xbla

Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition - Video

First Hour Review

Street Fighter Third Strike Online CoverI have a soft spot for fighting games. Even though my multiplayer game time has dwindled to almost nothing, I relish the chopsocky action too much to quit entirely. My interest has further grown alongside the genre's worldwide revival, sparked by 2009's Street Fighter IV, which produces more and more games that exhibit extravagant martial arts action with tournament balance. This pleases me.

Not content to milk just Street Fighter IV year after year, Capcom's digging deeper into its past to re-release what many consider its finest fighter, Street Fighter III: Third Strike. The fan favorite finds its way onto Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network as Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, adorned with bells and whistles that appear to go beyond what fans would expect from a modern port. SF3:TSOE boasts visual filters, remixed music, concept art, detailed tutorials, expert trials, Youtube match uploads, and even renowned GGPO netcode that promises smooth and customizable online performance.

I have played Third Strike a few times in days long past. I remember some of the game-specific basics, like parrying, but am unfamiliar with most characters. I'll see what the trials can teach me about the game's mechanics beyond parrying. Next, I'll see what trials are available for Dudley, a boxer I recognize from Super Street Fighter IV but have never used in Third Strike. Finally, I'll check out Arcade mode and see what the game has to offer as a singleplayer experience.

Check out five minutes of parries, Corkscrew Blows, and everything else that makes up gentlemanly fighting.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Full Review

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition CoverI first played The Secret of Monkey Island about 20 years ago. This was an era of launching games from DOS, Commander Keen, and wheel spinning copy protection. I played the game with my cousin, who would frequently lose the Dial-a-Pirate code wheel forcing us to wildly guess at the game’s opening question.

The Special Edition released in 2009 thankfully does not have any code wheels (or even worse: always-on internet connection), but does feature completely redone high resolution art, a full voice cast, and the same brand of humor fans of the game know and love.

I’m personally a huge fan of the Monkey Island series, with the second holding a very special place in my heart and the third (gasp!) being my favorite. And while I beat the original when I was younger, I never held a lot of nostalgia for it, so this review is actually coming from a fan of the series who likes the first one the least in the trilogy And no, there is no fourth game.

Paul Eastwood originally reviewed the Special Edition two years ago when it was new, I finally got around to beating it this weekend after having it sit in my Steam library since release. Here is my review of The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2

Full Review

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 CoverOne of my favorite activities in college was brainstorming ideas with my roommates. When bored, we would gather in the living room, get out the whiteboard, and come up with some imaginative business idea or a get-rich-quick scheme or an outline of a blockbuster screenplay. The ambitiousness of our outlandish dreams was matched only by our enthusiasm to start making them a reality.

Then, after disagreeing for a few hours about what the title should be for our Atlantis-set romantic comedy, we'd give up and play Smash Bros. For the record, though, I still think "Mermaid for Each Other" is just brilliant.

I get the feeling that Fatshark, the small Swedish developer given the reigns to Bionic Commando after its previous steward was dissolved, had similarly lofty goals and equally tragic work ethic for the series' first 2-D sequel. The result is Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, a sequel that I suspect was conceived with a drive to do it big but produced with a reluctance to do it at all.

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2

First Hour Review
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 CoverLooking back, Bionic Commando Rearmed may have been a more important game than most realize. It was one of the first blockbuster hits on both the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network digital distribution models, scoring critical praise unlike any other console downloadable before it. It also arguably opened the floodgates for the proliferation of retro-styled games and HD remakes: more and more publishers are digging up their buried treasure and giving it a spit-shine worthy of the HD era, and just as many are building new experiences from old foundations.

It goes without saying that the company that spawned hundreds of Mega Man games would return to a good thing, so I'm a little surprised it's taken over two years for Capcom to follow up the original retro re-do. Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is not quite the talk of the town in the same way the groundbreaking original (erm, original remake) was, but I've been looking forward to it since it was announced at last year's Captivate event. I'm rarely one to complain about getting more of the same, especially when it's as distinguished and polished as BCR was.

Some will cry foul at "Rad" Spencer's newfound ability to jump (gasp!), but it hardly appears to be the game-changer than many feared. Capcom has even affirmed that the game can be completed without ever taking a hop. I think I'll put that claim to the test for some of this first hour.

PS3 owners beware: Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 employs a type of DRM that requires you to start the game while connected to PlayStation Network. Inconvenient for a game that is played almost entirely offline.

Plants vs. Zombies

Full Review

Plants vs Zombies CoverFew games on the iOS platform get me excited. There's just such a surplus of bad that even when you hear about Super Popular Game X, you wonder if the masses are just falling for more of the same. When Plants vs. Zombies was announced early this year as a port of the PC/Mac release, I didn't think twice about picking it up. The $3 price tag didn't even make me think twice.

I had watched my brother in law play the full version on his Mac last year, and was intrigued by its porch defense gameplay. I had never even played a tower defense game before Plants vs. Zombies. A genre virgin so to speak. It was easy to see without even playing it why the game was so popular. The zombies would walk slowly from right to left and it's your job to fend them off with some bizarre garden variety plants.

This review will just be on the iOS version (played on a second generation iPod Touch). I have no experience with any other version (though I'm secretly planning to replay it on the Nintendo DS).

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 - Episode 1

Full Review

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 CoverThe gaming world first learned of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 back in September of 2009, under the code name “Project Needlemouse”. Sega declared a return to the franchise’s 2D roots, promising the Sonic game old-school fans have been anxiously awaiting for years. Well, there’s no doubt that if you spent the better part of your Saturday mornings as a child dashing through shuttle loops, this is definitely the Sonic game for you.

Sonic 4 picks up where the blue blur left off 16 years ago in Sonic & Knuckles, for the Sega Genesis. Dr. Eggman (or Robotnik, if you prefer) is up to his old tricks, and it’s up to none other than the fastest thing alive, Sonic the Hedgehog, to stop him; chasing the evil scientist through 4 zones (3 acts each, plus a boss battle) before a final showdown against the doctor’s ultimate creation...

Editor's Note: Jonathan is a brand new writer and contributer to The First Hour. Please welcome him! This review was originally posted at IGN.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

First Hour Review

Scott Pilgrim vs World Cover"No More Heroes: The Movie." That's how I've been introduced to a film that opened last Friday, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, each and every time a friend first mentions it to me. I suppose it's a valid parallel: it stars a maladjusted young adult living on the fringe of suburban society fighting over-the-top duels through an organization in order to win official rights to a girl he already has some sway with, utilizing a presentation style that pays tribute to classic video game quirks. Whatever you liken it to, it's a unique movie worth seeing for any self-diagnosed gaming nostalgist, or anyone who wants to see a quirky romantic comedy that doesn't take itself seriously and manages to make Michael Cera actually seem kind of badass.

Prior to seeing the movie, I played a bit of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, which was released on PlayStation Network last Tuesday and will be available on Xbox Live Arcade one week from today. In an interesting blend of media paying homage to each other, Scott Pilgrim: The Game borrows its name from its film counterpart, its artistic style from the comic series that was adapted into the movie, and its gameplay from the classic video games that infuse the culture of the comics and movie. Specifically, this is a River City Ransom clone if ever there was one, sharing that cult classic's brawler mechanics, RPG elements, and humorous tone.

Considering I wasn't too impressed with River City Ransom when I downloaded it off the Virtual Console, I had mixed feelings going into Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. I'm all for modern throwbacks to the era of chiptunes and sprites, but I've never been a big supporter of the RCR-style focus on stats. How did the trade-off fare in my first hour with the game?

Perfect Dark

Full Review

Perfect Dark CoverSometimes, nostalgia has the habit of biting back. Hard.  Ten years ago, Perfect Dark was released on the Nintendo 64, and along with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, capped off a great system by pushing it way past its limits.  I gobbled this game up when it was released by throwing parties in my parent's basement and putting off getting my driver's license for another month.  GoldenEye 007 was a great first-person shooter, but we were ready for some Perfect Dark.

Ten years later, and Perfect Dark is ported to Xbox Live Arcade.  I was a bit worried: how would a pre-Halo first-person shooter play against its modern day brethren?  In my opinion, while GoldenEye was the console shooter breakout hit, Halo had set the standard for how they should actually play.  Its control scheme is still used to this day, and imagining myself strafing with the C-buttons gives me the shivers.

For only $10 though, it was a hard bargain to pass up.  Here was a game that I coughed up $59.99 + tax before I even had a job, I could easily hand over 800 Microsoft Points for a trip down memory lane.  My friend Jim also bought the game, and we decided to take the journey together, playing through the single player campaign via online co-op (imagine doing that ten years ago on the Nintendo 64!).  While we had both played the original, I was the more die-hard fan and had pored countless hours into my multiplayer character.  We started up, with him playing as the lovely Joanna and me as the blonde no-named sister.

Pixel Boarder and winter sports gaming

Gaming Nostalgia
Pixel Boarder Cover

I've played hundreds of games in my lifetime, but most of them are long forgotten memories. But sometimes those memories can be dislodged from the deep to remind you of something. Maybe it was just about how simple games used to be, or how they invoked the imagination so much while doing so little, or that games actually used to be difficult.

Pixel Boarder is one of those games. I'll be completely honest: I'm not very good at this game at all. I always forget which to push the joysticks to rotate in a particular direction, and I never seem to have enough speed to do anything cool. But that is really not that big of deal to me right now, mostly because of how much nostalgia this game was able to produce in such amount short time.

I'll spend a few paragraphs talking about Pixel Boarder and then explore my past history in winter video games.

OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast

Video Review
Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast Cover

Our first video review comes courtesy of Steve and one of the all time greatest arcade racing series: OutRun. Steve will be playing the 15 minute continuous cross-country run in OutRun 2006: Coast to Coast. It spans 15 very different levels with one common feature: lots and lots of powersliding. The game is beautiful, so here are two high definition videos of the run, complete with commentary about the game and series.

Syndicate content