Wednesday 31 October 2012

REVIEW - Mutant Mudds (PC)

Mutant Mudds is a 'retro' platform game released earlier in 2012 on the Nintendo 3DS via the Nintendo eShop. The game received decent enough reviews to result in a PC version with 20 extra levels being released in August. I never played the 3DS version for 2 reasons; 1) I don't have a 3DS, and 2) I don't want a 3DS. My eyes are sufficiently wonky to render anything out of the ordinary (magic eye books, 3D TVs) an uncomfortable viewing experience so I figured the 3DS wasn't for me. Anyway, I come to this PC version having no prior knowledge of Mutant Mudds, but as a sucker for anything that looks remotely like a 2D platformer from the 80's or 90's I hastily downloaded the game.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

CLASSIC GAME REVIEW - The Adventure Of Little Ralph (Playstation)

The Adventure of Little Ralph is a 2D platformer on the original Sony Playstation that many of you may have missed when it was originally released. You can be forgiven for doing so however, as it only ever saw release in it's native Japan. Little Ralph, or Chippoke Ralph No Daibouken to give its original title, was released in 1999, a time when the Playstation was getting a bit long in the tooth. Indeed, Sony had unveiled its Playstation 2 console that would see release in Japan the following year, and the Sega Dreamcast was already wowing gamers with its next gen graphics. It also didn't help the game's case that, as a 2D platformer it belonged to a genre that was no longer in favour, seen as outdated by many due to developers mostly focusing on 3D games that took advantage of the 32-bit host software. It is a shame though as Little Ralph is a great game that deserved more attention, but yesteryear's loss is our gain and we can now enjoy this hidden gem via the wonders of emulation, or ebay if you are willing to splash out the high asking prices this game commands. Little Ralph has a lot in common with Castlevania Symphony of the Night, it is a 2D platformer that did not sell well on it's original release, has a cult following, and is expensive to obtain a copy nowadays. It is also one of the few games that deserve the high asking price, and is well worth seeking out.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Indie Royale Halloween Bundle Out Now

That's right kids, it's time for another fabulous bundle of gaming goodies from those wonderful people at Indie Royale. They are constantly wowing gamers with their incredible bundles of top indie titles for mere pennies. This time around it is a spooktacular offering just in time for Halloween! 

Fancy some ghostly goings on, or blood curdling horror, then look no further as this month's bundle brings you 5 gruesome, spine tingling offerings for the price of a cup of coffee.

REVIEW - Hotline Miami (PC)

The elevator stops at your floor and the doors open, acting quickly you hurl your empty shotgun at the guard, knocking him to the floor. In a second you are on him, smashing his head against the floor in a shower of blood, another guard enters the room and you dash at him, flooring him with a right hook. Taking his pistol you grab him by the neck and pull him to his feet, and using him as a human shield you enter the next room, firing at the guards seated on a sofa. Another catches you by surprise and unloads a shogun at you, killing your hostage, his body slumping to the ground as you dash for cover. Bursting into a bathroom you quickly slit the throat of a urinating hostile, before being set upon by a vicious guard dog who tears out your throat, decorating the walls and floor with fountains of crimson. You are dead. Again!

If you thought that GTA was the pinnacle of video game violence then you ain't seen nothing yet. Hotline Miami is a new indie game that fuses together elements of the original top-down GTA games with the sickening ultra violence of games like Carmageddon, and Man Hunt. With a sleazy Neon 80's vibe that brings to mind movies such as Scarface and, more recently, Drive, and the hazy psychedelic insanity of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, this game is a brutal and twisted adrenalin rush from the very beginning.

Friday 26 October 2012

REVIEW - SPELUNKY - My Love Affair continues

Spelunky is a lot like being in a relationship with the love of your life, they look gorgeous and are great fun to be with, they constantly surprise you, and the relationship is more rewarding when you invest more time in it. It can be frustrating at times, even drive you away for a short period, but you always come back because you love them.

Tired metaphors aside, my releationship with Spelunky has been going on for 4 months now, so it's high time I shared my thoughts and feelings on the game. Released in June this year, I am clearly late to the review party, but forgive me, I've just been too busy enjoying the adventure. Not since Super Mario World on the SNES have I been so entranced with a platforming world, and not since Rick Dangerous have I been killed by so many damn spikes (and snakes, and bats, and arrows.. take your pick). Over 400 deaths later and I am finally ready to review this lovable bastard.

Monday 22 October 2012

SPECIAL FEATURE - Retro HD Updates & Remakes in 2012

Over the last few years we have been blessed with some excellent HD updates of popular games from the last few generations of consoles. Retail releases of Doom 3, HaloGod of War trilogy, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill Collections, Ico / Shadow of the Colossus, and Zelda Ocarina of Time have all been well received, and reboots of known franchises such as Rayman and Sonic have been enjoyed by both old and new gamers alike. For us retro loving folk who like their classic gaming much more 'old school', there is an even more fantastic pool of gaming updates and reboots, along with some fantastic compilations. 

While these retail updates are great for those who love to see PS2, & Xbox games spiced up, those of us who get butterflies at the thought of Mega Drives, Playstations, and Nintendo 64's (to name but a few) turn to the download services
Both XBLA and PSN are home to some wonderful classic games, lovingly crafted to look sexy on our big HD, widescreen TVs. Some are merely straight ports with a few graphical enhancements (or merely include a filter to smooth out the pixel edges), whereas others offer a gorgeous, full HD remake and a wealth of bonus content for fans.
SEGA have really gone the extra mile with their efforts, bringing back gaming goodies from their hat trick of wonderful consoles, the Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast, as well as the coin-ops of the 80's and 90's (arguably their finest hour). Other developers, such as Capcom, Konami, Namco Bandai, and Rare have also graced the platforms with their updates. These give everyone a chance to relive the great games they grew up with, only this time with lush HD visuals, online multiplayer / leaderboards, achievements to accomplish, and bonus content.

Friday 19 October 2012

CLASSIC GAME - Castlevania Symphony Of The Night

I have recently finished yet another playthrough of this seminal title. This was the first year I have done so on the XBLA version rather than on the original Sony Playstation hardware, and it has inspired me to take a closer look at this true classic.

Castlevania Symphony of the Night set a new benchmark for 2D platforming adventures when it was released for Sony's Playstation console in 1997. It injected new life into the Castlevania series, which up until that point has been standard platforming fare, albeit highly polished, enjoyable, and challenging fare. It took the exploration template made famous by the excellent Super Metroid on the SNES and imported it into the Gothic world of Castlevania, coining the Metroidvania term that is used frequently to this day. Love or loath the term, due to the popularity and classic status of both games, it will forever be part of the gaming lexicon. Indeed, when hearing it, you know what to expect, 2D platform games with a central world, certain parts which can be explored from the offset, others inaccessible until a suitable ability or power-up is found. Symphony of the Night is the game that cemented this style of play as the template for all 2D platform adventures from then on. It added RPG elements, leveling up, equippable gear and magic items, things that are taken for granted now but at the time were truly ground breaking. Those who have played the more recent handheld iterations of the franchise will be in familiar territory here, indeed, may even wonder what all the fuss is about when playing SOTN, but this was the game that pioneered these elements. 

Monday 15 October 2012

REVIEW - Retro City Rampage (PC)

Retro City Rampage has been in development for a nearly a decade, but now it is finally here! Back in 2002, Brian Provinciano originally set out to produce a Nintendo Entertainment System homebrew game, a remake of the original Grand Theft Auto. It was originally entitled Grand Theftendo, but once he had developed software to get around the limitations of the NES he moved the game to PC. At some stage during development the game morphed into its own title, rather than a remake, and the idea to fill it with references to many of the games and movies that Provinciano had grown up was born.

It would be an understatement to say that this game has been eagerly awaited. Once screenshots and video clips of the game started surfacing online, the retro community went ballistic, and the barrage of 'when is this coming out?' messages on forums started.

Well it is finally here, on PSN and PC, with XBLA and wiiware versions to follow shortly. I have been very excited about the release game since I heard of it a couple of years ago and, while I was wanting the XBLA version, I wanted to get my hands on the game straight away, so bought the PC version.

Abobo's Big Adventure - NES Tribute Game

Started in 2002 and released in January of 2012, Abobo's Big Adventure is a lovingly crafted tribute to the Nintendo Entertainment System era of gaming, the 8-bit days of pixellated characters, sprite flickering, and chiptune music that evokes warm feelings of nostalgia within those of us of a certain age.

A completely free browser (or downloadable) game, Abobo's Big Adventure sees you playing as the titular character, a bad guy from the original Double Dragon (you know, that huge dude who bursts through a wall in order to slap you about). Here he is on a mission to rescue his kidnapped son, Aboboy

Thursday 11 October 2012

WIPEOUT Soundtrack Remastered and Available Now!

WIPEOUT Soundtrack Remastered and Available Now  

If, like me, you are a fan of the amazing futuristic racer series Wipeout, then I am sure you also loved the cool techno, rave soundtrack that accompanied it. Featuring cool trance synths, energetic beats and breaks, and pounding basslines. The soundtrack suited the exhilarating and high speed racing within the game.

Good news then, as the original producer of these tracks COLD STORAGE, also known as Tim Wright - legendary Amiga music creator - has gone back to the studio and painstakingly remastered the entire album.

REVIEW - Double Dragon Neon (XBLA / PSN)

For many, Double dragon will be the definition of 1980's arcade gaming, it was another coin-guzzler that captured the imagination of young boys everywhere with its colourful graphics, rad music, 2-player co-op, and of course lashing of violence. In fact, it is probably still one of the most brutal side scrolling fighting games to this day, thanks mostly to the wicked headbutts, elbows to the face and knees to the groin that the enemies receive from our heroes, Billy & Jimmy.

Monday 8 October 2012

PC DOS Gaming Special - Apogee Software

Apogee, for me, will always hold fond memories. Indeed the mere mention of the name elicits nostalgic visions of playing 2D platform games, Mario kart clones, and early first person shooters using my keyboard, and of DOS based commands to get games working. Ah, who can forget the joyous days of command prompts, .exes, sound-blasters, and autoexe.bats?).

Some people emit an audible groan (or whimper) when recollecting the DOS days of yore. But I am filled with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Even using the marvellous DOSBox today feels comforting. Like revisiting your old room in your parent's home and finding a toy you loved as a kid.


Trials Evolution DLC – Origin of Pain [400 points]

To be honest, I was more than a little surprised to see paid-for DLC coming out for the excellent Trials Evolution. After all, with thousands of freely downloadable tracks, often by the Red Lynx team themselves, I figured you had as much Trials as you could ever want (or need) right at your fingertips.

Sunday 7 October 2012

GAME ROOM on Xbox 360 - Why it is still Great!

So here we are, 2 and a half years after the launch of Microsoft and Krome's GAME ROOM. A service that promised retro gamers their very own arcade. An arcade they could fill with all their favourite arcade games and relive the glory days of dingy, smoke filled rooms (smoke and dinginess not supplied) awash with the sounds of coin-op gaming. But alas, twas not to be, and as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision games started flooding in so did the doubts. The disappointment began to set in, and then Venician Blinds was delivered to the service. It was like a slap round the face to all the people who had been supporting it and they began to flee like rats from a sinking ship.

So what has GAME ROOM got to offer now. The answer is plenty, but you have to overlook the fact it will not be updated, and avoid all the dross clogging up the store. You could even have a group of chain smoking teenagers stand behind you while you play, shouting instructions like a back seat driver. Thus perfectly recreating the arcades of our youth. Maybe your mother could come in half way through and drag you away from the game, complaining about 'wasting money' and 'bad influences'.

Saturday 6 October 2012

REVIEW - NiGHTS : Into Dreams (XBLA)

NiGHTS : Into Dreams [800 points]  

SEGA are on a mission to bring back many of their older titles to the XBLA service. Not all the games have aged well, but there is no doubting that they are brought back with care and attention, and designed to please long term fans. 
NiGHTS : Into Dreams is the next game to get the HD treatment, and is another example of a respectful update from the Sonic Team.
NiGHTS was pretty groundbreaking when it came out on the Saturn way back in 1996, made more so by being bundled with the excellent '3D' analogue controller (which would inspire the design of the Dreamcast controller). But how does it hold up to today's standards?

Friday 5 October 2012




Both the Nintendo DSi and the Sony PSP are getting on in years now, so what better time to pick up a cheap one and get yourself some homebrew and emulation in portable form.

In this feature I aim to compare the two to see how they stack up for the retro gamer who wants to play SNES or Arcade games on the train, or play some of the retail games that offer a retro experience.

Sure, there are great handhelds like the Dingoo, Caanoo, and the GP2X Wiz (and even the elusive Pandora). But for now I want to take a look at two consoles that are cheap, easily available, and have a great selection of exclusive games you won't find on the open source handhelds.

I was a bit of a late arriver with these handhelds. To be honest my preconceptions were that the PSP was home to mostly new games like Metal Gear Solid and such, games that didn't really interest me. The DSi, on the other hand, appeared too childish for my tastes and consisted mostly of pet sims and the like.

A new blog for those of us who like our modern games 'Retro'

So, er.. Hi.. so I went ahead and made a blog about Indie and retro gaming in the mistaken belief (and shocking arrogance) that people would want to read it. Allow me to explain.

Basically I have a passion for indie and retro gaming that borders on the obscene. I love 8-bit and 16-bit games from the late 80's and early 90's, and it is great to see how many brand new games available on the PC (often for free) and the Xbox Live service go to this era for inspiration. It is uplifting to see that, in 2012, a 2D platformer made by a tiny development team can storm the charts and sell over a million units. Recent games like Dust : An Elysian Tale, Fez, and Spelunky show that there is still a huge market for games that are not in 3D, and don't feature the words Duty, Effect, FIFA, Halo, or Auto in the title.

Games players still want great games, regardless of whether they are made by a team of hundreds on a huge budget, or by one guy slaving away on his pet project for several years. It is all about gameplay. For me personally, a great looking 2D sprite based game will always appeal me more than the latest 3D blockbuster, regardless of how impressive it's graphics are.

Please read my Intro page for more about my gaming history and why I wanted to bring this blog to gamers online.

In the meantime I will begin writing and uploading the many feature articles I have in mind. The Features Page will list them as they are published, and what is to come.

I hope you enjoy reading the material on my site, and that it inspires you to get some games you may not be aware of, or take the plunge and dig deeper under the surface to find the true gaming gems that often get overlooked by all but the most devoted of indie fans.