Gonna Have Me Some Fun – Blood Dragon
WARNING: Blood Dragon is built for speed, it’s got everything that Uncle John needs.
Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is basically a raging-hard-on-induced, love letter to Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, or 80s action movies in general. As Michael Allocca put it, “It’s like if Duke Nukem took an untested amount of mescaline and traveled back to 1982.” Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon gave me a boner so hard that my 6 year old self was able to touch it.
Most people were introduced to Blood Dragon via this trailer, which was originally thought to be a hoax.
And then, thankfully, we found out it wasn’t.
First off, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon really has absolutely nothing to do with Far Cry 3. It is its own entity completely and doesn’t even require the original game to play – a stand alone download available for $15. So why did they call it Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and not just Blood Dragon? Probably because they were hoping to bank on the success of Far Cry 3. Other than sharing the same game engine, they really have nothing to do with each other. This made me worry slightly about the quality of the game, but even more so, I was really anxious about them feeding too much into 80s sentimentality without any real substance. Fears were unrequited. Yes it is highly sentimental of the 80s, but the game is awesome. Anyone of any generation who’s a fan of FPS games will enjoy Blood Dragon. If you don’t, there something wrong with your brain. It’s not the game, it’s you.
You start with what is basically the opening scenes from Predator. If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll recognize it immediately. And if you haven’t, dear God, please, do something about it. Now. Like, seriously. Stop reading this and go watch Predator. Crouching produces an icon clearly resembling the silhouette of the T-800 crouching upon his transportation back through time. Granted the references are numerous, it’s not just a parody on Schwarzenegger 80s pop culture, it’s a self-aware parody of the video game world itself. The ubiquitous gameplay tutorial is a hassle. More games are forgoing the packed in physical manual for the hand-holding, in-game tutorial – WHICH IS ALMOST NEVER SKIP-ABLE! True to form, it is impossible to skip the tutorial in Blood Dragon, however, in its heightened sense of self-awareness, they mitigate the aggravation by intentionally trying to aggravate you with its asinine-ness. Thus, the snark-laden tutorial comes of being cleverly stupid by pointing out the ridiculousness of the trend and provokes a few chuckles rather than slinging expletives at your TV. For example, “Press A to indicate your ability to read,” and, “To look around, look around,” are two such commands given during the tutorial.
It’s not just all silly jokes and puns though. The gameplay is top notch and brings everything you would expect from a great FPS. You can chain stealth kills together, it’s got plenty of weapons, and plenty of action. To lend some genuine authenticity, they even got Michael Biehn, best known as Kyle Reese from Terminator and Cpl. Hicks of Aliens, to do the voice of Rex Power Colt. Soundtrack by Power Glove, who must have written the soundtrack to James Cameron’s dreams; picture Terminator meets Blade Runner and that’s pretty much what Power Glove sounds like.
Nothing has ever been more worth the download price. And remember, C400 is like C4, but with two zeroes.
It’s Out Tday!!
Over a year ago, I did a small piece on the game here, and finally, after years of waiting, it’s out! Notice the release date on the banner? Yeah, been waiting a long time.
Now the sad part – I haven’t received my download code yet! I had this thing pre-ordered forever ago. I was supposed to get a steam code, but I haven’t gotten it yet! I’m so friggin anxious to play this game, I’m about to just pay for the damn thing again and download it right away.
Xbox Ruined Wrestling Forever
Yeah, it’s been about a month since my last post. I’ve been extremely busy working on some projects which I’ll be talking about at a later date.
Anyway, Xbox didn’t really ruin wrestling forever, but they did ruin my favorite wrestling video game franchise, Fire Pro-Wrestling, by bastardizing it with their stupid avatars. We all know how much I hate these avatar games and generally I don’t even have a passing interest in them, so it’s ok. I go my way, they go theirs and we’re both content to leave each other alone. But now they have some real nerve invading my personal space.
I was first introduced to the series with Fire Pro-Wrestling S: 6 Man Scramble, for Sega Saturn. I knew then that no other wrestling game would ever compare. The editing features at the time put everything else to shame. Not just wrestling games, but everything. There had never been a game before (to my knowledge) with the depth of creation that Fire Pro-Wrestling offered. Graphics were never a part of it. The graphics weren’t necessarily bad, but they weren’t anything spectacular either, but it totally didn’t matter. When you can craft every little detail about your character – their entire move set, taunts, individual body part sizes so you can have absurdly large Popeye forearms and tiny legs, the sound effects he yells out when doing a move, it becomes a tough act to follow. You can make your own federations, your own rings, they even have a variety of options for refs.
Fire Pro-Wrestling Returns was the latest console iteration of the franchise, released on the PS2 and albeit a rather convoluted editing system, it was the most well flushed out that the series has to offer. Though it still had one major hurdle; it’s PS2 limitations, that meant that there was no real online multiplayer support. That’s what this game always needed. With the ability to create all sorts of bizarre and bombastic wrestlers, you would of course want to show them off in online matches. XBLA finally gives us that opportunity, BUT THEY RUINED THE GAME!
Excitement was my initial emotion when I saw Fire Pro-Wrestling available for download, followed immediately by despair. Why avatars? Fine, they didn’t want to use sprites. I get it, it’s an outdated medium for on-screen characters; 3D models are the way to go. But did they have to use those goofy avatars? The game acts like an even sillier version of WWE All-Stars. It’s way too over the top. Not that Fire Pro-Wrestling was ever a serious affair, but at least it had dignity god dammit! In the new one, the characters awkward gait belies the grace and dexterity that a true athlete has at their disposal. They walk around like dandy fops and have ridiculous moves that launch people 30 feet above the ring, acting as an over-embellished insult to real wrestling. Look, I’m no fool. I’m sure many of you are thinking that wrestling is already fake and ridiculous and over the top, so what’s the big deal? I’m a wrestling fan, and this is a very serious matter. Yes, we all know wrestling is fake, but there are still certain parameters you should follow to maintain at least some credibility. This new XBLA Fire Pro-Wrestling says bullocks to that.
Gah! I hate this all because the game is actually really good. I’m stuck in a terrible internal conflict rivaling that of Jessie Spano’s decision to date the short guy in that one episode. Some new elements have been added which almost made me want to overlook that the game is a joke. Creating your wrestler can be even more fun than before. Maybe not more fun, but more rewarding. After creating your wrestler in previous games, that was pretty much it as far as that wrestler’s tale goes. You’re free to do whatever you want while you’re creating them, but that immediate gratification leaves little rewards in the long haul. Your wrestler has more of a career-oriented, rpg style, approach to his creation. Participating in matches will gain you EXP and unlock more moves, which makes your wrestler feel more personal as you’re along with them the whole way as they rise to power.
I wanted so much to like this game. And I tried, I really did. Even now, I kind of want to play it, but it hurts so much when I turn it on. It’s like the 4th Indiana Jones movie…
Been busy – Dragon’s Lair
No, I have not been busy with Dragon’s Lair. That would be a rather sad existence. Though a lot has happened the past couple months and Dragon’s Lair played a small roll. I’ve moved… twice… and still another move coming possibly towards the ass end of the year. Working more hours, trying to peddle my wares across the country. Trying to break out into the film/video production industry, or the video game industry regardless of whatever format that entails. That’s my one hopeful lead right now. I wouldn’t say it’s a big lead. It’s not Game Informer or working for EA or anything. But someone actually wanted to put a review of mine up other than myself. It’s on NewEnglandGamer.com. I met this guy, Brett, who just happened to be the editor-in-chief of said website, during a group interview session for Microsoft. Neither of us got the job. Anyway, I usually don’t like to talk about anything personal on here, so I apologize. Click on the picture below for my review on Dragon’s Lair for Kinect
Xmas Games – Any Worth Playing?
“Why don’t you post something about holiday Christmas games that have come out?”
“No, that is such a horrendous waste of time. Why would I bother talking about games that are disastrously awful?”
“Well do you have anything better you wanted to talk about this week?”
“Yeah, kinda. There’s that Metroid 2 fan remake that’s finally nearing completion. I’ve been meaning to do something on that for a while now.”
“Well you can put that off a little longer.”
“You’re right! I can!”
That’s pretty much the conversation I had with myself about doing this. As we swing inexorably towards what I know as the culmination event of our consumer/retail bondage-fest, which you may know as Christmas, there are inevitably going to be game developers hoping to bank on our misguided holiday spirit. Thus we have holiday themed games, and they are NEVER any good or worth paying for. Except for maybe Christmas Lemmings, but that was just a skin over a pre-existing game… and it was free.
So I took the time to browse through a few holiday-centric games and believe me, they’re not worth your time or money. Although there was one that sort of stuck out – Elf Squad 7. I’ll be honest, I was tricked into playing this because I didn’t even realize it was a holiday game. The biggest point it has going for it, it’s only a buck. Secondly, and very surprisingly, it’s made by Stardock! Stardock specializes in strategy games like Sins of a Solar Empire, which caused a few blinks of disbelief when I saw their logo attached to a cutesy-ish, retro style, holiday game. Which leads me to the third point, it’s retro, and we all know I’m a sucker for those. The music isn’t as chiptuney as I would have expected though, but it is happy and catchy and I can’t complain. The basic premise of the game is that there’s a present shortage and you have to help wrap the gifts. Toys and such fall from the sky and you have to use your gift wrapping gun to save them. Wrap enough gifts in the allotted time to beat the stage. In between stages you can buy upgrades, which I normally wouldn’t expect from such a basic game, but thankfully Stardock made it. You can pick from 6 different characters, and up to 4 people can play at once. Available on XBOX Live and PC. There’s a lot of game here for only a dollar. Christmas game or not, this is a good buy, and probably the only Xmas game that came out this year worth playing.
This is where I was going to list the other Xmas games that I came across, but I won’t even bother. You’re not going to play them, and you shouldn’t. Waste of time for me to talk about them and waste of time for you to know about them.
You know what, just play Christmas Lemmings. You can download it free HERE. But keep in mind it’s a DOS game. If you don’t know what Lemmings is, or DOS for that matter, then just adhere to my earlier statement of all Christmas themed games being garbage.
I was thinking, I created this blog with praising indie games in mind. It seems so often I’m bashing them. So much negativity… The next post will be a positive, upbeat one. I promise!
Voltron on XBOX LIVE & PSN!!!!!!!
Why didn’t someone tell me about this sooner?!
I was checking the weekly updates and I saw this available as an arcade game. I thought to myself, “Oh, it’s probably just some garbage game based on that lame ass new version of Voltron on Cartoon Network. NO! It’s not! It’s the 80’s lion Voltron. The game started up with the actual full intro from the cartoon and I had a fanboygasm all over the place. The menus play the Voltron theme and there’s video from the show between stages and official voice overs during the game.
Even after all my initial gushing over the intro, I was still certain the game would be like any other game based on a TV show – AWFUL! But it’s actually not so bad. It’s got a story mode with local and online modes as well, where you pick from one of the 5 lions, each with their own stats. The game is broken down into 3 different play modes – Lion mode, which is kind of like a SMASH TV game (seems to be a popular trend these days), space mode where you’re playing whats basically a shoot em up style where crap is flying at you from all over the god damn place and then Voltron mode, which I have not gotten up to yet because I was far too excited and had to share this post first.
Voltron is 800 MSP and is it worth the 10 bucks? Probably not, but I bought it anyway. Definitely worth $5 though, so if you aren’t a super nerd like me and you see a price drop, pick it up because it is a pretty good multiplayer game.
Arkanoid, Alleyway, Breakout, or by whatever else you know that game, has gotten a major overhaul. Wizorb is part Breakout, Part Devil’s Crush, part RPG, all awesome. It’s a game that embodies the exact reason of why I support indie games; it’s a game of passion and not necessarily of financial gain, though I’m sure the developers wouldn’t mind making profit off it. And who are the developers exactly? Jean-François Major, Justin Cyr, and Jonathan Lavigne are the masterminds behind Wizorb, the first game developed by their recently formed Tribute Games. Jonathan’s own portfolio consists of working on a handful of games at Ubisoft, including one of my personal favorites, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game. Anyone who’s a fan of River City Ransom is totally legit in my eyes.
I only had to play this game for about 10 seconds before I knew I loved it. You all know I’m a sucker for new games made in that retro 8-bit style. I will invariably try out any game just because it looks 8-bit, but all too often they’re nothing special. Just trying to bank off my nostalgic sentimentalism of my youthful gaming. Although I would have played it for just the soundtrack alone – nothing beats a catchy chiptune soundtrack and sometimes I’ll forget I’m even playing a bad game if the music is good. But Wizorb is the total package, and what’s more, it’s not just a cleverly re-imagined game, it’s an excellent blend of arcade style gaming, story telling, and genre mashing. You play as Cyrus the wizard, master of a secret magic, the Wizorb! Using your mastery of white and black magic you must help save Gorudo from a mysterious evil threat. Acquire gold and power ups by defeating enemies and beating stages to help the villagers rebuild their homes and bring prosperity back to Gorudo.
The gameplay is broken down into basically two parts – the narrative where you talk to townspeople and set of on your quest, and then the action stages which is essentially like playing breakout. Rather than just a lifeless bar and ball however, you control the Wizorb and Cyrus’s magical wand to deflect the orb, destroying bricks and enemies. Proving that his wizardly prowess is more than just a glorified inanimate deflecting bar, your control of magic allows you to shoot fireballs from your wand, or alter the orbs course with a gust of wind. The inclusion of wandering enemies on the field was a nice touch and makes the game more dynamic. Otherwise I could have easily gotten that metronome style of deflect ball, break bricks, then repeat from many other various sources. And the far reaching goal of saving an entire town gives you more of a reason to play rather than just looking for something to do to kill some time. I would consider this a casual game like most of the ones you can find on an android or iphone, and I usually disdain casual games, but it’s that RPG element that completely elevates it above the entire genre. You may have played games like Wizorb before, but never one this well developed.
Developer: Tribute Games
Official Site: Wizorb.com
Platform: XBLA – 240 MSP
A Ninja themed set of 3 quickies available from the Indie Xbox Live Arcade.
Ninja Stole My Bike
Ugh. This game is such trash. I won’t go into much detail about the gameplay, because there really isn’t much. Take an impossible game and make it more boring and then you have Ninja Stole My Bike. They took a genre of game where all you really do is press one button and found a way to make it less interesting. There are two redeeming qualities to this game however. For starters, it only costs 80 MSP, which is most likely more than what it cost to make the game. The other, which is probably already obvious to fans of YTMND.com, is the games namesake. Basically, your playing the cut scene from Punch-Out!! But instead of an up and coming boxer chasing a fat black man on a bike, you’re a pizza delivery boy chasing a ninja. So aside from the little chuckle I got from the connection to an overtly racist internet meme, this game is only worth it for those who have a major crush on these types of games and have played every other one in existence.
Has that annoying chibi style of art, but that’s really the only negative thing I have to say about this game. It’s honestly pretty good for what it is. It’s a weird hybrid of a side-scrolling action platformer and stealth game, with a little bit of impossible game thrown in. Think if Solid Snake was storming Dr. Wily’s castle. The game has a much quicker pace than any Metal Gear though; you won’t be sitting there for more then a few seconds waiting for an enemy to turn away. You’re given two basic instructions at the onset of the game: Don’t be seen, and don’t murder anyone. The don’t be seen part was a given, I was expecting that considering the title and all. But the second part – no killing?! You’re a ninja and ninjas use swords and a swords sole purpose is to kill. Instead your sword is relegated to a glorified door slasher. The music’s not so bad either. I set my standards low for indie games, so I won’t say it’s good, but it’s catchy and goes with the pace of the game pretty well. This one’s also only 80 MSP and you could do much worse with a dollar.
Akane the Kunoichi
Kunoichi = female ninja
Definitely the most visually appealing of the three games reviewed. The 16-bit art style took me right back to the days of the SNES, with bright and vibrant sprite animations and backgrounds. This is a straight up action platformer. Akane performs as you would expect a ninja to – doing wall jumps, throwing projectiles at enemy ninjas, and harnessing her potent ninja magic. Although, the whole stealth aspect of being a ninja is thrown at the window. It kind of reminded me of Shinobi, but far more colorful, like if Nintendo had made Shinobi instead of Sega. The only real complaint I have is the noise she makes EVERY TIME you jump. I could really do without that, or at least some variety in effects. That aside, it was a pretty solid game. Controlled well, aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, and a halfway decent soundtrack. I’m not a particularly big fan of platformers, so for that to be my only gripe shows that there was a good degree of effort put into developing this title. At only 80 MSP, it’s definitely worth the dollar.
Since this is my top pick of the three, it deserves a video.
Don’t forget to share this post!
Thanks for reading!
By the way, if you’re still wondering about where Ninja Stole My Bike go its inspiration, GO HERE. But I warn you, it IS racist.
Retro City Rampage
If you haven’t heard of Retro City Rampage yet, you either didn’t grow up with a NES or you’re one of those people that doesn’t play anything but Madden. But if your gaming library consists of more than just the past 3 years of EA sports titles, please, read on.
Retro City Rampage is a Grand Theft Auto open world style parody, but done in glorious 8-bit! In development now by Vblank Entertainment, a process which has almost reached completion after 7 long years. I had a chance to chat with Brian Provinciano, the founder and lead developer, briefly via email. He’s a busy man and has already done a handful of interviews with people far more important than myself, plus I didn’t want to hamper production of this game any further, so I kept the questions short.
Greg – Clearly there were many influences you had going into this game; Mega man, Duck Tales, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Bionic Commando, Jackal. You didn’t seem to stick to just games either, I see Back to the Future* in your logo. Did I miss any? What else was on your mind?
Brian – I got into games because of the games I loved growing up. Retro City Rampage is an homage and celebration to pretty much everything that I’ve held a controller to and enjoyed. I’ve lost count!
Greg – How did you find ways to fit all the parodies* in? Was there a massive brainstorming sessions or just work them in as they came to you? I feel this is a pertinent question because every time I watch a video, I notice another little easter egg.
Brian – There were some brainstorming sessions, mostly in the beginning, but otherwise it’s mostly me. Maxime (the other artist on the project) has some great ideas though too when we’re adding some extra cherries on top.
Greg – I know Grand Thefttendo was the original title. I hear it was even originally supposed to be on a cartridge. What other major changes have taken place since? Are there things that have been taken out of the game that couldn’t fit?
Brian – Grand Theftendo was an entirely different game, but same end goal –an 8-bit Grand Theft Auto style open world game. I developed that on the NES, whereas Retro City Rampage is running on current platforms and does far more than an NES actually could. It still retains the same feel but packs are more punch, fun and is dosed with more sprinkles.
Greg – I guess with the cost of production, I can see why you chose to go digital, but will we ever see a physical copy?
Brian – It’s possible, but I wouldn’t expect something like that to happen for over a year if it did. Digital is far better in many ways. It costs 6-7 figures to release a retail game. Some XBLA games gross less than that. We may sell retro boxes/manuals with download codes though. It’s still up in the air.
Greg – Can you make just one? Or two. One for me, one for you of course. I’ll pay for both.
Brian – Unfortunately you can’t just start the presses for a couple copies of a console game.
Greg – The soundtrack fits perfectly with everything I’ve seen so far. What kind of direction, if any, did you give to your composers? It all seems to be very reminiscent of NES Konami games.
Brian – Konami’s been a great influence, but they’ve been very focused on experimenting with every style, from those of different NES games to music genres that didn’t even exist in those days. The soundtrack covers everything! Some of the songs were designed to be specific homages or fit specific missions, but I also told them to just have fun and play around for many others. In both cases we ended up with amazing tracks.
Greg – I remember last year hearing that Retro City Rampage was coming out holiday 2010. It was then set to release this summer. Any final words on a release date?
Brian – Likely mid-late January 2012. For business reasons I need to wait until the AAA and holiday season craziness is over.
Greg – This has clearly been a labor of love, taking you 7 years to complete. How do you feel? What are your plans afterwards?
Brian – It’s absolutely a labor of love. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out and all of the extra time I spent polishing it makes all of the difference. I was just playing it last night and a cutscene happened which I’d polished last month. I stopped for a moment and said to myself “Wow, those little extra touches really make it feel extra special”. I’m still polishing things as we speak. That’s what makes a game great.
I have a half dozen ideas for games I really want to make, but we’ll see which ones come to fruition, as games take a long time to make.
Greg – Do you still have a classic gaming collection of your own?
Brian – I do. I think I collected about 1/3rd of the NES library. However it’s all in boxes at my parent’s place. I don’t have room for it at my place, or money to continue collecting. Every last penny these days goes directly into funding RCR.
This game is parodies within parodies. They really threw everything into a blender with this one. My personal favorite I’ve seen so far is when the player gets bitten by a radioactive plumber and gains the super stomp ability. This is the type of genius you’ll encounter throughout the game.
Retro City Rampage, coming out early first quarter 2012 for XBOX Live Arcade and Wii Ware. You can check out Retro City Rampage‘s homepage for updates as the game nears its final stages, check out the developer blog, and watch some trailers. Being a big chiptune fan myself, I really dig the soundtrack. If you like that old 8-bit style of music you can download the tracks from the game there as well. The artists do an awesome job putting together a soundtrack that feels completely retro yet altogether something new. I strongly recommend checking out each of their own sites for some rockin’ tunes.
Retro City Rampage Soundtrack Demo Mixtape from Vblank on Vimeo.
As always, don’t forget to share this post. And don’t forgot to drop Brian and his crew a line as well. They’ve put a lot of work into this game. Let them know what you think.
Thanks for reading!
*I know Back to the Future was a game too, but does anyone really care about that awful thing? Let’s forget it existed, ok?