VGH contributor and retro game aficionado Cesar Gutierrez finally got his hands on the latest of Hyperkin’s retro consoles. How does it compare with the real thing?
Do you have retro video games you want to play, but no longer own the console to play them on? Even if you do own it, don’t you wish your games looked better on your high-definition television? Many of these televisions lack the composite inputs needed to use these older consoles, and the ones that do have them will often process those signals poorly, making your games look blurry, with muted colors that are generally not pleasant to look at. Hyperkin aims to address these problems with the latest iteration of their line of RetroN consoles, the RetroN 5. With HDMI output as the basis for conveniently connecting ten different consoles to an HDTV, is the RetroN 5 worth buying?
British VGH contributor Russ Greeno was recently coaxed out of retirement by the prospect of experiencing classic retro gaming challenges on his Wii U.
Hi, I’m Russ Greeno. You may or may not remember me from such video game reviews as Sonic in Mediocre Land or Duke Nukem 3: Suffragette Edition.
Last year, I decided to retire from reviewing games after feeling depressed about the state of “video game journalism”. I don’t want to dwell on things here, but I’d sum it up by saying that a proliferation of gaming news blogs regurgitating press releases and keeping fanboy flamewars burning made me want to quit. When I was offered an opportunity to review NES Remix 2 on Wii U, it occurred to me that this celebration of Nintendo’s history just might be the ideal title to flex the reviewing muscle in my brain (mostly just to see if it still worked).
Imagine if you could play the standout scenes from all those classic NES titles you fondly remember without having to get your old console out of the attic. On top of that, how about if Nintendo dropped all of those games into a mixing bowl and stirred everything around just a little bit. Wouldn’t that be cool? That’s the surprising premise that NES Remix delivered to the Wii U’s eShop less than six months ago. In that original outing, you could experience such things as Level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. with different enemy placements, a lap of Excitebike in the dark, and the first stage of Donkey Kong where you control Link instead of Mario (and Link can’t jump over the barrels or use hammers!).
When Insomniac Games first unveiled Overstrike at E3 2011, its CG trailer showed a lot of potential. The campy humor and exaggerated action seemed decidedly Insomniac-esque and certainly piqued my interest at the time. Over the course of production, its creators took the game in a slightly more mature direction — a decision which was met with some degree of backlash. The end result of this evolution in design, Fuse, is a highly-polished, if somewhat derivative, third-person shooter that takes itself more seriously than Overstrike probably ever did while still retaining some of the trademark charm and humor originally hinted at.
Editor’s note: While Pure Chess is available for both PS3 and PS Vita, this review focuses on the Vita version.
I’m a big fan of Hustle Kings, specifically the asynchronous message play multiplayer found in the Vita version of the billiards game. When I heard that the same development house, VooFoo Studios, was working on a Chess Game with a similar mechanic, my interest was immediately piqued. While the chess pieces in Pure Chess are just as gorgeously rendered as the beautiful balls in Hustle Kings, the “play by mail” functionality just doesn’t quite deliver the same oomph.
The PlayStation Move controller has always held quite a bit of promise in my eyes. The combination of better-than-Wii Remote accuracy with high definition, more powerful hardware has teased me with thoughts of what could be, but the reality of what we’re given has almost always let me down. Though I’ve often appreciated the optional Move support bestowed upon many PS3 titles, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that the existing crop of Move-specific games has been predominantly underwhelming. Sorcery breaks that pattern. Although it may not usher in a huge flock of new motion control supporters, Sorcery is easily the best PlayStation Move game to date.
From what I’ve gathered, Austin-based Lightbox Interactive had two headlining goals when setting out to create a follow up to Warhawk: to further evolve the already excellent multiplayer-focused groundwork they’d already laid and to also add in a single-player campaign, which Warhawk lacked, in order to further flesh out the new title. While Starhawk offers some of the most satisfying online play I’ve experienced in recent memory, the quality level takes a bit of a nosedive when it comes to the campaign.
StarDrone Extreme is a bit of an oddity. Hailing from Eastern European indie house Beatshapers, it’s pitched as a “high-speed action thriller with a mix of arcade action, pinball, breakout, physics and collect-the-objects”. That’s a pretty wordy bit of marketing, so let’s just classify it as a “flinging” game to keep things simple. StarDrone originally hit the Playstation 3 last year with Move support in tow with little fanfare to relatively mixed reception. Now, the slightly tweaked StarDrone Extreme has made its way to the Playstation Vita.
Have you ever found yourself playing Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars and thinking, “this is fun, but what would really be great is if you took out all this soccer stuff and replaced it with guns and rockets”? No? Yeah, neither have I, but at first blush, that was the vibe I was getting from Wheels of Destruction: World Tour before actually getting my hands on it. Upon playing it, I found Wheels of Destruction felt a bit more like a vehicular game of Unreal Tournament accompanied by a control scheme I’d summarily label as “wonky”.
Note (2/26/2013): In the wake of the dissolution of THQ, the multiplayer servers for the XBLA version of Nexuiz have been shut down. If the game sounds fun, there’s always still the PC version, which is still functional as of this update.
Nexuiz, the third title in Microsoft’s “House Party” 2012 promotion on Xbox Live Arcade, is an arena-based first-person shooter which initially began life over a decade ago as a freely available quake mod. This new commercially released iteration from Illfonic may be gussied up to match modern technical expectations, but the game’s lineage is immediately felt the moment you jump into a match.
Intense and fast-paced, Nexuiz’s design sensibilities are clearly rooted in a bygone era. One where there was no sprint button because your player character already moved quite swiftly in the first place and where the word “gib” was an everyday part of a gamer’s vernacular.
If you’re anything like me, you probably had zero idea what Zack Zero was a week ago. The game seemed to materialize out of nowhere and appear on the PSN release list. In my experience, this tends to be a bad sign, but it turns out that this is actually a pretty solid 2.5D platformer.
When Q-Games announced in 2009 that their new PixelJunk title would be called PixelJunk Shooter, despite it playing more like Solar Jetman than Gradius, the 2D shooter fan in me cringed a little. Fast forward a couple years and Q-Games has spun elements from that game into a new title that plays more like a traditional shooter but, in a small twist of irony, is called PixelJunk SideScroller to set it apart from its less shootery siblings.
(Don’t worry. There will be time for questions at the end.)
The hip, graffiti-themed universe of Sideway: New York was born as the result of a collaboration between “advertainment” agency Fuel Industries and W!ldbrain Entertainment, the proprietors of the eccentric children’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba! While this dynamic duo of marketing spawned the game’s world, the game itself was developed by Playbrains, whose previous console outing was a Madballs-licensed game for Xbox Live Arcade. With all these puzzle pieces aligned, it seems to paint a picture of a concerted effort to create a cross-media, kid-friendly entertainment franchise. Whether or not Sideway gains enough traction to be spun off into a Saturday morning cartoon remains to be seen, but I found the game itself to be a surprisingly fun platformer.
Back in 2006, British film maker Christopher Nolan revived the ailing Batman film franchise with the brilliant Batman Begins. The rest, as they say, is history. In 2009, British developer Rocksteady took the video game industry by storm with their incredible Batman: Arkham Asylum and created the greatest superhero game of all time. Conclusion: the British know something about Batman that the rest of the world clearly does not.
Arkham Asylum hit so many high notes with its perfect blend of engaging hand to hand combat, tense stealth set pieces, a fully fleshed out game world, and an interesting narrative. Rocksteady showed a masterful hand with their interpretation of Batman’s universe and it was my game of the year in 2009.
Arkham City has finally arrived. The bar has been set quite high; did Rocksteady do it again?
My relationship with first-person shooters has been a somewhat tumultuous one.
If pressed to come up with a list of my favorite video games of all time, titles like Quake, Perfect Dark and Half-Life 2 would probably be on it. I’m one of those weird people who actually buys the Halo and Call of Duty games so I can play through the campaigns.
Over the last year or so, my taste for the genre has soured, though. Chalk it up to evolving interests or a lack of developer innovation but my recent attempts to play Crysis 2, Killzone 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops were aborted after only a few hours. It was with a fair amount of trepidation then that I approached RAGE, the first new game from id Software (makers of the aforementioned Quake) in almost 7 years. Would this long-in-development shooter be another victim of my changing tastes? Or could id, a developer who more or less invented the modern FPS, successfully renew my love for the genre?
I have a confession. I’m a Mac user. That has very little to do with Crysis, but it does mean that when the gorgeous, PC-only shooter first arrived in 2007, I was severely ill-equipped to experience its visual splendor. Not only was I not in the same ballpark, I wasn’t even in the right zip code. This veritable feast for the eyes was so resource-hungry that there were plenty of Windows users whose systems couldn’t quite cut the mustard either when it came to running it at a desirable quality and framerate. Thankfully, Crytek has seen fit to come to our rescue. No longer will you have to live in fear, worrying that you may find yourself in an awkward conversation, forced to sheepishly admit that you’ve never played Crysis because your computer couldn’t hang with those other, more powerful PCs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Crysis has arrived on consoles.
As part of Sony’s marketing push for the upcoming release of Uncharted 3, a couple of interesting promotional items are being offered to fans – namely, replicas of Drake’s journal and wrist cuff. If you live in one of the handful of cities where the AMC / Uncharted 3 theater events are taking place and you attended one of them, you should have received the pair in your gift bag, along with a few other goodies. If you want to try your luck, they’re also being offered together as a level-2 prize in the Subway “Taste for Adventure” contest. With the release of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception quickly approaching (and because I just received them last night at the Dallas AMC event), I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at them to find out if they’re remarkable replicas or terrible tchotchkes.
Editor’s note: Xenoblade Chronicles is not currently available in North America at the time of this writing. Paul’s review is based on an imported copy of the game.
Guys, this is a tough review for me to write. If you’ve listened to VGH #20, then you heard me gushing over how incredible Xenoblade is. As a fan of the genre I was absolutely floored that a developer could release a modern day JRPG that dismissed the conventions of yesteryear while also updating its gameplay mechanics to be more in line with the modern day gamer’s tastes. Why did it take me so long to write the review? Xenoblade is absolutely MASSIVE. I wanted to write this review when I was a “paltry” 50 hours into the game, since I figured I’ve nothing more to see and I had a pretty firm grasp on what the rest of the game was going to be like. D.J. was awesome enough to suggest that I complete the game before reviewing it, so I took his advice to heart. When all was said and done, it took me roughly 75 hours to complete.
Word on the Internet is that is that Xenoblade is the best JRPG to come out in a decade. It’s the savior of the genre. On Metacritic, It’s the 6th highest rated game in Wii history with a 93 overall, eclipsed only by the likes of Super Mario Galaxy and other Nintendo staples.
For a while there, I thought that I was going to feel the exact same way as majority of people that have played Xenoblade. But if you need a sound bite that sums everything up nicely, Xenoblade Chronicles is a masterpiece that never was. Just a fair warning folks, Xenoblade is a massive game, and even without delving into everything I want to talk about, this review is going to run a little longer than our usual fare.
The typical fall onslaught of big-budget blockbuster games is nearly upon us, but before we find ourselves entirely engrossed with bat-men, battlefields, and assassins, let’s take a look at a less-weighty title that’s available right now. At first glance, Playstation Network-exclusive Rochard might appear to be just another side-scrolling action game, but once you get into the swing of things, you’ll find an incredibly satisfying mix of platforming, puzzles, physics, and puns, courtesy of Finnish studio Recoil Games. (more…)