Archive for December, 2007

Star Fox

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Star Fox was the first 3-d cockpit-shooting game that I ever played. What that means is that you fly around in a plane (or a space ship in this case), and it’s all done in 3-d. Pretty impressive since this game came out on the Super NES, a system that had no 3-d capabilities to speak of. I won’t bother going into the technicals on how it was pulled off, but just know that at the time, this was simply amazing.

The story is pretty typical stuff. A hotshot team of a fox, a rabbit, a frog, and a falcon under orders from a dog have to save the solar system from the evil scientist monkey-guy. You do this by flying in alternating stages: planets and the space between the planets, fighting ludicrous amounts of ships, enemy creatures, and the occasional building.

You technically have three wingmen… er… wing-animals… wingamals? Anyway, your flight mates are supposed to help you out, but all they do is hang out behind you, occasionally getting chased by an enemy of some sort and yelling at you to save them, like you don’t have enough to contend with. But that’s a minor nuisance. The rest of the game is pretty good, heck, even the little extras sprinkled throughout the game are good. I played with the little model viewer on the ‘continue’ screen for hours.

I’m easily amused by little shiny things. Shininess optional.

Super Burger Time

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Until very recently I had no idea that Burger Time, the game about walking across giant burgers and walking weiners, had any sequels. It turns out that it did, and that the sequels were nothing special.

Take Super Burger Time, for example. It’s just like the original game, but more. More levels, more bigger burgers, more detailed characters, and more weapons to choose from. A pepper shaker’s just boring, you know?

Unfortunately for me, I found this game to be just slightly less boring than its predecessor. I was bored after the first boss fight (yes, a boss fight in a game about building giant burgers) and decided that I didn’t need to play this game anymore.


Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Combat is one of the oldest two player competitive games. It’s pretty simplistic, but that’s okay. This makes it a truer test of player skill that way, I suppose.

All Combat is is a competitive artillery game. You and your opponent travel around the screen trying to off each other. Each time you shoot your opponent, he’s temporarily disabled and you get a point. Get the most points and you win. You can play with tanks, invisible tanks, rubber bullets, little planes, big planes, big planes v. little planes, etc. For the time, this was a heck of an accomplishment.

It kind of looks like a boring game, but it got pretty intense. That may be because when I was playing this game my age was in the single digits and I just didn’t know better. But I don’t think so. A good game is a good game, and lots of those early games were built on solid ideas that endure today.

Dave Mirra BMX Challenge

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

During my stay at Left Field Productions the game that I was assigned to as my primary project was the PSP version of Dave Mirra BMX Challenge. I saw the game come together from blocky test courses with one generic rider to a 9 course circuit, a few different playmodes, and some ‘extreme’ tricking action.

BMX is a racing game and a tricking game. You race three other racers around a track, doing tricks to get boost power (and points, don’t forget about the points). The tracks change the course you have to follow after each lap, making them more than just simple loops. Finish high enough in the standings and you continue on to the next race. Eventually working your way to the Mirra compound for the final race.

Or you could do the trick attack mode. You go through the various stages that you raced on in single player mode, but with a strict time limit. You need to score a certain number of trick points to win. Get enough points and you go on to the next stage. Eventually working your way to the Mirra compound for… eh, you get the picture.

You can also get an ad-hoc game going where you do the above-mentioned modes or capture the crown mode. Capture the crown places a crown somewhere in the level and you have to get it and hold on to it. You grab it from other players by running into them. Hold it the longest and you win. This mode is probably my least favorite of the three. Most of the courses just don’t seem designed with this mode in mind.

Since this is a game that I personally worked on, I’m not going to comment on how good or bad I think it is. I’m intimately familiar with the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything else about this game. You’ll just have to decide for yourself if you think it’s worth playing. I played it nearly daily for several months, and am still alive to tell the tale… so far as I know.

Ninja Gaiden

Monday, December 17th, 2007

I don’t really remember the first time I played Ninja Gaiden, but I do remember the summer that I wasted playing it. I played this game daily, sometimes with my cousin and sister, edging further and further through it until I just couldn’t play it any more.

The game is broken into two parts, action parts and story parts. The story parts tell the main story of the game in fantastically (well, for the NES) rendered detail, and the action scenes kind of tie the story parts together. The story is something about a ninja whose father was killed in a one-on-one ninja-off. He has to go to exotic locations, massacring everyone in the way (man, woman, or beast) to unravel the mystery behind his father’s death, a cult, and a statue that possesses the spirit of a demon. Just the kind of thing you might see in a b-grade ninja movie.

The game is one of memorization and reflexes. Enemies appear in the same place every time and you need to perform a precise series of maneuvers to advance. Enemies are placed in just the right locations that they’ll hit you and knock you into a bottomless pit, forcing you to start the level over again. Little cheap tricks like that just kind of make the game seem longer. It’s kind of OK, though. The story segments are cheesy enough that they kind of make it worthwhile.

Sam & Max: Season One

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

I came kind of late to the PC gaming party, so although I had heard of Sam & Max, I had never actually spent any time with the games. As a result of that, the characters just kind of hung around in the back of my mind and were briefly brought back to the forefront by an announcement at E3 in 2006 that some new games in the series were being produced and distributed by GameTap. But, since my experiences with GameTap were less than extraordinary I kind of forgot about the series’s resurrection, even though I knew it was purchasable online. Months later and my local Best Buy has a copy of the complete ‘Season One’ collection for less than is available from the developers, and I suddenly remembered that I wanted to try it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game, since I hadn’t so much seen any of the other games in action, I went in pretty well blind. Turns out that this game is kind of a throwback. It’s a point-and-click adventure game. They’ve kind of fallen out of style these days, so if you’re not familiar with the genre, I’ll try to explain. Using only the mouse, you click on things to make your character do or say things. What you have to do is find the right things to click on at the right times to move the story along. It sounds kind of boring on the surface, and I usually don’t get in to them too much, but I gave this one a chance.

The game is broken up into six ‘episodes’ that were released throughout 2007. The idea being that the game can be released in bite-size chunks throughout the year. Since they’re short they can be developed quickly, released relatively often, and purchased reasonably cheaply.

So the episodes themselves are each about the titular heroes, a giant dog and a rabbit-thing with an aggression problem, trying to solve a series of cases involving hypnosis. They do this through a unique style of private-eyeing (a.k.a. ‘Freelance Police’) which typically involves deduction, reasoning, wordplay, and large firearms. What you’re really doing is wandering around the game space pointing, clicking on things, occasionally picking up things, and then using things, all in an effort to find the correct combination of person, place, thing, and time to advance the plot.

You don’t play a game like this for the compelling gameplay, the complex puzzles, or the razor-sharp platforming elements. You play it to experience the dialog, to see the well-crafted story. Thankfully this game has that in spades. It’s reasonably entertaining, and voiced competently. It compels you to play just to see or hear what kind of things are going to happen next. It’s rarely what you expect, which definitely adds to the fun. The only complaint I can come up with is that occasionally it’s very unclear what to do next. Though I only got stuck about three times those three times really kind of sucked some of the fun out of the experience. Though, for this kind of game, it’s a lot better than I usually do. And I was able to see this game through to the end in about nine hours. I’d say that was definitely worth my $20.

Missile Command

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Missile Command is a bit of an oddball game. It’s more of a defense game than just about any other game I’ve ever played. It’s quite simple, you have to defend your cities against an incoming hail of missiles with your own stockpile of missiles by hitting them in mid-flight. If one of the enemy missiles hits a city, it’s gone, and if you lose them all you lose the game.

The game’s not real hard, but it’s also not real engaging. I played for several evenings, and ended up racking up a respectable score… that’s now lost to the mists of time. After that I shelved it, and haven’t really thought about it since.


Friday, December 14th, 2007

It’s no big secret that I liked Earthbound, so when I saw a preview for a game that featured a guy that looked suspiciously like a character from Earthbound, I immediately took notice.

Turns out that not only is this game not much like Earthbound, but it’s not very fun either.

What it is is an RPG, in which the Earthbound-like character (he’s rendered in 2-D) pilots a spaceship that crash-lands on a 3-D planet. He then enlists the help of the first random kid he sees to help get back his missing pieces so he can fly away or some such. I stopped caring about this game pretty quickly.

There are two things about this game that I didn’t like, one is the combat. When you get into a fight (the crux of any role playing game) your little guy goes on autopilot. You just kind of sit there while the fight plays out. You get to be in charge of pulling off the occasional special move and healing, but the rest of the fighting is totally automatic (read: ‘boring’). Your stats go up depending on how you do in battle. Get beat up enough, and your defense goes up, things like that. Sounds familiar somehow.

The other thing is the stupid little suits you get to wear. You find outfits occasionally that give you special powers, special powers that you need to advance. Problem is that you can only have one suit on at a time, and to change them you have to go back to crazy professor guy’s ship, which is typically located inconveniently-far from where you are.

I suffered about three hours into this game before I just didn’t care anymore. Odds are pretty slim that it’ll ever make it back into my DS.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I suppose that if I worked for a company like Rare, churning out cutesy games one after the other, then I’d probably want to revolt. To do some kind of horrible things to the cute critters. And that’s pretty much what happened. Take a cute squirrel and insert him into some decidedly uncute scenes, and you have the makings of quite the interesting game.

Conker, our hero, drinks far too much one evening and gets quite the nasty hangover. He then manages to get lost and needs to make his way home to rest and to see his inexplicably attractive girlfriend.

Conker, as his day progresses, finds himself in a variety of increasingly unlikely circumstances, some based on movies, and all a bit on the adult side. Make no mistake about it, this game, though it stars a fairly cute main character, is not for the kiddos. The game features gratuitous references and depictions of feces, urine, adult-oriented portions of anatomy, gore, and oh, so much more. Of course, it’s also pretty funny, especially if you’re into gross-out humor. Which, given the proper position of the moon, I am.

The game is surprisingly long and quite tough. But that’s usually OK since you’ll find yourself playing it just to see the next cutscene. It turns out that there is some kind of overarching story to the thing, but it doesn’t really matter, and it doesn’t even make a great deal of sense.

Although the movie references are getting a little dated, you should play this game if you get the opportunity. Though you’d probably have better luck finding the Xbox version to play.


Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Sinistar is one of those ‘golden oldies’ that folks get all misty-eyed when they think back to playing it in the arcades. It’s a space shooting game where you fly through space (duh) and have to destroy the evil Sinistar, which is essentially a giant robot face. You have to mine asteroids for materials that you use to create bombs (which are the only way to destroy the Sinistar), while two kinds of ships stymie your progress. One kind is the standard Warrior class that just runs around shooting you, and the other is a Worker class who also need your precious crystals to build the Sinistar.

I guess it’s kind of cool that the game talks. The thing did come out in 1982, so that was likely pretty novel. But I found this game to be extremely boring. I suppose that if I tried it a few more times I might start to learn the intricacies of the or some such. But after burning a few virtual credits on this game I decided to try and find something more fun to do.