In Between Posts, July 31, 2011

I took the week off from work last week and I really enjoyed my time off. Visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas among other things. Conveniently enough, I played some video games too.

I’m still moving along nicely in Grandia Xtreme. I’ve put about ten hours into the game and really dig the long, fairly challenging dungeons. The combat is fast-paced and I enjoy it so the time really flies by.

Besides that, my friend and I began playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers for the Wii. It’s an action-adventure game that has minor co-op integration. It looks very nice but doesn’t control all that great. Most of the gameplay so far has stemmed from set pieces that utilize the unique features of the Wii.

I’ve got a few demos I want to play so I will post some first impressions this week.

Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition – Review

Another game show video game released by GameTek, also for the SNES.

Continuing on with game show video games for the Super Nintendo, my friend and I popped in Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition. It was developed by Imagitec Design and published by GameTek in 1994 and I came away with the same feelings as I did with Family Feud. It was a competent recreation of the TV show and we enjoyed playing it, but there are probably newer, better versions out there.

I know it!

My friend and I entered in our names and chose to be one of six characters. We played through the game in four rounds and a speed-up round, and finally the winner would play a bonus round. Like Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition did a good job of recreating the TV show, albeit within the abilities of the SNES.

When it was our turn, we could spin the wheel, buy a vowel, or attempt to solve the puzzle. When spinning the wheel we’d land on a slot (hopefully not bankrupt or lose a turn) and then pick a consonant and win money depending on how many of that letter were in the puzzle. We could also buy vowels, and lastly attempt to solve the puzzle. If we were right, we’d win the money we had accumulated in that round. The winner after four normal rounds and the speed-up round would continue into the bonus round. Here the winner would pick three consonants and one vowel, and then attempt to guess the puzzle.

I feel practically the same about Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition as I did about Family Feud on the SNES. My friend and I both had a good time playing it, but there is probably a newer, better version available.

Family Feud – Review

It seems that GameTek had the market cornered when it came to game show video games in the nineties.

Having not played anything multiplayer on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System in a long time, my friend and I decided to hook it up. The first game we decided to play was Family Feud. It was developed by Imagineering and published by GameTek in 1993. The game recreated the TV show well and my friend and I had a good time playing it, but there are probably newer, better video game versions of the TV show.

After giving our families obscenity-ridden names we played the bull’s-eye round. The host asked us questions (five total, one for each family member) and we had to buzz in and guess the number one answer and whoever got it right won money. This round acted to boost our winnings, which only mattered if we wrote down the code at the end of the game to keep playing with the winning family, a neat feature.

I don't think I could name all the places that people fight over taxis.

After the bull’s-eye round, we played the main rounds of Family Feud. The host asked us a question and we had to guess what the top answers were, just like the TV show. The game continued this way until one of us had surpassed three hundred points, thereby defeating the other team and continuing into the final round, the fast money round.

In this round, two of the winning family’s members had to answer specific questions, aiming to reach a total of two hundred points, and winning the fast money round. If they didn’t crack two hundred points, they would be awarded five dollars for each point.

Family Feud on the SNES recreated the show well, but being nearly twenty years old now, it probably isn’t the ideal version to play. There wasn’t a lot going on graphically; the interface looked fine and was understandable, but the animation for the contestants was terrible. Answering required my friend and I to spell out our answer using an alphabet box, and this worked fine. We only played one game so we didn’t play through many questions, but some of the answers were not that obvious. We had a fun time playing Family Feud, chastising each other’s answers and just horsing around, and are up for playing it again.

Charge ‘N Blast – First Impressions

Charge 'N Blast is a pretty obscure game considering it was developed by Sega, I mean it doesn't even have a Wikipedia page!

After playing a little bit of Mars Matrix my friend and I moved onto another arcade port for the Dreamcast, Charge ‘N Blast. Originally developed by Sega, it was published for the Dreamcast in 2001 by Xicat Interactive. We played through a few stages of the game and grew tired of it fast.

We viewed our characters from behind their backs at all times, always having tunnel vision. But then again, all the action was directly in front of us too. Enemies advanced towards our characters, which were locked onto a horizontal plane. The only movement we could muster out of them was a strafe, shifting them to the left or right, which we had to do often to dodge enemies.

Notice the green track, highlighting the area of movement for the character.

There were three characters we could pick from, each with different weaponry. Each character had three weapons that were attributed to different buttons (X, Y, and B). As the title suggests, we had to charge our weapons to blast the enemies. Using the analog stick we moved our cursors around the screen targeting enemies. And to fire our weapons we pressed one of the three buttons (selecting a weapon) and once it was charged pressed the A button to release, hopefully nailing the enemy. This was confusing at first, but even after getting used to it, still cumbersome.

Charge ‘N Blast grew stale quick. Lacking much of a setup, there was nothing but the quality of the gameplay to keep us interested, and we didn’t find the mechanics all that fun. However, I will return to the game and complete it as it seemed easy, and probably short.

Mars Matrix – First Impressions

Formed by members of the highly influential shoot 'em up company Toaplan, Mars Matrix has a solid pedigree.

Ever since I was young, I’ve been a fan of shoot ‘em ups. Perhaps it’s because my dentist has had a Galaga arcade cabinet forever, and I’ve played on it since I was young. I was anticipating playing Mars Matrix for the Dreamcast, but after a friend and I played it for a little bit, I’m cool on it.

Ever since the days of Galaga, shoot ‘em ups have become a little more complicated. Mars Matrix falls into the subgenre of the bullet hell shoot ‘em up. These games are typified by the insane amount of enemy bullets on-screen, literally hundreds to thousands, making it seem impossible. But it’s really not. With Mars Matrixit seemed my friend and I had to focus on dodging more than aiming at specific targets.

While this may seem daunting, it gets a lot worse in Mars Matrix.

After a bit of setup, we picked our ship, determining our standard weapon. Each ship’s standard weapon was different and we had the choice of mashing the fire button, or holding down an auto-fire button. This option was nice as it allowed us to focus on dodging. We also had a strong laser that had the same options. Lastly we could hold our fire button to create a barrier that would absorb enemy bullets and then fire them back, which proved useful when bullets covered the screen.

Even though bullets covered the screen the majority of the time, I still thought the game looked rather poor. I’m not a technical wizard or anything, but Mars Matrix looked awfully blurry and I assume the game has a low resolution, causing this.

There were a few different modes to select from; some multiplayer, some not, but what might bring me back is the shop. As my friend and I played we built up a cache of money that we could spend to unlock features in the shop. These honestly didn’t seem that great; unlocking Score Challenge stages or the ability to play with more lives, but it’s something else to do besides simply playing the game.

My friend and I were only able to reach the second stage (out of six) and we really didn’t have a great time with the game. I will give the game a second chance and hopefully beat it, but I really don’t think I (or we) will have the drive to see it through the next time we play it. Mars Matrix was developed by Takumi Corporation and originally published by Capcom as an arcade game in 2000. My friend and I played the Dreamcast version which was published by Capcom in 2001.

In Between Posts, July 24, 2011

I’ve decided to move my In Between Posts posts to Sunday instead of Monday. I guess I believe the week begins on Sunday, and that fits the purpose of these posts better.

Anyways, I played two demos last week and finished Advent Rising. The demo for Catherine kept me interested in the game, while the demo for Dead Block was enough for me.

Now that I’m finished with Advent Rising I will focus on Grandia Xtreme for the PlayStation 2. Grandia Xtreme was a spin-off of sorts for the Grandia series; it plays more like a dungeon crawler than a traditional role-playing game where you go from town-town with small dungeons in between. I’ve enjoyed it so far.

I also played a little bit of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcey EP on my iPod. I bought it about a month ago and started playing it, but as I’m prone to do with iOS games, stopped. I took a few long breaks at work and will hopefully finish it soon.

As far as posts for this week go, I’ll probably have some demo impressions up, and maybe a review for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.

Dead Block – Demo Impressions

Dead Block looks awfully similar to Team Fortress 2...

Dead Block is a downloadable action-strategy game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; I played the demo on the PS3. It is set in the United States during the 1950s. Just as rock ‘n’ roll is coming to prominence, a zombie outbreak has occurred. Controlling three separate characters I had to survive a zombie onslaught while attempting to find all the pieces to guitar set. Once found, I would play a simple rhythm minigame to complete a stage.

The demo began with an introduction reminiscent to that of a TV show, and sure enough, each stage in Dead Block begins that way, as if each stage is a TV episode. I began playing as a construction worker named Jack Foster. I thought the camera was too close behind him, frequently making it hard to see things directly in front of him or on the ground.

He was inside a house and I first had to put wood over windows to prevent zombies from getting inside. I soon ran out of wood and had to break furniture for more lumber; I thought this was a novel idea. I was then tasked with searching the house. As I did so I came across much more furniture to break, windows to board up, and other objects that I could search inside of. Inside these objects I would find nuts (necessary for building traps), keys, and hopefully a complete guitar and amplifier set.

There are three total characters that I could control and switch between on the fly, although only two were present in the demo. Besides Jack Foster, I could play as Mike Bacon, an overweight boy scout. I was able to summon him to any area of a stage and he would proceed to break furniture and search for items. In other words, my ally was able to take care of himself.

Dead Block didn’t have the most original premise (remember Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel without a Pulse?) and really it didn’t have the most original gameplay. After all, it pretty much is the zombie mode from the Call of Duty series. But at ten dollars it’s not too pricey and I found the demo pleasant, but I don’t have any interest in playing any more of Dead Block.