Friday, 30 January 2015

Mario Bros. (Arcade)

Super Adventures is four years old today, and yet somehow in all that time I never did play a proper Super Mario Bros. platformer for the site. I looked at the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong a while back and that had a bit of jumping in it if I recall, but otherwise I've stayed well clear of the classics. I figured that I'd have nothing to say about the games that hadn't been analysed and argued about a thousand times by now, making my trivia trite and all my observations entirely pointless. But that excuse is four years old now as well and I've grown bored of it, so I decided to kick off Super Adventures Year Five with a month-long MARIO MARATHON, showing off the top titles from the iconic plumber's first 10 years in the hero business! I'll also throw a few non-Nintendo requested games in there as well, because too much undiluted Mario could drive anyone crazy.

Also, if you scroll up you'll see that I've made the site a brand new, slightly more dynamic hand-pixelled logo for its birthday! Kinda starting to wish now that I'd baked a cake instead though.

Mario Bros Arcade Title Screen
Developer:Nintendo|Release Date:1983|Systems:Arcade, plus a couple of others.

Wario Bros? Ohhhhh...

Today on Super Adventures I'm having a quick go of the original Mario Bros. This was Mario's third role I believe, after Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr, but the first to feature his name in the title. Nintendo were still exclusively an arcade developer at the time this was released (if Wikipedia is to be believed, and I trust them implicitly), but this only lasted about... say a day or two longer before the Famicom was launched on 15 July 1983. Only a lunatic would decide to launch their début console right in the middle of the great American video game crash of '83 though, and that's why Sega launched their first console on the same day!

Mario Bros. didn't quite make it onto the new console as a launch title in Japan, but I suppose they had to get some money out of the arcade machines before letting people play it at home. Two months later Mario Bros. though was able to join the rest of the Mario Trilogy as the sixth ever Famicom game.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) - Replay

Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask title screen
Developer:Nintendo|Release Date:2000|Systems:N64

Super Adventures is teetering on the precipice of becoming four years old, and it's become a tradition for me to use each anniversary as an opportunity to look back at five or six of the games I played back in the earliest days of the site and give them another try. Traditions are boring though, so this year I'm only replaying a single game, the latest one, and I'm putting it up on the wrong day.

You could argue that I didn't really give Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask a fair chance last time, but I wouldn't bother because I'd only end up agreeing with you. I mean what could I say in my defence, that quitting before I'd even encountered the defining mechanic of the game was justified because I was bored?

It's a game about fighting through dungeons, earning masks, and rewinding time, and I didn't get far enough on my first try to do any of that. I played hide and seek and lost, and then a moon fell on me, the end. But I figured it'd be thematically appropriate to give it a second look, in the hope that we can both do better this time around. I was actually thinking of scheduling this for three days ago as well, but then that would've just been confusing.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)

Developer:Nintendo|Release Date:2000|Systems:N64

Today on Super Adventures it’s the very last and final game of my year long alphabetical gimmick event: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask! I couldn't finish off the alphabet without the biggest 'Z' in gaming; the entirety of the ‘Majora’s Mask’ text is taking up about 1.3% of the pixels in that title screen, while the ‘Z’ on its own covers a massive 3.4%! Anyway after this game I’ll be free to play whatever I feel like and I never have to worry about titles again... until I come up with some other dumb idea.

I don't really like talking about these Zelda games to be honest, as I always feel like I'm wrong about them. I've criticised critically acclaimed games before, I'll point out flaws when I see them, but if reviewers were able to measure a game's entertainment value using a universally recognised SI unit, they'd be using kiloZeldas. This series sets the standard that other games are judged against, and if any professional reviewer were to give them a low grade, people would likely consider them to be at fault. I say likely, because I can't even find one single truly negative review for a 3D era Zelda on metacritic.

But I’ve put a few hours into Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time now and I walked away from each of them unimpressed. I’m not going to say they’re bad games, and I’m definitely not about to start throwing about words like ‘overrated’, but either I’m immune to their charms or they sure take their time getting to the good bit. So I’m coming into Majora’s Mask with zero nostalgia and a little bit of apprehension. I’ll give it an hour or so to win me over, I’m here to learn, not to hate, but there’s a fair chance this is going to end in tears and you should adjust your own expectations accordingly.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Zeno Clash (PC)

Developer:ACE Team|Release Date:2009|Systems:Windows, Xbox Live Arcade

The penultimate 'Z' title on Super Adventures is a requested game that's been sitting in my library for way too long. Today I am finally going to devote a couple of hours to figuring out exactly what Zeno Clash is.

It's the debut game by Chilean indie developer called ACE Team, who later went on to make Rock of Ages and Abyss Odyssey, but all I know about it is that it was released on PC six years ago, Xbox Live Arcade a year later, and it likely involves hitting people. I don't know a whole lot about Rock of Ages and Abyss Odyssey either to be honest, but that's not even slightly relevant. Forget I said that.

(Click the images to summon their full scale counterpart.)

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension (Amiga)

Zool Amiga title screen screenshot
Developer:Gremlin|Release Date:1992|Systems:Amiga, plus everything else besides the NES
Today on Super Adventures, I have finally reached the 'Z' titles! This is the endgame for my year-long alphabetical order gimmick, well not literally the end game as I've still a couple of 'Z' games to go, but I'm in the final stretch now.

This time I'm playing Zool: Ninja of the "Nth" Dimension, which was originally developed for the Commodore Amiga in 1992, but soon spread out across the systems. The guy was actually kind of considered to be the machine's very own mascot platformer hero, a rival to Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo's Mario, and Zool or Zool 2 were often bundled in with new Amigas. Not bad really for a character who wasn't even slightly exclusive to the computer. Though he did end up going down the ship, failing to make the leap to the PlayStation or N64 when the 16-bit era ended and Commodore fell. Still, better that than going out the way Bubsy did I suppose.

You know I'm sure there's something else about the game that I should be mentioning here, but I can't quite remember...

Saturday, 17 January 2015

You Don't Know Jack: Movies (PC)

You Don't Know Jack Movies title screen
Developer:Berkeley & Jellyfish|Release Date:1996|Systems:Windows and Mac

Today on Super Adventures, I'm going to find out what you get when an award-winning children's multimedia edutainment developer teams up with the people who brought the world the 'flying toasters' screensaver, as I take a look at You Don't Know Jack: Movies.

I've actually played a few of the You Don't Know Jack games before (I can't remember which, there's a million of the things), but I'm certain I've never seen this one before, and all the questions will be entirely new to me. The game itself is pretty old though, one of the oldest in the series in fact, released just two years after the original. Unfortunately it wasn't really designed for newfangled resolutions like '1920x1080' or '800x600', so if you're reading this on a computer then you're likely seeing it the exact same way I am: as a tiny box in the middle of the screen. To be honest I'm just glad (and a little surprised) that it's running at all in Windows 8.

The thing about the You Don't Know Jack games though is they don't have any computer opponents, and there's no online play in this one, so to get a proper game out of this I had to bring a volunteer in to man the player 2 buzzer...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Star Wars: Yoda Stories (PC)

Developer:LucasArts|Release Date:1997|Systems:Windows, GBC

1997 was a pretty big year for Star Wars, perhaps the biggest since Return of the Jedi hit cinemas 14 years earlier. The original trilogy of films were remastered and rereleased on cinema screens with Greedo now officially shooting first, the mighty engines of Lucasfilm had geared up to produce a new movie with two more promised to follow, Timothy Zahn released another Thrawn novel, Dark Forces got a sequel with lightsabers, TIE Fighter got a sequel with multiplayer… and then there was the other game.

But Masters of Teräs Käsi is going to have to wait, because today on Super Adventures I’m taking a quick look at a ‘desktop toy’ called Star Wars: Yoda Stories. It’s basically meant to sit alongside games like Minesweeper and FreeCell and give you something to do for half an hour while you’re taking a break from work. There is one subtle difference between Yoda Stories and the games bundled with Windows though: this retailed for £20 in Britain back in the day. That was enough to buy you a third of a Donkey Kong Country game!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Yie Ar Kung-Fu (Arcade)

Yie Ar Kung-Fu arcade title screen
Developer:Konami|Release Date:1985|Systems:It's all over the place

Today's 'Y' game on Super Adventures is arcade classic Yie Ar KUNG-FU!

In Chinese the title means 'One Two Kung-Fu'... or perhaps '12 Kung-Fu' I suppose. I wouldn't really know, as my understanding of Chinese is even worse than my knowledge of Japanese. Though one thing I do know is that this is likely one of the most influential games ever made, as it basically kicked off the 1 vs. 1 fighting game genre when it hit arcades way back in 1985. That's two years before Street Fighter 1!

Okay there were a quite a few other games that introduced important elements of the genre, like Sega's 1976 version of Heavyweight Champ, Data East's Karate Champ and Nintendo's Urban Champion, but Yie Ar Kung-Fu has the proper health bars, the varied cast, the freedom of movement, the punch and kick buttons... nearly all of the basics in one place. I suppose its greatest gift to the fighting game genre though, was to prove that you don't have to have 'Champ' in the title to be successful, because otherwise today we'd be talking about games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Champcom 3, Champgirls, Guilty Champ Xrd, Melty Champ: Champtress Again Current Champ, and Street Fighter II' Champion Edition.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu came out for a million different systems, but I'd hit my arbitrary word count limit just listing them all so I'll be sticking exclusively to the arcade version this time around. My plan is to give it an hour or so, fail a few (dozen) times, then finish off by blaming the game for all my mistakes.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Deus Ex: The Fall (PC)

Developer:Edios Montreal & N-Fusion|Release Date:2013 (iOS)|Systems:iOS, Android, Windows

The final ‘X’ game on Super Adventures for now is… unwanted iPhone prequel Deus Ex: The Fall! It doesn't technically start with an 'X', but I had to find a way to fit all of the Deus Ex games in before my alphabetical order gimmick was over somehow.

By the way, when I said "unwanted", I didn't mean that I don’t appreciate it getting a PC port; it’s always good news to me when a game gets less exclusive, whether it’s originally from the iPhone, the Vita, the 3DS… the Dreamcast, whatever! I won't be able to tell if Deus Ex: The Fall has gotten a graphical overhaul in the process though, because I've never seen it running on iOS. In fact I was trying to ignore the fact that it existed at all, because no one ever asked for a cut down, simplified Deus Ex game with touch screen controls and microtransactions

But it found its way into my Steam library at some point thanks to the sinister machinations of the Humble Bundle, and I’ve been assured that the microtransactions have been stripped out, so I’m going to sit here for an hour or so and give the game a fair chance to win me over. I might accidentally call it Deus Ex: The Line a few times though, because my brain has got into the habit of doing that and it's kind of annoying.

(Click the screenshots to expand them to 1280x720.)

Friday, 2 January 2015

Boiling Point: Road to Hell (PC) - Part 2 - Guest Post

Hello I'm mecha-neko and I'm playing first-person open-world epic Boiling Point (aka. Xenus)!
Click here to go back to part one.

Boiling Point: Road to Hell (PC) - Part 1 - Guest Post

Back by popular demand, guest poster mecha-neko has returned one more time to write up his thoughts on the first few hours of obscure Ukrainian open world FPS Xenus, better known as Boiling Point.

To hell with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Get out of here, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. Begone, Far Cry 4. The future is here. This is the ultimate game.

This is Boiling Point: Road to Hell.

STEP INTO REALITY
Your presence here affects everything. Each step you take is crucial. Every game is different. Forget linear games with levels and loading times. This is real life. Your enemies take things personally and they never forget. Every action you make will come back to haunt you. And with the army, Guerrillas, and Mafia on to you, you'd better watch your back. Help them out, or blast your way through. Either way, the heat is up and you'll be pushed to Boiling Point.

Let me tell you all about my holiday in Realia!
You can click on my holiday snaps to view them in full resolution.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends - Complete Edition (PC)

Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition title screen PC
Today for Super Adventures I’m spending an hour or two learning about Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends – Complete Edition! You can’t even claim I cheated to put this as one of my ‘X’ games this time because just look at the logo! This is Xiest X game since… did Vin Diesel's xXx ever get a game tie-in? No? Okay then, this is the Xiest X game since BMX XXX.

It’s called the 'Complete Edition' because it combines the base Dynasty Warriors 8 game with the Xtreme Legends expansion, which is as complete as the game gets in the West until the Empires expansion makes an appearance later this year. You know, I've always assumed that the Dynasty Warriors series was firmly console only, but apparently they’ve been getting PC ports since the fourth game back in 2003. This definitely the first and only one I’ve ever seen on Steam though, along with its 7,000 pieces of DLC. So many irritatingly tempting costume packs... thankfully priced way above my impulse buy limit. I’ve never wanted to play dress-up with my video game characters so badly though.

Oh I should mention that this was a surprise gift from a friend who reads the site, so I can’t actually say anything bad about the game. Sorry about that. I’ve been a big fan of the series since the PlayStation 2 games though so I’m way past the point of unbiased criticism anyway.

(Click the images to view them at around... 1280x720 resolution.)

Semi-Random Game Box