sexta-feira, 29 de agosto de 2014

ALIEN 3 (SNES) - It's a Pixel THING

Alien 3, directed by David Fincher, was a good looking movie with a crappy story that didn’t do so well on the box office. As for the game based on the movie, it still is one of my best Alien based videogame of all time.

Developed by Probe Entertainment and released between the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993 for a crap load of 8 and 16 bit systems, the one that really was worth playing was the Super Nintendo version.

The game wasn’t at all faithful to the movie. There were only 3 things that makes us remind Alien 3: the title, the intro scene and Ripley’s haircut. Everything else is different, like the fact of all the levels are filled with aliens – in the movie there was only one – and, as the game starts, we’re granted access to a flame thrower, pulse rifle and a grenade launcher – once again, in the movie, there were no fire arms of any kind whatsoever. So, I think that we can’t directly compare the action present on the game to the one we see in the movie. Besides these observations, the game plays freaking well and it’s an extremely good platformer!

With its dark environment, creepy soundtrack and the well-known motion tracker – that was also absent from the movie, the six action-packed levels of the Super Nintendo version features a well-structured mission based system with a series of goals to complete in each one. Computer terminals can be found within the hallways, which link up to a static list of tasks that must be completed to advance to the next section. These missions can be taken in any order and include rescuing prisoners, destroying eggs, repairing damaged pipes, welding doors shut, and picking up power packs from one room and taking them to a generator in another. These were the main differences to all other previously released versions of the game, where you only have to destroy all aliens, free all abducted Fiorina 161 convicts and head to the exit before time runs out. Other big advantage of the Super Nintendo port was that there was no time limit.

To conclude, Alien 3 on the Super Nintendo is a time killer of a game. You start playing it and, in an instant, four hours have passed without even notice! The extremely well drawn graphics and its awesome parallax scrooling, which produce a beautiful illusion of depth, keeps us focused and even absorbed by its awesome gameplay!

Try to play Alien 3 in complete darkness! You’ll be amazed!..

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quinta-feira, 21 de agosto de 2014

FUEL: a thought [PC • XBOX360 • PS3] - It's a Pixel THING

FUEL, as you might know, features a gigantic open world environment set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, ravaged by extreme weather.

Fuel has become more valuable than gold, though your focus will be on finishing the races to get more of that precious liquid, something we’ve seen on the cult movie Mad Max.

Published by Codemasters in 2009, this game received average reviews and its massive fifty five hundred square miles of land was certified by the Guiness Book of Records as, and I quote: “the largest playable area in a console game”. 

To this day, FUEL sold about 670.000 units worldwide.

There’s 75 vehicles to unlock, 70 races and 190 challenges. In some of these challenges you’ll not only be facing your opponents but, as well, huge tornadoes and massive sandstorms.

All these features were kind of unique on a video game, but this wasn’t the original idea. As you might know, France is home of world’s greatest offroad event: the Dakar. In consequence, France is also a country that built fantastic drivers.

French people are passionate for offroad events and, as a kind of homage to this fact, Asobo Studio announced, in 2005, Grand Raid Offroad. This was the original title of this massive open world offroad racing game and, as a huge offroad racing fan, I was blown away by the first trailer and pictures that came out on the internet.

Back in September of 2005, I interviewed, for my blog, Sebastian Wloch, CEO of Asobo, in an attempt to know more details about Grand Raid Offroad. The game would feature typical 4x4 offroad vehicles, motorbikes and trucks, just like in the real Dakar race, and the number of tracks to be unlocked would be, as Sebastian mentioned, “insane”. It would include online features such as: trading car parts, creating race teams, sharing car improvements, parts research, etc..
As for the length of the tracks, I was told that races would range from 3 minutes up to several hours with no pausing. But all this depended on the publishing deal that they were looking for.

So, there came Codemasters knocking on Asobo’s door, probably afraid of the competition. In order to get a publishing deal, Asobo Studio complied to Codemasters demands and performed all the graphical and gameplay changes asked. The game no longer featured vehicles based in real models, like the Volkswagen Touareg, and no longer presented a threat to future offroad rally games that Codemasters were planning to release for the next generation consoles, like the beginning of a brand new series of Colin McRae games: DiRT (in 2007) and DiRT 2 (in 2009).

FUEL was born and placed right in the middle between offroad games and open world racing. June of 2009 was the release date, 90 days before the highly anticipated worldwide launch of DiRT2.

A few elements, though, remained intact: the free roaming mode that allows us to drive anywhere in the game world without incurring loading times.. except if you crash or reset your vehicle; and the exploration mode where you’ll discover new challenges as you go.

Now, tell me, do you prefer FUEL as it is? Or would it be much more fun if the original idea prevailed? Just let me know what you think! You’re free to comment below!

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quinta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2014

Top 6 Mountain Bike Games Ever - It's a Pixel THING

Besides playing games, real Mountain Biking is an hobby of mine. The freedom and the sensation of almost being part of nature is something that inspires me and keeps me motivated. 


Developed by GreenTube, Mountainbike Challenge 2010 is a freeware title financed by in-game advertising.

Graphics are great, the controls are simple, but the music is a bit repetitive.

It still has a huge online community and thousands of people still play it online.

There’s only 5 tracks available, but, in a free game, what else could you ask? It’s freaking fun!

Go play it!

No Fear Downhill Mountain Bike Racing (1999 – PS ONE) 

Developed by Unique Development Studios and released by Codemasters in 1999 for the PS ONE, No Fear Downhill Mountain Bike Racing features 8 international tracks and 8 riders to choose from.

The tracks are long and based on real locations and you can customize your bike on almost every detail.

To win you need to conserve your energy, so try to maintain your speed at all time.

Reviews were really bad but, who cares? It’s made for people that love riding bicycles and not play freaking football!

Later, in 2001, was also available for the Game Boy Color. A planed Dreamcast version was canceled.

Mountain Bike Adrenaline (PS2 - 2007) 

Mountain Bike Adrenaline isn’t as bad as most people praise. It tries to be a real mountain bike simulator and, when you get used to the controls, its great fun.

Developed by Fresh 3D and released in 2008 by Nobilis, it has a sense of freedom that no other mountain bike game has to offer. And I love that feeling!

You control separately the front and the rear brakes and use automatic or manual shifting. 

Unfortunately, the physics engine is a piece of crap. The budget that the developers had for this title was really low compared to other games made for the PS2 at the time. So, they couldn’t use the Havok physics engine in this game. It was too expensive.

Those who are actual mountain bikers are the only ones that will probably enjoy this game’s open tracks.

It was ported, in 2008, for the PC.

Bike Mayhem Mountain Racing (Android - 2014) 

Horizontal scroolers is what android and iOS games are all about! Simple and fun! And the graphics in this game are simply beautiful!

You compete in timed races or freestyle trick events on 19 different mountains and over 100 trails inspired by real world locations. 

You unlock better bikes and gear and try to be the King of the Mountain!
Physics are somewhat realistic and the ragdoll effect of the rider is awesome. 

When you crash, use your finger to pick up the rider and throw him even further watching him tumbling down the trail! So freaking hilarious!

Developed by BestFreeGames Inc. and released in May 2014, Bike Mayhem Mountain Racing is a great piece of software that should always be in your pocket.


Mountain Bike Simulator or Mountain Bike 500 (ZX Spectrum – 1991) 

Published by Codemasters in 1991, Mountain Bike Simulator (aka Mountain Bike 500) was my first experience on a virtual mountain bike scenario.

It’s an horizontal scroller, just like actual Android and iOs games, that glued me to the ZX Spectrum for hours.

In a time that BMX bikes ruled, mountain bike started to gain followers spite the prohibitive price tag of the machines.

Obviously that this game fails to replicate the actual feel of riding a bike over rough terrain, but that would be a tad difficult to do on a Spectrum anyway.

You have to navigate through small and large bumps, jump over ditches and pools of water or oil. You only need to control the speed of the bike and whether you want to jump or wheelie or both.

There’s six levels of increased difficulty and it’s really hard to win in all of them, but the smoothness of the scrolling is what makes this game a winner.

The game received shitty reviews mainly because the sport was a novelty and, back then, either you buy a ZX Spectrum or a brand new mountain bike. You just couldn’t have them both. You’ll be bankrupt, that’s for sure!

Downhill Domination (PS2 – 2004) 

Donwhill Domination is simply my favorite mountain bike game of all time.

The action, the soundtrack, the graphics, the speed! Oh, man! Everything is amazing and super fun!

It’s totally an hidden gem and reviews were, as always in this sport, total crap. Guys that sit all days on their asses playing games and making reviews for websites and magazines should go out to the mountains more often!

Exclusive to the PlayStation 2, Downhill Domination was developed by Incognito Entertainment and released by Codemasters in 2004 in Europe and a year earlier in the US by Sony Computer Entertainment of America.

It’s based on fictional locations and riders, but you can unlock 5 professional racers, such as Brian Lopes and Eric Carter.

Due to the incline of the tracks, you’re always riding downhill and there’s 27 of them to conquer. You travel around the world from the Grand Canyon to Japan and there’s a bunch of different styles of riding from which to choose, including Freeride, Mountain Cross and Technical Downhill.

There’s some impressive and huge courses to play with an amazing level of detail and the environment changes often. In a minute you’re on the top of this mountain covered with snow and seconds later you’ll find yourself on a stony section or blasting your way through a mine shaft that leads to a completely different section again. There’s even polar bears, deers, vehicles and hikers that you can hit or be hit by.

This game was designed to be played fast and do stuff that you’ll normally won’t do in real life.

I simply enjoy exploring the wilderness and everything offroad related. Mountain biking is a thing that I really love to do ever since I learned to ride a bicycle.
Forever I’ve been on a lookout for mtb games that could keep me occupied in those cold winter Saturday mornings. 

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sexta-feira, 8 de agosto de 2014

Batman: The Movie (ZX Spectrum) - It's a Pixel THING

Batman: the Movie, from 1989 is an action/platform game based on Tim Burton’s amazing film of the same name and was released for a bunch of systems: the ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MS-DOS, Apple II and Atari ST.

There’s five action packed stages based on the movie and, when I first tried to load the 128k version of the game on my spectrum, about 14 minutes later I was blown away by the fantastic music by Mathew Cannon and all the 5 levels loaded at the same time! That was just freaking amazing!

In the first level we control Batman through the maze of platforms. We’re looking for Jack Napier and the action takes place at his Axis Chemical plant. You know what happens next: Jack falls into a container filled with acid. The Joker is born.

In the Spectrum version, the second level is a horizontal scroller where you take the wheel of the Batmobile through the streets of Gotham dodging traffic and avoiding the police using, for that matter, the grapple gun to go super-fast around corners. On the other versions of the game, the action is seen from behind the car making it look more natural but harder.

Third level is a puzzle section where Batman needs to identify all the components of the deadly chemical called Smilex that Joker launched into the market.

Succeeding this stage, we’ll be facing the parade sequence in which we’ll be flying the Batwing and use it to cut away the balloons filled with poisonous gas without hitting them.

If you get bored and wish to see right away the last level of this great game, just hold down one of the following combination of keys: “E+D+2+0+9” in reference to Robocop, or “M+I+C+K” probably referred to Mike Lamb, the programmer of the spectrum version, and you’re good to go!

The fifth and last level is similar to the first one and takes place at Gotham cathedral to finally get Joker on its knees. Although, there’s new hazards to consider like rats and platforms that crumble as you walk on them. The map seems bigger than the one on the Axis Chemical Plant and you need extra skills to get to the top of this huge Cathedral. At the very top, Joker makes his last move and tries to flee using a helicopter. You need to throw one more batarang and you get a great end sequence watching Joker falling down outside of the building.

I enjoyed this game a lot and even continue to play finishing it over and over just to beat the maximum score board points. Was I crazy or what?

Spectrum version of Batman the Movie was number one on the charts and was awarded Game of the Year in Crash magazine. Commodore 64 got the worst version that was filled with annoying bugs.

If you’re into some platforming action featuring a legendary comic book hero, you need to try this game!

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