Remember Me reviewed

Capcom's game has many memorable moments!

7.1 Surround Sound for the masses

Want cinematic sound quality? Then Mad Catz 720+ may be for you

DayZ: a new approach to survival horror

DayZ, a mod for Arma 2, is unlike any other horror game that came before

Best of the worst bad habits in gaming

Megabits of Gaming takes a look at five of its favourite gaming characters who have bad or slightly seedy habits.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Simple controls hit all the right buttons!


I had a great weekend. Had a few friends over and enjoyed a decent gaming session - perfect!


But after after a bit of Streetfighter IV, Call of Duty 5, UFC Undisputed, Fifa 2009 and Gears of War 2 (bit of an eclectic mix, eh?), my brain was like porridge. How on earth do so few games have so many different controls? Why can't game designers take pity on us mere mortals and at least make a few of the buttons do the same thing from game to game?

It got me thinking to gaming back in the day. All those years ago, a D-pad and a single "fire" button was all you needed.

Consider Speedball 2, for example. It's a classic sports game that puts you in complete control of a team of outfield players and a goalie. You grab the ball, run about trying to keep aforementioned ball and do your best to bury it in the back of the goal or beat the opposition to a pulp. All using just one button that allowed you to pass, punch, catch and save. Simple.

Compare that with the likes of Fifa or UFC nowadays and you wonder whether games have become a little too realistic - and almost too much like hard work.

No longer can you get home from work, power up your console and kick back with a beer, chilling out with your favourite game. Nowadays you're better off sticking to soft drinks as you need all your faculties to comprehend which button does what!

At least, that's my excuse when someone who's barely a teenager manages to give me a sound whooping at Fifa online!


(Photo credit: Cirofono)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monkey Island to make a welcome return!


Great news from the Guardian Games Blog...the legendary Monkey Island is set to make it's way onto the Xbox sometime soon.


I've many fond memories of the escapades of Guybrush Threepwood and played the game religiously when it was released back in 1990. I loved the sequel, LeChuck's Revenge, too... let's hope they give that an outing as well.

I'm not too sure whether a point and click adventure will lose some of its charm using a controller but what the hell, it's still going to go to the top of my shopping list!

Check out the interview with the producer behind the new special edition here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fight Night Round 4 packs a punch


Sony and Microsoft are going to do pretty well with peripheral sales this year I reckon... I'd bet that PS3 and Xbox controllers are going to be flying off the shelves this summer!

Just a few weeks after UFC 2009 Undisputed fought its way up the charts, EA's Fight Night Round 4 has emerged and could become a real contender for one of the top games of the year.

Two top games that are almost guaranteed to give your controller a right bashing a
s you strive to master the complex controls - exclusively with the analogue sticks this time - to dish out the uppercuts, haymakers and jabs.

Round 4 builds on the success of arguably one of the best launch titles for the Xbox when it was released in early 2006 and became equally popular on the PS3 when it came out later that year. Check out this review from The LeisureLab.

As you'd expect, the premise is much the same - dive in and fight a few bouts or create a fighter and take him through a gruelling career, meeting some of the all-time greats along the way. The graphics have been honed since its last outing and it really does look impressive - the blood, sweat and rippling skin as you strike that killer punch. Even the ring girls have made a welcome return!

All reviews have so far lavished praise on EA's new effort, check these out: Videogamer.com, Totallygn.com, G4TV.com.

Let's get ready to rummmmmmmble!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Megabits must-play list

Regular visitors to this blog will already have seen my all-time Top 10 but here is the ever-growing Megabits must-play list!

These 100+ titles have kept me glued to the screen over the past few decades and spawned countless spinoffs and sequels.To me, each of these is a classic and in some way, genre defining. Afterall, where would we be today without the likes of Arkanoid and Bomberman, or Tekken and Gran Turismo?

As this blog grows, so will this timeline - building an archive of nostalgia. Why not relive some of those key moments by clicking on any entry and seeing gameplay footage?

We all have titles that remain close to our heart - are there any I've missed that are close to yours? Leave a comment and recommend some of your gaming greats!



See also:

Friday, June 19, 2009

APB - thinking outside the sandbox


Here's something from Wired to whet your appetite...APB (All Points Bulletin) is coming and I've no doubt it's going to be epic. I heard about this some time ago and reckon this will stand head and shoulders above all the other sandbox clones; a massively multiplayer online game of cops and robbers developed by the Real Time Worlds team - the guys behind Crackdown! I can't wait.

Sandbox games certainly look like they're here to stay. There's many a discussion over which game started the genre but one thing's for sure, there's no sign of them drying up. The past year or so has seen a raft of decent titles embed themselves at the top of the charts and the release schedule is peppered with plenty of updates and sequels. Just goes to show that you can never have too much of a good thing, eh?

Assassin's Creed, GTA IV, Mercenaries 2, Red Faction Guerrilla, Saints Row 2, Fallout 3 and most recently Prototype have all become firm favourites.

They may look and sound different but underneath their colourful, pixelated veneer, they all have one thing in common - the same pick-up-and-play charm. Bored with the missions, then why not walk about a bit, blow something up or explore somewhere new? Clearly, it's a winning formula - and frankly, I can't get enough of it...APB should be with us for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC sometime next year. Better get saving!

Your thoughts?



Check out more videos from the APB Forum on You Tube.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Few great games are on the horizon...


Have I missed something here? Back at the start of the year, wasn't there mention of plenty of exciting triple-A titles that were going to hit stores in 2009? Well, where are all they all?

The summer is always a disappointment for gamers but where are the must-have GTA's or the
Gears of War's scheduled for the key Christmas season??? Only Modern Warfare 2 is definitely going to find it's way on to my Xmas list!

I honestly can't remember the last time that so few games on the release schedule made me bristle with anticipation. Ghostbusters could be entertaining - although that may just be nostalgia talking - and Batman: Arkham Asylum is shaping up...but otherwise I'm bracing myself for an unexciting few months ahead.

There's little on the shelves right now that gets me salivating either...Prototype looks great (check out this preview at The LeisureLab) and is one I'd like to try while Fight Night Round 4 is looking like a real contender but otherwise...meh.

Originality seems to have taken a back seat this year too. The coming months should see a raft of sequels emerge that will have to be pretty exceptional to make me part with my hard earned cash!

Assassin's Creed 2, Bad Company 2, Dead Rising 2 and the annual Fifa update are on the horizon to name a few. Are they really going to bring much more to the table or just some revitalised graphics and a rejigged soundtrack? I'd suggest the latter.

Roll on 2010 and Crackdown 2!




(Photo credit: Thomas Hawk/Video credit: Machinima)

Monday, June 15, 2009

I've achieved the impossible, have you?

There are three universal mis-truths: "No, your bum doesn't look big in that", "It's not you, it's me", and "I didn't do it for the glory".

Lies, damned lies - and the last one is the only one I'll admit to!

Who doesn't want recognition and glory? Why shouldn't I have praise bestowed upon me when I achieve something great?

I never used to be like this. Before those infernal Xbox achievements got under my skin I used to play games for pleasure, maybe even the thrill of getting to that elusive end sequence - rescuing the damsel in distress or saving the planet from the forces of evil...

Now, I'm a shell of a man - replaying the same section of game over and over until that familiar chime and the little achievement icon pops onto my screen. I admit it, I've become an achievement whore.

I'd owned my Xbox for well over a year before I understood the appeal of achievements. It wasn't long before al
l the games I'd already completed were dusted off and replayed religiously to boost my points.

In comparison with some of the die-hard gamers out there with scores reaching into the tens of thousands, I've accumulated a rather lowly figure to date - around 7,000 by last count. And I'm determined to get more!

Many balked at the very idea of this kind of points system when it was first unveiled but such is its appeal that even Sony has introduced a similar "trophy" scheme for the PS3. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, eh?

There's no shame in clubbing a game to death with your controller to eek out every last ounce of playability... in fact it represents fantastic value for money.

I no longer play to see those end credits drift down my screen, I play to find my 500th agility orb in Crackdown, my 50th gargoyle in Fable II or complete a ridiculously long wheelie in GTA IV. I now don't rush through a game but inspect every square inch of my 3D environment, checking every nook and crannie for a collectable.

Achievements have added an entirely new dimension to gaming. Microsoft, I salute you!

(Photo credit: Dirkusmaximus)


What are the easiest/strangest achievements you've uncovered? From 5G for pressing Start in The Simpsons to 10G for restarting a race several times in Flatout: Ultimate Carnage, let us know...

Kirby - another Gameboy favourite!

Whilst flicking through a copy of Retro Gamer (what's happened to me? I used to read Heat magazine) I came across an article about my old favourite, the Gameboy. It reminded me that there was actually another game other than Tetris that I liked - Kirby's Pinball Land. I remembered that it also had me hooked for hours.

As I don't actually recall a lot about the game I decided to dig it out and have a play. However, it was then I remembered that I didn't actually own a copy; I'd borrowed it off someone and been so engrossed that I'd just kept it for ages.

Without having another play, there's not much I can say about it other than it was another addictive game that was enjoyed by me in the 90s. If anyone cares to fill me in on the basics then please comment below other than that here is a little You Tube reminder.


Friday, June 12, 2009

The King of Real Time Strategy games...


The Total War series may have incorporated morale and troop drilling, while the Command and Conquer games offer a touch of surreal humour and, as Bojeeva pointed out in his Top Ten, Dune II started it all, but for me the pinnacle of Real Time Strategy games remains Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, a game which has eaten more of my time over the years than any other.

Developed be Ensemble Studios and released for Mac and PC in 1999, AoE II used the familiar RTS template of gathering different food and construction resources using villagers, and constantly making decisions about whether to invest those resources into more villagers for increased gathering, into technology that would make your resource gathering more efficient, or into military units, because eventually either you’d be making a grab for the opposing player’s territory, or you’d be defending his grab for yours.

So far, so familiar, but Age of Kings had more up its regal sleeves than an economy to micromanage and pretty villages to build. The rock-paper-scissors system that made each type of military unit vulnerable to the skills of at least one other added an incredible amount of fun to the game, as long as you and your opponent didn’t cheat and look up the appropriate counter measures. Ah, the joy of building a huge army of rapid-firing Chu Ko Nu Chinese Crossbowmen and marching them into enemy territory to turn their soldiers, villagers and fields into pincushions, and the yelps of frustration they’d let out as they tried to build an opposing force of skirmishers in time. And with so many unique units, the pendulum could swing back and forth. It took me ages to figure out the rather obvious counter to War Elephants, and until I did all my city building efforts were ground to rubble by the tusks of those armoured Persian Pachyderms.

Even after you’d been playing long enough to master every counter and start building appropriately well-rounded forces, there was still plenty of fun to be had in AoE II, like building your own maps and scenarios with the content editor or engaging in novelty battles like playing a Regicide game by hiding your king in a castle and then building eight more castles around it to see if your opponent could smash their way in before the time was up. And don’t talk to me about UDGC, who needs LittleBigPlanet when you can download enormous fan-made campaigns from AoKHeaven?

It was all great fun, but why so different from any other Real Time Strategy game? Well, just as the rock-paper-scissors approach balanced the combat neatly, the game as a whole was equally balanced. It wasn’t until I moved on from Age of Empires II to Rise of Nations and even Age of Empires III that I realised just what a perfectly honed game AoE II was. I’d moved on to new games to see whether the staggering number of units and technologies, ranging all the way up to nukes and aircraft carriers would add something to the game, but in fact, all they added was chaos.

Sure, faster processors and greater memory allowed us to field armies of two hundred, with jeeps, tanks, light infantry, fighter jets, helicopters, ICBMs and machine gunners, but the move to dozens of different units and the introduction of hundreds of individual upgrades reduced the careful micromanagement, inch perfect manoeuvres and considered timing of last gen RTS to a chaotic shambles, a mess of disparate troops thrown piecemeal into battle in the hope of eking out a painful victory. Gone were the careful crescendos of orchestrated destruction, and while the high tech chaos that replaced them was far cooler to look at than AoE II’s pseudo-3D ever managed, it just wasn’t as satisfying as seeing a perfect plan perfectly executed.

So, I’ll be on IGZones in five minutes, see you there…

New COD map pack - this means War!



My weekend's sorted! Treyarch has released its second Call of Duty: World at War map pack so I'll definitely be improving my kill count tonight.

It's fantastic news that more maps have finally seen the light of day. I played the World War II shooter to death when it was released but quickly grew tired of the single player game and migrated online...brilliant fun. I'd agree with the masses who argue that COD 4 is a far better game (although why only one map pack was released is beyond me), but for WWII goodness, you can't beat Treyarch's attempt.

This is the kind of game Return to Castle Wolfenstein should have been; a great WWII shooter but with additional levels outside of the main game where you can take a break from the grim truth of war and instead fight off the unrelenting zombie hordes.

Anyhow, I digress, the new downloadable map pack consists of:
  • Banzai - jungle map, fighting for control of a bridge
  • Corrosion - war-torn Russian train yard
  • Sub pens - rain-soaked Japanese submarine base
  • Zombie Swamp - take a wild guess(!)

(Photo credits: brava_67)

Is Assassins Creed worth another go?


I was never that enamored by the original
Assassins Creed. It certainly didn't deliver after being so massively overhyped.

Don't get me wrong, it looked fantastic, oozed atmosphere and was the first game to bring free-running/parkour to the masses but I wasn't too keen on the whole alternate reality "memory recall" storyline. Why do games add these little twists anyway (yes, Return to Castle Wolfenstein...I'm thinking of you. Your wartime elements were great...the supernatural parts, not so!).

Assassins was billed as a sandbox game but felt somewhat restrictive and linear. In all fairness, I didn't give it too much of a go when I first bought it soon after its release in 2007 but with news of the sequel emerging, I'm tempted to dive back into Altair's shoes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Top 10!


So after much deliberation, here are my all-time Top 10 in all their glory!

  1. Football Manager
  2. Syndicate
  3. The Settlers
  4. Rage Racer
  5. Pyjamarama
  6. Alien Breed
  7. Toejam and Earl
  8. Command and Conquer
  9. Bubble Bobble
  10. Sensible Soccer
Agree or disagree...leave a comment.

In reality, GTA is awesome


Not so long ago I was sat on a plane approaching London Heathrow. As I stared out the window, it was at that moment I knew I'd been playing too much Grand Theft Auto IV.


As the ground got nearer I could make out several small ramps littering the grass alongside the runway...ramps that were very similar to those I'd driven my souped-up sportscar over a couple of days earlier to earn a "rolled over" achievement on my 360! Weirdly, I was considering the best angle and speed to approach the ramp if I actually happened to be driving around Heathrow. Gaming had blended into my reality; I needed some zzzzz.

Problem was, even that couldn't guarantee an escape from the world of Liberty City. The escapades of Nico and Roman had already encroached into my dreams a few nights before.

My point is this...I honestly don't think I've ever been so engrossed in a game. There have been times when Tetris blocks and that Russian soundtrack have filled my sleep or when my subconscious has been plotting tactics or my next transfer in Football Manager. No game, however, has never filled my daydreams!

Granted the visuals are a little cartoony and it has since been superseded by other titles, namely Killzone 2, Gears of War 2 or Fallout 3, which are all beautifully crisp and clean. Nevertheless, as you progress further in the story, getting more involved in the family disputes and dangerous liaisons, the sense that the city is living and breathing is absolutely awesome. Short of getting pickpocketed or some swine nipping into your parking space, this is as real as it gets.

I have fond memories of the entire GTA series - especially the original on Sony's Playstation from 1997. It was a simple top-down affair but a new take on a tried-and-tested genre. The cars were blocky, the buildings a myriad of browns and greys, but it was charming. The missions were a little more basic: kill A or get to B, but it had a certain charm that has transferred very well as it has evolved. And I loved the unpolitically-correct ability to run over a group of Hare Krishnas walking along the sidewalk.

The fourth installment has already had one expansion pack on the Xbox and another - The Ballad of Gay Tony - is due soon.

Frankly, I can't wait.

(Photo credit: radiobread
/Video:jasonkapadia)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The series that will never die... like most of its characters!

Few video game series manage to hold a 20th Anniversary party, but the Konami team were able to hold one for the Metal Gear series a couple of years ago because the series has gone from strength to strength, always bringing out the best with regards to gameplay, graphics, storyline and music.

I first discovered the series in 1998 with Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation and was hooked on it instantly. It was a revolutionary genre as the game commended you for getting past enemy soldiers unnoticed, although there's nothing to stop you taking them all out if that's your style. I soon learnt that MGS was in fact a sequel but the previous game had been released in 1990 for the MSX2, and only in Japan!

One thing that makes the series remarkable is its diversity within the gaming world. Many of the most successful consoles which have been on the market in the past twenty years have had at least one MG game and so look out for a Metal Gear title, all of which have impressed, if you own any of the following:
  • MSX2
  • NES
  • PlayStation
  • PlayStation 2
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Portable
  • Xbox
  • Xbox 360
  • PC
  • Gamecube
  • Game Boy Color
  • iPod Touch

The series has even made its appearance on certain mobile phones and is now making its way into the arcade. Its success has even guaranteed it an upcoming movie. With two more console games coming, the future looks promising for an already long-lived series.

Puzzle Bobble - an old favourite

I was browsing the internet for computer games – all in the name of research of course – when I stumbled across an online version of Puzzle Bobble. There were so many things I had to do that afternoon but unfortunately, like Tetris, it’s a very addictive game and not a lot got done. In fact it’s taken me a good while just to start writing this blog entry just because I’ve been having “just one more go”.

It’s your typical puzzle game – shoot coloured bubbles into one another to make them disappear – take too long and game over!

I have a special place in my heart for Puzzle Bobble as it’s one of the things that brought my husband and me together all those years ago. Although just poor university students we would spend far too much money on the arcade version of this game in the student union. But our future together was secured when he bought the console version for the Playstation. We no longer had to hang out at the student union to avoid doing uni work. We could now avoid it in the comfort of our own home.

And you know what the best thing about it is? When we play it in two player mode I can actually beat people. I’m rather good – although that’s not a challenge!

Right, I’d better be off to do some more… ahem…. research….

You can try it here.

(Photo credit: Nicolas Esposito)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Are there still legs in the Xbox...who cares?


According to Eurogamer, EA's Patrick Soderlund has suggested to Official Xbox Magazine that the Xbox is "maxed out" and that Sony's PS3 has much more power available under its hood. Not much of a shocker really but does this mark the death knell for Microsoft's best-selling console?

Nah, probably not - and does it matter anyway? Not i
f I'm enjoying my gaming, and still seeing top quality titles released each week. As it stands, despite the gulf in processing power, many of us would be hard pushed to see how the game differed on each format anyway.

It's no surprise that these kind of stories emerge - hell, there have been plenty of these musings in the press since the PS3 came on the scene. Ultimately, though, does - and should - the gamer care?

Format wars have always been there. Debates about whether a computer or console is nearing the end of its lifespan are part and parcel of the gaming world. I remember the battle for supremacy between the ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC 464, the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga, and later the Sega Master System and Nintendo NES to name but a few...(in many cases, I'd opted for the system that ended up on the losing side). But it didn't bother me in the slightest.


For me, a die-hard gamer and a journalist, I find it all quite entertaining...and that's exactly what gaming is all about. Do I really care if this console is better equipped than A.N. Other if the games are good and I'm having a great time?

It's inevitable that consoles die...but it just means that a more powerful and more exciting successor is being planned behind the scenes.

Xbox 720 anyone?

(Photo credit: Paperghost)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Premier position for Football Manager - #1


Any game to be cited in divorce cases has to be the most addictive game EVER, right? Absolutely!

My wife ("PhotoPuddle") has grown to loathe Football Manager (nee Championship Manager) from Sports Interactive. It has stolen me away from her for thousands of hours over the years and cost me many bunches of flowers and romantic meals by way of recompense. Without a doubt, FM is my all-time favourite. More than just a game or an addiction, it's a way of life.

My first dalliance with football management was with Premier Manager on the A
miga. I loved hunting for new talent, deciding on tactics, arranging sponsorship and taking my football club to the top of the pile; I quickly got the bug. However, after friends started raving about championship manager (the orginal incarnation of Football Manager in 1992), I defected.

I hated it. I couldn't see the appeal of playing what was in effect an overbloated database, with pages and pages of facts and figures. It was unlike anything I'd attempted to "play" before.

Unlike Premier Manager, there was no attractive interface and graphics, no sound effects and absolutely no variety. My allegiance rapidly switched back and I remained a fan of Premier Manager throughout the series, even when it migrated onto the Playstation.

The dust settled and it wasn't until a good few years later, after further coercion from friends and a few good reviews, that I thought I'd test the water again with Championship Manager 00/01.

Finally, I was converted. It was no longer a raft of numbers and names listed on screen but an attractive-looking management sim.

I'm now an avid fan, religiously queueing up each year to buy the slightly improved update. Whether taking control of a Premiership giant or an international minnow, the game never gets boring - much to Reiko's disgust!

Rumour has it that the player ratings and scouting system is so accur
ate that even real-life managers have been known to have a play, turning up some top talent in the process! There's nothing better than Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger snapping up a player you discovered months before!

That's why I'm giving Football Manager the Megabits of Gaming Stamp of Approval!


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Syndicate - the 2nd best of all time!

If ever there was a game that needed another sequel, it was Bullfrog's Syndicate!

Set some time in the not too distant future, a group of agents roam dark and dangerous streets. You controlled four trenchcoat-wearing killing machines, leading them through all manner of missions to help them literally achieve world domination.

As you completed missions, you acrued enough money to upgrade each of your minions, speed them up, making them tougher or buying even more powerful weaponry. Sniper rifles, uzi machine guns or the gauss gun - otherwise known as a rocket launcher - were among those on offer. Perhaps the most ingenious addition, however, was the Persuadertron...a mind altering device that could "persuade" nearby citizens to adopt your way of thinking, pick up a weapon and become an equally devastating killer.

It was an isometric affair with a limited palette and minimal sound effects but, in the days before full-blown 3D sandbox gaming became the norm, this was a right belter in the visual and audio department. It oozed atmosphere, bringing Blade Runner-style gaming to your desktop.

Rumour has it that gaming guru Peter Molyneux may be considering a long-awaited next-gen online version... Bring it on!
(Video: moechofe)

This will have to settle for third spot

There's a woodcutter, a stone mason and a miner, and they're all waiting for some food. The baker is having trouble getting hold of wheat while the fisherman is bemoaning his paltry catch in the lake. Everyone's demanding meat from the pig farmer but the butcher's shop isn't even built yet. And what d'ya know, while everyone's blaming everyone else, some knights come in from a neighbouring territory and kill them all! Nightmare.

Blue Byte is partly to blame for some of my dismal exam results at school. The launch of The Settlers on the Amiga in 1993 started me on the slippery slope of resource man
agement games, and I've never looked back. The presentation was gorgeous and unlike anything I'd seen before. From the cartoon-quality intro to the realistic sound effects that littered the game: birds cheeping, axes biting into trees and pigs snorting - it all seemed way ahead of its time.



After picking a suitable site for your castle, you darted about the map constructing a series of buildings to collect valuable resources for your ever-increasing population. You even had to choose the road layout, being careful not to build on too steep a gradient as it would considerably slow the distribution of goods around your town.

Build enough food sources and your people would thrive, mine enough gold and your army would grow. Take too much time and your enemies would strike. Settlers led the way for Age of Empires, Rise of Nations and Civilisation, and spawned numerous sequels.

For me, the original was definitely the best. (Video:
Artigkar40000000)

Tetris: my guilty pleasure - it's 25 years young today!

Firstly let me introduce myself. I am Bojeeva’s wife and I really have no interest in gaming… or so I thought. When he started his nostalgic look at computer games he’s played and loved I realised that although I am no gamer there definitely were a few games which hold fond memories for me.

I’m not too good at most games to be fair. For me a great computer game is a pick up and play puzzle, fighting or driving game, and usually one that I can’t put down because of sheer addiction – “just one more go and I’ll beat my highest score”.

This leads me nicely on to the fact that today happens to be the 25th anniversary of Tetris – a game that I spent far too much time playing back in the day.

My Tetris adventure started many years ago when I was given a Gameboy by my boyfriend. I wasn’t particularly interested in computer games but it seemed like a pretty cool gift nevertheless.

And about a zillion hours later I was still playing. I preferred the levels mode where you had to get 25 lines at various speeds and with or without the preview pane as spending six hours trying to get as many lines as possible got a bit dull – or maybe I was just too good!. It was far too addictive. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I used to close my eyes and be able see blocks falling from the sky. Had to turn the music off though - such an irritating tune. How the dance version by Doctor Spin got to number six in the UK charts I will never know!

Apparently there were other games for the Gameboy too…. Who knew?

Right, I hope my first blog entry went OK. I think I might go dust of the old Gameboy now. If I can tear myself away I may even write another entry soon!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Racing in to fourth place

I'm not the biggest fan of racing games for a simple reason... I'm no car nut.

I don't know what sits under the bonnet
- so why would I want to (in fact, how could I) play a game that requires me to tweak the performance of my vehicle? I haven't a clue.

How am I supposed to know whether different tyres will make a difference to my top speed, and what's the benefit of adding new spark plugs? As long as the brakes work, why on earth do I need to change them???

It's for this reason that games like Forza Motorsport or even Gran Turismo - although they look amazing and are good fun - are unlikely to stay on my console for too long. Don't get me wrong, I love racing round a track or two with some mates, but tinkering with a car's inner workings leaves me cold.

However, a racing game has found its way into my list of all-time faves.

When I was putting this list together, my wife told me that two games simply had to get a mention...Puzzle Bobble (see "Bubblin' away at #9") and Namco's Rage Racer! Released in 1996, this was the third in the series of Ridge Racer titles for the PS2.

It looked less cartoony than its predecessors and was certainly grittier. The incredible tyre grip was still present but you could also pull off some amazing power slides around corners. Plenty of cars were available - and they didn't need to be souped up, the soundtrack was great and the tracks were many and varied. Driving along the sea front one minute and then a cobbled village the next was the cause of many a crash as you tried to take in the lushious scenery and lost sight of the next turn (that was my excuse anyway!).

Just talking about this makes me want to get in the loft, dust off my PS2 and have another race. Rage Racer definitely deserves a top four finish. Take a look at the video below from
ArcanaKick.

What does a carburettor do anyway!!??!


Coming soon - games on demand

Now I never need to leave the house...downloadable Xbox 360 games are heading to a room near you! And I'm not talking about games from the original Xbox or even Live Arcade...we're talking full-blown retail games. It's all gonna make me very poor.

I must admit that when I first heard this I doubted whether my broadband connection could take the strain but after trying the video download service the other day, I was very impressed.

The film quality was superb and there was no delay while I waited for it all to download; it was pretty much immediate. A few clicks and I was away - and I don't need to take a DVD back to the shop next day!


Reckon the only problem I can see with downloads in future is my ridiculously small 20GB hard disk!!! Even you out there with the 120GB versions will surely be struggling for space in no time.

(photo credit: Kevin.Fai)

Pyjamarama in at 5!

Most people refer to Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy as classics. I wouldn't disagree - but I do think that they often overlook another brilliant example of the genre. Pyjamarama...is my number 5.

Released on the Amstrad, C64 and Spectrum, I stumbled over this when I went to a friend's house back in the day (1984, jeez).

The protagonist, Wally, is fast asleep but isn't that great at getting up for work. His alarm clock is sitting silently beside his bed with no intention of going off in the morning. It's your job, as his subconscious, to leave him in his slumber and wander the house avoiding all kinds of nasties such as chickens, darts and ghosties.

Your quest? You've got to go from room to room picking up items that will help to get the clock working again, ensuring he gets to work on time and avoids the sack.

Perhaps it was my tender age at the time but although the video below (DerSchmu) suggests otherwise, this was a b#tch of a game. Hard, hard, hard. But I loved it - it just had a great vibe about it and, like Jet Set and Manic Miner, featured some completely random but ingenious rooms. Who wouldn't want a space rocket in their lounge???


Thursday, June 04, 2009

E3: so it's true then...Metal Gear to Xbox

All the speculation of recent months has come to a head and finally, the Xbox will be getting a version of Metal Gear Solid sometime soon...

Details are sketchy but here's some info from
Game Freaks 365 and the Official Xbox Magazine's website.

Take a look at all the other news from this year's E3 here.

Familiarity "Breeds"... fondness at #6

Back to my Top Ten... and in at number 6 is Team 17's Alien Breed.

A top-down shooter, you take the role of a lone marine (unless you had a mate along for its brilliant co-op mode) stranded in a remote space station.

Based on the cult Alien films, the game's dreary colour palette and graphics were nothing to write home about but it oozed atmosphere. The aim was to hunt out the elevator on each level that would take you to the next stage (just like my old favourite Toejam and Earl), while collecting keys, ammo and killing the big, bad boss aliens that appeared every now and again.

Roaming the hallways and hangars, you'd suddenly find yourself surrounded hundreds of acid-spitting, dumb-ass aliens. Thankfully, this wasn't too much of a problem as you were armed to the teeth with a powerful arsenal. There was nothing more satisfying than unloading a couple of cartridges into the incoming horde and hearing them whimper in response. Magic.

There were various releases but my preference was the budget Special Edition version available on the Amiga in 1992. Check out the video below from
mingo870...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New release: Red Faction Guerrilla


Wait! Another an open-world, third-person shooter? Who wants that?

But add destructible scenery (remember Bad Company?), an array of weaponry and a jetpack
into the mix, and Red Faction Guerrilla from THQ could be well worth trying. It's available for the PS3, Xbox and PC!

Check out this video review from our friends at The Leisure Lab!

E3: Sony and MS show off their moves

Controllers are the talk of this year's gaming get-together.

Microsoft proudly announced its plans for the mysteriously titled Project Natal the other day for the Xbox at E3 and Sony has now taken to the stage with its very own Wii-like motion controller for the PS3 - both tipped to revolutionize the way we play our games. Mmm, we'll see.

While Sony's is reminiscent of the Wii's popular wand, Microsoft's appears a little more innovative and intriguing.

Where the peripheral market is worth mega-bucks, Microsoft has for decided to dispense with the traditional control pad and instead use the player to control the game (clearly, you'll still have to buy a heftily-priced sensor unit).

Your every movement will be captured and transferred to the game. Sounds great on paper.

Become a star striker in Fifa, a championship driver in Gran Turismo, or the next Tyson in Fight Night...it all sounds great...that is until I remember how shattered and achy I felt after a session of boxing on the Wii.


I'm all for innovation and new ideas, but surely all this is making gaming a little too taxing. I play games to relax, not to do a workout. And how the hell am I gonna win my next bout of UFC with a submission - will I have to writhe about on the floor like an idiot? I'm not too sure whether I could pull off a roundhouse in Virtua Fighter or Tekken either!

Anyone else out there got any views on the matter?

(photo credit:
włodi)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Toejam and Earl struts its stuff at #7

As the list goes on, this gets tougher. At number 7 in my top ten titles, it has to be Toejam and Earl on the Sega Megadrive!

Two aliens stranded on Earth have to negotiate all manner of weird and wonderful characters and find scattered parts of their spaceship's wreckage. Find them all and they can return to their home planet Funkotron. Along the way they can pick up parcels temporarily giving them special abilities - all set to a soundtrack of jazz, funk and rap.

Although the premise was simple (wandering each level to find a spacecraft part and an elevator (!) to go up to the next stage), often frustrating and fairly repetitive, the game was full of humour, made all the more fun thanks to a brilliant co-op option.

Even now I can hear the theme tune...fantastic!

(video:
NAPREDATOR)

Monday, June 01, 2009

E3: Crackdown is coming

Finally, Crackdown 2 has been announced! I loved the original on the Xbox 360 - it was the first game I played, and the first I completed (still haven't found all those bloody agility orbs though!). The cartoon graphics, great storyline and upgradable abilities made the original a sleeper hit that saw fans calling for a sequel. Finally, it's coming!

E3: Modern Warfare map packs


The E3 show is underway in LA, US, and aside from a new slimline Sony PSP emerging, great news is the arrival of two map packs for Modern Warfare 2 after its November release. And they're gonna be Xbox exclusives at first! Check this out: www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/58894.

Can't wait!

This commands a spot in my Top Ten - #8

Any of you remember Dune 2? Back in 1993, I played it religiously on my Amiga.

You controlled one of three factions, Atreides, Harkonnen and Ordos, each with different objectives, morals and most importantly, armies.

The game - based on the novel by Frank Herbert - saw an array of units roaming the desert planet of Arrakis. Spice was the name of the game - you had to harvest it to generate income, build a base, develop your defences and develop new weapons to blast your foes away.

The truly ingenious bit was the sandworm...a huge, hungry muther hiding under the sands that responded to the rumble of your vehicles and in one foul swoop, swallowed them whole. Fantastic!

Anyhow, I digress, Westwood went on to develop this kind of management/blow the cr#p out of stuff idea and launched its Command and Conquer (C&C) series, which now resides at the number 8 slot in my self indulgent Top Ten list.

Given no more than a few units, a small base and limited funds, it was up to you - the general - to build, build, build until you could wipe out the enemy.

Th
e C&C franchise saw storylines that featured weird and wonderful enemies from futuristic worlds and alternate realities. Be it the GDO, NOD and Scrin, or the Soviets, Chinese and the US, more often than not Westwood managed to attract "celebrities" to star in the in-game FMV (photo credit: awee_19). An added bonus was that many of these celebs were of the buxom variety.

I loved all the versions but despite my initial reservations, I was quite taken by C&C Generals on my PC, which was the first to go fully 3D.

Superb graphics, especially with a decent graphics card, and a wide variety of units and maps meant I wasted many an hour on this.

It remains to be seen whether the series still has legs, particularly after its 2008 Red Alert 3 release received fairly mixed reviews. Those that were negative, however, were probably down to Westwood's decision to restrict piracy by using controversial DRM software.

Nevertheless, C&C is still one of my all-time favourites and is thoroughly recommended! If only they could somehow include that sandworm in C&C too!!!