All your (Game)Base are belong to me.

by PaulEMoz in , , ,

Apologies for riffing on an infamous gaming meme, but it seemed appropriate at the time. If you're thinking that I'm throwing some fair old variety into the systems I'm using at the moment, then it's all thanks to my mate Alan Mamemeister.

Erm... that's not his real surname, but it's his nom de plume on the old interweb. Anyway, I've known him for over ten years online, but only finally got to meet him a couple of months ago. And to make the occasion particularly memorable, he chucked GameBase onto my laptop, along with the emulators and games for eighteen systems.

I said, "Eighteen systems".

I really did say "Eighteen systems..."

As you can imagine, that gives me a hell of a lot of blogging options. Too many, at times... it can be hard to settle on something, especially with so many games I've either never heard of, or haven't played. But it's a good problem to have when you're trying to fill in gaps in your gaming history.

It's a pity my laptop was playing up a bit, because he had loads more that he could have kitted me out with if we'd had time. Maybe next time... never mind, though, he left me with over 50,000 games as it is. At my current rate, I'll get these done by the time I reach Yoda's age...

GameBase is a wonderful thing. Like MAME, the intention is to document our gaming past. You don't just get the games, you get the history. Scans of game boxes, manuals, instructions, sound files... there's all sorts in there. If you're serious about your classic games, I'd recommend you check it out. Now, I think I might play Zero Wing for the blog...

Game Room (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday... I had my game lined up and then couldn't get it to start! I'll try it again on another system soon...

Microsoft threw Game Room at us from out of nowhere a while back, and since then, I've been waiting excitedly for its arrival. Now it's here I've snapped it up, and thought I might as well give my initial impressions.

In case you don't know what Game Room is, I'll tell you. It's as close to owning your own arcade as you'll ever get, unless you win the EuroMillions.

Look at the size of that place! You could fit stacks of games in there.

The setup, I think, is quite nifty. You're given a huge building interior, with loads of rooms, and you can fill these rooms with arcade machines. Some are actually classic arcade games, and some are custom-designed machines that play old console classics... currently for the Atari 2600/VCS and Intellivision. I'm not sure if other systems are in the pipeline, but you'd have to imagine they will be.

You're given a few themes to choose from at the beginning, so you can set up each room in a different style, and then plonk your games in whichever room you feel appropriate. There's also different items of decor that can be strewn about for added ambience. More themes and decor can be unlocked as you play in your Game Room.

I love the 80s! To cater for the likes of me, many themes are available for your rooms.

An added extra which adds something unique and fun to the gameroom is the mascot feature. Each game has a mascot, based on a classic iconic character from within the game. These can be bought separately at the shop, or you'll get them for free if you buy the game on its release date. It's fun to see these little daft characters pottering around in your arcade... I love seeing the Adventure duck/dragon roaming around, and characters are in danger of a kick to the head from my Shao-Lin's Road mascot (not really!).

There are down sides... the range of launch titles is not the best, meaning that you're unlikely to find any well-stocked arcades on your travels just yet. Still, as time goes by this will improve, and I'm genuinely excited to see how my arcade builds up over time.

Ahhh... happy memories. And barring gaming megaplexes, the only time you'll see your mates standing at arcade machines.

Also, there are server problems. So far, I've found it pretty difficult to upload any challenge scores... it's a shame that this isn't running smoothly, because the potential that exists from challenging your mates is massive. I'd hate for them to be put off because they can't connect to upload their score.

Still, I see masses of potential in Game Room. A lot of people are unhappy with it... unjustly in many ways, I think. It has to bed in before it can be properly judged, but I think that if you used to hang around in arcades when you were in your teens and/or love 80s arcade games, then Game Room is going to eat up a lot of your 360 time in the coming months... I'll revisit this one a little way down the line, to see how it's holding up.

Atomhex (XBox 360 Indie Games)

by PaulEMoz in , , , , , ,

Another day, another 360 indie shooter.

Atomhex is an indie game, and it's a twin-stick arena shooter. There's a lot of them about, so if you make one, it has to have enough worthwhile features of its own to make it stand out. I would say that Atomhex just about does.

A triple stream of laser death. Handy, with those big atomhexes around.

You control an Asteroids-style ship, and you whizz around the arena, using your other stick to shoot in whichever direction you choose. I'm not sure I like that in this game... because of the shape of the ship, that mode of firing looks wrong. It's the right choice of control method for the game, though... maybe a different design of player ship would have been a better fit.

Atoms and hexes of different colours roam the board. Your objective should be to shoot the shields from the hexes and collect them for points multipliers and different weapons. If hexes bond to an atom, the combination starts firing out harmful enemies of varying types. This is when things start to get hectic...

That's not my high score. That's just insane.

Although this is more dangerous, it's very good for your score, and massive bonuses can be had at this point. Also, it's just more fun when you're barely in control. That said, Atomhex never really clicked with me like I'd expected it to. Still, it's cheap, there's lots to shoot, and there are 100 Awards to unlock, which is nice for an Achievement-deprived indie game. It's certainly worth a punt if arena shooters are your thing.

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...