normal size. I was, however, able to blow off the mouse’s arms, legs, and face. That made me feel good inside.

Gargoyle’s Quest

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

I picked up Gargoyle’s Quest at one of my local used video game shops for a paltry sum. I didn’t really know what it was all about, I had only seen some screen shots in a couple of magazines. What I did know was that it was a vaguely RPG-ish game with the main character as a gargoyle. Awesome.

I never had a manual or anything for the game, and never bothered to look up the game later, but from what I can gather, the story goes something like this: Firebrand, our hero, has to travel back to the ‘Ghoul Realm’ and stop Breager, who is some kind of Demon-king… guy.

The game mixes up side-scrolling action sequences with traditional RPG overworld elements. Pretty much all the action takes place in these side-scrolling stages. Firebrand’s problem is that he starts out super weak. He can spit tiny fire-marbles, and can fly just barely further than he can jump. To counteract this, he has to fight impossibly large and mobile monsters to get various candles and claws to increase his attributes. How a candle makes him fly further, I haven’t determined.

The only problem I really had with this game is that it was pretty short. I played through it enough times that I was able to blow through it in less than an hour. Still, it was a pretty fun hour.