quarta-feira, 24 de dezembro de 2014

10 Arcade Games for Xmas - It's a Pixel THING

In those days that all family is gathered, using MAME is a super-fast way to play old gems and everyone will surely be involved!
If you don’t own a MAME arcade cabinet, do not worry! All these titles were out for every system out there!

Let’s start with Pang, from 1989. It was also known as Buster Bros and Pumping World. Personally I prefer just PANG!
It’s an obvious two player cooperative game where we must destroy those bouncing balloons that are threatening a bunch of known cities and landmarks. There are 50 levels through 17 locations and this game was later ported by Ocean Software to all home systems: the ZX Spectrum, the Amiga, C64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, DOS, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, TurboGrafx, The PlayStation and, more recently, iOS devices.

Tetris is another extraordinary title to play against friends! It’s simply the world’s best puzzle game ever made!
It was developed in 1984 on a Elektronika 60 computer terminal by Alexey Pajitnov, a Russian artificial intelligence researcher, and was released on the arcades 4 years after.
Everyone knows how addictive this game can be! It was a truly remarkable achievement and, obviously, was converted to every home console and computer, and, as well, every single hand-held.

What an hilarious game this is! Joe & Man, Caveman Ninja was published and released by Data East in 1991, and tells the story of two cavemen who joined forces to battle those hostile prehistoric environments with the single objective of rescuing some pretty lovely cave girls who were kidnapped by a rival tribe.
You have also to battle some astonishing bosses like a T-Rex and a huge carnivorous plant!
The game was later ported to the PC, Amiga, Super Nintendo, Game Boy and the Sega Megadrive or Genesis, if you prefer.

This is one of my favorite puzzle games ever! Plotting is just an amazing and addictive game that, when you get the hang of it, you just can’t stop!
It was developed and published by TAITO in 1989 and later ported to a crap load of home system from the good hands of Ocean Software.
It was also re-released, in 2005, for the PS2, Xbox and the PC as part of the TAITO Legends Compilation.

Another TAITO legend was, also, a puzzle game entitled Puzznic! It was considered the 34th best game of all time for the Amiga.
It’s a tile-matching puzzle arcade game, also released in 1989, and it’s a turn based, or hot-seat, 2 player game. Again, this game his highly addictive! So, be careful!
Ocean Software was, once again, the company behind the conversion to all home systems of that Era. Even, in 2003, a late PS One version was released.

From TAITO came another all-time classic: Bubble Bobble.
This title, released in 1986, introduces the twin Bubble Dragons named Bub and Bob that are on a quest to rescue their girlfriends from the cave of monsters. This was one of the first game, or even the first one, to introduce multiple endings on a video game, depending on your own performance in-game.
It was such a huge arcade success that was converted to almost every single home consoles and computers known to men, from the ZX Spectrum, in 1989, to the Nintendo Wii U, in 2014.

Jumping right away to Snow Bros, also known as Nick & Tom, it has a similar gameplay as the previous title, Bubble Bobble.
Developed by Toaplan and released by Capcom in 1990, Nick & Tom are two snowmen battling their way through dozens of stages turning their enemies into snowballs. Then, you just need to roll them to eliminate the snowy bad guys and take some of their friends with them!
There are also some bosses to take down, every tenth level. Remember to pick all the power ups you can find so that it turns our heroes faster and effective!
Aside from the NES port that was made by Capcom, and the one for the Genesis/MegaDrive from Taoplan with extra levels, all other home versions, the ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Atari ST, C64 and the Amstrad GX4000, were developed by Ocean France, but, at the end, were not released by Ocean Software. The Amiga original master copy was found in 2006 and was eventually distributed online.

DynaBlaster, also known as BomberMan, was originally developed, in 1983, for the PC by Shinichi Nakamoto. It went on selling over a million of copies and, eventually ended up on every machine there is. The arcade version appeared in 1991 by the hands of IREM Corporation under the license of Hudson Soft that were later acquired by Konami. This highly addictive strategic maze-based game was even released, in 2014, for all iOS devices.
The action takes place in the planet Bomber and we, and our brother, are on a mission to capture our ex-friend King Bomber that turned to the other side.
Another great example of a truly addictive and fun game!

Has you’ve might noticed, family friendly games are TAITO’s middle name!
This time around, we’ve picked Puzzle Bobble or Bust-a-Move, as it was known in the US and Canada.
Released in 1994 and, since then, converted to all home and portable systems on earth, this game places us on the controls of a pointer machine that fires randomly generated colored bubbles up the screen. We need to combine identically colored bubbles, in a group of three or more, in order to clear them off the screen.
This is, with no doubt, another awesome and successful family title.

Finally, from Jaleco, came, in 1990, Rodland, another Bubble Bobble type of game.
We control the fairies Tam and Rit on their quest to rescue their mother and they are armed with their magic wand that we must use against the enemy. Instead of jumping, we can magically place ladders anywhere and, doing so, avoid been captured.

It was later ported by The Sales Curve Ltd to every home system available in early 90s: the ZX Spectrum, the Amiga, C64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Game Boy and the NES. This last one was only released in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Japan, and the Amiga version was considered the 16th best game of all time on that particular platform. Recently, iOS devices also got a version of their own.

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sábado, 20 de dezembro de 2014

WolfChild [1992, Amiga / SNES] Review - It's a Pixel THING

The year was 1992 when Core Design released another awesome title.
This time around, the Atari ST was the chosen platform to develop another outstanding piece of software, but it’s on the Amiga that this title really shines. I even consider it to be an hidden gem, ‘cause every time I talk to my friends about it, no one really knows it.

For the ones that never played WolfChild, well, you should!

The game was created by Simon Phipps, the designer of Rick Dangerous and best known for providing that hilarious scream of death (SCREAM)! The audio department was in the good hands of Martin Iveson, renowned artist of the original Tomb Raider musical score.

As said before, WolfChild was originally released for the Atari ST and the Amiga, and, later, ported to every single Sega machine: the MasterSystem, Game Gear, Megadrive/Genesis, Sega CD and, also, for the Super Nintendo being, this last one, the only console version that you should play, mainly for its amazing parallax scrolling graphics and great music.

Obviously inspired from comic book art, which Simon Phipps’ is a huge fan, the characters’ animations, sprites and colorful background graphics are simply amazing.

The game features a pretty nice intro, where we get to know the reasons that made Europe’s vocalist, Joey Tempest, to submit himself to a biotechnological experiment that his father was working on before being kidnapped. The experiment gives our hero the ability to transform him into a wolf- human hybrid that has special attack techniques that may defeat the Chimera organization.

The scientist’s research was the main objective of the Chimera organization that aims to rule the world with their own breed of hybrid beings. But Joey Tempest is in the move and on its “FINAL COUNTDOWN” to slay all of those nasty creatures and rescue his father!

The action takes place over five amazing and beautifully designed multi-directional levels. In the first one we’re on this massive spaceship hovering over the clouds and taking down some stubborn bird-like bad guys. As we progress, power up items are laying around just waiting to be picked up. These items will give us the ability to change into a sort of werewolf with some bad ass weaponry!

Second level is set in a Endor-style forest and we’re faced against a horde of lizard beasts and nasty carnivorous plants.
The third level is a sort of Aztec temple filled with insect warriors that we must kill in our way to Chimera’s laboratories.

Once there, we come across a mish-mash of half-finished mutants and failed experiments which burst forth from their own incubator containers. Amazing stuff!

Apart from the first level, that functions as an appetizer to warm up the player making us believe that we’re this great undefeatable beast, all the others are quite long and maze like filled with platforms and nasty enemies in which we’re invited to explore and search carefully for extra hidden pick-ups and bonuses, shortcuts and secret rooms that are scattered through this fabulous scenario just waiting for us to discover.

In the end of each one there’s a nicely drawn boss that, in the Super Nintendo version, has pretty nice new and fancy animations when they appear on screen. So, to progress into the next level, we just need to hit them a several number of times in order for them to explode.

The sheer speed at which things happen force us to keep moving, making WolfChild a super-fast-paced game.

Technically superb, with its awesome atmospheric graphics, lightning effects and smooth scrolling, WolfChild is highly recommended to all fans of shoot’em-up platforming action.

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quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014

10 Must Have PS2 Games - It's a Pixel THING

Released, back then, as a budget title for the PS2 by the small British development team PlayIT, GrooveRider does deliver in the fun factor! Its super-fast action and innovative gameplay makes us struggle with our own brain to make decisions on the fly to avoid other cars and obstacles!
You’ll probably notice that all the graphical power of the playstation 2 is somewhere else, but that doesn’t mean that this little game isn’t enjoyable. Lighting effects are awesome and there’s a pretty nice set of car types to choose!
In my opinion, only the music could be a little better, but, once again, for a budget title we could not ask for much more!
I’ve had a blast with this one! And it has some nice and fresh ideas that are missing in many of today’s full priced titles!

Released in 2001, this was LucasArts’ first PS2 game, so that kind of makes it special and valuable, right?
This game marks a substantial step up from almost every previous console Star Wars installments released before the PS2 came along.
In Star Wars Starfighter we take control of three Starfighter pilots and several different spacecraft to help stop the invasion of Naboo.
Missions are quite simple and show some lack of creativity from the programmers. You just either have to destroy stuff or protect stuff. That’s it. But the action is highly frenetic and you’ll be extremely occupied to think of something else!
This title is somewhat of a spin-off of Episode 1 that puts us in the pilot seat and brings to my memory those awesome early and mid 90s PC and Mac exclusives X-Wing, Tie-Fighter and X-Wing vs Tie-Fighter games.
Starfighter is, with no doubt, one of the best Star Wars game ever released on a console.

This PS2 game is a port of a very successful PSP title that was released in mid 2006 at half the price of the PSP version.
Liberty City is practically the same as the one we saw in Grand Theft Auto III, but with much more incorporated elements like, for instance, motorcycles that we could only find first in GTA Vice City. Besides this, the camera movement is much better than the one present in GTA III. The sad side of this title is that if we touch the water we’re instantly dead. Unfortunately, the character we play, Toni Cipriani, just can’t swim or even climb!
The gameplay area is far inferior than the one from its predecessor, GTA San Andreas, but the story is freaking amazing, with some interesting plot twists and characters, and the dialogue is just marvelous.
You won’t regret playing this GTA title. It will offer, at least, 20 hours of gameplay and some awesome story plot, voice acting, sound effects and licensed music!

All right, everyone says that this game is crap. Crapy story, crapy camera movement, etc. It was even announced for xbox360 and ps3, but it was, eventually canceled in those platforms after constant delays.
The game was initially announced in 2005 and was only released in mid 2009 for the PS2, PSP, Nintendo DS and Wii.
Staff of Kings is not an easy game, but, in my opinion, it offers a good combat system, nice puzzles and awesome interface. Enjoying this game depends largely on how much of a fan you are of Indiana Jones. And, as I’ve mentioned in other videos, I’m a huge fan of the franchise and I’m enjoying it a lot!

This cyberpunk action-adventure game created by Core Design and released in 2001 by Eidos, takes the player to this futuristic underworld filled with a crap load of puzzles to solve.
With Project Eden, the creators of Tomb Raider tried to redefine the third-person action genre. In this sort of squad-based gameplay, where we control, at a time, 4 different characters, we’re faced with ingenious puzzles and clever level design that challenges our brain more than just shooting stuff up.
Our mission is to find two technicians missing from a meat company. That’s right, they worked for an organic meat corporation! Original stuff, to say the least!
Our four operatives must infiltrate a dangerous local gang and face some mutant animals deep through the city limits. A great puzzle solving type of game that will keep you occupied for quite a while!

I’ve recently reviewed, for the PC, the very first Micro Machines title originally released in 1991, and this one right here is a sort of come back to that old gem but in a playstation 2 environment, if you know what I mean. So, this kind of remake of the original title brings some good memories from those glory days of DOS gaming, but with improved sounds and graphics.
The mechanics are the same, but the drivers and vehicles are a bit improved.
It’s a nice addition to my PS2 collection and it’s also fun to play, but don’t expect it to be this blockbuster title from this great franchise.
Buy it, only if you find it for a couple of bucks.

This is simply one of the best games for this console. A must have title for everyone that is collecting for the Playstation 2, even if you’ve never played the arcade original from 1987.
It was originally planned to be the last game in the series, but, in 2007, Irem released R-Type Command for the PSP.
But, that doesn’t matter. R-Type Final is an astonishing title with awesome little details that will blow your mind. For instance, depending on the difficulty setting chosen by the player right in the beginning of the game, different flight paths and playing experience is provided for each level! It’s like if you’re playing a different game all over again!
R-Type Final has a huge selection of crafts to unlock and choose. There are exactly 101 ships to take out for a spin and to confront the Bydo empire.
Prepare yourself to be amazed by its awesome environments and huge bosses in this tribute to one of the greatest shooting games of all time.

Probably the most famous run&gun franchise ever! When the first Metal Slug title hit the arcade saloons it was an instant success story! The animations, sounds, music and funny looking characters were just right.
In this PS2 installment of Metal Slug 3 we get all that good stuff that made this franchise a huge hit all over the world.
It also introduced into the series alternative routes to choose and make it slightly different every time you play it.
Back in 2004 it may have been kind of odd to see 2D games being released into the market, but this is such a good argument that everyone shouldn’t resist! I believe that the console version of Metal Slug 3 is even better than the arcade original! And bring a friend, ‘cause this game is awfully hilarious played in cooperative mode!

Once again I’ve picked this European PS2 exclusive game for one of my videos. Why? Because it’s a lot of fun! It’s easy for everyone to pick a car and take it to those slippery and dusty surfaces. If you feel the need, there’s a lot of driving aids to help you start your career as a rally driver, but the best experience comes from turning off all those options.
The graphical environment in this WRC title is just gorgeous and there’s plenty of action during a stage that will probably distract your concentration and leave you co-driver angry for not listening to his pace notes.
Before advancing to the MotorStorm franchise on the PS3, the guys at Evolution Studios released, in late 2005, this last PS2 driving game. And, I believe, it was a pretty nice farewell to the good old playstation 2.
Again, this was not intended to be a hardcore rally game. It was meant to be fun and it really is! But it’s not just the fun factor the main player here, sound and graphical aspects were really well implemented. So enjoy it! And beware of those loose rocks falling down in front of your car, other drivers with their wrecked cars over the trackside, thick fog and smoke from a huge fire nearby, etc.

After two awful games from this amazing franchise, Crystal Dynamics came back to the series and revived it with, in 2006, Tomb Raider Legend and, a year later, with this awesome remake of the original game from 1996.
Everyone that played the original game should play this updated release. Back in 1996 not everyone had access to a voodoo or 3dfx graphics accelerator card to play Tomb Raider with good frame rates and smooth graphics. So, if this was your case, here’s your chance to play it, but with enhanced graphics and some new fancy moves from Ms. Lara Croft!
Try to pick up the 3-disc Collector’s Edition, like this one, that includes, besides the play disc, another one with extra bonus things and a soundtrack containing music from Anniversary and, as well, from Tomb Raider Legend.

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sexta-feira, 5 de dezembro de 2014

Video Game Pick Ups #2 - 24 Games + Bonus! - It's a Pixel THING

Let's take a look at the 24 video games I have added to my collection over the last couple of months! And there's even a bonus item at the end!
There's games for the XBOX 360, PC and PlayStation 2!

Don't forget to check out the newest KickStarter Project about the 20 years' anniversary of the PlayStation:

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terça-feira, 2 de dezembro de 2014

segunda-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2014

The Untouchables [1989, C64] Review

Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Andy Garcia joined forces to hunt down Robert De Niro in this amazing movie from 1987 under the direction of Brian De Palma.
Two years later, Ocean Software, the masters in movie and arcade conversions, puts us through six levels of hoodlum hassling.

The Untouchables are a special group of guys who have the power to do whatever is necessary to keep the civilians safe. So, we’ll be facing all sorts of bandits loyal to Al Capone’s own law to oppress and threaten the innocents of Chicago.

The game was available for Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, MSX, DOS, NES and the Super NES, but the version that really stand out from the crowd was, besides the one for the ZED X Spectrum, the Commodore 64, that obtained 96% in Zzap!64 magazine.

If you liked the movie, the game is even better!

The first level, a multidirectionally scrooling platform shoot’em up type of thing, takes us to this warehouse which Capone’s gang use as their base. We need to gather some evidence of their illicit activities. In the top right of the screen an arrow will pop up showing you the direction to take to grab that evidence. In the process, pick up any extra ammunition and energy that you can find.

All levels are taken from scenes from the movie, so, in the next section, we’ll find ourselves rolling on the floor of this bridge at the US/Canadian border where Capone’s thugs attempt to illegally cross over a shipment of liquor. Shoot the barrels till they explode and, when low on energy, change your Untouchable going to the far right or the far left by shooting the bottom right corner of the character icon the appears on screen.

Next up, the alley level on our way to the train station where we must stop Capone’s accountant from leaving the country. We must get him, and the evidence, before the train leaves, but that’s not gonna be easy, as the villains are waiting for us on every corner and will try to surprise us at every turn. Once again, you have the option to chance character once in a defensive position against the wall.

Finally, at the train station, we begin chasing this runaway baby, complete with pram, down a long flight of stairs, while killing the thugs that try to get in the way. Avoid enemy fire and any obstructions and, as well, we must also avoid shooting any innocent bystanders. Run over the medical packs to restore your energy.

When this baby is safe with her mother, we’ll be faced with a hostage situation, just like the one we saw in Robocop. The accountant has been held by one of his own henchman that threatens to shoot him in ten seconds if you do not lay down your guns. In our first opportunity, we must take the thug down with a bullet through his skull. This is the only way to be sure that he releases the accountant.

With all the evidence collected, Capone is finally in court for his own trial. However, Frank, Capone’s hitman, is still at large. We must chase him across the court rooftop ‘till he falls to his bloody death down on the streets.

The Super NES version of The Untouchables have amazing graphics and sound, but failed to score big time on this platform ‘cause it was really difficult to use the gamepad in the shooting sequences.

The team behind the Robocop game have come up with another blockbuster title. Commodore 64 version of The Untouchables has extremely detailed graphics and some outstanding music that really gets you into the action.

Let me know, below, if you played this game or if movie conversions weren’t your thing back in those days.

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quarta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2014

domingo, 23 de novembro de 2014

The First Samurai [1991, Amiga / SNES] Review - It's a Pixel THING

Late eighties and early nineties were packed with martial arts movies. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Michael Dudikoff and the most fearsome mustache of all time (Chuck Norris), just to name a few, were my favorite martial artists. Obviously, the video game industry followed this trend with the awesome Last Ninja and Shadow Dancer.

The First Samurai successfully brought, to home consoles and computers of the time, those flesh cutting swordfights and mystique that oriental culture always transpired.

Originally developed, in 1991, by Vivid Image for the Amiga, The First Samurai was so successful that the developers soon started working on other versions. Soon after they ported the game for the Atari ST, in 1992 was available the Commodore 64 and DOS and, in 1993, the Super Nintendo version also saw the light of day.

The game was programmed by Raffaelle Cecco, the creator of extraordinary 8 bit titles for the C64 and the ZED X Spectrum, such as Stormlord and Cybernoid, and his work is noticed right away, as the first images and sounds starts to strike the player.

So, what’s the fuzz all about? Revenge! As I’ve mentioned in the beginning of the episode, our master has been killed by the so called Demon King who flees to the future. Our task is to hunt him down and avenge the death of our mentor. This won’t be easy. On our quest, we’ll be visiting different worlds, from mystical places to futuristic ones.

Besides kicking and punching, there are a bunch of weapons that you can use against the enemy, like axes and daggers, but your sword is your best friend in this game. It has some magical powers and is part of a clever energy system. It is displayed by the sword icon in the bottom right of the screen and, when you slay an enemy, it releases a glowing star which is absorbed by the main character raising his own magical energy. When this energy is in its maximum, the sword will immediately be available for you to use. It is kind of an extension to the player’s own energy; so, instead of only one energy bar, you have two. This small detail, levels the difficulty pretty damn well!

Through these awesomely complex and nicely structured levels, you will encounter various types of creatures that are ready to slow you down. Those creatures can jump, run, fly and roll and won’t stop until your dead! Besides those and some annoying traps, you will also face a large variety of monsters that are hard as hell to put down to sleep.

The arm icon in the bottom left of the screen displays your energy. When you suffer from attacks or traps, the energy icon slowly disappears. Keep an eye on it and, through each level, pick up the items that can restore your energy, like potions and food baskets.
Scattered throughout the levels are also regeneration pots that work as checkpoints. A very important feature, so that, when you fall in battle, you won’t return to the beginning of the level. To use it, you need to crouch over the pot and the mystical energy accumulated during the level will then flow into that particular regeneration pot. Only one pot can be active at any one time, but you can reactivate a previously charged pot and so determine a new restart position. You even keep all the items you were carrying after you’ve been resurrected! How cool is that?

When you have enough magical energy, you will be able to pick up other magical items. These items can be used to overcome certain unpassable obstacles. Your master, just like Yoda in Star Wars, will appear from time to time to give you some hints on how to do it.

This is a game that needs your constant attention. The enemies are constantly respawning so you have to move your ass quickly and avoid stopping to smell the roses! Use and abuse the regeneration pots! These will be your best trick to advance in the game!

To conclude, the Amiga and Super Nintendo versions of this awesome game, are the ones you should try. The DOS version is also very good, but lacks that superb and cool parallax scrolling effect.

The First Samurai is a fantastic side scrolling action platformer with an amazing exotic atmosphere, graphics and sound. You really need to check it out! Believe me, you won’t regret it!

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sábado, 15 de novembro de 2014

The Great Escape [1986, ZX Spectrum] Review - It's a Pixel THING

One freaking cool scene that remains in my conscience is the one of Steve McQueen riding his motorcycle and jumping over a fence. That was something that every small boy would dream on doing!.. And later, receive visits on an hospital bedroom..

The Great Escape was developed by Denton Designs and published by Ocean Software in 1986 for DOS, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and the ZED X Spectrum.

This arcade adventure game, with a slight stealth flavor, takes place in 1942 and puts us in control of a POW somewhere in northern Germany.
In this quite unique single stage game, you need to follow a certain strict routine, along with all the other prisoners. You could just watch your character go off to his daily business. Let go of the controls, sit back and enjoy.
But, this is a computer game and it asks for human interaction! So, let’s jump right in!

About the daily routine, we must attend the morning roll call in front of the German officers, report to the canteen for breakfast, lunch, do some exercise on the yard, dinner and, at the end of the day, attend the evening roll call and return to the hut for another night under the sheets.

It’s here where you need to start to explore your surroundings if you really want to escape from that dreadful routine. Look carefully around you and you’ll find a stove in the corner, which, when pushed aside reveals a secret tunnel. But it’s too dark to explore though. You’re gonna need a source of light. And this is just the beginning of our quest.

The flying flag from the pole to the left of the main play area serves a number of functions. The higher the flag flies, the higher the morale of the central character. Getting red cross parcels or picking up or using an item of escape equipment, the morale improves. Morale is lowered with searches and arrests and gradually diminishes as time elapses. When the flag reaches the bottom, you’re forced to start a new game.

While the flag is green you have limited control and you can only be searched by the Camp Commander. When you break the routine, the flag turns red and you’re able to pick up and drop objects.

Once you’ve learned all the moves and routines of the camp, it’s time to get your hands dirty. The Great Escape is all about finding objects: keys, torches, tools, etc. Remember to have safe hiding places to drop all the objects you need for the escape. If the guards find any object, they will confiscate and return them to their original location.

Avoiding the guards is rather simple. Just keep out of their line of sight and they won’t notice you.

During the night, powerful searchlights scout the camp and prisoners outside the huts get arrested on sight. Hummm…. Maybe wearing a German uniform might help in this situation, don’t you think?

Points are awarded for escape attempts and for collecting and using objects. There are various routes to choose, each needing its own type of equipment, and once you’ve got everything, you just wait for night to fall and away you go! Once outside, you’ll need a compass and some papers or you won’t get very far..

The whole game generates a very real atmosphere of actually being there, and, sometimes, you do get very nervous if you’re stuck somewhere when the roll-call bell sounds!

In 2003 a new game based on The Great Escape movie from 1963 was released for Windows, Playstation 2 and the original Xbox. Sadly it felt somewhat unfinished and received poor reviews from critics all around the world.

This version of The Great Escape was considered one of the best games ever made for the ZED X Spectrum. The DOS version was also extremely playable, but the simple sound effects, from the PC speaker, and the lack of color made it boring after a bit.

The Great Escape is a brilliant game in both concept and design, and the non-linear gameplay and its isometric perspective was, in 1986, something totally new. 

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segunda-feira, 10 de novembro de 2014

It's a Pixel THING @ Lisboa Games Week 2014

A small taste of what the first Lisboa Games Week was all about.
I'll be back next year, that's for sure!

If you're into retro - or not so retro - stuff, please subscribe at http://www.youtube.com/user/ThePixelTHING
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sexta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2014

Trials Fusion [2014, PC] Review - It's a Pixel THING

This week's episode is about a "not so retro" title that has some good old school references. I'm talking about Trials Fusion and this game is the first Pixel THING's "Not so Retro Review" series.
Hope you enjoy watching these videos as much as I enjoy making them!

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sábado, 1 de novembro de 2014

ALIEN [1984, ZX Spectrum] Review

In 1986 I was just 11 years old when I saw, for the first time, the movie ALIEN, from 1979, and played the Spectrum game soon after.

Developed by Concept Software and originally published by Mind Games in 1984 for Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and the ZED X Spectrum, it wasn’t the first game based on the Alien franchise. The Atari 2600 was the first system to get a Pac Man game.. Huuuu, I mean, an Alien game!...

In 1982 Pac Man was one of the most popular games out there, so the Atari people thought that it would be a nice touch to adapt the maze style gameplay to this first Alien title. Well, it’s totally a piece of crap.

So, for me, the first title that can really put us in that creepy environment is this one.

Alien provides an authentic recreation of the film’s plot.

You control the crew of the Nostromo spaceship by manipulating all the characters through a series of menus. A plan of the three decks displays the current position of the character you are controlling and, beneath, their status or damage to the ship. On the 3 decks there are 35 different rooms that are connected by ducting which the alien uses freely.

To win in this game you have two options: herd the alien into an airlock and blow it into space, or destroy the Nostromo while escaping in a shuttle.
All characters have minds of their own and sometimes disobey orders if they are too scared. Jones, the cat, is an important guide to the nearness of the alien, but, unfortunately, he only likes certain members of the crew. Remember to take him with you when you’re preparing your escape in the shuttle and, to catch him, you need a cat box!

Another very important item that you need to find is the electronic tracker that beeps if anything is moving in an adjacent room.

The sound effects helped to create suspense; the fact that you cannot see where the alien is, but keep coming across evidence of its passage, and hearing it move around, adds to the atmosphere of groping around in the dark.

Until the release of this faithful movie conversion, games licensed from films or TV have been marriages more of convenience than anything else. Games like The Fall Guy or Ghostbusters just concentrated on only one or two subject ideas from the movie and even this last one was hailed as a masterpiece of thematic conversion.

Thankfully this is not the case with Alien. Alien the game was written by fans and it shows. There’s even a quick summary of the film in the excellent booklet that came with the original release of the game. Even today, tension and suspense are very difficult properties to convey on a computer game. And, back in 1984, the creators of this title succeeded in fully recreating this tense environment.

Although the graphics are simple and the looks of the alien less than frightening, there is a tremendous tension in playing this game, and needs extremely complex tactical decisions. When all you can hear are the sounds of the alien approaching, panic can easily set it.

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terça-feira, 28 de outubro de 2014

It's a Pixel THING response to Steve Benway's TAG Video

Hi, guys! This is my response to Steve Benway's Tag video from yesterday, October 23rd.
You can check out Steve's original tag video by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5u2zO8eGJo

The questions are:
1. What State/Province/Country/City/Village do you live in?
2. How did you get into collecting?
3. What does your significant other think of your gaming hobby?
4. Favorite game of all time?
5. First person you were ever subscribed too?

And now, I would like to tag:
• ShiryuGL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq7NSS5gsfD5nW0O3YcTr-w
• 1UPGameOver: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2QQacaXe_O7dlkqPG9iWaA
• Bill Benton: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoL_GLS7R8ibPS-NW1dgDcg
• Lazy Game Reviews (LGR): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLx053rWZxCiYWsBETgdKrQ
• Metal Jesus Rocks: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEFymXY4eFCo_AchSpxwyrg

Hope you respond! :)


If you're into retro stuff, please subscribe at http://www.youtube.com/user/ThePixelTHING and visit http://www.facebook.com/PixelThing & http://twitter.com/Pixel_THING
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sexta-feira, 24 de outubro de 2014

Micro Machines [1994, PC DOS] Review - It's a Pixel THING

In 1991, Codemasters thought that it would be great idea to publish a game based on those cute little cars from the Micro Machines toys franchise. And they hit the spot right in the middle!

After the huge success on the NES, Sega Megadrive and Amiga, the DOS version was inevitable. It came three years later, in 1994, and was only available in Europe featuring improved graphics and some awesome groovy music and sound effects. This particular version was developed by Big Red Software, the same guys that, two years later, made the crazy DOS exclusive title Big Red Racing that I’ve already reviewed. If you missed it, just click on the rectangle shown on your screen.

From the kitchen table to the children’s playground, from the pool table to the bathroom, etc, etc, Micro Machines will have you discover many different tracks, each one more difficult than the other, that you’ll eventually master using normal or even peculiar tiny vehicles to do so. There’s race cars, helicopters, tanks, dune buggies and even boats to use, each one in their special strange and, at the same time, familiar environment, in which you must navigate your way around obstacles such as sandcastles, coffee mugs and pot plants whilst navigating jumps set up using books and the like whilst sticking to a makeshift track painted onto the floor in chalk.

If, in your childhood, you used to play with toy cars around the house, you’ll be awfully attracted to this game! Even today, it happens to me!

Different options are available. If you play against the computer you’ll have to choose three opponents that are very different from each other, with their personal strengths and weaknesses. Nice touch! You can also play against a friend on the same computer. You and your buddy have 4 lives each and you will try to go as fast as you can so that your mate will be behind you and, consequently, ends up crossing the boundaries of the screen losing, for that matter, one of his precious 4 lives. This makes the game more tense and exciting!

Bear in mind: to win a race you need to know the course. There’s no room for wimps in this game, as you attempt to barge your opponents into track-side obstacles or off the track altogether and several of the courses were designed with this in mind.

Controlling the different types of vehicle is extremely fun. Its handling is responsive and varies from one vehicle to the next, adding yet further longevity.
It is also possible to play Micro Machines hooking up two computers using a modem through a telephone connection or even using a null modem cable.

The in game atmosphere is also extremely enjoyable with nice music and a ton of sound effects on jumps, crossing the finish line, skidding, crashing, you name it!

This game only needs 1 megabyte of hard disk space. If you don’t have that 1 megabyte available, just play it directly from a 3.5 inch floppy disk by clicking on the executable file. It may be a small game in size, but huge on quality of gameplay and production.

Micro Machines is an addictive top-down racing game that captivates your attention for hours. So be prepared! It is a wonderfully simple game with a brilliant concept that can, even today, be enjoyed by all age groups.

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sexta-feira, 17 de outubro de 2014

Myth - History in the Making [1992, Amiga] Review - It's a Pixel THING

I grew up enjoying all Ray Harryhousen’s extraordinary movies with cutting edge stop motion technology and one of my favorite films of all time is Jason and the Argonauts. Ray left us a remarkable legacy of adventure and action packed titles that will prevail for many years to come.

So, where MYTH fits into all this? Well, if you played the ZED X Spectrum or Commodore 64 version back in 1989 or, this one, the Amiga version released in 1992, you’ll know what I’m trying to say. MYTH is a stupendous videogame title extremely based on Rays Harryousen’s movies. As seen on my last episode, videogames in the 80s were highly influenced by the movie industry.

Developed and released by UK based software house System 3 for the greatest machines of late 80s, its pinnacle is the Amiga version. This version was on development for over two years after the 8 bit versions were out. So, it had to be good!

An Atari ST port of the Amiga game was also on development, but it ended up on the recycle bin. So, if you want to grab a 16 bit version of MYTH, the Amiga is the only one available, but in two flavors: disk or CD. Yes, there was a CD32 port that, unfortunately, didn’t have any improvement over the original Amiga game.

The game is split into five stages and, as opposed to what we saw in the Zed X Spectrum and C64 versions, we play with a barbarian character. Each stage consists of three levels which contain different styles of strategy and gameplay. Obviously, Mythology is what this game is all about and it covers Greek, Egyptian, Celtic and Norse. You’ll be travelling to these mythological sites which include the appropriate monsters and beasts to each particular mythology.

The objective it to slay the most evil God that ever walked this Earth, named Dameron, that killed a close friend of the main barbarian character. You must go through all this maze of platforms, killing everything that moves and solving puzzles as you go.

In the very first level we begin in Hades, the Greek Hell, and its mythology is instantly apparent as the first skeletons and blood sucking harpies appear on screen. Killing the harpies you can pick up extra energy and very important weapons to face the enemy in a more confident way. To escape from Hell you must find a way to get the trident weapon, ‘cause it’s the only way to kill the Cerberus, the three headed dog whilst, in the second level, you find yourself on the Crypts of Medusa where you need to collect the Medusa’s shield, so you can protect yourself from her evil rays.

There’s other mythological creatures to confront, such as the Hydra, Achilles and Nidhogg. Each one requires different skills to kill it. This is one of the things that makes this game so enjoyable, the nonlinear approach that we’re asked to make on every single level. Thinking of that, it is also kind of educational, forcing us to find ways of reaching victorious to the end of each level.

We’ll be also visiting amazing places like Valhallas’s castle and the great pyramid of Egypt where you’ll be searching for King Tut’s Tomb and treasure chamber.
The final battle against Dameron has a shoot ‘em up kind of feel to it. You’re flying and trying to kill the giant head of heads in this fast scrolling section.

Just for curiosity the NES version of this game, that probably was the only one available in the United States, was an enormous piece of royal crap! They even used Conan as the main character and changed the name to “Conan: The Mysteries of Time”. Upon its release, in 1991, all magazines were unanimous: this is an ugly, sad and uninspired version of an extraordinary game!

The basic idea in all platform games is to kill everything in sight and reach for the end of each level. Well, Myth is this and much more.

If platforming puzzle action is your thing, Myth is one of the best there is!

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sexta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2014

Deathchase [1983, ZX Spectrum] Review - It's a Pixel THING

Many players still insist on calling it 3D Deathchase. It’s just Deathchase, people! The 3D logo stamped on the cover was just to make it more appealing to buyers!

Back in 1983, three dimensional environments were something that was out of this world and Deathchase was a true pioneer to bring 3D action into the Zed X Spectrum.

It was developed by Mervyn Estcourt and published by MicroMega in the UK, and Ventamatic in Spain, and was an exclusive title for the Sinclair Zed X 81 and the Zed X Spectrum 48k.

As you might know, videogames in the eighties were greatly inspired by the movie industry. I’m not talking about direct film conversions to home consoles and computers. Back in those days, even original games were based in what we saw in the big screen. In this particular case, Deathchase was certainly influenced by the futuristic bike chases from Return of The Jedi and Tron, two blockbuster movies that were really hot in 1983.

In Deathchase you’re a mercenary patrolling, night and day, the vast landscape with your motorcycle avoiding collisions with trees and eliminating other hostile bikers that survived the Great War. For bonus points, you must take down helicopters and tanks that appear on the horizon and, gladly, they’re not armed! You’re the only survivor that had access to infinite ammunition! YEAHHH BABY!!! Just like a friend of mine would say: COME GET SOME!!

To advance to the next level, you only need to take down the other two riders, one blue and the other yellow. When you fire your guns, you can control the bullets just by steering the bike. It’s kind of handy, most of the time! When you take both riders down, you advance to a night version of the same level and, when you capture the other two - as I call them - riders of the night, you get a new daytime level with more trees to avoid! And so forth.

The game is amazingly fast and it only needs 16k of RAM to run! As incredible as it may sound, Deathchase is more addictive than most similar games made for today’s hardware. You’re only required to apply full throttle, turn left and right and use the auto-fire button option on the joystick to play this game. There’s no complicated and stressful combination of keys to master. You only need to concentrate and, in an instant, you’re transported to this huge forest being almost hypnotized by this amazing landscape. We can practically smell the burned fuel and the morning dew.

The only thing that is somewhat annoying is the sound of your motorbike. After a while it becomes a bit unbearable! But, there’s always a solution for that! Turn the volume a notch down, grab your smartphone and tune in to one retrogaming internet radio and you’re good to go blasting your way through the thick forests!

Deathchase was well received by the press and got a 92% rating from Crash magazine. Nine years later, in 1992, was even considered by Your Sinclair magazine as The Best Spectrum Game Ever!

As you can see, I was introduced to this wonderful world of video gaming by a title that, in the last days of the Zed X Spectrum, was considered to be the number one game for that particular gaming platform. It was such an honor, believe me!

I don’t understand why the author of this awesome game, Mr. Mervyn Estcourt, refuses to grant interviews to the retrogaming community. It kind of reminds me of the infamous and most famous Portuguese Zed X Spectrum exclusive title called “Paradise Café” that, even to this day, no one knows who made it. Perhaps, because of its sexual and controversial contents, we’ll never discover who was “behind” this gem. Probably someone that is, nowadays, well known from the public and doesn’t want to be linked to Reinaldo…

31 years have passed and Deathchase is still capable of giving a sense of accomplishment for every concluded level. You’ll be wanting to play it one more time, again, and again, and again. Thanks to its extremely accurate controls and collision system, it is a truly addictive game, even for today’s standards.

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