Monday 31 December 2012

Best Indie & Retro Games of 2012 - AWARDS!

2012 has been a great year for indie and retro gamers alike. From the wealth of XBLA and PSN remakes and HD updates of classic games, to the many excellent indie titles produced by small teams and given to us for free, or very little money. Steam Greenlight now lets the public decide what games they want to see appear on the marketplace, and Kickstarter has taken off as an excellent method of raising funds for projects that may otherwise never have seen the light of day.

So as the year comes to a close I wanted to give credit to the games that have kept me entertained throughout the year. All the games here are reviewed (or, in the case of the unfinished games, soon to be reviewed) on this blog in the appropriate section.

There were many other indie and retro titles that I loved just as much, if not more, than the ones listed here but, due to not being released in 2012, I was unable to include them. They will be mentioned elsewhere on this site though!

Sunday 30 December 2012

REVIEW - White Noise : A Tale Of Horror (XBLIG)

White Noise : A Tale Of Horror [80 Points]

Coming from the dependable Milkstone Studios I was expecting something better than the usual XBLIG standard, and I was not disappointed. White Noise is a pure horror first person game. There is no 'shooter' part to this game though, it is purely explorational. Armed with only a torch, you walk around a dark and sinister graveyard and forest area, trying to locate 8 hidden tape recorders. As you near the items you hear radio static, much like that heard in the original Silent Hill game. 

Friday 28 December 2012

REVIEW - Ridiculous Reality (Atari 8-bit)

Winner of this year's Atari Bit Byte User Club's Software Contest by a considerable margin, Ridiculous Reality is a 2D platformer homebrew title developed for the 8-bit Atari XL / XE. The work of Developers Martin Šimeček, Adam Wachowski, Michał Radecki and Adam Powroznik, the game is based on the concept seen in the 2010 Flash game, Continuity. But where that game had extremely sparse graphics that were little more than basic black & white backgrounds and a stick man protagonist, Ridculous Reality is chock full of 8-bit charm and character. It is easy to see why it took home the gold as it is something really quite special.

Thursday 27 December 2012

REVIEW - Street Fighter X Mega Man (PC)

Street Fighter X Mega Man is a fan made game featuring the blue bomber against the cast of Capcom's classic beat-em-up franchise. It was developed by Singapore native Seow Zong Hui, and once the game was spotted by Capcom it was given their official support. Given away as a FREE PC download, the game is a celebration of both the passing Street Fighter anniversary, and the current birthday of Mega Man himself.

Having defeated all the robot masters Mega Man decides he wants to relax and take some time out, but not before Ryu and the gang decide to challenge him to one last battle. With visuals and music in the style of the original NES games, this new adventure sticks closely to the formula of the first 6 Mega Man titles, but with the addition of a selection of Street Fighter characters. The initial bosses you face are Ryu, Dhalsim, Urien, Rolento, Blanka, Rose, C Viper and Chun Li. Each stage is set in that particular character's style, e.g. Chun Li's stage has a traditional Chinese setting and Blanka's has a jungle backdrop, and is accompanied by a chiptune remix of their background music. The boss awaits you at the end of the stage where you must defeat them in order to obtain their particular special move, such as Hadoukens and lightning kicks.

Friday 21 December 2012

CHRISTMAS GAMES - Festive Retro Goodness!

Christmas is here, and what better way to celebrate Santa's birthday than to fire up some festive retro gaming goodies! The 'Christmas game' was a popular gimmick in the 8-bit and 16-bit home computer days. Games were cheap to produce and to purchase, so developers could create a quick Christmas game on a small budget and release it at a low enough price for parents to buy for their kids as a stocking filler. There was also the free cover tape given away with the computer magazines at the time. The December issue of a games publication was the perfect place for Christmas games, and well known developers such as Team 17 and Sensible Software produced short, seasonal versions of their hit games for these give-aways. The ZX Spectrum had an excellent Monty Mole game called Moley Christmas, given away with the December 1987 issue of Your Sinclair. The Commodore 64 also got in the holiday spirit, with one memorable title being Frosty The Snowman, given away on the front of Your Commodore magazine in 1990. The Amiga was also home to a wealth of Yuletide treats, with Christmas versions of Cannon Fodder, Lemmings, ATR : All Terrain Racing, and Fire N Ice all gracing cover disks over the years. PC users were not left in the dark either, with an enjoyable Xmas edition of Jetpack, and some frantic platform action in the form of, not one, but three, Jazz Jackrabbit Christmas specials.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Hydorah - The best Indie shmup gets an update!

Hopefully you will all have been playing the fabulous Maldita Castilla, the Ghosts 'N Goblins inspired 2D platformer available this month. If not, then why not? Secondly, there is more Locomalito news with the release of version 1.1 of his epic shoot-em-up Hydorah.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Gaming Memories - The New Zealand Story

A Look back at a classic arcade game and one of it's Memorable Bosses

Since the beginning of video games, end of level bosses have been a staple part of the gaming experience. There have been many memorable boss characters over the years, some even earning the same level of recognition and popularity as the main protagonist. Where would Mario be without Bowser? Sonic without Dr Robotnik... sorry, Eggman (groan)? From the many robot masters of the Mega Man series, to the giant mountain sized behemoths you must defeat in Shadow of the Colossus, bosses have always been there to challenge, and infuriate us. They are the final obstacle between the player and the next level, or indeed the end of the game, and without them a game feels unfinished. The player needs closure in the form of an epic battle that takes many tries to win.

Monday 17 December 2012

REVIEW – Maldita Castilla (PC) - Ghosts 'N Goblins for 2012!

Maldita Castilla is the work of one man, a man who goes by the name of Locomalito and is responsible for some truly great indie titles on the PC. You may be aware of the fantastic horizontal shoot-em-up Hydorah, or the retro first person shooter stylings of 8-bit Killer. How about the ZX Spectrum inspired platforming action of Endless Forms Most Beautiful, or Abbaye Des Morts? All of these games are highly polished and extremely playable with unique character and charm, so it was with some excitement that I awaited the arrival of his latest game, described as a "traditional action game". It is based heavily on Capcom's Ghosts 'N Goblins and its sequel, Ghouls 'N Ghosts which graced arcades in the mid to late 80's. These hard as nails platform Run & Gun (Or Run & Lance) games featured a Knight named Arthur, tasked with battling a ludicrous amount of demonic hell spawn over 8 large side scrolling stages. They are cult classic titles, not only for their immense playability and charm but also for their punishing difficulty level. Both games even have the audacity to send you back to the beginning to replay the whole game after you defeat the final boss, all in order to receive the 'true' ending. As a result of this insane difficulty the Ghosts 'N Goblins series is a firm favourite among hardcore gamers, with several sequels and spin-offs created in the proceeding years. Well Locomalito's take on the series is finally here and I am pleased to say it has been well worth waiting for.

Saturday 15 December 2012

REVIEW - Teleglitch (PC) In space, no one can hear you scream!

Teleglitch is a brand new top down roguelike that blends action and horror to great effect. In this nightmarish vision of the future you assume the role of a scientist who is the only survivor of an experiment gone wrong in a military research centre on Medusa C-1. Upon arrival you find that the previous occupants have been performing dangerous experiments, with predictably disastrous results. The complex is overrun with hideous genetic experiments, zombies, robots, and all sorts of crazed monsters out to tear you asunder.
The first thing you will notice are the incredibly lo-fi graphics, grainy and distorted, they are small and extremely pixelated, but rather than detract from the game, it actually adds a grimy, sinister feel. Indeed the visual style brings to mind Id software's Doom and its follow up Quake; the abandoned military installation filled with demonic hordes is pure Doom, and the gritty colours, and eerie sounds instantly reminded me of the first Quake game. Add in the sci-fi horror storyline of System Shock, and the frantic, claustrophobic fire fights and switch pressing of Alien Breed and you are some way to describing Teleglitch. The music is non existent, but the constant space like hums and drones, as well as the hissing of opening doors, and shrieks of creatures give the game an atmosphere reminiscent of Ridley Scott's Alien movies. The aesthetics give the game a great atmosphere and sense of immersion, which will soon have you absorbed into its terrifying world.

Friday 14 December 2012

Xbox Live Indie Weekly Roundup (Dec 5th - Dec 11th)

Wow, I am just two weeks into my proposed weekly review of the Xbox Live Indie Channel and already I feel as though a small part of me has died inside. This week follows in the footsteps of a number of preceding weeks I can only guess at, where the entertainment value of the games on offer is lower than that of watching paint dry. Not even a colourful, vibrant type of paint, but just regular dull magnolia. It is pretty soul destroying to have to wade through this shit every week in the vague hope of finding something even mildly enjoyable. This is also highlighted by the fact that there have been some fantastic PC indie games for released over the last week, all of which put this Xbox indie selection to shame. 

This week:
  • 2D Voxel Madness
  • 60 Seconds To Park
  • Dream Divers 2
  • Project Gert Recon
  • Retro Pixel Racers
  • TrickyTreat
  • Vampire Slayer FPS

Saturday 8 December 2012

Xbox Live Indie Weekly Roundup (Nov 28th - Dec 4th)

In this new regular feature I will be rounding up the week's Xbox live indie games and reviewing them in one fell swoop. Since the majority of indie titles don't deserve a whole post dedicated to them, and many are too soul crushingly awful to spend more than 2 minutes on, I will be collectively reviewing one week's worth of games at a time.

The Xbox indie channel is home to some serious affronts to gaming, with seemingly zero quality control on display the floodgates have been opened and a torrent of gaming embarrassments have been unleashed upon the world. Since there are actually some enjoyable games on there, the recent Shark Attack being one, and the magnificent Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, Escape Goat, Little Racers Street and Qrth-Phyl, proving there are some very talented developers out there capable of bringing some quality games to the service. Unfortunately the indie channel is akin to sifting through a bucket of warm pig shit in the hope of finding a diamond or two. So I don my thickest gloves, take a deep breath, and dive in to discover what this week has to offer indie gamers.

This week:
  • Aah, Halloween Pie
  • Christmas Carnage
  • Cool Shapes
  • Red Tie Miner 3
  • Santa Xmas Dash 2
  • Space Cruesader
  • Space Egypt

Monday 3 December 2012

CLASSIC GAME - Rick Dangerous (with Lao's Quest Indie sequel)

And you thought Spelunky was hard!

Lets get one thing straight before we begin, Core Design hate you. I mean they actually despise your core being, existing only to make your life as miserable as possible. This may not be true, of course, but I can think of no other reason as to why Rick Dangerous, and its snappily titled sequel Rick Dangerous 2, goes out of its way to punish you so relentlessly, over and over again.

Tecmo Classic Arcade (Xbox) - Works on Xbox 360!

Tecmo Classic Arcade is a compilation of old Tecmo coin-op games from the 80's and early 90's. Before you get excited, no this isn't a new release on Xbox 360 like the recent Midway Arcade Origins. It was released on the original Xbox back in 2005. 

So why am I reviewing it now? Well I missed it first time around, and it holds the dubious honour of being one of the only retro compilations that will work on your nice shiny Xbox 360. It is a real bummer that none of the excellent Xbox arcade compilations by Taito, Midway, or Capcom will work on an Xbox 360. Midway have rectified the situation with Origins (complete with online leaderboards!) but for Capcom and Taito fans, of which I count myself as one, we will have to wait and see if they get around to blessing us with a new 360 edition.

In the meantime for a few pounds (or dollars) you can grab Tecmo Classic Arcade. Sure it's cheap, but is it any good?

Weird Japanese Games - Gekisha Boy (PC Engine)

Having played retro games for more years than I care to mention, I am used to the oddness that comes out of Japan. Games featuring bodily functions, sexual assaults, samurai cats, unidentifiable creatures spouting profanities, or just any weird shit you can think of, are commonplace in the land of the rising sun. So a game about a photographer taking pictures of exciting newsworthy events in order to impress his boss doesn't seem too odd does it? The game was released in 1992 on the PC Engine, a console that was hugely popular in Japan, but never really took off in the USA or Europe. The 8-bit machine was home to some extremely bizarre titles, such as Kato-Chan & Ken-Chan, a cutesy platform game that included fart attacks and urination.

The fact it never saw the light of day outside its homeland, and was on a console known for weird games, was enough to set the oddness alarms bells ringing, so it was with some hesitation and curiousity that I fired up Gekisha Boy.