Posts By :

GAMESFWD

FINAL FIGHT: DOUBLE IMPACT REVIEW

FINAL FIGHT: DOUBLE IMPACT REVIEW 150 150 GAMESFWD

Somewhat of a misnomer, this two-game mini compilation contains the original arcade version of Final Fight as well as the completely unrelated action-adventure game Magic SwordFinal Fight: Double Impact features excellent emulation, multiple display options, remixed music and drop-in/drop-out co-op that simulates playing in a real arcade.

In Final Fight, you can play as three characters who must rescue the kidnapped Jessica from the Mad Gear Gang; a group determined to destroy Metro City. Each character in this seminal side-scrolling beat ’em up has their own unique play style.

Mike Haggar is the mayor of Metro City and Jessica’s father. He is a slow brute of a man that can power bomb gang members. Cody, Jessica’s boyfriend, is fast but takes a lot of damage. Cody’s best friend Guy has the ability to “wall jump” off the edge of the screen.

Whether alone or with a partner, you will move left to right through six distinct areas and dispatch hundreds of Mad Gear Gang members using a simple, two-button control scheme. One button jumps, while the other attacks. Pressing both will unleash a powerful “death blow” that can help when you are surrounded, but at the cost of some of your life bar.

Health can be replenished by destroying environmental objects and grabbing food pick-ups. You will also find weapons like pipes and swords, which can help when trying to deal with each area’s boss.

Final Fight is still one of the best beat ’em up games ever released some 21 years later and it holds up remarkably well. The graphics are colourful, detailed and feature huge character sprites. The music is also quite good, which should come as no surprise to fans of Capcom games from this era.

Magic Sword is a longer and somewhat deeper experience than Final Fight. This distinctive side-scrolling action-adventure game puts you in the role of a hero that must traverse an evil sorcerer’s 50 floor tower and stop him from using the Black Orb to take over the world.

As you climb the tower, you will encounter chests that contain keys. These keys unlock prison doors and free several types of recruitable ally. Each ally, such as a Ninja and a Warrior, has a unique look and attack trait and defense level. Choosing the right ally to take depending on a floor’s layout or enemy types can be very beneficial.

Like Final FightMagic Sword uses a simple two-button control scheme where one button jumps and the other attacks. Pressing both together will trigger a screen clearing magic attack, but at the cost of some life energy.

Getting through all 50 floors takes about an hour, but there are secret doors that allow you to skip floors and some that lead to bonus levels as well so play time can vary widely. Magic Sword still looks and sounds great and this fast-paced action adventure holds up well in 2010.

The Vault is a series of in-game challenges across both Final Fight and Magic Sword that unlock bonus content such as concept art and posters. There is even an episode of the 1990s Street Fighter cartoon that features the characters from Final Fight. Challenges task you with things like beating a game with a certain character or getting through a level in a set amount of time.

Considering the relative brevity of both games, the Vault challenges and achievement set go a long way to adding replay value to this package.

Emulation, handled here by Proper Games, provides multiple display options. The arcade monitor filter uses a phosphoric glow and scan lines to provide an authentic feel. There are also crisp, sharp and classic filters. Both games include an awesome cabinet view mode, though you can also set it to widescreen, centered or zoomed modes.

Both games have remixed/arranged soundtracks on by default, which sound fantastic thanks to a great mix of retro and modern tones. You also have the option to listen to the original soundtracks as you play, which arguably sound even better.

By default, when you create a game session you are online and can be joined at any time by anyone. You can change this setting to be invite-only, or you can choose to play offline entirely. Of course, both games support local two-player action. An  option lets you delay control input to maximize quality on poor connections.

You can also set up a custom match that allows you to start from a mid-game save file and adjust the difficulty level. You can save your progress in both games at any time and an auto save will be created if you exit.

In my experience, online play has been extremely smooth and almost seamless. When a player joins a session, the game pauses for just a few seconds before getting back into the action. Several weeks after release, there is still a very healthy community and I rarely go through a play session without being joined midway.

Final Fight: Double Impact represents both great value and possibly the best arcade game emulation on a home console to date, including excellent netcode from GGPO. Magic Sword and Final Fight are both great games and different enough from each other to keep the package from feeling stale.

Positives:

+ Excellent Emulation, “Arcade Perfect” Performance
+ Arcade Cabinet Display Mode
+ Nearly Seamless Online Play
+ Remixed Audio Sounds Fantastic
+ Vault Challenges Add Replay Value

Negatives:

– Both Games Last Under an Hour Each

FRUIT NINJA QUICK REVIEW

FRUIT NINJA QUICK REVIEW 150 150 GAMESFWD

This colourful and addictive score attack game is perfect for short play sessions. Fruit Ninja features good graphics, convincing physics and a simple, fast paced game play mechanic that can be controlled with one finger.

Various types of fruit including pineapples, strawberries, bananas and plums will be lobbed from the bottom of the screen and you must slice them by swiping a finger or thumb across your screen before they fall.  Your game well end when three pieces of fruit fall off the screen or if you accidentally slice bombs that appear once in awhile.

The game will begin by lobbing a single piece of fruit, but will quickly begin throwing up to a half dozen fruits and bombs at once or firing many in succession. As you play, you will randomly score critical hits that are worth ten points. Slicing a fruit with a normal hit is worth a solitary point.

Fruit Ninja features integration of the popular OpenFeint service to include a set of achievements, friend lists and online leaderboards. It also has Twitter and Facebook integration, though I did not personally test these two features.

The game runs in a 3D engine capable of realistic physics. Sliced fruit falls differently depending on how it is cut and it leaves the juices splatters on a wall in the background. Each fruit makes a different sound effect when sliced and the game provides an audio queue when a bomb is lobbed into the playfield.

Though Fruit Ninja is meant to be played in short bursts, I found it hard to put down at times. The simple concept of  “slice fruit, score points” proved compelling thanks to a great presentation, online features and precise control.

Positives:

+ Addictive Score Attack Gameplay
+ Great Graphics and Physics
+ Simple Mechanic, Can be Played with One Finger
+ Online Leaderboards, Achievements and Friends through OpenFeint

Negatives:

– Only One Mode of Play

ALIEN ZOMBIE DEATH QUICK REVIEW

ALIEN ZOMBIE DEATH QUICK REVIEW 150 150 GAMESFWD

Alien Zombie Death is a classic arcade-style shooter that features a good variety of enemy types and level designs. You must navigate platform structures while destroying waves of enemies to survive and building your combo meter to obtain high scores.

The game’s 14 levels are unlocked by obtaining medals as you play. These medals are awarded for destroying a set number of enemies, collecting coins and reaching certain scores. Each level has eight medals to collect and it will take you a while to earn them all.

Horizontal and vertical movement can be controlled with the d-pad or analog stick and you fire weapons left and right using the square and circle buttons respectively. You can also move vertically using the cross and triangle buttons.

The longer you survive in a level, the more enemies will appear. Obstacles like moving electrical fields and indestructible saw blades will also begin to appear, making navigation more treacherous. There are three weapon pickups to help you along the way, though they only last for a few seconds.

Every few levels new enemy types will be added to the mix including larger boss type enemies, each with a unique behaviour and attack pattern. Some levels are wide and flat, while others are tall and skinny and some have pre existing obstacles. This diversity helps keep the game fresh and made me want to collect as many medals on each level as possible.

The game looks great on both the PSP and PS3 and features detailed character and background art, as well as lots of onscreen enemies. The sound effects are good and feature distinct audio cues for collectibles and enemies appearing, though there is no music to speak of.

Alien Zombie Death is an addictive shooting experience that provides good value at a $3.99 price point. It can be played in short sessions as a portable game, or for long periods of time on the couch at home.

Positives:

+ Fast-Paced and Challenging Gameplay
+ Lots of Unique Enemy Types
+ Large Number of Medal to Earn
+ Great Graphics

Negatives:

– Weapon Power-Ups are Ineffective
– No Music

VECTOR TD QUICK REVIEW

VECTOR TD QUICK REVIEW 150 150 GAMESFWD

Vector TD is a simple and stylish fixed path tower defense game. It features eight maps spread across three difficulties, each with 50 waves of enemy Vectoids to destroy using 11 upgradeable tower types.

There is no story or overarching narrative to speak of in Vector TD, you simply select the map you want to play and begin. You can trigger enemy waves manually, meaning you have plenty of time between waves to strategize and upgrade your towers. Once the enemy wave has started, the action is real-time and cannot be stopped. You can also chose to have enemy waves advance automatically.

A queue will tell you what type of Vectoid is coming in the next wave. There are seven conventional enemy types such as those that travel quickly and those resistant to certain types of tower attack. Every five waves, a larger boss Vectoid will appear.

Destroying this boss earns an Energy Cell that can be used to purchase special upgrades like a tower that increases the strength of others around it or a permanent upgrade that grants you more resources at the end of a wave.

You begin the game with 20 lives and will lose one every time an enemy reaches the end of the path. Enemies will loop through the map if they aren’t destroyed.

Vector TD
 looks great on both the PSP and PS3 thanks to a clean and simple retro style that resembles Geometry Wars or Tempest. Enemies and towers are easy to see and the game runs smoothly at all times. There are also some nice explosion effects thrown in for good measure.

The music in Vector TD is good and seems to evolve as you play, however the solitary techno track loops too often for my taste. There are no sound effects for weapons fire or enemies being destroyed, so the soundscape feels thin overall.

Players looking for a solid, challenging, no-frills tower defense game will likely enjoy Vector TD, however it is somewhat light on content and does little to advance the genre.

Positives:

+ Clean, Stylish Look
+ Solid Tower Defense with Good Tower Upgrade System
+ Great Difficulty Progression

Negatives:

– Little Originality
– Only Eight Maps with no Variations
– No Sound Effects, Music Loops too Often

ANARCHY: RUSH HOUR REVIEW

ANARCHY: RUSH HOUR REVIEW 150 150 GAMESFWD

Despite a dated look and some jarring performance issues, Anarchy: Rush Hour provides a ton of content at a reasonable price and some cheesy, over-the-top fun. For $7.99 you are getting a full-fledged open world arcade racer that takes queues from series like Need for SpeedBurnout and Midnight Club.

Anarchy: Rush Hour is a port of the 2007 PC game Streets of Moscow. You play as Max, a street racer from St. Petersburg forced into the seedy underworld in an attempt to recover his kidnapped girlfriend, as well as a valuble experimental rocket engine.

There are a wide variety of race types in Anarchy: Rush Hour including Checkpoint races that have you zig-zagging around the city and Crash events that ask you to wreak havoc on both opponents and unsuspecting civilians. You can also enter Fastest Lap, Knockout and Drag races in addition to traditional Circuit and Point-to-Point events.

Story and side races are scattered around the map, but can also be accessed via an in-game e-mail system that gets cluttered very quickly. You can start a Quick Race from the main menu or play local or online multiplayer sessions with up to eight racers, though in my experience it was tough to get an online race together because of a seemingly sparse community.

Anarchy: Rush Hour employs a risk vs. reward system similar to Burnout. Adrenalin is gained by performing reckless acts like driving the wrong way into traffic, drifting and overtaking of opponents. Players can then use Adrenalin to power Adrenalin Devices like a shockwave that knocks opponents out of the way and one that repairs your vehicle. There are also a ramming device and one that lets you jump, flip and spin through the air.

In between races you can visit the garage. Here you can purchase a new cars, upgrade Adrenalin Devices and customize the look and tuning of your vehicle with money that you earn by racing. Purchased devices carried over to all cars and handling can be tweaked by swapping tires.

Though ported from a PC game that is now several years old, the PlayStation 3 version of Anarchy: Rush Hour suffers from frequent and grating pop-in, frame drops, tearing and slowdown.  I was able to tolerate the issues and the game was never unplayable, however many racing game fans will be frustrated by performance that struggles to maintain 30 fps.

The graphics themselves are acceptable, especially for a downloadable game. Though the city of Moscow is sparsely rendered, it is large and filled with traffic. Car models are adequately detailed and the game has three camera views. The whole package looks like an upscaled PlayStation 2 title with a few modern lighting and motion blur effects.

At the Medium difficulty, I found Anarchy: Rush Hour extremely easy. The opponent AI simply does not drive very well, making for a lot of uneventful races. The game does employ a rubber band effect that allows opponents to magically catch up to you, which is always extremely frustrating. There is a police presence in the game as well, however it is inconsequential.

The controls and physics in Anarchy: Rush hour fall squarely into unrealistic, arcade-style territory. Civilian cars bounce off of yours like cardboard boxes and after a few upgrades you can literally steer your car in mid air and perform flips using Adrenalin Devices.

Control is typical of modern racers and uses the R2 and L2 buttons for gas and breaks respectively. Adrenalin Devices are mapped to the d-pad, while boost and the handbrake are activated with face buttons. The game also supports the use of a racing wheel, though I did not test this feature much. I simply prefer playing this type of racer with a standard controller.

Aside from offering great value for those that can stomach its look and performance, Anarchy: Rush Hour features a surprisingly large soundtrack that offers music from a variety of genres including hard rock, trance and hip-hop. You can also use the Custom Soundtrack feature, which is somewhat novel among PlayStation Network titles.

Players seeking a wallet-friendly downloadable racer should find hours of fun in Anarchy: Rush Hour; as long as they know what they’re in for and keep expectations low. Fans willing to spend a few extra dollars would be better off downloading Burnout Paradise or WipEout HD, both of which are available on Playstation Network for under $20 each.

Positives:

+ Lots of Content for $7.99
+ Wide Variety of Race Types
+ Over-the-Top Adrenalin Devices
+ Allows Custom Soundtrack

Negatives:

– Severe Performance Issues
– Too Easy to Go Off Course
– Rubber Band AI
– Sparse Online Community
– In-Game E-Mail System gets Cluttered Quickly

Yar’s Revenge Quick Review

Yar’s Revenge Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

The best selling game for the Atari 2600 sees you piloting a bug-like vessel in attempt to break through a shield and destroy an enemy called the Qotile. Yar’s Revenge is a truly unique single-screen shooter that utilizes several gameplay mechanics.

You can destroy the shield of the Qotile by shooting it, or by having the Yar eat it for extra points. Eating the shield will activate the powerful Zorlon Cannon needed to destroy the Qotile. You can also activate the Zorlon Cannon by running over the Qotile itself, though you must be careful not to touch it while it is spinning.

The Qotile will launch itself across the screen intermittently. If you can destroy it while it is flying, you will receive a hefty score bonus. Players can fly vertically through the screen to perform evasive manoeuvres. The Yar can fly and shoot in eight directions and can stop and start instantly, making for precise control.

While battling the Qotile, you will be relentlessly pursued by a Destroyer Missile that will get faster as you advance. The missle can be taken out with a blast from the Zorlon Cannon. There is also a large neutral zone in which the Yar is impervious to the Destroyer Missile, however the Yar cannot fire in this zone and is still vulnerable to the spinning Qotile.

The graphics are rudimentary, but appear crisp on modern displays and the game utilizes a large colour pallete. There are distinct sound effects to signify weapons fire and a spinning or flying Qotile in addition to the constant hum of the neutral zone.

Yar’s Revenge is a classic game that must be played to be truly appreciated. Its main downfall is that there are only two enemy shield patterns to destroy at the default difficulty.

Positives:

+ Addictive, Balanced Shooting Experience
+ Unique Mechanics
+ Fun Risk versus Reward Gameplay
+ Good Graphics and Sound

Negatives:

– Limited Enemy Shield Patterns

Tempest Quick Review

Tempest Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

This wildly popular tunnel shooter is just not the same without a rotary paddle controller. Tempest also suffers from graphics that can be hard to see, though it can still provide a visceral thrill and classic arcade experience like no other.

You pilot a claw-shaped craft that rides around the edges of 16 different stages and fires at five types of enemies that make their way from the centre of the screen. You are armed with a rapid-fire laser and a screen clearing Superzapper that can be used once per level. Using the Superzapper a second time in a level will destroy a random enemy.

If you make it through all 16 levels, the game will swap colour palettes and begin again, albeit with more difficult enemies that appear in greater numbers.

Though it remains technically functional in its transition to Xbox LIVE Game Room, Tempest was meant for the speed and precision of a rotary paddle controller.

There are techniques that are quite simply impossible using a control stick or d-pad and players that were good at this game in the 1980’s will find it extremely difficult to perform at a high level because your ship does not move fast enough. There is no option to use the triggers of the Xbox 360 controller for left/right movement.

Difficulty is also falsely increased by vector graphics that can be tough to see. Darker coloured enemies don’t stand out against the black background and the lines are extra thin because of the game’s vertical orientation, which appears rather small on a widescreen display.

Tempest does provide fast-paced action and features a cool aesthetic that clearly influenced Geometry Wars and great sound that helps suck you in to the game.

Positives:

+ Fast-Paced Action
+ Cool Neon Aesthetic and Great Sound

Negatives:

– Missing Speed and Accuracy of Rotary Paddle Controller
– Vector Graphics are Hard to See
– No Option to Use Triggers for Control

Finalizer: Super Transformation Quick Review

Finalizer: Super Transformation Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

For the time it was originally released in arcades, Finalizer: Super Transformation is an advanced vertical-scrolling shoot ’em up that features a wide variety of enemy types and a fun power-up system. It is a good game that fans of the genre should appreciate, though technical limitations of the original hardware keep it from being truly great.

Players begin Finalizer: Super Transformation as a jet, but as the title suggests you can transform into a robot by collecting power-up items. Once in robot form, you are given a shield that can withstand several hits and can collect even more powerful weapons.

As you fly over a realistic world map, you will be confronted by several enemy types, each with their own flight and attack patterns. Every so often, you will encounter a boss ship that spews a large number of projectiles similar to modern “bullet hell” games.

The main drawback that I found is that even after 20-30 minutes of play in a session, I’ve only encountered one boss type and it takes a long time for the difficulty to ramp up. Compared to more modern games, Finalizer: Super Transformation is tame, though it avoids being cheap or frustrating like many 1980’s contemporaries and the game rewards both skill and a sound strategy.

As more enemies appear on-screen, the graphics will flicker and the game will slow down noticeably. Another complaint related to limitations of the original hardware is that enemy ships can be obscured because of a limited and bland colour palette. The sound effects in this game are not particularly good and the music is jarring when appears, seemingly at random.

Despite its technical shortcomings, fans of the shoot-em-up genre should consider giving a spot in their Game Room to Finalizer: Super Transformation.

Positives:

+ Good Variety of Enemy types
+ Fun Robot Power-Up System including a Shield
+ Responsive Controls
+ Fun but Limited Boss Encounters

Negatives:

– Colour Palette can Obscure Enemies and Obstacles
– Weak Sound Effects and Music
– Flickering and Slowdown Later in Game
– No Auto-Fire, Button-Mashing Required

Gravitar Quick Review

Gravitar Quick Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

Gravitar can still be a fun and rewarding game, however it can be difficult to see the vector graphics and the controls suffer in the transition to the Xbox 360 controller. This title tasks you with ridding planets of enemy bunkers and picking up fuel reserves while compensating for extreme gravity effects using pitch and thrust control.

There are three solar systems in Gravitar, each containing a death star, an alien planet and four regular planets. While in solar system view, your ship will gravitate towards the death star and can be destroyed by enemy fire. Once you enter planetary view, you will be pulled towards the ground and have to contend with fire from both ships and bunkers. As you approach the ground the game view will zoom in, which was quite an advanced feature in 1982.

Unfortunately, in 2010, even when the game is zoomed in it can be quite difficult to see anything on an HD display. The vector graphics representing your ship and your enemies are drawn with thin lines and darker blue and red tones don’t provide enough contrast against the stark black backgrounds. Enemy fire is particularly hard to make out.

The controls inGravitar are tough to master. Pitch, originally assigned to two digital buttons, is mapped to your control stick or d-pad and it never quite feels responsive enough. Thrust, weapons fire and the tractor beam used to collect fuel are all assigned to separate buttons. Getting a grip on Gravitar can be very rewarding, though in my case putting in the time to do so was hampered by eye strain.

The gameplay is timeless as evidenced by the recent success of Gravity Crash and PixelJunk Shooter, two titles that borrow heavily from the ideas presented in Gravitar.

Positives:

+ Rewarding to Master
+ Timeless Gameplay

Negatives:

– Graphics are Small and Hard to See
– No Sound to Speak Of
– Brutally Difficult and Unforgiving
– Some Slowdown when Destroying Enemies

SHAO-LIN’S ROAD QUICK REVIEW

SHAO-LIN’S ROAD QUICK REVIEW 150 150 GAMESFWD

Shao-lin’s Road is a great-looking and sounding platforming beat ’em up that is considered the sequel to Yie Ar Kung Fu. Players will jump and kick their way to glory in five unique levels, each consisting of two stages.

In the first, you will face a set number of enemies and in the second stage you will be confronted by even more enemies and a tougher boss character to contend with.

Each level has a number of platforms to do battle on, which are accessed by pressing up and down on the control stick or d-pad.

Your character can kick on the ground, perform jump kicks and kick while transitioning between platforms, which creates a surprisingly versatile combat arsenal. You can also grab power-ups like a spinning shield and a spiked projectile.

Shao-lin's Road Still Looks Great After 25 YearsYou can withstand a total of four hits before losing a life and a distinct flashing will warn you when you are low on health. You can also lose life by falling off the edges of platforms without jumping. Bonus points are awarded for completing stages unscathed. Should you complete all ten stages, Shao-lin’s Road will start over again at a higher difficulty.

Even by today’s standards, I consider Shao-lin’s Road a great-looking game. The sprite-based graphics are crisp and the rich colour palette pops off of the screen.

The game never slows down, even with a large number of enemies on-screen. The soundtrack features intricate arrangements and catchy tunes with a audible Chinese influence.

Shao-lin’s Road is challenging without feeling cheap and an excellent example of an early beat-em-up. It provides plenty of fast-paced action that rewards both precision and quick reflexes.

Positives:

+ Fast-Paced Fighting Action
+ Boss Characters have Distinct Personalities and Attacks
+ Excellent Graphics
+ Intricate and Catchy Music
+ Smooth Performance with no Slowdown

Negatives:

– Only Five Unique Levels