Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, a puzzle-platformer developed by Oddworld Inhabitants, was released in 1997 for the PlayStation and PC. It uses pre-rendered graphics for its backgrounds and sprites, and has a large list of actions that can be taken by the player, including making the player character speak.
I remember playing the demo of this game at Toys'R'Us, and being impressed by its graphics and gameplay features, as well as the odd feeling of it all.
Oddworld is now available through Steam for play on the PC, and that's where I got the copy I'll be playing. Although it can be played with the keyboard, I will be using a gamepad because I find it very cumbersome to use a keyboard to play a game designed for a controller.
Ever get tired of fighting? Can't someone make a game about something besides combat? Those were questions I was asking myself when I discovered Chibi-Robo. I remembered this Nintendo-published game vaguely from when it first came out, but looked into it with more interest as I tried to find a game about something other than violence.
Granted, games like The Sims are about something other than fighting, but what I was looking for was a game that used familiar game elements in a non-combat setting. For example, could you earn experience points by talking to people? Explore and find something other than more enemies to fight? Surely it can be done, but it didn't seem to exist in the wild.
That's when I found Chibi-Robo. Developed by Skip Ltd. and published by Nintendo, it seems to be an adventure game in which you play as a tiny robot and explore a house. Your mission is to make the host family happy, which you do by cleaning up trash and spills, finding lost objects, and sundry other tasks.
But will a non-violent game be able to offer an exciting first hour experience?
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is the sequel to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which was itself a relaunch of a popular 2D platformer from the early 1990s. The relaunch, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, eventually became a trilogy, released on PlayStation 2, XBox, GameCube, PC, and even a version for the GameBoy Advance. The series has since been relaunched again on the current generation of systems.
Sands of Time was very well received for many reasons, including beautiful art direction, spot-on controls, fluid animations, clever mechanics and a wonderful intangible quality. It had two main downfalls: the combat was repetitive and the game was short.
Warrior Within sets out to correct both of these follies, boasting a longer story and a much-improved combat engine that takes the acrobatic attacks of the first game and expands them to a move list that takes up several pages in the instruction manual.
With these improvements, the game has also "matured" in the video game sense, which as usual means blood and scantily-clad women. Oh, and heavy metal. I'm not really sure why Ubisoft felt this was necessary; I'm assuming it was based on customer feedback.
I played through Prince of Persia: The Sands of time a while back and enjoyed it very much. When it was over I wished it wasn't, and that's what sequels are for. Will Warrior Within satisfy my craving for more acrobatic platforming/adventuring featuring the Prince of Persia?
Note: If I say "the first game" I'm referring to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, not the original Prince of Persia game.
Back in the day, Lucasarts made good games. They made point-and-click adventures, some of the best ever. One thing their adventures were famous for was an odd sense of humor.
Secret of Monkey Island was Lucasarts' first humor game. I've always wanted to play it, so when they repackaged it with new graphics and voice acting, I jumped on it.
I played the first hour for review, and well, I couldn't stop playing: I beat the whole game in the next couple of days. I think that says enough about the first hour experience. Here's the full review.
Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a repackaging of Secret of Monkey Island. It follows the story of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who wants nothing more than to sail the high seas, pillaging and plundering, looting and.... well he wants to be a pirate. He starts off on Melee Island to talk to the Pirate Leaders in order to join them. They set him off with three seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish. Along the way he might just fall in love, confront a ghost pirate, and slide down a cable on a rubber-chicken-with-a-pulley-in-the-middle.
James Bond: he's the original super-spy. The secret agent with style, he always gets his man... and his woman.
Unfortunately he hasn't always fared so well in video games. Except for Goldeneye, games bearing the 007 insignia have turned out less than stellar.
I recently got my hands on a copy of 007: Everything or Nothing. This EA-published game on the GameCube (it was also released on the PS2 and XBox) was the first 007 game to ditch the first-person-shooter genre that Goldeneye established in favor of a third-person action adventure. (There had been a third-person 007 game on the PlayStation, but it was received poorly and all subsequent 007 games were first-person-shooters.)
Also, this game has more stars than most Hollywood movies. Pierce Brosnan voices 007, Dame Judy Dench is M, John Cleese is Q, our villain is Willem Dafoe, the Bond girls are Heidi Klum and Shannon Elizabeth, with Mya for good measure, Richard Kiel is Jaws... and all the characters are modeled after their actors.
Will 007 get a video game worthy of his refined demeanor, or is this another impotent cash-in on the 007 franchise? Will a cast full of Hollywood stars take this game to the next level, or will these actors fail to make the transition to video game voice acting? Will 007 introduce himself as "Bond, James Bond?" Let's find out now:
Remember the old days when video game were hard? Back in the NES days of Mega-Man, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and the like? These games were all about skill, requiring split-second timing, precision button presses, acute pattern memorization, and that was just to get past the first level!
More recently, game developers cater to a broader audience and make games that are so easy we could beat them in our sleep. There's no challenge, no thrill of achievement, no bragging rights... hey ya dern kids, get off my lawn!
Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly set out to change that with I Wanna Be The Guy, which is available for free download to play on Windows. It's a throwback to the days when video games were difficult. It's in the style of an 8-bit action platformer, and it's hard. How hard? Let's find out.
Note: It will be of use to inform you of my process of writing this review. I made an audio recording of myself narrating as I played the game, then listened to it and wrote the review based on that recording. I noticed some strange things towards the end of the hour because of this. Read on:
Battalion Wars is a GameCube exclusive real time strategy/action hybrid developed by the British second-party team Kuju and published by Nintendo. Real time strategy is a popular genre but has been mostly unsuccessful on consoles, due primarily to the lack of a mouse. Battalion Wars tries to solve this problem by introducing a new control scheme, as well as allowing the player direct control over any unit on the field at any time.
Battalion Wars was initially announced as the console entry into the Advance Wars series, billed "Advance Wars: Under Fire," and later was spun into a new series. Did the new control scheme and 3rd person shooter mechanics bring the long-hoped-for innovation to console RTS games, or will this be a massive mess of mangled controls and muddled objectives? Only I know, and I'm going to tell you.
Paul Eastwood returns with another action oriented game, if you like his style, check out his first hour reviews of Freedom Fighters and Enter the Matrix!
Freedom Fighters is a third-person action game set in an alternate reality in which the Soviet Union became the world superpower after WWII. What sets it apart from other action games is the squad tactics: you can give orders to a number of other people, and must use them strategically to advance through the game. The more charisma you earn, the more people you can command.
The game came out in 2003 for Xbox, PS2, GameCube and PC. I played the GameCube version.
The story has the USSR invade the United States to "free it from a corrupt regime." You play as a guy from Brooklyn who sets out to make things right.
Will squad tactics help this game rise above an ordinary action game, or will the first hour be mired in learning a complicated control scheme, enough to put off any player? Let's find out.
Paul Eastwood delivers another great review just in time for the 4th of July! Enjoy!
Enter the Matrix is the video game tie-in with the film The Matrix Reloaded, the first of two sequels many fans were disappointed with. The video game does not allow you to replay events from the movie, rather you play as minor characters from the movie partaking in events that affect the outcome of the sequels. If I remember correctly this was kind of a big deal at the time (2003), but an even bigger deal is that the game was written by the Wachowski brothers, and contains live-action cutscenes with actors from the movie.
So is Enter the Matrix just another movie tie-in game, a sub-par cash-in on a movie that might be considered the same, or did the Wachowskis' influence bring it to a new level, creating a new gameplay experience unlike any other? Well... we are about to find out. I will be playing the GameCube version.
Greg Noe's Note: Paul Eastwood is a fan of the First Hour and volunteered to write this review, hopefully we'll hear more from him in the future. Hey, if he's brave enough to play Enter the Matrix, maybe he can tackle some of the other most awful video games of all time. I've personally played the game once, some random level in the middle of the game that I remember playing similar to Descent. It kept crashing on us when we clipped into walls. Somehow, Enter the Matrix managed to sell over five million copies. I consider the game a seminal moment in video game history: It was rushed to market and betrayed many gamers' trust in game publishers and movie tie-ins. Interesting to note, the game sits at around 70% on GameRankings, so either this game is unfairly panned universally, or the mainstream reviewers were afraid to give such a high profile game a really bad score.
Back to Paul Eastwood's review of Enter the Matrix.