Monday, 29 April 2013

Z - Zero Graders! My Top 10 Worst Video Games Ever

So here we are, the very last blog of the A to Z challenge. I must admit, it's been tough to keep up, but I have done it! The Novabug-Blog will be taking a little rest now while I catch up on all my other writing projects. In a way, I'm glad it's over but it has been a blast. All days of April a brand new post, and this is the very last one, Z. Zed-UK or Zee-US is for Zero Graders. The ultra-poor, the cream of crap, the games that should never have been even given the light of day. This is my list of the worst games I have ever played, the top 10 biggest zilchers! Wince at the enormity of rubbish-ness on display.

Unspeakable things were happening to this Puma.
#10 Wild Streets - Of the 25 titles released on the GX4000, this is by far and away the worst. Not because is has the worst graphics, that goes to Tin Tin on the Moon. It doesn't have the worst sound either despite it being piss-poor in the main. No, the reason why this is so bad is because it's soooo easy, and had the gameplaying prowess of a piece of rotten carrot in the middle of a pool of vomit. 10 flick screens of blocky bad guys, shot a boss and run back to the start. That's it. Literally it! Over in seconds and a complete insult to the machine which produced 3 of the finest 8-bit games in the form of Pang, Batman and Robocop 2. Terrible.

#9 Super Soccer - One of the launch titles of the Super Nintendo, this was the bad apple of the bunch. This is a football game which attempts to give the player a new perspective when playing the beautiful game, but this novelty fails badly. Slow and unrealistic, it just too cumbersome to play with any gusto, players dawdle, ball flight is dumb and the goalkeepers are impossible to control. This football game should've been given the red card.

#8  Ultraman: Towards the Future - Taking a Japanese TV cult figure, and plonk him in a underdeveloped poorly programmed pile of beat 'em up tosh. Ultraman is laughable at the best of times, but the rubbish that is this game stops the laughing and starts the crying, especially if you actually bought it with real money. Slow, crude, repetitive, uninteresting, zero scope. The only bright points are that the visuals are not completely terrible and the sound is present to try and keep Ultra-Binbags on life support. It's still an awfully unplayable game though. Avoid.

#7 Four Soccer Simulators - Billed as 4 football games in one, this is a rare Codemaster's title that was lacking basic fun and basically pulling the wool over the eyes of any potential purchaser. In 3 of the games consisting of 11-a-side, indoor and street football, there is barely a change in dynamic aside from the playing field. The gameplay is exactly the same; slow and sh*t. The scaling is hilarious and you cannot tell the difference between any of the players. As for the forth game, soccer skills, that is pointless and, erm, without any goal. So to speak. A boring, drab and uninspiring title. 

#6  Pacman (Atari 2600)  - I could just say here "Google Pacman Atari 2600" and all the reasons for this being a slap in the yellow face of Pacman himself would become clear. A rushed out port with hundreds of copies made, it hardly even looks like the arcade classic with some of the worst graphics seen on the old wooden legend. The SFX would also make you want to hack your ears off with a rusty cheese-wire  Funny thing is, this is one of the best selling games on the platform, feeding off the fame of our yellow pill muncher. Don't let that fool you, it's actually physically painful to play this game.

Buzz looked very different before battling with the Evil Zurgh
#5 Pit-Fighter - Early nineties beat 'em up which was one of the first to use the digitized images of actors as the sprites, this had a lot of hype surrounding it due to this groundbreaking graphical display. However, to say it was a let down is a massive understatement. The images were blurry and weakly animated, the background distracting, but the real issue was the limited moves and truly dreadful collision detection. There really isn't any strategy or skill required; just mash the control pad as fast as possible. Some people look back fondly at this, but I don't. It's pony.

#4 Superman 64 - Featured on the T blog, this is a contender for the most terrible 3D roaming platform games, there is absolutely nothing super about this. In almost every department this game is seriously knackered. Responses are about a quick as a snail stuck in tar, daft as a brush plot even by Superman standards, the sound is jerky with repeated effects, and it's nigh on impossible to get the blue boy scout to pick anything up, or throw it where you want. It's all just random as hell. But the main reason why this is so bad, it's that it is full to the brim of glitches. Every wall, room and static item is dodgy, the enemies are dodgy, the whole thing is just a big glitchy mess wearing blue tights. The worst game on the N64 by a mile. A joke of a game, Jor-El would be ashamed...

#3 Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game - Another game lifted from the T list, this see-through attempt at rinsing the Street Fighter fans of their cash is shocking. Take the groundbreaking beat 'em up turned into a terrible live action movie that just sucks ball-bags, and then, turn this back into a video game! Insanity! I just don't know what they were thinking of apart from fooling the fans. Suffice to say, this plays and looks like a hacked version of the aforementioned Pit-Fighter and the other rather rubbish brawler Rise of the Robots rolled into one big pile of excrement. With the collision detection of the Titanic's birds-nest sailor and the jerky sprite movement, I won't waste any more words about this, just play ANY proper Street Fighter game, they are all better than this insult to the franchise.

#2 ET: The Extra Terrestrial - Reading that chilling title, any gamer worth their salt will instantly nod and say. 'Yep, that's sh*t!' One of the earliest movie game tie-in's, again taken from the T post, this seemed to set the formula for all future bad movie games, and generally bad games as a whole. Rushed out so quickly to keep with the release of the film that it's devoid of any actual gameplay; it's one of the worst games on the Atari 2600, by a long way. Even worse than the also rushed terrible port of Pacman as you have already read about. The SFX is minimal to say the least, the visuals are as basic as the 2600 could have done, yes, worst than Pacman, but principally there just doesn't seem to be any goal or reason to the game. Playing it will result in you loosing the will to live, a shocking game. In fact, calling it a game at all is an over statement. Confusing, eye-bleeding twaddle.

Shaq humiliated the opposition by randomly plate spinning.
#1 Shaq Fu - One of the first rules about beat 'em up's is that you have to have a good, tight control set up. The makers of this blatant cash-in piece of garbage didn't know this, and so the result is the most randomly controlled game ever. No command actually seems to work right, or at all, reducing the gameplay to button mashing free-for-all. Chuck into this rancid mix a cockamamie nonsensical plot, obvious exploit-ism of the basketball fans, jerky and stuttering animation and wild inconsistent physics and you soon realise this really is the worst game ever created even with it's non-offensive appearances. Even a website exists with the sole aim in destroying all copies of this trash for the good of the human race. So, the Super NES, the system with a largest and best range of games also has in it's library the worst game on the planet. I dare anyone to disagree.

Ding Dong! That's all folks! The A to Z blog challenge is complete for The Novabug-Blog. I hope I have entertained and informed you with my personal gaming bits and bobs. These were my top 10's, I know you will have your own and that's the best thing about video games; they can provoke different reactions in us as as we see the bad, the good and the ugly in varying amounts. For me, it basically comes down to this: For favourite game ever is Secret of Mana, my most hated game is Shaq Fu and my favourite console is the Super Nintendo. Oh, and I will forever defend the Amstrad GX4000. So there.

Finally, I would like to say a big, big, BIG thanks to all those who have read and hopefully enjoyed my blogs over the past month, to all those who have commented and to all the help I have received in writing this past months 26 blog posts. (26!)  Big shout out's to of course my guest writers from The Pixel Empire; Tom, Shane and Alan, and of course to Arlee Bird ( for creating this challenge. It's been emotional.

The Novabug-Blog will now resume normal operations....Bug...'Out!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Y - Your Picks! Top 9 of Pixel Empire Gaming Picks!

No fancy intro words for this penultimate A to Z blog post. Y? Well today the NovaBug-Blog is taken over by The Pixel Empire writers. They choose their top 3 in any gaming category, and tell you about it. TPE buddies, Y is for Your Picks!

Tom Clare - Pixel Empire Editor
Pick - Top 3 Pinball Video Games
Follow Tom on Twitter @pixelempire

#3 Psycho Pinball - (Megadrive) If my heart chose the others on this list, my head chose this one, in the sense that, whilst Psycho Pinball is perhaps a hard game to love, it’s an easy game to appreciate. Codemasters’ 1994 pinball sim was a classy effort, with super-slick scrolling, incredibly responsive flippers, fantastic visual design and an assured realism to the pinball’s movements that you wouldn't have thought possible from the Megadrive just a couple of years previously. Sweetening the deal was the inclusion of a trio of tables, all offering something a little different (the Wild West and its Blackjack mini-game remains a personal favourite), whilst it also offered the unique opportunity to jump between tables within one game. Not a play-all-day addictive experience in the mould of the next two, but a really good game of pinball nevertheless.

#2 Dragon's Fury - (Megadrive) Beginning life as Devil’s Crush on the TurboGrafx-16, Dragon's Fury raised the bar for 16-bit pinball titles with a grand vision and ambitious, elaborate design. The player was faced with a single, epic table comprising of three tiers, before facing a barrage of miniaturised foes in the main area of play, and then tackling a fantastic and extensive array of bonus screens, with what amounted to mini-bosses as the player dueled with dragons, shamans and flaming, er, men. Indeed, it was equally memorable for its ghoulish title screen and creepy fantasy styling,  which made it that bit cooler than its contemporaries. Accessible from the get-go but with a huge array of scoring opportunities, Dragon's Fury had style, swagger and most importantly of all, substance.

#1 Pro Pinball: The Web - (Playstation) If I had my way, I'd likely have picked three Pro Pinball games for the list, although I fear things might have got a bit boring for everyone reading. The Web; Cunning Developments' first PP outing, may not have quite as perfect a physics engine (or as many aronaky options) as Big Race USA, but it has it where it counts: gameplay. One stunning table provides for weeks of play, and with so many mini-games and ways of going about scoring, no two games are ever entirely alike. The Web is gorgeous to look at and with no end of neat little touches, it’s a real labour of love for its creators, their passion shining through to this day.

Shane Battams - Pixel Empire Writer (Xbox specialist)
Pick - Top 3 Years of Xbox 360 Gaming
Follow Shane on Twitter @Steadysphere or his Blog

#3 2012 - As the console nears the end of its cycle, 2012 saw a slew of solid to great titles. Mark of the Ninja was a standout for sure, impressive considering it’s downloadable nature and independent roots. New properties have formed – perhaps beacons of what’s to come in the next-gen; through Dishonored while franchises saw excellent sequels in the form of Witcher 2 (a debut for the series on 360), Max Payne 3, Mass Effect 3, Tekken Tag 2 and Far Cry 3. Oh, and The Walking Dead was top-card too, drawing out emotions many thought they’d lost for games at this point.

#2 2009 - This was the third year of Xbox 360, and it was a great year for games. There seemed to be a strong mix of good sequels and new properties, as follow-ups of Forza, Street Fighter, Assassin’s Creed and Left 4 Dead tantalised those yearning for new games. Meanwhile, new properties such as Dragon Age and Borderlands began life in 2009. On top of all that, the best licensed game on the system came in the form of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which since has only been trumped by its own sequel!

#1 2007 - It had been a couple of years since the 360’s launch, and while 2006 was perfunctory (with the exception of Gears maybe), the console was finally getting some steam with one of the system’s best years. The arrival of Gears of War brought with it a new engine – the now common Unreal 3 – and it powered many of the best games from this year including BioShock and Mass Effect. Other hits include the story-driven The Darkness, the jam-packed Orange Box and tons more. Many of the best games on the system came out in this year.

Alan Passingham - Pixel Empire Writer (Amiga/C64 specialist)
Pick - Top 3 Commodore Amiga Games
Follow Alan on Twitter @sirclownfoot or his Blog

#3 Civilisation (MicroProse, Sid Meier) - From tiny acorns do great oaks grow. That’s pretty much the legacy of the original Amiga version of Civilisation through to its current fifth iteration that has now seen it developed for ‘the consoles’. Still, Civ hasn't been all that much of an evolution, as the pure game mechanics of taking on a band of settlers to grow an all conquering civilisation via a strategy master-class was the foundation of this Amiga classic. Little has changed (albeit the 5th installment is less difficult to play owing to the ‘console’ factor), which means the original version is just as re-playable as any of its bigger brothers. Most importantly, there’s no other game out there that can beat Civ for its ‘just one more turn’ dynamic. And before you know it, it’s five o’freaking clock in the morning. Some of the best early morning hours of my youth and most of the summer of 1993 was spent on this bad boy, so obviously I’m not wrong. Civilisation is the best strategy game ever made. 

#2 Sensible World of Soccer (Renegade, Sensible Software) - As marvellous as Speedball 2 is, Sensible Soccer probably has the greatest two-player mode ever created. Fast, frantic action that required quite a bit of skill to master made for an absolute bun-fight between argumentative brothers trying to determine which of whom was king of the motherf**king universe! Sensi would always prevail in revealing a who was the actual grandmaster. Years of ever-increasing additions to what started as little more than a bare-bones footy title with exquisite gameplay made SWOS an absolute treasure. Difficulty, depth and endeavour created a multi-directional scrolling footy title that actually played like a real footy match. The now classic stick-men sprites, the ball that refuses to glue to player’s feet, after-touch and killer sliding tackles have much to thank for the that, and whilst it is incredibly challenging to get the knack of it, once you do you’ll be a goal-scoring superstar hero! Incredible goals, frenzied gameplay, a huge management component that kind of gives Championship Manager a run for it’s money, Sensible Soccer is an absolute blast that makes both FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer blush with embarrassment.

#1 Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (Imageworks, Bitmap Brothers) - Now over 20 years old and not only the best game released on the mighty Amiga, Speedball 2 remains king of the world. A phenomenal piece of gaming in every sense it has bastard hard difficulty; delicious multi-directional scrolling; a futurism design that would make Ridley Scott cream in his jeans; tons of ways to score making every match unique; Super f**king Nashwan; simple management content to compliment the hardcore in-game brutalism; bounce domes; the terrific score multiplier; league and challenge play; two player mode - perfect for squabbling brothers; robotic ambulances to remove players beaten to a pulp from the field of play; exquisite design in the arrangement of the Speedball arena; perfect introductory music; replays; the genius of making games only three minutes in length; super f**king quick sprites; on the money collision detection; and a scary AI that has been programmed to constantly piss on your cereal making the game insanely moreish rather than frustrating. Oh, and ice-cream. In other words it’s pretty much the perfect game. 

Well, there you have it. 6 games and 3 years of gaming love jammed into one blog. Thank you to all the writers from The Pixel Empire, I'm sure you enjoyed there musings. Visit the site for more of the same, and also my pitiful ramblings too. It's the last day of the A to Z challenge tomorrow! Sob! Actually, thank f**k, I've seriously neglected my other writings. Anyway, Z is for Zero! Games which are poor, very poor, so poor that they are Zero Graders. The top 10 worst video games... Ever!

Bug... 'Out!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X - Marks the Spot! My Top 10 Video Game Secrets

All gamers are guilty of this at some stage, the temptation is just too strong. You can't beat that level 6 boss whatever you do, you can't just put the damn bugger down. You desperately want to see what happens next, so impatience getting the better of you, you swallow your pride and morals and search for that elusive cheat to aid you. Back in my gaming heyday, (those days are long since gone!) cheat codes and secret activation procedures were not found instantly by the glace of a website or the click of a smartphone, they were found by old skool methods. Trial and error was a major technique but game magazines held a whole host of cheating treasures within there pages for you to try out. Later on came the code-hack cartridges such as the Game Genie and Action Reply. None of these are hardly used today except for the stalwart word-of-mouth, which is abundant over the online gaming forums. Here is a list of the cheats that helped me out, or just to mess with the game for larks. My top 10 video game secrets, X marks the spot for the secret...
Vampire killers can walk on clouds. So it seems
#10 Super Castlevania IV Invisible Platform - (SNES) One of the hardest parts of the game can be made a lot easier by getting powered up to the max just before: After defeating the 3 final stage bosses before Dracula himself, most players will be damaged and low on weapon ammo. To fix this your have take a leap of faith. Just before you enter Dracula's throne room there is a screen where you can see the horizon behind. Jump off the platform into thin air and you will land on an invisible platform. Walk to the far left, and from the heavens will drop all the power ups to bring you to maximum strength. Walk back using the method of stair climbing to go up an invisable staircase and jump back onto the platform and onto face Drac's.

#9 Sim City Money Cheat - (SNES version) To gain a maximum amount of spending money removing the need for fund management do the following: Switch off auto budget and spend all the money, Set all of the tax and funding levels to 0%. When the annual tax screen appears hold down L, and continue via the 'Go With Figures' button. Back in the game screen, continuing to hold L, press X  to skip to January of the next year. Re-enter the tax setting from the main menu and put all of your funding levels back up to 100% and leave the tax level at 0%. Select 'Go with figures' again and proceed to the game screen. Release L and your cash balance should show a whopping $999,999. This can be repeated if you require it again.

#8 Blood Code for Mortal Kombat - (Mega Drive/Genesis version) Although the Nintendo port of the original Mortal Kombat was closer to the coin-op, it was completely devoid of the gore that the game is famous for. The Sega version was not so hampered with this code that let the blood flow!: In the Code of Honor screen, enter the sequence A B A C A B B. If this is done right, the text will turn yellow and Scorpion's voice will mutter 'Get Over Here!'

#7 The Warp Whistles of Super Mario Bros 3 - (NES) Use these little blighters to skip worlds without taking the hard route. 3 whistles are to be found, 2 in World 1 and 1 in World 2: For the first whistle progress through level 1-3 until you come across a white block (there's a red Koopa on it). Kill the Koopa Troopa, and stand on the white block and duck down for a few seconds, you will fall behind the clock into the scenery. Run to the end of the level unchallenged and you will be taken to a Mushroom House where there is a treasure chest containing the whistle. Whistle 2 is found in the first fortress, make sure you are Racoon Mario. Progress until you see the ceiling open. From here take a run and fly up to land on top of the ceiling. You won't be able to see yourself, but run to the end and then press up. You'll appear in a secret room with a treasure chest which contains the warp whistle. Whistle 3 can be found when you beat one of the Boomerang Bros in World 2, he leaves behind a Hammer when defeated. Use the Hammer on the top right corner of the map to pave way to a secret path going to the right. There you'll fight the Fire Bros, beat then and hiding in this part to acquire the last whistle.

With double the amount of cat lives, Mario was confident
#6 Super Mario World Top Secret Area - (SNES) Get all the power up's you need on call, including Yoshi at any time buy accessing this area: Make sure you are equipped with a cape. In the Ghost House on the Donut Plains, run to the far edge of the first platform, then run back and take flight up the left side of the screen. You will land on the top of the ceiling. Being careful of the ghosts run all the way to the right. You will drop into a chamber with a door to access the Top Secret Area.

#5 Mario Kart Ghost Valley 1 Mega-Jump - (SNES) Get a last chance to take the lead and win with this dangerous but rewarding shortcut. This can be done two ways: Method one is to get a feather and just before the last corner after the jump there is a narrow path ahead. Use the feather to jump onto this and sharply turn straight onto the finish line. Method two is tricky, but looks spectacular  Have a boost mushroom, and just before the jump of the same corner use it. If timed right, you will jump over and onto the narrow path, again pull a sharp turn to cross the finish line.

#4 Starfox Black Hole & Out of the Dimension Access - (SNES) Two secret routes here, one for reaching the final planet quickly, one for messing about and pissing the population of Corneria off: For the Black Hole, play the first course asteroid level. During the stage, you will come across lines of spinning asteroids with a shoot-able one in the middle. Get as close as possible to each line before destroying them. When all have been removed, an asteroid with a face should appear. Shoot this until the black hole appears, and fly into it. In the Black Hole, take the third ring to exit straight to planet Venom. To play Out of the Dimension, make sure you have maximum laser power playing the third course. On the asteroid stage, you will find two large asteroids. Shoot the one on the right and a large bird will appear. Fly into this bird and you will be taken to the hidden stage. Be Warned, this is for a laugh only and you will be trapped in this level no matter what you do.

#3 Street Fighter 2 Player vs Player Code - (SNES) A classic code for the original world warrior. This lets you play as the same character in vs mode and gain alternate coloured attire: When the Capcom screen appears right at the start, quickly press Down R Up L Y B X A. The chord will sound and the background will turn blue. Now you can play a buddy with the same character.

#2 Grand Theft Auto 3 Weapons Cheat - (PS2) There are many different codes for this, from changing the weather to causing people to riot. However my most used and useful was the way to get all weapons without finding them: In the normal game screen, enter this sequence oR2, R2, L1, R2, Left, Down, Right, Up, Left, Down, Right, Up. You should now have all available weapons and fully charged.

Ryu and Ken had started legal action upon seeing this
#1 Megaman X Hadoukens - (SNES) My top pick because it combines to great franchises with one. However, it is rather complicated and long winded: A lot of groundwork revolves around this, firstly make sure you have all the weapons and items. Then make sure all energy levels are powered to the max. This takes time. Complete the Armadillo with a full bar of energy, get to the far upper ledge and by jumping off the cart and climb up. Jump off the side and kill yourself. Do this again another 4 times until you see a chamber on the ledge. Enter it to receive the hadouken power. To use the fireball, perform it in the same way as Ryu does in Street Fighter 2; Down and facing direction and fire.

Wow! who would have thought the X list would have been the longest so far! Hope you find this information helpful, but remember, cheating never prospers. Well, only in gaming it does. With only 2 letters left of the A to Z challenge  I get a bit lazy now and hand The NovaBug-Blog over to the writers of The Pixel Empire as guest bloggers. I like to keep things fresh here. They will enlighten your day with their top picks within a specific gaming topic. 

Bug... 'Out!

Friday, 26 April 2013

W - Wicked Weapons! My Top 10 Weapons in Video Games

Some people may not like this, but the fact of the matter is many video games include violence, and with said violence comes weaponry. This may be slapstick, extreme, mild or horrific and it's the weapons that help shape the style of any aggression. Fantastic and futuristic guns, madcap explosive fruit or magical swords, these weapons can become a signature part of the game they belong if they are that memorable. From classic hand combat tools to white-hot laser bolts, here is my top 10 best weapons as seen in video games. Remember, this list like all the others is compiled from my personal game-playing experiences, so no moaning that Half-Life's gravity gun is not present. I ain't played it! Ker-Blam!
Today's shipping forecast: Laser rain predicted
#10 Megacrush - We all know of the air forces term air-stike? Rockets fall from the heavens aplenty causing blanket destruction. The pilots of UN Squadron have this, but with blue lasers instead. A single shot of a rather hefty looking missile into the sky, and it's raining down doom of all the enemies within sight in seconds. Strangely, this has no effect on your own craft. What a coincidence. The Megacrush however is a great screen-clearer when things get a little too busy, and the SFX it makes sounds like shrieking laser on burning metal. Bring the rain!

#9 Gravity Well - While to run around the mazes and chambers of Quake, chance upon this bad boy and you instantly have a wild card. Cornered by monsters? Surrounded by opponants? Why not drop this spinning singularity and watch as they all get sucked into oblivion. Remember to keep a safe distance though, unlike the Megacrush this won't hesitate to chew you up into tiny particles either. Black holes aren't picky.

#8 BFG - Big F**king Gun! Many an adolescent giggled at the prospect of holding a giant electrical discharge gun called the BFG in FPS classic Doom, and my word did it pack a punch. One shot, and everything in front of you to annihilated, even if you miss a target. Heavy and cumbersome, it's power makes up for it's bulk. It's even puts the fear of god into the game engine, slowing and stuttering the frame rate. A memorable piece of kit for all reasons positive and negative.

#7 Mana Sword - The most powerful weapon in the land of Mana, the only thing that can lay damage to the Mana Beast, but it's a bloody tricky thing to wield. First you have to be armed with the Dragon Buster sword, and then 2 spells must be cast on the sword to create the ultimate weapon of choice for a Mana Knight. This effect lasts for merely seconds too, so make every hit count once you have it. Fabled and spoken about throughout the story of Secret of Mana, you cannot beat the game without it, so mastering it's power is vital. Tricky, but massively powerful. 

Light-sabers have nothing on me
#6 Soul Reaver - You get 2 for the price of 1 win this spectral and thirsty weapon, and you must learn to control it, because otherwise it will control you. A weapon with a life force, the physical blade looks ancient  menacing and damaging, while it's spectral counterpart devours the souls from those it slays. Adaptive, lightweight and unbreakable, it's not easy to beat dead or alive but must be used sparingly as it will feed of all creatures souls if it needs to. It would be a great conjuring trick at Halloween parties.

#5 Tanya's C4 - It's just an explosive charge, so what you say? In the hands of special agent Tanya Adams, it's a game changer and possible base destroyer in Command and Conquer 2 Red Alert. Once you have sneaked Ms Adams into an enemy base, she get set the C4 in all buildings, blowing them up and uttering ruining the day for the opposing general. When used right, this is devastating, wiping out whole bases in seconds. This makes it a strong option when playing the game multi-player. Shake it Baby!

#4 Buster Sword - A lot of hand weapons in games appear impossible to pick up let alone wield around in graceful but deadly movements, and the fabled Buster Sword is one of them. It's not the strongest, not the most deadly or best looking, but it makes a big statement  Cloud Strife is on the case! With a blade the size of a modest scaffold plank, it just shows how much power Cloud has, even to just lift it up. It's also of course an iconic image from Final Fantasy VII, more so than many weapons depicted in the series, so while it may not be massively powerful it has vast psychological importance.

#3 Red Koopa Shell - Fate seems to deal a crap hand whenever you are desperately after one of these cracking blighters. There's that annoying gimp Toad in front, a quick red shell up his jack-see and you are the winner. Hurrah! However, you get a feather. Useless. If you have been living in a cave, this is from the Mario Kart series; effectively a homing missile to bash your rival racers out of the way and the best and most useful weapon in the game. Lightening, I here you say? Pah! Lasts seconds and rarely shows up. Grab that red shell and bully your way to the finishing line.

#2 Banana Bomb - High in potassium and popular with primates, slipping on this banana skin would be a fatal mistake. Aside from the uncontrollable sheep-bomb, this is that most zany, amusing and devastating weapon in the Worms armory. As easy to launch as a normal grenade, the BB has the ability to wipe out entire teams and half of the landscape to boot. It's makes the screen shake and even the PlayStation itself jumps in astonishment at such a potent fruit. This one is not in my five-a-day.

Seeing where you are going was a
challenge for all R-Fighter pilots
#1 The Force - Nope, no Star Wars crapola here. This merely stole the name of the all-binding essence of life. I'm talking about the weapon which changes strengths at the players choice, a weapon which can work independently from it's operator, a weapon which is indestructible! Fix this to your R-Type fighter and your are good to go blast away the Bydo, shame they didn't make the R craft out of the same stuff goes the old argument, but this is impossible. The Force can be controlled remotely, act as a shield, fire behind and harbour immensely powerful projectile weapons. How can it do this? It's actually organic material the same as the Bydo's DNA structure, and manipulated with mechanical add on's. In other words, hard! This gets my number 1 bad-ass weapon, as it simply cannot be beaten by any enemy. Awesome!

Boom! Lay down your guns and take a break. Phew, only 3 letters left in the A to Z challenge now, and I must admit X and Z are rather spurious. But hey, it's all a good old read I hope. I have a few secrets to tell you about on the next post, X-citing eh? X, as always, marks the spot!

Bug... 'Out!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

V - Vicious Villains! My Top 10 Video Game Antagonists

Bad guys have all the fun don't they? Well, not when they are on the receiving end of a butt-kicking that has concluded many a video game. They come in all forms, man or machine, or a mixture of both, but what makes a truly evil, memorable and strong villain? I have battled many a so-called boss, and some really do make a mockery of the word 'Nemesis', providing little challenge or personality. These guys however are the reverse of that, my top 10 video game villains. Not merely based of the fight they give you, but a general judgement of their persona, legacy and impact on popular culture derived from gaming. Prepare to see the guest list for today's meeting at Insane Anonymous...

Metal bike saddles make perfect stand-in shoulder pads.
#10 M Bison - Many of the characters from the Street Fighter games are well remembered, and second in the fame game only to primary protagonist Ryu is the evil warlord M Bison. As the final opponent to beat, he was damn hard to get the better of. Like all top bad guys he's got powers beyond your's; his infamous Psycho-Crusher move put many people to death, and a powerful throw move which can't be blocked. Bison appears in nearly all Street Fighter games, is a key part of many of the characters storylines and is relentless in his quest to control the world. A demonic figure of evil which the game feeds off.

#9 Ruby & Emerald Weapon - So, who knows where and what these guys are? Well, these two behemoths are optional bosses in Final Fantasy VII, far harder to vanquish then even the end game boss (I'll speak about him later), but beating them is enormously satisfying. On first play however, encountering Emerald under the sea by accident was common,  who then proceeds to batter you and your party in a split second. Ruby on the other hand is like a shot in the dark. Hit that tiny red spot in the desert, and he will either ruin you instantly like Emerald, or will take hit after hit, not really doing much before dealing a single fatal blow. Both these guys require you to be at near maximum ability to even stand a chance, to have lady luck on your side and be equipped with certain items, otherwise it will be game over. They are also friggin' mahoosive beasts too!

#8 Dobkeratops - One of the most used gaming images of the early nineties, this is like the Alien xenomorph's deformed loony relation. He greets you with a cheery grin and a whipping tail at the end of R-Type's first level, and although he's not that difficult to kill, the Bydo keep giving him re-birth in all the R-Type games, becoming an emblem of the series. His image has also been copied and altered from other games too, so despite being a first level boss, he has massive longevity and fear factor.

#7 Thanatos - The main antagonist in Secret of Mana, this guy is an elusive, dangerous and arrogant little tyke. He likes to miss-direct you, possess your friends and foes alike, create zombie-like followers and claim he is the bringer of order to the planet; by trying to destroy it. He's also a dab hand at deceptive appearances. Wearing a skull mask for the entire game, casting spells and what not, he seems very weak physically. Only in the final showdown you see his true form, and by jingo it's scary and very tough. Not only that, but once you have beaten him you have to then fight another battle without chance of recovery. Git!

#6 Albert Wesker - This is a man who likes to dip all ten of his fingers and thumbs deep into the dirt, and has a list of wrongdoings as long as the Resident Evil franchise itself. He appears in all RE's up til the fifth installment whereas he finally meets his doom. But before this he manages to be a double agent, a scientist, a superhuman and able to twist many a fool around his dirty fingers. Cunning and deceitful, a rather nasty piece of work.

#5 Dr Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik - With a staying power that rival's only the king of the Koopa's, Dr Eggman has shown up to take over the world in all of Sonic the Hedgehogs adventures to date. Self-delusional about his own intelligence, obsessed with machinery and forever trying to change the world into his own person heaven. Sonic has always put him in his place, but he's still comes back for more with ever more manic and sinister schemes. However, I can still never take him seriously sporting Gio Compario's moustache! 

Even Trinny and Susannah would struggle here
#4 Kefka Palazzo - Think of Batman. You know The Joker yeah? Right, take The Joker, mix him with another psycho, say... Steven King's It. Add a load of paint, harlequin trinkets and pomp, and the result is the utterly mental, conniving and provocative nonsense talking jester that is Kefka Palazzo. Appearing in Final Fantasy VI and several FF spin-off titles, this man makes The Joker look positively sane and reasonable. When he's not laughing like a hyena on acid, he's producing evil magic and generally causing as much mayhem as possible. Creepy mo-fo!

#3 Revolver Ocelot - One of the most recurring villains in the Metal Gear Solid series, Ocelot does not just simper off oh no. With a backstory more complicated than the trigonometric's of space, let's not dwell on that. But his highlights included infiltrating the group FOXHOUND, specialising in torture and intimidation, having connections to the US president and receiving his former bosses' hand to replace him own which he lost. (which, in due course he gets possessed by said bosses hand. As you do.) This is a man with a ton of baggage, but ol' Shalashashka still pulls off a cool, witty and menacing gait. And he use's a Colt 45 Peacemaker was his weapon of choice. Nice.

#2 Bowser/King Koopa - We should all know this guy, the leader of the evil tortoises, the king koopa himself, Bowser. Making appearances in almost every Mario title, he is constantly abducting princesses willy-nilly, imprisoning toadstool-like beings and generally trying to rule over every weird and wonderful land possible. He has huge tenacity, never being beaten down for long, he always gets up and goes yet again to foil our hero plumber. He has a vast range of skills; from fire breathing to flying, he makes a good case for himself as an ever present antagonist. He is however, beatable with ease a lot of the time, but you cannot knock is commitment to personal dictatorial cause.

Sephiroth was pleased with the fireproof shampoo results
#1 Sephiroth - When life deals you a pretty dodgy hand to begin with, you kind of get the feeling things are not going to turn out all fine and dandy. Infused with alien DNA in the womb as part of an experiment, the madness and  power of Sephiroth runs so deep that it's almost normal. It is to him anyway, convinced he his bound to greatness by achieving a god-like status. Mad as a box of mad  frogs, he makes clever and convincing mind-bending speeches, is a specialist in many forms of combat, has the ability to brazenly murder young women and then smile about it afterwards. A real nasty, vicious, but mesmerising bad guy. From his first appearance in Final Fantasy VII, has pops up now and then to give anybody who stands in his way a hard time, and all these mean attributes make him my number 1 choice as the best video game villain. 

So, who predicted that? Ok, well done. With a hack and a slash and a nutty giggle that ends my top 10 video game villains. Do you agree with my choices, or do you have a suggestion I may have overlooked? I'm pulling out the big guns tomorrow, literally, as W is for Weapons. The top 10 most hardcore or usual weapons in video games. Blam Blam!


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

U - Un-played Oddities! My Top 10 Games I NEED to Play

Bit of a lazy post this one, but it still does the job. There is a vast selection of video games I haven't played of course, so my list of ones to play is long. I like to search out the best ones now though, and not trouble myself with new stuff which turns out to be poor; I have played enough shite games to last a lifetime. So, based off the conclusions of my esteemed cohorts at The Pixel Empire, this is a top 10 of the games I want to play the most, taken from the library of this fine gaming web-a-zine. U is for Un-played. Enjoy reading some entertaining and informative reviews, as these articles made me decide which games are worth the effort. They should make you too!

#10 Double Dragon Neon - This may not be graced with the full-on next-gen visuals, but this re-hash of the arcade classic looks hilarious to play. Tom makes a good case for DDN.

#9 KillZone 2 - Sci-fi FPS which looks stunning and has a enjoyable and deep storyline? Are you kidding me? Tom thinks so, so this gets on the list of games to play!
KillZone 2: Read the TPE verdict HERE

Double Dragon Neon:
Read the TPE verdict HERE

#8 Batman: Arkham Asylum - Another Batman game oh yes, but Alan and Shane are batty about it, so I wanna play with Batman's gadgetsGimme!

#7 Blur - With exquisite visuals, Tom and Shane are not blurry with their conclusions oh no. Not a perfect arcade racer, but looks damn good fun!

Batman: Arkham Asylum: Read the TPE verdict HERE

Blur: Read the TPE verdict HERE

#6 Half-Life - It's a game that;s been on my list for a while, and Alan's verdict just re-enforces that. Luckily, I still have Half a life myself to play sometime. (groan)

#5 Mark of the Ninja - A modern, and slightly retro looking, ninja stealth 'em up platform diamond. I'm in as Shane and Alan both sing the high praises of this. 

Mark of the Ninja: Read the TPE verdict HERE

 Read the TPE verdict HERE

#4 Limbo - A modern 2D platform/puzzle caper with some unbelievable visual design. Looks scary and sounds engrossing to play. Don't take my word for it, Alan's say is final on the matter.

#3 Motorstorm RC - Top-down racer is the same vein as Super Off-Road, this sounds like a gameplay masterpiece of throwaway fun. Tom and Alan even had a face off on it they rate it that highly.

Limbo: Read the TPE verdict HERE

Motorstorm RC:
Read the TPE verdict HERE

#2 Ikaruga - As Tom describes this as akin to The War of the Worlds, I made my mind up then and there it's a game I really need to play. Only have to buy a Dreamcast now...

Ikaruga: Read the TPE verdict HERE

#1 Retro City Rampage - Back to basics with what makes games fun is this, top of my list of games I have to play. Freedom, silliness and old skool-ish. Alan loves it, I guess I will too.

Retro City Rampage: Read the TPE verdict HERE

Now all I need to do is find the time to play all these terrific games. I hope to do this within the next 5 years! Getting to the final straight now on the A to Z challenge. What does V stand for you say? Villains!


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T - Tie-In Titles! 5 up & 5 up of Movie Tie-in's

Ever since the late 70's, movies have been making the transition from celluloid to microchip to get the most out of a popular new character or theatrical release. A few of these make the journey with esteem creating some rather fine games in the process. However, more often than not, movie video games are rushed out bodge-jobs, using ill-designed graphics, game engines and weak audio. The reason? Well, the film producers want the game to be available while their new flick is still fresh, maximising sales. on the other hand, some are just crap re-used games with famous characters and movie scenes tacked on. Here is my 5 up and 5 down of movie video games. Prepare to cringe at the worst 5, they are truly terrible crimes against video gaming!

Top 5 Best Tie-In Video Games

Oi! Stop throwing balls at me, I'm dusting for cobwebs
#5 Batman the Movie - Whatever 8 or 16-bit platform you played this on, it was just great. Platforming game at it's heart with a bit and racing and flying chucked in for good measure, it delivers the thrills of being Mr Bats by being very playable, good looks, in theme with the film and challenging at the same time. Batman seems to have the luck with video games, as many of his titles are good efforts to say the least and this is one of the very best. Holy-Video-game Batman!

#4 Alien 3 - This is clearly a bit of a cheat the moment you start playing, as it's really a game about the second Alien film, just set in the locale of the third film. This is a good thing however, because the film from which it shares its title, well, sucked a bit. The second Alien film is revered as the best, so taking the cues from the weapons and motion trackers, this game follows suit to good effect. Tons of pleasing references to the films, creepy in parts, lots to do in the missions and some rather spiffing animation of Ripley al-a Flashback style. Get away from her you Bitch!

#3 Super Star Wars - HARD! TOO HARD! That's what many people whined about when this hit the Super NES, but my was is a fine quality Star Wars platformer, eclipsing many previous Star Wars titles before. The reason? The themeing is just bang on the blaster button; the sounds, the characters and monsters, machines and ships and so on. It's all here for the Star Wars crazy, and even a great introduction to a person not familiar with the films. Yes, it is very difficult and unforgiving, but the graphics, gameplay and audio is all top notch. The force is with this one.

#2 Robocop - Again, it's taking the major elements of the movie that make games like this a winner, as long as you put good gameplay in the damn thing. Lucky, ol' robo-rozzer had no problems here with a very entertaining run n' gun romp. It's a shooting fest of course, but the pace feels just right. Add to this the faithful moves of Murphy, the tons of bad guy bodies that rack up and the appearance of ED-209, it's a fondly remembered film tie-in. It's sequel took a more platform approach, and that was pretty great too. Drop it!

Hang on, my shoelace is untied!
#1 Goldeneye - Some argue that this was one of the most important FPS's to grace a console, and I'm not one to argue. I have issues with FPS's at the best of times, so this was a breath of fresh smoky bunker air. With innovative features such as realistic physics, excellent character depictions, smooth frame rate and animations, functional camera angles.. the list goes on. The graphics in particular were stunning, with aftermath effects of gunfire, walls which retained damage from weapons, and the assisting audio was also faultless classic Bond. I think it is actually better than the film in many respects, even though Brosnan's first outing as 007 was rather nifty. Oh, and I forgot about the trendsetting split-screen deathmatch mode, something only seen before on PC's. A truly golden movie video game.

Top 5 Worst Tie-In Video Games

#5 Friday the 13th - It doesn't really come as a surprise that a game based off a laughable horror film franchise is bad, but this is not just bad, it's as dull as watching the films credits roll. Ok, it has the basic plot points of the films, well, the ones at Camp Crystal, and the concept does have promise but it's just so sooo repetitive. Endless paths to walk down, repeatedly killing zombies and now and then, fighting Jason. He doesn't make things any more interesting either, having a repeated move set that becomes simple to beat after about 5 minutes practice. Even a looped 6 seconds of background music adds to the tedium. Crap, just like the films!

#4 The Fifth Element - A great film turned into a shockingly poor game which is really an embarrassment for the PlayStation. Using the, erm, elements of the film, you can play as Korban and LeeLoo and laugh at the terrible models that they have been given. Shoddy outlines and glitchy colouring, bad lighting and poor collision detection is obvious, but it has stupid physics and level design, and utter awful fixed camera angles to really deal the bad game strike. All this together makes it pretty unplayable, and that's without the SFX which falls out of sync constantly providing yet more irritation. Yes, some parts of the story are faithful, but mostly it's all much a hacked together load of tosh. 

#3 Superman 64 - A contender for one of the most terrible 3D roaming platform games, there is absolutely nothing super about this. It's Superman, that's good I suppose, but in almost every department this game is seriously knackered. Responses are about a quick as a snail stuck in tar, the sound is jerky with repeated effects, and it's nigh on impossible to get the blue boy scout to pick anything up, or throw it where you want. It's all just random as hell. But the main reason why this is so bad, it's that it is full to the brim of glitches. Every wall, room and static item is dodgy, the enemies are dodgy, the whole thing is just a big glitchy mess wearing blue tights. A joke of a game, much like...

#2 Street Fighter:The Movie:The Game - That's right, you read it correctly. Take an awesome, highly successful and groundbreaking beat 'em up, turn it into a terrible live action movie that just sucks balls, and then, turn this back into a video game! Genius! I just don't know what they were thinking of. Suffice to say, this plays and looks like a hacked version of Pitfighter and Rise of the Robots rolled into one big pile of excrement; with the collision detection of the Titanic's birds-nest sailor. I won't waste any more words about this, just play ANY proper Street Fighter game, they are all better than this insult to the franchise. 

Alien phone-boxes were a cramped design, ET rang to complain
#1 ET: The Extra Terrestrial - Um, yes, Any gamer will instantly nod and say. 'Yup!' One of the earliest movie game tie-in's, this seemed to set the formula for all future bad movie games. Rushed out so quickly to keep with the release of the film that it's devoid of any actual gameplay, it's was one of the worst games on the Atari 2600, by a long way. Even worse than the also rushed terrible port of Pacman. SFX is minimal to say the least, the visuals are as basic as the 2600 could have done, but principally, there just doesn't seem to be any goal, reason or life to the game. In fact, calling it a game at all is an over statement. There you have it, worst film tie-in ever. Look out for this in the Z blog post...

Annnnd Cut! That's the tie-in's all tied up, a selection of titles at each end of the quality measure. Generally the rule of thumb is that movie video games are drivel, so it's a surprise when a good one comes along. Seems like a good idea to trust Batman. Tomorrow it's back to a top 10, but adding a new twist to my A to Z challenge, it's a little different. On the morrow, we look at my top 10 Un-played games, based off the reviews of a certain neat game website... no prizes for guessing.


Monday, 22 April 2013

S - Shooting Supremos! My Top 10 Shoot 'Em Up Games

Zapp, Pow! Kersplat! Nothing beats shooting a few bad-ass aliens, monsters and nutcase flying robots now and then, and this just so happens to be one of my favourite genre's in the  video game library. With typical invasion/save the universe storylines, a massive armory of weapons and the odd's stack against you, shoot 'em up's are generally fast, loud and above all, friggin' hard! I have included all types of shooty games in this list, from scrollers to gallery to first-person, although I have never been a big fan of the latter. Here is my top 10 of shooting games!
Giant space chameleon eh? Just another day at the office 
#10 Xenon 2: Megablast - An Amiga classic, this made the headlines for it's theme tune, the club hit by dance outfit Bomb the Bass with the track 'Megablast'. The vertical scrolling shooter, Xenon 2 was great to look at, had various ways to progress and a fine 'shop' of weaponry to power up your ship to the max, making it look ridiculous in the process. Tough, but very rewarding to conquer with a host of organic inspired foes, and with that top drawer music streaming from the PAULA chip, it was a brill game to play.

#9 Tie Fighter - More of a Star Wars simulation than a shooter, I still put this keyboard hammering PC marvel in this list. You are a new recruit to the Galactic Empire, and you go through all the training and progression up the ranks with training missions and rebel attacks piloting the various Tie Fighter craft seen in the films. Engrossing and detailed, it's so fun to play a bad guy shooting down the rebel scum. Faithful to the Star Wars universe and with loads of little references, this for me was far better than it's sequel and while it may be a complex game to play, it's very gratifying for the fans ans non-fan alike.

#8 Quake - The happy memories of playing special levels Painkeep and DM4 on multiplayer, this FPS made it's mark with me. The single player missions are fine and challenging enough, but it's the rapid pace and ferocity of the multiplayer levels that really brings Quake into high regard. With wonderful textures, lighting and accuracy for it's time, it is one of the best FPS's still today for me. It's sequel was also pretty good, but didn't better this. Some manically nutty weapons too; like the chain thunderbolt gun from Painkeep, and a perfect progression to follow up to the likes of Doom and Wolfenstein.

#7 Blood Money - With a choice of craft for each level, all with different characteristics and weapons, this scrolling shooter has a extra dimension to the horizontal and vertical actions. Destroying an enemy is not enough; you have to position yourself to collect the cash that falls from them, and then use this cash for upgrades by visiting one of the shops during the level. Slower paced then most other shoot em up's, this has the brain ticking for advancement which adds a degree of strategy and has some finest music ever off an Amiga game.

Vic had a heavy approach to weeding the garden
#6 Gradius III - The Vic Viper, a classy name for a space-fighter at the best of times, the forth game in the the Gradius series with it's ten levels of alien blasting franticness. With a few stages that move away from the side-scrolling, a customisable weapons set-up for the ship and of course with nails-hard difficultly, G3 is one of the all time greats and impossible to ignore it's impact on the genre as a whole; along with R-Type (#2) paving the way for many a modern scrolling shooter.

#5 Vastar - Yup, this again, the first video game I ever played. I still say this must have inspired Halo in parts, the rocket-man you control just looks so familiar. What I really admire about this looking back is the combination of laser/shield that the player has to manage, making for a more complex game than merely shoot-all and see. While the visuals have not aged well, the on-screen enemies are still fresh and fun. Spiky Balls, flying drills, two-headed orange dragons... ahh back in the day... 

#4 Point Blank - Cartoon splat-em-up that has just got so much appeal and quirkiness, one of the very best light gun gallery games of the previous generation. Difficult but forgiving, it's bright, fun and addictive; Point Blank just puts a grin on your face with it's style and design. It's also takes the violence out of shooting a gun, which is another appealing quality. Shame it's not easy to play on today's technology in the home. Oh well.

#3 Starfox (Starwing) - The groundbreaking Super FX title for the Snes, this Star Wars-esc battle to save a galaxy from the evil telekinetic Andross has got lots of charm. It's polygon graphics may not look brilliant today, but made for an intense and intricate game at the time, and rather awe-inspiring also. The characters are memorable, the ships design is classic, the boss enemies threatening and the levels take you deep into a space war that really makes it feel imposing. The epic soundtrack matches up with this theme superbly and the whole package is a must for the Sci-fi fan in every aspect. 

#2 R-Type - I have already mentioned this as the winner of my most difficult list, so whilst it is as hard as a cubed quadratic equation, it's still got a style and presentation that does not fail to catch the eye and ear. The looming bio-organic bosses have a terror about them, the action is light-speed fast and the inclusion of the 'Force' is the difference maker. It's a weapon system that gave scope and depth to the game, as your pinpoint actions are vital to survive the onslaught. An excellent game, one of the very best space shooters.

Realistic scaling doesn't get in the way of a mean boss fight
#1 UN Squadron - Known as Area 88 in Japan, this brings together all the best factors of what makes a great scrolling shooter; a choice of pilots from difference strengths to match your skill-set, and large selection of aircraft all based off real-life machines save for one, 'super' aircraft. The arsenal of weapons is extensive, some with very specific uses for certain encounters, and the array of enemies is first class too, many based of real aircraft and vehicles. With large, seemingly impossible bosses, great environments, differing levels and choice of which stages you want to play that fits the needs of the campaign, UN Squadron for me is the shoot em' up that has it all. Oh, and did I mention the A-plus visuals, SFX and exciting soundtrack? A very fine, high-quality game, and all in the name of keeping the peace. Of course.

Fizzz... bang! Oops, looks like its game over for this list of my top 10 shoot 'em up's, but have no fear as we get re-spawn tomorrow with another entry to the a to z challenge. T is for tie-in's, and it's my second 5 up and 5 down list, some of the very best and very worst video games based off films. It doesn't take a genius to work out that one of the worst is a game, based off a film, which is based off a game in the first place! Why did they bother!