Review

Reviews of software, hardware and everything in-between.
davyK's picture

Middle Aged Gamer's Collection #9

#9-#15 Bust-a-Move games
Bust-a-Move 2 : Arcade Edition (N64)
Bust-a-Move 3DX (N64)
Bust-a-Move 4 (Dreamcast)
Super Bust-a-Move 2 (PS2)
Super Bust-a-Move All Stars (Gamecube)
Bust-a-Move (Wii)
Bust-a-Move Plus (WiiWare)

I’m big into puzzle games. Like millions of others I was bitten by the Tetris bug around 1990 when the genre was born and I have always picked puzzle games up ever since. I find it hard not to enjoy these – even those games that have garnered criticism such as Tetrisphere.

If I find a particular game enjoyable I will keep on buying different versions across platforms and will follow a series. The Puzzle Bobble or Bust-a-move series is a case in point – it being one of the most addictive. It has that great balance of luck and skill that makes the puzzle video game so great. I'm not going to insult readers with the description of the basic play features but I will cover how these versions differ.

davyK's picture

Middle Aged Gamer's Collection #8

#8 Addams Family (SNES)

Addams Family was an early release for the SNES and being a licenced game I avoided it at the time. That was my loss as this is a really solid game that would have really impressed me back then. This is a straight-up platform game but it has been blessed with a fair bit of attention to detail and overall effort by the developers which is refreshing to see. Even at the time of launch (the early 90s) loads of identikit licenced games were around - mostly poor Mario ripoffs. While this game does steal some ideas from the Mario series it is different enough to deserve some attention.

This isn't a linear platform game - you can tackle each of the game's goals in any order you like. You control Gomez Addams who must rescue 5 family members secreted around the house. Gomez is wonderfully responsive and "slidey" and has had some graphical attention paid to him. The character artwork mostly resembles the cast of the early 90s film, not the original film series and a pretty good job has been done here.

Gomez has a health bar represented on-screen by a heart meter. Initially you have 2 hearts meaning you can be hit twice before losing a life but there are 3 meter extensions to be found in the house too. In all then you have 8 goals to achieve each guarded by a boss - and I recommend you go for the extra hearts first as this game is tough.

davyK's picture

Kindle Upgrade

While charging my Kindle up last week I left the 3G on and lo and behold I got a free upgrade to the firmware. The first thing I noticed is the font change (though this does tend to vary from book to book) and the fact that page turns are now a bit quicker.

davyK's picture

Middle Aged Gamer's Collection #6

#6 Mario Party 7 (GameCube).

My Wii was out of commission this week. I had to send it back to Nintendo's UK repair shop - it was starting to reject discs - even new games. Its over 3 years old so I had to pay £28 to get it fixed. Nintendo send you a posting label but I guess the repair cost covers the postage. You can follow the progress of the job on a website using a supplied repair number and password. Its all quite slick and it took just over a week which isn't bad considering the Irish Sea and May Day bank holiday had to be negotiated.

davyK's picture

Breaker Pro for Playstation

Got myself this non-invasive mod for my Playstation. It comes with a boot disc and three odd little widgets for enabling disc swapping on both PS1 models and the PS2.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Review of Aeropack (Insurgent Games, 2010) for the Apple iPod Touch and iPhone

Today, I will be taking a look at Aeropack, from Micah Lee (who generously provided a review copy) and his company, Insurgent Games, which follows my previous reviews of his four star [ (x)(x)(x)(x)( ) ] shooter, teh internets (2009), and puzzle game, Skeleton Key (2009). Lee again gets bonus points for coming out with something completely different in Aeropak, which is best described as a platform puzzle game, and is officially described as "A Steampunk Retro Platformer". The premise? Using your fuel hungry jetpack, walk, jump, fly, and climb to collect all of the gems in a level (and extra fuel whenever possible), and avoid anything that moves.

Rob Daviau's picture

My 2 Part Harmony Cart video!

PART 1: Note, the captured gameplay is dark in part one but still gets the idea across, the second video though I demo many more games and turned up the video brightness during editing!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Review of Pigs VS Wolves (Digiarty Software, 2010) for the Apple Ipod Touch and iPhone

Pigs VS Wolves (2010), featured on the iPho Game Development Website, is Digiarty Software's recently released tower defense game, available on iTunes, for the iPod Touch/iPhone. Pigs VS Wolves comes out hot on the heels of powerhouse PopCap Games strikingly similar, but higher profile, Plants vs Zombies, which, besides being available on the iPod Touch/iPhone, also has versions available for the PC, Mac, and Web. Not having played Plants vs Zombies, besides the obvious visual differences, the only other major distinction that I can see is the price. Plants vs Zombies runs $2.99, while Pigs VS Wolves is just $.99--at least for a limited time. Therefore, without a true basis for comparison, I will only review Pigs VS Wolves on its own merits, keeping in mind the existence of the prior product from a much larger developer/publisher.

Tower defense games are considered a sub-genre of real-time strategy games, with the most basic goal to stop enemies from reaching a particular point. Wikipedia points to Atari's Rampart, a 1990 arcade game from Atari, as forming the foundation of this sub-genre's roots. While I think that simplifies history a bit and minimizes the truly hybrid nature of Rampart - which I argue is part Tetris - it's ultimately a fair assertion. One of my personal favorites in this sub-genre is PixelJunk Monsters (Q-Games, 2008; Sony PlayStation 3 (PSN)), though I've certainly played my share of others, including South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! (Doublesix, 2009; Microsoft Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)), that I've tended to like much less. Major distinctions between the tower defense games include how much real-time elements there are and of course the overall imagination and cohesiveness that goes into all of the defensive and board designs. The vast majority of these games feature levels that start out simple but progressively add more playing pieces to the mix, requiring an increasing amount of thought in both defensive selection and asset allocation, as well as an increasing amount of trial and error to both learn new capabilities and properly utilize them to fight off the hoards of enemies.

The developer describes Pigs VS Wolves as follows (and we must at least partially forgive their non-native English):

Bill Loguidice's picture

Review of Sword of Fargoal (Fargoal LLC, 2009) for the iPod Touch and iPhone

Released earlier this month, Sword of Fargoal for the iPod Touch and iPhone ("iTouch") has had no shortage of pre-release buzz and anticipation, and, once gamers got their hands on the game, nearly universal praise. Well, it looks like now I have to heap on some more.

The original commercial versions of Sword of Fargoal, released for the Commodore VIC-20 and 64 in the early 1980s (review here), came towards the end of the former system's short, but successful commercial lifespan, and early on in the latter system's long and successful commercial lifespan. While generally considered a critical and commercial success (with the caveat that it was also successfully pirated), its release timing in each case caused it to have a bit more mainstream obscurity than it likely would have had otherwise. Nevertheless, the strength of the game - which is essentially a simplified, randomized dungeon crawl, very much in the tradition of Rogue (though with more real-time elements) - allowed it to have enough impact in the minds of gamers to be mentioned often on "best of" lists and receive several unofficial conversions and updates over the years, even making it as one of the games on the popular Commodore 30-in-1 from a few years back. This brings us to the latest release of the game, and the first official new commercial release since the Commodore 64 version. Matt Barton had the pleasure of speaking with original author Jeff McCord not too long ago, and it was McCord and the rest of the Fargoal LLC team who were kind enough to send me a review code for this version for my iPhone 3G.

Upon starting the game, you're greeted with an all too uncommon occurrence in iTouch games--an opening cinematic. Normally, this would be a mere distraction to quickly skip past, but in this case - no doubt due to the skills of Emmy-winning animator, Charlie Canfield - it's a pleasure to behold and a great scene setter for the stylized visuals of the game within. This quality is carried through to the occasional in-game cut scenes. While this is nothing to get the game over all by itself, this is but the first of many examples of the type of TLC that went into this game's creation. Not to be outdone, British composer Daniel Pemberton created a musical score to be reckoned with. Combined with the mix of classic in-game sound effects, aurally the game does not disappoint.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Review of teh internets (Insurgent Games, 2009) for the iPod Touch and iPhone (LOL)

As their follow-up to the previously reviewed [(x)(x)(x)(x)( )] puzzler, Skeleton Key, Insurgent Games' teh internets, couldn't be more different. While Skeleton Key relied strictly on brainpower, teh internets relies strictly on your reflexes, attempting to tickle your funny bone along the way. What teh internets sets out to be is a tongue-in-cheek side scrolling shooter with more in common with classic era games in its gameplay than today's "bullet hell" variety, the latter of which is a decidely acquired and commercially niche taste. Not only is going the classic route a good choice since it's likely more appealing to a broader audience (and a personal preference of mine), but also because it's a better fit for the platform in general (in this case I used an iPhone 3G for the review).

Having a knowledge of classic Internet memes goes a long way to enjoying the game's humor, which pays proper homage to the momentary pop culture icons (check here for both South Park's take on classic memes and the original memes themselves). From the Dramatic Gopher who is your host during the tutorial, to your ASCII-inspired ROFL- and LOL-rotored helicopter, there are no shortage of winks and nods to not only the World Wide Web, but computing in general. Nevertheless, all the humor in the world couldn't salvage a game deficient in gameplay, but luckily, teh internets delivers. While the gameplay is hardly ambitous - this is a pure shooter through and through - the execution works. Of course, though the descriptor is a convenient one, calling it a "shooter" is not entirely correct, because you don't actually get to shoot anything, you just attempt to collect lolcats and try to avoid nearly everything else, like popup windows and a variety of trolls.

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