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.

If you're into retro - or not so 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, 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:

If you're into retro - or not so 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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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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