Day of The Tentacle Remaster Review

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Leaping Lab rats! The Remaster we’ve all been waiting for!

This generation seems to be the time for upgrades and remakes, which is all fine and good, but finally, I get the one I really want. I’ve been waiting for Day of the Tentacle for a very long time.

I remember playing this game as a child on our first family computer; I’ve actually still got the original CD-ROM.

I really am a huge fan of the original game and upon learning of the impending re-master months ago, had high hopes that this would do it justice. I thought it was brilliantly funny back then, well constructed and hoped it would still hold up today. A small niggling fear in the back of my head – what if DOTT doesn’t actually hold up today and it doesn’t turn out to be as great as I thought it was 20 odd years ago.

Luckily, I’m happy to say that isn’t the reality.

Now in case you had a very deprived gaming childhood or just missed it entirely, DOTT is about a mutated tentacle that turns evil after consuming toxic sludge and decides to take over the world.

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DOTT is a classic ‘point and click’ puzzle adventure game, filled with funny dialogue, weird and wonderful characters you meet along the way.

You play as three very different and unlikely friends who have to stop him from taking over the world, the only problem being they’re all stuck in different times, thanks to mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison’s botched time travel machine.

Our three protagonists are – Hoagie the rock roadie. He is 200 years in the past, Laverne the oddball is 200 years in the future and geeky Bernard is stuck in the present. Their only form of contact – three toilets converted into Chron-O-Johns and the help of a mad scientist.

Double fine really have given DOTT the care and attention it deserves in this update. The lines are smoother, the colours are vibrant and they haven’t changed the art style and have kept true to the origins of the game. They have also re-mastered the audio.

The puzzles still hold up today, they’re funny, clever, well constructed and don’t feel shoehorned in. Some are also head-scratchingly difficult. Having played this game many years ago some of the answers evaded me. You will find a time when you feel like you’re aimlessly hopping between all 3 kids and just repeating yourself but, there’s no greater feeling, after all the pointing n’ clicking for half an hour when you get the “Eureka” moment and it all comes together nicely.

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The dialogue still works today as well as it did in 1993, it’s witty, funny and sometimes just a bit dark. There are also some great one-liners, especially when trying to use certain objects with other objects in the puzzle solving. With some pretty comical achievements popping up along the way. I watched all of the cut scenes and used most of the dialogue choices and at times there were proper laugh moments out of me.

Playing across all three playable characters is simple and easy enough, you play as much with whomever, but there are moments when certain actions affect certain times, this works really well across all three characters. The inventory system is super simple and does a good job swapping between each kid and playing across the different time periods.

With DOTT given the enhanced and updated treatment, you can switch back to the original style so you can see the difference. Personally, I didn’t remember the game being that pixelated, but hitting the button will show there’s a huge difference in graphics, 20+ years obviously goes a long way and it really shows the effort and care Double Fine put into making this re-master look as good as it does. The only bad point I noticed was some of the dialogue didn’t match up to the speaking animation, a bit like poor dubbing. It’s not enough to ruin it, but it is noticeable – I suspect this is down to the voices and sounds being improved to a higher bit-rate.

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DOTT been completely redrawn in high definition 2D graphics and it really does look marvellous, you can also mix and match audio, graphics and UI to whichever you prefer.

Throughout the adventure, you will also collect concept art and you can turn on the developer commentary which really adds to the heritage of the game.

To summarise, DOTT is still great today. It’s a great point and click game with genuine laugh out loud moments, clever and well-made puzzles. The remake looks gorgeous and the writing is still as fantastic now as it was back then. Whether or not you played the original, this is a classic point and click adventure game that will keep you entertained and challenged while laughing and smiling throughout.

Pros

Amazing work re-mastering looks gorgeous.

Still holds up as a classic point and click

Laugh out loud funny.

Cons

Vocal Animation can be a bit off.

If you’ve not played before, some of the puzzles can be very challenging
Score: 9/10

Sky Force Anniversary PC Review 

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Sky Force Anniversary PC Review

Publisher: Infinite Dreams
Developer:  Infinite Dreams
Platform Reviewed: PC
Release date: 30/04/2015

The original Sky Force was a vertical shooter which was released, yes you guessed it, 10 years ago on PocketPC and mobile phones. In 2014 Infinite Dreams produced a re-imagining of the original in the form of Sky Force 2014 which is available on iOS. Thus, the anniversary edition is a mobile port of the latter, but is it worth your time? Transitioning from mobile devices to PC is a tricky business and most are genuinely awful, so does this fare any better?

Well the first impressions are rather good, running at 1080p at 60fps gameplay is fast and smooth. Travelling over land and sea, dodging enemy fire as you zip around the screen is instinctive and just as satisfying as it should be. The obvious switch from swiping a screen to using a control pad in order to navigate the stages makes the entire experience much more fun and, for an ageing gamer like me, much more intuitive.

The levels are wonderfully presented and the attention to detail is genuinely very impressive. Sky Force 2014 was never an ugly game, far from it, but the jump to PC has made a notable difference. Backgrounds are lush and colourful and is nice to see a change from the platter of brown we have sadly been subjected to over recent years. Flying over remote islands whilst the surrounding waves crash against the rocks and the palm trees sway gently in the wind is a nice place to be, even if you are laying waste to everything set before you. Even the military bases have been handled with right amount of care, the unavoidable greyness of concrete is broken up with intelligent use of scenery, couple this with the bright neon weapon fire and your eyes will never begin to tire.

So, what about the plot, well if you come here in search of a multi layered story, full of complex dialogue and difficult decision making you’re in the wrong place, I’m sure if you shop around Final Fantasy or Elder Scrolls are on sale somewhere. No here you will find some nonsensical nonsense regarding someone called General Madness, but honestly, I’ve forgotten it already, I just wanted to shoot things and thankfully that’s where Sky Force delivers.

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The opening prologue level gives you the opportunity to pilot your craft whilst at its most powerful, armed to the teeth with all manner of destructive capabilities, it won’t be long until General has gone the way of many a lofty  dictator, hiding in a bunker somewhere hoping the actor who will play him in the movie is, at least, good looking. Sadly for us and once again, reasons I forget, our well-equipped angel of destruction is stripped bare of all but one of the available weapons, a measly single shot, front mounted gun. If you are to put a stop to the Madness, then you will need all of your tools and it’s here that Sky Force proves to be quite addictive.

Kill a certain enemy and it will drop a much needed weapon upgrade, these are only temporary and will last for the entire level. However, enemies also drop stars, which act as currency with the game, collect enough of these and the end of each stage you will have the opportunity to spend in the workshop. It’s here where you can upgrade your ship, purchase new weapons or increase the damage output of the ones you already own. Now, originally being a free to play game, extra stars could be purchased if you were willing to part with your hard earned cash, thankfully this option has now been removed and the game is all the better for it. Each level can be replayed as often as you like, each time earning you more stars and coupled with the way each new level unlocks, this is where the addiction can take hold.

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In order to open up new levels a certain amount of medals needs to be achieved. These are gained by completing set challenges within each stage. They’re four in total, complete a level without being hit, save all the survivors, kill 70% and 100% of the enemy forces. As the game progresses it becomes much harder to achieve these goals and you will need a powerful ship in order to do it and that’s when the grind starts. Kill as many enemies as you can, earn stars, upgrade your ship and aim for the challenge medals. You are heavily incentivised to replay past missions over and again.

And that’s it in a nutshell, if you enjoyed games such as Super Aleste or 1942 then there is much to be admired here. With its ridiculously forgettable plot, wonderful presentation, epic boss battles and addictive, satisfying gameplay, Sky Force Anniversary has a lot to offer. And when you marry all these to local co-op, weekly challenges, and online leaderboards you will certainly get a lot of bang for your buck.

 

Pros

  • Overall very pretty
  • Can be quite addictive
  • Great for short blasts of gaming

Cons

  • Not for those who loathe the grind
  • Music can become repetitious
  • Gets very tricky in the latter stages

Score – 7/10

Reviewer – Ian P.

Retro Classic Game Sale Now On Playstation Store

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There is a Retro Classic game sale starting on the Playstation Store today. Don’t forget you can save even more money by purchasing PSN credit at discounted prices here

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1945 I & II – The Arcade Games
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Arcade Classics
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Capcom vs SNK 2
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Castle Shikigami II
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Conflict Desert Storm 2
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Conflict Vietnam
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Donald Duck: Goin’ Quackers
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Gex: Enter the Gecko
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God Hand
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Gungrave Overdose
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Maximo
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Neo Contra
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Road Trip Adventure
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Sonic Heroes
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Twisted Metal: Black
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Devil May Cry® HD Collection
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Just Cause
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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – HD Edition
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Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – HD Edition
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Okami HD
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Resident Evil Code Veronica X
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Urban Chaos
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Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner HD Edition
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PS One

Bishi Bashi Special
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Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
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Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
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Championship Bass
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Command & Conquer Red Alert
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Command And Conquer
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Constructor
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Cool Boarders
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Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped
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Crash Bandicoot
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Creatures 3: Raised In Space
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Crisis Beat
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CTR: Crash Team Racing
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Destruction Derby
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Driver
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Fade to Black
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Fear Effect
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Grandia
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Guilty Gear
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International Track & Field
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MediEvil
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Metal Gear Solid
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Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus
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Pandemonium 2
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Pandemonium
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Populous The Beginning
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Rayman
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Rayman 2 The Great Escape
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Red Alert Retaliation
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Resident Evil 2
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Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
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Resident Evil Director’s Cut
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Ridge Racer Type 4
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Silent Hill
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SimCity 2000
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Spyro The Dragon Trilogy
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Street Fighter Alpha 2
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Street Fighter Alpha Warriors’ Dreams
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Syphon Filter™
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Syphon Filter 3
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Tekken 2
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Tekken
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Theme Park
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Tomb Raider
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Tomb Raider Chronicles
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Tomb Raider II Starring Lara Croft
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Tomb Raider III
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Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
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Twisted Metal
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Warhawk
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Wild Arms
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WipEout
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Theme Hospital
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PSP

Ace Combat Joint Assault
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Gottlieb Pinball Classics
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Medal of Honor Heroes
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10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Medal of Honor Heroes 2
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Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops
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10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite
Was £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95, now £3.99/€4.99/AU$7.55
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

MotorStorm Arctic Edge
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Persona 3 Portable
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Pursuit Force
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Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice
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Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters
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Resistance: Retribution
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Sega Mega Drive Collection
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SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo
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SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2
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SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3
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Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron
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Star Wars: Battlefront II
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Tekken 6 + SoulCalibur:Broken Destiny
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Theme Hospital
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10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Was £11.99/€14.99/AU$22.95, now £5.09/€6.19/AU$9.35
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Worms: Battle Islands
Was £11.99/€14.99/AU$22.95, now £5.79/€6.99/AU$10.45
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Disney’s Action Game ft. Hercules
Was £3.99/€4.99/AU$7.55, now £1.99/€2.49/AU$3.75
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

God Eater Burst
Was £7.99/€9.99/AU$-, now £3.99/€4.99/AU$-

Namco Heritage Bundle
Was £5.79/€6.99/AU$10.45, now £3.99/€4.99/AU$7.55

Tekken 6
Was £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95, now £3.29/€3.99/AU$5.95

Alien Breed
Was £6.49/€7.99/AU$11.95, now £3.69/€4.49/AU$6.75
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Power Stone Collection
Was £7.99/€9.99/AU$14.95, now £3.29/€3.99/AU$5.95
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Superfrog HD
Was £6.49/€7.99/AU$11.95, now £3.69/€4.49/AU$6.75
10% additional discount for PS Plus subscribers

Source : Playstation Blog

Ionball 2: Ionstorm Review

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IonBall 2: Ionstorm

Developed by: Ironsun Studios

Published by KISS Ltd

Reviewed on PC

Ionball 2 is a sequel to Ionball that was released on the Xbox 360 three years ago in 2011. Whilst the original was released only on a console, this sequel is only available on the PC platform from Steam, I have to admit now that I have not played the original title so I cannot compare the two titles and will be looking at this as a stand-alone game.

This game bears a very strong resemblance to Breakout that was released way back in 1976 in the arcades; I can remember playing one of the many ports of this for the Amiga around twenty years ago. The basic structure of Ionball has been around since the days of Pong, you have a paddle that moves along one side of the screen and you use this to keep your ball in play, in Breakout it was used to destroy a wall, in Ionball you destroy robots. Let the ball drop out of the screen, like in a game of pinball and you lose a life. As I said it is a basic structure that has been around since the dawn of games, so how have IronStorm Studios brought this into 2014?

Ionball_2_-_Ionstorm_(PC)_01Firstly the basic Breakout formula has been given a Sci-fi twist; you are playing to destroy robots that have taken over a space station. That is about as much as the story goes, but I really don’t think this game needs one, after all you are just using a paddle to bash a ball at robots. There are various differing levels, over 60, for you to play through. The levels have been given the sci-fi look with some nice looking backgrounds and Space Invaders looking robots floating around. These robots vary in each level, with different numbers and formations thrown at you, to try and make each level unique. It has to be said, after playing through a few of them they do begin to blend together, but this is to be expected for a game like this.

As I mentioned, you control a paddle at the base of the screen and use it to bounce a glowing ball towards the robots in the level, you control this by using the mouse and I have to state my first major problem with this game, there are no options to control the sensitivity of the controls. I found this quite surprising that the only motion input had no options. To start with I hated how sensitive my movements were, the only way I could change it was by going into settings on Windows and adjusting it there and then re adjusting it after I played the game. A very long winded and annoying way to change something that should have been integral to the game.

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Added to the overly sensitive controls the speed of the ball is insanely quick, most games of this type start off slow with the ball speeding up with each hit off of the paddle, not here, it started off quick and again the lack of options in gameplay was frustrating, there were no options to turn down the speed or the difficulty. I understand that this game has been designed to be difficult but it would be nice to have a learning curve, you are thrown in at the deep end and if your reflexes aren’t up to speed from the first hit of the ball then you will spend a lot of time restarting, I like difficulty in games, but I hate frustration when the difficulty is derived from the controls.

The music in the game is like the rest of the game, high speed and frantic, there are varying tracks from dance, techno and heavy rock, I found it weird and slightly distracting, and most of the songs in the background didn’t seem to fit with the sci-fi settings of the game. Visually it looks OK nothing terrible but also nothing amazing, not that you will get much chance to admire what’s on the screen, take your eyes off to admire anything and chances are the ball will go flying off the bottom, you have to concentrate if you are to master this, it is not really a game you can jump in and out of, at least not for me. As expected there are a variety of upgrades you can buy with the XP you earn by destroying robots, these are the usual widening of the paddle to make it a little easier, to purchasing weapons such as EMP’s to slow down the enemies or lasers and machines guns to destroy them.

Overall I have to say that there are some great signs of potential in this game, the difficulty level is high but if you are aware of this when you go in and are prepared to be patient and get used to the speed then you will enjoy it. With many levels and an online leader board to climb there is a fair amount to keep you busy, it’s not perfect though with a few tweaks needed to make it more accessible but it can be frantically fun to play, especially if you relish a challenge.

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Growing up with Video Games: A Personal History

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Playing video games has been one of my main pass-times for as long as I can remember and if you’re reading this it’s possibly the same for you. Everyone has their first nostalgic memories of films, music or sports events from their youth, but being such an avid gamer; I also remember the many games that I played growing up. To think of how this medium has changed from the late 1980’s to today is quite incredible unlike music and sports and to a lesser extent movies, games really don’t age well from the outside.

You would really struggle to see a game like Pac-Man, or the latest Grand Theft Auto being the same medium if put together side by side. Sure, films can look dated but even special effect heavy films stand up to movies today. Some of my favourites; Star Wars and Jurassic Park, still look great despite being decades old. Video games on the other hand look dated just a few years after coming out, unlike these old movies that still have thousands of people watching them many years later. The appeal of playing older games, unless you grew up playing them, just doesn’t seem to exist and I feel this is a waste. So I am going to go through a few of the consoles and games that I had the fortune of playing as I grew up and feel helped games to evolve in to what they are today.

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First up I have to say that the first games I played were on a ZX Spectrum, the best game I remember playing from that era were the Dizzy games. This was an 8bit home computer that even at the time looked pretty primitive. Blocky colours made up all of the games and I am pretty certain this is why Dizzy was made to be a white egg, an egg who wore boxing gloves. As with many games of this era it was a 2-D Side scroller, the best of all the Dizzy games was the third- Fantasy World Dizzy. The Dizzy games were platform games that required you to solve puzzles to progress, of course these games look terrible by today’s standards but the puzzle solving mechanics of the game is still fun to play today. The loading times of the cassette based Spectrum are not missed at all, the noise, the painfully slow build up of a title screen that could take tens of minutes and the high risk that when you got to the end of the tape it would crash and you would just start over again, thankfully this is something that is well and truly resigned to the past.

Following on from the ZX Spectrum, I was lucky enough to have a Mega Drive and of course the best games on the mega drive were the Sonic titles, with number two being my favourite of them all. Again these titles were still 2-D based thanks to the limitations of the hardware of the time. The speed with which Sonic could move through the opening levels was something I had never seen before and it really did blow my mind away, the music was also something I hadn’t heard before, in comparison to the Spectrum, which was limited to just screeches, bumps and rumbles- virtually all the games had the same sound effects throughout.

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This was also the era of video games that started to have movie tie-ins, something that has kind of disappeared lately with many movie based games being released on the mobile gaming platform. I would imagine that this is mainly due to the production time of modern games can take several years, twenty years ago a game could be created in a matter of months by just a few developers. Some of my favourite movie based games I played were Batman on the Amiga, the ability to drive the Bat mobile through the city was just incredible and no Batman game has done the Dark Knight justice until very recently with the excellent Arkham series of titles from Rocksteady. Jurassic Park on the Mega drive was also a game I spent many hours on. You could play as a Raptor, which as a young child whose mind was easily blown, watching the incredible effects that brought the dinosaurs to life was a dream come true. As I have said movie based games have really disappeared on home consoles with the last half decent title being maybe King Kong- which came out in 2005, nearly ten years ago.

The next console I owned was maybe the most influential console of my life time, the Playstation revolutionised games and brought them into the 3-D era and had full stereo CD based sound giving it a quality that surpassed anything before it. I spent far too many hours playing on this console, a console that had more memorable titles than any other console I owned whilst growing up. The first game I owned on the PS1 was Crash Bandicoot, a superb 3-D platformer that was created by Naughty Dog, a studio that has gone on to become, (in my opinion) the best in the industry. The Playstation was also responsible for two of my favourite video game series: Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid. Resident Evil was the first game I had played that genuinely terrified me, it introduced me to the genre of survival horror and I couldn’t get enough. The best of the series was Resident Evil 2, I can still remember playing this all night with some friends over a weekend and completing both scenarios. Games kept on growing in size and length on the Playstation with the higher capacity memory available on CD’s.

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The greatest game I have played of all time was also on Sony’s incredible first foray into the home console market- Metal Gear Solid was something I had never played before. It really was like playing through an action movie. It had everything from the clichéd espionage plot to a completely new way of playing an action adventure, it introduced the wider market to stealth action, so many games before had you running round with an infinite amount of ammo blowing enemies to bits, MGS on the other hand rewarded you for not indulging in mindless killing, instead you had to sneak your way into the compound and this title had some of the best Boss battles of any game. Who could ever forget the encounter with Psycho Mantis and that ending battle on the top of Metal Gear, bare knuckle fighting with Liquid, I must have completed this title more than ten times and I have yet to grow tired of it.

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Sadly whilst growing up I never owned a Nintendo console. It wasn’t my choice, as I never knew what was waiting for me under the Christmas tree and in all honesty I don’t feel as though I have missed out too much, as I now have had the chance to go back and play through games such as Mario and Donkey Kong Country. The Playstation 2 came out around the time I left school, so games from then until now hasn’t influenced me in the same way. I still spend far too long playing games, but now I have the luxury of being able to buy exactly what I want and when I want, so the experience is very different now and games have evolved. Where games used to be confined to bedrooms and regarded as something of an anti social hobby, but as gamers have grown up they are now in the living room and an integral part of many peoples down time and hobbies and with online game play and chat they help people stay together and enjoy their favourite past time.

 

I have grown up with games and the older I have gotten the more I enjoy playing them, I love going back and playing through some of the best titles of my youth, I also love buying some of the old consoles and playing through games I never had chance to when they were released, if you haven’t played many or any of these games then I highly recommend that you do, not only will you play through some hugely entertaining titles but you will also appreciate just how much games have changed and largely for the better.

R-Type Dimensions Review

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R-Type Dimensions is a graphically updated version of the classic R-Type and R-Type II, which has just been released on the PS3. This was released a few years ago on the Xbox 360. Why it has taken so long to get to the PS3 is unclear, but one thing is clear this game is as frustratingly hard as the originals I remember. The original R-Type game was released in the arcades in 1987, the follow up- R-Type II arrived two years later in 1989. The 25 odd years since then, these games have been ported countless times and Dimensions is the latest, so what makes it different?

The main difference is the ability to change the look of the game, from the new modern looking HD visuals with the press of just one button, back to how it looked in the late 80’s. The ability to do this in game is great and certainly had me switching between the two comparing how the game looked. The modern look is smooth and beautifully realised in HD with bright colours and sharp backgrounds, what we expect now from modern games. But I have to say I preferred the ‘classic’ look of the game. It still has a slight tweak to make it look crisp and sharp on modern day TV’s. The 16 BIT era graphics looked superb back in the day and added charm that I wanted when playing what is effectively the classic game I used to love. The classic sound also seemed far more immersive for the game I was playing, but perhaps this is due to the nostalgia of playing it when it was released, if you had never played R-Type games before, maybe you would prefer the modern updated version.

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To make sure this isn’t just a visual update the menu gives you two different ways of playing the game: Classic Mode- which well, is the classic mode. Here you just have three lives to get through the game. I will be honest I found this impossible, but I always have found R-Type games impossible to complete. Even with the new slow-mo mode, when you hold down R2 it just becomes too frantic and you seem to have no chance with the vast array of enemies on screen, how games have changed. The other option is the new Infinite mode which gives you (as the title says) infinite lives to get through the game, but this effects your final score. The more lives you lose the more points gained, the object being to have as few points as possible. Playing it this way I found more enjoyable as I could actually get to the end!
Playing it this way did seem far too easy. It felt as though a third mode is needed, one in between classic and infinite, as it was impossible on classic with just three lives. It took me about thirty on the final boss alone, but took only twenty minutes on infinite and had no challenge, especially if you don’t really care what your score is. It did remind me of just how hard and frustrating games were when I was growing up, the first level took me around three minutes on infinite mode yet I just couldn’t complete it on classic, just the first level had me beaten and frustrated. How did I play these games twenty years ago!

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R-Type Dimensions is a great trip down memory lane, but it is also more than that, the updated visuals bring new life to a classic. The ability to get to the end thanks to Infinite mode is a very welcome addition but it certainly needs some middle ground in difficulty to make it more long living. If you love playing through retro games like me, then you will love this. Comparing the old with the new with just a touch of a button is great. Overall for the price of 7.99 this is good value, you are getting two classic titles with enough options to make them feel different.

Reviewed on the Playstation 3

Developed by Irem, Tozai Games

Published by Tozai Games

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