Thursday, 7 November 2013

Play Expo 2013

Retro games galore at this year’s Play Expo as I managed to pick up many rare and wonderful goodies. 

Being a game collector, it has taken me quite a while to open my sights to gaming expos across the UK. To be honest, the thought never really occurred to me as I didn't know they were, for one thing here in the UK as it seems like an American thing and I wouldn't have thought that retro games would be sold there to be honest. My ignorant self was very misled in this sense as I have come to learn there are a good number of expos and conventions on this side of the Atlantic as well. One of which is in Manchester called Play Expo.

I started my trip on Friday morning driving up the M1 to Manchester. After doing a bit of research the day before, I looked up a few gaming shops in the North West I could visit since I probably won't be attending these places anytime soon. My first stop was in Shewsbury to a shop called The Gamer. Not knowing where I was or where I was going in this Olde English Town, I had to rely on a not so reliable sat nav that took me up a one way street. When eventually stopping, I found a different Game shop called Totally Games. In here, they mostly sold new games so their prices weren't the best but next to the till was a bargain bucket. In there was two GameCube sports games that I needed, Tiger Woods 2003 & NBA Live 2003. Both were complete and 50p each so I more than willingly added them to the collection. After speaking to the store owner, he said that the shop I was looking for might be in the market above. After a quick scout above, I managed to find it snuck away. This store had some really good games at very good prices. I had to compose myself and make sure I didn't spend all of my money here. The one thing this guy loved getting for his stall was imports and he had a bunch for each console. It was really cool to see. I picked up all the complete GameCube games he had (Shrek 2, Spiderman, Madden 2003, Madden 2005, NBA Courtside 2 & NFL Street.) and 4 complete NES games (Spy Vs Spy, Silent Service, Blades Of Steel & Super Spike V Ball) for £30. Very happy with my purchase and I am sure I will contact him in the coming months to either trade off some of my doubles or buy some more games off him. Even though he is quite far in Shrewsbury, I am sure we can make a few deals with each other.

One game store down and it was off to the next in Stafford but this one was to be the first disappointment of the day. I got to what I thought was a gaming shop called Retro Gaming World but instead it was a laptop repair shop. What they do here is they have their stock in the loft and all of the items stored on their website. When someone purchases an item, they will search for the stock upstairs and send it off. Maybe they get most of their money from repairing laptops, nonetheless it was a bit of a tease to say on their website they had a store full of retro games but they only had a handful of consoles on show.

Onwards and upwards, off to Manchester I go. I heard of two games shops in the North part of the city so I headed there before the day was out. First I stopped in at the department store called Afflecks. As a Londoner going in here, it was like they stored Camden Market and Brick Lane into a 4 story building as it was filled with a lot of vintage clothes stores and tattoo parlours. In a hidden corner at the top of this building is a mini retro games shop and it’s filled with games from all eras. Sadly, the rent in this place must be high as all the games were overpriced. I was afraid by these prices and didn't want to spend anything here with the convention the next day. The last shop to sell retro games in this area was Entertainment Trader. They had a number of well sort after games but again some of the prices were off, one included a copy of Pac Man World 2 for the GameCube for £50!!! However, I did get a couple of things here, Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria 2 on the PS2 for £7 and Techmo Wrestling for £3.50. Across the road was Manchester’s main shopping centre, the Arndale centre. I stopped in there and visited the Computer Exchange here. I picked a couple of games here to, Pikmin on the Wii for £10 and Rocky on the Gamecube for £2.50. That was enough game hunting for one day, there was plenty more to come.

The next freezing cold day started with off with a huge queue outside the expo. Taking a good 45 minutes to get in (and is what probably resulted in getting the flu); I finally got in to see a bundle of gaming goodness. With only a few new games on show from Nintendo and Dark Souls on the PS3, this event featured mainly retro gaming, arcades and pinball machines, all available to play for free. There were also tournaments for various retro games across the two days including Mario Kart, Goldeneye and Street Fighter. But the main talking point was the Virtual Reality stand where you could play a couple of games in visors and an Xbox controller. I played a First Person Shooting game where you are fighting against machines. Though it was fun and unique, I got quite nauseated by the experience and the aiming mechanisms weren't the best. Definitely a step up from Nintendo's Virtual Boy though.

Anyways, enough about what was available to play and let's get to the stuff that was available to buy. The first big stall was Console Passion, boasting a lot of stock and mostly fair prices, I had to be careful not to get over excited and buy too much. For instance, there were a couple boxed Atari Jaguars for £60. That seemed very reasonable to me but unfortunately, before I could decide what I wanted, they were gone. What I did managed to pick up was McDonaldsland on the NES Complete, Mario Golf on the N64 complete, Doshin The Giant, Beyblade VForce & 1080 Avalanche on the Gamecube complete all for the discounted price of £40. The only one I spent more than I wanted to was Doshin The Giant but because I have been looking out for it on eBay and missing out by the odd big and seeing that it is treading at the moment, but it was one of the main games I wanted for the GameCube and am happy to get it. Next I went to some of the smaller stalls across the expo and the others seemed keen on trading. So with one of them, I picked a couple of GameCube games, Puyo Puyo Fever and The Italian Job which came to about £13. Instead of buying them, I traded 4 games including Silent Hill & Heart Of Darkness on the PS1 and Sonic 2 & Mario Party 5 disc only on the GameCube. I know I could have got a bit more for them on eBay but not too much I don't think. The next stall mostly had cartridges and loose PS1 games. A couple loose games caught my eye. One of which was Mystical Ninja 2 for the N64 and Magic Sword for the SNES. I've heard good thing from both of these games and the total cost came to £45. I spoke to the guy to organise another trade. I got some of my PS2 games out including Kingdom Hearts 2, Final Fantasy X, X-2 & XII which gave me the trade value of £20, not bad considering I got each for a pound. Next I got my loose SNES carts out. Here I traded Plok with the manual, Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country & Starwing. This put my trade value up to £50 but the guy said I could grab something with the value of £10 extra, so £55 in total. I picked up a couple more GameCube game, Second Sight and Black & Bruised. That was all I picked up on the Saturday. I had my eye on a few more items but I didn't want to spend all my money on the first day. I was also hoping to do a couple more trades as I didn't want to spend all of my spending money,
unfortunately that were not meant to be.

On the Sunday, I decided to take in a few of the sights in Manchester before going to the Expo as this would be the last time I was going to be here for the unforeseeable future. Most noticeably, I went to the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. A great footballing stadium I must say. Getting to the Expo later than planned on the final day would normally mean the items I had my eye on were gone, but fortunately for me, the stalls still had these items. I started at Console Passion again and gathered up the games that I wanted to add to the collection. There were so many games that tempted me but I whittled my selection down quite considerably. In the end, I grabbed, Mario Baseball, Superman Shadow Of Apokolips & Asterix & Obelix XXL on the GameCube, Ghosts & Goblins on the NES and the guide books for Final Fantasy 12 and Breath Of Fire Dragons Quarter. Altogether, that came to £120 which seems a lot but Mario baseball is a really rare game and Ghosts & Goblins complete for the NES is, well, extremely rare. With this deal, I managed to get an extra £10 off as I traded two copies of Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast and Dissidia Final Fantasy on the PSP so all in all, got this bundle for £110. Next I picked up a bundle of 5 Gamecube games for £15 and then I traded Splatterhouse 2 boxed and a cartridge of Streets Of Rage 3 for a sealed copy of Okami on the PS2. My last deal of the day was a simple trade for the NES game To The Earth for my Donkey Kong Land 3 for the Gameboy.

All in all, I think I had a pretty successful time at Play. So many sellers that I am not used to and am hoping to be going to plenty more of these events in the future. In terms of getting the right deals for my money was at times hit and miss. I think I could have got better deals if maybe I was more ruthless and patient but that comes with experience when I continue to build my collection and try and score a few deals. Next on the agenda is MCN Comic Con at the Excel centre. Hopefully there will be a few deals there for me to snag under the radar.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Car Booting 5 - Great Amwell

In this new addition to my Car Boot Sale travels, I encountered a field in Hertfordshire with a number of cool finds to add to my collection.

I first heard about this car boot sale from a friend who said this place was huge with a field of sellers like no other. Though this sale wasn't tiny, it wasn't the biggest one I've been to (that award goes to Dunton so far). It was a blistering hot day and with the concessions only being 50p, it is certainly a well worth going this summer.

Though I was a tad late to when the sale opened, I arrived in high spirits and the first game I spotted was Grand Theft Auto 2 for the Dreamcast. What made this stand out was in fact it was also sealed with original packaging. Though the case was a tad damaged, I thought this was a good find. Also right at the beginning of my search was a lady selling a Gameboy and a Gameboy Pocket. Now the Gameboy Pocket was something of an interest because I don't own one and I have been on the lookout. The thing about this one was that it had a chargeable battery pack attached and so the original back for the Pocket was nowhere to be seen. Plus, there was a bit of damage to the front of the handheld and even though the lady was asking for a fiver, I wasn't entirely happen with it.

Moving on and I spotted some games that I have yet to discover on my travels, some Amstrad games. These were in the cases and looked in really good condition. I also spotted a tape deck player on a stall next to his which has a MO receiver. I got this because my I am still trying to find a Spectrum tape deck but know a normal one will work just fine. All I need is the wire to connect the two and I'm good to go.

The find of the day had to go to a lot of games. In this batch were a total of 5 Dreamcast games, 6 Gamecube games and around 10 PS2 games. All together came to £10. You can't beat that. All the games were in good knick and there were some decent title here. See the list below.
A find that I wished I would of have had the guts to get was a pair of Mario and Luigi costumes. The guy was selling them for £10 each which seemed reasonable at the time, I just didn't have the money for it at the time so left without them.

Great Amwell is a good Car Boot Sale to go to and has some really nice sellers who deal at very fair prices. With this sale being in the Summer only, it's more likely to be on every week, of course, depending on the British weather. I am hoping though that I did go on an off day because I was expecting a bigger market to latch upon. Will be attending this sale again sometime very soon.  

What I got:

Grand Theft Auto 2 DC Sealed Bought for: £2 ebay average: £10 (unsealed)

5 Amstrad Games (3D Boxing, Survivor, Combat Lynx, Avenger, Strong Man) & Chu Chu Rocket DC Bought for £4 ebay average: £10

Tape Deck Bought for: £1 ebay average: Could not find price

5 DC games (Racing Simulation Monaco Grand Prix, Aerowings, Tokyo Highway Challenge, Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure) , 6 Gamecube games (Enter The Matrix, Star Wars Rogue Leader Squadron 2, Timesplitters Future Perfect, Call Of Duty Finest Hour, Die Hard Vendetta & Soul Calibur 2) & 10 PS2 games (Intellivision The History Of Video Gaming Lives, Hitman 2, Headhunter Redemption, Virtual Cop Elite Edition, Ultimate Spiderman, Crazy Taxi, Stuntman, Canis Canem Edit, Metal Gear Solid 3 & Fantastic 4) Bought for: £10 ebay: £90

Animal Crossing & Professor Layton both DS Bought for: £6 ebay average: £25

Premier Manager Sega Megadrive & Gain Ground Sega Master System Bought for: £1 ebay average: £15

Bioshock Steel Book Xbox 360 Bought for: £4 ebay average: £10

Hyper Street Fighter 2 The Anniversary Edition PS2 Bought for: £2 ebay average: £5

Diablo 1 & 2 PC & Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga PS2 Bought for: £4 ebay average: £35 

*DC stands for Dreamcast

**Prices on ebay taken on the 11th of July 2013

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dragon Quest Swords Quick Wii Review‏


Want to play a decent RPG that won't rule your life? Try this one for size.

The Dragon Quest series has been around for over 20 years but, even though it's the biggest RPG series in Japan, it has never really caught on over in the West with other series like Final Fantasy and Pok√©mon taking centre stage. But with Dragon Quest 9 on the DS getting some well-deserved praise, love for the series has seen a steady growth. With new gamers discovering the series, a host of introduction side games have been released to make us ignorant folk aware of Dragon Quest. The game I picked up is Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen & The Tower Of Mirrors for the Wii. Everything about this game is quick and simple and is a perfect start to anyone new to the Dragon Quest series like myself.

The premise first off is pretty straight forward, you just turned 16 and the Queen of the town has been possessed by an evil mask. She has in a result of this resurrected the evil force of the land Xiphos and it's your job to defeat him. A 16 year old kid to save the world, even though they have adult soldiers they send a kid to do the job... Oh well. The story is basic but that's ok because the game knows what it is so a lot of thought doesn't need to go in making an impressive story line. What sets this game apart is the short chapters, the guided levels and the quick combats mode.

There are only 8 chapters to complete which should only take you on average around 25 minutes to complete each one. This RPG, strangely is in the First Person. This makes the chapters very simple because you can only move forwards rather than having free roaming and the battles are not randomly generated like other RPGs but instead come along when you proceed forward in certain areas. The level progression is quick as well so there is little need for grinding. The main reason though as to why the game is quick is the battle screen. Instead of a turn based battle screen, all you need to do is attack and defend using the Wii remote. If you press A, you can lock on to an opponent and moving the Wii Remote from side to side acts as the attack. If you press B, you draw your shield to defend attacks and you have allies in the game which will give you status magic upgrades and health. The attacking segment is fairly easy to master as the Wii Remote is responsive most of the time and using your shied is very effective. Each level has a boss at the end and are challenging to a certain extent. The final boss on the other hand is the real McCoy and you need to be on your A game to beat him.

As with every other RPG, you need to interact with the towns folk for guidance in what you need to do to complete missions and given advice on what items to get and merge with. The item shop is by far the strangest place to visit as the item shop as the old lady you talk to keeps calling you lover?! Again, you're 16, what kind of paedo world where the kids rule over the adults is this? There are a few mini games in the town to enjoy as well as a prize draw with a tombola event to take part in where you can win prizes for your adventure.


All in all, this game shouldn't last you longer than 7 hours. I did a bit of grinding to afford the best armour available to make the final boss a little less intense. There are a few side quests at the end of the game to enjoy but those aren't too long as well. It's a well-rounded JRPG that shouldn't take much of your time.

It’s not going to win any awards anytime soon but it is certainly a quality title for what it is an introductory title to the series. So if you want to know what all the fuss is about regarding Dragon Quest or you want to take on a RPG that won't rule your life, then definitely pick this title up and try it out. Just make sure you take a few breaks between levels otherwise your arm will no doubt be feeling the strain.   

Friday, 5 July 2013

Resident Evil Chronicle Games Wii Review

Short, bullet-points on the first Resident Evil games don't do the originals justice.

With Resident Evil going from cult fame to mega stardom when Resident Evil 4 came out, along came a new generation of gamers. They all loved the game and Resident Evil 4 instantly became one of the best and highest selling games ever made. This was because of two reasons, the lesser reason of the two is the loyal fans of the series bought the game and the more important reason was that it was a breakthrough in the survival horror genre. The critics raved about it and the gaming community embraced it. Most of these people had no clue as to how the story developed to a sophisticated tale and how deep the last few games went to get to the point of R.E. 4 in the first place. So instead of re-releasing these games to make them have improved graphics and a similar gameplay format as Resident Evil 4, Capcom created two games that capture the essence of what made this horror survival series so memorable in the titles The Umbrella Chronicles and The Darkside Chronicles for the Wii. Even though it is nice to revisit the older games again, these titles for me took a lot out of what the first games gave and I would imagine that people playing them would think that the first games were pretty awful as a result.

Let me quickly explain before I go into each game. These games are not your typical Resident Evil games. Instead of assessing buildings/towns and completing puzzles like we are used to, these titles are cemented in the shoot 'em up genre. In the style of House Of The Dead before it, you can only shoot enemies and items on the screen before moving further into a level. It makes going through the games a lot quicker and so you will get the jest of what has happened in the past from the outbreak to when and why the T-Virus took over Racoon City. However, a lot has been taken out to make these games fit onto one disc in the attempt to make buyers of the games play through them in one quick swoop. This philosophy for me doesn't work and sadly, I wish this was my only problem with these games.

The Umbrella Chronicles Review



Let's start with the first game to get released out of the two, The Umbrella Chronicles. This was released in 2007 on the Wii, a relatively early title on the console and by today's standards, it hasn't aged well. This game takes you through the games where Umbrella, the company who created the T-Virus, was prominent. These were Resident Evil Zero, 1 & 3. You go through each of these games in 3 level sections where you would fight a boss from the respective game after each section. For instance, you have to face that Giant Scorpion at the end of the first section of Resident Evil Zero, such an awesome boss from the original game (a poor substitute on this one). You can collect a number of different guns and ammo along the way and for a bonus, you have unlimited amounts of ammo for your handgun. At the end of each section, you are given a grade of your performance depending on how many enemies you defeated, head shots and item pick-ups. 

There are a few things I like about this title. One is when you finish one of the games like Resident Evil Zero for instance, you will get a bonus section to complete as Albert Wesker, the main villain in the series as you find out exactly what his motives are. You cannot do this in any other game, so I give Capcom full marks to give the fans of the series a backstory for Wesker. Wesker is not the only person you can do this with. As a follow on when you complete Resident Evil 3's story, you can do an extra mission involving HUNK. We don't really know much about this character as he has only appeared briefly in the series. Another part I like is how after each section in a level, you can change which character you want to play with. For instance, if you choose Jill Vallentine when you are playing Resident Evil 1 on the first section, you can then choose Chris Redfield for the other sections if you wish. Since the original games (apart from Zero) didn't allow you to change character, even though this doesn't benefit the player during the game itself, I thought this was a nice touch. The best part however was the inclusion of a new sequence at the end that sees Jill Valentine & Chris Redfield fighting another outbreak of the T-Virus at another Umbrella base. Again, I love how Capcom gives you more story for this great series as you find out a bit more on Umbrellas reasons to create the T-Virus and what eventually happens between Wesker and Umbrella. It is interesting to play and watch this sequence but at the end of the day, is this game worth it? Not really.

The reason why I say it's not is because it feels like a half asked attempt to retell the past games. The graphics are worse than the Gamecube games, the speech and dialogue are rushed beyond belief and it hasn't got the same presence as the original games. This is coming from a fan of the original series and my expectations for this game were pretty high. But they fell short on making it a Resident Evil bundle game when they took away the atmosphere, the spooky surroundings and the lucrative puzzles. They did try to make it similar to the 'House Of The Dead' series by having it a light gun action game but it is not as enjoyable and it is quite a frustrating experience. The reason for this is because even though you can get many guns and ammo throughout the game, when you go select which level you want to play, you can only select one other gun apart from your pistol. Why can't you bring more than two guns?? It makes no sense because you can find other guns and ammo during the level. It just makes you need to use your infinite pistol more which is very very weak. There are countless of times when you are riddled with zombies and you need to take them out quickly. I found myself doing perfect head shots but they were still standing. My record I believe was 8 hits in the head. A normal zombie! I don't understand why they made the hit detection so much more difficult compared to other light gun games. It's a joke really how you can make all your guns improve as well apart from you handgun. Makes the challenge a bit more unbearable. You can throw grenades by shaking the Nunchuck which at times can be awkward, mainly because I used the Wii Zapper to play this. Though good for shooting, the Wii Zapper is not a friendly accessory. So you would have to shake the whole apparatus to get out of tight spots, not very attractive I must say.

But taking everything into account, the thing that really annoyed me about this game was the process on how to get to the end sequence of levels. As I stated before, at the end of each level, you get a ranking which depends on how many enemies you defeat, the amount of item pick-ups you obtain and how quickly you complete it. You don't need a decent ranking throughout as it's just for referencing your own personal record. That is, until the last level on Resident Evil 3's section where you MUST get a A ranking to unlock the next section of the game. Why? I don't know. Though it may technically be an epilogue if you will, the last section does feel part of the game and therefore you shouldn't have to work that hard to get there. When I mean hard, you need to make sure you beat the hardest boss in the game 'Nemesis' in no time at all. Plus grab nearly all the items in the level and kill a substantial amount of enemies along the way. It took me quite a while to get that A ranking because of all the other problems this game possesses. I was not too pleased.

Darkside Chronicles Review


Now for the sequel. The Darkside Chronicles was released a couple of years later in 2009 and is quite clearly thankful for those extra years from its predecessor. The graphics look a whole lot better, the story and the dialogue have improved, shooting zombies feels satisfying again, you can carry more than two guns and the whole adventure just seems grander. Capcom got some harsh truths after the first game and they tried there best when making the next title in this mini-series. In many areas they succeeded but there is still something lacking here.

So what makes this game better than the last? Well for starters, this game has a premise not like the previous one which just seemed like the randomly slapped segments from previous games on a disc. Here you start off as Leon S. Kennedy and Jack Krauser on a new mission in South America where they are trying to find an ex-drug lord called Javier Hidalgo because there are reports of him approaching Umbrella. They find out that a mutated form the the T-Virus has turned the community living locally to Javier into zombies. During this venture, Leon remembers his time at Racoon City when the virus first broke out and tells Krauser his tale. This is so much more appealing than just playing through the old games again just for the fact of getting new fans to notice then. It doesn't feel like the focus of the game and I think that's what sets it apart from the last one. Besides, this game only carries two entries of the Resident Evil series with it in Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica X so there needed to be a bit more action elsewhere. Capcom delivered with some new enemies and great boss challenges (apart from one which I will get to) as well.

Another improvement deserving of some praise is the gun selection/variety and the way you can improve the gun settings. This time instead of two guns, you can have a selection of three. Still not that impressive but an improvement for sure. The thing that makes this part stand-out though is how you can improve your infinite handgun. I made sure the handgun got the royal treatment as I knew I would be using it more than any other gun. The Shotgun, Machine Gun and the Magnum all feel satisfying enough but there aren't enough bullets to make them consistent weapons choices. The Crossbow is just useless, don't bother using it.

The only point in this game that I really wanted to stop playing was during the 2nd boss in Resident Evil 2. It's not because the guy is extremely hard or anything but it's because the fight is built in sections and you need to make sure he is almost dead before the last part, when you are falling off the bridge. If he has a lot of health left at this point, your health will go down very quickly. The only way to do this though is to have you strong weapons ready to annihilate him and so you have to go through the whole level with just your handgun. This is extremely difficult because you have to go through Hunters and Lickers. Took me quite a while to do this part because I had to keep starting all the way from the beginning to save my ammo.

Apart from that part of the game, Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles is a standard Light-Gun shooter and probably up there in terms of being the best one of the Wii with House Of The Dead 2 & 3 and Overkill. Is it a masterpiece? No it is not. It's good enough for what it is but it's no real Resident Evil game and still holds a few flaws. The grenade throwing action still remains a problem on the Wii Zapper and the game is a tad short. Maybe I am being too harsh on this game because Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica are great games and there was a lot missing from these titles to make it a more memorable experience. Instead this brand of gaming doesn't light up my interest the same as a true survival horror does and I would think that these two games will be forgotten very quickly.

The Verdict: If after this review you do want to play these games, my advice would be to get The Darkside Chronicles. Only touch The Umbrella Chronicles if it’s only a couple of quid to your wallet. My overall suggestion to any fan of the Resident Evil series, old or new, is to get the original games. If you can, get them on the Gamcube so you can play Zero and the updated First game (avoid the Playstation version like the plague, it hasn't aged well). Resident Evil 2, 3 and Code: Veronica can be played on any platform but again, if you can, my suggestion would be the Gamcube. The controller just fits perfectly with the survival horror genre like no other. You won't be disappointed with the hours of thrills and puzzles in these 5 games.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Car Booting 4 - Waltham Abbey

Back saving a bit or money so I can get some deals at my next car boot adventure. This time I traveled to Waltham Abbey which seemed to be promising on the outset but when I got there, the hope quickly dropped. We were in a big field but unfortunately there was only two lines of sellers when the doors opened. I don't know if the usual sellers got scared due to the forecast of rain or if it like this every week. For an early start and 3 quid entry, it seemed a bit of a rip-off. Nonetheless, I was going to see if there was anything worth buying today.

Straight away, I picked up the PS2 game Escpae From Monkey Island for a pound, a decent game for a very decent price. Though as I was distracted with the game, a boy picked up a PSP from the seller next to us for only £3. I don't know if it was working or not but at £3, you would take the risk.

Next I came across a game re-seller who had mostly PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii games. He did however have a few Sega games so I bundled up a few to get a cheaper price. I got Streets Of Rage, a three in one game (both Complete In Box) & Krusty's Fun House, a great puzzle game that I used to play a lot with my cousins, all for a tenner. Not to bad when you consider Streets Of Rage goes for a bit more online. This seller told me that he had tons of games at home and comes to this particular car boot sale every two weeks, I tried to cut out the middle man and said I was willing to meet up somewhere else so I could look through his stuff but sadly he wasn't having none of it. Doubt it I will make it every couple of weeks just in case he has something special, there are other bargains to find.
 
Opposite this seller was a young family stall and they had some DVDs as well as games. They were still setting up but people were surrounding their table as they had some good stuff on show. I was only there for a couple of seconds when the mum placed two DVD box sets on the table. Normally I wouldn't take notice but these two sets were Ducktails and Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers. Had to get them. 3 quid each. I know I can download them for free but sometimes the boxed goods are more than worth it. I later popped back to their stall as the mum said she might have another box set of Chip N' Dale so I went looking. They didn't have it but they had a few more items which I purchased. I got myself a red DS Lite (with a damaged touchscreen, will fix that), Xbox games Voodoo Vince, Genma Onimusha, Jade Empire, Black Stone Magic & Steel, PS2 games Street Fighter Alpha Collection & Xenosaga Episode 2 Collectors Edition and a PSP case for 30 quid. Was a good find as there are some usual titles in this bundle.
 
The next vendor had a host of really old stuff and I was intrigued by the Arsenal 1971 picture frame he had as I would have bought it for my Dad. When I learned he was selling it for £30, I quickly stepped away from the photo and looked down to his other items. What I saw shocked me as I have never come across it before. It was a BBC Microprocessor computer, a primitive computer made by the BBC to combat the Amstrad and the Spectrum in the UK. It was a bit of a flop and not any were sold. It Included the tape deck and a number of games as well. The only only thing missing was the lead to hook the computer to a monitor and instead the guy had a lead for the Commodore 64. He said he was going to bring the C64 next week which will include the lead. In the meantime I managed to bag everything around the BBC Microprocessor for a fiver, nice!! 
 
Near the end of the car boot sale were some seller who were late for the beginning and now were getting all of their items for sale out sharpish. A 12 year old kid was selling all of his stuff in order to save up for something. He had a bunch of toys and musical equipment but I was interested in the ice cream box next to the car. When I picked it up, I knew there would be games in there because that's where I stored mine when I was a kid but I didn't think I would find the jackpot. Pokemon Heart Gold & Soul Silver, Mario DS, Kirby Superstar Saga, The Sims & Cooking Mama 2 just to name a few. He said he was selling for 50p each so I asked how much for the lot. He replied a fiver. Pay the boy, done deal.
 
The last seller I encountered was another late comer but instead of creating his own stall, he tagged with another seller who already had his stall set up. He had bags and bags of games to sell and I was just watching and waiting to see if there was anything of interest. I told him I'm after obscure and rare games and he dived into his bags to find one he thought was quite obscure. It was Thunderbirds on the PS2. I haven't seen this game before and neither did the seller. I picked it up along with a Taito collections game for the PS2 and a Perfect Dark Zero Collectors Edition for the Xbox 360 for £6. Not too bad I thought.
 
I'm saving the best to last though as my best find at a car boot sale occurred that very Sunday. As you probably know, there are a bunch of sellers who just sell DVDs and CDs. They put a stock price on them for a pound or so and some DVDs are quite good. At this one box I saw a few PS2 games which caught my eye instantly but to no avail. Then I spotted some PS1 games. First there was Tomb Raider 1 then there was Tomb Raider 3 and The Last Resolution next to it. At that moment, I noticed a PS1 game on its side and thought, 'oh great, Tomb Raider 2 (NOT!)'. Instead, I discovered a reasonably rare game on the system, Tombi 2. I couldn't believe it. I asked how much, '£1' the lady replied. Paid her and got out of there. It felt like I was robbing her as the price was so cheap. I got out of there quickly after that.
 
After a clean sweep, I was pretty happy with my day at Waltham Abbey Car Boot Sale. It could have been better with more stalls but the overall return was better than expected. The sour note would be that DS Lite as I should have really bargained that down a bit more because of the damage. I have since fixed it however so it's not the worst thing in the world. 

I managed to go there the following week to see if the guy I bought the BBC Microprocessor from to get the Commodore 64 he said he would bring but sadly he didn't. Instead, I bought three Xbox 360 games (Gears Of War 2, The Darksiders and Section 8), a PS2 game (Myth Makers Super Kart GP), one SNES game (Pilotwings), one Wii game (Resident Evil 4) and a number of Sega games (James Pond 2, Risky Woods, The Pagemaster, Talmits Adventure (all CIB) Dragons Revenge & Hardball). All very good prices which shows that Upshire Road is a consistent place to go for retro game chasing. Can't wait to go again very soon. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Resident Evil 6 Xbox 360 Review

The most famous survival horror series gets a Hollywood makeover. Unfortunately the only thing that remains scary is the gameplay.


Since Capcom, the best third party developer the video gaming world has ever seen, embraced the survival horror genre and created the first Resident Evil for the Playstation in 1996, we’ve experienced a lot of highs and some lows (Resident Evil Survivor being the most famous disappointment). But when the hotly anticipated Resident Evil 6 came out at the end of 2012, it’s hard not to put this game in the lows department even though you can clearly see Capcom have put a lot of blood sweat and tears into their successful series.

This is not because I hate the game whatsoever, I think it’s definitely an entertaining adventure and since it introduces a new arched storyline where you can play the same timeline but with three different partnerships is something to be admired. But on the whole experience playing the game, I wasn’t completely satisfied with it as I was with the previous titles in the series.

The premise of the game revolves around the outbreak of the C-Virus being let out in Bangkok China and you need to A) stop the outbreak spreading and B) stop the people responsible. This all intertwines with, as I mentioned before, with three playable partnerships in the game. These are; Resident Evil veteran Chris Redfield, the now captain of the BSAA (Bio-Terrorism Security Assessment Alliance) and one of his team members Piers Nivans, DSO (Division of Security Operations) Agent Leon S Kennedy and US Secret Service Agent Helena Harper and another DSO Agent Sherry Birkin and mercenary Jake Muller. Through these partnerships, the story develops further and your motivation for each play through is different. For instance, Leon and Helena witness the death of the President of the United States and they are framed of his murder. They know however that the man responsible is the same man who is behind the C-Virus outbreak, National Security Advisor Derek Simmons who also so happens to be Sherry’s boss. You later find out what connotations this has on the other playable characters but I’ll let you find that one the history of young Jake Muller yourselves.

The story is all well and good but that’s not the problem in this game. It’s seems to have taken a leaf of out of Resident Evil 5’s book and expanded the combat mechanics and have instead taken away the horror and puzzle elements which made the series so worthwhile. I did not get spooked once during this game and made sure I played it during the night with the lights off every time. It’s a sad experience when you play a game that’s in the ‘horror’ genre and you don’t get some sort of fear for going into an infected house or an abandoned warehouse. And I think the reason is that the game is too fast paced for any build up to take any effect. Instead, they try and build up the characters relationships with their partners to make their reasons for their actions to stop the C-Virus more personal rather than doing it for the greater good. Also what takes away the scary atmosphere is the overkill on the checkpoints. There isn’t that sense of keeping yourself alive otherwise you have to go back to your last save point anymore which is a shame because now you will play from your last checkpoint which is usually when you entered a new area. Because of this, you don’t mind running into danger and getting in the middle of J’avo and Zombie range when in a game like this, you should be cautious and thoughtful when being outnumbered 10/1 with flesh-eaters.

The combat system isn’t bad but it can be a little frustrating at times because you often run out of bullets and are hoping your enemies are packing some shells. But often enough they drop skill points which are used to buy skills at the end of the chapter to help you out in later chapters of the game. So I bought the skill ‘more ammo drops’ from enemies and ultimately I didn’t notice a difference so don’t really think they help that much to a certain extent. What I did most of the time was open a can of whoop-ass on the J’avos and zombies to save my bullets for the enemies that needed it like the mutated J’avos and the bosses. Unfortunately that’s not as exciting as using your shotguns or an assault rifle to take down many of the critters at once. The most satisfying weapon in the game has to be Pier’s Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle. It’s fast and slices through anything as if it wasn’t there. But with bullets running scarce, you’ll be lucky to enjoy a few rounds before the half way stage of a chapter.

With each pairing giving off 6 chapters in total each, you may be excused to think this game is short but considering how it can take up to 2 and a half hours to finish a chapter, you will be spending a fair few evenings getting through the game with the different pairings. And with the game now focused on pairings rather than playing by yourself, you can play the game with a friend or have the other character a computer ally. This is handy for when you’re nearly dead and need someone to snap you out of your paralysed state or if your buddy has a spare green herb to get you fighting fit. I personally recommend playing with a friend because that adds so much more to the experience and you can talk tactics whilst playing. You can never trust the computer player to do what you want.

There is also the added bonus of finally playing as the mystery character Ada Wong when you complete the game with each pairing thus extending the gameplay and the adventure. It’s a good insight to a character whom many people will have mixed feelings for as being a good character or a baddy. We finally see into her psyche and find out if Leon is right to trust her so much.

Though I have been rambling on about the flaws in this game, I’m not going to say that it’s a terrible game. You have some great ideas for the gameplay, at times the effects are mind blowing and the story is as gripping as ever. The only real fault is how this game has to have the Resident Evil title over it and therefore has a lot to live up to. With the series being so big, there is no wonder why there was an over the top budget for this game and you can see why the credits last around 20 minutes to get through everyone who worked on the game. But the more you put in, some aspect are going to get left behind and the lack of scary moments and hardly any puzzles to keep you scratching your head for hours makes this a lot more straight forward than what I am used to. Sad to say but this is a dip in the Resident Evil series.  I would recommend Resident Evil Revelations instead. I played it on the 3DS last year and it was such a thrilling experience. The game recently has been ported to the PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii U. With HD graphics, this looks to be the true sequel of the series.


Verdict: No doubt a solid game but when you compare it with the other games in the series; it is certainly not up there with the best of them. 7/10

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Custom Made Consoles Seller

On one of my many trips to eBay trying to find another bargain, I came across something usual and very cool indeed. I spotted a N64 but this was like no other. It just so happens that seller raz_1985 creates his own custom consoles from existing ones to give them a bit of life a character. Neat sketchings of Mario and the Triforce married by two complementing colours makes these unique and exciting.
From the looks of it, raz_1985 specializes in N64, Sega Megadrive and Sega Master System consoles and since the latter is the most dull out of the three, it certainly should be added to anyone's collection.
Will be looking to get one myself (when I can raise the funds that is) and I hope you all will do the same.

Check out the video below to see his work, it's pretty impressive.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Car Booting 3 – Barleylands Farm & Thorndon

Third entry in my car boot sale adventure and I was in high hopes at the start of the day. First of all, this was the first time I was going on a Bank Holiday and one would think that a lot of sellers would be free to sell. The other is that I woke up extremely early in an attempt to arrive at 7:30, when the website said the event was going to start at Barleylands Farm in Billericay. When going through the gate, I didn’t see many cars in the car park so my optimism rose. But when I edged further, rest of the field was not as packed as I expected. The problem here was a lot of vendors were still arriving from 7:30, even though the website states sellers should arrive at 6.30. Only a handful of sellers were ready and in terms of games, zilch.

In terms of games, one guy was selling PSP games (mostly sport games) and UMD movies for £4 each, not the best of deals. And in consoles, there was a blue Wii but the seller wanted £50, ‘ain’t gonna happen!’ The only items I purchased was a Gameboy Advance storage box for 50p, a Super Mario 3 CD case for a pound and the wires for a Xbox 360 console for £2.

Was only there for half an hour and I had to make a choice on whether to wait for the new sellers to put up shop or go to another car boot sale. I chose the latter because the new sellers were coming in very slowly and thought I may have a bit more luck in the Thorndon Car Boot which was down the road. Went there and it was even worse. The only item worth mentioning was a Playstaion with a few games and this device to attach at the back of the console to make it play DVDs. In total it would have been £15 but since I have the console and the games, I got the device for a couple of quid.


A pretty disappointing day as it goes but you’re not always going to find a gem when you go to a car boot sale. It is hit and miss when you go but when you hit, it is bloody good. 

Car Booting 2 – Dunton

Since my first venture offered a mixed bag of treats, I decided to go again to another car boot sale to see if there were any more treasures yet to be discovered elsewhere. My next destination comes in the form of Dunton in Basildon.

I managed to arrive about half an hour after the car boot sale started and as soon as I parked the car, I noticed someone taking a boxed NES with two games back to his car. At first I thought great, there will be some games here for sure, my next thought was DAM, I missed out on finding that boxed NES!!! Oh well, with this first spot and judging by how big the field was I knew I was going to find some treasures for myself.

My first stop was checking the stalls which just opened. My logic was that if these new vendors had some gems, I would be one of the first to find them. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I did find a few decent PS2 games at this one seller. Usually when you find PS2 games at car boot sales, they are picked through and all you would find are sports games or some crappy quiz games.  Here, I managed to pick up 4 titles that you don’t find that often which were Galerian:Ash, Legend Of Kay, Crimson Tears and I-Ninja, none of which I know much about but seemed cool. The seller wanted 2 pound a game but managed to get a couple quid off. Here’s my top tip for this post, whenever you are buying more than one item at a car boot sale, always ask for a discount. Nine times out of ten, the seller will give you a discount.

Going through the most of the other sellers at car boot sale can get a bit depressing at times. Seeing the same rubbish games over and over again after first getting a bit excited at the possibility of finding something rare, valuable and most importantly, fun. This car boot sale was no exception and adding the zigzag layout to the mix, it became somewhat a dizzy affair. Nonetheless, there were other finds in the day. For instance, I found an original Gameboy with a bunch of games on the cheap. So I snatched that with a boxed Crash Bandicoot XS for the GBA, four Gameboy games (Jurassic Park, Soloman’s Club, Radar Club and Super Mario World 2) and a storage case for only £8. Considering Super Mario World 2 goes for around that on eBay, I was pretty happy.
I got a few quick buys at the car boot sale because all the sellers were just selling whatever they had in their attics. I picked myself up Rachet & Clank 3 and Time Crisis 3 on the PS2 for £3, Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 for £3, Turok 2 on the N64 (loose cart) for £2, F1 World Grand Prix for the N64 (loose cart) for £1.50 and a PS3 drum set for Guitar Hero for £2 (needed to replace the one I had already).

Even though I got a few common games, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get any rare and interesting items at the sale. One which stands out is a DSi with a New Mario Bros included. I managed to get this for £23. Pretty solid deal considering how much retailers sell it for, £55 in some places. Next I found a Sega Reactor boxed up, a wireless Sega Megadrive console for only £7 and then I got a Wii Fit board with a game for £20. Though looking back this price seemed high, at the time I thought it was a good deal and a deal is only as good as what you make it… Perhaps I should have got another 5 pounds off though…

Throughout my time in Dunton, I only found one proper game seller where he was selling Sega, Nintendo and Atari games. The selection was bare when I got there but I put that down to being later in the day and me not getting there in time. I did find a few games that caught my eye, for the Megadrive, Virtua Fighter 2, Paperboy and Second Samurai all boxed and one for the Atari 2600 called Pick N Pile. Those four games came to £18 in total. Bargain in my eyes especially since Second Samurai was a game being constantly played when I was a child.


In the end, I was pretty happy with my day out to Dunton. I was planning to go to another car boot sale down the road in Billericay but because there were so many people selling here, it was too late to do anything else.  I would probably go to this car boot sale again to see if any new sellers come with some more surprises. But after I visit some of the neighbouring car boot sales in Essex. You never know what could be out there and hopefully there are some retro games for me to find.

Car Booting 1 – Hounslow, Shepperton & Denham

To get a decent collection and not find yourself in too much debt, you will need to sacrifice a weekend lie in and get your butts to car boot sales across the land where you will find people selling their old rubbish. As is the famous expression, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and that is certainly the case with old computer games. So, based on this assumption, I have started to take some time out of my weekends and head over to random fields to see if anyone is selling any old games on the cheap. My first point of interest was visiting three car boot sales, mainly because they were small and close to each other.

Hounslow: The beginning of my journey starts with Hounslow West Car Boot sale which is situated in the car park of Hounslow West tube station. For my interests in old games, it didn’t open anything to the imagination, only one games seller and he was only selling new games at a high price. This would have been acceptable if the games were brand new and weren’t sun damaged. A very short and disappointing start.

Shepperton: Opposite Queen Mary’s reservoir lies an acquaint gathering that on a Sunday could see a high number of sellers, but unfortunately I went on a Saturday and so only got a taste of what was on offer. As soon as I entered the sale, I saw a vendor who was obviously a re-seller. He had new games for high prices and the only retro games he had were a Sonic 1 and 2 for the Megadrive. I asked him if he had anything else but he said he sells the rarer stuff on eBay. Not going to get a bargain from him. Apart from the re-seller, there wasn’t that much going on there. I found one other Sega game of Terminator, an average game for three quid and surprisingly a pong console called a Radofin Tele-Sports IV that was going for 50p. I don’t know if it works and it didn’t come with any games but I snatched it up in any case. The last item I got here was a boxed DS Lite. A seller had a load of different items and two DS Lites. He wanted 35 pounds for it but I managed to save a fiver after haggling with him. It was in perfect condition and it included the box which is always a bonus. Considering places like Computer Exchange sell DS Lites without the box for £40+, I think this was a good deal.

Denham: The last car boot sale for the day was a few miles down the M25 at Denham. I got there a couple of hours after it opened so wasn’t expecting much and I was not wrong. Only a few game stalls and even less worth getting excited about. The first thing I noticed was a PS2 Slim and a bundle of games where the seller wanted 20 quid for. At the time I wanted to get a bit of a discount because there were a few scratches and the console didn’t come with a box so I wanted to pay 15. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a deal on that one and looking back on current prices, that wasn’t a bad deal. Next I spotted a few Gameboy, SNES and Game Gear games. Only a couple of Game Gear games took my interest with Streets Of Rage and Ax Raiser. The seller said that each game was 4 pounds and three for £10 but for those two particular games, he wanted £10 each. I talked him down and managed to get those two and another game Strider Returns for 10 pounds. Pretty happy with the deal apart from finding out I already had Strider Returns, whoops. Will make sure in future I have a list of games I have so I don’t get in a situation like that again. Nothing else to note at this car boot sale apart from one seller who was selling an Atari 2600 original boxed up with two games (Space Invaders and Burger Time) for 50 quid. I knew this was a good deal as I never see an original Atari 2600 boxed up. I have the late 80s Atari 2600 which is not as rare or valuable as this one so was a bit gutted I didn’t have the money on me. Luckily for me, he did have something else which I could afford. It was a boxed ZX Sinclair Spectrum 48 with two boxes full of games for only 20 quid. I snatched that up pretty quickly as the rain poured down in a split second. 

All in all I had a good day, found some cool stuff to add to my collection that I know would have cost me a bit more if I bought them on eBay. Out of the three, I might go back to Denham because it seems like a big car boot sale where a number of new sellers could arrive at any time, which may mean more games. I wouldn’t go to the other two again simply because I got the impression that the same people go there ever week and so the same items will be on show constantly. The Shepperton one could hold some surprises if I go on a Sunday but I don’t think I can take the risk of travelling that far to find out.

The day just proves that there is always something to be discovered at car boot sales and many more trips and different venues are certainly on the horizon.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Wii Mini Review


What Is A Wii Mini? Is It Worth Buying? Read On To Make The Decision Yourself.
There is nothing new with a console trying to expand its life with a new model and Nintendo have exploited that concept from the very beginning. Their first home console the NES introduced the Toploader very late into its lifespan and went with critical acclaim, it’s just a shame that didn’t get released in the UK, though I’m not holding a grudge for computer companies withholding merchandise from Europeans. Then you had the Gameboy Pocket which became an instant hit since the biggest criticism for the Gameboy was its size. Now nearly 20 years on from those days and Nintendo are doing it again and with a very little marketing push to boot, we saw the Wii Mini hit the shelves.
What is the Wii Mini I hear you ask? And that’s not a blind question by the way because most people I’ve spoken to don’t know what the Wii Mini is and in most cases, they haven’t even heard of it. Well here’s my answer to the people who are filling in a blank at this moment, the Wii Mini is Nintendo’s attempt to prolong the Wii’s lifespan by reducing the components of the Wii to make it cheaper for the general public. It is a stylish looking device, sporting a smaller black and red box and opens in the conventional way to place your games in rather than sliding them in. It is proudly placed in my collection but is this console really needed in current day climate?
Let’s look at the facts, when the Wii first came out, it sold by the bucket load when it offered it’s USP, motion sensing controllers. The introductory price wasn’t breaking the bank by any means at a reasonable 180 pounds, you could experience the innovation first hand and many people did. That system is now 7 years old and you can easily score a 2nd console for 40 quid. The Wii Minis introductory price is a less then appealing 80 pounds compared to a cheaper, and perhaps more worthwhile original Wii and what are you getting for your extra buck? Nothing really as it goes, if anything, you’re losing out.
The things that make the Wii so great apart from the motion sensor gaming is for one thing, the Mii universe and how you can interact with you friends and share tips on games you’ve been stuck on. The other is the Virtual console, downloading and playing classic games from the past is something anyone should be excited about. These and the added bonus of being able to use BBC iPlayer and Netflix also sees the Wii being a fairly functional product. However, the genius’s at Nintendo took out the internet functions out of the Wii Mini to make it cheaper to make and therefore, making the product so cheap from release. This is one of the reasons as to why the Wii Mini isn’t that great since internet functions on consoles are so vital nowadays that we live in a generation where they can’t even image a console without this necessity. This also makes it hard to download new updates to the console where it is vital for certain games. For instance, you will not be able to complete The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword on a Wii Mini because there is a glitch which requires an update to fix the system. Not good if you hope to complete the best bloody game on the console!!
The other major stick is that Nintendo didn’t just take out the internet ability from the Wii Mini but the SD port as well. So if you have saved files on a Wii and are looking to transfer them to your Wii Mini, then it’s impossible. What you have instead is a closed console that stores its own memory. I can’t think of another console that does this since all retro games give out either passwords or the game cartridges have a save feature in place. I don’t know how much it would have affected the price of the Wii Mini but surely the SD card slot would have been essential?
And that’s where I lost it with this console. Taking the internet is one thing but when you’ve been playing the Wii for 7 years and you want to transfer you data to another console, it shouldn’t be a hassle, but this surely is a hassle. I get what Nintendo where trying to do here, to celebrate a great console and to expand its lifespan for a few more years before the Wii U takes over. But I thought the reason for Nintendo not doing this with the Gamecube was because you could play Gamecube games on the Wii via playback feature (sadly another feature the Wii Mini lacks).
The whole point of re-releasing a console is to make improvements to it where the older console has built up a host of problems. For instance, the NES toploader made it easier for games to connect to the pins inserted in the cartridge and made crashing and glitches happen on the rarest of occasions. The same goes with the GBA when the SP was released. The GBA didn’t have a light fitted in the back and thus made it hard to play games in the sun; the GBA SP solved that problem and has since been the norm in handheld gaming. The Wii Mini offers zilch.
Since the Wii U offers that with Wii games and it’s been in existence for nearly half a year now, it’s strange why Nintendo would give the go ahead and release this gizmo over the world after it was only supposed to be a Canada exclusive product.
If you want to get a Wii Mini however, your best bet is to find a store online to purchase it. I went to all of the computer game shops in my area to find a Wii Mini but I was left with the responses, ‘you need to pre-order it’ and ‘what is that’. Without this entry, the Wii always be remembered as a revolutionary game console with a host of great games and hosts the start of some great features including the virtual console. The Wii Mini, though very slick will sadly not be remembered in this fate.
Verdict: Only got the Wii Mini for my collection. If you are in need to own a Wii, I would suggest with the original console at a second hand price.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale PS Vita


The characters from Playstation’s finest get together for a Battle Royale!!
Creating a crossover fighting game featuring Playstation characters is definitely long overdue. The mouth-watering prospect would finally settle the debates as to which character is better. As Harry Hill would say, there is only one way to find out, FIGHT!
Over 20 fan favourites are bundled in the game including Jak & Daxter, Rachet & Clank, Sly Cooper and of course Sackboy being some of the big names on show here. We also have some characters from some past classics like Parapper The Rapper and Spike from Ape Escape. There is a little problem that will have plagued this title from the moment it was announced no matter what and that is it’s comparison with Nintendo’s crossover title Super Smash Bros.
Playstation All-stars Battle Royale (PABR) is a strange affair as in one way, it is similar to Super Smash Bros (SSB) but in another, it’s completely different. Let me explain, when you look at everything featured on PABR, it’s basically the same as SSB and is obviously inspired in many ways by the Nintendo counterpart. Apart from the obvious character selection in both games and the combat definitely features a number of noteworthy comparisons. For instance; up to four characters can play at one time, they include platforming elements in the stages, the array of combos include the same button mashing combinations and you can use items. The only real difference which is a game changer and puts PABR in a league of its own is the way you win. You can’t knock your opponent out of the arena like in SSB but instead you need to charge up your AP (All-star Points) gauges to perform a super attack to inflict a kill. To build up your gauges, you need to cleverly attack the enemies around you. The super attacks are split into three types of blows with the first being the quickest and easiest to dodge and the third meaning you possess killer blows for longer and can rack up more points. It’s a clever and unique way to decide a match but it does take getting used to after playing SSB for 15 years.
The campaign mode is entertaining but is the same for every character and gets a bit too much like Groundhog Day after a couple of times and is only good for getting used to the controls and dynamic of the game. What is really entertaining is the multiplayer feature as you can play anyone who owns the game online, no matter what console you’re playing the game on. I have the game on the PS Vita and I am to believe that it is no different to the PS3 version, including graphics wise. With more ways to challenge a fellow gamer always means you’re less inclined to put the game down.
Another reason to own this game is because the PSN are still continuing to release new data for the game including new characters from Gravity’s Rush, Starhawk, Dead Space and God of War and new stages that freshens up the game. Hopefully they will continue to design and release new content as that might be a new way in increasing the life span of the fighting crossover. When you think of the Playstation and the amount of great characters whom have appeared on one of the 5 consoles, the opportunities are endless. A few favourites I would just love to play with on PABR include; Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy 7, Hana Tsu Vachel from Fear Effect or Ico from… well Ico of course. Hopefully the people at Sony won’t stop improving this game for a while as the opportunities to make this a classic are somewhat endless.
Though PABR is something of an anomaly and is not on the same level as its comparison sake SSB, it is still a solid Beat ‘Em Up title that will always be a hit with the fans because it includes the established characters the people at Sony know the fans love due to sales and research. A new style of gaming takes time before getting used to and it’s suggested you do that before you challenge the world online otherwise you will probably give up after getting handed a beat down a number of times. Playstation gets a huge thumbs up for finally paying homage to their mascots, it’s been too long! Now we just need to wait until Xbox does the same. How cool will it be to see the Master Chief and Marcus Fenix go head to head? Only time will tell...

The Verdict: A strong roaster opens a new style of gaming for the Playstation community. Not a very good title to play alone but a must have to play with fans or online. 82/100

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

House Of The Dead: Overkill Wii


Never has killing zombies been so tongue-in-cheek since a 70s low budget horror flick and feel so satisfying.

The House Of The Dead (HotD) series was one of the most iconic arcade series in the 90s along with Time Crisis, which cemented the new age of shoot ‘em up games. However, the Sega series took a bit of a turn for the worst after the second instalment and was forgotten about quite quickly which coincided with the depletion of arcades and was slow to capitalise on the home console market. Trying to resurrect the series, Sega released House Of The Dead 2 & 3 bundled together for the Wii in 2008. With the memories coming back and interest in the series increasing once more, Sega took some time and created the not so serious prequel of the series in 2009 entitled House Of The Dead: Overkill for a new refreshing twist to what was a strong story.
The story and the characters is really what sells this game. On the surface, it’s just another light gun shooter which uses the Wii remotes capabilities very well, but when you add the odd duo of the series protagonist Agent G and an African American police officer by the name of Issac Washington along with a number of cheesy horror references, a quirky storyline and many outrageous lines, you will no doubt be laughing your arse off non-stop.
Set 7 years before the first game, you find our man Agent G on his first assignment for AMS. He teams up with Officer Washington while investigating a crime lord called Papa Caesar in Louisiana after a number of people have been reported missing, one of which is Washington’s father. These people have been experimented on with the superhuman formula called Formula X and in the process; they are attacked by a number of fresh eating zombies. You meet a lot of strange people along the way including the first boss Jasper Gunn who is a disabled scientist. What proceeds is probably the easiest boss sequence of all time and in the process, you meet Agent G’s love interest, the feisty Varla who assumes the damsel in distress at the end finale where you meet probably the strangest character ever conceived in video gaming history, the main villain of the game Clement. You first meet him taking a leak outside the prison where the final level takes place. He gets most of his urine on his trousers and doesn’t seem too bothered and tries to make out he is backing up both Agent G and Issac. When you later realise Clement is the baddie, he has Varla hostage and plans to transport his mother’s brain in the young beauty. You think that’s weird but when you find out he wants to do this because he wants have sex with her, you can’t help but laugh out of sheer awkwardness. The ‘openly loving’ mother/son relationship is the cringiest sequence of events I have ever witnessed on a video game and fits into this over the top game perfectly.
The games structure needs to be applauded. This is the first HotD game to be exclusive to home consoles and so ditches the normal arcade style of playing the game through with continues. You play this game in a total of 6 chapters which breaks the gameplay down and also helps you upgrade your weapons. The only problem with the game is that it’s quite short and doesn’t invite you back with much replay value. There are a couple extra levels in the Playstaion 3 version which was released a year later, but with the difficulty level not being very high, you will only be playing the game for around half an hour longer.
Apart from this small disappointment, HotD Overkill delivers in many ways that will give you more pleasure then watching a ‘bad movie’. The corny jokes and the grotesque graphics that poke fun out of the horror genre and even at themselves is a breath of fresh air.

The Verdict: Recommended at the current price you can find on ebay, between £5-£10. You will be chuckling for a couple of hours but not for much longer after that. 8/10