Thursday 28 February 2013

REVIEW - Shatter (PS3 / PC)

Bat and ball games have been around since the very start of video games. Atari's Pong is the game everyone will probably think of when asked to name the first computer game (they would be wrong of course – but it's a good guess) as its simplistic gameplay is an iconic image of early gaming. Breakout came soon after, way back in 1976, and added bricks to destroy with the ball, giving the game more of a single player focus. Taito came out with their own take on the format a decade later with the excellent Arkanoid. Taito added power-ups that granted treats such as multiballs, a laser for destroying the bricks, and one that would increase the size of your paddle. Enemies were also added and would move around the screen, getting in the way of your brick busting efforts. After that the genre didn't really expand much. New games such as Breakout 2000 on the Atari Jaguar and Breakout on Sony's PlayStation added a 3d perspective to the mix, but only made the experience slightly more confusing on the eye. There were also sequels to both Arkanoid and the original Breakout, but that was about it. After all, how can you really expand on such a simple formula? Well now we have the answer with Sidhe Interactive's Shatter. Released on PS3 first back in 2009, and on PC a year later, Shatter is a modern take on the most aged of video game staples. And it is bloody brilliant.

Sunday 24 February 2013

REVIEW - Spelunker HD (PS3)

The original cave explorer is back... in HD!

The original Spelunker is a classic 1984 Atari 400 game, but is more commonly known for the NES port that came out a year later. I have always had a soft spot for the home console version despite it being absolutely infuriating to play. It was this love for the Nintendo port, as well as the arcade version released that same year, that made Spelunker HD a game I have always had on my 'to play' list since its release in 2011. Much to my chagrin it never came out on either XBLA or PC, denying me the opportunity to discover whether it lived up to its predecessor. The low Metacritic score and amount of reviews bitching and moaning about its difficulty and miserable gameplay was a concern, but I wanted to see for myself. Only having recently purchased a PS3, I decided it was now or never and took the plunge, and boy am I glad I did.

Thursday 21 February 2013

SPECIAL FEATURE - DOOM - 20 Years On & Still Going Strong! (Part 1)

Doom is a game that simply doesn't need an introduction yet deserves, no - demands one.

Before I get started I should come right out and say it; Doom 2 is my favourite game of all time. I have been playing the first two Doom titles  consistently for the last two decades, and have just started playing my way through the recent (and excellent) Doom Classic Collection on PS3, as well as PC Doom with multiple enhancements. In part 1 of this feature, I will look at the original games that took the world by storm, and the many official expansions and ports to home consoles that followed. 

Ever since I first got my hands on the original shareware release of Doom way back in 1993, I was hooked. I had already played Wolfenstein 3D on a friend's (and the school) computer, but after finally getting my own desktop system, there was one game I just had to get hold of, and Doom was that game. The shareware edition was completely free and contained the entire first episode, 9 levels of shotgun wielding, demon blasting action.

Monday 18 February 2013

REVIEW - 8BitBoy (PC Indie)

The 2D platform game has seen a massive resurgence in the last 5 years or so, especially in the indie game scene, and in a market positively overflowing with excellent, often innovative, platform games, new titles need to stand out. If they are going to go old school and copy the best (Super Mario Bros) then they need to do a good job of replicating the sheer playability and addictiveness of those titles. Upon finding 8BitBoy online I was keen to play some old school, back-to-basics platforming. After all, with a title like 8BitBoy, how can it be anything other than awesome!

Thursday 14 February 2013

REVIEW - Sound Shapes (PS3 / Vita)

"You and I we'll climb so high"

As we all know music is an important part of the gaming experience. Without a decent soundtrack to accompany the action it leaves you feeling unsatisfied. A killer soundtrack can make the difference between a good game and a great game. Merging the music further into the experience by creating gameplay linked to sound is nothing new, and I am not talking about all the dance mat and plastic guitar based shit. We have had so many music based shoot-em-ups and action games of late I can hardly keep track. The Bit.Trip series is an obvious highlight, effortlessly blending genres such as platformer, breakout and pong clones, and even a 2d on-rails shooter of sorts (it's hard to explain). Then you have your blasters-cum-puzzlers such as Rez HD, Auditorium, Symphony, Child of Eden, Lumines and Chime. Now we have another music based game on Sony's Playstation 3 and Vita. It was initially intended as a launch title for the Vita, but was delayed as Queasy Games produced a PS3 version to be released simultaneously.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

MODERN RETRO CLASSICS - Bit.Trip Runner (PC, Wii, 3DS)

Gotta Keep Running

Now that the hotly anticipated sequel is almost upon us (less than 2 weeks away apparently), I thought it high time I paid tribute to Commander Video's first on-foot adventure, Bit.Trip Runner. A rhythm based platformer that combines great visuals and a catchy chiptune soundtrack  with some of the most hair-pullingly difficult, yet addictive gameplay around. It is a game that epitomises the tag of 'modern retro' game, and a title that easily deserves classic status.

Saturday 9 February 2013

REVIEW - Rico : A Tale Of Two Brothers (PC Indie)

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Brothers fighting each other is nothing new; I remember altercations with my younger sibling that could have been on World's Wildest Prison Fights (if such a program were to exist). It is this inevitable squabbling and sibling rivalry that forms the plot for this retro indie platformer from IMakeGames.

The titular Rico is the older brother, and is also the bad guy of the piece, the yin against the nameless younger brother's yang. That he is black and the hero is white also raises questions about their parents that only DNA testing could resolve, as well as borderline racial overtones that are far to heavy to get into here. Anyway, the brothers have been fighting for all eternity, with their clashes always resulting in a tie. Unfortunately (for the younger brother anyway), one day Rico finally emerges victorious, and proceeds to strip little bro of his powers. This sends the world's balance out of sync, and Jonny No-name must now work his way through 4 worlds of back-to-basics 2D platforming in order to kick Rico's ass and restore the balance.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

REVIEW - Derrick The Deathfin (PC / PSN)

They're going to need a bigger boat

Poor old Derrick, you have to feel sorry for him really. There he is, swimming along engaged in an important chat with his parents regarding the dangers of man, when suddenly, and rather ironically, Boom! Momma and Poppa Deathfin are hoovered up into a giant pipe lowered into the salty depths by the greedy and immoral M.E.A.N corporation. After being cruelly emulsified and reduced to tins of Sharkfin Chunks, Derrick's poor parents are no more. Being a shark, little Derrick doesn't sit around blubbing, oh no. He swears vengeance and immediately sets out to avenge his family and end M.E.A.N. Corps continual polluting and plundering of the sea's resources.

Developed by Different Tuna, with financial backing and support from Channel 4 and Screen Yorkshire, Derrick The Deathfin is something very different indeed.

Monday 4 February 2013

10,000 views - A preview of what's to come

Retro Spirit Games went over the 10,000 views mark this weekend

A huge thank you to all of you who continue to read and (hopefully) enjoy my games reviews and features. 

It is hard work running Retro Spirit by myself as I need to play test all the games thoroughly in order to review them fairly AND keep a steady flow of content for the site. But it is worth it to be able to share my thoughts on the most creative and enjoyable games available to us today.

So thank you all very much. I hope you continue to visit and read the articles I produce for this site, I have many more reviews in progress as well as some cool ideas for special features, including a special feature on the legendary DOOM, which is 20 years old this year.