Wednesday, May 25, 2011



Part 1 - History...

So, I play video games... I have, like most gamers been playing games a long time, I started when I was 6 or 7 years old, first console was the NES and my first handheld being a Gameboy Classic. Back then I also played a lot of Mega Drive games as well

My next console was too be the PSOne (or PSX if you are that way inclined). I had in the build up to getting one, started to buy pretty much any game magazine that I could get my hands on and by Christmas day (I think it was '99) I had quite a collection of discs to play (15 demo disc, 2 games I bought, 2 games I got and about 50 magazines), I continued with this console until Playstation 2 and somewhere during this generation of consoles everything began to spiral out of control...

Now I sit here with 5 large piles of games, spanning over 5 consoles (old and new) and not enough time to play them all - some of which are still in their plastic wrap

The type of games that I usually go for are JRPG, Beat ' Em Up, Side Scrolling shooters and Puzzle style games. From the age of say... 17 - 21 I was pretty set in my ways but the last few years I have loosened up a bit and have tried FPS, Western RPG's, Racing Simulation and Adventure to name a few, but still, to this day, do not enjoy soccer games and recently tried tower defense games for the first time and did not enjoy this too much either!

I think my favorite era of gaming so far is somewhere between PSOne and PS2, some of my fondest memories of gaming are on these platforms and still have many games on these platforms still to be played on both!

Part 2 - Format Introduction

So my plans for this blog are...

I will post mainly 2 types of blog. Gaming recap - this will be the most frequent post and will consist of just in general what I have been playing between over periods of time. The second will be a feature on one specific game singled out for play or a group of games, like a top 5 or top 10. This will not be as frequent but will hopefully be as interesting to consume.

Part 3 - Why..?

Well, to be honest its just something I really wanted to do. I don’t read many other online blogs but I do buy a few select gaming magazines each month and enjoy some of the regular columns regarding the industry and the culture surrounding it. I tend to stick to multi format magazines but I do occasionally buy magazines that focus on one specific format as well, but I only buy these if cool concept art from games in them... And podcasts, I listen to video game radio shows and download trailers as well. I think my favorite part of these shows is when I hear what the presenters have been playing, especially when I go back to the older shows.

Part 4 - Expectations

I mainly just want people to read this blog and enjoy! If readers participate in the continuation of this blog by asking me questions, suggesting games for me to cover for future episodes (if I can get my hands on them I will more than likely give them a play through). I will also from time to time post high scores from games that have this facility, they will be nothing special in the beginning but I will be using this as a reason to play games I would not normally play and try to become and all round gamer in the future - look out for these popping up on the blog! I used to have a portable games system but I have broken the laser on this from over play and was going to say that you will probably see mostly portable stuff but that has gone out the window for the time being - I will try to acquire something soon...

Part 5 - What have I been playing

So... I was supposed to have this blog up and running back at Christmas time, but due to laziness I did not get it done, so I been playing quite a few games since and dabbling in a few as well... I will put up mostly the ones that I have finished and a few entries that I wasn't going to put in for this blog.

The first game that came to mind that I got in to and finished was...


Let me begging by saying that I am a huge fan of mech fighting games, I have played a few in the past, from turn based - grid based games to shoot em ups involving mechs, including front mission 3 on psone, which I really enjoyed! But this game is a far cry from the grid based game that I played all those years ago. It is now a 3rd person action shooter. I had been looking at trailers in the build up to this game and read reviews of but decided not to buy this until it got cheap and ended up it as part of a Christmas present!

The first thisng that struck me about this game once I got in to the missions was that the overall look of the game was a bit bland. The levels of look quite bare, this is usually a bad sign at the start of the game but for some reason I kept going and ended up finding it enjoyable!

The story is not an original one, there’s a young man, who's father is a scientist who developed a special new weapon for the mechs to make the very dangerously powerful, the father gets captured by this terror group that want him to further develope this weapon to use it for evil, then the young man, filled with emotion jumps in way over his head and goes to try and rescue him and stop this threat from becoming a horrible reality... The main character annoyed me, greatly through out the game, as a lot of principle characters from games do to me these days, but there are some really cool things that so happen in the cut scenes. The cut scenes are not the best that I have ever scene, but it’s the content of them that got me thinking...

So, as this young man you have to go through these bland corridors and cityscapes, shooting, exploding and pounding lesser mechs in to piles of junk, through clinically bare levels... The formula is simple, run, shoot and get to the end of the chapter, complete a few chapters and then you encounter the boss battle! The boss battles however eventually got a bit same-y, it was a simple formula of run up to the boss, attack it, run away and then recover (I myself also used a lot of missiles as well). I used this tactic a lot for most of the game, using missiles from a distance popping out of cover and taking out enemies from a far. One of my favorite things in the game was the rush - melee attack, when you smash an enemy mech to pieces it can be very satisfying... As you progress through the game, destroying mechs gets you money for customization and weapons, this ranges from changing from bi ped to quadruped, making the mech more agile, adjusting the power and weight stats and so forth, you can also change the colours and camouflage of the mech to give it some personality. Also in these levels scattered about are collectables, this ranges from money stashes to becons that you have to destroy. To change the flow of the game a bit, some levels also take you out of the mech and have you running around as the pilot shooting soldiers in buildings and tunnels, giving you a break from the mech combat (if you were getting a bit tired of this). My only problem with this is that the character could not jump, he could get in to cover, run and climb when pressing the action button beside ladders but there were times when I felt the jump would have been nice, I guess I kind of expected it to be in there (the mechs can jump!).

Having played through Front Mission : Evolved on normal mode and taking in the story and game play, I can honestly say that this game is not perfect, there are a few things wrong with it but the story I think had promise - I saw some really cool things in those cut scenes, lots of cool destruction and mech stuff and although the animation on the cut scenes was at times not great, I got immersed in the game and let it play out, Its like professional wrestling, you know its all "fake", but if you take the time look in to it and try to believe in it, you might actually enjoy it.

I feel that if you like mech games that this is worth a play, but you have to really like them to play this, and you wont get much out of it but if you can pick it up at a low price then it will kill some time for you.


In the after Christmas sales I managed to pick this game up quite cheap and was rather curious about it. It had done well in review scores across various magazines and on pod casts and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about...

Not that I care about gamer score anymore, but I had a peek at what was on offer from this game and it seemed that from a scoring point of view that it would be better to give this one a play through on hard mode straight out of the box, so hard mode it was...

In this game you play the part of a former football player turn super suit wearing soldier named Sam, he has a transforming gun at his disposal who has to take on an entire army of Russian robotic soldiers hell bent on killing a lot of people.

The first thing that hit me was the cool city you play out the story in, the first shots of it that you see shows this futuristic city that looks so clean and sterile... You can really tell that this work of art was meant to be destroyed! The second thing that stood out was in the intro scene of the game was the space laser that caused the ordinary people on the street to explode when they get too close to the heat, that was really cool! So the scene is set, war is declared in this world and the bad guys are a really evil group of people and you have to take these guys on.

Playing the game...

As I said, hard mode seemed like the only right thing to do for this one and I set out on this story. After a basic tutorial level to get you in touch with the controls, you are shot straight in to the action. First of all, this is an arcade shooter game with a reasonable selection of powerful weapons that can be upgraded as you progress to make them more powerful. A nice but mean touch with this on hard mode (and maybe on normal mode as well, I'm not to sure) when you die you lose some of your upgrades and have to kill more robots and get them back. The guns that you get are not the only things in this that transform. Some of the enemies also transform, mostly the bosses but there are a few of the lower enemies that do it too, the bosses look really cool for the most part and can be quite challenging at times, I thing the first boss that I fought killed me quite a few times before I figured out how to play it. I think the design of the game, the characters is what was my favorite part of this game, the main characters looked really cool although the main one was not the most original, plus like some of my favorite other games, you have a female voice in your intercom giving you directions and by passing security. My favorite character based on looks is the hardened old soldier with the minigun, he looks cool and doesn’t give a crap about anything. The game play can at times get a bit boring, with little variety in the enemies through out the game, it is a frantic shooter that has you mowing (and sliding) hordes of red robots through linear paths with the larger robots appearing at regular intervals. The melee attacks are pretty cool, I did enjoy these and the evading is great in it as well, but I just felt that I was slugging away at the same thing for ages... It is a great game, I got what I wanted from this and for the price that I paid I got a lot of value for money, Its a cool story as well with a nice little scene at the end of the game. I had fun but I did not beat any high scores, just took in the story, not sure if I will be returning to this anytime soon, perhaps I would have been way cooler as an anime movie?

Alright, so they are some of the recent games that I have played that came out recently, not quite in the spirit of what this blog is about but I have to keep up with the times too! Not the best writing either but hopefully I will improve on this as time goes on... Now, more in the spirit of the blog, between just going through old games in the collection or testing out games I just bought, there is a lot of retro goodness waiting to be explored within my video game collection. I have recently with a friend started to play games regularly on Sunday nights, he comes over, we throw on some video games, most of them are pretty old or based on old concepts, we play them for a little while and then order a pizza. While we are eating the pizza I will throw on a wrestling tape (not a dvd, but a VHS format cassette, well, sometimes a dvd!) and we will watch this and afterwards go back to gaming! We have come to call this "Old School Sunday" and I will blog about what we play (if it is retro and worth mentioning). He likes racing games and as a result of this I have been playing (and getting my ass kicked) many different racing games, for example Mario Kart 64, this game is something that I did not have growing up, I may have played it here and there at birthday parties or just going over to a friend's house. The first Mario Kart game in our house was Mario Kart : Double Dash, me and my brother used to play this together, we would set high scores for one and other to beat and I usually was the one that ended up losing this game, now my friend and I play Mario Kart 64 and nothing has changed... I generally pick toad as my character, I don't know why he appeals to me to be honest with you but I like him. Now, this will tell you how bad I am at this game, I can only really win in the levels that are closed in, like the first and easiest cup, anything with open sides of the track to fall in to and I am screwed, my least favorite level is probably Bowsers Castle (I think that’s the name - I promise I will research this stuff better in the future!!!!), it has everything in it to mess me up, falls, moving objects that mess you up and this horrible right angle turn towards the end of the lap... I am an easy target in Mario Kart! Recently I also played Mario Kart on the Wii at another friend's place, there is some crazy levels in there, one for example where you also bounce on giant toadstools... The creators of those levels must enjoy other people's suffering - or at least mine! If I get better at Mario Kart 64 I will post up high scores for you people to destroy on me, this will be at a later date. Another game we played on our Sundays if a PSN download of an old racing game called Motorhead, this game is not easy to play from the get go and I am still playing the first 2 tracks, you start off with 3 cars but from the races we have played there might be a few more to choose from. You also start with 2 tracks, when you enter the career mode you can presumably unlock more but I have only come first in the first track and that took a fair bit of practice for me (remember - racing games we're never really my thing!!!!), the track is a punishing track at times, you have that right angle turn at the start that slow you down (you get used to this eventually!) and later on you have that jump after the hill, I usually pick the fastest car, if you get better at this game you can easily zoom past the other cars and if you are careful then you can also maintain your grip and not skid all over the place and lose! I really like this game and feel that despite its age and looks, it holds up really well still. It is definitely something I will return to on a regular basis and it came with at a very reasonable price as well, I recommend that you check this one out! During one of these Sunday nights, I noticed that I had a lot of money in my PSN account wallet and when my friend was not looking, I downloaded Super Puzzle Fighter 2 HD Remix, this game is a fantastic game, we play this a lot and we just recently discovered the secret characters! (they are underneath the bottom 3 characters - from left to right! sshhh!!!). Its a gem based puzzle battle game, you have to perform combo destruction to reak havok on you opponent's side of the screen, you each pick a character from the menu, you can choose from 8 character from Street Fighter series and Darkstalkers respectively (with the 3 bonus ones as well), each character sits in the middle of the screen and your puzzle actions decides on the moves that you character pulls off in the fighter’s window, this ranges from light attack if you only remove a few blocks, to an epic super move finish if you cause devastation on your opponent's screen. To mix things up a bit there are also these crystals that appear after a while that will remove all of one of the colours that it makes contact with, this can save you if you are in a bind and can also open up new possibilities for chaos on your opponent. Just don’t pick Dan, I made this mistake a few times and didn't realize until I looked at his combo, he gives your opponent a lot of the same colour, if you opponent can counter attack this, you will lose - simple as... We have already had some epic battles and we usually warm up the joypads with this one - in preparation usually for a game called Dead Nation. Dead Nation is not a very old game, nor is it an original game, I think they call this a "twin stick arcade shooter" (I will look this up for next time), the story behind the game is that you play as one of two characters and you have to survive a zombie apocalypse using the weapons you buy from the gun shop, with is like an ice cream van you see at check points... Think left4dead from an isoteric perspective and you are getting there, it is dark and moody, using the lighting to great effect, it takes some similar super infected ideas fro left4dead (and a few of it's own as well), it has a large exploding zombie for example and the larger, charging zombies, especially the ones with the blades on their arms are probably the coolest (and most difficult to kill so far...). I is basically a lose story, linked together by check points and shoot outs while you wait for doors to slowly open or bridges to wind over to you and in the meantime you are blasting the undead with shotguns, rifles, smgs and blowing them up with land mines, grenades and distracting them with car alarms and flares - you can blow up the cars in this game, a cool touch I think. But the game, on normal mode is really difficult, even with the two of us co-oping it together (we are six levels in already) and it doesn’t get any easier as it goes on... One magazine gave it a really low score, which is of course their opinion, but I am enjoying it, its not easy and I can only assume that when I finish my first play through that it will feel really good - an achievement in it's self! Next up is Final Fight : Double Impact, I got this in a download sale from the XBLA Market place a few weeks ago and persuaded a friend to get it as well. I always new about Final Fight but I had never really looked in to it, didn’t know about its history or characters, but straight away Mayor Haggar stood out, I picked up Marvel Vs Capcom 3 on release day and recognized him from the playable characters, so that was pretty cool for me, another piece of gaming history unraveled for me, as I played on a few more characters popped up as well. The gameplay style is that of a side scrolling arcade beat em up adventure, same idea as say, Streets of Rage series or Double Dragon series, both of which I have fond memories of playing! The story is as follows, the Mayor's daughter has been kidnapped, its up to you to kick, punch and smash your way through many waves of street thugs, weirdoes and lowlifes until you rescue her! You have your basic moves, you can pick up weapons off the ground to throw, break or stab you opponents with and you have a devastating special move as well, but, the cool thing about this (and possible the meanest thing?) is that you use up some of your life bar when you execute this command, mixing things up a bit and making you think twice before you destroy a screen full of enemies... I did one play through playing as all three of the playable characters and messing around with it, if you are in to achievements then this game has a few easy ones for you to scoop up but requires multiple playthroughs to unlock, also included with this is another old school game as well, adding value to the game. If you like your retro stuff and having nothing to play, perhaps you should check this one out!

On my lunch breaks and bus journeys to and from my job I was recently playing Breath of Fire 3 on psp (UMD format - not download), this was until the laser on my psp died and now I can only play games off the memory stick... I tried to play this one when I first bought it but I think at the time I was going between either Star Ocean : Second Departure or MGS : Peace Walker at the time and the style of gameplay just wasn't what I was in the mood for at the time. I got in to it after I finished my first play-through of Star Ocean (as Claude) and decided it was time to get this one out of the way! As RPG's go, this one is not the most straight forward (at least it wasn't initially for me), it has the storyline that you follow, a currency system, items, weapons, magic and some of the most frustrating puzzles that I have ever encountered in a game so far (maybe these are the easiest that you guys out there have played but I am playing this at 7:30am and again on the way home from work when my eyes are fried, up in the back of my head after my shift). At the time of writing I am well over the 35 hour mark, trying to help Ryu (the main character) find a tower that will help him trace back his ancestry, if I remember correctly I clearing monsters out of a lighthouse to get on a ship... The story starts with you waking as a baby dragon that was found in a mine by the workers, angered and scared, you fight you way through some of them and eventually get defeated and caged up, apon transport to somewhere, your cage falls off the train and breaks open after a fall down a hill in to a forest, there you are found by 2 local trouble makers who fight and steal to survive. No this is where I fell down, I didn't look at the manual before reading and just assumed that the buttons on the front of the PSP were the only working button... WRONG! The shoulder buttons also do things and it took me a while to figure this out! I found this out when I had you use one of the support characters to pick a lock to get in to someone’s house, I knew when house it was and knew the character that was to do it, but with my sleepy head I spent a few days going back and forth for days trying to figure it out, which build my characters and money up quite a bit and one day by complete accident I pressed that R shoulder button on the console and the character changed around, I already knew that Ryu could slash with his sword outside of battles, he cuts the grass when wandering around inside of areas to find money, so I switched the characters around and one of the characters had a lock pick skill for outside of battles. Problem solved and I was able to progress! But I got caught out with this again later on, You have to chase one of the little creature sub characters around a castle and you find him eventually in a wine cellar, I knew he was in there (I eventually looked up an FAQ...) and discovered that the you could rotate the screen slightly to view hidden items around corners. Again, this is probably in the manual... As I mentioned earlier the laser died on my psp and now I am forced to take a break from this game, but I still have my game saved so I can continue hopefully in the not to distant future. The game is a really enjoyable old school turn based RPG sporting lots of stranger playable and non playable characters through out the story, I am definitely looking to get back in to this one as I'm not liking the fact that I have yet another incomplete rpg on the go.

I think that’s enough of that retro stuff for now, in between playing my games I watch a lot of movies, here are a few that I watched recently, if you have seen any of these, feel free to let me know about your experience with them - and I will try and keep this short...

The first one is called Rampage, I bought it out of curiosity after reading the notes on the back of the dvd box in store, I think it has just been released. The basic story is an average guy, living at home with his parents, one day puts on a suit of body armour, picks up 2 sub machine guns and goes down the main street killing anyone he sees, it was compared to Falling Down on the back of the box so that meant that there was some reason (not necessarily rational) for gunning down a lot of civilians... This film is what the box said - this guy, dressed up in body armour, shooting anyone he sees - a pretty extreme premise for a movie I think and I wanted mainly to see what a one sided gun fight in a movie would look like, its not even a fight, but I wanted to check it out. And after watching this from start to finish, I thought I would have enjoyed this movie a lot more, it has guns and body armour in it, but no, I just felt a little weird after it - like I was expecting something else I guess..? If you watch an action movie and you see all the bullets flying, explosions going off and cool scenes of destruction, you generally fell good after it (assuming you are a fan of this genre of movie), perhaps you might get a temporary adrenaline rush during the movie, but this movie did not really raise any emotional response from me, I just took it in, digested it and that was it. Now it is not a bad film, its interesting to see him carry out all this destruction and as a curiosity purchase it is ok, but don’t expect anything major from it, I might actually go back to Falling Down as I thought that this was a better movie, but the movie does have some clever parts in it and the attention to detail on the body armour was a nice little touch for me (he gets a few rounds fired on him by the local guards and the force of the rounds hitting the body armour cause him to regroup for a moment) and if the movie illustrated anything it was how easy it is for him to acquire the tactical gear needed for such actions, that was a little scary... So, I'd say this movie is worth a look but you might not feel too good after watching it.

The next movie is called Dead Babies and before I begin, there are no actual dead babies in this movie, it’s an expression used by one of the characters in the movie. The story is that a British student, who lives with his rich wife and a few housemates in this huge house invites on old college friend and his 2 friends (his partner and a straggler they picked up) to stay with them for a weekend of drug fueled madness. Meanwhile there are these killings happening at parties across the world by a rogue group calling themselves conceptualists who leave notes to the victims before the attack and also smear the name "Johnny" on the wall of the crime in excrement. Really nice stuff, I watched this with a friend over a few beers and both of us came to the conclusion that the movie is messed up. It is along the same lines of all the other party disaster movies out there but with a slight alternative/horror twist and some strange scenes through out. I thought at times it was trying to hard to be strange, some of the acts that occur as a result of the drugs taken are a bit over the top, not in a shocking way though as I fear I may already be desensitized to this kind of behavior as a result of the world around me today. There are some funny character in it, the guy who is really self-conscious of his teeth falling out is good and the straggler of the 3 visitors is good for weird behavior, but the movie at best is good for cheap laughs, it is best watched with friends as once you watch it and if it's by yourself, you may not want to watch it again, I don't think I will be returning to it any way, but if you can get it cheap, have a look and tell me what you think!

Resident Evil : Afterlife is next! I saw the trailer for this and really wanted to see it, I was of course worried though that there was a chance that this movie may not be the best as the last one was not great and the series can be a bit hit and miss sometimes. But I am happy to report that this one is actually brilliant! I watched it on a bank holiday morning when I was off work and it is possibly the best way to spend a lazy Monday morning! This movie takes off after the last installment finished, Alice is looking for a fabled town that apparently has uninfected survivors all together living in a commune and sets off to make contact with them. Upon reaching the place she finds no one, just rows and rows of stationary airplanes all together in a field. She is attacked and the action start all over again. The movie basically ties in parts of the RE4 and RE5 stories with the uroboros infected and zombies together as the main bullet magnets, there are also a few boss characters that pop up and the movies also borrows I think a little bit from The Walking Dead series, you will understand when you see it. But I loved this movie! It has some great action sequences in it, some of the fights are great and it kind of shows how the whole series has gone a bit off it's original rails and is starting to turn in to a bit more of a mutant story rather than the zombie story that it started out as. But it is a massive improvement on the last movie and is definitely a must see for anyone who likes the series and cares about it, it also looks like there will be another movie following but if it is anything like this one, I will definitely be off to the cinema for that one!

Ok then, I think I'm going to wrap this one up now, as I want to go off and play more games to write about and get a few more movies off the list as well, during the time of typing this (I really let it drap on for myself) I have watched a few episodes more of Mad Men Season 2 and playing some of the community levels in littlebigplanet 2 as well (like the first one there are some really cool levels up there to play) and have also returned to Final Fantasy VIII, playing it off the memory stick on my psp in work and on my bus journeys, I am looking for the missing student's ID number at the moment and also just gathering spells to have as a store for the bigger battles but I think I am a bit lost as well, I'll figure it out though and will have hopefully gotten further by the next installment of this blog. I will also try to work on some fan art and other game related creativity to put up on here as well as hopefully having some decent high scores for you to challenge as well. If you have any questions, corrections, interesting facts relating to the games or movies mention or would like to recommend a game for me to feature, please contact me through the blog or the social networking site profile you found the blog through (I think you can also comment directly on the blog, so do that if you have an account!). Thanks for reading; I will post notice of the next installment - later!

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