Friday, December 9, 2016

Sky Force Reloaded (Android)

I like my physical games as much as any collector and I tend to stay away from playing many mobile games, however I've finally found a game that I can really get behind and feel comfortable recommending to others.

Sky Force Reloaded is the second game in the series, but boasts oh so many improvements of the original. It can be found in the Google Play store and the iTunes store for free. I've downloaded and tried a lot of different shmups and this is the first game that is fun to play.


For starters the game's visuals are beautiful. I play it on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 as I wanted a larger screen. Playing shmups on a small phone just doesn't do it for me. The controls are pretty responsive and there is a lot of content that keeps drawing me back in.


When you start the game you are on the overworld map if you will. The game forces you to replay the levels until you earn a certain amount of medals before the next level will be unlocked. Each level has 4 basic goals: destroy 70% of enemy forces, destroy 100% of enemy forces, rescue all people and stay untouched. 

Depending on your skill, the level of difficulty and the aircraft you are using, you may have to play the level multiple times in order to achieve these goals. Once you complete all 4 goals, the next level of difficulty will be unlocked.

 

Before you set out on your journey, you can select your aircraft from your personal hanger. At the beginning you just have one aircraft and it's pretty weak. It can be upgraded, but more on that in a minute. As you are playing you may come across aircraft parts you can grab. Successfully complete the level and you'll slowly unlock pieces to additional aircraft. As you can see from the above image, I've unlocked nearly all of the available aircraft. My favorite hands down is the one selected, the Octopus. It features multiple homing mini-rockets which really come in handy in the later, more difficult levels.

As you play the game, the destroyed enemies will leave behind stars. This is the games currency and you'll need a lot of these in order to upgrade your aircraft. You have multiple areas you can upgrade and several levels of upgrades. Most of them are self explanatory. The magnet is a helpful tool that I didn't initially pay a lot of attention to. The higher the level, the more the stars will be attracted to your aircraft.


To spice up the gamelay, cards were added to the game. These, like the aircraft parts, show up randomly as you play the game. Most of the time these items only appear on the higher levels of difficulty. These cards add new things to the game or give you new, improved abilities. 

Some of the cards may give you a laser to start the game, or increases your rate of fire. Others give you a stationary pod on the side of your aircraft that increases your firepower. The cards however come in two varieties. The ones you see in the first 4 rows are permanent, meaning you don't have to do anything with them. Once you've collected that card, you get that ability. The row of cards on the bottom are temporary cards. These come with a time limit that gives you some nice boosts...such as unlimited lives or maximum firepower. Of course once the time expires so does your boost in power.

 

New to Reloaded are pilots. You unlock these by completing certain objectives. I already played the game a lot to begin with, but now you are rewarded even more for your persistence. There are multiple Objectives to obtain, more than you see above. The more you get, the more pilots you unlock. Each pilot brings something different to the table. Currently I've been using Burton Panic as he will random trigger your laser or emit a bullet clearing EMP blast at times.


As you beat the bosses on select levels, you unlock golden trophies that you can easily share via social media. It always tracks the number of attempts (and the date) it took to beat the boss as well as the different difficulty levels you've completed.


At the end of the level you are given a summary, tallying up your base score, stars collected, humans rescued, etc. If you beat your previous best score, it will add it to your high score which is a collection of your final scores.

Enough of the boring menu screens, want to see some actual gameplay? Using my iPhone I tried to record myself playing through a few levels. It was hard looking through the phone trying to play the game and ultimately I didn't do as well as I'm capable of, but hopefully you'll get an idea of just how much fun this game is.


Through one of the many updates to the game, it now is easier to find others to play the game with. You can compete for the top score and play weekly tournaments against each other. If you like what you see and want to add me to your friends list, use this ID:

91 22 69 72

Sky Force Reloaded, and the first game, Sky Force, are some really fun shmups. They don't feel cheap like a lot of the shmup games I've found in the Google Play store. I wish I had a way to play the game on my TV with a proper controller, but for now this is my go to game that I enjoy playing for 30 mins or whatever each evening.

I will add that right now for the month of December, there is a special Christmas themed level you can play and compete in a month long high score tournament. You can't use any of your unlocked aircraft from your hanger, but give it a try as it's a challenging level with laser shooting snowmen that are sure to infuriate you!

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Additions: September / October 2016

I can't believe another 2 months has passed already since my last New Editions post. My work schedule remains busy and will be until I get into December, however I have been able to work in some time to play games more recently. Good thing too as I picked up some great new games!


I've still been focusing on picking up pinball titles that I don't have and that brought me to my first new Playstation and Wii games in awhile.


It's not everyday that I pick up a new Neo Geo MVS game, but I grabbed this beat 'em up for a great price. Since picking this up, I ordered a nice shock box for it from Southtown to complete it's look on the shelf. Hopefully Mario Pinball Land on the GBA is good.

My Xbox One collection is rather small, partly because I absolutely hate installing games to the hard drive, however I could not pass up the HD remakes of Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2. I also enjoyed the two Dead Island games and I found the collection for $20 new so I guess I'll continue to kill the same zombies I did on the 360. The Vita games (Arcana Max and Ninja Gaiden) were cheap and I've been wanting to round out the collection since I acquired the Aqua colored Vita a few months back.

My youngest daughter has been on a big Mario kick lately (thanks in part to "Mario Cat", aka Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U) and she picked up Super Paper Mario. I believe that will be the next Mario game her and I tackle. Worms Armageddon I found at one of the local shops. My wife and I played the crap out of this game before becoming parents and having much less time to spend on ourselves. We both played a quick game the other night as I was testing out the VGA connection after purchasing a new TV for my game room. We were rusty, but man is that a fun game! I think I owned Midnight Magic for the Atari 2600 back when I was a kid, either way I'm looking forward to a pinball night coming up real soon.


I'm not a huge Playstation fan, but I love the Ratchet & Clank series of games. My OCD prevents me from buying Greatest Hits type packaging, but I had to settle for Tools of Destruction as I could never find the first release...until recently at a local shop. Stefano Bruni from Facebook came through for me with a great deal on a beautiful, complete copy of Daimakamura for the Sega Mega Drive. This game frustrates the heck out of me, but that doesn't stop me from playing. The gorgeous box art is what sealed the deal for me. Waglan Land is a Namco series of games that began on the Famicom that are surprisingly fun. I love the small Famicom clam shells Namco used during this period and a eBay seller took my offer that was a good bit under his asking price. Didn't expect that. The other two 2600 games came bundled w/ Midnight Magic. Not sure if they will be keepers as they both are sports titles (skate boarding and baseball).

On the PC Engine/Turbografx front, I grabbed Tiger Road and Kyukyoku Tiger (Twin Cobra). I don't usually buy loose PCE games, but it was cheap, I love shmups and I was hoping to get a guy from Facebook to make me a custom case. Pac-Land was another cheap pick up from a Facebook group. It's not my favorite game, but I look forward to teaching my daughters how to play the game. Extreme Pinball for the Playstation rounds out the group of games.

With the holidays just around the corner I don't expect my next New Editions post to contain quite as much, however that isn't necessarily a bad thing as I have a lot games to keep me busy.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Holy Diver (Famicom)

One thing about having a lot of games in your library is it's easy to forget what you have at times. Holy Diver for the Nintendo Famicom is one of those games that simply got lost in the shuffle. I picked up this game years ago when it could be had for a reasonable amount. I had heard it was a Castlevania ripoff essentially so I was intrigued to say the least.


I settled for a loose cart of the game. I love how small and compact the Famicom carts are. The name and cover art alone were enough to entice me to give the game a try. I've heard the game's story pays homage to several 80's heavy metal bands such as Dio, Slayer, King Crimson and Ozzy Osborne. Since the games' store is in Japanese I can't confirm this, but I could care less for the story as it's the gameplay that I'm most interested in.


Irem is one of those game developers that I wasn't as familiar with back in the NES days. I was never a fan of R-Type, the only other game from Irem that I had heard of. However Holy Diver is one of those sleeper type games that deserves to be played by a wider audience. I knew once I put the cartridge in my Famicom A/V console and the title screen loaded I was in for a treat.



To me it's pretty apparent that this game borrows a lot of ideas from Castlevania and while some may say it's a direct ripoff, I feel as if the game has it's own charm and frustrations. Your character attacks with some sort of magic projectile attack. In addition to being able to attack horizontally, he can also attack vertically. This comes in handy in many areas. As you progress through the game you'll also pick up items that grant you additional magic upgrades. This magic consumes various levels of Mana. There is a gauge just below your health bar in the upper left corner of the screen. I've learned that you have to be smart when using your Mana as it doesn't replenish all that quickly in most cases. Enemies will drop small blue crystals that give you 2 points of Mana, but many of the spells will require 4 or more Mana points.


When you pause the screen you'll see the items you've collected as well as the magic spells at your disposal. You start off with Twin Fire, this spell gives you an extra projectile to attack your enemies with. It only uses 2 points of Mana for each attach. When you press the Select button on your controller you'll essentially turn your magic on and off.


The game looks beautiful despite your character lacking much in the color department. I should add that the normal gray/white color of your character changes to shades of blue when you have your magic activated. The animation is pretty smooth and the colors are vibrant. There is some parallax scrolling such as the beginning of the 2nd level. Do these winged creatures remind you of the ones from Altered Beast? 

Unlike the sluggish Simon Belmont in the first Castlevania game, your character in Holy Diver is a bit more fluid. I feel like the jumping motion isn't as stiff, though you still can't jump onto or off of steps or staircases.


Level design is pretty cool from what I can tell. I still haven't been able to get past the 2nd stage, but it appears the level design gets a darker look the further you progress. Lets make no mistake about it, this game is hard. Throw your controller on the floor and yell at the screen hard. However it's fun. Despite me not making it very far, I kept coming back for more. Thankfully you have unlimited continues, however the levels are broken up into 3 sections and if you continue you start back at the very beginning of the level. There are several religious undertones in the game so it's no surprise this game never made it to the NES.

Holy Diver isn't a perfect game, but I think it's a lot of fun. I hate to see that the game is now close to $100 on the secondary market, but I've seen a NES fan translated reproduction online. I believe it's also going to be one of the games on the forth coming Retrobit plug and play console. This game needs to be played in some fashion so when you get the change give it a try...and another...and another. It's a frustrating game, but give it some time and I think you'll enjoy it as much as I.

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.