Thursday, December 28, 2006

X Men DS A review...

Well, it's been a while since I contributed to this most hallowed of sites, whilst the illustrious Gnome has been hard at work regaling us with all sorts of handheld goodies.
I've felt guilty about that, so it's time I unloaded a bit of DS shite on yer collective asses....

Now if I'm completely honest (and I never am...) The DS has always been a bit of a sideline for me... My main love is for the Dreamcast and the Saturn... and this holidays, I had been awaiting an import Dreamcast Light Gun game to add to my extensive DC stash... Death Crimson OX...

It arrived on December 20th and I left it under the tree, unopened, unwrapped and ready for me to enjoy on Christmas Day...

In the meantime, I went shopping for my kids, to facilitate the gifts that Santa is meant to bring... Now me and the youngest own a DS... he has enjoyed Nintendogs almost exclusively as his game of choice.
Me? I've largely used mine as a conduit for GBA games which really hasn't explored the potential of this next gen handheld... Although I am increasingly a Nintendo fanboy these days...

As part of the extensive range of presents that I bought for my kids, one bargain that I procured for the young'un was 'X Men DS' (along with Nintendo 'Cats' and some 'Spongebob' DS game). Whilst top range DS titles still retail in the UK for £30, this baby retailed at a poultry £7.98 brand new.... Awlright!!!

OK! Bargain! he likes the X Men, would think Santa had delivered him a top range present, and for once, my credit card would have a bit of welcome relief. Result!

Now films of comics don't always crossover well... Batman? Check! Spiderman? Check!
Hulk? Piss poor... Daredevil? Pur-lease!!! (Well it's got Ben Affleck in it...) But the X Men
series pulled off the 'comic to movie' transition rather well... With it's stellar cast (Patrick Stewart, Ian Mc Kellan, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman)
Plus delicious eye candy...

...And the sensitive juxtaposition of the intolerance/bigotry of Nazi Germany vs. the intolerance/bigotry toward the new breed of mutant... It did a good job!

Similarly, games based on films, haven't always fared so well... And in particular the 'X Men' games franchise on other gaming consoles, has received a bit of a critical panning...

But being Christmas and all, and wanting to share in the gaming experience of my youngest, at some point on Christmas Day, I popped 'X Men' into my DS and gave it a go....

REVELATION! My much coveted import Dreamcast title has received little attention whilst 'X Men DS' has kept me hooked for three days.

A lovely RPG this sees you playing as a variety of mutants... Iceman, Wolverine, Magneto, Night Crawler etc. each battling foes with their unique abilities... You have to infiltrate a variety of settings, battling a number of tricky foes.

Most of the action takes place on the lower touch screen, the upper screen being reserved for displaying 'mutant energy' and 'health' bars. Both of these can be upgraded/replenished, by defeating enemies, and additional points and power can be gained for doing this with skill and speed...

The great thing for me about this game has been the revelation of the touch screen/stylus gameplay. The console's D Pad and buttons are reserved for moving the characters. Attacks necessitate targeting foes and weapons with the stylus on the touch screen.

Fucking great! Playing this game, has massively opened up the innovative gameplay potential of the DS for me. It has shown me the superiority of the DS over the admittedly wonderful PSP...

Now if I had chosen to write this particular review a few hours ago, it might have had something of a different flavour... I was very frustrated that I kept on dying on a particularly difficult level... And at this point I usually give up on games leaving them uncompleted...

But perseverance, and spanking the second bosses arse, (at which point I took a break to write this review) has left me simply LOVING this title... And the Nintendo DS...

It has very poor reviews elsewhere like here and here... Fuck 'em! I think it's great. My score ...

8/10 (and I'll stand by that...)

Good night dear children, wherever you are...

Related posts: Nintendo DS hand-crank charger, Dragon's Lair DS, Ridge Racer DS review

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You power it up yourself matey!

And I'm definitely talking about your not-so-power-hungry Nintendo DS. Still, why use them expensive batteries, when you could simply click your way to Japan and order a hand-crank charger for your lithe handheld beauty? It should come in especially handy for parents. You should be able to amuse and exercise your kids while simultaneously saving precious batteries and protecting the environment. Gamers with camping/hitch-hiking fetishes should also enjoy the little pointless gadget.

Oh, and here's a nice YouTube video:

Related posts: Dragon's Lair DS for free, Ridge Racer DS review, NES & SNES on the DS

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Neo-Geo on the go

And I'm not about the quirky and as rare as a decent Greek football player Neo Geo Pocket. No. I'm talking about the Neo Geo Pocket emulating capabilities of the Sony PSP. I'm talking about the amazing and utterly freeware NGPSP emulator. Simply get it here and silence a gnome.

Related posts: PSP Gamemaker, Sinclair ZX-81 on the PSP, meet the POP station

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

VCsp? An Atari 2600 on the road.

Now, the above may not be a retro console per se, but it does feature some classic Atari tech despite the admittedly contemporary Nintendo DS screen. Other than that, it's an excellent and fully working Atari 2600 (VCS) handheld created from scratch. Have a look (and do also give this link a try).

Related posts: SEGA Game Gear, Atari Lynx Commercials, the Dreamcast VMU

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

The quite freeware PSP GameMaker

A tech-savvy person, currently operating under the Dragula96 alias, has apparently gone all tech and PSP and released the PSP Game Maker. Surprisingly for the Sony PSP. Anyway. It's a lua script generating thingy, that's still being developed. The current -free- version can be downloaded by merely following this innocent link.

Related posts: the non-Sony POP, turn the PSP into a ZX-81, lick your PSP

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Atari Lynx Commercials

Atari Lynx. The best handheld console ever created for people with an unlimited quantity of batteries and large hands. A hand-held that will soon be featured in a feature length feature right here, on this humblest of blogs. A handheld that was also advertised (!). Like this:

Related posts: the VMU handheld, SEGA Game Gear, Gameboy Commercial

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Monday, December 18, 2006

The utterly amazing POP Station (Value Pack)

The POP Station -not a PSP mind you- is quite a feat of modern gaming device design. Despite its pretty obvious shortcomings, the sheer awfulness of the whole concept, it did manage to get itself a mention @ engadget, even though the illustrious gadget obsessed team characterized it a janktastic knockoff. Dr. Ashens, the even more illustrious, went as far as video reviewing the thing. Before watching said video (via) though, do read a little something on PSP homebrew development.

Related posts: ZX-81 on the PSP, a free PSP game, 80s Gameboy commercial

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gaming on the your house?

Just a quickie... Check out this site for the chance to play Gameboy classics such as Pokemon Gold on your PC.

All manner of retro titles are available on your PC, including Atari, SNES, N64, Megadrive/Genesis etc.... You can even download games for the excellent rank outsider the Sega Saturn...

Now I think that's a console worthy of special attention. Give that console the attention it deserves by visiting the fledgling Saturn Junkyard here.

Related posts: Nintendo Gameboy Commercial, GBA Sega Smash Pack, Super K.O. Boxing

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Nintendo Gameboy Commercial

Not that impressive really, is it? Still, it's all 80s and all Gameboy.

Related posts: SEGA Game Gear, the Dreamcast VMU, GBA Sega Smash Pack

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Dragon's Lair DS

Ah! Lucky DS users, cherished Nintendo fanboys, 80s laser-disc gaming aficionados. This one's for you, and it's a Nintendo DS port of the lovely semi-playable Dragon's Lair classic (MobyGames entry here) by none other than Mr. Bluth. Only 4 levels of it actually, but you can get it here and it's absolutely free.

Related posts: Downgrade your DS, the DS does NES & SNES, SEGA Game Gear

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Make your (very) own UMD disc

Yes, it's admittedly a pretty basic post, but it also points to a place every tech-minded Sony PSP owner will appreciate: this cyber-place, to be precise. There, you'll find all there is to the fine art of UMD creation. More -and definitely concerning a much wider audience- UMD information can be gathered here. For UMD movies, try here.

Related posts: 3D Monster Maze on PSP, Visiting Day, Lick your PSP

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pocket UFO

Ever heard of Independent Gaming? The brilliant freeware and indy gaming blog usually to be found at this seedy little cyber corner? No? Yes? Blue? Well you definitely have now, haven't you? Great. Everything sorted out then, as IG (especially this IG post) is the source of the humble post you are reading right now. A post on a freeware Pocket PC remake of the unsurpassed strategic time-sink X-COM: UFO Defense (Moby Games entry) released more than ten years ago by now-extinct Microprose.

Pocket UFO is as faithful an update/remake as one could hope for. Really. There are a couple of minor gameplay additions and a slight simplification to the interface, of course, but the excellent graphics and the classic combination of real-time and turn-based strategy against the X-Files styled aliens will have you smiling like an ...err... happy person on a particularly happy occasion. Mind you though, the game still has a few bugs... Thought you'd like to know.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

GBA Sega Smash Pack Review

It regularly upsets me when I stop to think about Sega's failure to dominate the console world. After the success of the Megadrive/Genesis, Sega's luck seemed to go from bad to worse. The Mega CD, though an important stepping stone into gaming on discs rather than cartridges never really caught on. The Sega Saturn (my favourite console ever), was less geared to 3D graphics than it's main rival the PSX. It also failed to engage third party software as it's Sony nemesis.

The lovely Game Gear despite it's seven year lifespan, and impressive title catalogue, lost out to the smaller, though less graphically impressive, Gameboy. And as for the Dreamcast...(choke!)
I just can't bring myself to talk about it... (Sniff!) Sorry!! (Father Krishna crumbles into a small foetal ball and rocks himself, then returns to his computer...)

However, one thing Sega are absolutely great at is completely, shamelessly, and with wanton abandon, whoring it's back catalogue to other console developers...

And thank goodness for that! Hooray! One such pimped out title is the wonderful Sega Smash Pack for GBA. This wonderful title is rarely to be found in the UK, so when I got my copy for a fiver (£5) the other day in Gamestation, I was as happy as a pig in shit.

Essentially this is a three in one package, allowing GBA owners to re-live the glory days of the Megadrive on their tiny, handheld portable consoles! So what three titles do we have here?

No.)1 "Golden Axe". Now I played this a lot in my Megadrive days. A side scrolling beat'em up quest set in a mythical land. You can play as any number of cliche`d 'fantasy' characters... Conan style behemoth, Xena style amazon or err... 'Gnome's Lair' style Gnome! (LOL!)

A side scrolling 2D odyssey, your character would make his way through the 'land of the turtle'
battling Giants, skeletons, hostile buxom women and a variety of other mythic creatures.
Every time a level was beaten, you got the opportunity to kick a little sack carrying, elf up the arse, and he would drop a potion every time you got him! Not that easy as he was a quick and evasive little bugger...
These potions would act as multiple enemy slaying power-ups that could wipe out all your foes in one thunderous burst. Occasionally, enemies would turn up on fire-breathing dragons, that would roast your ass. but that was OK... 'cos you could knock them off, and then ride that dragon, and turn his fire breathing hostility on your nemesis!!

All in all very good fun. I hadn't played this game for like, ten years... then within the space of three months I had two Smash Packs... one for the DC and one for the GBA... and both had Golden Axe!
It's like buses... You wait ages for one and then two turn up at once...
Holy shite! Did I just use that tired old comparison... I bet for you can't wait to here my observational stand up comedy routine... Jayzus!!

No.2) "Ecco the Dolphin" A highly original title when it was released, Ecco was the story of a young dolphin, separated from his 'pod' by a global catastrophy. Rather than playing as a cutesy cartoon like version of an animal, such as Sonic, Crash Bandicoot or Kao The Kangaroo, Ecco was a genuine representation of our favourite aquatic, intelligent mammal (Whales just don't cut it....)

The gameplay was excellent, Ecco was able to swim languidly, jet forward, or leap out of the water to breathe in a much needed lung full of oxygen.

When trapped in one of the games many underwater caverns, the sense of running out of air could cause the gamer to genuinely panic!
One could communicate with other oceanic residents by blasting out a wave of sonar.... and this would cause the respondents to offer you written messages providing clues to further you on your odyssey...

Like most of the titles I've bought , played and enjoyed I never completed it... I just might give it a go on my GBA though. I'll let you know if I do...

No.3) "Sonic Spinball" If I'm honest (and I rarely am,) I can't tell you much about this one, 'cos I haven't played it too much... basically it combines two great features... Sonic and pinball!!

You really can't go too far wrong with that combination...

Traditionally, Sonic has been slated in it's many franchise excursions... the original amphetamine induced blue rodent odyssey, was so loved by gamers, that any other incarnation has been disrespected and unappreciated by it's target audience.

I might get back to you on this one, but suffice to say as a total package the 'Smash Pack' is a winner every time...
By the way, if you haven't already get yer ass over to Gnome's Lair and The Dreamcast Junkyard... You know it makes sense...

Goodnight dear children, wherever you are...

Related posts: Ridge Racer DS review, SEGA Game Gear, DS does NES & SNES

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

DS Ridge Racer Review

As my last two posts have been of a retro flavour, I decided to drag my gaming ass into the 21st Century, and write about a title that I've recently enjoyed on my DS.

I actually got my DS by default... I had bought a PSP for myself, plus one each for two of my sons (I have three and they shall henceforth be referred to as 'the Three Gingers' whenever they get a mention.)
My house was burgled earlier in the year, and the biggest Ginger's PSPs got taken. They were devestated, so... I gave my PSP to the biggest one, and quickly found the money to buy the middle one a replacement.
As well as these items a couple of Gameboy Colours got nicked. Bah! However the insurance company replaced them with a couple of DS consoles. Hooray!

Thus I got one, and so did the littlest Ginger. And thus my household now boasts two PSPs and two DS systems. Leaving half of the gamers in my house loyal to Sony, and two loyal to gaming with Nintendo...

One of the titles I have purchased for the DS is the lovely Ridge Racer. Lovely in my eyes for two reasons... One is I got it new for a tenner (£10). Now, when the usual amount I pay for Dreamcast games is around £2.50, you can understand how it hurts to pay up to £30 for current titles! But a tenner seemed very reasonable.

The other reason is that one cartridge allows two DS owners to both play the game through wireless connectivity. Now as this feature is available for titles on the PSP and DS, it irks me when developers take advantage of gamers who want to play against each other, by making them both buy the title. No surprise then when the nazi like EA Sports decides to burn its buyers with 'Tiger Woods Golf' for example, which I had to buy twice! Bah!

"But what about the game Father Krishna, you waffling old bore?" I hear you cry... "Be patient, dear reader, I'm getting there..." I reply.

Ridge Racer is a well established title, both in arcades and as a 'home play' title on a variety of consoles, chiefly (but not exclusively) the Playstation. For a full history of the title visit the lovely Wikipedia here.

The DS incarnation, however, is the title's first foray into the world of the handheld.

Not exactly a brand new title either, as the game is actually, a port, using the engine of 'Ridge Racer 64' which was brought out on the N64. Of course the graphics have been polished and a few new features have been added, but basically it plays like the original. Visually it is very impressive.
The car and track are pictured in the top screen, whilst a steering wheel appears in the touch screen.
As in many driving games, you, as racer start last in pole position then have to battle your way past the AI drivers to get to the first place. Winning races and tournaments unlock new cars and tracks. The tiny proportions of the DS, don't particularly suit my banana like fingers, but I managed to play it OK.

Driving feels good, and you can either drive with your car on the screen or with a 'first person' perspective, as if your looking through a windscreen. I always play with the car on the screen, but hey, whatever suits you, my gaming colleagues, whatever suits you!
You can choose between automatic or mannual gearbox. Automatic makes the whole job easier!

You can even choose the colour of your car. I always choose a beautiful lavendar hue, as it makes me stand out on the track. This does not make me gay however, just apreciative of colour. Honest. (Cough!)
The one thing that kills me about the game is the 'drift' feature of the steering. Intended to allow drivers to slide into handbreak turns, or even do a 360 degree turn, it inevitably leaves me sliding all over the track, over compensating and bashing into the walls.

Another slightly annoying feature is the way the AI drivers seem to spend all their time looking in the mirrors. I know they're looking at me constantly, rather than keeping their eye's on the road, because they nip in front of me, causing me to 'rear end' them (cough!) all of the bloody time! (This isn't looking too good is it? Believe me I'm happily married... (Cough!)

Regular features of Ridge Racer have not been forgotten. There are large flat screens positioned on the bridges, so you can see Space Invaders playing, as you pass under them. Although this is something of an inconsequential feature, I actually love it!

The other is that both the box and title screen features a buxom, heaving chested 'race girl' and whilst it adds nothing to the game, stuff like that is always going to score points with this reviewer! (Am I over compensating now Gnome?) [who am I to interfere with the wise? - Gnome]

Would I recommend it? Yes! if you can pick it up for the poultry price I paid for it. However I enjoyed playing the GBA edition of Sega Rally on my DS a lot more. But, hey, that's a whole other review entirely!

Overall score? 7.5/1o For a full IGN review click here.

More from me soon... But until then, Good night children, wherever you are.

Related posts: Ti-85 on the DS, SNES and NES on the DS, a non-DS post

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