Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dead Rising (Xbox 360 / Xbox One)

I'm not always an early adopter of a new hardware platform, but
every once in awhile there will be a game that I really want to play on a platform I don't own. Dead Rising was that must play game for me when it launched in August 2006 for the Xbox 360. When I finally found myself buying the 360, Dead Rising was one of the first games I purchased.

To celebrate the games 10th Anniversary, Capcom released an HD version of the original game via Steam and the Xbox One. At $19.99 for the physical version, how could I not pick up the game and relive all those fun memories I had of slaying zombies inside the Willamette Mall. By the way, most of the images were taken on my iPhone while I played the game so believe me when I say the HD version looks much better than my pictures!

It's been at least 8 years since I've played Dead Rising on my 360, but when I sat down recently to play through the game again on the Xbox One I felt right at home again. In addition to giving the game an HD makeover, thankfully the save feature has been upgraded. If you've played the original then you'll probably remember how annoying it was only having one save slot. I know I had to play, and re-play and re-play the game a lot before I was able to make it anywhere. In the HD version, you now have 5 save slots to choose from. While you still can't save your game just anywhere (still have to find a bathroom or save in other places like the security room), it does help a lot and makes the game a little more enjoyable if you ask me.

If you've lived your life in a hole and you've never played this game, do yourself a favor and at least pick up the Xbox One version. The game is a take on the 1978 George A.Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" movie basically...even though the 360 version of the game has a disclaimer right on the front that the game wasn't approved or licensed by Romero (ironically enough, this same disclaimer is absent on the HD remake). You take control of photo journalist Frank West. He is tipped off of an incident in Willamette, Colorado and pays a helicopter pilot to get him closer to the city for the scoop. There are a lot of cinematic scenes that help the story unfold and unlike in some games where the store may be weak, I enjoyed the overall story in Dead Rising. 

The game opens up with you in the helicopter flying towards the city. As you approach, you tell the pilot to fly over the town. Here you have a photo taking session, zooming in and out snapping pictures at will. You only have 30 pictures before your camera battery dies so you have to be careful in what you snap. You are rewarded with Prestige Points (or PP) and based on the category of your photo (drama, horror, erotica, outtakes or brutality). Once you fly over the city, Frank tells the pilot to drop him on the roof at the mall...this is where the real game begins.

You have 72 hours before the pilot comes back to pick you up. You have to be on the roof at 12 noon and complete certain tasks (or cases) in order to get the best ending. You play in a fairly open world environment and based on your actions, or lack there of, are given multiple endings. Being very familiar with the game, I didn't have any real problems beating it with the best ending the other day. I didn't even have to "cheat" and use the Mega Buster weapon this time around!

The story unfolds inside the Willamette Parkview Mall and you are free to go where you want. The mall is comprised of different areas and is basically one large circle, with an open air park in the middle. You are immediately thrust into the action when some survivors in the mall that you meet are overtaken by the zombies at the malls entrance. This is where you meet Brad, a Department of Homeland Security agent. He takes you back to the security room when a mall worker, Otis, welds the door shut for protection. You also meet Jessie, another DHS agent. These 3 people serve as your eyes and ears and help you as the story unfolds. The main story, told in a series of cases, occur at different times throughout the day. You have to keep up with these if you want your game to continue. If you fail to start or complete a case, it's game over. It's not too hard to keep up with these, but you do have optional side quests that Otis will radio you with. Whatever you do, make sure you answer Otis' calls as if you don't or if you get interrupted you'll get a tongue lashing from the old man!

Your character starts out relatively weak, but you gain PP as you kill and photograph zombies. You can also earn larger amounts of PP by rescuing survivors in the mall as they appear on the security cameras. Otis will radio you and tell you where they are in the mall. It's up to you if you actually want to help them out. The AI in the game for the survivors is pretty lame so it makes escorting them to safety back in the security room a chore a times. While you are in the mall there are a lot of things to do if you get bored of killing zombies. Many of the malls stores have different clothing you can change Frank in and out of. Everything from dresses to children's clothes to a tuxedo are at your disposal. Above you can see I traded in Frank's leisure suit with khaki shorts, a sleeveless vest, orange shoes and a ball cap. You can also find different books in various stores in the mall that will give you new abilities. Some may make certain items last longer while other books will make you more effective riding a bicycle or help make the survivors you are rescuing less afraid and easier to escort to safety.

Before you could make new weapons in Dead Rising 2, Frank simply picks up just about anything in the game and uses it as a weapon. What you have at your disposal starts off rather small, but soon you'll find yourself wielding all sorts of items depending on the area of the mall you're in. Go the North Plaza section and you'll find this section of the mall is undergoing a remodel. Here you'll find lead pipes, nail guns, 2x4 studs and other construction related items. In the food court you'll obviously find restaurants with food you can use to heal Frank. The mall is quite diverse and you'll find yourself doing a lot of running back and forth, but eventually you'll figure out the layout pretty quickly. 

Be careful while "shopping" as there is more than just the zombies you have to worry about. A certain times in the games story, Otis will call you to go and check out a certain section of the mall. This is where you'll fight a Psychopath, a human survivor that has gone a little crazy during the zombie apocalypse. Some of these battles can be challenging if you're not properly equipped with the right items. Above you'll see one of the psychopaths, a crazed butcher you'll take on near the end of the game. He is armed with razor sharp knives and runs around the plant eating from buckets scattered around the perimeter of the room, giving him health. You have to be quick to take him out or you'll find yourself being the latest special on his menu!

I shouldn't be spoiling anything on a game that is 10 years old, but if I do I don't apologize. As the story continues to unfold, you'll find out that this zombie outbreak is basically the work of one make, Carlito, the same guy you meet on the roof of the mall when you first start your game. You'll cross paths with him on several different occasions during the game. His sister, Isabelle, will eventually help you in your quest to stop her brother's terrorist plot. It turns out that it's basically retaliation for what the U.S. government did to his home town of Santa Cabeza in Central America. It seems out military was experimenting with some sort of testing to mass produce cattle, but during this process a local wasp was infected with some sort of virus which would eventually spread to the population in this small town, spreading this "zombification" disease. 

Carlito would harness these wasps and bring them to the States as a way of getting back at our government. Zombies aside, this is a pretty disturbing plot if you ask me, but there is just enough humor and non-realism to help make the story interesting and not disturbing. Carlito is pretty cunning, but ultimately he'll meet his fate after trading gun fire with Brad (the DHS agent) and he'll be hauled off by the butcher psychopath. Upon his death, he leaves you with more questions than answers. By this time you have already spoiled his plans of spreading the virus by removing bombs he had set in the maintenance tunnels underneath the mall. It's getting close to time for you to head back to the roof top to meet your ride out of town with your story.

After Carlito's plans are foiled, the jammer he had in his hideout is no longer blocking Jessie's outgoing calls to DHS headquarters. However the news isn't good as the government is sending in armed forces to "clean up" the mall...both zombies and humans alike! These special forces run around the mall with machine guns and will not hesitate to open fire against you. Be careful when taking them on however because they can take you hostage, giving you one of 5 different endings to the game. Eventually when you go back into the mall, all the zombies will be dead and your only threat are these guys and their drone helicopters.

The first time I got this far in the game, let's just say I was tired and relived that the game was almost over, or so I thought. I made it to the roof just in time to cue the cut scene. The helicopter pilot Ed, is on the roof of another building waiting for you. Once he sees you, he takes off to come and pick up you and any survivors you rescued. However Frank doesn't see him at first and starts to walk away, not knowing how he'll escape the mall. What happens next in the cinematic scenes surprised me, but just made the story and the game more interesting.

While Ed is flying to the mall to pick you up, cheering all the way, a zombie appears behind him and well...has lunch courtesy of Brad. I was able to snap the action just in time to see the blood splatter on the helicopter's windshield. Needless to say Brad doesn't make it which is bad news for Frank and the others.

Poof! Up goes Frank's chances of getting out of the mall and being able to share with the world the real story of what is going on in Willamette...or at least that's what they want you to believe. Frank starts to sulk, sitting on top of the helicopter landing pad and ultimately faints. Cue the credits.

You are given the results of the game As you can see here I was able to do everything that was needed to get the best possible ending, Ending A. I just fell short of leveling Frank all the way up to level 50. I ended at level 48. Thinking the title screen will come up next, you are treated to yet another scene. This starts what they call Overtime mode. Isabelle finds you on the roof and drags you back to Carlito's hideout. Apparently you are infected with the virus and have 24 hours before you are told the zombification process will take hold. Isabella asks you to pick up some items from around the mall, along with some of the queen wasps as she may be able to make some sort of medicine that will at least stunt the process.

You'll find yourself back in the mall searching out about 10 different items/supplies Isabella needs. By this point you should be familiar with the mall's layout and have the shortcut unlocked so retrieving these items isn't too hard. You still have the special forces agents you have to contend with however. Once you have these items returned to Isabella, she is able to make a drug and injects it in you. She mentions the zombification process differs from person to person and she isn't sure if the drug she just injected you with will hold off this process for 1 day or 1 year.

While you are retrieving the items for her, you'll notice that Ed's helicopter crashed into the clock tower in the center of the mall (located in the outdoor park). Left from the wreckage is a hole in the side of the tower. Frank informs Isabella that it may be a way out of the mall, but the one problem is that the path is absolutely packed with zombies. Earlier Frank calls himself a "ticking timebomb" and that gives Isabella an idea. While she was making Frank's medicine, she discovers a way to create a pheromone that repels the zombies, so Frank and Isabella cover themselves in said pheromone to escape from the mall via this underground path.

This tunnel is absolutely crawling with zombies and I was surprised at how well the system handled that many things on the screen at once. There was hardly any slow down or flicker. This part of the game is annoying in my opinion. You have to hold Isabella's hand and she doesn't always follow you that well. There will be times you get separated and unless you have some good weapons like Adam's mini chainsaws, you're in trouble as the sheer number of zombies will easily consume you. There are times where you have to open a circular gate in the wall to allow Isabella to crawl through to the other side to open the gate. Keep in mind you have to be holding her hand when you approach the round gate, otherwise it won't prompt you to push the action button. Once you make it all the way to the end, you open a larger gate to distract the special forces so you can make your escape in a jeep.

Not so fast! You don't make it too far before you find a large tank blocking your path. You are treated to more story scenes as it rounds out the story as the special forces leader, Brock Mason confirms Carlito's story of Santa Cabeza. The game now switches to a vehicle combat style, where you are controlling the gun mounted on the back of the jeep. I'm guessing Frank is still driving as the jeep continues to circle this industrial looking area while you take fire at the tank.

The first time I fought this tank I had no idea what to do. On my latest play through I didn't pause the game to search out my answer on the internet, instead I just continued to open fire on the tank. It didn't take long for me to realize the tank's weak points were the small red lights on each side of the front. While you aim your fire there, a laser will try to lock on you. If it does lock on, what out as the tank will open fire on you. Throughout the battle the tank will also launch mini helicopter drones and fire missiles at you. You have to take these out before they take you out. It seems as if the battle goes on much longer than it should, but after you are able to take out the tank you still have one more fight left.

You now have to take on Brock on top of the tank. On the ground, surrounding the tank is a horde of zombies. You have been stripped of all of your items, both weapons and healing items. Let's hope you saved your game midway through the tunnel when you had your chance. At first it seems as if Brock is nearly impossible to beat. Depending on how high you leveled up Frank, you may find Brock to be a frustratingly difficult fight. What I have found that works well is to spam the knee drop move on him. I would jump on and off the tank's turret and when he would follow me I'd have my opening to make a quick jump and drop the knee. I just kept doing this move over and over until I defeated him.

In a very cool cinematic scene, Brock falls off the tank onto the ground only to be instantly consumed by the zombies waiting below. Now you have beaten the game. Even the ending game credits have been slightly altered this time around as you see a horde of zombies in the background, slowing marching towards the screen.

Once you are taken back to the title screen, you will see that you have unlocked the Infinity mode. If you choose to play, you get to resume with your same character level. This mode is a survival mode and the goal is to see how long you can last. You can't save your game and all of the survivors you rescued are now your enemy. Your health will slowly tick away (think how your health ticked away in the old school Gauntlet arcade game), I believe one block every 100 seconds. Food is limited so you have to use some strategy if you are going to last. When you take out one of the survivors, they will leave behind weapons and food. It's not as easy as it sounds. I've been trying for the last two days to at least unlock one of the achievements, but it takes a long time and you can't save your progress so you have to devote some good time to play this mode.

I was making some great progress the other day, but it was getting close to the time my wife and kids were coming home. I paused the game and turned off the TV and planned to resume my game after dinner. I forgot that if you pause your Xbox One for too long, it'll power off. Noooo! All that progress was all for nothing. I tried again the next night, but I literally fell asleep sitting on my couch while I had Frank perched up on a roof in safety. I woke up to realize what happened and immediately kicked myself. I tried again earlier today as my wife and kids had an event after school. I had made it further than I had the last two attempts and was excited about getting at least one more achievement, however I took a 20 min break when the kids got home. When I came back I remembered that I skipped an update so my console wasn't online. When I tried to connect to Xbox Live, it launched the update and of course the system rebooted and I lost my game progress again. Enough! I guess I'm just not destined to play the Infinity mode.

If you do play this mode, here are some tips I found that helped me. When you start, immediately make your way to the various book stores in the mall and pick up the books that boost the effects of food. I also like to pick up the book that makes bladed weapons last twice as long as there are a lot of hunting knives you'll come across and they are really effective. Keep in mind there is a Survivalist book in the room where the hostages are kept in the North Plaza. This book boosts the effects of food by 100%. If you stack this with one or two of the 50% food books, you can carry around one item like steak or orange juice and leave your inventory slots open for weapons. One of these food items will completely fill up your life, even if you've maxed out Frank's life bars. Now you are free to roam around the mall and do as you wish. Even if you find yourself in a pinch and in need of food, any item will greatly replenish your health.

In 2009 the game was remade for the Wii as Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop. The game is quite different in many ways, but I've yet to really sit down and play it. I feel now is the perfect time for me to play it so I can compare it to the original, but that is a post for a later day.

All in all I love the original Dead Rising. The sequels are fun, but the original is still the best in my opinion and I'm happy to report this HD remake is just as much fun, if not better than the original. The game isn't perfect by any means, however it's a game that has given me over 30 hours of entertainment. If you are playing it for the achievements however, keep in mind this was an early 360 game and the developers were still learning on how to work with achievements and score them. What I mean is while there are a lot of achievements to chase, they are all worth 20 points each. Some are easy to get while others seem near impossible. Dead Rising has aged well and I still find it a blast to play. The HD visuals are nice and the upgraded save system is a God send. Pick up this budget title if you haven't played it, or if you are like me and it's been nearly 10 years since you last visited Willamette...I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Monday, September 5, 2016

New Additions: July / August 2016

Just about every day I see these "look at what I just found" type of posts in the various video game groups I'm a part of on Facebook. While I don't really have anything against these type of posts, my work schedule and life in general don't allow me a lot of time to spend with my hobbies. That said I decided that I'll just start keeping track of my new purchases and share them a month or two at a time. After all, part of the fun of collecting is the hunt and sometimes one or more of the games may have a story attached to it that I thought I'd share.

All of these purchases were made or received in the mail in the last two months. Most of them were planned purchases and you may even be able to pick out a theme of sorts if you look carefully.

Working from the top to the bottom of the group picture, left to right let's take a look at what I have added to my gaming que. First up is Evil Dead: Fist Full of Boomstick and Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green. Evil Dead was found at my local G2K store for $5 complete. I've picked up most of the original Xbox games that I wanted from their two locations locally so I was pleased to find something "new" that interested me. I'm a big fan of horror movies, especially the zombie genre. I've always been a George A. Romero fan so when this Land of the Dead game originally came out on the Xbox I bought it brand new. While the game has it's share of flaws and bugs, I still find it to be a entertaining FPS. In fact, I think I enjoy this game more than the movie itself. I grabbed this one off of eBay for around $15 shipped. Next up is the Limited Edition version of Halo 5. This was a clearance purchase from Target I found while traveling for work. I've owned my Xbox One for a little over a year now and still don't many games. but this is one I've been wanting for a while that I just never got around to picking up for some reason. The clearance price was 50% off it's MSRP so I thought why not? The extras are pretty cool, but I'm just glad the game is better than Halo 4. That one was a major disappointment for me. The last game here is Song of the Deep. I usually can filter all of the garbage GameStop employees fill my ears with when checking out, but I let this one guy get to me and pre-ordered the physical copy of this game that was exclusive to GameStop stores. I've only played a little bit, but I have enjoyed it. Now that Halo 5 has been beaten (at least once), I may go back to this.

Speaking of GameStop, I grabbed Super Mario 3D World from them last week while I was shopping at the mall with my daughters, They have showed more interest in playing Mario type games, especially when they saw the cat suit in this game. Flipnic is a pretty slick looking pinball game that I saw on YouTube while researching something else. Hard to believe Capcom released this game. Haven't played it yet, bit I think I'll get my $10 worth out of this eBay purchase. Infamous was more or less of an impulse buy. I already owned the red case Greatest Hits version of the game, but my OCD doesn't like the red cases and this was only $.89 at GameStop. Wrestle War for the Mega Drive comes courtesy of Stefano Bruni on Facebook. He usually offers a great selection of games at great prices. Being a wrestling fan, the awesome cover art and the $15 shipped price tag I couldn't resist.

Stefano Bruni also supplied me with my latest Playstation import, RayStorm. I already owned the sequel (RayCrisis) and this import was cheaper than the US version. The next 3 games all came from Famicom Dojo's Vinnk. You may have read here how I adore the service he runs via GameGavel called Japan Retro Direct. He actually e-mailed me a month or so ago as he knew I was looking for more pinball games and told me he acquired a nice copy of Digital Pinball: Necronomicon for the Saturn...spine card and all. He asked if I wanted it and I thought "yeah, but how much is this going to set me back?". Little to my surprised his asking price was way more favorable than eBay prices. While I was picking that up I decided to see what else he had. I grabbed Last Bronx for the Saturn and Pomping World (aka Buster Bros.) for the PC Engine while I was shopping his store. Keep on reading as Vinnk also supplied me with more gaming goodness!

These 4 games also came from Japan Retro Direct. The baseball games were dirt cheap, but that isn't why I bought them. I love baseball and have been watching a lot more games this summer than I have in awhile. I've always wondered about some of these baseball video game franchises that never made it to the US so I thought I'd give Power League and Pro Yayku World Stadium a try. I also enjoy racing games and surprisingly I didn't already own F1 Circus for the PC Engine. The last game, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna is one of those quirky Japanese games I've wondered about for awhile. I found an English walkthrough recently too so I thought now was as good as any time to give it a try. My 5 year old daughter said this game has a pretty cover.

Handheld games are getting popular in my house, especially as my two daughters are getting older and enjoy playing their DS lites, Pinball of the Dead however is all mine. I hated I missed out on this game for the GBA when it was new so I'm thrilled to own it now. The DS games were bought more or less for my girls, wife included. Go! Diego Go! Safari Rescue worked out to be worth the $3 for my oldest daughter, however Phineas & Ferb turned out to have a little more dialog than I anticipated. Both of these games came from an awesome local shop called Retro Reboot. Tetris DS is my first import DS game and came from Stefano Bruni. It's got some features I don't recall seeing in other versions of Tetris, plus this a game I know my wife will enjoy too.

I've been working on building my Famicom collection, thanks in part that my Famicom AV system is more reliable than my "toaster" NES (before I installed Blinking Light Win I may add!) and I adore these clamshell cases Namco packaged their Famicom games in. I scored both Family Pinball and Rolling Thunder from eBay for surprisingly cheap. Both are complete and look great alongside my other boxed Namco games. Exciting Baseball for the Famicom Disk System came from Japan Retro Direct and is my first sports title for the FDS. Xexyz was acquired from one of the Facebook groups I'm a member. It's one of those games I sold a few years back and regretted so I'm glad to have it once again. Back to handheld games, the last two are favorites of mine. Burai Fighter was a one of my favorite shmups on the NES and I think I remember playing the Game Boy version when I was younger. I found a completed, boxed copy of the Japanese release for next to nothing on eBay. Pokemon Pinball is one of those games that I get odd looks at from time to time, but's a pretty solid pinball game. I grabbed it for $4 at my local G2K store.

Video Pinball for the Atari 2600 was a $3 eBay purchase. By the way, have you caught the theme yet in all of these purchases? Choplifter for the Atari 7800 was my latest $1 purchase from Retro Reboot.

Last, but not least is the latest copy of Retro Gamer. I don't often get by a Barnes & Noble bookstore, but there is one at the mall not too far from the house so I made it a point to pick this up on my last outing with my girls. Haven't finished reading the Out Run cover story, but so far it's been a great read.

I really hope my work schedule slows down a bit and allows me some free time to sit down with some of these new games. Many of them I'm dying to play. I finished the single player campaign last night (or should I saw early this morning!) in Halo 5 and I really enjoyed the game. The story still confuses me a little, but it was refreshing to play another great game on my Xbox One again. Now I just gotta wait until Dead Rising 4 comes out this fall. 

I don't anticipate buying as many games this month or over the next few months, but I'll make sure to keep up with what I do so I can come back and share them...especially the latest game I'm currently waiting to arrive that I grabbed from Stefano.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Retro Game Store Visit: Game On - Winston-Salem, NC

One of the best things about traveling for work is being able to get out and explore in different cities. Recently I found another game store on Facebook and it wasn't too far from where I was at the time so I decided to make the short trip to check them out. Game On is located off of Robinhood Rd. in Winston-Salem, NC.

Game On was in a small strip mall and I almost missed it from the road. Thankfully I saw their sign by the road and was able to make it into the small parking lot. I was greeted immediately as I walked into the small shop. He was quick to show me where everything was located. The store was small, but it was well stocked. The best thing is that most of the games were priced below what most game stores would sell them for. It appears they focus more on the current generation of games, but they did have a decent selection of retro games. From older Facebook posts, it appears that the old stuff like NES games go quick when they do walk into the store.

I ended up buying a few cheap PSP games and a PSP movie of Dawn of the Dead for a buck. Upon checking out I noticed one lone boxed Genesis game in his glass case/counter...Thunder Force II. I asked to see it and to my surprise it was in pretty good shape...and complete. $25 seemed like a fair price and I always see the game ranked pretty high or in someone's top 10 post for Genesis shmups.

I made a little small talk w/ the guy in the store and it turns out that he was the owner. He told me that Game On was the first video game store to open in the state of North Carolina. They were originally known as Player's Choice that day. I was familiar with that name as I remember trading in my whole TurboGrafx collection for a few new Nintendo 64 games at the time. Stupid me!

I would encourage anyone that is in the area to check out Game On and give them your support. Its always nice to find alternatives to the big boy dealers like GameStop.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Transformers: Human Alliance (Arcade)

When I set out to create this blog I really thought I'd share my opinions and stories of games from my home collection, however here I find myself writing about another arcade game.

If you know me well, or even look at the side bar at some of my other blogs, you should be able to tell I'm a big Transformers fan. However I'm not a fan of the Michael Bay live action movies. I've seen each of the movies once, and I really don't care to watch them again. However one good thing the live action movies brought us what the Transformers: Human Alliance arcade game.

Up until now, Transformers has had mixed success when it comes to video games. The first TF game released for the Nintendo Famicom leaves a lot to be desired. Even the follow up Headmasters game on the Famicom Disk System really isn't that great either. There was a slick looking G1 style game released for the Playstation 2, but it never saw release outside of Japan. The Armada PS2 game was the first TF game that seemed to go over well with the masses. Eventually the War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron games on the last gen hardware were hits with gamers and TF fans alike. While I never played much of them myself for different reasons, I do agree that those are some of the best TF games to date.

Now enter the Human Alliance arcade game. Every time I have ran across this game in an arcade it's the usual Bumblebee housing. Once you are sat down inside you are treated to a nice large chromed out double handle gun. In the middle of the console so to speak is a large illuminated Autobot symbol.


If you sit there long enough you can watch a little intro scene along with some gameplay. I was able to capture the game play scene when Sideswipe shows up. The game plays like many of the other sit down shooters. Player one commands a female Human Alliance officer and player two commands a civilian caught in the crossfire who is just trying to help. You aim your on screen reticule at the enemy Decepticons, plowing them down whether they are in robot or alt mode. All of the characters are based on the Michael Bay movies with some new design elements worked in. At times the screen can get crowded and you'll take some cheap hits, but it doesn't seem to take too much off your life bar. Occasionally you'll have close up moments where green targets pop up and give you a limited amount of time to shoot them before you'll take damage. The majority of the boss fighters go this way. Sounds easy, but as you progress in the game it does seem that the difficulty starts to increase as well.

To date I haven't beaten this game, but have advanced a decent way through. I find it to be a lot of fun, thanks in part to Sega's involvement in the game. Transformers: Human Alliance doesn't really offer anything new that you haven't seen before in other games, but being the TF fan that I am I do find this fun to play from time to time.

The game has been out now for awhile so your mileage may vary when it comes to finding it at your local arcade/bowling alley/barcade. If you can find it and you haven't played it, give it a whirl as you may be surprised at how much fun it is.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Collector or Gamer?

While I consider myself a gamer, I'm also a collector. Just take a look at one of the many blogs I run and you'll see I collect many different things. When it comes to video games, I'm OK with having loose games for certain consoles. Genesis games however must at least have a case, if not being complete.

Over the last year or so I've started to pick up a few cheap reproduction Genesis and Mega Drive games. I usually don't both paying extra for a case or instructions (if they are offered) as their quality usually leaves a lot to be desired. However these loose carts were really just getting on my nerve and I had to figure out a way to get them in a case. First thing I had to do however was actually pick up a few cases...but from where?

Enter the old and usually budget friendly sports titles. I'm surprised the local retro store didn't just give these to me as I'm sure most of these games have been sitting there for quite some time juding by the dust on the cases! While I may eventually end up trying the Tommy Lasorda Baseball or RBI 4 later on, these games were bought solely for their cases.

I had previously had some custom covers printed and ready to be inserted into cases so transforming these dull and boring sports titles into something a little more interesting was quick and easy. Did I have to go to this trouble for these repro games? Of course not, but they now look much better sitting on my shelves than they did before as a "naked" cart.

Pretty, eh?

Collectors like to show off their collection, whether is sports memorabilia, comic books, automobiles or in the this case video games. Sometimes I hate that I also view myself as a collector because it takes time and more money usually to track down the game in the condition and completeness that I'd like to have...versus just buying a cheap loose game and playing it. Plus it should go without saying that cases like these take up valuable real estate space on my shelves. While they look fantastic, I'm not sure how much longer I can continue to be a collector. Now if you'll excuse me I've got some games I've been waiting to play.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Retro Game Store Visit: Game Xcape - Asheville, NC

My job allows me to travel around the state of North Carolina and during my travels I like to search out stores that match up with my hobbies. So far I've been able to find a few retro game stores in Greensboro, NC where I have a few work locations I visit, but this week's trip to the mountains of NC yielded a visit to a game store I had previously only seen on Facebook.

Game Xcape is located off of Patton Ave. in Asheville, NC and hosts a wide selection of both retro video games as well as games for more modern systems. In addition to games, they also stocked some older strategy guides and a few DVD movies. They also had a long wall of HDTVs with comfy chairs that you can rent and play games. They also host gaming contests from time to time.

I walked out of the store initially with 3 games, a loose copy of Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter for the Sega Genesis and loose copies of Burai Fighter and Dynowarz for the NES. While I don't usually buy loose Genesis games, I felt the asking price of $10 for Mazin Saga was a fair price. Once I get home it'll be dropping in on The Cover Project to print a cover for the game so it can be shelved like a Genesis game ought to be!

Burai Fighter has that annoying VOID sticker residue on the bottom and I'm hoping some Goof Off or Goo-Gone will help clean up the game. It's a fun directional shmup that I used to own and I regret selling it so this was an easy pick up...even with it's blemishes. Dynowarz...I have faint memories of the game from the pages of Nintendo Power...and that's about it. The good thing was the game was really cheap so I'll give it try.


As I was checking out I asked the guy working there if they ever had TurboGrafx-16 come through the shop and he said not often, but he thought he had a few things. In the small stack of games were a few sports titles, the obligatory complete copy of Keith Courage and surprisingly complete copies of the awesome pinball titles, Alien Crush and Devil's Crush. Both were priced in the $40+ range. On the bottom of the stack were a few boxed titles including Valis II and Valis III and Final Zone II. The Valis games were really pricey, however Final Zone was marked $34. After a quick completed auction search on eBay I realized just how good of a deal $34 was. The worker even sweetened the deal by giving me another $2 of the price of the game. What is so impressive about the game is its condition. The box still had the plastic wrapping and the jewel case, instruction manual and the disc were flawless. I'm not even sure if the previous owner even played this game. I for one can't wait to get it home and pop it in my PC Engine Super-CD 2 unit.

I enjoyed my brief time spent in the shop today and I look forward to putting this store on my places to visit on subsequent visits to the area. Game Xcape can also be found on Facebook.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Diamakaimura (SuperGrafx)

Reproductions and clone systems are the norm in today's retro gaming circles. While this avenue isn't for everyone, it has opened the doors to let gamers play games that often elude our grasps because of their scarcity and or high price tag on the secondary market. Reproduction games have come a long was well. My first exposure to repros were the cheap Mega Drive games you can pick up at various places online.

Recently I've been seeing some new TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine repros on Facebook from a group calling themselves Turbo Reproductions. I reached out to Sakhan Shawn Yith and asked if he could make a SuperGrafx reproduction of Diamakaimura. He was more than happy to oblige. Well it arrived today and I eagerly popped it in my Retro Freak console once the kids were in bed and...nothing. The clone console didn't recognize the HuCard unfortunately. While I'd love to own an actual SuperGrafx and use that to upgrade my CoreGrafx II I have attached to my Super CD-ROM 2, that day will just have to wait.

Even though I may not have been successful at playing the game this evening, I still wanted to give the guys at Turbo Reproduction a huge shout out. The quality of the product they produced is top notch. First of all their HuCard has some heft to it. It's a little thicker than a standard HuCard and while I'm not sure what it's made of, it's not just plastic. It had a tight fit in both the Retro Freak and my PCE, but not a death grip. The label applied, while upside down from it's normal orientation, is of a high quality and looks great on the card. The case is fantastic. They use the same case and format for the insert that Peter Tuttle of Onslaught Reproductions uses. The game looked great on my shelf with my other cases I purchased from Peter earlier.

Overall I'm very impressed with the total package. They are letting me exchange the game for another of my choosing and I believe the next card will be their new black/gold HuCard! Stay tuned for more info from Turbo Reproductions and their products.