JetPac - mojo Refuelled (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

I've been in a real gaming funk lately. My two wireless 360 controllers broke within a day of each other, so I went over a week without the 360 as I waited for my new one to arrive in the post. I couldn't be bothered with any of my PC games, and I really couldn't be bothered to hook up any of my old systems. The iPhone did provide some moments of respite, but... y'know.

Then, on Saturday, my new 360 controller arrived... and I just couldn't stand any of the games I tried to play! Disc after disc was thrown in and ripped back out in minutes, if that, as my malaise seeped into the core of my gaming persona. I needed something that was a quick blast, to try and re-ignite my fires. And so I turned to one of the first games I bought for my 360... JetPac Refuelled.

Lasers are pretty.

JetPac, of course, was one of the Spectrum's all-time classic games. Released by the legendary Ultimate, it was a single-screen shoot 'em up where you played a spaceman who had to rebuild a variety of spaceships whilst fending off the hostile natives with your blaster. It was great fun, and one of the games I really coveted as a Commodore 64 owner.

I was over the moon when I bought my 360 and found JetPac Refuelled on the XBLA Marketplace. I bought it without so much as looking at a single review. And I wasn't disappointed... not only was it a great piece of blasting action, it also contained the original JetPac! It was the best of both worlds on my 360, and I really enjoyed it.

...aaaaand we're outta here.

Of course, with my 360 being new, I was distracted by the shinies... new and lovely-looking games were everywhere, and JetPac Refuelled was soon shoved to the back of my mind as I indulged myself in the finest games the modern generation had to offer. But it was never forgotten...

A few months ago, I got back into the game in an attempt to pick up one of the achievements that I really felt I ought to have... Retro Cyclist, given for completing the original game. The old-schooler in me wouldn't let it rest until I had that one. I'd grown up playing that game, even if it was just on mates' Speccys. There was no way I was going to let it beat me. And though I found a couple of the sixteen levels bastard-hard, it finally fell to me after a few days of trying.

This is how we kick it old-school.

And then I left the game alone again.

I certainly had unfinished business with it, though. I don't think I'd ever really played it properly, or concentrated hard enough, and so my games had finished far short of where they should have. And then, whilst reading up on the game on TrueAchievements, I spotted something that I'd never noticed before. The game has a smart bomb!

It was no wonder I wasn't getting as far as I should, or scoring as highly as I should. There are times when JetPac Refuelled overwhelms you, with tons of enemies on-screen at a time. It's actually one of the game's little flaws... in taking advantage of the power of the modern system, there's actually too much going on at times, and occasionally you or your enemies get lost in the backgrounds, which leads to the odd unnecessary and frustrating death. I think that was what had put me off going back to it, in part. But the discovery of the smart bomb changed that.

When the enemy numbers increase, sparks will fly.

And so, after an hour or so this afternoon, three more achievements have fallen to me... Survivalist, for reaching level ten without dying; Robo Rocket, for building the ship on level thirteen; and Millionaire Man, for, ummm, getting a million points. I'm happy with that... that's over 600,000 better than my previous high score.

It's amazing what finding out one little extra game mechanic can do for you. Having said that, I kind of learned how to play the game properly as well, learning not to fly recklessly around the screen, timing my excursions better and bunny-hopping around the ship with a fuel canister to hand when things looked dangerous. It's opened the game up, and I can now see myself cracking on with it in an attempt to finish the game.

Peeeoooowwwww! That's what a smart bomb'll do for you!

JetPac Refuelled is a lovely update of a classic game, at a great price (400 Microsoft Points). It's pretty much a must-have for anyone's 360, and I'm very happy to have re-re-discovered it. It's knocked me out of my gaming funk and, as you can see, out of my writing/blogging funk too. That's good, because I've got some projects I need to crack on with...

Sega Rally Online Arcade

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

I love Sega Rally. From the arcade and Saturn versions right up to its rebirth on the 360, it's a great racing game. The original version was most definitely an arcade game... short, sharp bursts of racing on a small number of tracks, with hardly any cars available. It handled like a dream, and constantly kept you coming back for more in the hope of shaving milliseconds from your best times.

The current-gen update of Sega Rally (known as Sega Rally Revo in the States) was an altogether different beast in a lot of ways. It retained the awesome handling, but added loads of tracks in the form of Championships and Leagues. It was, and still is, eye-wateringly, hair-tearingly difficult. I mean, it's rock hard. Every now and then, I'll find myself loading it up in the forlorn hope of eking out a few points so that I can unlock the next League. It's so, so hard. And yet, I still love it.

Wonder if that place is open? I fancy a bacon sandwich.

Now we have Sega Rally Online Arcade, a Live Arcade title by Sumo Digital, weighing in at just 800 points. What a bargain! Or is it? I've had a good go at finding out.

Sega Rally Online Arcade follows OutRun Online Arcade in updating a classic Sega arcade game for the XBox Live Arcade market. OutRun Online Arcade was amazing, featuring the classic five-ending race and a Heart Attack Mode. It was also a great high score game, and I was involved in some epic tussles on my Friends Leaderboard, with positions changing all the time. In the end, my son Aidan, who was eight years old at the time, emerged at the top. Little swine.

Nothing like a quiet Sunday drive in the countryside. And this is nothing like, etc...

You're not going to get as much leaderboard fun out of SROA, because you don't score points. You're also not going to get as much depth... whereas OutRun has fifteen different stages to master, SROA has only five (as far as I know at this point - oh, and they're all similar to those in Sega Rally Revo). You can tackle three of them from the outset in the Quick Race Mode, and if you try the Championship and race through all three in first place, you will unlock Lakeside... finishing first in that one will see you unlock it for Quick Race play.

The fifth course is the classic Desert course from the original Sega Rally, and you get to race on that using the classic cars from that game. It's a lovely touch... it would be lovelier if you got all the original tracks (I don't know at this point that you don't, they may be unlockable, but it doesn't look like it).

Say hello to an old friend...

I have to say that the car handling feels different in this game to past games. I find that a bit odd in some ways... surely it should feel the same as the first 360 Sega Rally? But it's a bit more arcadey, a bit more forgiving. Whereas I love that first 360 game, it really is rock hard and that's offputting to some. This one can be blasted through fairly easily. It's an exercise in fun. You wouldn't enjoy battling your buddies if you were gnashing your teeth at the difficulty level, would you?

So, it doesn't sound like you get that much, but it's only 800 points, which is a bit less than seven quid. And I think the focus is set more firmly on the Online aspect... this IS an arcade game, and the intention is to fire it up for a quick blast with your mates, with the single player mode being ideal for practicing or if you fancy a bit of high-speed action without any major time commitment. I reckon it does the job very well for the price... see you on the beach!

Top 10 of '10: Number 5 - Split/Second (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , ,

Out of all the games on the list, Split/Second is perhaps the one that surprised me the most. I mean, I do love a good racing game, but this one was up against the heavily-hyped Blur as direct competition, and although developer Black Rock had a racing pedigree, Blur came from Bizarre Creations, who apart from the Geometry Wars games were known for a little series called Project Gotham Racing...

OK, so we can only have two fielders outside the circle here... what?

Split/Second comes at the racing game from a different angle, pitting you as a contestant in a dangerous high-speed TV show. To bolster that impression, the whole front end is served up TV-style, with an announcer, erm, announcing where each episode will take place and what will be involved. When playing through a Season, you get to choose the running order. That's crazy, what would the TV executives say?

As far as gameplay goes, I reckon that Split/Second comes off as kind of a cross between Burnout, The Running Man and ITV's Run The Gauntlet (who remembers that little gem?). The racing is fast and furious, some of the events are a lot more interesting than you'd expect to find in a racing game (you don't normally expect to find heavily-armed helicopters or trucks spewing explosive barrels in your way), and the stunts are spectacular...

It's all going wrong here...

Let's talk a bit more about those stunts. As the game is rigged to be like a TV show, there are explosives and set-pieces all over the place. Of course, they're no fun if they just sit there, so by racing in a dangerous or daring fashion, you're able to build up a powerplay meter. This has a number of levels... at its most basic, you can trigger it and take out a number of opponents if you time it right.

At its most powerful, though, you can unleash a course-changing catastrophe, some of which include bringing down a building, crashing a plane onto a runway or blowing away sections of a dam. These events are truly spectacular, and the first time you set them off it's a real jaw-dropping moment, and if you come through the other side unscathed you come away with a real adrenaline rush and a huge grin on your face.

Go me-ee! Go me-ee!

There are a couple of slightly weak points... the racing, thrilling though it is, has a tendency to have some harsh rubber-band AI. I don't particularly mind that, but I know that some people do, so it's worth bearing in mind. Also, considering the fact that the game is set up as a TV show, not enough is made of that through the actual racing. It would be nice to have the point reinforced now and then (not incessantly) with a little commentary on key events. Another thing... if you wreck a racer I reckon they should be out of the race and replaced by another competitor, although that might make it tricky when it came to you being wrecked...

Yeah, well, it's not like it hasn't happened before...

Those are minor quibbles, though, and don't serve to spoil what is an extraordinary video game racer. I don't usually sell or trade in that many games (although I might be having an eBay blowout in my week off!), but sometimes needs must, and after I'd seen the end credits on Split/Second I flogged it off and put the money towards something else. I kind of regret that, and in fact I'm going to re-buy it, such was my enjoyment of the game. If you haven't played Split/Second yet, I'd highly recommend you hunt it down yourself.

Top 10 of '10: Number 6 - Game Room (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

In some ways, it pains me to put Game Room in my top 10. Arriving with something of a fanfare and the promise of several new arcade games a week, the ability to design your own arcade and to have friends over to visit, it sounded like a retro gamer's dreams come true. Well, barring a lottery win and buying an entire real arcade, that is.

At first, Game Room seemed great, despite the lack of publishers at the outset... all we were given were Konami and Atari arcade games, Atari and Activision 2600 games, and games for the Intellivision. Not exactly "arcade" games in many cases, but still interesting in many cases, and it meant we got to discover some of the more obscure arcade classics from Atari and Konami. But the fact that the release of the first add-on pack of games was delayed should have been a warning to us all...

I've got no more tens left now...

Still, I bought loads of games, played them all, unlocked new stuff for my arcade and earned loads of Achievements. It seemed a bit odd that we were still only getting games from the same few companies, but everyone expected the announcement of new parties before long.

And then it all went wrong. There were no new parties announced. Krome, the developer, was shuttered. Pack 13, ominously, was sent out in one go, rather than over three weeks, as had been the norm for a while. A Christmas present, perhaps? Apparently not... there have been no new releases for Game Room in 2011. And there hasn't been a single word from Microsoft as to what's going on with it. So you have to figure it's dead.

Arrrr... here, there be... ducks?

And the worst thing of all for me... after gaining 980 of 1000 Achievement points, and putting in around 30 hours, I was forced into an update... which completely wiped all my progress. And with the only Achievement I haven't yet won being for playing for 36 hours... well, I was too crestfallen to continue.

Which is ridiculous, really. For all I've said up there, I spent a lot of money and had a lot of fun out of Game Room in 2010. And I do still own all those games, and I do still enjoy them, so I'm sure to play again over time. Even though it's a dead duck in 2011, it was good enough to be my number six of 2010.

Top 10 of '10: Number 10 - Pinball FX2 (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

I'm rubbish at pinball. I don't even understand it, to be honest. You have all these objectives that you're supposed to complete, and I never know what I'm supposed to do. So I just bat the ball around the table for as long as possible. And that's OK. I enjoy that. It's all good.

But you'll already know all that if you read my take on it back in October.

Never saw Spidey resort to using shiny metal balls in his fight against crime.

Since I first played Pinball FX2, Zen Studios have released a series of Marvel-themed tables, which I have also bought. They're all pretty good, and having familiar sights and sounds on a table adds a bit extra to the appeal. So altogether, with the imported tables from Pinball FX, I've got seventeen tables on my Xbox 360. That's one of the best things about playing old-school games on a modern system... where the hell would I store them all if they were real tables?

Careful, Wolfie. You'll have the table on tilt with your temper.

Pinball FX2 is probably one of the ultimate “casual” games for me... I really only tend to play it when I'm not in the mood for anything specific or can't be bothered trawling through my shelves of partially-played games. It's a great way to kill fifteen minutes or so, too... and I've killed an awful lot of fifteen minutes', I have to say.

And that's about it, really. Besides the great online Friends' leaderboards, there's nothing terribly revolutionary here, just an awful lot of good pinball. But what more would you want from a pinball game? Pinball FX2 does exactly what it's supposed to, and that was enough to land it at Number 10 in my rundown.

Deathsmiles Deluxe Edition (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

I've been playing arcade games for five decades now. Yeah, I'm only thirty-nine years old, but I started at the back end of the Seventies, with games like Space Invaders and Galaxian. In all that time, I've always gravitated towards shoot 'em ups. There's just some primal thrill to be had from cutting down waves of enemy attackers in a hail of bullets.

In recent years, arcade games have taken a massive popularity hit, particularly in the West, where it seems that the few arcades that are left are stocked with nothing but rhythm or racing games. There is one last bastion of "true" arcade gaming left, though... Japan.

Look at them... they look like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. Well, except for Rosa...

The Japanese, from what I've read, still seem to have a fairly vibrant arcade scene. They have legendary fighting tournaments on games like Street Fighter, and they're also incredibly good at shoot 'em ups. We're not talking about the likes of Galaxian here, though... the humble shooter has evolved in Japan, and there's a sub-genre that is especially prominent... the bullet hell shooter.

The bullet hell shooter is a daunting experience for the novice or the uninitated. Generally, they start off much like any other arcade shooter, but it doesn't take long before you find otherwise, and crazy enemies are spewing ridiculous, screen-filling amounts of projectiles in every direction. There are times where it seems impossible to survive, but for the absolute best players, everything is survivable...

Well, no point delaying any longer... here we go...

I've convinced myself over the years that I love bullet hell shooters, to the point where I wrote an article on my PS2 collection for Way of the Rodent, a few years ago. In truth, there are many of them that I don't love, but appreciate... and some of them are truly hateful. And yet, I still enjoy subjecting myself to them, even though I'm rubbish at them. I can't help buying new releases, possibly in tribute to an age-old game style, more probably because I just love high score games where you shoot things. And so it was that I came to buy Deathsmiles.

If there's one developer whose name stands above all others in the world of the bullet hell shooter, then it's probably Cave (sorry, dear departed Psikyo). They're legendary for making gorgeous games that are a lot of fun, but that will make you cry bloody tears due to the amount of bullets you have to wend your way through. Deathsmiles was produced by Cave. Now my eyes hurt.

Bad doggy! Bad, bad, REALLY BAD doggy!

Deathsmiles tells the story of four girls (five, if you play the Mega Black Label version) that were taken from their world at various points in their lives and relocated to the world of Gilverado. Unbeknownst to them, they each had the magical powers needed to save this world from a demon scourge that is finding its way through a mysterious portal to Gilverado. This is where you take up the story, and control of the girl of your choice, to put down this demon uprising once and for all, and maybe win your way back to your true home in the process...

The story is somewhat inconsequential; it's really just an excuse to put some young anime girls into a bullet hell game. If you've ever played a bullet hell game, you'll have noticed that's another way the games differ from Western shmups... they tend not to have you controlling a spaceship, preferring instead to have a more human-looking central protagonist. It's a bit weird at first to see these delicate flowers whizzing about the screen, dealing large amounts of pink laser death... but only a bit, and not for long.

Fly, fly my pretty...

Deathsmiles gives you six core areas to tackle... only once you've defeated all six can you move on towards the final showdown and the opportunity to save Gilverado. You're allowed to take on these six levels not quite in any order you wish, but you must zigzag between the bottom three levels and the top three. In doing so, you have a freedom of choice... do you take on your favourite levels first for the opportunity of big points, or do you get the ones you like least out of the way as soon as possible?

Another feature that goes a long way towards making the game more accessible is the difficulty select. Each of the first six levels has a choice of three difficulties (four in the Mega Black Label version), thus catering for players of all (well, most) abilities. Now I know I said I was rubbish at these games, and I am, relatively speaking. But in Deathsmiles, set at difficulty level 1, I found I was able to make satisfactory progress. In fact, my very first game was a thrill as I weaved my way through the first six levels on my first credit!

Oh, you're so hard-faced.

That was where it all came crashing down for me, though. There's no such option once you get to Hades' Castle... it's rock hard! And I soon found myself hitting the Continue button again and again. Now, I'd expected this anyway, and in fact I'd expected to be doing it way earlier in the game. It's actually the one small complaint I have with the game, though... it would have been nice for beginners to the genre, or those of a more cack-handed nature, to be given the option of playing all the way through to the end at the easiest difficulty setting.

I mentioned near the beginning of this review that I'm rubbish at games like this, but during my time with Deathsmiles I've noticed a genuine improvement in my playing ability. I'm by no means great at the game, but with a couple of the characters I'm now able to get quite far and with much better scores than I'd have previously expected. I'm not saying you should be looking for me at the top of any leaderboards, but I'm definitely getting better, which is very satisfying.

When I said I looked good in pink, I didn't mean it that way...

Now that I'm coming to the end of this write-up, I must give a special mention to the packaging of this game. I can imagine that games like this can be a difficult sell outside their niche market, so Rising Star has gone well beyond the call of duty in providing a package that will satisfy every whim of the hardcore fan, whilst providing enough extras to tempt the newcomer. You get six (count 'em!) versions of the game... Arcade, XBox 360 (Arcade, but with smartened visuals and selectable difficulty) and V1.1 (a 360 exclusive variant with added gameplay features)... and then you get those three again in Mega Black Label form, with an extra stage, difficulty level and playable character.

As if that wasn't enough, Deathsmiles has shipped in Europe as a Deluxe Edition, and you'll find three discs inside your box. Disc two is an official soundtrack CD. I've had these in games before... usually they'll give you half a dozen tracks from the game, possibly even in edited form. Not here... you get a twenty-three track disc, featuring seventeen tunes from the game for over an hour of music, plus half a dozen vocal tracks, if that's your thing. The tracks come as .WAV files... fine for a PC, but not a CD player. I've read on their forum that this was an oversight and if you get in touch with Rising Star Games, they'll sort you out with an audio CD verion. Outstanding.

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted...

And then there's disc three, which gives you an assortment of PC desktop toys... wallpapers, screensavers, that kind of thing. It's just a little thing, many people might not use it and they didn't have to put it in there... but the fact they did just shows how much they care about giving the customer a quality all-round product.

Deathsmiles is a great game, but it's an outstanding release, especially for the price. It gives you exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat blasting action, and with the number of characters, game versions, game strategies and scoring systems, it's an incredibly deep game, for something that at first glance might look incredibly shallow. If you're an old-school arcade gamer, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. If you're not, you could do worse than give it a try, for something a bit different to the norm. If Rising Star can get hold of more Cave games, give them similar treatment and release them in Europe, there will be a lot of very happy gamers. Rising Star Games... after Deadly Premonition and now Deathsmiles, I'd say your star has truly risen.

I'm so weak!

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

So, my New Year resolution lasted all of eight days. I'd trailed out to Morrisons yesterday on streets that were not too far removed from ice rinks, albeit worse seeing as I live in a hilly area. And as I wandered the aisles looking for peanut butter and spicy chicken wings, I bumped into the cheap games tat, and I decided that I deserved a spur-of-the-moment impulse buy treat.

So I bought myself a game called Ninja Blade, for all of eight pounds.

Of course, my resolutions were to buy less games in favour of playing all the ones I've already got, and getting my completion percentage up to thirty percent by the end of June. This hasn't helped me on either of those fronts.

You want to watch what you're doing. There's probably a giant worm or something down there.

That's especially true when, as the point of an impulse buy is to play it immediately, I started on Ninja Blade last night, thus dropping my completion percentage immediately. Fortunately, the first dozen achievements are quite easy to get, so I was back to where I'd started by this afternoon.

And what of the game? After two missions, it's good, silly fun. A parasite has been spreading across the world, albeit remaining largely suppressed by crack teams. Now, though, it's hit Tokyo and is turning people into giant monsters that are ripping the city apart. You're a modern day ninja, and the only one capable of putting this menace down. You can't do this without dealing with some classic melodrama on the way, of course.

I hate to say I told you so, but...

It does have some annoying gameplay at times... for instance, if you're not a fan of the Quick Time Event you'd do well to stay away from this. It's got loads of them. But it is genuinely spectacular, with some enormous creatures to be battled and some hilariously over-the-top action setpieces that you probably couldn't manage without the QTEs. Oh, and the save system can be immensely annoying.

Yes, there are better examples of this type of the game, for sure... Bayonetta has certainly taken this style of game and built on it to great effect, and there are elements from games such as Prince of Persia in there too. But so far I've had a good time for my eight quid, and I can see that continuing over the coming days.

Pinball FX 2 (XBox 360 Live Arcade)

by PaulEMoz in , ,

I'm not going to pretend I'm any kind of pinball expert. In fact, I'm rubbish at it. "Hit flashing ramps for bonus!" "Hit targets for multiball!" Whaaaat? I just like whacking the ball and hoping it doesn't get past my flippers. Am I a bad man?

It goes without saying that I'm not exactly cultured in this regard. Doesn't matter. I love racking up high scores, and pinball is one of the purest forms of this exercise, so from that point of view, it makes me happy. And I can quite easily sit and zone out on a pinball game for hours. It can be quite therapeutic, as well as fun.

This table is called Pasha. It's filled with Turkish delights!

I downloaded the original Pinball FX... oooh, a good while ago now. Over time, I've downloaded all but one of the additional tables available for it, and when I feel like playing something that's not too taxing, it's kind of my fall-back game. I can just chuck it on and sit there, merrily flipping away for fifteen minutes or an hour, or whatever. So I was very interested to find that a sequel was available, and for free, no less!

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. What you get for free is basically a new pinball engine. The clever bit about it is that you can re-download any tables you've already bought for the original and play them in updated form. That said, they don't seem that updated - there's a flashy trail effect to the ball, but that seems to be more or less it - but most of the tables get three new achievements each, for a total of 39 new cheevos. That's a heck of a lot for an XBLA title!

The majesty of Rome... in pinball form!

If you do stump up the 800 points, then you get four brand new tables, and these ones do seem to have ramped everything up a bit. There are four distinct themes, so you're never in too much danger of getting confused as to where you are. That said, the gameplay on all the tables is pretty similar... flippers, ramps and bumpers are all in much the same places, and objectives are all pretty much the same. I know the objective is to make these like real-life tables, but I think in some cases they could use the technology to come up with something really outlandish.

Still, I'm being a bit petty. I've happily downloaded Pinball FX, Pinball FX 2 and all the extra tables bar one, which for 200 points I might as well get as well. I couldn't tell you how these stack up against the classic real pinball tables, but they're enjoyable enough that I can play them at any time and while away a good chunk of my evening. Pinball FX was kind of a guilty pleasure for me to begin with... Pinball FX 2 ramps that up by a few notches, so that should be me happy for the next three years or until Pinball FX 3 comes out.

Space Invaders Infinity Gene (XBox Live Arcade/iPhone/iPod Touch)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

Space Invaders, Taito? In 2010? Really? I mean, we just had Space Invaders Extreme not that long ago... surely that's enough? It jazzed up the age-old formula quite nicely, and there's only so much you can do with Space Invaders.

Isn't there?

Not as far as Taito is concerned, and in an attempt to keep Space Invaders fresh (and raking in the cash), they've given it the most radical reworking of an original game... well, ever, probably.

That's bigger than a typical mothership!

The title screen is odd, and should give you a clue that this isn't going to be your traditional Space Invaders game. Although, when it first kicks off it lulls you into a false sense of security by giving you Spacies, straight-up. Just a few seconds in, though, and it wrenches you through time and space and gives you an Invaders game the like of which you could never have imagined...

When a shooter is as radically overhauled as this, it's difficult to think what it can be compared to. It's a bit obvious to say it's Rez-inspired... just because they're quirky, offbeat shooters doesn't mean they have that much in common. No, Infinity Gene is pretty much its own entity, offering a refreshing take on Space Invaders with enough to link it to the past but with plenty there to enable it to stand proud on its own merits.

Oooh, that looks wrong in a small picture. Anyway, all those bits fly around and need to be shot.

Although the classic invaders appear often, they're almost thrown in as distractions; as if the programmers know you'll recognise them and go after them, when greater enemies are always just around the corner. Huge vector spaceships will appear, taking several shots to dispatch. Bizarre frameworks will appear, with invaders travelling along them and hemming you in. Formations will appear from unexpected places, forcing you out of your comfort zone. Infinity Gene never lets you settle, always throwing new ideas at you, constantly making you adapt.

Fortunately, you're able to even things up a little (albeit just a little). The classic saucers that flit about now drop DNA capsules, and when you pick enough of these up they strengthen your firepower. You're never going to turn into a bullet-hell wielding, all-conquering monster, but at least you've go a bit more than the original's pea-shooter. And as the game progresses, you're able to unlock different types of firepower, some of which you might find useful and some not, depending on how you play.

This lot never give up, do they?

The game also features a number of modes beside the main game, which is quite important in ensuring you'll play it for longer than the customary ten-minute blast. Challenge mode gives you 99 stages to clear (or try to clear), Bonus mode gives you, erm, bonus stages to play, which are unlocked throughout the game... and then there's Music mode.

I love things like this in games. Music mode, as you'd expect, lets you play the game to your own choice of music. Better than that, though, it generates the stage around it. So the number of stages available is limited only by the size of your music collection.

OK, this is just getting insane.

This is awesome. Personally, I'm a big fan of instrumental rock, and it lends itself to this sort of thing extremely well. And from the tracks I've used, there can be an incredible amount of variety to the stages you can get. Yngwie Malmsteen is my favourite guitarist... I can highly recommend his tune "Leviathan" for a fun blast, or "Little Savage", which almost turns this into a racing game!

Space Invaders Infinity Gene is an excellent (if slightly mad) reworking of the original arcade classic. The amount of gane you get for your money would make it well worth your while if it was limited to just the main game and the Challenge mode, but with the Music mode giving you so much extra play, it's a steal. Music mode works better on the iPhone/iPod Touch (it's a bit of a pain having to stream playlists on a console, changing tracks on your media player every time), but I prefer the game on the big screen with a "proper" controller. Either way, you can't really go wrong with this.

Super Meat Boy (XBox 360 Live Arcade)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , , ,

I was going to write about something else today, something that I started playing last night, but I didn't bank on XBox Live Arcade throwing three games out on one day, with at least two that I really fancied trying... and ended up buying. So the original offering has been put on hold, and instead I'm going to write about the game that took a solid hour out of my evening without even trying... Super Meat Boy.

To be honest, I'd heard very little about Super Meat Boy before its 360 release, other than the odd comment on a website saying it was "awesome". I like awesome games, so I thought I'd better investigate. It turns out that Meat Boy was a flash game on the Newgrounds website, which instantly brought something else to mind...

She's quite something... you can see why he'd go to all that effort to get her back.

Graphically, it has a certain charm, and this is where the Newgrounds link comes in... it kind of reminds me of Alien Hominid to look at, and Alien Hominid is another game that started life as a flash game and made its way onto the 360. It also reminds me of Alien Hominid in how bastard hard it is. But although there's more to do in Alien Hominid, you're more likely to spend more time with Super Meat Boy, and this is purely down to the superb game design.

You see, the beauty of this game is that when you die, there you are again, ready to throw yourself at the challenge one more time. This instantaneous restart is crucial to the game's hook, because if you had to wait for any kind of loading screen every time you died, your telly would likely have a controller-shaped hole in the middle of it after less than an hour. As it is, every time you die and are frustrated to the point of turning it off, you find yourself unable to resist flinging Super Meat Boy to the right just one more time... nnngggghhhh!!!

Bit like a snail, is Super Meat Boy... just his trail is bloody, rather than slimy.

Adding to the addictiveness is the fact that many levels take between 10 and 30 seconds to complete, and there are tons of them. It's like the most successful handheld games in that regard... it's very easy to just dip in and out of when you've got a bit of free time. If you complete a level fast enough, you get a Grade A+ ranking, and unlock the "Dark World" version of the level... it's the same level, but with loads more added evil. So, effectively you're getting twice as much game for your money. Even better.

I've mentioned that Super Meat Boy is bastard hard. It really is. You're going to die an extraordinary amount of times while playing it. It's also very evil. It has a sick, twisted, black heart... blackened by a profusion of congealed blood. The blood, fantastically, is everywhere. Super Meat Boy himself is blood red, and being a meat boy, contains lots of blood. This blood is spilled, splattered and strewn across the level every time SMB is killed, as you might expect. But the level doesn't reset when you die... the blood remains smeared, caked and splattered all over the scenery. Which is nice.

Replays are hilarious, with every Meat Boy that attempted the level being shown at the same time.

Super Meat Boy is an old-school platform game made new. I've read in a couple of places that it's like Super Mario Bros., which is cobblers as all it shares with that game are the initials and the ability to jump and sprint. If anything it's even more old-school than that. It kind of reminds me of the twisted glee of the torture screens in Creatures on the Commodore 64 in some ways, although the gameplay is pure platform jumpiness, with the odd boss level thrown in for good measure. They've launched it at the sale price of 800 points... I would grab it for that now if you have any interest in leaping about and dying lots.

Mojo (Slight Return)

by PaulEMoz in , , , ,

Gaming Mojo is a strange thing. Sometimes, you can be right into games and whatever you pick up you can find yourself playing for hours. Others, you're in a slump and can pick endlessly through your shelves without one single game jumping out at you with a spark of inspirational quality.

I'm having one of those slumps at the moment. Don't get me wrong... I've been having great fun playing old games this past week. That side of me usually stays keen. But it speaks volumes when I'm turning on my 360 and would rather spend half an hour pissing about with Onechanbara Bikini Samurai Squad than getting stuck into the campaign on Halo Reach.

Still, things are about to pick up. Having played and loved the demo for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, I've been out and bought the game today. The smallest child is in bed, the eldest will be soon, and I'll be diving into Monkey and Trip's somewhat dystopian future.

I'm really quite excited by it. If you haven't been following its development at all, here's a video showing the first 15 minutes of the game.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBox Live Arcade)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , ,

I vividly remember playing the first Tomb Raider game, on my Saturn. There had been a lot of hype before release because, hey, you played as a girl. With boobs, and that. A bit silly really, because the graphics were nowhere near today's standards, and she looked pointier than Madonna in that daft bra.

It was a bit of a shame that so much focus went on this, because Tomb Raider was a fantastic game. A true revolution, it helped to change the course of action-adventure games forever. There were some real, bona-fide jaw-dropping moments in there... the valley of the dinosaurs, where I genuinely dropped my controller in fright (hello, Mr. T-Rex), was especially notable. And there was a bit where the camera panned way, way back to reveal that you were standing on a Sphinx... stunning.

The way it used to be. One step closer, wolves, and the walls get a paint job.

So, Tomb Raider was a real landmark in gaming, and one that I played to completion and thoroughly enjoyed. Sadly, none of the many follow-ups captured my enthusiasm in the same way... the second game was decent (and preferred by many) but I couldn't get on with it, possibly because I was playing it on the PC. Subsequent versions varied in quality, getting worse and worse as the publishers concentrated on Lara's ample charms above gameplay and good ideas.

Lately, with the outsourcing of programming to Crystal Dynamics, things have taken a notable turn for the better. The last couple of games have been critically well-received, and have not been hamstrung by the awful control methods and tedious gameplay which were prevalent for a while. Lara has been getting back into top form. And now, in a very interesting move, she's making a splash with her first download-only game, on XBLA and PSN... Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

How d'you wanna die? Spear or gun? Either way, it's gonna happen.

There are several things about Guardian of Light that make it notable. For one, the Tomb Raider title has been dropped from the game. That's fair enough... Lara Croft is a big enough name that people know what they're getting from having that name in the title. Or do they? GoL throws enough twists at the formula to make this feel really fresh and different. Most obvious is the two-player co-op gameplay... which although not compulsory, is a brave and interesting move. I haven't had the chance to try it yet, but it promises to be a significantly different game to the single-player experience.

Easy... eeeeeeasy... left a bit... right a bit...

But how's the one-player game? I have to say, I think it's fantastic. Immediately obvious is the panned-out viewpoint. Instead of having the camera close to the action, and therefore all over Lara's curves, this has an isometric 3D viewpoint. It's kind of flickscreen... which sounds weird, but it scrolls when it needs to and then will have you go through a door and into a new area. It works perfectly well, and means you tend to focus on the best and quickest way through.

This is important, because GoL encourages replaying each level by dishing out extra in-game rewards for speed runs. I've never been a great fan of speed runs or replaying games, but I must have completed level one six times now, and still haven't milked it for everything. I happen to think this is an ingenious way of expanding the life of the game, and am very impressed with its implementation.

Lara goes Robotron... or maybe Black Widow, given the horde of attacking spiders.

And what of the gameplay itself? Well, that may be the most radical change of all. The best way to describe it (seriously) is as a twin-stick puzzle-platforming arena shooter. That's a fair old hybrid, but GoL manages to blend all of those elements into a perfectly cohesive and very enjoyable game. The zoomed-out viewpoint means that more attention is paid to the game than the protagonist, and that focus has helped to ensure you get a cracking gaming experience.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light costs 1200 points on XBLA. It's a huge download... 2.02GB. You can't help but wonder if a disc-based release might have been better, but then again they'd have had to charge more for that, and it represents really good value for money as it is. That hard drive space isn't wasted... there are fourteen levels in the game, and they're a good size too. There's a heck of a lot to do, it's all entertaining stuff, and there's plenty of replay value too. It's easily one of the best XBLA games so far, a damn good game in its own right and a really pleasant and welcome surprise.

Scratching an itch.

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

You know how there are occasionally times when you just have to play a certain game? I've had that lately. In fact, I've had a hankering for some Burnout. Not Paradise, though... fine game though it is... but one of the more old-school efforts. I can't be bothered to go hooking up old systems to scratch this itch, though, so that left me with Burnout Revenge. Pity I didn't own it... but when you have that itch, you have to spend, and I popped out and (eventually) found a pre-owned copy. Aaaahhhh... I could almost feel the relief on the bus journey home.

The funny thing is, I had Burnout Revenge on the PS2, and didn't really like it. I was kindly sent it for review purposes by a lad at EA Canada, but I was so on the fence about it that I never completed the review. That's one of the problems with getting free stuff to review... it makes you feel bad if you don't like the game. Spend your own money, and you can say what you like. Anyway, sorry, EA Games lad.

Ahhh... the open road. Well, there's that car in the distance, but you can just ram that out of the way.

My main problem with Burnout Revenge was the racing. There have been a few problems with Burnout games over time... but I think I feel a feature coming on to discuss those. With Burnout Revenge, the problem lay with the introduction of "traffic checking". What did this mean? It meant that you could basically drive straight through most vehicles that were travelling in the same direction as you. It removed a lot of the skill from driving, and turned Burnout into Advanced Turbo Snowplough Simulator.

That's what you want to see... cars wrecked by your own fair hand.

Still, I bought it. The other modes are fun, and I was just in the mood to ram some cars and figured even the traffic checking wouldn't be too annoying. And I was right... I found myself enjoying the whole package, this time. The racing is still a bit silly with all the ramming going on, but it was just what I fancied. Road Rage is still great, although it seems much harder for some reason. Crash Mode is better than it was in Takedown... from what I've played of it, it seems that they've removed stupid stuff like the heartbreakers, which is definitely a good thing.

So, my itch is truly scratched. I've even enjoyed the two-player game this time around... Aidan was only four when I last played it and wasn't really up to the challenge. Five years on and he's a worthy adversary, and we battled to an epic 5-4 victory... in my favour. There will be much more of this in days and weeks to come. Good stuff.

PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain (XBLA Indie Games)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

I've got loads of games still unplayed, and yet I can't help buying more, whether it's a full-priced retail release in a sale, something reduced on Steam or GOG, or a 70p cheapie on XBLA's Indie Games. PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain is one from the latter category, snapped up on a whim after a quick go of the demo. Yep, it's another 80 pointer.

I'll be honest, the main reason I tried this was because I thought the main character reminded me of a character from a Mastertronic game. Points awarded to anyone on the same wavelength that can tell me which game, but no prizes. Sorry.

Jesus! A ghost! And the reason the game is forced to be played as a speed run. The bastard.

PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain is... drumroll... a platform game! Noooooo! Really? OK, so far, so obvious. It's a bit different to the norm, though. If you've trawled much of the internet for games-related stuff, you've probably seen sites devoted to speed runs on various games (Super Mario games being very popular for this). Well, PLATFORMANCE is a game that is designed to be played as a speed run. In fact, you have no choice in the matter.

As such, it's really good fun. It's hard, at least to me... in fact, there's a point I'm stuck at. The word "pain" in the title is quite apt, both for the player and the main character's many violent deaths. So I've never actually completed it yet. And it's not a long game... research has shown that you should be completing it in five minutes or less.

And that, right there, is the entire game. How quickly can you finish it?

Five minutes? So why should you buy it then? Well, I certainly can see it as being a game you'd play repeatedly after completion. With it being a speed run, you'll constantly be trying to shave seconds off your best time. And there are different difficulty levels to try, adding to the enjoyment/frustration. Yes, you'll get frustrated, but in that classic 8-bit "should have made that pixel-perfect jump" way.

PLATFORMANCE: Castle Pain is a charming little game. It's got 1985 written all over it (even down to not having online leaderboards, sadly), but turning it into a speed run changes the dynamic into something approaching the present day, and fun is fun, whatever era it comes from. It might be a Mastertronic game at a sub-Mastertronic price, but it's no less worthy for it and will have you shouting abuse at the tell for many an hour.

Doppelganger (XBLA Indie Games)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

Just a quick little post to tell you about something I picked up on a whim today. It's called Doppelganger, and it costs a mammoth 80 points on XBox Live Arcade's Indie Games.

Oh, alright... that would be a bit too quick. I'll go into a bit more detail.

Awww. Little cute alien versions of Defender's nasty ships. They're all still trying to kill you, though.

Doppelganger is basically a cross between Defender and Iridis Alpha. Everyone knows Defender. Most people that read this will know Iridis Alpha... for anyone that doesn't, it's a classic shoot 'em up from Jeff Minter, which splits the insanely fast shooting gameplay across two levels on a split screen.

What Doppelganger does is to remake Defender with really cute graphics, and then apply Iridis Alpha's split screen mechanic to it. So if you didn't think that Defender was hard enough as it is, try playing two games of it at the same time.

Top level... bottom level... top level... oh, hell, there's carnage everywhere!

It's not actually as bad, or should I say as hard as it sounds. The levels are kept fairly spacious, with not too many enemies flying around. At least, that's how it is for as far as I've managed to get in the game... doesn't mean it'll stay like that. And that also means in my few quick goes that I wasn't very good at it. Still, for 80 points I would say that Doppelganger is going to give me way more than my money's worth. It's a lot of fun and promises to be a real challenge for any old-school arcade shooter fan.

Number 1.

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

Halo 3: ODST

And so, we come to the game I've enjoyed the most during my time so far with the blog. And to the possible disappointment of some, it's not some obscure little undiscovered gem, but a massive gaming juggernaut. For shame.

But while it might have been nice to have unearthed an unknown classic for the top spot, it wasn't to be. There have been plenty of those scattered throughout the blog, and there will undoubtedly be more to come.

Halo 3: ODST, for me, though, is something of an undiscovered gem. I say that because I've never really been into the Halo franchise. I played the first one for the first time in March 2009, and enjoyed it quite a bit. But then I left it alone, and I haven't played Halo 2 or Halo 3 yet, at all. A mate at work lent me ODST in exchange for one of my games... I can't say I was particularly bothered in having it, and actually didn't think I'd even get around to playing it.

Still, one night I found myself at a bit of a loose end, and wasn't in the mood for any of my games. And so, I found myself turning to ODST.

I hate those little buggers with the shields. And they hate my big gun.

I'd barely even looked at the box before that point, so it was a very pleasant surprise to find that the three main characters were voiced by actors from the Firefly TV series. I absolutely love that show, and so I was instantly provided with an "in" to the game. And yes, their "acting" and the characters' interaction was a definite highlight for me.

That wouldn't have counted for much, though, if I didn't enjoy the game. Thankfully, it lived up to the promise that the voice cast provided, and then some. It wasn't just the shooting action - although that was satisfying, with some very intense moments - and it wasn't just the story. For me, it was the way the story was told that did it.

Halo 3:ODST puts you in the suit of a rookie trooper investigating the disappearance of the main ODST team. It sees you playing a level as the rookie, and at the end of the level you'll find a clue as to what exactly happened in that area. Taking the clue, you'll then play a flashback as the character involved in that particular plot strand.

That hardly seems fair, a little jeep against an armoured space craft. Let's even it up with some well-placed firepower.

I don't recall ever playing a game with this approach (although I'm sure there probably are some), and it was highly refreshing and really intriguing, and I was genuinely pushed on through the game because of this, wanting to find out what had happened. And because of the atmosphere in the levels where you play the rookie, there's a definite feeling of "what the hell happened here?".

The gameplay is really quite varied for a first person shooter, with vehicle levels, massive battles across large areas, or tight, constricted corridor sections. There's a lot of humour, both from enemies and the main characters. And of course, there's a good story which is told really well. I was thoroughly gripped from beginning to end... which is saying something, because I've hardly completed any XBox 360 games at this time.

For all these reasons, for all the hours I put into it without a single moment of boredom, frustration, anger or apathy, for its constant entertainment across the entire game and for actually making me want to play a FPS from beginning to end because I cared what happened, Halo 3:ODST is the game I've most enjoyed playing for my blog to date.

Perfect Dark (XBLA)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , ,

Perfect Dark is one of the most revered games of all time. But as it was on the N64, I didn't get to play it. Never thought I would, either... until an updated version was released on XBox Live Arcade, for 800 points. Handy!

However, coming into it without the benefit of rose-tinted glasses makes the game a harder sell to me. I'm not that much of a FPS player to begin with, but those I've played lately are modern, state-of-the-art efforts, and however groundbreaking the original Perfect Dark might have been, this update would have to go some to match any of them.

I'm not sure that it goes far enough.

Oooh! That looks... exciting... ummmm...

For a start, although it's only on XBLA, it's still just an update of a two-genereations-old game, and so it doesn't look all that great. It's serviceable, sure, with some nice touches... but it still looks like a bit of an old wrinkly.

Gameplay isn't what I would call sublime, either. There's nothing wrong with it... in fact, old-schoolers might prefer the lack of hand-holding. But in areas that look very similar everywhere you go, it's quite easy to get lost, or rather, not know where you're meant to be going next.

You're Out Of Your Mind, thinking that looks like Mrs Beckham.

Mind you, although I said there was a lack of hand-holding, I played on the first (easiest) difficulty level, and the aiming was more or less done for me, and the guards were a bit on the stupid side, allowing Posh Spice, sorry, Joanna Dark to wander around relatively stress-free.

There's no doubt I haven't got the most out of this game at this point... I need to play on a tougher difficulty level, and I haven't even touched the multiplayer, which is the aspect most fans of the original seem to love best. I like the "spy behind enemy lines" element of the game, and I suspect I'll press on and look for improvements... but for me, it's not the all-conquering supergame it's been labelled.

Bionic Commando Rearmed (XBox Live Arcade)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , ,

Bionic Commando is a name that goes back a long way. I used to love the Commodore 64 conversion of the arcade game. It was tough but fun, with great music. I never got to play the arcade version, but that hardly matters. If you're American, though, the Bionic Commando name means something entirely different. A brand new version was produced for the NES, which although having a similar main character was a very different game.

It's this version which has been remade for the modern consoles. I bought it the day it came out, played the tutorial, hated it and never loaded it again. Still, the name holds an appeal, and when Capcom produced a brand new, all-singing all-dancing update, I was interested. I wasn't forty quid's worth of interested though... but months and months later, I was able to nab it for £4.50 from Tesco. Rude not to, at that. Before playing that, though, I thought it might be wise to revisit BC: Rearmed.

Good decision.

Ka-BOOOOM! Even the poster is shocked at the power of that one.

Having spent a bit more time with Rearmed and getting to grips with the controls a little more, I started to enjoy myself. The game reminded me quite a bit of Shadow Complex, although that game came out later. It also reminded me of Impossible Mission, strangely enough. I think it was the behaviour of the guards that did it... they'd wander around their little areas quite happily, but when I got near they'd maybe move faster or start firing. It's quite a bit like Impossible Mission's robot droids.

Once I got myself over the fact that your commando can't jump (which I still think is silly, but no longer insurmountable), I started pinging myself around the platform-strewn environments quite handily. And it becomes fun, swinging across a gap, landing successfully , taking out a guard, catching onto the platform directly above, hauling yourself up, hanging there, blasting another guard and then vaulting up onto the platform. Turning that into a fluid, seamless action is very satisfying. It feels right, it feels good.

That's the bugger, there. Let me pass!

There's a small amount of other spy elements here... hacking the computers is also IM-esque. It's a bit weird to start with, but it soon becomes manageable.

Just as I was really getting into it, though, I came to the first end-level boss. And that's where I remain. I just couldn't figure it out at all, even with the clues I was armed with. In fact, we came to an impasse... it couldn't hurt me, and I couldn't hurt it. After 15 minutes, it was back to the dashboard.

Shame, really... there's a lot of game for the MS points, and although it's tough, it feels more challenging than unfair. It's presented very nicely... modern, but with plenty of nods to the old-school. I expect I'll have another crack at this one, probably after I've had a look at GameFAQs or something. I hope the brand new version can live up to this one.

Darwinia (PC, Xbox 360 (XBLA))

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , , ,

I've read a lot about Darwinia over time, and it's always been highly recommended. I've never been sure that it was for me, though, but with it being on special offer on Steam a while back, I figured I'd pick it up for the purposes of this blog, and if I liked it, so much the better.

It gets off to a good start, with lots of lovely retro touches appealing to the old-school gamer in me. There are distinct throwbacks to the Spectrum and the Amiga, providing an instant pull, although they're purely presentational. Still, they got me in, which was a good start.

Trouble is, the rest of the game had me baffled.

He's telling me I need to create an engineer to fix that building. The place to do that is quite far away...

I lay part of the blame with the game itself... it doesn't really signpost you at the beginning. Seasoned strategists will no doubt not view this as a problem, but for me, I spent ages scrolling around the landscape, looking at the nice things but wondering what on Earth to do with them.

Eventually, I accidentally discovered how to create some units. That was good. Then I put them on the map, and they were all wiped out by the virus that was spreading across the landscape. That was bad.

And there he goes, on his way to repair the building. Sadly, he will be obliterated before he gets there. Every time.

After an hour or so, I stumbled across a set of goals for the level. So I was making progress of a sort, although after another twenty minutes I still didn't have a clue how to achieve the first of the goals.

I swear that as I get older I'm becoming stupid. Also, impatient. I was already aware of the second one... I used to spend hours figuring things out in games, and now I just can't be bothered. It looks like I'm falling victim to today's world of instant gratification. These are two things I'm quite determined to shake... I need my brain to be of a certain standard for one thing, and for another, there's a lot of reward to be found for just a little patience. Darwinia deserves my patience, and the use of my brain. I may be down with this one, but I'm not out just yet...

Dragon Buster (Arcade/MAME/Namco Museum)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

There are a lot of games on the latest version of Namco Museum. Pity the interface is rubbish, because it puts you off playing any of them regularly. But this blog is not about regular; it's (mostly) about playing games that I've never played before. And there are a few on this compilation that I can say that about. Before today, one of them was Dragon Buster. Pity that's not still the case.

Oooh, where to go, where to go... I'd rather just go home, actually.

Dragon Buster is basically a rubbish cross between Rastan (which isn't that great to begin with) and Wonder Boy in Monster Land (which is). You wander around subterranean passages and get attacked by ghastly monsters. I say ghastly... they really do look horrible, but only in a drawn-by-a-five-year-old way. For 1984, these are terrible arcade graphics.

Hey you! Yes, you! I put it to you that you are a rubbish skeleton!

As far as the game goes, I suppose its ideas outstrip their implementation. You have a world map, with choices of route, which was probably fairly novel at the time. It's just unfortunate that, whichever choice you make, it sees you wading through a sea of cack gaming. It's usually a case of walk right, stop, do a Pete Townshend swing with your sword at a rubbish animal, and move on. Occasionally you might do something exciting, like drop off a ledge or something, but that's your lot. Every so often you'll come across a pathetic looking dragon, which you can smite with just two hits. There are bigger, much more impressiver dragons to be slain, but not a lof ot skill involved.

You're a dragon? Really? You're cute. Wanna be my pet?

And there we have it. Dragon Buster was, research finds, pretty well thought of in Japan, with conversions to home platforms, sequels and even a board game! I find that a bit odd... it's really not a particularly good game at all. I doubt I'll be loading this one up much in the future.