Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Whack-a-Mole Video Game/System Review: Game & Watch Vermin
Monday, February 27, 2023
Action Video Game/System Review: Game & Watch Mario Bros.
Mario Bros. by Nintendo Research & Development 1 was the twenty-fourth Game & Watch console. It was actually the first game that included both Mario brothers, Mario and Luigi, as it was released before their eponymous arcade game.
It is a frame-by-frame game on a liquid crystal display. In the game, Mario and Luigi work in a factory packing bottles and loading them on a truck. In the unofficial sequel for the Commodore 64, as well as the officially released Game & Watch Gallery 3 for Game Boy Color, the brothers pack up cakes instead of bottles.
Mario is on the right and Luigi is on the left. Mario loads the base on a conveyor belt, it goes through a machine and comes out the other side. Mario and Luigi have to go up and down ladders in order to keep the packages from falling to the ground. When the fully packed items get all the way to the top, Luigi tosses them in a shipping truck.
In the Game & Watch Gallery 3 remake, Wario also sometimes messes with the process, and Luigi has to pull a lever to the left in order to fix it. Also in the remake, the truck takes off and a new one comes back to start the process again.
Like all Game & Watch games, Mario Bros. is simple. However, despite its simplicity, the game works well on double screens of this version of the Game & Watch system. Game & Watch Gallery 3 is the best way to play it, whether it is on the Nintendo Game Boy Color, Nintendo 3DS, or Nintendo Switch. The addition of Wario throwing a spanner in the works adds more complexity, and the more advanced technology allows for color graphics as well as animation. This is much less remembered than the arcade game of the same name, which is a shame, as this is actually one of the most fun Game & Watch games.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
Arcade Run-and-Gun Game Review: Thunder Hoop
Thunder Hoop is an arcade game by the Spanish game developer Gaelco. It finally arrived in homes when it was included in the first Gaelco compilation cartridge for Evercade consoles.
The game is an arcade run-and-gun game. The plot of the game is delivered through text during the attract mode. After a scientist named Dr. Daniel Genbreak is expelled from his laboratory he released thousands of nigh-uncontrollable creatures and created a virus that threatens the entire world.
Thunder Hoop, a very strong, angry being, was created specifically to defeat the creatures. He has to overcome the creatures and defeat Dr. Genbreak. His defeat would allow the distribution of a vaccine created by New Life Laboratories that would work as an antidote to the Genbreak Virus.
The game takes place in factory-type levels, but there is a good amount of detail, such as melted beams, graffiti, and city backdrops. The creatures are, for the most part, bright and eye-popping, sometimes literally.
You can shoot enemies and can pick up powerups to make his gun more powerful. Most enemies can also be jumped on, which not only defeats the enemies after several successful hops but can also be used to get out-of-reach items.
Thunder Hoop is exactly the type of game that makes me love the Evercade. The English in the attract mode is a bit rough, but the game itself is enjoyable. It's great to be able to play obscure video games, and sometimes you'll come across gems. This game is not among the best run-and-gun games, but it is actually a lot of fun. The Evercade version is the best way to play this game. Enemies come hard and fast as Thunder Hoop gets to the later levels. This is where the save and restore feature of the Evercade comes in handy. If you get a chance to play Thunder Hoop, give it a try.
3½ out of 5
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Arcade Shoot 'em Up Review: Donkey Kong 3
|Donkey Kong Junior review||Mario Kart 64 Review|
Friday, February 24, 2023
Action-Adventure Television Series Episode Review: Agent Carter - The Blitzkrieg Button
|Agent Carter Season 1, Episode 3 Review||Agent Carter Season 1, Episode 4 Review Coming Soon|
Adult Animated Comedy Television Series Review: The Simpsons - Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes
Primetime animation is commonplace today, but in the 1980s that wasn’t the case. The Flintstones aired in primetime, but it wasn’t until the breakthrough success of The Simpsons that primetime animation became the American television staple that it is today. True, the Simpsons no longer seem fresh or innovative, but it’s amazing that a show that is in its twentieth year on television can still elicit laughs.
Sex Pies and Idiot Scrapes, the twentieth season premiere, finds Homer once again trying a new profession for size. This time, after being arrested for taking part in a St. Patrick’s Day brawl, Homer visits a bail bondsman to post his bail. After getting a taste of the life of a bounty hunter, Homer decides to become one himself. On his first hunt, Homer is accidentally saved by Ned Flanders, and the two decide to become a bounty-hunting duo.
The unlikely pair unsurprisingly get themselves into some very funny situations while they attempt to catch crooks. Long-time fans of the series will be pleased to see a plethora of character cameos in this episode.
The side story has Marge also trying out a new profession. She meets an Irish baker and agrees to bake cakes for him at his bakery. I’m not going to ruin the twist, as this is only a 22-minute episode and I don’t want to give it all away in a review. But, Marge’s job turns out to be quite different from what she was expecting. I was very pleased to see that the side story actually worked well in this episode. It was also nice to see that the writers managed to mesh both stories together in a believable and in-character fashion at the end of the story.
This episode wasn’t perfect, but it was a good start to the new season. Some of the jokes fell flat, especially during the beginning of the episode, but I actually found myself laughing out loud at some points. There wasn’t any character development, but everyone stayed in character throughout the episode. It’s not a series classic by any means, but Sex Pies and Idiot Scrapes is an enjoyable, if somewhat average, episode.
3½ out of 5
I Will Only Purchase Hogwarts Legacy and Atomic Heart Used from the Trans-Supportive Goodwill and Won't Review Them for 10 Years
Sorry about the long title, but I wanted to make sure my policy comes through on all of the feeds from this blog. The title sums up my position, but I'll go into detail by re-posting the comments I made on Mastodon about the games.
I won't buy Hogwarts Legacy new. My reasons are in the Mastodon toot listed below, minus the hashtags.
The main reasons I've heard to buy Hogwarts Legacy are that J.K. Rowling isn't directly involved, she won't get much from sales and she'll be a wealthy TERF with a big megaphone regardless.
But, some of her money goes to people opposing laws to ban conversion therapy for trans people. I don't want my money anywhere near that.
If I'm offered a review code, I'm going to refuse it. I plan to wait and get it used from Goodwill as they're trans-supportive. I recommend everyone else do so as well.
I also won't buy Atomic Heart new. My reasons are in the Mastodon toot listed below, minus the hashtags.
Atomic Heart is a no-buy for me since this game is said to be Russian propaganda with Kremlin involvement.
It is telling that the developer, Mundfish, hasn't denied it despite being asked directly.
Russia is in the middle of an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the genocide of the Ukrainian people. It is also guilty of human rights violations against LGBT people.
The composer of Atomic Heart, Mick Gordon, was caught off-guard, though. He's donating his fee to the Red Cross Ukraine fund.
I founded West Elmira Computers Museum which is all about the preservation of all computer software, so it will definitely have them at some point. However, I have decided to only buy them for the museum used from Goodwill since they are trans-inclusive.
As I've been linking the museum and this blog together on game pages, I will likely review them at some point as well. However, I have decided to impose a ten-year period after they release before I review them. I'm doing this to limit any impact this site may have, as little as it would be, on the sales of the games.
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Turn-Based Role-playing Game Review: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
In the early 1990s, Square and Nintendo had a good working relationship. Most of Square's games were on Nintendo consoles, from the Rad Racer series to Square's bread and butter, the Final Fantasy series of turn-based role-playing games.
It's the latter that served as the inspiration for one of the most surprising team-ups at the time of its release. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars plays like a Final Fantasy game. It is played in a turn-based style with a party of three selectable from a total of five characters. The character's traits can be leveled up in a manner that should be familiar to Final Fantasy players. HP, or heart points, are represented by a bar that displays the number of hits that a character can take before they pass out. S stands for star and represents the amount of energy any character has to do a skill or perform magic, similar to the MP magic points or mana points in Final Fantasy games. POW, represented by a hammer, is the amount of total power a character is capable of using against enemies. These statistics can also be influenced by weapons and armor that can be purchased from shops in the game's towns. The Final Fantasy series similarities don't stop at the gameplay style, as there is an optional boss fight with remixed music straight from those games as well as a design inspired by them as well.
The story is about an evil force in the guise of a sentient sword named Exor who crashes into Star Road and then takes over the castle of Bowser, King of the Koopa. Star Road is the place where wishes turn into wish stars to grant the wishes of the people of the world. When Exor crashed down, Star Road was shattered into seven pieces.
Smithy's minions stole all of the star pieces so Mario teams up with Princess Peach, Mallow, a fluffy being that was raised by frogs, and a sentient doll named Geno. He also reluctantly teams up with his arch-enemy, Bowser, King of the Koopa, because he wants to get his castle back from Exor.
As this was released on the Super NES, the characters only speak through text, with one exception. Mario doesn't speak at all, instead communicating via pantomime. However, it works surprisingly well. This is helped by some spectacular character animation.
The game is presented in an isometric world with pre-rendered three-dimensional graphics converted into sprites. The process and appearance of the sprites are reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country. Super Mario RPG was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1996, the same year the Nintendo 64 was released, so the choice of art style made sense since gaming was well into the three-dimensional era by that point.
The backgrounds are beautiful and fit in perfectly with the pre-rendered sprites. They also match the cheerful aesthetic of Super Mario games. The worlds Mario visits with his team really do feel right at home in Mario's universe. The new characters also fit in perfectly as well, as they have over-the-top personalities. The enemies range from characters that are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mixed with the Power Rangers, to the delightfully insane Booster. I really hope that Nintendo and Square work out a deal to bring Booster back into the world of Super Mario someday.
Super Mario RPG is an excellent game that merges Super Mario with Final Fantasy-style turn-based role-playing games surprisingly well. The music is spectacular and really memorable and the art is as cheerful as Super Mario games should be. The characters, both old and new, are really entertaining. On top of all of this, the game, from the tone to the storyline, sets up two different series of Super Mario RPGs and does it remarkably well. This is a game that should be played by all fans of Super Mario and role-playing games.Final Verdict:
5 out of 5
Google Stadia Exclusive Game Availability
Since Google's ill-fated game streaming service shut down on the 18th of January, I thought I'd do a list of the availability of Stadia's exclusive games in the same manner that I listed the Telltale game availability after the collapse of the original Telltale Games.
Gunsport, an action volleyball game by Necrosoft, is available in an offline version via the Steam beta channel of its sequel, Hyper Gunsport. A video on Twitter shows how to activate the original game.
Gylt, a horror adventure game by Tequila Works, will be coming to multiple platforms in 2023.
Hello Engineer, a racing and vehicle creation game by tinyBuild, will be released on Steam in 2023.
PixelJunk Raiders, a space exploration roguelike by Q-Games, has an unknown future. In an interview with The Verge, the founder and CEO of Q-Games stated intentions to bring Pixeljunk Raiders to other platforms, but a publisher is needed to help with the costs of doing so.
Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle, a sixty-four-player battle royal by Heavy Iron Studios, has not had any updates about its future. However, this is Pac-Man we're talking about. I'd be really surprised if Bandai Namco doesn't re-release it in some form at some point in the future.
Outcasters, a multiplayer shooter by Splash Damage, sadly looks like it will be lost to history. Splash Damage tweeted that it would be difficult to port to another platform because its features are too tightly integrated into Stadia's infrastructure.
Worm Game, Google's multiplayer take on the Snake game, was released as a surprise just before the service shutdown. Since this was the game Google used to test the Stadia platform, this one is also likely going to be lost forever.
Luckily the Stadia exclusive game list is short. One game is already available outside of Stadia, two games are coming to one or more platforms soon, two have uncertain futures, and two are likely going to be lost forever. As someone who is involved in video game preservation, those last two hurt.
I'll update this list if anything changes.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Action-Adventure Game Compilation Review: The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Action RPG Mega Review: Yakuza 5
Yakuza 5 takes the idea from the previous game in the series, that of additional player characters, and bumps the number up to five, mirroring the game's title.
|Yakuza: Dead Souls Review||Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Review Coming Soon|
Like a Dragon: Ishin! Remake Is Out Now
Like a Dragon: Ishin!, the Yakuza samurai spinoff with Yakuza characters has finally made it to the west with a Kiwami-style remake. The Japanese version actually is called Like a Dragon: Ishin! Kiwami.
I'll be playing it and reviewing it soon. I've had the Japanese version for a while, but it will be great to finally play it with English subtitles.
Monday, February 20, 2023
Platform Game Review: Super Mario 64
In the mid-1990s, video games turned toward polygonal three-dimensional experiences in contrast with the sprite-based games of the previous console generations. Super Mario 64 was a seminal game that inspired countless others.
|Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Review||Mario Kart 64 Review|
Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance Games Now on Nintendo Switch Online
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Platform Game Review: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins is a bigger game that is more aligned with the mainline Super Mario games than its predecessor.
In this game, Mario's nemesis Wario appears for the first time. Wario is an evil doppelganger of Mario who stole the latter's castle. Mario has to complete many levels in order to collect the six golden coins that are needed to confront Wario and take back his castle.
Mario's sprite is aligned with the Nintendo Entertainment System sprites and the flowers once again are fire flowers that grant the ability to throw fireballs rather than bouncy superballs. This removes the ability to collect coins in small places, but the levels are designed in a way that wouldn't need them anyway. As in Super Mario Land, the rest of the power-ups from the main series are here including the super mushroom that makes Mario large and starmen that grant temporary invincibility. Due to the monochrome graphics of the Game Boy, the 1-Up that grants an extra life is a heart rather than a green mushroom.
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Gameplay Trailer for The Expanse: A Telltale Series Released
LCG Entertainment's Telltale Games YouTube Channel Released a gameplay trailer for The Expanse: A Telltale Series, the choices and consequences video game based on the Amazon Prime/SyFy series which itself is based on a novel series. The game is being co-developed by Deck Nine and LCG Entertainment's new Telltale studio.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series and The Wolf Among Us 2, the latter of which is being co-developed with AdHoc Studio, both are a series of firsts. They are the first games to be co-developed and released by the new Telltale. They are also the first games to bear the Telltale Series designation to be developed with Unity rather than the Telltale Tool.
We'll find out if the games were worth the wait when The Expanse: A Telltale Series and The Wolf Among Us 2 are released later this year.
Adult Animated Comedy Television Episode Review: Simpsorama
Simpsorama is a crossover between Matt Groening's two most popular creations, The Simpsons and Futurama. While the two had crossed over in comic books, this was the first time they did so on television.
The episode begins with the children of Springfield Elementary in the twenty-first century putting objects into a time capsule that will be opened in the thirty-first century. When the hole is dug for the time capsule, nuclear ooze flows in from the nuclear plant owned by the town's money-pinching billionaire, Mr. Burns.
During a thunderstorm, the lazy robot Bender arrives from the thirty-first century. He has amnesia until his processor is reset, at which time it is revealed that he was sent back in time to kill Homer Simpson due to the Simpson DNA from the time capsule that mixed with the nuclear ooze to create mutants that wreak havoc in the thirty-first century. The main crew from the Planet Express in the future, Leela, Fry, and Professor Farnsworth, are sent into the past through Bender's chest compartment.
This leads to funny interactions between characters with similar personalities, such as Bender and Homer, and Professor Farnsworth and Professor Frink. It is stuffed full of humor that is more of Futurama's style than that of The Simpsons. That doesn't mean that there isn't anything here for Simpsons fans as there are plenty of jokes from Simpsons characters as well.
The Simpsons and Futurama worlds are fictional in the world of the other, so it's best that don't overanalyze it. If you just sit back and enjoy the comedy, it is a lot of fun. The comics still contain the best crossovers between the two properties, but this one is really enjoyable as well. The only drawback is that some characters didn't get many interactions. It's too bad the Family Guy crossover, The Simpsons Guy, was given an hour instead of Simpsorama as this crossover is much better.
4½ out of 5
Friday, February 17, 2023
Free Open-Source Point-and-Click Adventure Game Review: OpenQuest
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Open World Action-Adventure Demo Review: What's Shenmue?
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Platform Game Mega Review: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Unlike the Super Mario series proper, Yoshi's Island has a unique story that doesn't involve saving Princess Peach. A stork is crossing over Yoshi's Island on the way to drop off two babies, Mario and Luigi, to their parents in Brooklyn, New York. Kamek, a powerful Magikoopa and a high-ranking member of the Koopa Troop, looks into the future. Kamek foresees that when the two babies grow up they will repeatedly thwart the plans of Bowser, King of the Koopa. Kamek tries to steal the babies before they can reach their home, but only succeeds in kidnapping baby Luigi. Baby Mario drops down to the island below where he is rescued by a yoshi.
The yoshi carries baby Mario on his back through many worlds to reach Koopa's Castle and rescue his twin brother. If Yoshi is hit, baby Mario floats in a bubble, crying, and a timer counts down until he is picked up by the yoshi or when the counter reaches zero. The latter causes Kamek's cronies to swoop in and carry the baby away.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island has a look that is really a joy to experience on the original game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as its emulated re-releases. The remake, Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, retains the wonderful aspects of the original albeit with a lighter palette due to the original Game Boy Advance lacking a backlight. Super Mario World The pastel backgrounds and hand-drawn aspects really evoke a feeling of childhood. That is a really nice experience, even, or to be even more accurate, especially, as an adult. As with all games in the Super Mario series, the music is pleasing and fits the game even if none of the tunes are as memorable as the standard Super Mario platform games.
There is only one drawback, and it is, unfortunately, one that might turn people off from the game. The crying sound effect can become grating as it is most likely going to be repeated a lot while playing. If you can play the game without being too annoyed by Mario’s crying, it is a fun game.
|Super Mario All-Stars Review||Super Mario RPG Review|
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Platform Game Review: Super Mario World
|Dr. Mario (Game Boy) Review||Super Mario Kart Review|
Monday, February 13, 2023
Adult Animated Comedy Television Series Review: The Simpsons - Treehouse of Horror
The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror review was previously published on Jupiter Beagle on October 15, 2008.
Treehouse of Horror is the annual Halloween-themed episode of The Simpsons. It has become a place for the Simpsons’ creators to do wonderfully bizarre things to their characters without having to worry about series continuity. But, here, in the second season’s Treehouse of Horror, things started off much more innocently.
This episode takes place in Bart’s treehouse (hence the name). The Simpsons kids (Bart, Lisa, and Maggie) are up in the treehouse telling scary stories while Homer eavesdrops on them. The episode is really a series of three short cartoons, interspersed with scenes showing that the kids are the ones telling the stories.
The first story, “Bad Dream House”, has the Simpsons family moving out of their familiar home on Evergreen Terrace in Springfield. Their new house turns out to be alive and decides to get the Simpsons family out by possessing the family members, turning them into psychopaths who want to try to kill each other.
The second story, “Hungry are the Damned”, parodies the episode of the Twilight Zone TV show called “To Serve Man”. The Simpsons are abducted by two aliens known as Kang and Kodos. They give the Simpsons huge amounts of food and take pleasure in watching the family stuff themselves. This makes Lisa suspicious, so she searches the ship to find out the aliens’ true intentions.
The last story is a retelling of the short story “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. This is easily the most memorable segment of the whole episode. Here Bart is the raven that drives the main character, Homer, crazy while he thinks of his lost love Lenore (who is shown in a portrait as Marge). The story is spoken from the text directly from Edgar Allen Poe’s story and is narrated by James Earl Jones.
The first episode of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror is excellent. But, the best episodes in the series are still to come. Even so, The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror has become a Halloween tradition in many American households (mine included), and this is the one that started it all. Everyone should see this at least once.
4½ out of 5
Boxing Game Mega Review: Punch-Out!!
|Super Punch-Out!! Review Coming Soon||Doc Louis's Punch-Out!! Review|
|All Night Nippon Super Bros. Review||Super Mario Bros. 2 Review|